THE TEN AT 10:
1. I like Derek Dooley. Known him since he was a student at Clarke Central High. One of the smartest guys I’ve met. I think he’s a good coach and I think he’ll do a good job at Tennessee. But am I the only one surprised at the way he handled the whole bar brawl incident up on Rocky Top? Especially given the proclamations made early on about “changing the culture,” “representing with class” and “making Volunteers everywhere proud” of the way their players conduct themselves.
Yet the end result of “at least nine or 10 football players” being involved in a 1:50 a.m. fight that left an off-duty cop hospitalized is one player — Atlanta’s Darren Myles — was dismissed from the team (Myles had been in trouble with the law just a short time before). Two others were indefinitely suspended, but from what is unclear since both were reinstated before the first day of preseason practice. Meanwhile, there have been no obvious repercussions for true freshman wide receiver Da’Rick Rogers, who like Myles was hauled off to jail for his role in the melee. Charged with disorderly conduct and resisting arrest, Rogers, a five-star prospect from Calhoun has a Sept. 14th court date (that’s the week the Vols play host to Florida, by the way). Rogers also faced assault charges but we know now he didn’t have to because, as was widely reported, his victim declined to press charges not wanting get Rogers in trouble. Meanwhile, Dooley has never so much as mentioned Rogers’ name in regard to any disciplinary action. We only know Rogers is in the clear now because Dooley said he didn’t expect any other players to miss game time as a result of the incident.
To his credit, Dooley said he had “no qualms whatsoever” about clearing the players involved. “I’m extremely comfortable with what the facts are with what happened, and their role in it,” he told reporters. “It’s been consistent since day one and there’s been no new information that would lead you to believe otherwise. I’m very comfortable with the discipline that we have put on them, and I’m comfortable with their attitude and their remorse.” So there you have it. Again, I know Dooley is privy to information we probably don’t have. But does it all seem lax to anybody else?
2. With the recent commitments of quarterback C.J. Uzomah of North Gwinnett and linebacker Justin Garrett of Tucker, it looks like Auburn is starting to make some hay in Georgia again. They join Pope OG Thomas O’Reilly to give the Tigers three Georgians lined up for 2011. They had a field day with Peach State talent in the last recruiting class, signing eight Georgians, including elite prospects DT Jeffrey Whitaker, WR Antonio Goodwin, OL Ed Christian. And Auburn is on some major in-state talent this year as well, including RB Isaiah Crowell and DT Gabe Wright of Carver-Columbus, DE Ray Drew of Thomas County Central and CB Malcolm Mitchell of Valdosta, among others.
3. Another elite prospect to keep an eye on with regard to Auburn is Monroe Area defensive end Stephon Tuitt. Georgia Tech has long led for this 6-foot-5, 252-pound athlete. But coach Matt Fligg told me Tuitt has a fantastic visit to The Plains this past weekend and has really hit it off with defensive coordinator (and Tech alum) Ted Roof. He also said Auburn is being brought up to Tuitt a lot by other blue-chip prospects. “Auburn is definitely in the hunt after today,” Fligg told me Sunday. Stay tuned.
4. One recruit Georgia Tech doesn’t need to worry about is Hillgrove linebacker Jabari Hunt-Days. Hunt-Days, a 6-3, 226-pound linebacker who was also pursued by Auburn, said he’s solid with the Yellow Jackets. And even though he has a scholarship to Tech locked up, Hunt-Days has continued to compete in combines and camps all summer. Just recently he competed at the University of Oklahoma in the Schuman’s National Underclassmen (NUC) Top Prospect camp, an event he qualified after winning Overall MVP honors at the NUC’s Southeast regional in Atlanta earlier this year. As usual, Hunt-Days fared well, coming away with Linebacker MVP honors. “I like competing and I seek the best around the country to compete against,” said Hunt-Days, who advanced to nationals of a Nike’s combine competition as well. “It pushes me to excellence. I also learn something at each camp. I meet a host of coaches and try and absorb all the information and pick up new techniques. I feel that I am the best and I want to prove this to be so. So I seek competition. I live for challenges.” With Hillgrove now in two-a-days, Hunt-Days combine days are over. But he has been invited to the NUC All-American Game on Dec. 31 in Albuquerque, N.M.
