Archive for January, 2011

What if Georgia Bulldogs fail to land RB Isaiah Crowell?

Everybody in the world knows that Carver-Columbus running back Isaiah Crowell is Georgia’s No. 1 target for 2011. But what hasn’t been talked about much is this: What happens if the Bulldogs don’t get him?

That shake you just felt was the collective Bulldog Nation shuddering.

Isaiah Crowell with current and former Carver-Columbus teammates Deion Bonner and Jarvis Jones at a Georgia camp last summer. (AJC photo by Chip Towers)

Isaiah Crowell with current and former Carver-Columbus teammates Deion Bonner and Jarvis Jones at a Georgia camp last summer. (AJC photo by Chip Towers)

Few teams can match the momentum with which UGA has been closing out this recruiting season. The Bulldogs are 4-for-4 in landing their last four members of the so-called “Dream Team” in Damian Swann, Malcolm Mitchell, Jay Rome and Ray Drew.

But Crowell has kept UGA waiting. The nation’s No. 1-ranked tailback per Scout.com and ESPN, says he’ll pick between the Bulldogs and Alabama on Wednesday.

What, pray tell, if he chooses the Crimson Tide?

“It will be hard to call it a Dream Team if you miss on Crowell,” said Chad Simmons, South recruiting manager for …

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One of Georgia’s top defensive ends switches commitment from one SEC school to another

One of Georgia’s top defensive ends has made a last-minute switch from Mississippi State to Vanderbilt.

There were some interesting circumstances around the flip of Chattahoochee High’s Barron Dixon on Monday.

Around two weeks ago, the 6-foot-4, 265-pounder committed to Mississippi State over Arkansas and Maryland, among others.

However, Vanderbilt had a good feeling about Dixon, maintained contact and urged him to take an official visit. Dixon’s parents also strongly supported a recruiting trip to Vanderbilt.

This past Saturday, Dixon said he was tempted to take a quick trip to Vanderbilt but decided against it because he didn’t want to jeopardize losing his scholarship to Mississippi State. On Sunday, Dixon changed his mind, driving with his family to Vanderbilt for a one-day official visit — the very last day allowed before the signing period under NCAA rules.

And guess what? Dixon ended up switching to Vanderbilt before leaving campus.

“Vanderbilt has a great academic …

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Chattahoochee QB Tim Byerly commits to Middle Tennessee State

Quarterback Tim Byerly, who led Chattahoochee to the Class AAAA state football championship this past season, committed to Middle Tennessee State on Monday.

The 6-foot, 210-pounder was also considering offers from Furman and Elon, among others.

“[Middle Tennessee State ] is getting a great quarterback, a great leader who can lead them to conference championships,” Chattahoochee coach Terry Crowder said.

“He’s just a special kid. I know people will think I am biased, but I didn’t see a better quarterback in the state of Georgia this past season.”

Byerly completed 170 of 249 passes for 2,664 yards and 30 touchdowns, while also rushing for 1,509 yards. He was determined to play at an FBS school (formerly, NCAA Div. I-A) and quickly accepted the Middle Tennessee State offer after visiting the school this past weekend.

“Timmy is a perfect fit for Middle Tennessee State’s offense,” Crowder said. “They run the same formation [spread offense] as we do. I can see him going there and …

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NG John Jenkins heard Ray Drew’s call but won’t give answer until Saturday

John Jenkins was on an official visit at Florida all weekend. Nevertheless, he said he heard Ray Drew’s “Call of the Dogs” loud and clear all the way down in Gator County.

Big John Jenkins of Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College announce his choice between Georgia, Auburn, Florida and Miami on Saturday in his hometown of Meriden, Conn. (Photo from Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College)

Big John Jenkins of Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College announce his choice between Georgia, Auburn, Florida and Miami on Saturday in his hometown of Meriden, Conn. (Photo from Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College)

“Yeah, I heard about it, but I haven’t seen it yet,” said the 6-foot-4, 340-pound junior college nose guard, shortly after returning to Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College late Sunday night. “I’m about to go online and find the video and look at it now. I hear it was pretty good. I can’t wait to see it.”

Drew and Jenkins bonded three weeks ago when they both visited Miami and each came away stating they’d like to play together in college. We have since learned that Drew was already a heavy UGA lean at that point.

Then Drew offered an impassioned plea this past Friday for Jenkins and …

Continue reading NG John Jenkins heard Ray Drew’s call but won’t give answer until Saturday »

LB Kent Turene drops USC, will pick from UGA, Nebraska, Texas Tech

Georgia’s chances with an out-of-state recruit increased slightly over the weekend as Kent Turene, a three-star linebacker from Lauderdale Lakes, Fla., officially decommitted to Southern Cal.

“Yes, I decommitted to them,” Turene said shortly after his plane landed in Ft. Luaderdale Sunday night. “Now I just need to get home and evaluate everything.”

Turene’s pledge to the Trojans has been shaky for a while. In the last month he has visited Georgia, Nebraska and Texas Tech, the latter just this past weekend. After the trip to Lubbock, Turene decided to pull the plug on USC.

Turene (6-3, 225) raved about his official visit to UGA the weekend before last. He was a little less euphoric about Texas Tech, saying, “It was cool. I liked it.” But Turene still wasn’t willing to offer any hints as to which way he might be leaning, if any way at all.

Asked directly if Georgia had a chance to sign him on Wednesday, Turene said, “They have a great chance.”

