Archive for February, 2011

Tennessee Vols may have gotten a steal in RB Imani Cross (UPDATED)

After overcoming an Achilles tendon injury, Imani Cross rushed for 586 yards and scored 16 touchdowns in just five games for North Hall. (Photo provided by North Hall High School)

After overcoming an Achilles tendon injury, Imani Cross rushed for 586 yards and scored 16 touchdowns in just five games for North Hall. (Photo provided by North Hall High School)

Scratch off another one of Georgia’s elite running backs.

North Hall star Imani Cross committed to Tennessee over the weekend. Cross (6-foot-1, 220 pounds) gave the Vols the nod while attending a junior camp in Knoxville over the weekend.

Cross joins Stephenson’s Mike Davis (Florida), Hillgrove’s Kenyan Drake (Alabama) and Washington’s Justin Taylor (Alabama) in making early decisions to attend SEC schools. All four are considered among the state’s top running back prosepcts for the Class of 2012.

“Well, my mindset was, the first time I went up there I went up there with my father and I really liked the way Tennessee accepted me right when I stepped foot on campus,” said Cross, who made his first trip on Feb. 5. “I really liked the family atmosphere and I connected well with the coaches and I just …

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Lithonia DL Jimmie Kitchen takes the long road back home to Georgia Tech

To say that Jimmie Kitchen took an unconventional route to Georgia Tech would be an understatement. To say that he’s thrilled to officially be a member of the Yellow Jackets’ Class of 2011 would be, too.

Kitchen

Kitchen

Kitchen, a 6-foot-3, 265-pound defensive lineman from Lithonia, signed a national letter-of-intent with Tech on Wednesday. He did it exactly 55 weeks after signing a letter-of-intent with Tennessee State in February of 2010.

“Man, it feels great,” Kitchen said Thursday. “I knew I belonged at a big school in D-1. It’s just overwhelming right now to get my second chance.”

In between, Kitchen has been qualified, then not qualified, eligible, then not eligible.

Kitchen actually had already moved into the dorms at Tennessee State last summer and was working out with the team when word came that some of his classwork at Lithonia High School had been flagged by the NCAA Clearinghouse. He was told he’d have to take the classes over. So he packed up his bags and moved back to …

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‘Shoved away’ due to oversigning, Lorenzo Mauldin still hopes to end up at South Carolina

Maynard Jackson High defensive end Lorenzo Mauldin still hopes to qualify for admission and enroll at South Carolina this summer. (Photo Langston Sandlin/By Z3 Photography)

Maynard Jackson High defensive end Lorenzo Mauldin still hopes to qualify for admission and enroll at South Carolina this summer. (Photo Langston Sandlin/By Z3 Photography)

When it comes to talking about his life, Lorenzo Mauldin is not a big stickler for details. He tends to gloss over big chunks of his past, summarizing large expanses of it like asphalt over a highway full of potholes. The way he tells it, there are miles of smooth road both ahead and behind.

It’s easier that way, for Mauldin is a young man who is not terribly concerned about where he’s been, only where he’s going. That he’s not entirely certain of his destination is immaterial.

Mauldin is pretty sure his road will eventually lead to the University of South Carolina. Anywhere he ends up between now and then is, well, better than where he’s been.

“I’m pretty much set on South Carolina because of the fact that they will, if I don’t make the score that they need, they will put me into prep school for a semester …

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NCAA’s investigation of Tennessee went through Atlanta

Byrnes High stars Brandon Willis and Corey Miller are photographed with Tennessee recruiting hostesses Dahra Johnson and Lacey Pearl Earps after a game in Duncan, S.C., in the fall of 2009. (Photo by SI.com's Andy Staples reprinted with permission)

Byrnes High stars Brandon Willis and Corey Miller are photographed with Tennessee recruiting hostesses Dahra Johnson and Lacey Pearl Earps after a game in Duncan, S.C., in the fall of 2009. (Photo by SI.com's Andy Staples reprinted with permission)

The NCAA’s 22-month investigation of the basketball and football programs at Tennessee led enforcement staff through Atlanta, documents released by the school Wednesday revealed.

The NCAA cited the Volunteers for multiple recruiting violations in both sports in a 26-page document released to the media on Wednesday. Within those it is revealed that UT broke rules while recruiting two basketball players from Metro Atlanta: former Dunwoody High and Atlanta Celtics star Chris Singleton and Lawrenceville native and former Central Gwinnett student Jordan Adams. CLICK HERE for a copy of the report, which has been heavily redacted by UT’s legal team.

Singleton received six impermissible phone calls from head basketball coach Bruce Pearl and …

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Ten@10: Stephenson recognized as one of nation’s top producers of college talent

THE TEN AT 10:

1. If you find yourself hearing a lot about Stephenson High School and wondering if there could be any school anywhere that produces more college football talent than that school, you’re not alone. The Jaguars’ football program has long been suspected of being among the nation’s bests in that regard and that was confirmed this week. ESPN RISE online magazine listed Stephenson No. 7 in the country for producing college football players. That was right behind DeMatha Catholic High in Hyattsville, Md., which produced the country’s No. 1 player in Cyrus Kouandjio, and just ahead of Orlando’s Dr. Phillips High, which sent five-star running back Dee Hart to Alabama.

