Tech, Georgia make James Vaughters’ cut down to final nine

Tucker linebacker James Vaughters hopes to narrow his list down to five schools by the beginning of the summer. (AJC photo by John Spink)

Tucker linebacker James Vaughters hopes to narrow his list down to five schools by the beginning of the summer. (AJC photo by John Spink)

Tucker’s James Vaughters is one of the top linebackers in the country and may be the top college prospect in the state of Georgia. So while he still has almost a year before he has to make a final decision on what school to attend, he felt compelled this week to cut down a list of offers that had already swelled beyond 30 colleges.

The good news for Georgia and Georgia Tech is the two in-state schools made the first cut down to nine schools. The bad news is they will be up against some very tough competition to attain the services of this 6-foot-2, 232-pound athlete.

“Every one of the colleges I am considering are strong academically, have a strong track record of developing players for the NFL and have an enthusiastic fan base,” Vaughters told me in an e-mail this morning. “I have appreciated all of the schools that have shown interest in me. I think it is time for me to ‘narrow the field’ and I wanted to share the things that stand out right now about the schools I am currently considering.”

A brief caveat here: One of the things that is kind of neat and different about Vaughters is he prefers to communicate only by e-mail about his recruiting. The reason is he wants to be careful about his remarks and not offend any schools or mislead the public. By utilizing e-mail he has written copy of what he said so there is no chance of being misquoted. His father Jonathan Vaughters always approves James’ e-mails before he sends them.

Vaughters’ final nine is as follows (he listed them alphabetically, of course): Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Georgia Tech, North Carolina, Ohio State, Southern Cal, Stanford and Texas.

Ever the diplomat, Vaughters addressed the many schools that did not make his cut.

“There are a lot of great schools that are not on this list that I like and respect, but I had to narrow my choices,” he said. “I only hope all of the schools that I have talked to understand how much I appreciate their interest in me. It is something I don’t take for granted.”

As for the criteria he will use to make his final decision, Vaughters said: “I have felt comfortable with so many of the schools I have visited, so far. For me, it will be a matter of finding the best ‘Linebacker U’ with great academics, a great student body, with student-athletes I have a lot in common and a place I feel ‘fits’ me the best.”

Vaughters’ father said he’d like to cut the list down to five by summertime. “That does one of two things. Either goes to those five on official visits or we may see if we can swing each one of these as unofficial visits and then make a commitment prior to the season.”

Vaughters will not be an early enrollee. Initially he wanted to but Tucker’s switch from block to traditional scheduling will not allow it.

Without further adieu, here are Vaughters’ comments on each of his finalists:

  • Alabama — “They have a great staff, great facilities, and Coach [Nick] Saban will have them competing for Championships every year. Based on what I saw, they will continue to get better, and continue to put their best players in he NFL.”
  • Florida — “Their championship tradition is most recent, the facilities are best-in-class, and the coaching staff is one of the best. Just this year, they have 10 players invited to the NFL Combine, so for someone like me, that wants a degree and a shot at the next level, Florida is very attractive.”
  • Georgia — “I like Coach [Mark] Richt and his staff and their focus on character and the whole person. UGA is close to home, so my family and friends can watch me play often. The new defensive staff brings great NFL experience and UGA has a good track record with Tucker High guys.”
  • Georgia Tech – “At first, I didn’t consider Georgia Tech, because I thought it was just too close to home. But as I’ve learned more, I am recognizing it for what it is, a great academic school with a top-notch football program and a coaching staff that develops people first and develops players for the NFL.”
  • UNC – “It’s a great school, both athletically and academically. The football program continues to be on the rise under Coach [Butch] Davis’ leadership and they do a great job of producing players every year for the NFL, especially LBs. My dad is a UNC alumnus and continues to tell me how special of a place it is and how he had a great experience going to school there.”
  • Ohio State – “Both my parents are from Ohio, and I have a lot of family still in Ohio, so it would feel like being away from home, but not too far from “home.” Ohio State is one of the schools I think of as being a “Linebacker U” because they develop LBs players for the NFL. Coach [Jim] Tressel seems to be one of the nicest and most genuine coaches I have met.
  • Southern Cal – “They have great tradition, and in any given year, can compete for a national championship. It’s a private school, so the academics are great and the student body is a manageable size. USC is also one of the schools I think of as being a “Linebacker U” because they do a great job of developing LBs for the NFL.”
  • Stanford –- “The program is rising quickly and the academics are at or near the top of every list. I believe a PAC-10 title is within reach during the time I would be there and it’s believable the PAC-10 champion can compete for a National Championship. A Stanford degree, would just be incredible, and combine that with the possibility of playing at the next level is a great combination.
  • Texas — “Competes in a great conference and year after year sends players to the NFL. Texas seems to be one of the top State schools, academically, in the country and they get the best players from Texas and out-of-state on those occasions when they go outside of Texas. I can see them contending for national championships often.”

