Alan Dell

Recruiting process is never easy

Now that the dust has cleared on the 2010 recruiting class, it’s time to forgive and forget.

Let the healing process begin — for football programs that went against each other, and players who thought they were misled. It would serve everyone well to have any bad memories erased.

Close to home, Brion Carnes and the South Florida football program have gone their separate ways, and never the twain shall meet.

Things seemed to have worked out well for the Manatee High quarterback and Bulls head coach Skip Holtz. Now the parties can break bread together and say all is forgiven in love and war.

Carnes is headed for Nebraska, where he can only hope the ghost of Tommie Frazier doesn’t rise from the cornfields and create the impression Superman II is on the way.

Football is bigger than life to the Nebraska faithful, and coming from the same high school that produced the Cornhuskers’ greatest quarterback could be a huge burden for Carnes.

Despite getting hired less than three weeks before signing day, Holtz made out pretty well with his recruiting class and pulled a coup by getting Hillsborough High defensive back Terrence Mitchell and Miami Northwestern defensive lineman Todd Chandler.

Mitchell, USF’s highest-rated recruit, is being compared to former Southeast High great Mike Jenkins, who earned All-American honors at USF and is now a Pro Bowler with the Dallas Cowboys.

Holtz’s situation was like walking into the middle of a bank robbery and asking John Dillinger to give him some of the booty. The Bulls’ new coach signed a solid, if not spectacular, recruiting class and created optimism that when he has a year to woo recruits, he might haul in a bonanza.

To know Carnes is to love him. He flip-flopped more than Richard Nixon did when he tried to explain Watergate, but there were no evil intentions or cover-ups on his part.

Carnes is a kind-hearted soul who tried to please too many people and then realized he should be going to the school of his choice, not someone else’s.

There are too many good football players in Manatee County for Holtz not to pick up a hammer and mend some fences that might have been damaged, and to his credit that process is under way.

Manatee High running back Mike Blakely, already offered by Florida, is the prize catch here in the Class of 2011.

The chances of USF landing him are not good, anyway. Holtz will have to convince Blakely and others that the road to Tampa is more prosperous than the one to Gainesville, where Urban Meyer reigns as lord supreme of football.

But the Hurricanes also have Quinton Pompey and Quenton Brundage, along with rising junior Clinton Heaven, already offered by South Carolina’s Steve Spurrier. And Southeast High has a couple Division I types in quarterback Dyron Speight and defensive lineman Giovani Francois.

The 2009-10 recruiting season taught us what we already knew — you don’t win football games without good players.

A good recruiter is arguably more valuable than an X’s and O’s genius. The key is to keep any collateral damage to a minimum.

So the world is safe again, and this year’s high school seniors don’t have to cringe when their cell phone rings.

Class of 2011, it’s your turn.

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