Asked what the odds were he’d sign …

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Georgia Tech recruit flips to Arkansas after gambling on last-minute trip, scholarship offer (UPDATED)

Defensive end Trey Flowers, who committed to Georgia Tech less than a week ago, flipped to Arkansas on Sunday.

It marked the fourth time in the past 12 days that Georgia Tech and one of its commitments have parted ways for various reasons.

“I changed my mind and committed to Arkansas … mainly because I wanted play in the SEC,” Flowers told the AJC. “To be the best, you have to play with the best. The SEC is the best.”

Four Georgia Tech commitments and Paul Johnson have parted ways in the last 12 days (AJC file)

Four Georgia Tech commitments and Paul Johnson have parted ways in the last 12 days (AJC file)

Flowers, who is from Huntsville, Ala., took a huge risk by making a last-minute visit to Arkansas this weekend. Historically, Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson had has this recruiting policy — if a player commits to Georgia Tech and visits other schools after pledging to the Yellow Jackets, he is no longer “considered” committed to Georgia Tech.

What’s most surprising is that Flowers agreed to visit Arkansas even though the Razorbacks did not guarantee an offer in advance …

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Brookwood’s state championship QB commits to Georgia State

Brookwood QB to Georgia State (Courtesy of McLane family)

Brookwood QB to Georgia State (Courtesy of McLane family)

The quarterback on Brookwood High’s state championship football team committed to Georgia State on Sunday.

Ben McLane accepted a scholarship offer from Georgia State coach Bill Curry before leaving the campus on Sunday. He was also considering an offer from West Georgia.

“Coach Curry said we have a great thing going on here on Georgia State, and we want you to be a part of it,” McLane said. “I was sold after my official visit. I told Coach Curry that I’m on board, and that’s an honor to be part of building this new football program into one with rich tradition.”

The 6-foot-1, 215-pound McLane knows all about tradition, starting three years at quarterback for one of the state’s most successful high school football programs. Brookwood won the state championship in Georgia’s largest classification (AAAAA) this past season.

“I wanted to be part of a startup program that is fairly new,” McLane said. “Georgia State has a …

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Ex-UGA defensive coordinator Willie Martinez returns to Georgia to recruit St. Pius DB Geno Smith

Former UGA defensive coordinator Willie Martinez returned to his old stomping grounds to recruit one of the state’s elite 2012 prospects.

After Martinez was fired by the Bulldogs just over a year ago, he was quickly hired an assistant at Oklahoma. He coaches defensive backs for the Sooners.

Why not recruit Georgia? Oklahoma assistant Willie Martinez built a lot of relationships in Georgia in his nine years at UGA (AJC photo)

Why not recruit Georgia? Oklahoma assistant Willie Martinez built a lot of relationships in the state during his nine years at UGA (AJC photo)

This past week, Martinez made some recruiting rounds in Atlanta, including a lengthy stop at St. Pius. Martinez offered an Oklahoma football scholarship to one of the nation’s top defensive backs for 2012, Geno Smith.

Smith said he easily recognized Martinez this past Thursday at school, due to watching or attending Georgia games in past years. Martinez met with the St. Pius coaches for a long conversation about Smith.

“My coaches said he sounded like a real cool guy,” Smith said. “He wasn’t really talking that much of football. He said that …

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Ray Drew calls out prospects to join him on UGA’s ‘Dream Team’ (UPDATED)

THOMASVILLE – Legendary NFL defensive end Michael Strahan, Ray Drew’s self-described “mentor,” couldn’t make it. But Randall Godfrey and David Pollack did. And their presence at the 5-star defensive end’s college announcement here at Thomas County Central High School Friday spoke volumes about the impact and reach this high school football player has had.

From left to right, David Pollack, Randall Godfrey and Ray Drew. (Photo by Chip Towers, ajc.com)

From left to right, David Pollack, Randall Godfrey and Ray Drew. (Photo by Chip Towers, ajc.com)

Drew chose the University of Georgia over a stack of more than 50 scholarship offers. And that’s one of the reasons Godfrey and Pollack, each former NFL and UGA players, were here. But, they said, it was not the only reason.

“I spoke at a banquet for In The Game Magazine a while back and presented him with an award,” said Godfrey, who hails from nearby Lowndes County. “And the first time he got up and spoke, I was like, “Man, look at this guy!” I was impressed. So we kept in touch after that and I knew I needed to support him …

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Ex-Atlanta Falcons star says son didn’t get ‘fair chance’ under Lane Kiffin at USC, supports transfer

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Lane Kiffin has granted a scholarship release to WR Brice Butler, according to the player's father, who said, "College football is such a big business … just like Pete Carroll left last year, we're leaving this year." (AP photo)

[RELATED: The USA's No. 4-ranked DE de-commits from Clemson, favoring UGA ... click here]

Former Atlanta Falcons great Bobby Butler didn’t think his son got a fair chance to play under Lane Kiffin. He strongly supports his son’s decision to transfer from USC.

Brice Butler, who starred at Norcross High, has a promising freshman season at USC but saw his role reduced after the arrival of Kiffin. Butler played in 12 games as a backup wide receiver last season, catching 9 passes for 112 yards and one touchdown.

“He had a new coach with new ideas, and it’s time for Brice to go — it’s the right move,” said Bobby Butler, an NFL DB for 12 seasons (all with the Falcons).

“College football is such a big business and I told Brice a long time ago that you have …

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