THE TEN AT 10:
1. The departure of Georgia offensive line coach Stacy Searels for the same job at Texas is disappointing to players he has recruited to become Bulldogs. But apparently it is not a deal-breaker.
Dalton offensive lineman Watts Dantzler, one of the first recruits to give Searels the nod early last summer, said he remains “100 percent” committed to UGA, as are most of his fellow offensive line commitments, all with whom he has been in contact.
“You know, I think [Searels] had to make a decision that was best for him and I understand,” he said Wednesday night. “But I committed to the school, not to him, and I’m still committed. I’m looking forward to seeing who they’re going to hire.”
Dantzler is one of five O-line commitments the Bulldogs have for 2011. He said he has been in constant communication with all of them. He said he, Wesleyan center David Andrews and Memphis guard Hunter Long all remain 100 percent committed. He said tackle Zach DeBell of Tarpon Springs, Fla., and center/long snapper Nathan Theus of Jacksonville, Fla., “have some questions, but I think they’ll be fine in the end.”
Neither DeBell nor Theus returned messages seeking comment. However, Theus was quoted by Scout.com’s Chad Simmons saying, “I’m committed to UGA. I’m a Dawg for life.”
Dantzler said UGA head coach Mark Richt, who had been to Dalton with Searels to visit him only Monday, called him and the other recruits Wednesday afternoon.
“He said his phone has been blowing up with people wanting the job,” Dantzler said. “I trust Coach Richt completely and I know he’ll make a great hire.”
2. Tamara Bartlett, the mother of five-star defensive end Stephon Tuitt Monroe Area, asks college football fans to please keep in mind that the recruits they so love to follow are still teenagers and are making the biggest decisions of their lives.
“The recruting process is nervewracking, very nervewracking,” she said after her son switched from Notre Dame to Georgia Tech and back to Notre Dame in a 36-hour period from Tuesday to Wednesday. “They have to remember that these kids are only 17 years old and are very impressionable. When the coaches get these kids alone without they’re parents, naturally they’re going to lean their way. As parents, it’s our job to look at the big picture and that’s why we’re involved. But these fans, I know they love their school, but they need to realize these kids hear what they say and read what they write and they need to be mindful of that.”
Players have to have the signature of their parents or a legal guardian on a national letter-of-intent for it to be valid. And Ms. Bartlett said the bottom line is she believes Notre Dame best situation for her son.
“Stephon does like Tech, but I’m looking at this long term,” she said. “Notre Dame is a known entity that’s going to influence his entire life. That’s a big difference. It’s apples to oranges.”
3. Tucker’s James Vaughters has re-affirmed his commitment to Stanford, his father, Jonathan Vaughters, told me this morning. The No. 4-ranked player in the AJC Fab 50 met with coaches from Florida and Ohio State this week and discussed the possibility of making official visits before national signing day. But decided to decline.
“He really likes everything he head from Coach [Will] Muschamp and his staff and he loves Coach [Jim] Tressel and his staff and appreciated the continued interest for UGA and Georgia Tech,” Mr. Vaughters said. “But his heart is with Stanford.”
Vaughters (6-2, 230) committed to the Cardinal last June but considered re-opening his recruitment after head coach Jim Harbaugh and defensive coordinator/linebackers coach Vic Fangio left for the NFL two weeks ago.
4. Quintavious Harrow, Georgia’s latest commitment, said the Bulldogs have been recruiting him for “a long time” but only offered him last week after he achieved a qualifying test score on the ACT.
“I got the offer from them the same week I got the score,” he said.
The Carver-Columbus linebacker and defensive back received his official offer on Friday and committed Wednesday afternoon. Before that he had made a visit to Georgia Military College in Milledgeville in case he was unable to meet academic requirements. But he said it didn’t take long to decide to commit to the Bulldogs because that is the school he grew up wanting to attend.
“They’re where my heart led me to,” said Harrow, who said he picked up the phone and called coach Mark Richt about 2 p.m. Wednesday. “I prayed to God about it and I feel like it’s the right choice for me.”
Harrow said when Georgia coaches visited him at Carver-Columbus this week, they were emphatic in telling him that his scholarship offer stood regardless of what running back Isaiah Crowell decided to do in recruiting. Crowell, Harrow’s teammate and best buddy since kindergarten, is the state’s No. 1-ranked prospect and the Bulldogs’ No. 1 target.
“They told me they didn’t offer me because of Isaiah; they offered me because of me,” said Harrow, who will play safety at UGA. “I felt good about that.”
