Archive for February, 2009

Strained friendship between Urban Meyer and Florida high school coach


Urban Meyer (AP)

Urban Meyer has won two BCS titles at Florida (AP photo)

A Florida high school football coach says his friendship is a little strained with Urban Meyer these days. It has everything to do with recruiting.

Robert Weiner directs Tampa’s Plant High, the Florida powerhouse which has won two out of the last three state championships. Plant High also boasts two prospects ranked among the nation’s top 100, quarterback Aaron Murray and tight end Orson Charles. Both are headed across the state line for college ball, which isn’t sitting too well with fans of the reigning BCS champions. Weiner counts Urban Meyer as a friend.

“I’m sure, at least for a short period of time, there will be strained relations with Urban and the Florida coaches,” Weiner told the AJC on Wednesday. “But eventually we’ll be back to business. I’ll have other players that the University of Florida will want in future years, and I’d love to get players to the University of Florida. Anytime you have two …

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Georgia’s Sophomores Gone Wild


Tucker sophomore James Vaughters

Tucker sophomore James Vaughters

Why waste any time talking about the state’s top juniors? That group, those 15 and 16-year olds, they are old news. The sophomores are stealing the spotlight. And that’s correct for all of you keeping score at home: These kids will graduate in 2011. They won’t take the field in college (best-case scenario) for three more years. Maybe the economy will be back by then.

Tucker’s James Vaughters is the latest member of the 2011 club, joining others such as Gainesville linebacker A.J. Johnson (Tennessee offer) and Valdosta tight end Jay Rome (UGA, Alabama). Vaughters is 6-foot-3 and 220 pounds, sports a 4.0 GPA, and boasts extra early offers from N.C. State and Central Florida.


Since when did Central Florida start offering 2011 kids in Georgia? That’s a good question. I had to ask that to Tucker coach Franklin Stephens. “As you know, [Tucker senior] Jonathan Davis signed with Central Florida. The Central Florida assistant is David Kelley, who …

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Steve Spurrier tells Georgia’s top QB prospect he is nowhere near retirement


Steve Spurrier

Steve Spurrier

South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier told Georgia’s top quarterback prospect he is “nowhere near retiring” from the Gamecocks.

Flowery Branch quarterback Connor Shaw spent around 30 minutes with Spurrier during South Carolina’s Junior Day on Saturday. One of the first things they talked about was Spurrier’s future with the Gamecocks.

“I always hear these rumors, just like everybody else, that Coach Spurrier is going to retire in two years, so I asked him about it,” Shaw said. “He [Spurrier] told me  ’I’m definitely staying until we accomplish more things at South Carolina … [and] I’m nowhere near retiring.’”

Shaw, the younger brother of Georgia Tech quarterback Jaybo Shaw, is one of the state’s top 2010 prospects and has early offers from South Carolina, Tech, Stanford, West Virginia and Wake Forest.

With Spurrier, rumors about his impending retirement are constantly used against South Carolina on the recruiting trail. Even one of Spurrier’s former …

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What commitment means: Georgia coach Mark Richt gives his opinion

Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson hit on a hot-button issue when he made it a point to talk about what “commitment means” on signing day.

UGA coach Mark Richt was recently asked what “commitment means.” 

“When we offer a kid, we don’t ever want to renege that offer,” Richt said. “If we offer a QB, and we’ve assigned one scholarship to that position, and we offer five or six, we tell each one of them that ‘We’re looking to sign one.’ When one gets committed, and we trust that he’s solid, then we let everybody know we’re full. I don’t really look at that as reneging an offer. I think everybody offered has the chance to take that one. It one of those ‘whomever takes it first, gets it’ type of things.”

“That’s why I tell our coaches ‘Don’t be quick to offer. If you offer him, and he commits, he’s ours. We’re not backing off that. So, at times, we probably offer a little bit slower, in some cases, than other schools.”

“You hope that a young man is going to stand firm with his …

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UGA coach forced to change plans with Troup County valedictorian candidate


Chris Burnette

Chris Burnette

Georgia coach Mark Richt made a promise last month to Troup County offensive lineman Chris Burnette: If you’re the valedictorian, then I’ll be at your graduation to hear your speech.

However, as it turns out, NCAA rules will prevent Richt from attending the high school graduation. But he still plans on hearing Burnette’s speech.

“If Chris is the man and he gives the speech, hopefully they will tape it … I would absolutely watch it, I’d be excited to watch it,” Richt said. “I’ll make sure to check with compliance, but I can’t imagine that being [an NCAA] violation.”

Burnette, who signed with Georgia, said he is fine with the altered plans. “Everybody around here was excited about Coach Richt showing up at graduation. But he can’t do anything about the rules … I understand, it’s no big deal.”

