THE TEN AT 10:
1. Ray Drew may be a licensed minister, but he’s having a devil of a good time keeping people guessing about his impending college decision. The 5-star defensive end is going to unveil his choice on Friday morning in the gym at Thomas County Central High School. Which team he will choose, well, everybody thinks they know but nobody really does.
Publicly Drew likes to throw out hints that he’s headed to Auburn, such as the text he sent me Sunday night that read “WDE” (that’s “War Damn Eagle,” as in the Auburn battle cry, for the un-indoctrinated). But Georgia fans insist Drew is so overly outspoken about the Tigers that it has to mean it’s a smokescreen for his real intention, which is to become part of the Bulldogs’ Dream Team. But then Drew will throw up a Facebook status that confuses the issue even more, such as the one he posted late Monday evening.
“There will be a huge surprise on Friday . . . no Auburn, no Georgia, no LSU . . . time to shock the world baby!,” he wrote.
Based on our conversation earlier Monday night, that would mean he’s picking Miami. Drew told me then that his four final choices on Friday will be Auburn, Georgia, LSU and Miami (he eliminated Clemson after his official visit there this past weekend). But, again, can we buy that he’d offer such an obvious hint four days before his supposed big reveal? Should we believe that he’d choose Florida or Tennessee or USC, some of the schools he talked about late into the process but never actually visited?
Here’s what we do know: Drew’s announcement is tentatively scheduled for sometime in the 9-9:30 a.m. block at his high school. Drew said he hasn’t decided yet what he’ll do or exactly what hats he might choose from or if he’ll choose hats at all. Details are still being worked out but he wants the entire student body and faculty to come out for the announcement. I plan to be there, too, assuming I’ll be able to find a seat.
2. Speaking of Drew, No. 2 in the AJC Fab 50, and his invitation to join UGA’s “Dream Team,” I informed him of the AJC’s No. 9 player, Xzavier Ward, committing to the Bulldogs on Monday. You may have read part of his reply on Twitter. Here it is in full:
“Hmmm. I’m proud for him. I’m glad he found out where he wanted to be. I’m sure he made the best decision for him and his family. Now I’m looking forward to going against him one Saturday.”
3. Another potential Dream Team member Georgia is desperate to land is Isaiah Crowell, the AJC’s No. 1-rated prospect. Crowell took his official visit to UGA this past weekend and is headed to Auburn for his final trip this Friday. Crowell’s silence since that visit has been deafening. He hasn’t talked to anybody that I know of, and certainly not me. Evasive to start with, it looks like the Carver-Columbus tailback has completely shut it down now as far as interviews. Which is fine. It’s an extremely difficult decision he’s trying to make between Alabama, Auburn and Georgia from now until national signing day on Feb. 2.
But my attempts to reach Isaiah did land me an opportunity to speak to his father, Andrew Crowell. The baratone-voice patriarch of the Crowell clan is a man of few words who clearly is not easily impressed by or does not get rattled about this whole recruiting thing.
Whatever young Crowell decides, we won’t find out until national signing day. Carver coach Dell McGee said all of his seniors that are signing with colleges will do so as a team that Wednesday at 1:30 p.m. at the community center near the school. Gabe Wright (Auburn or Tennessee), Quincy McKinney (South Carolina commit) and Riyadh Jones (undecided) will among the Tigers to sign letters-of-intent that day with FBS schools.
4. It won’t go down as a new commitment but Georgia coach Mark Richt pretty much re-recruited Zach DeBell back to the Bulldogs over the last several days. The big offensive tackle from Tarpon Springs, Fla., was pretty shaken up by Stacy Searels’ decision to leave UGA to coach the offensive line at Texas. But Richt and his assistant coaches managed to smooth things over with an in-home visit last week and several phone calls since then.
“I was very disappointed in Coach Searels’ departure,” Debell told me in an e-mail. “He was a big part of why I chose Georgia. Coach Richt came to my home along with Coach [Bryan] McClendon and Coach [Warren] Belin and explained that he will have an offensive line coach in place shortly. Coach McClendon will be back in Florida next week and I may get to meet him then. I am eager to do so.”
Meanwhile, Texas lost one of its offensive line commitments during the transition (5-star tackle Christian Westerman switched to Auburn). I asked DeBell, a four-star prospect and a U.S. Army All-American, if he had been approached by the Longhorns.
“I have no interest in Texas,” he wrote. “I want to be a Bulldawg. I know Mark Richt will get someone really good.”
5. Georgia landed a somewhat unexpected late offensive line commitment from Colquitt County’s Xzavier Ward on Monday and it very well may have landed two. But ultimately Taylor Gadbois decided “to stay with my word” and stick with his commitment to Miami. The 6-foot-7, 295-pound tackle from East Paulding said he was “stressed out” after meeting with Richt and other staff members for an extended period at his school on Monday.
“They said Xzavier had committed and they wanted me to commit, too,” said Gadbois, who like Ward was offered a scholarship Sunday morning. “I told them I couldn’t do that to Miami, that I was a man of my word. I mean, I didn’t want to be rude to Coach Richt, because he’s a good man. But if it came down to Miami and Georgia, I was going to choose Miami because that was my dream school. And they had scholarships when they first started recruiting me. They just didn’t offer me one.”
