THE TEN AT 10:
1. Any doubts about the genesis of all the Cameron Newton accusations were erased Wednesday when Mississippi State issued a statement confirming that it brought the situation to the attention of SEC officials in January. It also explained the timeline by noting that it was unable to provide some information requested until July.
The most important information contained in the Mississippi State release, however, is that NCAA enforcement staff has been and still is involved in the situation.
“Due to MSU dealing with ongoing and time-consuming eligibility issues involving non-football matters in the winter and spring of 2010, the specific SEC request went unfulfilled. Some additional information was provided to the SEC during July of 2010. Once the NCAA enforcement staff became involved, Mississippi State University cooperated fully with its investigation. MSU is confident the SEC office has managed this process consistent with its established procedures and the university is committed to the conference’s ongoing efforts to ensure compliance with SEC and NCAA rules.”
That also corroborates the account of former Mississippi State quarterback John Bond, who said he went straight to school officials after he was approached by former teammate Kenny Rogers about the soliciting Newton’s acquisition for $180,000. It was Bond who first confirmed that encounter to ESPN.com, which broke the initial story.
Unfortunately for Mississippi State, it also makes it the most likely source for the leak of Newton’s academic dishonesty charges at Florida. A story written by FoxSports.com alleges Newton left Florida in the wake of a cheating scandal rather than because of Tim Tebow’s presence ahead of him on the depth chart. The privacy of academic records is protected by federal law.
2. Carver-Columbus coach Dell McGee confirmed that his star running back Isaiah Crowell will be visiting Auburn this Saturday and Georgia on Nov. 27 for the Georgia Tech game. Meanwhile, McGee said it is doubtful Crowell will play in Friday’s opening-round playoff game against Pepperell. The AJC Super 11 selection and five-star prospect has missed Carver’s last three games with leg, ankle and foot injuries. McGee anticipates Crowell, who could play if needed Friday, being available for a second-round game if Carver advances.
Crowell (6-0, 210) favors Alabama and Georgia in recruiting. He plans to make his announcement following the Class AA state championship game next month in the Georgia Dome should the 10-0 Tigers win it.
3. Ray Drew told me this week he’s planning to cut down his list of schools significantly in “the next week or so.” The AJC Super 11 defensive end from Thomas County Central currently lists as many 10 schools of interest, including Georgia, Alabama, Florida, FSU, Clemson, Auburn, LSU and Tennessee.
4. Offensive lineman Spencer Region of Cullman, Ala., onfirmed that he is going to take an official visit to Georgia on Dec. 11. That’s the weekend of the Bulldogs’ annual Senior Gala at the Classic Center. “That’s when they said they wanted me to come,” said Region, a 6-foot-5, 340-pound guard who was once committed to Auburn. “I’m looking forward to it.” Region said he is no longer considering Auburn because “I don’t feel that that offense is best suited for me. . . . The biggest thing for me is to get into a pro-style offense. That’s one of the reasons I have a lot of interest in Georgia.” Region said his five finalists are Alabama, Georgia, LSU, Tennessee and Wisconsin. He visited LSU and Tennessee the previous two weekends and was in Athens for the Arkansas game on Sept. 18.
5. Witnesses confirmed in court Wednesday that Tennessee freshman defensive lineman Jacques Smith, upset that a female friend was dancing with another man, punched that man in the back of the head and kicked him after he fell to the ground in a bar two weeks ago. Brandon Allen, a 21-year-old UT student, suffered a concussion and cuts on a finger. Smith pleaded guilty to assault charges Wednesday and apologized to and his family in the courtroom. The misdemeanor charge will be expunged from Smith’s record if he completes community service and an anger management course. Meanwhile, coach Derek Dooley said Smith will not miss any playing time and the matter is being “handled internally.” Smith, who has played in every game, played against Memphis last Saturday, the same week of the arrest.
6. Tennessee freshman receiver Da’Rick Rogers of Calhoun had his first session of the season with media on Wednesday. Rogers, the top prospect in Georgia for the the Class of 2010, scored his first career touchdown on a 22-yard pass from freshman quarterback Tyler Bray last Saturday against Memphis. Rogers admitted that “route running” is the reason his playing time has been limited with the Vols this season. Rogers is expected to be utilized more in the last three games.
7. Continuing on the UT theme, the Vols secured a somewhat surprising commitment on Wednesday when DeAnthony Arnett, a four-star wide receiver from Saginaw, Mich., announced that he plans to sign with Tennessee. Arnett (6-0, 170) chose the Vols over Michigan State and Southern Cal. The Vols return eight receivers next season, including freshmen Rogers, Justin Hunter and Matt Milton.
8. Arnett has actually become good friends during recruiting with defensive back Avery Walls of Eagles Landing Christian Academy. Walls has more than 30 scholarship offers, including one from Tennessee, but said Arnett’s decision would not influence him. “I need to make the best decision for myself, but he’s a great guy and I wouldn’t mind spending my college days with him,” Walls said.
9. Wednesday was the first day of the fall signing period for basketball and other sports and Georgia and Georgia Tech both inked their top targets. The Yellow Jackets received the signed papers of four-star power forward Julian Royal from Milton High School while the Bulldogs were able to make official the acquisition of five-star shooting guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope of Greenville.
“Kentavious has a terrific future ahead of him,” Georgia coach Mark Fox said. “We’re really excited about his ability to score from the perimeter. It’s easy to see by his ability and his skills that he’s been very well-coached.”
Said Tech coach Paul Hewitt: “We are thrilled to have Julian join our program, and thrilled to have his family be a part of our program. Our staff, particularly Darryl LaBarrie, did a terrific job in Julian’s recruitment, and we look forward to having him on our campus next year.”
The Bulldogs also secured a pair of post players: Tim Dixon, a 6-10, 215-pound forward from Columbus by way of Oldsmar, Fla.; and John Florveus, a 7-foot, 215-pound center from Hillsborough Community College in Tampa.
Georgia State did not announce any signings on Wednesday though it has several 2011 prospects currently committed.
10. THIS & THAT: Georgia offered Grayson sophomore DT Robert Nkemdiche (6-5, 260), according to Scout.com’s Chad Simmons. . . . Simmons also reports that defensive tackles Quayvon Hicks of Pierce County and Jordan Barge of Grayson will be at the Tech-Miami game on Saturday. . . . Defensive lineman Quinteze Williams, who recently transferred from Westlake to Sandy Creek, is visiting Tennessee this weekend