Really, what's not to like?
Just a short trip down Interstate 64, across the Hampton Roads Bridge Tunnel, Old Dominion football coach Bobby Wilder has found fertile recruiting ground. Wilder will add two players from Phoebus High School, winners of three Division 5 state championships in the past four seasons, to the two Phantoms already playing for the Monarchs.
Tailback/safety Colby Goodwyn and quarterback/safety Paul Morant will join Reid Evans, ODU's leading receiver, and cornerback Markell Wilkins in Norfolk for the 2010 season, the Monarchs' second in FCS play. A third ex-Phantom, defensive lineman Dominik Davenport, will also join ODU this fall after transferring from West Virginia.
"The thing that I love the most about the Phoebus players is they know how to practice, they know how to play, and they know how to win," Wilder said.
Evans led the Monarchs with 46 catches for 602 yards and three touchdowns last season as ODU went 9-2, setting a startup program record for wins. Wilkins had one interception, one fumble recovery and 28 tackles.
The Monarchs add to the ex-Phantom mix with Goodwyn, who rushed for 1,869 yards and scored 31 touchdowns for the 15-0 Phantoms, and Morant, who threw for 1,102 yards and seven touchdowns while rushing for 291 yards and nine TDs. Goodwyn will start his college career on offense, while Morant was recruited as a safety.
"With the success that Old Dominion had last fall, it just makes them that more marketable to the kids, the local kids," Phoebus coach Stan Sexton said. "I really like the way they recruit the area. I see them more than any other schools locally around, and to me, that's a positive for the kids and Old Dominion."
ODU also signed two other Peninsula players on Wednesday, National Signing Day: Bethel quarterback Rashad Manley and Woodside quarterback Aaron Evans, the Daily Press offensive player of the year after accounting for 1,522 passing and 1,261 rushing yards.
The signings reflect the Monarchs' continuing commitment to the Peninsula and Hampton Roads, even after former recruiting coordinator Chip West, who mined that territory for ODU, gone to join Mike London's staff at Virginia.
"This past week, every coach on our staff, all seven that were out on the road at one time, spent the entire week trying to get to every school in the Hampton Roads region, because I wanted our coaches to be the last coaches (players) were visiting with this week," Wilder said. "I wanted all those coaches to see how committed we are to the players in this region."