That said, Harrow said he is going to work tirelessly to get Crowell to come with him to Georgia. They’ll be taking official visits there together this weekend.
“Oh, yeah, I hope he comes with me,” Harrow said. “I’m going to talk to him every day about it.”
I almost forgot the most important information on Harrow: He said it’s OK for people to call him by his nickname “Cootie.” He said it’s what he’s been called his whole life. His parents came up with it because his father goes by the name “Coot.”
5. Georgia will get big recruiting news regarding its “Dream Team” concept this afternoon. I’m heading down to Valdosta to cover the separate news conferences of AJC Fab 50 members Malcolm Mitchell and Jay Rome.
Rome, a five-star tight end from Valdosta, will unveil his choice during a televised announcement that is scheduled to air on ESPNU at 5:30 p.m. He’ll actually be revealing his decision between Georgia and Alabama at a television station in Tallahassee, Fla. It will be tape-delayed.
Rome hopes to then make the 80-mile drive back to Valdosta in order to catch the announcement of Mitchell, his friend and teammate. The state’s top-ranked wide receiver, Mitchell will deliver the news around 7 p.m. before family and friends gathered at the Hibachi Grill and Buffet in Valdosta. His decision will be carried live on local radio stations 92.1-FM, 96.1-FM and 1150-AM.
6. Georgia fans didn’t have to wait for tonight’s announcements in Valdosta to get some hard news on recruiting. Four-star Deion Barnes (6-5, 230) of Philadelphia held a press conference at 8 a.m. Thursday morning to announce his decision between Penn State and the Bulldogs. Barnes, who took an official visit to UGA just last weekend, chose Penn State, according to this report in the Pittsburgh Gazzette.
7. Five-star defensive Ray Drew of Thomas County Central told me earlier this week he’s planning to make his college announcement on Jan. 28 down in Thomasville. He told Dawgs247.com on Wednesday that he’s down two schools, not counting the final official visit he’s taking to Clemson this weekend. Drew named Georgia as one of the two schools and basically implied Auburn based on his comments in the story by Rusty Mansell. Mansell also reported that coach Richt was making an in-home visit with Drew on Wednesday night.
8. With the commitments of McEachern High teammates Rory Anderson and Marcquis Roberts on Wednesday, South Carolina has now reached double digits on Georgians in its 2011 recruiting class. Eleven of its 28 pledges are from the Peach State. A new NCAA rule limits to 28 the number of players that can sign with any school on national signing day, so Anderson and Roberts jumped those last two spots with the Gamecocks.
“You know how recruiting works. It can get pretty tight with the numbers toward the end and kids get nervous,” McEachern coach Kyle Hockman told the AJC’s Michael Carvell. “They both wanted to play at South Carolina and decided to go ahead and commit so they wouldn’t risk losing that opportunity.”
Anderson (6-5, 200), a tight end, picked South Carolina over Tennessee and 20 other offers. Roberts (6-1, 200), a linebacker, chose the Gamecocks over West Virginia, Virginia and Cincinnati.
9. Tuitt wasn’t Tech’s only miss this week. Alvin Dupree, a 6-5, 220-pound tight end/defensive from Wilkinson County, committed to Kentucky on Wednesday, according to CatsPause.com. Dupree made an official visit with the Yellow Jackets Friday and Saturday, then took a trip to Lexington on Monday-Tuesday with the intention of deciding between the two schools.
10. THIS & THAT: Kentucky and previously committed defensive back Riyadh Jones of Carver-Columbus have parted ways. The cornerback told Scout.com’s Simmons the decision was mutual. He visited UMass last weekend, is going to Georgia Southern this weekend and is still getting consideration from Mississippi state and UCF. . . . Carver-Columbus LB Mike Davis (6-1, 235) committed to Memphis. . . . Sandy Creek athlete Mike Hilton got his first offer this week from Cincinnati. He’s a junior. . . .
Ft. Lauderdale’s Marcus Roberson has an interesting view of recruiting. The four-star defensive back supposedly committed to Texas Tech this week, but when asked by the Avalanche Journal newspaper to confirm that commitment, he said, “yes, but I’m still open.” He went on to say it was “50-50″ whether or not he’d actually sign with the Red Raiders on national signing day. Roberson, who is ranked the No. 2 cornerback in the nation by Rivals, has been on official visits to Georgia, Auburn, Texas Tech and Southern Cal and has a fifth one scheduled this weekend to Florida.