THE TEN AT 10:
1. Jadeveon Clowney’s commitment to South Carolina on Monday got me wondering if Georgia might have lost a step or two in its recruitment of the Palmetto State. It seems like not so long ago the Bulldogs were always plucking top talent from the neighbor state to the East. But Clowney, a defensive end from Rock Hill, S.C., and the consensus No. 1 prospect in America, never really gave UGA much of a chance. Clowney did not mention Georgia among co-finalists Alabama and Clemson, even though the Bulldogs recruited him hard and he plays a position of great need for them.
In fact, Georgia did not sign a single player from South Carolina at all this year. That’s the first time since 2004 that’s happened. The Bulldogs have never recruited a big number of prospects out of the state, but they’ve almost always snatched away one of South Carolina’s bests annually, including Kwame Geathers in 2009, A.J. Green in ‘08, Prince Miller in ‘06 and CJ Byrd in ‘05. It’s a tradition that predates Marcus Howard and Richard Seymour and goes all the way back to Steve Greer and Kent Lawrence.
Granted, with the home turf as talent-rich as theirs, the Bulldogs shouldn’t spend much time harvesting from other states, much less a sparsely populated one such as South Carolina. But that state has produced more than its share of exceptional football players in recent years, and Georgia has simply lost its head-to-head recruiting battles with the Gamecocks on them lately. In addition to Clowney, it was unable to sway five-star offensive lineman Brandon Shell this year, Marcus Lattimore last year or Alshon Jeffrey in 2009. Those losses came back to bite the Bulldogs on the football field this past season and boosted the Gamecocks, who won their first SEC East title this past season and likely will be favored to again this year.
So what happened? The loss of assistant coach Jon Fabris certainly did not help the situation. Fabris, the driving force behind landing Green, Miller, Byrd and Howard, was dismissed by Georgia coach Mark Richt following the 2009 season.
2. Speaking of Clowney, his addition gives South Carolina 32 signees in the 2011 class. So much for the crack down on oversigning, huh? Four of the Gamecocks’ signees apparently are already enrolled, which gets them to the all-important 28-max number enacted by the SEC last year and the rest of the NCAA this year. But that means at least three of the remaining signees either are expected not to qualify academically, will be convinced to grayshirt or will have to be cut loose.
The Gamecocks already have drawn criticism from the website Oversigning.com because they withdrew the scholarship offers of two other recruits who had been committed to USC before national signing day. One of those is Atlanta’s own Lorenzo Mauldin, who committed to South Carolina last July. Neither Mauldin nor Maynard Jackson High coach Eric Williams could be reached for comment, but Mauldin has been quoted saying he is not upset and will wait to sign with the Gamecocks at a later date. We’ll see.
3. While Clowney represented the last member of the 2011 class to come to a decision (at least on the FBS level), some big recruits for 2012 have already up their minds. In fact, Kenyan Drake, one of the top rising seniors in Georgia, committed to Alabama on Monday. The 6-foot, 188-pound running back from Hillgrove chose the Crimson Tide over Georgia, Georgia Tech, Purdue and Tennessee. Many consider Drake to be the top running back prospect in the state for next season. You can read my report from last night by CLICKING HERE.
4. It appears another one of the top running back prospects in the South is off the market. Matt Jones, a 6-foot-3, 210-pound junior from Seffner, Fla., was long considered a strong lean for Georgia, which had probably recruited him longer and harder than anybody. But Jones, enamored by Florida’s switch to a pro-style offense under new coach Will Muschamp, committed to the Gators while attending their junior camp over the weekend in Gainesville. After several conflicting reports surfaced, Jones went public with his Florida commitment on Monday.
5. With Jones and Drake off the board, the Bulldogs are down to one uncommitted running back prospect that they have already offered. Keith Marshall, a 5-11, 185-pound athlete from Raleigh, N.C., may be the top overall back in America before it’s said and done. A projected five-star prospect, Marshall already holds 20 offers and they’re all from major football powers across the country. So in addition to turning up the heat on Marshall, expect UGA to step up with some offers to some in-state kids very soon.
