Those who want to go ahead and write in Stephon Tuitt as a done deal for Georgia Tech would be well-advised to do so in pencil at this point.
The four-star defensive end from Monroe still likes the Yellow Jackets just as he always has. But he no longer identifies them as his clear-cut favorite as he once did.
Of his top five of Tech, Auburn, Clemson, Notre Dame and Miami, Tuitt said Tuesday night, “there’s really no order. They’re all even right now.”
And they may not be a solid five. Tuitt said he’s starting to think he may visit Florida instead of Miami. And he hasn’t completely shut the door on Georgia.
“I still have an eye cast toward Athens; I haven’t given up on them,” said Tuitt, who Rivals.com ranks the 22nd-ranked prospect in the country. “Georgia’s not off my mind.”
About the only thing that is certain with regard to Tuitt’s recruitment at this point is the first official visit he plans to take. He’s set to travel to South Bend, Ind., on Sept. 10 and attend the Notre Dame-Michigan game the next day.
Other than that, he said he may take an official to Florida, Miami or Kentucky or some other faraway place that interests him. Otherwise, he said, he’ll make unofficial visits to the other finalists, including Tech.
“Georgia Tech is still a wonderful school and a great football program,” Tuitt said. “It’s a great place to graduate from and I could see myself going there. But I want to go out and see some other places and make sure I know what I’m looking for.”
Lately, Tuitt seems to favor the place he has last seen. He spoke glowingly of Clemson after accompanying a basketball teammate on an impromptu trip this past weekend. Monroe Area’s Ken Jackson was invited to an elite prospect basketball camp up there Saturday and Tuitt tagged along — unannounced.
“It was a sneak-up visit,” Tuitt said with a laugh. “I tried to go in unnoticed.”
Word spread fairly quickly among the Clemson coaches that Tuitt was in town.
“Coach [Dabo] Swinney was shocked when he saw me,” Tuitt said of the Tigers’ head coach. “I was in the hallway talking to [defensive line coach Dan] Brooks when he came out of his office to go to a meeting. He kind of walked by before he noticed me. He said, ‘what are you doing here?’”
Tuitt said he may make more drop-in visits.
“Actually that’s my first time doing it,” he said. “I just wanted to see their reactions. I just wanted to come in on a regular day and see what things were like.”
The good news for all concerned is Tuitt does not plan to drag out his recruitment. In fact, he said he doubted it would last through the upcoming season.
“I’m not going to wait until national signing day for sure,” he said. “I don’t need that. When I’, sure I know what school I want to go to I’m just going to do it.”
Meanwhile, the 6-foot-5, 260-pound athlete is ultra-focused on the upcoming season. Monroe Area has struggled through back-to-back winless seasons. But between the Purple Hurricanes’ newly-dedicated work ethic and the fact they’re dropping down in classification, Tuitt believes things will be different this season.
“This year we’ve changed everything around,” said Tuitt, who will play tight end in addition to defensive end. “Everybody’s seniors now. We know what to do and how to do it. We did really well in some [7-on-7] passing camps at Georgia and Clemson this summer and everybody’s been going to the weight room every day working hard. We can’t wait to get that first win.”