“It really means a lot to me that [Richt] wanted to be there to support me. I knew there a chance he couldn’t make because of [NCAA rules], football practices, or the …

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Lane Kiffin may get the last laugh

We all know the Hollywood saying “Any publicity is good publicity.”

Could this apply to Tennessee coach Lane Kiffin? Is this his “secret” recruiting strategy? In the end, will Kiffin get the last laugh on his detractors?  It sounds ridiculous, until you look at everything strictly from the standpoint of recruiting.

Brief recap: Kiffin has appeared to set a Guinness world record for “ticking off the most SEC coaches in the shortest span.” Barely two months on the job at Rocky Top, Kiffin has taken shots at Florida, Alabama and Georgia. He made the biggest news with “cheating accusations” toward Florida’s Urban Meyer, coach of the reigning BCS champions.

One could say (and many are outside of the Orange Nation) that “never before has a coach been this brash, this bold, this quickly … without coaching his first college game.” And that was the PG-13 version of summing up public opinion. Kiffin’s moves appear to be reckless and out of control.

However, from a recruiting …

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Collins Hill RB Charles Perkins comfortable as No. 1


Collins Hill tailback Charles Perkins loves to finish first in everything, which made him an ideal fit as Georgia Tech’s first commitment for the 2010 recruiting class.

“I wanted to be first,” Perkins said. “I believe I was the first junior that Georgia Tech offered, and I know I am the first one that committed.

“To me, it’s an honor to be first. [Tech] showed me a list of its first commitments over the years, and there were some big-time names on there … Derrick Steagall, Quincy Carter [who later played at Georgia] and others.”

When Collins Hill runs the ball, Perkins is usually the first one down the field. He finished with 1,244 yards rushing and 12 touchdowns during his junior season.

But that was not the first thing that Eagles coach Billy Wells told recruiters about Perkins, who also considered offers from Kentucky, Vanderbilt, Wake Forest, Central Florida and Wisconsin.

“Charles is a young man with outstanding character… . That’s the first thing …

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The pressure is on Georgia Tech and UGA with the junior prospects from state


Georgia Tech's Giff Smith

Georgia Tech's Giff Smith

And you thought all the recruiting fun ended for a while with last week’s signing day.

Nothing could be further from the truth. Behind the scenes, Georgia recruiting coordinator Rodney Garner and his counterpart, Georgia Tech’s Giff Smith, are arguably under more pressure now.

January and February are THE most important months of the year for making inroads with the state’s top prospects for the following year. You know, Georgia’s top juniors, which will make up the 2010 recruiting classes for colleges. Both schools have sent out a flurry of early offers, and more will be on the way.

Now what we’re talking about here is UGA and Tech, with regards to high school prospects in Georgia (not other states). And we’re talking about the elite guys, the state’s top 10-20 juniors. If UGA and Tech really want them, they have a short “window of opportunity” to let it be clearly known before the intense invasion of out-of-state colleges begins later in the …

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The best of the best of AJC recruiting coverage for signing day


Paul Johnson

Paul Johnson

The AJC posted more than 200 recruiting articles, columns, profiles, videos and photo galleries on Wednesday. There was so much at such a dizzying pace that I decided to pick out some of the best ones for you to read in case you missed them:

UGA recruiting coordinator Rodney Garner makes public apology to wife. This revisits what many say is one of the funniest recruiting press conferences they’ve ever seen, and it was all caught on tape.

One Valdosta player signs with Georgia, another with Georgia Tech. Whenever Antonio Foster says “45-42, 45-42, 45-42, 45-42, 45-,42, 45-42″, Mike Gilliard reminds him UGA won seven out of eight meetings.

Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson addresses what “commitment means.” Here we go with the philosophical debate. This could get pretty deep with the posts underneath.

Marlon Brown pulls prank on UGA players. That speedy and sneaky Marlon. He had UGA’s players thinking he was headed to Ohio State.

South Carolina reveals its …

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The mute button comes off the college coaches on signing day

All year long, we’ve had to go by what the high school prospects and their respective coaches have had to say about recruiting. Their side of the story, their version of events.

On Wednesday, the college coaches finally have permission to speak and put their spin on everything.

NCAA rules prevent colleges from commenting on prospective student-athletes. That ends on Wednesday, as soon as the prospects sign off on the scholarship papers.

In Columbia, S.C., what will Steve Spurrier have to say about how the situation was handled with Tucker’s Jonathan Davis? Will he even address it? Or just “let it go” and talk about the prospects they did get? Members of the South Carolina media have promised to ask Spurrier about Davis, therefore stay tuned.

At Georgia Tech, Paul Johnson appeared to take a “hard-line” stance toward Georgia Tech commitments visiting other schools. Quarterback Dontae Aycock of Tampa, Fla., was a “secret commitment” to Tech three weeks ago and warned against …

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