So it would appear the Bulldogs are in the market for one more offensive lineman. The main target for that spot appears to be Antonio Richardson. The four-star prospect from Nashville, Tenn., was an official visitor this past weekend and reportedly loved it. But he has long been considered a heavy lean to the home-state Tennessee Volunteers.
6. The hot rumor this past weekend was that Southern Cal commitment Kent Turene of Lauderdale Lakes, Fla., had committed to Georgia while on his official visit in Athens. One fan site actually had a story to that effect posted for a short while. Turene quickly shot it down via text message. “I don’t know where that came from,” he told me later. “I’m still committed [to the Trojans].”
That said, he really enjoyed his visit and really likes the Bulldogs. He was supposed to make an official visit to Tennessee immediately afterward but that trip got canceled.
“Georgia’s been recruiting me since last spring,” said the 6-3, 225-pound athlete. “I’m from Savannah originally and I’ve always liked Georgia. I committed to SC and Georgia never stopped recruiting me. They’ve just always been there and I feel very comfortable around all those coaches and players.”
So what might swing him to Georgia? “The depth chart at linebacker,” he said. “They don’t have a lot there right now. There’s a lack of depth, so the opportunity is there. They’re recruiting me for inside linebacker but they say I could play both.”
Turene, who is now listed as a “soft verbal” to USC on most lists, is going to visit Texas Tech this weekend. He said he’ll decide between Georgia, Nebraska, Texas Tech and Southern Cal on national signing day.
7. With 23 commitments — including three this past Sunday — Georgia Tech appears to be filling up fast. But the Yellow Jackets remain in the hunt for some elite recruiting prospects. They have not given up on Monroe Area’s Stephon Tuitt, the five-star defensive end who was committed to them for about 36 hours last week before re-committing to Notre Dame. And they may actually lead at this point for four-star defensive tackle Darian Cooper of Hyattsville, Md. Cooper visited Iowa this past weekend and is also looking hard at Michigan State in addition to the Yellow Jackets.
I’ve had interviews with two of the three new Jackets’ commitments and already posted a story on Miami linebacker Nick Menocal. I’ll be profiling linebacker Kyle Travis of South Forsyth later today.
8. In case you missed it, Michael Carvell had a couple good posts this week about Class AAAA state champion Chattahoochee. He reports that Arkansas coach Bobby Petrino stopped by Chattahoochee about two weeks ago to talk about defensive end Barron Dixon, who ended up committing to Mississippi State. Chattahoochee coach Terry Crowder asked Petrino for a few extra minutes of his time.
“I told Coach Petrino, ‘I’m not letting you leave here until you look at Kane Whitehurst,’” Crowder recalled. “I showed him some film and he just kind of fell in love with the kid.”
Whitehurst committed to Arkansas on Monday. The 5-11, 172-pound cousin of former Clemson great Charlie Whitehurst caught 84 passes for 1.378 yards and scored 23 touchdowns, including four on kickoff returns.
Carvell also reports that Class AAAA Player of the Year Tim Byerly is getting late interest from Michigan, among other schools. The 6-foot-1, 200-pound quarterback is also fielding calls from Duke, Wake Forest and other ACC schools.
9. Herschel Walker told our Jeff Schultz he wants to see more Georgia kids going to UGA, and he’d like to help make it happen.
“One of the things that’s happened is we’ve been losing so many kids coming out of high school to out of state college,” he said of the Bulldogs’ recent struggles. “They’re not going to the University of Georgia, and I’ve been sort of hurt by it. I’ve talked to Coach Richt and I’ve spoken to Greg McGarity and I’ve told them I’d like to get involved and help them in any way I can. But I’m not sure what the NCAA would allow me to do.”
10. THIS & THAT: Georgia State received its eighth commitment of the 2011 class over the weekend from Walton RB Kyle Vorster. Vorster (6-0, 207) rushed for about 1,800 yards this past season, according to coach Rocky Hidalgo. . . . The Panthers also may have gotten a commitment from DB Demazio Skelton of Georgia Military College, though that is unconfirmed at this writing. . . .
Lee County quarterback Justin Walker — who established a state record with 591 yards passing in a single game this past season — accepted a scholarship offer to West Georgia on Monday. Walker (6-3, 180, threw for more than 3,000 yards and 40 TDs this past season. Many of those passes went to Georgia wide receiver commitment Sanford Seay. . . . North Cobb linebacker Troy Gray and Sandy Creek defensive back Bruce Dukes committed to UCF. . . . Tucker running back Bashr Coles, the Class AAAA Region 6 offensive player of the year. Bashr, received a scholarship offer from UAB late last week. He adds that to offers he already has from Eastern Michigan, Illinois State, Indiana State, Western Carolina, Presbyterian and Georgia Southern. Coles visited Georgia Southern last weekend. . . .
S. Thomas Coleman reports that Westlake defensive back Ronnie Harris expects to make his decision this week. After visiting the Tennessee. Harris (5-10, 175), who was was visited last week in his home by Stanford’s new head coach, David Shaw, will run track this spring to improve upon his 4.40 time in the 40. “He wants to be running 4.3 by the time he lands on campus,” said Harris’ father, Ronnie Harris Sr.over the weekend, he will choose between Air Force, Harvard, Notre Dame, Standford and
By Chip Towers, The College Recruiting Blog