THE TEN AT 10:
1. Some of you may recall the story I wrote last fall about brothers Denzel and Robert Nkemdiche (pronounced kim-DEE-chee) and how the Grayson football stars intend to play together in college. Denzel (6-0, 205) is a senior linebacker and running back while Robert (6-4, 250) is a sophomore defensive lineman who is expected to be one of top prospects in America for 2013.
Phase one of that plan got underway on national signing day as Denzel signed with Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College. I asked Grayson coach Mickey Conn why the JUCO route.
“Well, Denzel is still working towards his eligibility, but actually he should be eligible by the end of this semester,” he said. “I think he wants to go this route because he wants to end up with his brother. This way he gets his school paid for, can work on his academics and gets to play ball for a really good team until his brother is ready to go to college.”
The big question, then, is what school placed Denzel at MGCCC? Surely that’s where they’ll both end up.
“Nobody placed him,” Conn said with a laugh. “There were a couple of schools that helped us a bit, but nobody placed him.”
Robert Nkemdiche already has verbal offers from Georgia, Georgia Tech, Alabama and BYU. But which school he might favor at this point is anybody’s guess.
“I would say Robert’s going to go pretty much wherever he wants to go,” Conn said. “I know he likes Alabama. Georgia’s been through, Georgia Tech’s been through. Pretty much everybody has expressed that they want Robert.”
2. Of course, the most high-profile signing of the 2011 recruiting class has yet to take place. Defensive end Jadeveon Clowney of Rock Hill, S.C. — the consensus No. 1 recruit in America — won’t be signing until Monday, Feb. 14, which happens to also be his birthday. Alabama, Clemson and South Carolina are each holding a spot for Clowney.
The latest reports have Clowney favoring the Gamecocks, according to South Pointe High coach Bobby Carroll. “It’s not because of Alabama’s legacy or anything like that,” Carroll told The Charleston Post and Courier. “It’s the proximity thing. He’s just not sure he wants to make that long ride.”
3. The Gamecocks’ waiting game has come at a price. They already have 31 signees in their 2011 class. As a result, they have withdrawn — or at least put on hold — a long-standing offer for defensive lineman Lorenzo Mauldin of Atlanta’s Maynard Jackson High School. Mauldin, a ward of the state much of his life, according to 11Alive.com, had been committed to South Carolina since last July. Another commitment, Florida linebacker Jordan Montgomery, has also had his offer “put on hold,” according to a story in the Post and Courier.
For his part, Mauldin doesn’t seem to be overly upset about the situation, even though it was floated via “sources” that he has academic shortcomings. He had the opportunity to sign with Troy but passed. “I will be playing football in 2011, just not at South Carolina yet,” Mauldin told the Rivals website GamecockCentral.com. “If I have to go to prep school, it will probably be Fork Union.”
I will be following up on this story.
4. Georgia Tech has been very busy on the recruiting trail for 2012, offering two more kids just this week. According to JacketsOnline.com, the Yellow Jackets offered CB T.J. Davis of Tallahassee, Fla., and his Godby High teammate, QB Dennis Andrews. Davis is an elite defensive back who already holds offers from at least 12 schools, including Auburn, Clemson, LSU and Ohio State. Andrews, who got his first offer from Tech, is considered one of the best dual-threat quarterbacks in Florida. The Yellow Jackets also recently offered Stephenson running back Mike Davis (5-11, 185) and defensive end Jarontay Jones (6-3, 235).
Tech has already offered at least two dozen prospects for 2012, according to GoJackets.com, including in-state stars such as Jordan Jenkins, Geno Smith, Kenyan Drake and Jonathan Taylor.
5. As for 2012 offers, it’s doubtful many Georgia high schools could have more juniors offered than Stephenson has lately. In addition to the Tech offers to Davis and Jones, Florida offered Jones, two-way lineman Jafar Mann (6-4, 275) and middle linebacker Raphael Kirby (6-1, 212). On Monday, Maryland offered Davis while Southern Miss offered Kirby, OLB Darreon Herring (6-3, 200) and OL Steve McKenzie (6-3, 280). Memphis offered all of the above plus DT Carlos Hood (6-3, 270) last month.
