UPDATED 4 P.M. MONDAY. . . .
Jeff Whitaker didn’t play any games with caps or T-shirts. The 6-foot-3, 300-pound defensive tackle simply strolled into the media center at Warner Robins High School on Monday wearing a blue Auburn University warm-up suit with his father and step-mother following close behind in bright-orange-and-blue Auburn t-shirts.
His announcement moments later was almost anticlimactic. He was chose the Tigers over Miami and Georgia. He’ll sign on national signing day.
“I just wanted to show how much pride I had about what I was doing,” said Whitaker, who is ranked No. 4 in the AJC Top 50 rankings. “I’m just not the type to do the cap thing. I don’t want to play with people’s emotions.”
Probably the biggest surprise was the fact that Georgia finished third behind Miami. It was thought to be a dead heat between the Bulldogs and Auburn going into this past weekend. But the Hurricanes catapulted ahead of UGA after Whitaker took an official visit to Coral Gables this past weekend.
“Well, the staff and the players ay Miami, they’re good people,” Whitaker said. “I really like Coach [Randy] Shannon. They’re destined to go to the top there in a very short period.”
But Whitaker said he liked the Bulldogs, too. He has become good friends with Garrison Smith, a Georgia commitment and fellow defensive tackle with whom Whitaker shared a room at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl in early January.
“Garrison’s gonna be all right,” Whitaker said. “He’s still the man.”
Whitaker’s commitment continues quite a roll for Auburn in 2010 recruiting. He becomes the 28th commitment for the Tigers, who are ranked No. 4 nationally by Rivals.com, No. 5 by Scout.com and No. 6 by ESPNU. They’ll move up even more if they land Rivals’ No. 1-ranked running back Marcus Lattimore, who is going to choose between Auburn and South Carolina tomorrow at a news conference from his church in Duncan, S.C.
“Yeah, me and a lot of the other [Auburn] guys have stayed in touch,” said Whitaker, a 6-foot-3, 295-pound interior defensive lineman. “I’m hearing we could end up No. 1 [in recruiting].”
Monday was a tough day for the Bulldogs. It appears they may have lost their third commitment of the 2010 class.
Cornerback Nickell Robey of Frostproof, Fla., had not officially de-committed to Georgia as of Monday afternoon but his high school coach hinted Robey would likely commit elsewhere on Tuesday. Robey visited Southern Cal this past weekend and West Virginia and South Florida in the past 10 days.
“To be honest I don’t know where he stands,” said Brad Metheny, who recently stepped down as coach at Frostproof said. “He’s going to meet with his family tonight [Monday] and come to an agreement. I know he hasn’t called Georgia to tell them anything yet.”
Linebackers B.J. Butler of Kissimmee, Fla., and Deon Rogers of Port St. Lucie, Fla., decommitted to Georgia in January to commit to Louisville. The Bulldogs now are down to 17 commitments.
Whitaker, for one, is just glad to have the whole recruiting process behind him.
“It wasn’t tough; it was agonizing,” Whitaker said. “Everybody calling you all the time, wanting to know what you’re going to do. I grew up thinking I wanted to be a rock star or something. After this I don’t. I just want to be a simple person.”
Probably too late for that.