So which school do you think Vaughters will choose?

123 comments Add your comment

Vick=Dog killing thug

February 26th, 2010
1:09 pm

Go Dawgs.. We run this state…

b3rg

February 26th, 2010
1:09 pm

He wants to go to “Linebacker U” but isn’t considering Penn State?

elmer Fud

February 26th, 2010
1:12 pm

Still a long list, but certainly some good schools there. Go dawgs.

b3rg

February 26th, 2010
1:18 pm

Enter your comments here

Second That

February 26th, 2010
1:19 pm

b3rg – i was thinking the same thing. I’m not from anywhere near Pennsylvania, but if you’re looking for LB U Penn St. should be on that list

GT45

February 26th, 2010
1:24 pm

Must have a good head on his shoulders-will be a success whereever life takes him! Goodluck-

toph

February 26th, 2010
1:25 pm

That’s a pretty impressive list. He seems to be well spoken, at least in his emails.

BigTimeTECHFan

February 26th, 2010
1:26 pm

Linebacker U = Ga Tech
D Smith Jax
G Guyton NE
K Fox Pitt
K Brooking Dal
P Wheeler Ind
G Wilkerson NYG

collegeballfan

February 26th, 2010
1:40 pm

His Dad went to UNC, he has family in Ohio and Tech & Georgia are close to home for convenience of family & friends. He apparently wants NFL, but if he is NFL caliber it makes no difference where he goes, they will see him. That should not be a factor.

This is from my experience. The main thing is where you go is where you will live for the next 3 to 4 years. Where do you want to live? What feels more like home and family? What is more comfortable? Go there.

I am a Tech fan first and would love to see you there. But you do what is best for you. All are fine institutions. I have been on all the campuses but USC.

Good luck to you.

wolfman

February 26th, 2010
1:42 pm

As a UNC and a GT grad — Chapel Hill is a very special place, while you can’t beat a GT education. You can’t go wrong with either, but stay out of Athens!!

Tim

February 26th, 2010
1:42 pm

Sorry BigTimeTECHFan, but the above poster is right, Penn State is Linebacker U

Tech Man in Dawg Country

February 26th, 2010
1:42 pm

Impressive young man (and family)! While I hope he choose Tech, I wish him the best of luck, and am sure he will be successful where ever he goes.

memphisdawg

February 26th, 2010
1:43 pm

Really impressive young man. I sure hope Coach Grantham and Coach Belin can sell him on Georgia’s 3-4 and imparticular Belin’s track record.

Tim

February 26th, 2010
1:44 pm

GT has put some good LB’s in the NFL thought…

Where ever he ends up, someone is getting a solid kid. Very impressed with him!

C.T.F. (controversial type feller)

February 26th, 2010
1:44 pm

Tech is in a high crime area.

srschirm

February 26th, 2010
1:52 pm

He is already wearing the right color shorts. Go Tech!

okiemon

February 26th, 2010
1:56 pm

Interesting comments from all the homies, but it’s going to be between Alabama and Texas.

Steven Daedalus

February 26th, 2010
2:02 pm

Classy young man, I hope the Dawgs are lucky enough to sign him.

BAMA FAN #2

February 26th, 2010
2:03 pm

If he wants to win championships he better pick the crimson tide or gators!! RTR

zulucanibal

February 26th, 2010
2:04 pm

Has got to be one of the best prospects to come out of Georgia in some time…seem like he has a good head on his shoulder too. Would love to see him sign with the Dogs and be the leader of the new defense but for some reason I think Stanford is going to be the team to beat.

RSX

February 26th, 2010
2:04 pm

Either Athens or Palo Alto would be the right decision.