6. Maybe I’m biased, but in my book the AJC’s Steve Hummer is the best pure sports writer in America. Anyway, we managed to rope him into some recruiting coverage and he wrote this terrific piece on UGA signee Isaiah Crowell. You’ll love the part about how Richt illustrated to Crowell and his family Georgia’s need for a tailback.
7. Speaking of Crowell, apparently there will be life after Crowell at Carver-Columbus. The ball-carrying duties would appear to be in capable hands in the form of Cequanti Ford. Ford (5-9, 175), a rising senior, had nearly 1,000 yards serving as Crowell’s backup running back at Carver. However, many project him as a defensive back on the next level. Ford is the son of UGA letterman Glenn Ford, who played defensive back for the Bulldogs in the 1990s.
8. Georgia, of course, will play one of its most intriguing openers in a long time when it kickoffs the 2011 season against Boise State in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game on Sept. 3 at the Georgia Dome. The other day I talked to old friend of mine, Bob Behler, who is the play-by-play man for the Broncos, and, well, let’s just say they’ll be coming to Atlanta with considerable confidence. They’ll also likely be bringing with them a Top 10 ranking, maybe top 5. ESPN’s Mark Schlabach has them No. 8 in his “Way Too Early Top 25″ for 2011.
In any case, being the recruiting guy I felt compelled to look and see how Boise State did (or was perceived to have done) in recruiting this year. The Broncos signed 19 players in their 2011 class, none of whom garnered better than a three-star rating, according to Rivals.com. They did have nine two-star recruits. Thus, they were not rated in the Rivals rankings, which go 50 deep, or the ESPN rankings, which go 25. But they did nab the 65th spot in the Scout rankings, for what it’s worth.
Before you start snickering, keep in mind, Boise never has great recruiting classes. Nevertheless, it has managed to win 12 or more games for four of the last five years.
9. Speaking of the Broncos, I had a friend who is a UGA fan who point out that their starting center is 5-foot-11, 281 pounds. With Georgia likely to start junior college transfer John Jenkins (6-4, 340) at nose guard — who signed with the Bulldogs this past Saturday — “that’s at least one battle we ought to win,” he said.
Interestingly, Richt credits the Boise State opener in the Georgia Dome for having as much to do as anything with helping to put together the Bulldogs’ ballyhooed 2011 class. Said Jenkins: “When it’s time to open that Georgia Dome, I’m going to be ready. I can promise you that.”
In case you missed it, Georgia has agreed to let Jenkins wear the number 6 jersey next season. “You’re going to be the biggest nose guard in America wearing a single digit,” Richt told him.
10. THIS & THAT: One of the first orders of business for Georgia’s new offensive line coachWill Friend on Monday was to call all the Bulldogs’ offensive line recruits. “I talked to him last night,” signee Watts Dantzler of Dalton said. “I really liked him.” UGA signed five O-linemen in the 2011, six if you include long snapper Nathan Theus, who may also play some guard or center. One of those signees, tackle Xzavier Ward, actually committed after former line coach Stacy Searels left for Texas. . . .
The number of Georgians to sign on to play college football continues to creep up. It’s now at 743, according to high school football historian Steve Slay. That number includes eight additions and one subtraction since Sunday. Slay, who tracks down every college-bound football player in the state for the AJC each year, expects the number to continue to rise as late signings continue until the LOI period ends the first of April. . . . Signings continue to trickle in nationwide as well. Of course, one of the biggest switcheroos of all time occurred on Saturday when five-star offensive tackle Cyrus Kouandjio of Hyattsville, Md., who announced on national signing day he was going to ink with Auburn, signed instead with Alabama. Kouandjio is considered the No. 1 offensive lineman in America in 2011. . . . Meanwhile, Iowa, TCU and Minnesota have added signees since them, according to ESPN.com. . . . Here’s a link to some video of Malcolm Mitchell and Jay Rome being interviewed at a Valdosta radio station about their decisions to choose UGA.
By Chip Towers, The College Recruiting Blog