My apologies for dropping off the face of the earth recently. My wife gave birth to our second son this past week, just when Pagano, Fuller and Williams decide to commit (Fuller going to VT unfortunately). This post is my take on Pagano's decision and the Hawaii football talent level.
One quick note before we begin on Marquez North. A report is floating out there in cyberspace from a Gawja Rivals website that says North is down to UNC and Georgia. It disturbingly quotes the offensive coordinator at his high school, Mallard Creek, as saying that North has always been a huge Georgia fan (which is true because he grew up liking AJ Green) and that because of the addition of Williams that Clemson is out of the running for him. This smells of some Georgia homerism to me but its not a positive development. Keep in mind that the article doesn't quote North directly at all. Sounds like the OC is a Georgia fan and couldn't help himself (its been a strong year for assistant high school coaches playing a very active role in their players recruiting).
North hasn't visited many schools this summer like he had planned because of money and a disinterest in the recruiting process but North has to get on campus for Clemson to be in this down the stretch. He hasn't visited Georgia this summer either (not sure he has ever visited them actually) so take that report with a giant grain of salt but I am saying UNC lean until North gets on campus. Clemson has some work to do and while I don't see adding Williams as a deal breaker--it isn't helping our cause. Pearman recruits the Charlotte area for us, which doesn't inspire a lot of confidence.
Pagano: Hawaiian Style
When Scott Pagano first popped up on the scene with an interest in Clemson I posted about how excited I was and how real of a shot we had because of the family connections in Greenvile, SC. I was less excited when he named LSU and Florida as his top schools because it sounded like he was set on the SEC and his family was letting him make the decision. I am convinced that we landed Scott because of family and because of Dabo. Pagano's mom really enjoyed the family atmosphere and the importance placed on faith by the staff. Polynesian family networks and genealogy are still really important and worked in our favor big time. Lots of island recruits that go east end up coming back home because they don't have the family connections--something we don't have to worry about with Pagano.
This is going to be too much biographical data but I grew up on the North Shore of Oahu, my wife is Hawaiian/Maori (I am a 'local' haole), and as I said in that earlier post I graduated from Kahuku High School. Hawaii, particularly Kahuku and the North Shore, has a lot of talent per capita but it is mostly very raw. Kahuku at one point had more players in the NFL than any other high school in the nation (mostly lineman). Manti Te'o, for example, grew up down the street from me and played his freshman year at Kahuku. Kona Schwenke, also at Notre Dame, is another notable name. Closing thoughts below the fold.
So when Pagano goes against the red team (Kahuku) in his film that is really the only team with a talent level sufficient to judge him. Kahuku was the State of Hawaii champions last year. Pagano's team, Moanalua, has historically never been that good. They haven't even been in the higher division of the public school leagues that long. Their coach Martinez is turning the program around but they were just above a .500 team last year. Pagano is pretty much the defense for the team and has little support. They line him up all over the place, sometimes even at LB, so he has good speed for his size. Coach Martinez's motto is faith, family and football so you can see how Dabo would appeal to Scott.
He did not perform well at the Rivals100 challenge, however, but he was a late call and arrived on the red eye flight. He was impressive in other camps so it might have just been the jet lag. I have called some old friends and they say that what he is lacking is technique and sometimes his pad level is too high, which you can see on film. In the video below I was impressed with how cognizant Pagano is of what he needs to work on. He knows he needs to work on the mental part of his game and his technique.
You have some serious D-1 talent in Hawaii but not the level of coaching, especially when it comes to the nuances of a position (Hawaii would have more talent if they could qualify more players as well). I will hopefully be getting some film of Pagano during the season that we can collectively break down. Right now Pagano has an excellent frame and is a lean 280 pounds. He looks the part with absolutely massive arms and he has the strength to play the position. Beating out LSU, Bama, and Florida for a recruit is always fun, especially when no one in the SEC sees it coming.