Archive for December, 2009

Elam flips on Florida; Tech-bound Ayers excels at Under Armor

Lake Buena Vista, Fla. — I just came in from covering the second day of practices for the Under Armour All-America Game and the media luncheon and interview opportunities that followed. The Burger King Skills Challenges, which can be seen on ESPNU, are going on right now but I needed to get some writing done.

Going forward I will have separate blogs on several of the individuals I’ve interviewed while here at the Disney/ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex. In the meantime I wanted to hit some of today’s high points here for you loyal and frequent visitors of the AJC College Recruiting Blog:

  • The big recruiting news today was longtime Florida commitment and five-star safety Matt Elam switching on the Gators to pick Florida State. The way I found out was I overheard Port St. Lucie, Fla., linebacker Jeff Luc, an FSU commitment, excitedly telling his teammates the news after the press luncheon. I asked Luc to be sure I heard him right. “Yep,” he said, then he showed me the text …

Continue reading Elam flips on Florida; Tech-bound Ayers excels at Under Armor »

LSU still ‘coming in tough’ after Gainesville WR Tai-ler Jones

Lake Buena Vista, Fla. – As of right now, Gainesville wide receiver Tai-ler Jones still plans to honor his commitment and enroll at Notre Dame on Jan. 12. But he admitted this week that LSU “is coming in tough” and still trying to sway him to Baton Rouge.

“If I were to change schools they would definitely be on the top of my list,” said Jones, who had 1,394 yards receiving this past season for the Red Elephants, who finished as state runners-up in Class AAA. “[LSU coaches have] come to see me and they’ve been calling. . . . But as of right now I’m solid with Notre Dame.”

Jones said he still hasn’t had a chance to meet in person new Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly. But that will change next week. Kelly is scheduled to visit on Jan . 5.

“If I decide to stay with them then I’ll leave the next weekend,” said Jones, who has already graduated from high school.

It has been whirlwind recruiting experience for Jones, who committed to Stanford this past summer only to back out and switch …

Continue reading LSU still ‘coming in tough’ after Gainesville WR Tai-ler Jones »

Unfazed by NCAA inquiry, James ready to enroll at Tennessee

Lake Buena Vista, Fla. — Ja’Wuan James remained silent after NCAA investigators came to his school to interview him about Tennessee’s recruiting practices and he stayed quiet as rumors swirled that he was thinking about backing out of his commitment to the Vols. But James made it clear Wednesday after completing the first day of practices for the Under Armour All-America game that he never wavered on Tennessee.

“Oh, yeah, I’m still solid with Tennessee,” said North Gwinnett’s 6-foot-6, 305-pound tackle. “I’m going to enroll there and move in on the weekend of the eighth (Jan. 8). I’m all set.”

A month ago, the NCAA began looking into Tennessee’s recruiting practices under coach Lane Kiffin, including the use of recruiting hostesses and the use of social media to make contact with prospects. Investigators came to North Gwinnett High on Dec. 10 specifically to talk him about some of those allegations. James said the inquiry didn’t really faze him.

“No, not really,” he said …

Continue reading Unfazed by NCAA inquiry, James ready to enroll at Tennessee »

UGA-bound Da’Rick Rogers stands out at Under Armour

This is the front of the room in the players' lounge at the Coronado Springs Resort where the Under Armour All-Americans are staying this week. (Chip Towers)

This is the front of the room in the players' lounge at the Coronado Springs Resort where the Under Armour All-Americans are staying this week. (Chip Towers)

Greetings from Orlando. I’m finally here at the Coronado Springs Resort on Disney property in what’s actually Lake Buena Vista, Fla.

Thanks to the service I got at the car rental counter at Tampa International Airport — remember that lady from the movie “Planes, Trains and Automobiles”, she was positively urgent compared to the one dude at this place — it took me more than a half hour to get out of the airport and then I had to make the 80-mile drive here.

But I’m here now and it’s a beautiful place the Under Armour All-America folks have provided for these elite prospects. At this writing I’m deep inside the lair, you might say. I’m in the players lounge. Not sure if I’m actually supposed to be but I walked in and set up my computer at the back of the large ballroom and nobody said anything.

That's a lot of shoes!

That's a lot of shoes!

I’m …

Continue reading UGA-bound Da’Rick Rogers stands out at Under Armour »

Planes, trains, automobiles and Northwestern fans

Greetings from Gate A17 at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.

Travel so far has been remarkably smooth (probably just jinxed myself). Traffic driving to the airport was unusually light and I’m not sure the last time I cleared security that quickly. Of course, it’s always quick when I allow myself two extra hours to get through it.

So I’ve had a lot of time to chill here at the gate. As I wrote earlier, I’m heading to Orlando to cover the Under Armor High School All-American Game but having to go through Tampa since that’s where the game will be played when I fly out Saturday. As a result, I’m sharing the flight down with a bunch of Auburn and Northwestern fans heading to the Outback Bowl.

