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August 18, 2009

National Notes: Gillespie gets second chance

Everybody deserves a second chance.

For defensive tackle Tony Gillespie, his second chance comes this season at Coffeyville (Kan.) Community College.

Gillespie was a highly coveted prospect out of Jenks, Okla., in the Class of 2008. The 6-foot-1, 300-pounder had offers from Minnesota, Oklahoma State, Tennessee, TCU, Tulsa, Arkansas and Florida before he signed with Kansas State.

But that's when the story took some interesting twists and turns.

Gillespie failed to qualify and was forced to take the junior-college route. The National Junior College Athletic Association's Web site listed Gillespie as a signee at Garden City Community College, but Gillespie ended up at the College of the Canyons.

He said he was lured to California with the "promise that he would be signed by USC" after he played two semesters there. But things didn't work out in California, forcing Gillespie to look for a place closer to home. That's where he found the perfect situation at Coffeyville.

"Coming to Coffeyville has made me more level-headed," he said. "I've learned what I have to do to get to that Division I level now. I'm more mature now and more focused on the right things, instead of letting a lot of other schools and things get into my head.

"Coffeyville is the right place for me. It's only an hour away from my house. There's nothing to do here, so I can't get in trouble. School wise, they get you in the right classes, they put you in the right classes to get you out in three semesters. When I was in California, there was a lot of school problems."

Coffeyville coach Darian Dulin said he believes Gillespie has made progress both on and off the field.

"I heard a lot of negative things when he first came in," Dulin said. "I heard he wasn't going to go to class, that he wasn't going to buy into what we were trying to do and all that stuff. We talked on the phone and I said, 'Here's the deal, Tony. Here's what we're going to ask you to do and buy into our system. You have to go to class, and you have to do things right.' He said, 'Yes, sir,' and hasn't really been a problem since the day he came on our campus.

"He's got his academics in order. He's done everything we've asked him to do with his health and his knees. He's ready to go, and he's really matured. I think he's close to being where he was back in high school. He's got a great get off. He's strong and explosive. He just has to get his legs underneath him and get in better shape. He's got a chance to be one of the better ones in the league if he keeps working hard."

Gillespie plans on being patient with the recruiting process. He said he's going to have to prove to people he's still an impact player good enough to star on the Football Bowl Subdivision level.

"I went on a couple of visits in the spring to Oklahoma and K-State," Gillespie said. "They're kind of like, 'Tony, we know you're a talented player, but we want to see if you've still got it.' I signed with K-State out of high school. We went up there in the spring, and I met coach Bill Snyder and the coach that was recruiting me out of high school, coach Mo Latimore. I haven't really talked to them since then.

"It's kind of like I still need to prove myself. I kind of enjoy that. I'm going to make the most of this second chance."

No. 1 lines up final group

Sean Henderson, the father of the nation's No. 1 player Seantrel Henderson of Saint Paul (Minn.) Cretin-Derham Hall, said his son has narrowed his list down and has started to line up official visits.

Henderson's father said his son will take official visits to Ohio State, Oklahoma, Florida, USC and Notre Dame.

The visit to Ohio State will take place on Sept. 11. Notre Dame is tentatively set for Oct. 16 and USC is scheduled for Nov. 27.

Minnesota won't get an official visit because of its proximity to his home, but the Gophers are also major factor in Henderson's recruitment. Henderson said his decision will likely come down to a feeling more than anything.

"I just want to play at a place where I know if I come that I can live there for three or four years - however long I'm there - and there's people I'm comfortable around, just a comfortable place that I can be at," he said.

RECRUITER OF WEEK: Missouri CB coach Cornell Ford

Ford has long been considered one of the best recruiters in the Big 12, so it's no surprise to see him do damage again in the 2010 class. Ford landed one of the biggest prizes in the nation late last week when he helped reel in highly coveted offensive linemen Nick Demien of Wentzville (Mo.) Timberland.

Demien is the top overall prospect in the Show Me State and the No. 7 offensive tackle in the nation. Some might think it's easy to score a local player like Demien, but Ford helped the Tigers beat out national programs like Oklahoma, Florida State, Ole Miss, Nebraska, Oregon and UCLA for the commitment. Ford also landed four-star receiver Jimmie Hunt and three-star offensive linemen Anthony Gatti for the Tigers.

Etc.

Four-star linebacker V.J. Fehoko of Kahuku, Hawaii, has narrowed his list to five schools - Texas Tech, UCLA, Utah, Utah State and Hawaii. He has scholarship offers from each of the schools. Fehoko has connections with many of his finalists. His father, Vili Fehoko, is the Warriors' mascot. Sam Fehoko, his older brother, plays linebacker at Texas Tech. UCLA offensive coordinator Norm Chow was once the coach at Waialua High. Utah defensive coordinator Kalani Sitake is Fehoko's cousin.

Elk Grove (Calif.) Pleasant Grove receiver Jalen Saunders is the first commitment for Fresno State. The 5-8, 150-pounder committed to the Bulldogs over offers from Washington, Washington State, Nevada, UNLV and San Jose State.

Stanford scored a 2011 commitment from Dallas St. Mark's receiver Ty Montgomery. He actually committed more than a month ago but didn't go public with his pledge until just recently. "I camped with Stanford in the summer and fell in love with the place," Montgomery said.

The rich recently got richer in the state of Utah. Pleasant Grove already has a slew of talented FBS prospects, including highly coveted quarterback Dallas Lloyd, but the school picked up a major addition when Joe Kruger announced he was transferring to the school. Kruger is the nation's No. 22 strongside defensive end.



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