Archive for November, 2009

Blake Sims makes it clear: No go for UGA

Bama all the way, says Gainesville's electrifying quarterback Blake Sims. (AJC photo)

Bama all the way, says Gainesville's electrifying quarterback Blake Sims. (AJC photo)

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The answer to the question was delivered politely and succinctly.

I asked Gainesville quarterback Blake Sims – arguably the best overall player in the entire state — if there was any chance at all he could end up at Georgia.

“No, sir,” the longtime Alabama commitment stated flatly on Wednesday.

By itself that would not seem a stirring statement. He’s going to go where he said he said he was going to go. But placed in the context of the last few weeks it resonates powerfully.

Sims, as I have reported, grew up a Bulldogs’ fan. Living just 41 miles from Sanford Stadium, he attended their camps for four years and his parents have framed photos of Sims and coach Mark Richt on the walls of their Gainesville home.

But it was the Crimson Tide that was the first to offer this dynamic athlete last spring. And Sims accepted a day later. But the day before Sims practically begged …

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Intrigue surrounds Tech hoops target Tobias Harris

You’ve got to love basketball recruiting.

Tobias Harris, a 6-foot-8 power forward from New York and the No. 2-rated player at his position in America, signed a scholarship with somebody on Wednesday, the final day of the early signing period. And that somebody might have even been Georgia Tech, which welcomed him to Atlanta on his last official visit just Monday.

But we won’t know who Harris signed with until he makes his televised announcement on ESPNU Thursday at the ESPN Zone in New York City’s Times Square.

We know this: It will be either Tech, Tennessee, Maryland, Kentucky, Louisville, Syracuse or West Virginia. And don’t count out Bruce Pearl’s Vols.

In fact, in the latest version “As the Recruiting World Turns,” Harris was supposed to fly back to New York on Tuesday after his Tech visit. But instead he and his family reportedly drove home and stopped off in Knoxville for Tennessee’s game against UNC-Asheville.

Here’s where it gets real interesting. Speculation is that …

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Union County’s Blake Gowder accepts Vandy offer

Union County’s Blake Gowder lives slap-dab in the middle of Georgia’s Chattahoochee National Forest. It’s a beautiful area surrounded by 4,000-foot mountain peaks and clear, swift-flowing streams. It’s known for its great hiking and camping and outdoor activities but not so much for football.

Blake Gowder was a standout player on both sides of the ball for Union County, starring at wide receiver and linebacker. He accepted a scholarship offer from Vanderbilt this week. (Special photo)

Blake Gowder was a standout player on both sides of the ball for Union County, starring at wide receiver and linebacker. He accepted a scholarship offer from Vanderbilt this week. (Special photo)

Then Gowder came along. Union County’s star wide receiver and linebacker accepted a scholarship offer from Vanderbilt University this past Sunday night. Best anybody can tell, that makes him the first Union County citizen to accept a full ride from a Division I football program in more than 30 years.

“It was definitely harder [to get noticed] just because of where I’m located,” Gowder told me this week. “But it’s all worth it to me. I’m glad to be one of the few that went to a big school in this …

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Major baseball prospects sign on at Tech, Georgia

Baseball took center stage in the state on Tuesday as both Georgia and Georgia Tech received signed letters-of-intent from major prospects during the early signing period.

The Yellow Jackets won out in a battle over Tatnall Square Academy baseball and football star DeAndre Smelter. Smelter is a 6-2, 205-pound right-handed pitcher with a 90-plus-mile-and-hour fastball. Obviously he is expected to be high draft pick in next June’s Amateur Baseball Draft.

“No matter what happens (with the draft), I know I have a home at Georgia Tech,” Smelter told the Macon Telegraph. “You can do anything in life with a degree from Georgia Tech.”

Smelter, the Telegraph’s 2008 Male Athlete of the Year, gave up football this season to concentrate on baseball.

Georgia also got a football star to play baseball. Conor Welton has quarterbacked undefeated Wesleyan into second round of the GHSA Class A state football playoffs and a state championship last year. But he signed a baseball scholarship with …

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Whitaker talks Georgia-Auburn and recruitment timeline

Auburn and Georgia are in a tug-of-war over Warner Robins defensive tackle Jeffrey Whitaker (55). (AJC photo by Jason Getz)

Auburn and Georgia are in a tug-of-war over Warner Robins defensive tackle Jeffrey Whitaker (55). (AJC photo by Jason Getz)

His senior high school football season is over. But Warner Robins’ Jeff Whitaker is not hanging his head.

“I’m good. I’m fine,” the Demons’ 6-foot-3, 290-pound defensive tackle said. “I have no regrets. I played as hard as I could.”

The Demons finished 6-4, which meant a rare playoff miss for the four-time state champions. But Whitaker had a fantastic individual season.

“He’s a great player,” coach Bryan Way said. “And a good kid, too.”

Apparently college recruiters think so, too. Whitaker, a four-star prospect who shot up as high as 11th in the nation at his position in recruiting rankings, landed more than a dozen major college scholarship offers.

