Going over my notes after a film session spent with Noel Devine.
In the rain, doesn't slip at all.
... 99 yards ... Steve Slaton with more speed.
|Noel Devine's playing style draws comparisons to Reggie Bush.|
... breaking ankles ... A.I. in cleats.
Maybe prep school.
I wasn't really with Noel Devine. Never met the kid. But I watch video clips with the best of them. That means I'm also one of The Converted. The North Fort Myers, Fla., tailback can play right now. I don't care if he is only 5-feet-8, 175 pounds.
If someone can figure out a way to get him on a football field, I won't need a media credential. I'll pay my way.
Noel Devine is that good. He became an electronic legend two years ago when film of him hit the Internet. Now you can pretty much waste an afternoon watching clip after clip of him on YouTube.
That's one reason why Devine is the most curious talent of Recruiting Orgy '07. In the next few days, he might sign a letter of intent with some major power.
Or he might end up working in one of those McDonald's.
I don't mean to be sensational. That might be the way it turns out. I really fear for the kid. It's going to be either one way or the other. Total star or total bust. Either way, Noel Devine has become the biggest recruiting tease this decade.
What would expect from a 19-year-old who has two illegitimate children? A kid who stiffed Deion Sanders when he tried to adopt him? An undisciplined, misguided teenager who apparently doesn't realize the value of minimal schoolwork to his football career.
Those warning signs obviously haven't stopped Rich Rodriguez, Nick Saban and Bobby Bowden -- supposedly the three finalists -- from doggedly pursuing Devine.
But at what cost? Devine reportedly has fathered children with two women. His parents reportedly both died of AIDS before he was 12. A grandmother has been his legal guardian. But he stays at the home of a Fort Myers couple.
He has witnessed the murder of a friend.
Best not to mention his grades. One recruitnik told me this week there is little chance the kid will qualify.
None of that stopped EA Sports from coming to town last fall and filming his moves to be downloaded into NCAA '08 next season.
So what are we all doing here? The same mating dance we all do every year. Every coach in the country would sell their soul to snag Devine as he comes out of his remedial classes. Fans are hoping against hope that he lights up their scoreboard.
But this kid needs more than a scholarship. He needs guidance. He needs direction. He needs a job to support his children. He needs ... his parents.
Sadly, that will never happen.
This is the same logic I used with Willie Williams at Miami. I didn't say he shouldn't play football, just not at Miami, where too many negative vibes still existed.
Noel Devine should be able to play college football -- some day. Just not before he clears up his personal life. Prep school? Maybe going off to Virginia or Massachusetts to touch up his grades is a good thing. But maybe this undisciplined superstar jumps on a plane one day and decides to fly back to Fort Myers.
It has already happened once. Deion Sanders is a Fort Myers native who graduated from Devine's high school (North Fort Myers). When Sanders attempted to adopt Devine in 2005, he deserted the former NFL star.
Devine had moved in with Sanders and his family in Prosper, Texas, 18 months ago. A day before reporting for practice at Prosper High, he took the Cadillac Escalade of Sanders' wife, drove it to DFW Airport and flew back to Fort Myers.
Left the keys in the car. Nice guy.
"We were really in a state of shock," Sanders told the Fort Myers News-Press. "We couldn't believe it. I wish we saw a sign but there was nothing. ... Some people don't want to be helped."
It's less than a week before signing day, and no one's talking. James Iandoli -- Devine's coach and defacto mouthpiece -- has not responded to several messages left for him. The NFL Network told me Sanders is booked up this week. Imagine that, Neon Deion not talking.
Forget about Devine himself. He is naturally shy. The next we hear from him will be a commitment to some major power.
Then what? In the rain, he doesn't slip at all.
And McDonald's is hiring.