Archive for October, 2009

UGA commit reopens recruitment due to Martinez uncertainty

Uncertainty over the future of Georgia defensive coordinator Willie Martinez is causing a commitment to waver.

Nickell Robey, a cornerback from Frostpoof, Fla., who committed to the Bulldogs in August, has reopened his recruitment because of the uncertainty of Martinez’s future. The four-star athlete, who also stars as a kick returner and wingback, has decided to accept invitations to take official visits to Tennessee and South Florida.

“He’s still with Georgia,” Frostproof coach Brad Metheny said. “He just has these two visits he’s going to go ahead take. But he hasn’t changed a whole lot. He just wants to make sure he has options if there needs to be any changes.”

Metheny confirmed that the possibility that Martinez could get fired is the main reason Robey is wavering.

“You know, he’s got legitimate concerns,” Metheny said. “Coach Martinez is the coach that recruited him and that would be coaching him and so forth. So if he’s not there, who’s the next guy coming and what’s …

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UT’s Kiffin just latest to use helicopters in recruiting

Tennessee coaches arrive at M.L. King-Stephenson game in a rented helicopter this past Friday. (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

Tennessee coaches arrive at M.L. King-Stephenson game in a rented helicopter this past Friday. (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

Tennessee coach Lane Kiffin is neither the only coach nor the first coach to employ a helicopter in recruiting. In fact, lots of the schools are doing it these days, according to a recent article in The New York Times.

Pete Thamel and Thayer Evans reported on Oct. 16 that swooping into high school games on a chopper is just the latest emerging trend in major college football recruiting. Cincinnati, Missouri, UCLA and Maryland are among those that have apparently been doing it for awhile. In fact, the Terrapins apparently were one of the first to employ the strategy but no longer do it due to budget constraints, the newspaper reported.

But such grandiose tactics hadn’t been seen in these parts until Kiffin and assistant coach Ed Orgeron arrived at the nationally-televised M.L. King-Stephenson game this past Friday at Hallford Stadium in Clarkston in a …

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Georgia commit Alec Ogletree does it all for Newnan

For the most part it has been a quiet season for AJC Super 11 safety Alec Ogletree. But the 6-foot-3, 215-pound Georgia commitment made a lot of noise Friday night in Newnan’s biggest game of the season.

Ogletree was all over the field on both sides of the ball in the Cougars’ impressive 20-0 win over their region rivals. Ogletree had three catches for 92 yards on offense, including a 79-yard reception on the first possession of the game to set up the opening score. On defense, Ogletree had eight tackles, including three “hammers,” the terminology Newnan uses for jaw-jarring takedowns. He also had an interception that he returned for about 30 yards or so.

“It was probably the best game I’ve had this year,” said Ogletree, a five-star prospect who is considered the No. 2 safety in the country by Scout.com. “I was already pumped up when I got there. Then I looked up in the stands and saw all these signs saying stuff like, ‘Ogletree is a peon.’ So I was pretty motivated. Big-time …

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Georgia O-line commitment Benedict blows out knee

Georgia commitment Brent Benedict, one of the top offensive line prospects in the country, suffered what was described as a “catastrophic knee injury” in a game Friday night in Jacksonville.

Benedict, a 6-foot-6, 290-pound offensive tackle who stars for The Bolles School, reportedly injured the knee when he was simply running down the field to celebrate a touchdown during a 68-0 win over Yulee, according to a report in The Florida Times-Union. There was no contact on the play.

T-U reporter Carlon Hays quoted coach Corky Rogers:  “It seems to be about as bad as it can get. “It looked like somebody had shot him when he went down.”

Rogers said that Benedict is likely looking at 12-18 months of rehabilitation after surgery.

Neither Rogers nor Benedict could be reached Monday but I’ll update this post as soon as I hear back from them.

Benedict is one of the Bulldogs’ top recruits for 2010. He is ranked the fourth-, fifth- and sixth-best tackle in the nation by Rivals, ESPN and …

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Super 11 OT Christian picks Auburn after FSU spurn

Another one-time Florida State commitment has landed elsewhere.

After decommitting to Florida State late last month, Lowndes County's Ed Christian committed to Auburn on Sunday. (AJC Photo by Jason Getz)

After decommitting to Florida State late last month, Lowndes County's Ed Christian committed to Auburn on Sunday. (AJC Photo by Jason Getz)

Lowndes offensive lineman Ed Christian, an AJC Super 11 selection, committed to Auburn after going there on an official visit this past weekend. The 6-foot-5, 280-pound tackle originally committed to the Seminoles way back in February, just a week after national signing day. He “decommitted” to FSU late last month when questions started to arise over the future of the program. He attended the Auburn-Ball State game on an unofficial visit that weekend.

Christian credited Auburn assistant coach Curtis Luper for reigniting his interest in Auburn. He said Luper called him out of the blue last month.

“I wanted to experience another college,” Christian told Auburn.Scout.com. “I gave them that chance and it was my overall best visit to a school. This school (Auburn) treats you the …

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Tai-ler Jones pulls switch from Stanford to Notre Dame

AJC Super 11 wide receiver Tai-ler Jones switched his commitment from Stanford to Notre Dame.

