FARGO — How Florida high school football prospect Courtney Eubanks went from high-end FBS scholarship offers to verbally committing to North Dakota State is a complicated scenario that for NDSU boils down to an old slogan: perfect time, perfect place.
Eubanks’ high school head coach at Admiral Farragut Academy in St. Petersburg, Rick Kravitz, called it the “perfect storm” for the Bison.
“Everybody thought he was going somewhere else,” he said.
Eubanks will be one of three players that are expected to sign a letter of intent with the Bison on Wednesday, the second national signing period for Division I football. NDSU signed 24 scholarship and preferred walkon players in December during the early period.
For the second straight year, the Bison will get a speedster out of Georgia in wide receiver DJ Hart from Suwanee, Ga., located northeast of Atlanta. And the verbal commitment of Nathan Whiting from Rosemount, Minn., means NDSU will have four kickers on the roster next fall.
Michael Buetow, a 6-foot-1, 290-pound defensive tackle at Minnesota State-Mankato, also announced his intention to transfer to NDSU. He’ll have to sit out next season and will have one year of eligibility remaining.
In Eubanks, however, the Bison may have gotten a player who carried the most scholarship offers of the recruiting class.
“I could name you 30,” Kravitz said.
That list, he said, included Nebraska, Pittsburgh, Rutgers, South Florida, Cincinnati and Wake Forest. The list included schools from the Mid-American Conference and Atlantic Coast Conference. It’s the second straight year NDSU will land a player with a Cincinnati offer. Linebacker Luke Weerts was offered by the Bearcats and played as a true freshman for the Bison.
Rivals.com has Eubanks as a two-star prospect with 12 confirmed offers.
“Everybody thought he was going to Nebraska,” Kravitz said. “He didn’t respond and they went a different route, a JC guy; somebody they needed right away and he got lost in the shuffle. Everybody thought he signed.”
The shuffle, Kravitz said, included a period of time when Eubanks’ phone went dead “and everybody thought he was blowing them off and he wasn’t doing that.” NDSU got into the mix thanks to Cam Smith, a former teammate at Farragut who redshirted last season with the Bison.
“Cameron spoke so highly of the program,” Kravitz said.
Smith convinced Eubanks to take a campus visit and the result was almost immediate. Eubanks changed the profile photo on his Twitter account to one of him in an NDSU jersey.
“Everybody was scrambling, ACC teams, SEC teams, MAC, all of them were trying to make room for him,” Kravitz said. “Everybody came back in and tried to work something out. It helped having Cameron up there and the fact it’s a successful program. He can make all of his dreams by going there just like any other place.”
Smith is a cornerback and the defensive backfield may be where the 5-10, 170-pound Eubanks is headed. His recruiting profile lists him with a 4.43-second 40-yard dash, which Kravitz said is legitimate.
“They’re looking at him defensively but if they ever move him to offense he’s electric,” he said. “On defense, we put him on whoever we needed to shut down. He was a corner against a 6-5 receiver with an Alabama offer. He has great feet.”
Kravitz was asked how Eubanks, a team captain, handled the muddled nature of his recruitment.
“He was good, he’s a great kid,” he said. “He does whatever he needs to do to get things done. He just plays. He’s one of the top players in the area and he didn’t care how many times we threw him the ball. We moved him over to corner to take somebody on and he didn’t care. If we needed him at safety he played safety.”