THE TEN AT 10:
NOTE: Following is an “aggregation blog.” It’s a roundup of news and information from a variety of sources that is believed to be of interest to AJC readers. Material from sources other than the AJC is attributed.
1. Marcus Thornton told the AJC he was extremely impressed with Georgia Tech after his visit this past week. But the Westlake basketball star might have to be willing to sit out a year if he wants to go there. Shane Lyons, associate commissioner for compliance for the Atlantic Coast Conference, confirmed to the AJC Monday afternoon that the league’s stringent intraconference transfer policy would apply in a case such as Thornton’s. That is, he would have to sit out his first season and have only three years of eligibility remaining if he opted to sign with Tech or another ACC school. That’s “even if you are released from the letter-of intent,” as Thornton was from Clemson. Thornton, a 6-foot-7 power forward, signed with the Tigers last November but was released by the school after coach Oliver Purnell left for DePaul. “There are waiver opportunities,” said Lyons, who would speak only in generalities. But, he said there is “no precedent” where the league ruled in favor of the transferring player. In fact, he said, a player that was released from Virginia Tech after the 2007 on-campus shootings was denied his first year of eligibility at Maryland even after two appeals. “It’s written pretty tightly,” Lyons said of the rule.
2. Thornton could not be reached for comment for about the ACC’s policy. But he has told AJC reporter Michael Carvell he is aware of the ACC’s transfer rules and has been assured by coaches recruiting him he “has a chance of winning” a hardship appeal. Thornton has said he intends to make his decision between Tech, Georgia, Alabama and Texas sometime on or before Friday, when he is scheduled to graduate from Westlake. The NCAA’s spring signing period actually ends at midnight on Wednesday. After that Thornton would be unable to sign an LOI but can sign a non-binding financial aid agreement. Lyons said the ACC transfer rule would apply in either case.
3. Thornton is not the last hope for the Yellow Jackets, who are desperately seeking big men to replace the front-court trio of Derrick Favors, Gani Lawal and Zachery Peacock (34 points, 21 rebounds). One possibility is Justin Knox. The 6-9 forward is graduating from Alabama with a year of eligibility remaining and plans to transfer. He is considering Tech as well as North Carolina, Southern Mill and UTEP, according to the Winston-Salem Journal. Knox averaged 6.6 points and 3.7 rebounds for the Tide last season.
4. Another Division I prospect from Athens will be leaving the state to play football for a school that will face the hometown Georgia Bulldogs yearly. Martay Mattox, a 6-foot-1, 185-pound quarterback at Clarke Central High School, committed to South Carolina on Monday. He chose the Gamecocks over Maryland and South Florida. Two weeks ago, his teammate, OT Alan Posey, committed to fellow SEC Eastern Division member Tennessee. Neither player was offered by the Bulldogs. Mattox was recruited by the Gamecocks as an “athlete” but told TheBigSpur.com he will be given a shot at quarterback first. “[Recruiting coordinator Shane] Beamer said that they wanted me as a quarterback and believe in me as a quarterback,” he said. Mattox had 1,879 yards passing, 780 yards rushing and 31 total touchdowns while leading Clarke Central to a runner-up finish in Class AAAA as a junior last season.
5. Meanwhile, the Bulldogs are likely still beaming after a successful weekend for football recruiting. Georgia landed two commitments — East Hall OLB Sterling Bailey on Friday and Mitchell County WR Justin Scott-Wesley on Saturday — to up their total to nine for the Class of 2011. At least partial credit for them picking the Bulldogs has to go to future teammate Christian LeMay. Both players said they’d been in touch often with the blue-chip quarterback prospect from Matthews, N.C., since he chose Georgia on April 30 and credited his influence for helping them make up their minds.
6. Speaking of early commitments, longtime recruiting analyst Allen Wallace blames them for the sharp rise in “decommitments” in recent years and is among the growing number crying out for a system change. Wallace, who has covered recruiting for as long as just about anybody for SuperPrep Magazine and Scout.com, reports that there were 144 “decommitments” in 2009, up from 56 in 2000 and 93 in 2005. “The worthlessness of the so-called commitment is most certainly a growing trend,” Wallace writes. “. . . Maybe it’s finally time for a complete makeover.” Wallace is not among those — such as me — who recommend an early signing period for football. “Just let the kids sign whenever they want after October 1 of their senior year,” Wallace writes. “No muss, no fuss; just signatures authorized by parents and actual binding commitments.”
7. Of course, recruiting continues for Georgia and for Tech, and several offers have been gone out the past few days. The Bulldogs recently offered defensive tackle Chris Mayes of Spalding High School, according to Scout.com‘s Chad Simmons. Mississippi State, Louisville and Oklahoma State have also offered the 6-foot-5, 297-pound athlete from Griffin. Offensive lineman Errin Joe (6-4, 285) of Lake Gibson, Fla., received a written offer from the Yellow Jackets on Monday, according to JacketsOnline.com.
8. One of the main targets for both Tech and Georgia is Tucker linebacker James Vaughters, who is expected to slice his list down to a final three (or five, just depends) this week. He started with more than 35 offers but has been down to a final eight for several weeks now, including Alabama, Florida, North Carolina, Ohio State, Southern Cal and Stanford. I’m scheduled to meet with Vaughters this week. I’m writing a weekend print story on the mind-bending recruiting experience Vaughters has endured. I’ll let you know as soon as I know who his finalists are.
9. Here’s one you don’t see every day: DaMario Williams is transferring from Middle Tennessee State, where he plays basketball, to Tennessee, where he intends to play football. That’s according to the Murfreesboro Daily Journal by way of the Columbia Herald. Williams (6-4, 190) was an all-star wide receiver at Columbia (Tenn.) High coming out of high school but chose a basketball scholarship with the Blue Raiders. After two unproductive years on the hardwood, Williams told the Herald he wants to give the gridiron a shot. “I just missed football, so I decided to make the switch,” said Willliams, who averaged 1.8 points in basketball last season.
10. THIS & THAT: Bradley Sylve, a 5-11, 175-pound wide receiver from Port Sulphur, La., committed to Alabama this past week. He chose the Tide over LSU, Auburn, Cal, Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Nebraska, Stanford, Tennessee and USC. . . . South Paulding quarterback Tony Daniel recently received his first official scholarship offer. It came from Buffalo, which is recruiting Atlanta hard these days. . . . Linebacker Perry Williams (6-1, 207) of Lawrenceville’s Central Gwinnett High was offered by Southern Miss this past weekend.