AJC Super 11 selection Tai-ler Jones, a wide receiver at Gainesville, switched from Stanford to Notre Dame after visiting the Fighting Irish in South Bend, Ind., this past weekend. (AAJC photo by Jason Getz)

AJC Super 11 selection Tai-ler Jones, a wide receiver at Gainesville, switched from Stanford to Notre Dame after visiting the Fighting Irish in South Bend, Ind., this past weekend. (AAJC photo by Jason Getz)

The 6-foot, 185-pound senior gave Notre Dame coach Charlie Weis the word about 4 o’clock Sunday afternoon, not long after returning from an official visit to South Bend, Ind., over the weekend. That call was followed shortly by one to Stanford coach Jim Harbaugh, who was none-too-happy about the news.

“It was very difficult to do,” said Jones, who has 36 catches for 640 yards and 11 touchdowns for the No. 1-ranked Red Elephants. “The schools were so close with my comparison. It’s hard to tell that coach and that staff that you’ve change your mind when you’ve stuck with them and been so close the last few months. But it’s just something I had to do.”

Jones said the camaraderie and …

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Kiffin’s antics impress Thornton, Brown, and lift Vols

Anybody who thinks Lane Kiffin’s showy antics don’t make a difference in recruiting wasn’t listening to these players after the game. They were clearly impressed by Kiffin’s idea to chopper to the game with right-hand recruiting man Ed Orgeron.

The two Tennessee coaches landed on a soccer field just west of James R. Hallford Stadium in a red helicopter as the
Star Bangled Banner played before the nationally-televised the M.L. King-Stephenson game. They flew out at the end of halftime.

“That really felt good to me because I talked to him for a minute on the phone,” said Mike Thornton, Stephenson’s star defensive tackle. “He told me he was going to come in and show off a little bit and, sure ‘nough, he did his thing. I saw him leave out and come in but that’s it.”

Stephenson led 7-0 at the half.

Thornton, considered the top uncommitted D-lineman in the state, hadn’t mentioned Tennessee among his favorites (Auburn, Georgia, Penn State) before Friday. Asked after the game if  the …

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Faceoff at 50, Kiffin choppers in — yeah, it’s MLK-Stephenson

Greetings from the pressbox high above the field here at James R. Hallford Stadium. I’ve just come up from the field — a near vertical climb of I’m guessing eight or nine stories — where I got an up-close-and-personal look at one of the best pregame midfield square-offs I’ve witnessed since those Miami-Florida State in the 1990s.

This one was between to of DeKalb County’s finest, the No. 7-ranked Stephenson Jaguars and No. 8-ranked Martin Luther King Lions. Stephenson, in visiting white jerseys warming up on the east end of the field, gathered and bean jumping and taunting on the 45 on their side. The Lions, in their home burgundy, quickly rushed up to their side and began jumping and yelling back. It took every coach, volunteer and referee to keep the two sides at bay.

By the time I got up and settled back at my computer — it is literally standing-room only in this ladder-access edifice — and theywere finishing playing the national anthem. On cue, a red helicopter appeared on …

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Towers blogging live from MLK-Stephenson tonight

I’m getting ready to leave my office very shortly to head over to James R. Hallford Stadium for tonight’s mega-matchup between Martin Luther King High and Stephenson. I’m going to get there early and I’ll be there late — blogging throughout — so be sure to check back for updates and commentary from pregame to final whistle!

Remember, it’s a 6 p.m. kickoff tonight and it’s expected to be jam-packed so I’d suggest you get there early, too. It’s a beautiful night for football and it looks like these two teams, ranked 7 and 8 in the state’s highest classification, are going to encounter perfect conditions for the the competition.

Here are just a few things I’m looking forward to:

  • MLK’s Mack Brown: This will be my second chance to see in action the top-rated back in the state. The last time was against Southwest DeKalb, which held him in check with 66 yards. Stephenson’s D may be even tougher.
  • Mike Thornton: This will be my first opportunity to see tackle Mike Thornton live. …

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Lane Kiffin, Lane Kiffin, Lane Kiffin, Lane Kiffin!

Somebody calling himself “Brew” had a funny comment Thursday in the thread underneath my blog about Lane Kiffin and Tennessee “striking again” by landing the commitment of Gainesville linebacker A.J. Johnson.

Wrote my man “Brew”: You have cracked the double secret code to success in your field. In a world, where circulation numbers are dwindling and internet hits are gold, you realize that using the word “Kiffin” in your headlines means mega-hits for the AJC. This story alone will garner fifty thousand hits . . .

I had two immediate thoughts about this: One, is Brew my boss? And, two, I wish it had been 50,000!

So as an experiment this morning we offered the all-Lane-Kiffin headline. I’ll let you know when we get to 50,000 hits.

But seriously, writing anything about Kiffin does generate all kinds of reaction. You know it, I know it and he knows it.

Perfect example: Kiffin was on the SEC coaches teleconference call on Wednesday and he went out his way to let everybody …

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