Al

February 26th, 2010
2:08 pm

I’ve been to all of those campuses except Florida. He has chosen a good list of well-rounded institutions. All are compatible football programs except probably Stanford, North Carolina, and Georgia Tech. As far as non-football related considerations, North Carolina, Georgia, and Texas standout. North Carolina and Georgia are beautiful campuses abutted by lively and traditional downtowns, and they both have top-notch state educations. Texas is in a great city in Austin and is another top-notched state education, but the Texas arrogance always rubs me the wrong way. Didn’t particularly like Ohio State at all, and USC is a cool school only if you like being in a huge city environment, which kinda takes away from the focus on the school that college towns like Chapel Hill and Athens provide.

Blue

February 26th, 2010
2:10 pm

Prediction; once he does NOT choose UGA, the UGA homers on these blogs will be bashing him and saying “we didn’t want him anyway”. Same same.

Vol Fan

February 26th, 2010
2:11 pm

What in the World! UT out of his top 10?

drunk dawg

February 26th, 2010
2:13 pm

Tucker runs a 3-4! He will be in Athens…guaranteed!

BAMA FAN #2

February 26th, 2010
2:14 pm

Vol fan he wants to play for good teams not bottom feeders!! RTR

trouble funk

February 26th, 2010
2:24 pm

Son, just make sure you keep working hard and having fun

GHOST OF ERK RUSSELL

February 26th, 2010
2:29 pm

THIS KID IS UGA ALL THE WAY-COACH RICHTS TRACK RECORD AT TUCKER IS VERY IMPRESSIVE.

Douglas

February 26th, 2010
2:29 pm

I’m a Dawg fan but I think he will pick USC, Alabama, or UNC. Why not UGA? Come on guys: his father is an alumnus and UNC is a great academic school compared to UGA. And yes, I did graduate from the honors program at UGA in their business school which is very good — but UNC is much better academically — Butch Davis also has NFL experience. Alabama: good school academically but like UGA not as good as UNC. If you don’t believe me, look at the % of freshmen who get in at UGA, UNC, and UA — it’s not even close.

Dan

February 26th, 2010
2:33 pm

Did “imparticular” recently get added as a new word? Did I miss something?

Vol Fan

February 26th, 2010
2:33 pm

Bama Stan taking a number 2. I won’t even dignify that comment with a response, wait.

GTman

February 26th, 2010
2:36 pm

Don’t forget about the best LB to play at GT (although he played DE at Tech). Pat Swilling – part of the greatest linebacker corp in the NFL. The following is from NFL.com.

GT is LB U!! and we will now play the 3-4 under Groh. Al Groh will make Vaughters a top five pick after his Junior year. There are 7 current NFL linebackers that played at UVA.

Top Ten Linebacking Corps: Jim Mora’s Saints
Published: March 18, 2008

The No. 1 linebacking corps of all-time is Jim Mora’s New Orleans Saints consisting of Rickey Jackson, Sam Mills, Vaughan Johnson, and Pat Swilling.

The D

February 26th, 2010
2:37 pm

Do you know what this kid wants to major in? Since he is so high up on Academics, knowing this might help a school sway him in their way. Anyone know?

BT

February 26th, 2010
2:38 pm

If he wants a top notch education his final five should be Georgia Tech, UNC, Southern Cal, Stanford, and Ohio State. As far as linebackers, it is hard to beat the fact Tech has 6 linebackers starting in the NFL right now, one was just in the Super Bowl. Tech = best combo of athletics and academics in the country.

ugaaccountant

February 26th, 2010
2:38 pm

Blue – Stupid strawman argument that’s posted 50 times a blog. Doesn’t make it any more true.

With what we know about this kid, he appears to have the total package necessary to be a top football player. Including good character and academics. As of today, he is exactly what every school is looking for.

But if we were ever to hear of actual issues with him as a person we of course have the right to change our opinion. That’s what happened with Da’rick. As we heard more and more about him, his lack of character became obvious.

ugaaccountant

February 26th, 2010
2:39 pm

For UGA with this kid, it looks like we’ll be counting on the new defense to work well. If the defense isn’t clicking, we’ll have a lot more to worry about than 1 particular recruit.

