THE TEN AT 10:
1. Avery Walls received his official U.S. Army All-American Bowl invitation on Monday when U.S. Army officers and members of the game’s selection committee came to Eagles Landing Christian Academy in McDonough for a formal presentation. It’s a tradition for the nation’s oldest national high school all-star game, which will be played on Jan. 8 in San Antonio (1 p.m., NBC). For Walls, the hardest part was standing up in front of the whole school — complete with marching band and cheerleaders — and delivering a speech. “I was kind of nervous, but I have a speech class at school and they got me prepared for it,” said Walls, a defensive back who holds 33 scholarship offers. “I practiced it on my girlfriend’s family the day before.”
2. Walls is one of at least six Georgians who are invited to participate in the prestigious game. Griffin safety Corey Moore, a UGA commitment, was the first to be recognized when the Army game entourage came to his school Friday. WR/DB Damian Swann welcomed the group to Grady High this morning. Others who have accepted invitations include East Hall DE/OLB Sterling Bailey (Georgia), Thomas County Central DE Ray Drew (uncommitted) and Monroe Area DE Stephon Tuitt (Notre Dame).
3. As for Walls, indications continue to be that he will attend college far away from home. He is traveling to Oregon this weekend for an official visit built around the Ducks’ big game against Stanford. The following weekend he’ll take an official visit to California. His first official visit was to Michigan the first weekend of September for the UConn game. He’ll decide between Michigan State, UCLA, UConn and Virginia for his final two trips. He is also planning an unofficial visit to South Carolina.
4. As for Drew, the AJC Super 11 selection and top-ranked prospect in Georgia (according to ESPNU) recently hurt his back. But Drew downplayed the injury. “It’s just a strained back muscle,” he said. Asked if it might force him to miss some playing time in Friday’s game against Northside-Columbus, Drew shot back. “Never!”
5. I’ll have more from Drew later this week. However, I’ll tell you he said “it’s hard to say” how Georgia’s poor start affects his perception of the football program. The Bulldogs were thought to be among the leaders for the 6-foot-5, 253-pound defensive end, but they may have lost some ground during their 0-3 SEC start. Nevertheless, it was already expected to be a long and intense recruiting battle for the five-star prospect, who doesn’t plan to decide until national signing day.
6. Drew is one of the many “Dream Team” in-state recruits that Georgia has been holding out for, including running back Isaiah Crowell, tight end Jay Rome, defensive end Xzavier Dickson and Swann. Most of those guys aren’t going to make a move until after the season anyway. But what about the 16 players players Georgia already has committed? Chad Simmons of Scout.com talked to 13 of them on Sunday and the consensus then was that most plan to stick with the Bulldogs. ATH Devin Bowman of Ridgeland and Justin Scott-Wesley of Mitchell County were the only ones that indicated they may look around “just in case” UGA was to make a coaching change. The majority, however, echoed the sentiments of offensive line commitment Zach DeBell of Tarpon Springs, Fla.: “My commitment to coach Mark Richt and his staff is not based on Georgia’s win-loss record. I believe they will turn this around,” he said.
7. Speaking of Jay Rome, he and his equally-talented and highly-sought-after teammate Malcolm Mitchell will be in town this Friday as Valdosta takes on M.L. King at Hallford Stadium in Clarkston. Rome is generally considered the top tight end in the South this year. Mitchell is being recruited primarily as a defensive back but has emerged as one of the top receiving threats in the state. Meanwhile, one of the top wideouts in Atlanta will be suiting up for the Lions in senior Damarco Robinson.
8. There are strong indications coming out of Knoxville that true freshman running back Rajion Neal of Atlanta could get more carries when Tennessee visits LSU on Saturday. Neal, who had 20 yards on four carries this past Saturday, currently leads the Vols backs with a 6.7 yards per carry average. Meanwhile, starter Tauren Poole of Toccoa is questionable for Saturday’s game with a bruised thigh. Asked Monday what the Vols needed to do to get Neal more involved in the offense, coach Derek Dooley told reporters: “Just throw him in. That’s the only way they’re going to learn. We got no choice.”
9. It’s going to be a very difficult decision for Milton High basketball star Julian Royal, who made an official visit to Georgia Tech this past weekend after taking a trip to Georgia the previous week. Next the 6-foot-9 power forward is off to Wake Forest for an official visit on Oct. 8 and he’s expected to make a final decision shortly thereafter. AJC high schools reporter Michael Carvell details the latest from the Royal camp RIGHT HERE.
10. THIS & THAT: Junior defensive lineman Jordan Watkins of Woodward Academy received scholarship offers from N.C. State and Tennessee this past weekend. Watkins (6-4, 255) already held offers from Arkansas, Duke, South Carolina, Tennessee and Vanderbilt. . . . Four-star DE Giorgio Newberry of Fort Pierce, Fla., committed to Florida State late Monday. He’s No. 16 for the Seminoles. . . . Texas A&M, Cincinnati and Troy have joined LSU in extending scholarship offers to former Georgia quarterback Zach Mettenberger. The ousted Bulldog is excelling at Butler (Kan.) Community College (4-0), where he has passed for 902 yards and 12 touchdowns. He’ll visit A&M on Oct. 29 and LSU on Nov. 30, according to ESPN.com. . . . Montana quarterback Justin Roper, a senior from Atlanta, was named the Big Sky offensive player of the week.