I say “a bunch.” To be accurate I’ve seen a half-dozen or so Northwestern fans and two Auburn fans. I suspect most of the War Eagle crowd is probably driving down. I’ve also spotted four Georgia Tech fans. I’ll have to let them know the Orange Bowl is in Miami before we …

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I’m heading to Orlando for Under Armour Game but Mike Thornton is not

Today is a traveling day for me. I’m heading down to Orlando to cover the Under Armour High School All-America Game and the resident practices and skills challenges.

Well, technically I’m flying from Atlanta to Tampa and then driving to Orlando, which should make for some interesting challenges given these paranoid times. The reason for my circuitous route is the actual game is being played Saturday (11 a.m.) at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg but all the practices and skills challenges and interview opportunities and such are being conducted near Disney in Orlando. (Seems they weren’t able to secure a facility to play the game in Orlando this year.) So I’ll be staying in the Land of Mickey for three nights before driving back to Tampa-St. Pete for the game.

Needless to say, I’ll be on the move most of the day Wednesday. But I’m going to try to update the blog regularly as I make my way from Point A to B to C and so on. And by this afternoon I should have some tangible news …

Continue reading I’m heading to Orlando for Under Armour Game but Mike Thornton is not »

GACA North all-star roster loaded with Tech talent

Georgia Tech commitment Charles Perkins, shown here in the midst of gaining 302 yards in a game against Parkview this season, will lead the North squad in today's GACA All-Star Game in Columbus. (AJC photo by Josh D. Weiss)

Georgia Tech commitment Charles Perkins, shown here in the midst of gaining 302 yards in a game against Parkview this season, will lead the North squad in today's GACA All-Star Game in Columbus. (AJC photo by Josh D. Weiss)

While it may be played in the middle of the day, the stars will be out in Columbus today as the Georgia Athletic Coaches Association (GACA) North-South All-Star Classic renews for the 65th time at 2 p.m. this afternoon.

Some big-time players and prospects that were otherwise overlooked by the national games will be competing against each other at Columbus’ Memorial Stadium.

“It’s going to be exciting,” said Lassiter’s Hutson Mason, a Georgia commitment and one of the two quarterbacks for the North squad. “I think the teams are pretty even. It’s a great opportunity to show what you can do against some of the best players in the state. These are guys that you are going to be playing with on the next level so we’re all eager to see how we do.”

The players have …

Continue reading GACA North all-star roster loaded with Tech talent »

Brown, Johnson team up in backfield for Under Armour game

Eighty-nine of the best high school football players in America representing 23 states will participate in the Under Armour All-America Game this week down in Florida. What are the odds, then, that two of those players would grow up 10 minutes away from each other in DeKalb County, start their playing careers at age 5 in the same Central DeKalb park and end up as the starting running backs in the same backfield for Saturday’s nationally-televised high school all-star game?

Pretty remote, one would guess. But that’s the way it worked out for Mack Brown and Storm Johnson. And they’re loving it.

“It’s great,” said Brown, a Florida commitment who starred for Lithonia’s M.L. King High the last three seasons. “We’re excited about it. We’ve been working out together about three times a week to get ready.”

“It’s pretty cool,” said Johnson, a Miami commitment who played at Loganville High this past season. “Mack’s a good friend. We’ve known each other since we were 5 or 6.”

It was …

Continue reading Brown, Johnson team up in backfield for Under Armour game »

Georgia well-represented in Under Armour All-America Game

UPDATED 2:31 p.m. on 12/29/2009 . . .

This just in: Stephenson’s Mike Thornton is not playing in Under Armour Game after all. He just told me he withdrew a week ago due to a lingering high-ankle sprain suffered in the last game of the regular season.

Greetings everybody. I’m back from a brief holiday vacation and excited about cranking up the ol’ recruiting blog again as we enter the stretch run to national signing day (Feb. 3).

We have a lot of great stuff planned over the next several weeks as we monitor and report on the vibrant recruiting scene around Georgia and the Southeast. Our coverage will step up in earnest this week as I head down to Orlando and St. Pete to cover the third annual Under Armour All-America High School Football game. The practices and skills challenges are being conducted at ESPN’s Wide World of Sports complex in Orlando this week and the nationally-televised game (ESPN) will be played Saturday at 11 a.m. at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg. I’ll get …

Continue reading Georgia well-represented in Under Armour All-America Game »

Uncertainty has Florida commits considering options

Now that Urban Meyer’s resignation as Florida’s head football coach has been downgraded to an “indefinite leave of absence,” the question is how all the uncertainty is affecting recruiting?

Hard to tell so far. As of this writing the Gators’ Class of 2010 — ranked No. 3 nationwide by Rivals.com — remains intact. Some of the 20 pledges expressed relief from Sunday’s news that Meyer was not flat-out quitting. However, there is definite uneasiness among some other pledges, a few of whom had our local teams under serious consideration during their recruitment.

Topping the list is five-star safety Matt Elam, one of three seniors from Dwyer High in West Palm Beach to commit to Florida. His mother, Addie Lewis, told The Sporting News Today that Elam is “in a daze” over the situation and the Palm Beach Post reported that Elam is now considering staying at Dwyer High another semester instead of enrolling at Florida early as was his original plan. Elam also has been concerned about the …

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