WIR: Strange timing for Little

With reports surfacing that Butch Davis will soon be named the new head coach at North Carolina, the timing of Greg Little's (Durham, N.C./Hillside) announcement Thursday for Notre Dame seems strange.

Last month, Little was ready to make his choice on ESPNU only to pull out that day and say only that he was choosing between Notre Dame and North Carolina.

Soon after, North Carolina announced that John Bunting would not be returning after this season. With the job in flux, it would be logical for Little to think that Notre Dame was the more stable place to go.

Even though Little has verbally committed to Notre Dame, don't be surprised if Davis takes a shot at getting Little to look at what he has to offer at North Carolina.

That won't be easy. Little has to be enticed that he'll be catching the ball from No. 1 QB Jimmy Clausen (Westlake Village, Calif./Oaks Christian), who is set to sign with Notre Dame. That's not to say that North Carolina ESPN 150 QB commit Mike Paulus (Syracuse, N.Y./Christian Brothers) is a slouch.

With around three months until national signing day, there is still plenty of time for recruits -- and coaches -- to change their minds.

Benn headed to Illinois

Arrelious Benn (Washington, D.C./Dunbar) surprised many Thursday with his announcement for Illinois over Florida State, Maryland and Notre Dame, among others.

''They're up-and-coming," Benn said during his announcement on ESPNU. "They have a quarterback I know is going to be there for my time there. They need players in their offense, and I feel I can be a difference-maker. I plan on doing big things in the Big Ten.''

Illinois offensive coordinator Mike Locksley, a Washington, D.C. native, no doubt had a strong effect on Benn's decision.

Last year, Illinois signed D.C. native Vontae Davis, and this year they already have a verbal commitment from Washington, D.C.-Dunbar athlete Nathan Bussey.

Louisville pulls in-state offer

It's the flip side of recruiting few ever talk about.

Sure, kids change their minds and sometimes renege on verbal commitments. They're often vilified by media and fans of the school they spurned.

But what about when schools change their minds and pull back a scholarship, like what Louisville did with Brad Durham (Mount Vernon, Ky./Rockcastle County).

"The reason they gave him is that they had been re-evaluating him on film and they didn't really like what they saw," Rockcastle County Head Coach Tom Larkey told Lex18.com. "They liked him last year and they don't like him this year. I don't think that's really the reason."

Nease put on probation

The football program at Nease High School in Ponte Vedre Beach, Fla., the alma mater of Florida freshman sensation Tim Tebow, has been placed on six years of restricted probation and the school fined $20,000 for major violations by the Florida High School Athletic Association (FHSAA).

The violations stem from two non-faculty assistant coaches and involve one student. One of the coaches offered a job to the student's father, which was accepted, and the student and his father were given residence by the other coach, who also gave the students rides to and from school.

"We take these violations very seriously," FHSAA Commissioner John A. Stewart said. "The school's head football coach admitted to our investigator that he was aware of the arrangements between these two assistant coaches and the student-athlete's father. Furthermore, the violations occurred while the school already is on probation for violations in another sport. This raises serious questions about the level of control, if any, the school's administration has over its athletic program. We hope the severity of the penalties, which include the single largest fine in the Association's history, will be an attention-getter."

Among the penalties, Nease is prohibited from playing any out-of-state opponents or on television for the next six years.


Pro Football Hall of Famer and current San Francisco 49ers assistant coach Mike Singletary on his son Matt, who has verbally committed to Baylor:

"He's blossoming here. He's a better athlete than me and also he's a lot taller, so it will be interesting to see what he becomes."

Henry Gola is the recruiting editor for ESPN.com