Can You Dig It

February 26th, 2010
2:43 pm

Douglas….Alabama doesn’t even come close to UNC and Georgia academically. Bama is nothing more than a cow college. Anyone with a B average can get in. UNC and Georgia both have business schools that are Nationally recognized…if you don’t believe me look it up for yourself. As far as putting athletes in the NFL…Georgia leads the SEC in the number of players currently playing at the next level. This kid sounds like he really has his head on straight. I’m sure by the end of the recruiting process he will make the best decision for both him and his family.Once he looks close he’ll see that Georgia meets all his requirements ..and then some.Can You Dig It!

Filtar

February 26th, 2010
2:46 pm

guys im a huge dogs fan but i dont think we’re gonna get him. Sad part is georgia hasnt done too well with top notch linebackers in years. We already lost shannon brown to bama (which theyre saying hes a problem child) so maybe thats a blessing. We were also not sititn too high with a.j. johnson another highly toughted linebacker form the peach state. We forget jarvis jones chose usc over his home dawgs and jeff luc even though from florida we couldnt reel him in from teh sunshine state. We cant get them all but it would suck for the states top lb’s to go to bama. maybe winning and a new defensive scheme will keep some of our top guys on defense home.

Can You Dig It

February 26th, 2010
2:51 pm

Hey Filtar….you have got to be the most depressed person ever on this blog….why don’t we just rename you Mr.Negative. Please go away there’s enough negativity in this world without having to put up with your crap on the Georgia blog. I guess your glass is always half full…the Dawgs don’t need fans like you….go pull for Tech, Tenn. or Florida…please. Can You Dig It!

cattledawg

February 26th, 2010
2:53 pm

Hey Chip, I got some info about the O’Neal kid from West Laurens on yesterdays blog. Rodney has a younger cousin named Johnnie O’Neal that will be a sophmore next year. He is a man child. According to the local paper here in Dublin, Florida an South Carolina have already offered him.

drunk dawg

February 26th, 2010
2:56 pm

His best friend just signed with the Dawgs last week and they run a 4-3 at Tucker as well. Nough said

Filtar

February 26th, 2010
2:58 pm

hey dig it im just stating the facts and to be so negative i also stated that maybe the new defensive scheme would keep some guys in state for a change. meaning im sure grantham appeals much more than willie m. since he has nfl exp and can say look at what i help do for jay ratliff demarcus ware and anthony spencer. can you dig that? You can reply if you want but i dont do the blog battle thing thats for kids.

Jeff in Calhoun

February 26th, 2010
2:59 pm

Vol Fan,

UT is not a top 10 school! LOL

Jeff in Calhoun

February 26th, 2010
3:02 pm

Blue,
Only if he verbally commits to UGA early then changes his mind at the last second!!!!!!!!!!

uga sucks

February 26th, 2010
3:05 pm

Yeah UGA does a great job of developing players with great character. Just look at the arrest record the past few years before you make a stupid decision and go play with the leg humpers in the cesspool of the south.

Decory Bryant

February 26th, 2010
3:09 pm

Coach Richt, the staff and everyone associated will take great care of you.

Look at how things worked out for me!

ATLdawg, ya dig?

February 26th, 2010
3:09 pm

this kid sounds like he has his act together. good stuff, hope the dawgs get him.

UGA #1

February 26th, 2010
3:09 pm

Chip – there’s only 9 schools listed. So who’s the 10th (or did he only narrow it down to his top 9?) Probably irrelevant anyway for not being listed but…

Vaughters’ final 10 is as follows (he listed them alphabetically, of course): 1) Alabama, 2) Florida, 3) Georgia, 4) Georgia Tech, 5) North Carolina, 6) Ohio State, 7) Southern Cal, 8) Stanford and 9) Texas.

pantherMike

February 26th, 2010
3:10 pm

Chip….You said FINAL10, but only listed 9 schools.
Maybe he’ll consider Georgia State as #10
(wishful thinking)
Go Panthers!

South Ga Dawg

February 26th, 2010
3:12 pm

WHY WOULD YOU NOT CHOOSE UGA WITH THEIR STAFF AND FANBASE?? I WOULD THINK HE WOULD FIT IN NICE WITH THE NEW DEFENSIVE SCHEME AS WELL. UGA WILL BE ON TOP OF SEC SHORTLY SO JUMP ON BOARD IF YA WANNA JOIN US!!!