Oh, sure, highly regarded players such as Lockport running back David Fluellen and Syracuse Nottingham quarterback Jawan Simmons are still out there and will almost certainly land at Division I schools, but the state’s most elite players have for the most part made their choices.
And Easley was very typical of the way things go for New Yorkers. Though the defensive lineman from Curtis High on Staten Island attracted more national attention than anyone else in the state, he had much in common with many of the other 14 players who have committed thus far: He stayed in the Northeast and he’ll either play on the offensive line or on defense in college.
"Schools don’t come into the Northeast when they’re looking for skill-position players," Union-Endicott coach Shane Hurd recently said.
And this year’s list of committed New York seniors confirms that. Syracuse University has received commitments from Lawrence quarterback John Kinder and running backs Steve Rene of Canarsie and Jeremiah Kobena of Cardinal Hayes, though there’s no guarantee those three won’t form the nucleus of the Orange secondary in 2012.
Of the remaining committed recruits, only Union-Endicott running back Jordan Thomas is a candidate to touch the ball in college on anything other than a turnover or a punt return. He’ll head to Rutgers next fall as a receiver.
And keeping with the way it goes for New Yorkers, the first looks Thomas received were as a safety.
"The first step in recruiting was just getting in, working my way in," Thomas said. "It’s a privilege to play in college. I can play defense, but being able to play wide receiver would really be the icing on the cake."
Hurd, the U-E coach, has sent several players to Division I colleges, including current Syracuse defensive linemen Arthur Jones and Chandler Jones, so he knows the ins and outs of the recruiting process. It’s why he was pitching Thomas’ ability as a defender in early conversations with college assistants.
It was only after Rutgers was sold on Thomas as a prospect that Hurd started planting the seed about using him as a receiver. The idea obviously grew on the Scarlet Knights staff after they started looking more closely at video of the 6-foot-2, 200-pound senior whose Tigers have an important matchup this weekend against Binghamton to determine the Section IV Class AA favorite.
Thomas was eager to give receiver a try after faring well there earlier this year at the U.S. Army Combine.
"Then he went down to the Rutgers camp and did very well," recalled Kevin Every, Thomas’ stepfather. "At that time they wanted a verbal. He wanted to come home and run it through me and my wife, and we were already on board. We were already Scarlet Knights."
It essentially ended a process that began when Thomas started attending camps while still in junior high in nearby Johnson City. Every recalls observers telling him that Thomas had a bright future, and the process involved a deluge of recruiting literature and then other contacts down the home stretch of the process.
"Once we were able to sit and talk and not be caught up in the recruiting process we got it down to which school was going to take care of him," Every said.
And Rutgers won out over Syracuse, in part because Thomas was leery of being perceived as "the next U-E" kid on campus in the footsteps of the Jones brothers.
"I want to show what I can do," Thomas said.
The recent trend is for only 20-25 New York prospects a year to get that opportunity, a tiny number relative to the state’s population of well over 20 million people. Thomas offers simple advice.
"Do everything you can in the offseason," he said. "And if you’re good they’ll find you. So play your game and don’t worry what people say you can’t do. Concentrate on what you can do."
* In Section V, Holley is off to a 3-0 start and outscoring opponents 82-13 headed into a weekend game vs. Alexander. The Hawks were 2-29 in their previous four seasons and could not field a team in 2007.
* Moriah reached the NYSPHSAA Class D final last fall and is off to a very deceiving 1-2 so far this fall. The losses were both in overtime to Peru and Beekmantown, a pair of undefeated Class B squads.
Boys basketball: Newark star reportedly makes his college choice
* Newark senior Javon McCrea has committed to play basketball for the University of Buffalo next year, according to The Buffalo News. The 6-6 forward reportedly had scholarships offers from Georgetown and UMass, and there was a report over the summer that he had committed to the Hoyas. McCrea averaged 20 points a game last season to earn a fifth-team position on the New York State Sportswriters Association Class A all-star team. He has been getting advice during the recruiting process from John Wallace, a former state player of the year who went on to a stellar career at Syracuse and also played in the NBA with several teams.
* Brian Carey, who coached Long Island Lutheran to the Federation Class A boys championship last March, has resigned. Assistant John Buck will take over.
Taking precautions against H1N1
Post-game handshakes are being replaced with applause for opponents from a safe distance as a way to help slow down the spread of the swine flu. At least two schools in Manhattan have decided to go that route. Columbia Prep and fellow Independent Schools Athletic League member The Browning School have announced the policy.
"We want to be proactive in protecting our athletes," Columbia Prep athletic director Steve Rybicki told the The Advance.
The Centers for Disease Control report that the H1N1 virus has resulted in 550 U.S. deaths, 8,800 hospitalizations and a million illnesses this year. About 80 percent of the deaths were among school-aged children. Rybicki informed ISAL members of Columbia Prep's policy in a recent e-mail, emphasizing that in no way should it be construed as a sign of disrespect.
Amazing streaks in volleyball
* What is probably the most amazing active streak in the state remains intact as Buffalo City Honors began its 24th season of perfect league play in girls volleyball. By beating Grover Cleveland 25-5, 25-16, 25-14, the Centaurs extended their streak of sets won in the Buffalo City League to 778. They've never lost a set or match in league action.
"We certainly take pride in it," coach Deborah Matos told The Buffalo News. "We go into every season respecting every team in our league."
* Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake beat Colonie 25-13, 25-16, 25-20 to make it 103 consecutive boys volleyball victories against Suburban Council opponents since 2003, but it doesn’t rate much of a mention on campus. That’s because the girls team has a 273-match winning streak in league play that's older than any of the varsity players.
Odds and ends
* Pittsford Sutherland blanked Fairport 7-0 for its 100th straight girls tennis victory, including 11 this season. There have been 44 players involved in the streak.
* Pittsford's 12-year winning streak in girls swimming came to an end over the weekend with a 94-92 loss to Syracuse CBA, which has won 65 of its last 66 meets.
* Senior Lauren Kahn registered a hat trick to reach 102 career goals as Nanuet downed Albertus Magnus 4-1 in girls soccer.