5. Georgia commitment Justin Scott-Wesley wasn’t thrilled with his performance in the USA Track and Field Junior Olympic championships July 27-Aug. 1 in Sacramento, Calif., but he certainly had nothing to be ashamed of. The 6-foot-1, 190-pound athlete finished third in the 100 meters at 10.66 seconds, 12th in the 200-meters (21.82) and ran the anchor leg (with a 10.01 split) of a 4×100-meter relay team that finished second (40.83). Scott set the Georgia high school record in the 100 meters earlier this year with a 10.35 at the state championship meet, so he was disappointed with his showing in that event. “I would have ran faster but they ran the 100 at 9 a.m. and it was like 55 degrees out there. But it is what it is,” he said. It wasn’t for naught. All the running Scott-Wesley did this summer will pay off. He said Mitchell County football coach Dondrial Pinkins plans to play him on both sides of the ball at wide receiver and cornerback and he’ll likely return kicks as well.
6. Hey, better late than never for Gainesville’s Blake Sims. The 2009 AJC Super 11 quarterback gained his academic eligibility at Alabama at the last possible moment this past week. Sims got the NCAA thumbs up last Thursday afternoon and practiced with the Crimson Tide’s newcomers that night. Now the real intrigue for Sims lies with where he might actually play for Bama. Wearing jersey number 18, it could be almost anywhere. In the first three days of practice Sims worked two of them at quarterback and one at defensive back, according to former Gainesville assistant coach Todd Wofford. Wofford (now head coach at Central Gwinnett) said Bama also has some plans to look at Sims as a slot receiver.
7. And speaking of Super 11 players from Gainesville, did you catch where former Red Elephants’ star Tai-ler Jones is slated to start at flanker for Notre Dame as a true freshman this fall? Fortunately for Jones — who is going by T.J. at Notre Dame — his involvement in an under-age alcohol bust in South Bend last month did not result in a suspension for any games. The eight football players involved had to pay restitution and were subjected to in-house discipline by new coach Brian Kelly.
8. Stephenson defensive back Kadetrix Marcus — formerly of Hillgrove — has set up four official visits for this fall and is considering a fifth, according to Stephenson assistant coach Corey Johnson. The 6-1, 190-pound safety plans to take trips to South Carolina, Tennessee and Auburn in September and Miami in October. He may also take a trip to South Florida if he hasn’t already made up his mind by then. Marcus is on track to graduate early and plans to enroll in college in January.
9. Here’s a last word on Dexter Morant, the four-star defensive end who left Georgia during its first week of camp last week only to return to the Bulldogs over the weekend. Manning High School coach Robbie Briggs told South Carolina TV news station WBTW that he thinks Morant simply got overwhelmed by the whole situation and regretted his decision to leave soon after arriving back home. “I really think he was overwhelmed with the attention, the enormity of SEC football,” Briggs said. “His personality wasn’t ready for that.”
10. THIS & THAT: Westlake defensive back Chris Tavarez has committed to Duke, several outlets were reporting Monday. Tavarez (5-11, 190) chose the Blue Devils over Kentucky, Maryland, Tulane, Harvard and Princeton. . . . Defensive back Avery Walls, the No. 9-rated defensive back in America, transferred to Eagles Landing Christian School from Union Grove. . . White County defensive back Ashely Lowery committed to Kentucky this past weekend. . . . WR DaVaris Daniels of Lake Forest, Ill. — the son of Georgia letterman and NFL player Phillip Daniels, was named to the Under Armour All-America team this past week. . . . QB Tony Daniel from South BuffaloHigh committed to