Several would seem to be worthy of the Bulldogs’ attention, most notably Stephenson’s Mike Davis. Davis (5-11, 200), the younger brother of former Clemson star James Davis, already has a dozen scholarship offers, including Clemson, Florida, FSU, Georgia Tech, North Carolina, Penn State South Carolina and Tennessee. Other local running backs that could also get a look include Kenno Loyal of Columbia and Justin Taylor of Booker T. Washington High.
6. A must-see stop for coaches following the recruiting trail through Atlanta this year is Stephenson. While the Stone Mountain school always produces a bevy of college-bound players, this appears to be a particularly bountiful year for the Jaguars.
Just between Davis (14), defensive end Jarontay Jones (14) and two-way lineman Jafar Mann (15), Stephenson players have already been offered scholarships from 43 schools. But they also feature Carlos Hood (Memphis, Miami, Mississippi State, South Carolina,UCF), T.J. Moon (Memphis), Raphael Kirby (Florida, FSU, Southern Miss), Darreon Herring (Southern Miss, South Florida, Memphis, Vandy), Joshua Parris (Illinois, USF), Steve McKenzie (Duke, Memphis, Southern Miss) and Nicholas Gibbons (Illinois). At least five other Jaguar players are getting recruiting interest from FBS schools at this point. So they will clearly be a team to keep an eye on in 2011.
7. Both Georgia and Georgia Tech like what they see in Quayvon Hicks. And what’s not to like? The Pierce County star could play either side of the ball in college. The Bulldogs offered the 6-foot-2, 257-pound junior last Friday as a fullback while Georgia Tech offered Hicks over the weekend as a defensive lineman.
“It really is depending on how big I get in the next couple of years,” Hicks told DawgPost.com. “It’s all about where my body takes me. Right now, I’m a fullback, but I could grow into a defensive player down the road.”
8. Hicks is one of several athletes to have received a bid from Georgia Tech of late. According to JacketsOnline.com, others to receive offers from the Yellow Jackets lately include Old Tappan, N.J., athlete Devin Fuller; Greater Atlanta Christian offensive lineman Chase Roberts; and defensive tackle Carlos Watkins of Forest City, N.C.
9. Hope you’ve been checking back to follow the progress of the ever-growing list of football signees from Georgia. According to the latest updates provided by AJC correspondent Steve Slay, we’re now up to 774 in-staters who have signed on to play college football somewhere. Included in that number is 186 that are headed to Football Bowl Subdivision Schools. The national signing period continues until April 1, so it’s quite likely that those numbers will continue to rise.
10. THIS & THAT: The winter semester signing period is not just for football. Actually, male and female athletes from several different sports sign letters-of-intent at this time of year. For example, Iyana Moore, a star soccer player from Wheeler High School and the United Futbol Academy’s U17 soccer team, not only signed with Tennessee, but has already graduated from high school and enrolled at the university. . . . I want to be sure to bring attention to these other student-athletes whose talents garner them college scholarships. So in the future, be sure to let me know about non-football and basketball signings by sending me an email either to firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com. I’m going to create a regular feature highlighting some of these talented individuals and keep a running list of signees you’ll be able to access. I appreciate your assistance with this and any suggestions you may have for handling it. . . .
Drake wasn’t the only early commitment Alabama has landed. In fact, the Crimson Tide got another one over the weekend in Alabama linebacker Tyler Hayes of Thomasville, Ala. That gives the Crimson Tide eight commitments already for the Class of 2012. . . . Quarterback Nick Montana, the son of NFL legend Joe Montana, is transferring from Notre Dame to — where else? — the University of Montana, according to SI.com. . . . No sooner did the ink dry on Clowney’s letter-of-intent than South Carolina assistant coach Shane Beamer left to join his father’s staff at Virginia Tech. Beamer’s generally given a lot of credit for the Gamecocks’ recent recruiting success. . . .
Check out this YouTube video — it’s actually just the audio — of a bombastic radio interview former Florida coach Urban Meyer gave to an Indianapolis radio station in which he says that has been a major loss of integrity among college football coaches:
By Chip Towers, The College Recruiting Blog