Posted: 8:37 pm Thursday, January 26th, 2012
By Matt Porter
Two weeks ago, FAU had a recruiting class that boasted five Palm Beach County players. It’s now down to two, and several local recruits and their coaches are bitter.
Atlantic wide receiver Chad Ward, plus John I. Leonard defensive end Andy Daceus and wide receiver Nesly Ovincy are no longer headed to FAU. All three thought they would help rebuild the Owls, who are coming off a 1-11 season.
This week, the Owls revoked their scholarship offer to Ward. While programs are not permitted by the NCAA to talk about unsigned recruits, FAU sources said the Owls currently need smaller, faster receivers who can play slot receiver in new coach Carl Pelini’s spread offense. Ward, at 6-foot-2 and nearly 200 pounds, is best suited to play on the outside.
Ward, who committed to the program in August, now lacks an FBS scholarship offer. National signing day is Wednesday.
“[Pelini] said the new coaching staff wasn’t going to honor my commitment,” Ward said. “They should have told me earlier. Now I’m stuck.”
Ward’s coach at Atlantic, Chris Bean, told ESPN-760 that FAU “can forget” about recruiting Atlantic players, adding that FAU “would have to do something completely drastic” to smooth things over.
Atlantic, located in Delray Beach just north of FAU’s campus, has produced eight FBS signees in the last two years.
At John I. Leonard, Daceus, a 6-4, 252-pound defensive end, recently committed to the Owls, believing he was doing so with Ovincy, his close friend. FAU sources said both Howard Schnellenberger and Pelini’s staffs wanted Daceus, but not Ovincy, who never had an FAU offer.
After the confusion, Daceus plans to sign with either Western Michigan or UAB.
If FAU offers him, he said he “wouldn’t blow them off, but me and my family don’t really feel comfortable with that situation there.”
John I. Leonard coach Wayne Monroe felt FAU may be burning bridges in its backyard.
“Those kids thought that they were in. They were told that they weren’t,” Monroe said. “What is that saying to all the other kids in the county? What is it saying to the coaches in the county?”
FAU is still recruiting several local players and does have verbal commitments from four: Forest Hill receiver Mikey Bullard, American Heritage running back Jeremy Gaskins, Fort Pierce Westwood lineman Inuka Rhaheed and Fort Pierce Central linebacker Freedom Whitfield.
Monroe wondered why FAU wouldn’t try harder to build its local talent base and its local fan base.
“You’re trying to build a program, and you have all these kids in the county who want to stay here,” Monroe said. “[Miami] gets all those kids from the top schools in Miami-Dade. FAU could be the same way.
“There are a ton of kids that leave and end up playing against FAU. And beating FAU.”
Jeff Greer contributed to this report.