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. The Tennessee Vols’ angst can finally end. Wide receiver signee Da’Rick Rogers has qualified for freshman eligibility. In fact, Georgia’s No. 1 prospect for 2010 is to report to Rocky Top with the rest of the new Vols today. So what’s the big deal? Well, there had been mass fretting on UT fan forums for weeks now as Rogers struggled through his final semester at Calhoun High School and negotiated several minor disciplinary issues. But part-time guardian Mike Nance, the father of Calhoun quarterback and fellow UT signee Nash Nance, sent out a text to several media outlets this past weekend proclaiming: “It’s official Da’Rick graduated.” Now the angst regarding Rogers shifts to Tennessee’s opponents. The 6-foot-3, 215-pound athlete — who was committed to the Georgia Bulldogs for eight months before switching the day before national signing day — is expected to be among the freshmen to have the greatest impact in the SEC this coming season. He leaves Calhoun holding the Georgia high school record for receiving yards in a season with 1,641.
2. Speaking of high impact freshmen, Alec Ogletree and Mike Thornton, the Nos. 2 and 3 prospects on the AJC Fab 50 list, are among the dozen or so signees that reported to UGA Monday night. Ogletree, a safety from Newnan, and Thornton, a defensive tackle from Stephenson, are both expected to vie for playing time their first season. “I feel good. I’m just ready for a new start,” Thornton told me. Said Ogletree: “I’m just excited and ready to make the transition from high school to college.” Of course, as I wrote this past week, this summer is no more important to anybody than it is to quarterback signee Hutson Mason, who also made the trek to Athens on Monday.
3. Speaking of quarterbacks, former Georgia QB Zach Mettenberger appears to be headed to Butler County (Kan.) Community College. Neither Mettenberger nor Butler coach Troy Morrell have responded to messages seeking comment but a UGA official confirmed last week that move is likely. Because Georgia did not place any conditions on Mettenberger’s scholarship release, he could have gone anywhere, even another SEC school, according to UGA compliance director Eric Baumgartner. But the junior college route seems like an ideal one for Mettenberger. Not only is he immediately eligible — he’d have to sit out a year at another Football Bowl Subdivision school (Div. 1) — but Butler is a powerhouse program that has won four JUCO national titles in the last 13 seasons. And Mettenberger (6-5, 240) will have three years of eligibility remaining if he plays just one season at Butler and transfers back to D-1. You’ll recall another former UGA quarterback took that route. Marietta’s Daniel Cobb went from Georgia to Butler to Auburn.
4. Speaking of Auburn, it appears its “Big Cat Weekend” was a big success. The Tigers came away with only one commitment but no known NCAA violations during the invitation-only campus visit this past weekend. And the one commitment was a big one. Kiehl Frazier (6-3, 212) of Springdale, Ark., is the No. 4-ranked quarterback in America, according to Scout.com. . . . Last year the Tigers got one commitment and five NCAA rules violations out of Big Cat Weekend. They were cited in December for multiple infractions that occurred during a “Rolling Toomer’s Corner” simulation. But Charles Goldberg of the Birmingham News reports that 10 of the 22 in attendance last year eventually signed with Auburn. So twice as many signees as NCAA violations committed is a decent tradeoff I guess.
5. Several of Georgia’s top prospects were in attendance at Big Cat, including Isaiah Crowell and Gabe Wright of Carver-Columbus, Xzavier Dickson of Griffin, Watts Dantzler of Dalton and Ray Drew of Thomas County Central. Goldberg mentioned Drew as being close to committing — Florida RB Mike Blakely is another — but Drew told me that is simply not true. “I said they were ‘making it hard’ but I didn’t mean it as though I was about to commit,” Drew said. No, Drew said he has a long way to go, perhaps all the way to signing day. With a couple dozen offers it’s easy to understand why. The big defensive end received offers 24 and 25 over the holiday weekend from UCLA and Michigan, respectively.
6. Another prospect with multiple offers linebacker Kent Turene of Lauderdale Lakes, Fla. Georgia was one of three major programs to offer the 6-foot-3, 230-pound athlete, according to Scout.com. The other two were Florida and Southern Cal. But it’s not like they’re in select company. Turene has about 30 offers from all over. However, he seems to have a soft spot for the Bulldogs. Turene told Chad Simmons: “I lived in Georgia [Savannah] until I was 9 years old. It is my home state and I liked the Georgia Bulldogs when I was a kid. Georgia has been recruiting me hard for about the last month and Coach [Scott] Lakatos offered me on Friday. I think Georgia can be a power team in the SEC and I really like Mark Richt, too.”
7. Georgia Tech got a weekend visit from Dominique Noble, an elite defensive back prospect from Mount Ulla, N.C. And he came away impressed, according to JacketsOnline.com. “Georgia Tech was always near the top of my list, but they moved up even higher after this visit,” said the 6-foot-2, 187-pound cornerback. “My top five right now is Georgia Tech, N.C. State, Penn State, Notre Dame and Virginia.”
8.It looks like the unlikely Star Jackson-to-Georgia-State transfer is all but finalized. Errick Lowe, Jackson’s coach at Lake Worth (Fla.) High School, confirmed that Jackson already has obtained his release from Alabama and plans to play quarterback for the Panthers. “As far as the Georgia State thing goes, as of right now that’s where he’s leaning to,” Lowe said. “Classes start there on the 14th (of June) and I look forward to him being enrolled there by the 13th. I guess he’s going to play for Georgia State. It’s not final because he hasn’t signed anything but everything is leaning toward that way.” Lowe said Jackson is away with family and currently is not commenting on the subject. . . . Obviously if this comes to pass, it will be a huge shot in the arm for the Panthers’ upstart football program, which was already chugging along quite well. The next big question will be the new competition at quarterback. Coach Bill Curry already felt pretty good about their situation under center, with former Henry County star Drew Little (6-5, 250) and Lithia Springs’ Kelton Hill (5-11, 183) battling for the starting spot for this inaugural season. Now enter Jackson (6-3, 209), a U.S. Army High School All-American in 2007 and the No. 5-ranked pro-style quarterback in the nation coming out of high school, according to Rivals.com. He passed for more than 3,500 yards and 32 TDs in two seasons at Lake Worth. Meanwhile, the Panthers’ Nov. 20 date with the Crimson Tide in Tuscaloosa suddenly gets some new juice.
9. Former Brookwood running back Julian Suber, a Georgia Southern signee, was recently arrested for armed robbery and other charges, the Savannah Morning News reported. Suber and another man were taken into police custody May 17 for allegedly robbing a man at gunpoint. Suber had already been released from his LOI with the Eagles in late April because of previous discipline issues. He was considered one of the prized signees in coach Jeff Monken’s first recruiting class at GSU. He rushed for 957 yards and 12 touchdowns as a senior at Brookwood last season.
10. It looks like North Gwinnett is going to have another offensive line prospect after all. Garrett Clark, a 6-foot-4, 280-pound lineman from Daytona’s Mainland High is transferring to the Suwanee school this month, according to the Orlando Sentinel. Clark already has offers from Duke, Northwestern, Colorado State, South Florida and Middle Tennessee with numerous others showing interest. . . . Tennessee also got a late-addition signee last week from offensive lineman Darrin Gooch (6-2, 305) Butte CC in California. He reports today.