By Ira Green for MSNsportsNET.com
February 4, 2010
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – West Virginia University men’s soccer coach Marlon LeBlanc announced the addition of eight student-athletes for the 2010 season.
“This class is one of the best we have ever had at WVU and compares favorably to last year’s group that was rated one of the best in the country by Soccer America and College Soccer News,” LeBlanc says. “This is a group of players that have had great experiences with our youth national teams and have played for some of the finest youth clubs this country has to offer. We have also added some much needed experience, size and age to our squad with the addition of two junior college transfers. I really like this recruiting class and believe that from top to bottom, it is one of the best in the country.”
Zachary Claudio (Charleston, W.Va.), Brooks Nucilli (Fairmont, W.Va.), Travis Ives (Bridgewater, N.J.), Jay Williams (Raleigh, N.C.), Allan Flott (Arlington, Va.) and junior college transfers, brothers Franck Tayou (Douala, Cameroon) and Uzi Tayou (Bandjoun, Cameroon), join Julio Arjona (Germantown, Md.), who enrolled at WVU in January.
Joining his older brother, junior Nick Claudio, Zach was a four-year varsity starter at George Washington High. He earned numerous accolades over the course of his career, including being named the West Virginia High School State AAA Midfielder of the Year and the Mountain State Athletic Conference (MSAC) Player of the Year as a senior. He also is a two-time first team all-county and all-conference selection. As a senior captain, he led the team with 17 assists; he ranked first on the team as a junior in goals (10), while amassing six assists. Claudio was named the Kanawha/Putnam County Freshman of the Year in 2006. Away from his high school career, he played club soccer with the WV Revolution.
“Zach Claudio is the best pure soccer player to come out of West Virginia in quite some time,” LeBlanc adds. “Zach committed to WVU a couple of years ago, so we have known for quite some time what he can do. Zach can play a number of different roles for us because of his pure athletic ability. He is strong, committed and skillful and embodies all of the characteristics of what we look for in the recruiting process. West Virginians should be proud of this young man’s accomplishments and the fact that he chose to stay home and play for WVU.”
Nucilli was a three-year starter at Fairmont Senior High, where he finished his career with 93 goals and 77 assists. The 2009 West Virginia High School AAA State Player of the Year recorded 49 goals and 20 assists in his senior season. He also was named the conference player of the year at the conclusion of the season. Nucilli was twice selected first team all-state (2008 and 2009) as well as first team all-conference. Just this past year, the two-time captain was named to the NSCAA/adidas all-Region IV Team.
“Brooks is a tremendous addition to our roster,” LeBlanc notes. “He has a knack for scoring goals and certainly made his mark in the West Virginia history books this season. Brooks is a quick, dynamic forward who always seems to be in the right place at the right times to poach goals. The best thing about Brooks is that he wanted nothing more than to play soccer for WVU, and we are awfully proud to keep West Virginia’s finest home and more importantly in the Gold and Blue.”
Ives comes to Morgantown from Bridgewater, N.J., where he finished a successful four-year varsity career at Bridgewater-Raritan High. Ranked the fourth-best goalkeeper in the country and the fourth-best recruit out of the state of New Jersey, Ives earned all-state, all-county, all-area and all-conference honors over the course of his career. He was invited to play in the New Jersey All-Star game after registering 12 shutouts in his senior season. He played a major factor in the team’s run at becoming Somerset County co-champions, and he was named the tournament’s most valuable player.
Ives, tabbed the 52nd-best national recruit in the 2010 class by TopDrawerSoccer, starred on the U.S. U-14 and U-15 national teams. While playing with Red Bull New York Academy, he guided the squad to a seventh-place finish in the USSF Academy League, advancing to the Academy finals. He was named the Red Bull New York Youth Player of the Year in 2007-08.
“Travis is a big, strong, intimidating goalkeeper with a tremendous amount of pedigree,” LeBlanc comments. “He is loud, commanding and quite the imposing figure on the field. He controls his box well, is brave on crosses, and most importantly, makes saves. He has had some great experiences with the U.S. Youth National Team programs. This season, Travis will have the opportunity to learn under Zach Johnson, much like Zach did with former Mountaineer great and now professional goalkeeper Nick Noble. We expect Travis to add to what is quickly becoming a staple of West Virginia University … producing great goalkeepers.”