His season now officially over, this U.S. Army High School All-American has trimmed down his list to five schools:  Georgia, Auburn, California, North Carolina and South Carolina. Most recently Whitaker went …

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Lassiter’s Hutson Mason stars in reality TV show

Hutson Mason is a star.

Forget that football stuff. The dude’s on television.

Mason, the Lassiter High quarterback who made headlines this past weekend for breaking the all-time Georgia record for passing yards in a single season (3,714), also plays a quarterback on TV. But he’s not acting.

These are the eight high school quarterbacks competing on the recruiting reality show 'The Ride.' That's Hutson Mason on the far left (I think).

These are the eight high school quarterbacks competing on the recruiting reality show 'The Ride.' That's Hutson Mason on the far left (I think).

Mason is one of eight high school quarterbacks from across the country that were selected to compete on “The Ride,” a sports reality show that is currently airing on Comcast Sports  and Fox Sports Net affiliates across the U.S. Episode Three of 10 aired last night on CSS. You’ll have to call your local cable provider or satellite company for the exact channel.

Loosely patterned after the CBS hit show “Survivor” and other reality shows of that ilk, the eight quarterbacks were selected by recruiting experts based on their distinction as …

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Luc, Rogers happily worn out after long trek to UGA

It was not long after lunch when I reached Deon Rogers on Monday and by then it had already been for him a very long day.

It began about 4 a.m. when he and Treasure Coast High School teammate Jeff Luc arose in an Athens hotel room for the ride to Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson Airport to make an 8 a.m. flight. By now he was back in Port St. Lucie, Fla. — just north of Miami on Florida’s east coast — driving to practice to begin preparations for a first-round playoff game Thursday night.

“Yeah, I’m pretty tired,” said Rogers, a 6-foot-2, 190-pound linebacker who committed to Georgia this past summer. “But it was a really good trip. I really enjoyed myself. It was kind of like this summer. I had fun with Coach [John] Jancek and Coach [Mark] Richt and the other players. I’m loving Georgia and I’m feeling real comfortable there.”

That’s good news for the Bulldogs. Next to Frostproof, Fla.’s, Nickell Robey, Rogers is probably considered the shakiest of their commitments for the 2010 …

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Georgia’s top basketball player signs with Memphis

UPDATED WITH GEORGIA TECH INFO AT 1:45 P.M. . . .

Jelan Kendrick, the top basketball player in Georgia and one of the 10 best college prospects in America, shocked the recruiting world this past weekend when he called a press conference at the Peabody Hotel in Memphis on Saturday to announce that he had signed a letter-of-intent with the University of Memphis.

Once again, one of Georgia's top basketball prospects is heading out of state. (AJC photo)

Once again, one of Georgia's top basketball prospects is heading out of state. This time it's Atlanta's Jelan Kendrick. (AJC photo)

Previously, the small forward from Wheeler had said chances that he’d sign during the early period were “slim to none.” He chose the Tigers over Georgia Tech, Georgia, Indiana and West Virginia among many others.

“Yes he did,” Wheeler coach Doug Lipscomb said, confirming Kendrick’s decision. “I don’t know why everybody’s saying this was sporadically done. I’d think if you’re going to go on a [official] visit you have an idea you might end up playing there.”

It is unusual, however, to hold a …

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UGA visitors impressed with victory over Auburn

It can be a bit of a dice roll when you put as much stock in one recruiting weekend as Georgia did when it played host to Auburn.

The Bulldogs had around 100 prospects on campus for the game, including some of their most coveted remaining targets. And it must have been quite uncomfortable for all involved when Georgia quickly fell behind 14-0. But the Dogs rallied then held on at the end for a resounding 31-24 victory. The win touched off quite a celebration in Athens and left a favorable impression on the prospects that came to see it.

I was unable to make but a couple of calls on Sunday due to a previous family commitment and haven’t heard back from any of the prospects yet. But I’ll be following up all week to get reaction from key recruits. In the meantime, here’s some links to the few reports out there as of Monday morning:

  • An official visit from linebacker Deon Rogers of Port St. Lucie, Fla., reinforced his commitment to the Bulldogs, according to UGASports.com. But he …

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Signings and more signings as early period continues

The early signing period for college athletics — all sports other than football — continues through Wednesday but let’s take a moment to get everybody up to date.

There have been several other players sign since my initial report on Wednesday, the first day of the weeklong early period. Here’s a quick rundown:

  • Harold Doby, a 6-foot-6 swingman, became the third member of Georgia State’s 2010 class when he signed with the Panthers on Thursday. Doby averaged 21.1 points and 12.5 rebounds for Laney High as a junior last season. He joins DeVonta White (Roswell/Centennial HS) and Javonte Maynor (Snellville/South Gwinnett), who signed Wednesday.
  • Jordan McRae, a 6-foot-5 shooting guard from Liberty County High down in Hinesville, signed with the Tennessee Volunteers on Friday. McRae averaged 22.3 points per game as a junior. McEachern’s Trae Golden has committed to the Vols, too, but won’t sign until Tuesday.
  • Rion Brown, McRae’s Liberty County teammate and also a 6-5 shooting guard, …

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