This ran as an iPad exclusive last weekend . . .
If you’re recruiting one of the nation’s elite prospects who has a close friend or teammate who also is being looked at by colleges, then you may consider offering a “package deal.” The idea is to secure or improve your chances with the 5-star recruit while risking a second scholarship with a lesser-known player.
The two-for-one deal was the biggest issue on last year’s signing day after Rogers — the AJC’s No. 1-rated prospect for the state — reneged on his long-time Georgia pledge to follow his high school quarterback and best buddy to Tennessee.
This year’s AJC No. 1 is Carver-Columbus tailback Isaiah Crowell, and there’s speculation that Georgia created a package deal involving one of Crowell’s best friends to gain inside position against Alabama before the Feb. 2 announcement.
“I’m personally not a fan of package deals, but I understand the logic,” Calhoun coach Hal Lamb said. “If that’s going to be a college’s best way of getting their 5-star guy, then that makes for a good case for some schools to try it.”
Package deals are nothing new and have been around since recruiting was invented. In Georgia, it has only gained notoriety in recent years because dual offers may have influenced college decisions of the elite.
Now that Lamb has had a year to reflect upon it, he speculates that Rogers would have stuck with his original commitment had Georgia extended a late January offer to quarterback Nash Nance. However, the Bulldogs had plans to sign only one quarterback for the 2010 class, and Lassiter’s Hutson Mason committed in December.
While Georgia watched Rogers flee, it successfully completed or set up two other high-profile package deals last year. On signing day, Wilcox County wide receiver Lonnie Outlaw was both offered and signed by the Bulldogs in around the time span of an hour. Outlaw’s cousin and best friend is Wilcox County’s Nick Marshall, one of the state’s top prospects for this season who ended up committing to Georgia.
The Bulldogs also locked up last year’s AJC No. 2, Newnan safety Alec Ogletree, when they made a December offer to his twin brother that was accepted the next day. Fullback Zander Ogletree might have been Newnan’s best player, but he was overlooked by colleges because of his height. He committed to Georgia over Savannah State, West Alabama and Shorter.
Zander’s rapid commitment happened around the same time that then-Tennessee coach Lane Kiffin invited the twins for an official visit. Florida State also was considering the same ploy.
“Alec was committed to Georgia and not really looking around … but did it seal the deal? Of course,” Newnan coach Mike McDonald said. “I know the family was ecstatic because they could go see both sons play at the same place on Saturdays.”
The twins both played as freshmen at Georgia this past season.
Georgia Tech appeared to be trying the same type of strategy this year with Monroe Area 5-star defensive end Stephon Tuitt, who committed to Notre Dame in mid-September, flipped to Georgia Tech on Tuesday, and then switched back to Notre Dame on Wednesday.
Tuitt and his high school teammate, athlete Demontevious Smith, made official visits to Georgia Tech together last weekend, with Smith accepting a scholarship offer from the Yellow Jackets before leaving campus. He had also picked up a recent offer from Virginia Tech.
“This was absolutely not a package deal,” Monroe Area coach Matt Fligg said. “I’ve been pushing Demontevious on Georgia Tech for two years. After the bowl game, they met. Georgia Tech has some issues at quarterback, and I think [Smith] is the best quarterback I’ve ever coached.
“Georgia Tech never presented it to either player as a package deal, and they never looked at it as one. They were always both going to do their own thing. They are friends and teammates, but not like best friends.”
At Carver-Columbus, the same can’t be said about Crowell and defensive back Quintavious “Cootie” Harrow. They have been best friends since kindergarten. Georgia was the first …
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– By Michael Carvell, AJC College Recruiting
Package deals — Smart strategy or bad business? What’s your opinion?