Williams, a highly decorated player, was a three-year starter for coach Scott Sloan at Wakefield High. The 2008 and 2009 captain was named first team all-conference in 2009 and earned second-team conference honors in 2008. Through his time at the high school level, he tallied 20 goals and 20 assists. Academically, he was honored twice (2007 and 2008), as he was named to the academic all-conference team. In his final two seasons, he earned all-region team accolades.
After competing at the prestigious 2009 Disney Showcase, Williams was one of 18 players selected to the showcase’s All-Star Team to play in England. The Raleigh, N.C., native was a member of the five-time U.S. Youth Soccer Association state cup champions (2003, 2005-08).
“Jay Williams has all the tools to develop into a major attacking threat in Division I,” LeBlanc says. “He was a late bloomer over the last couple seasons and was selected to adidas ESP and the Disney Showcase All-Star team that traveled to Chelsea Football Club last year. Jay has pace, athleticism and game changing attacking ability that will no doubt allow him to have a tremendous impact at WVU. We think Jay has his best years ahead of him and look forward to watching him develop in the Gold and Blue for the next four years.”
Flott, an Arlington, Va., native, was a three-year start for Bishop Denis J. O’Connell High. A co-captain as a junior and a senior, he was named garnered first and second team conference honors in his final two seasons in high school. Flott guided his team to the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference championship in 2008-09. He also played for D.C. United Academy and was a starter on the championship SUM U-17 MLS 2009 Cup team.
“Allan Flott continues the wonderful relationship that we have built with D.C. United over the last couple of years,” LeBlanc says. “We expect Allan to blossom here at WVU, as he possesses the size, skill and intelligence to be a very good center back at the Division I level. Much like freshman Eric Schoenle, who flew under the radar and turned out to be one of the best CB’s in the BIG EAST and Northeast region as a freshman this year, I believe Allan also fits that mold and has his best years ahead of him.”
The Tayou brothers, both junior college transfers from Garden City Community College, earned accolades at the junior college level.
Uzi, a 6-foot-4-inch, 205-pound defender, was named first-team all-Kansas Jayhawk Community College Conference (KJCCC) selection and second-team all-Region VI member. Previously, he played at Tacoma Community College for the 2008-09 season, where he was named a Northwest Athletic Association of Community Colleges (NWACC) All-Star.
“Uzi Tayou is obviously a huge and imposing physical specimen at center back,” LeBlanc says. “However, it is his class on the ball, his soccer brain, ability to play with both feet, speed and sheer work ethic that really makes this young man a tremendous footballer. Uzi will have an immediate impact at WVU, and brings leadership and experience to our young squad. He is a dominating figure in the air, has a tremendous amount of athleticism and will no doubt have a future professionally after his WVU days. Uzi was also born and raised in Bandjoun, Cameroon, and moved to the U.S. for his junior year of high school. We are very pleased to have Uzi here at WVU.”
Franck, a 6-foot-2-inch, 190-pound forward, scored nine goals and recorded three assists at Garden City Community College. He earned all-KJCCA honorable mention accolades. The year before, he was named an NWACC All-Star after recording eight goals and two assists as a freshman.
“Franck is a massive, strong and imposing center forward that will have an immediate impact here at WVU,” LeBlanc says. “He is a powerful forward who can get behind defenses but also possesses great back-to-goal skills that we haven’t had here since Jarrod Smith. What we get with Franck is size up front and a target man, both areas we have lacked the last couple of seasons. Franck is a driven and passionate footballer who can score goals is anxious to make his mark in the BIG EAST and nationally. Franck was born and raised in Douala, Cameroon, and moved to the U.S. with his brother and father for his junior year of high school. I am very pleased that Franck will be a Mountaineer in 2010.
“With so many of our starters and roster returning from last season, 21 to be exact, I believe that this group has what it takes to put our program over the top to compete for BIG EAST and NCAA honors in 2010.”