THIS IS FROM AJC PREP WRITER MICHAEL CARVELL:
The best recruiting soap opera to watch in the state of Georgia over the next two weeks may be Colquitt County’s Xzavier Ward.
Georgia Tech, UGA, Alabama are among the schools making a late push for the 6-foot-7, 275-pound offensive tackle.
Ward was originally scheduled to take an official visit to Alabama, along with Florida, earlier this month but the recruiting trips were canceled because both schools said they had too many commitments at the tackle positions.
Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen made an in-home visit on Monday, along with a couple of Georgia Tech assistants. Ward agreed to take an official visit to Mississippi State this weekend, while Georgia Tech called on late Tuesday, trying to convince Ward to travel to its campus instead.
“Mississippi State and Coach Mullen have been to his house, and Xzavier is going to honor his commitment to visit that school,” Colquitt County coach Rush Propst said. “He looked Coach Mullen in the eye and said he was coming. When I talked to Georgia Tech a coupe of hours ago, I told them that Xzavier had already committed to visit Mississippi State. And it’s not that Georgia Tech is out of it, not at all. We just have to work it all out with scheduling.”
Do you need more turns and twists? BCS champion Auburn will meet in person with Ward on Wednesday.
“I think Xzavier was a heavy lean to Auburn probably a couple of weeks ago,” Propst said. “And I think if it boiled down to it, and it goes well with Auburn [on Wednesday], then he might bubble up to them again. They’ve told him all along that his offer is good until signing day, and he appreciates that kind of loyalty.”
There’s more. UGA, which had shown limited interest in recent months, entered the sweepstakes again — but with a catch. They offered Ward a “grayshirt scholarship,” meaning he would delay enrollment until January 2012 in order to count toward next year’s scholarship total.
No. 63 is rapidly becoming a No. 1 target in the final two weeks (CCHS)
“I’ve had several of my former players, including [Atlanta Falcons backup QB] John Parker Wilson at Alabama, do the grayshirt thing, and it has always worked out well,” Propst said. “I’ve told Xzavier exactly what it means, and he’s OK with it.”
But would Ward really consider UGA’s grayshirt offer? “If he decides that Georgia is the place that he wants to go, he would have no problems with that scenario,” Propst said.
And there’s more. Alabama, which dismissed itself from contention earlier this month, apparently wants back in. They contacted Propst this week to investigate the situation.
“They want to try to make something happen, but they haven’t told me specifics — they are keeping it close to the vest,” Propst said, referring to the possibility of Alabama making a grayshirt offer.
Also, Louisville, Memphis, and Louisiana Tech are among other schools hoping that Ward somehow falls to them.
Ward is scheduled to go to Mississippi State this weekend, and could taken “shortened” official visits to as many as three schools next week.
If you wanted some fun recruiting drama to follow, you may get your wish.
“I really don’t think Xzavier will start the process on making his college decision until the day before signing day,” Propst predicted. “He’ll look back and think about everything, and sometime make a decision during that 24-hour period.”