ESPN RISE credits Stephenson for 11 FBS signees in 2011, alludes to the many players it expects to send to college in 2012 and references several of its alums playing in the NFL. Here’s the most interesting part: The Jaguars are expected to have as many as 15 of its players ink FBS scholarships this year, …

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Washington High RB Justin Taylor commits to Alabama (updated)

Alabama recruiters compared Washington High's Justin Taylor to Heisman Trophy winner Mark Ingram. (AJC Photo by Collin C. Chappelle)

Alabama recruiters compared Washington High's Justin Taylor to Heisman Trophy winner Mark Ingram. (AJC Photo by Collin C. Chappelle)

Suddenly running backs are committing all over the place.

Justin Taylor, a junior at Atlanta’s Booker T. Washington High, committed to Alabama on Monday. He is the third Georgia back in a week to make a decision and the second in that span to choose the Crimson Tide.

Hillgrove’s Kenyan Drake committed to Alabama one week ago and Stephenson’s Mike Davis committed to Florida on Saturday. Including the commitment of Matt Jones of Seffner, Fla., to Florida last week, that’s four major 2012 running backs off the board in a week’s time — in February!

“Alabama was my number one school, so I felt like, why wait? That’s the school I want to be at,” Taylor said Monday afternoon. “When I found out they were as interested in me as I was in them I didn’t hesitate. I knew that’s where I wanted to go.”

Taylor said he has been a Crimson Tide fan since about the …

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Stephenson RB Mike Davis commits to Florida Gators

Stephenson RB Mike Davis chose the Florida Gators over offers from 15 other schools, all of which have come in the last five weeks. (AJC Photo by Collin C. Chappelle)

Stephenson RB Mike Davis chose the Florida Gators over offers from 15 other schools, all of which have come in the last five weeks. (AJC Photo by Collin C. Chappelle)

Once again the Florida Gators have reached into DeKalb County to snag a running back.

Mike Davis, a budding star at Stone Mountain’s Stephenson High School, committed to the Gators on Saturday while touring the Gainesville, Fla., campus with several of his teammates.

“I’m standing in The Swamp right now,” said Davis, referring to Florida’s Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. “I’m standing on the F. This is great.”

Davis was asked why he felt compelled to go ahead commit with nearly a year to go until national signing day 2012.

“I just felt at home here,” he said. “I talked to all the coaches and they told me everything I needed to know about the school and their system. So I wanted to go ahead and make my mind up and get on with it.”

About a year ago, the Gators grabbed AJC Super 11 running back Mack Brown out of DeKalb …

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Georgia Tech gets first 2012 commitment from Junior Gnonkonde

Lanier County's Junior Gnonkonde has played football only two years, but that was enough time for college recruiters to realize he's a special athlete. (Photo provided by Chad Simmons of Scout.com).

Lanier County’s Junior Gnonkonde has played football only two years, but that was enough time for college recruiters to realize he’s a special athlete. (Photo provided by Chad Simmons of Scout.com).

The American dream is quickly becoming a reality for Junior Gnonkonde. Only three years after landing in South Georgia from the Ivory Coast in West Africa, Gnonkonde realized his lifelong goal of securing a college scholarship.

Quite unexpectedly — for him at least — he’ll do it on a football scholarship. After playing football for only two years, the 6-foot-5, 220-pound outside linebacker committed to the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets on Friday.

“No, I never would have imagined it,” said Gnonkonde, his deep West African accent very evident. “It’s like a dream for me.”

Gnonkonde becomes the first commitment of the 2012 class for Tech, which offered him at its first Junior Day camp a couple of weeks ago. At this point he had no other offers but Georgia, Alabama, Auburn, Clemson and …

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Ten@10: Georgia Tech offers Callaway’s Ricky Parks as quarterback

THE TEN AT 10:

1. Ricky Parks prides himself on being able to play pretty much any position on the football field. But the 6-foot-4, 225-pound athlete from Hogansville admits to being more than a little pleased that Georgia Tech wants him to play quarterback in college.

Ricky Parks played tight end, wide receiver, outside linebacker, free safety and quarterback at Callaway, but Georgia Tech wants him under center. (Photo provided by 247Sports.com)

Ricky Parks has played tight end, wide receiver, outside linebacker, free safety and quarterback at Callaway, but Georgia Tech wants him under center. (Photo provided by 247Sports.com)

That is Parks’ primary position at Callaway High School. The Yellow Jackets offered him a scholarship to play quarterback for them early Wednesday morning.

“It elevates them a little bit knowing they want me to play quarterback,” said Parks, who is projected mostly to play tight end on the next level. “We run the option at my school, but not the triple option like they do. But I believe it’s something I could do.”

Clearly Tech believes so, too. It is the first school to offer Parks purely as a quarterback.

Parks, who I included …

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Stephenson’s Mike Davis is starting to make a name for himself

Stephenson's Mike Davis breaks a tackle to gain more yardage in a game against Newton County last October. (AJC photo by Collin C. Chappelle)

Stephenson's Mike Davis breaks a tackle to gain more yardage in a game against Newton County last October. (AJC photo by Collin C. Chappelle)

The numbers Mike Davis put up as a junior at Stephenson High School aren’t necessarily eye-popping — about 1,200 yards rushing, 14 TDs, one on a kickoff return. Not, that is, until placed into context.

Davis produced those numbers not as the primary ball-carrier for the Jaguars, but as a backup to senior starter Willie Davis. The other Davis (no relation) rushed for 1,100 yards and is now a South Florida signee. Looking a little closer, you start to understand why Mike Davis has received a new scholarship opportunity approximately every other day for the last month

“These last few weeks have been really exciting for me,” said Davis, who had no scholarship offers at the turn of the New Year but has 15 as of today. “They really have. I’m starting to see that all my hard work is going to pay off. I’m starting to hear that coaches are …

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