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, which several national analysts believe may be the most in the U.S. And I didn’t see the list from last year, if ESPN Rise did indeed produce one, but Stephenson had to be among the top few nationally with 29 total signees in 2010.

By the way, Miami Central (18 signees) and St. Thomas Aquinas (13) were listed one and two, respectively, on this year’s list.

This was the scene at Stephenson High on national signing day in 2010. (AJC photo by Brant Sanderlin)

This was the scene at Stephenson High on national signing day in 2010. (AJC photo by Brant Sanderlin)

2. Speaking of Stephenson, Florida apparently is planning on raiding the Stone Mountain school this season. At least that’s what this story in the Gainesville Sun implies. In fact, the newspaper produced a photo illustration to drive that point home. It features the Gators’ team logo carved in the side of Stone Mountain in place of the Confederate heroes.

Hyperbole aside, Florida already has received a commitment from Stephenson running back Mike Davis, who is expected to be one of the toop backs in the state state this season. The Gators also have offers extended to three other Jaguars, including DE Jarontay Jones (6-3, 240), LB Raphael Kirby (6-2, 200) and OL/DL Jafar Mann (6-4, 285). All those guys and some other Stephenson players traveled to Gainesville, Fla., with assistant coach Corey Johnson this past weekend to tour the Florida campus and meet the Gators’ coaches. That’s when Davis ended up committing. The Stephenson crew will be making a similar trip to Knoxville, Tenn., this weekend.

Florida knows all about one-stop shopping in recruiting. Remember former coach Urban Meyer made a living out of Lakeland High School a few years back, landing Chris Rainey, the Pouncey Brothers, Ahmad Black and Steven Wilks, among others, out of the school.

3. Davis, by the way, was one of three elite running back prospects in the state to make a commitment in the last eight days. Hillgrove’s Kenyan Drake and Washington’s Justin Taylor committed to Alabama a week apart. That means three of the city’s best tailback prospects are off the board more than 11 months before national signing day.

But there are several other good prospects still uncommitted, including Columbia’s Kenno Loyal and Brookwood’s Nick Thompkins. Both Loyal and Thompkins are drawing intense recruiting interest from Georgia Tech. In fact, Loyal told JacketsOnline.com this week that the Yellow Jackets are “at the top” of his list. Georgia is also recruiting Loyal.

4. While the Bulldogs’ recruitment of running backs may seem to be lagging a little this year, that’s to be expected just three weeks removed from signing the No. 1 back in the nation in Isaiah Crowell of Carver-Columbus. Crowell’s addition gives Georgia five tailbacks on the roster for next season, if both Washaun Ealey and Caleb King return for their junior seasons, which is the expectation at this point.

But don’t expect Georgia to take a pass on recruiting a running back this season. In fact, Georgia is in on arguably the top back in nation for 2012 in Keith Marshall. The 5-11, 190-pound back from Raleigh is known for both his grade-point average and his speed — which both happen to be 4.3 — according to ESPN recruiting analyst Jamie Newberg. If you want to get a first-hand look at what all the fuss is about, check out Marshall’s highlight video at YouTube.com.

5. Drake and Taylor are among nine players that have already committed to Alabama so far. That’s the most 2012 commitments of any one team, according to a report at ESPN.com. Texas, which always seems to lead the way in early commitments, has six at this point. The SEC’s 25 commitments so far leads all conferences. Florida and LSU have five each.

Georgia has two so far, wide receiver C.J. Curry of North Hall and kicker Marshall Morgan of Ft. Lauderdale. Georgia Tech got its first 2012 commitment from Junior Gnonkonde of Lanier County last Friday.

6. AJC correspondent S. Thomas Coleman tells me Buford junior defensive back Ryan Dillard is about to hit the road to visit some of the nation’s most prestigious schools — Stanford (Friday, Feb. 25), Cal (March 5) and Harvard (April 23). All three have already offered him scholarships. Recruiting interest in Dillard has slowly heated up after he had an interception and shut down Da’Rick Rogers in the 2009 AA state final and grabbed another interception and returned a fumble for a touchdown in the 2010 AA final. He has a 4.0 GPA at Buford and writes a regular blog ESPN Rise magazine. He also has a new junior highlight tape on YouTube.

7. Georgia is among the final four for wide receiver Shaq Roland of Lexington, S.C. Roland (6-2, 180), who is generally considered the top prospect in South Carolina for 2012, recently cut down his list to four finalists. The others are Alabama, Florida and South Carolina, according to a report in The Charleston Port and Courier.

8. Georgia Tech is reaching deep into Gator territory in its recruitment of defensive backs this year. One prospect the Yellow Jackets have targeted is Chris Bivins of Gainesville (Fla.) High School. Bivins (6-0, 170), who recently received an offer from South Florida, attended Tech’s junior day this past weekend. While he did not come away with an offer, he expects one eventually and told the Gainesville Sun he likes the Jackets.

“I like them a lot,” he told Edward Aschoff. “I love the fact that they stress academics, because football doesn’t last forever. They have a very qualified school and I think they’re close to offering me, so hopefully they do.”

9. Bivins was just one among a huge number of impressive prospects in Atlanta this past weekend for Tech’s junior day. These were just some of the players being put through the paces on The Flats (listed alphabetically):

DiAndre Atwater, Peachtree Ridge; Ray Buchanan Jr., Peachtree Ridge; James DeLoatch, Jenkins County; Faith Ekakitie, Lake Forest, Ill.; Pat Gamble, Central Carrollton; Shaq Huff, Eastside; Larry Jefferson, Banneker; Jordan Jenkins, Harris County; Jonathan Jones, Carrollton; Kenno Loyal, Columbia; Chris Moody, Henry County; Robert Nkemdiche (2013), Grayson; Johnny O’Neal (2013), West Laurens; Jonathan Taylor, Jenkins County; JoJo Wynn, McIntosh Academy.

10. THIS & THAT: One of the biggest showcases of recruiting talent from all over the country returns to Atlanta next month. The second annual MVP Camp will be conducted March 26 at Lovejoy High School. This was the camp, organized by recruiting analysts Rusty Mansell of 247Sports.com and Chad Simmons of Scout.com, that last year discovered the previously hidden talents of Stephon Tuitt. Tuitt, who won most vaulable player honors, ended up signing with Notre Dame. Registration for the event begins on Monday at TheMVPcamp.com. Once again, some of the top prospects in the country are expected to participate. The first stop for the camp is taking place this weekend in Orlando at Dr. Phillips High School. . . . .

Woodward Academy defensive lineman Jordan Watkins added two more schools to his growing list of offers over the weekend — Auburn and Oklahoma. . . . Lovett running back Zach Boden has decided to play football at Harvard. . . . Central Gwinnett sophomore linebacker Trey Johnson received his seventh scholarship offer over the weekend. He added Mississippi State to a list that included Auburn, Cincinnati, FSU, Georgia Tech, Illnois and Southern Cal. . . .

Six seniors from St. Pius X High School will be signing national letters-of-intent to attend colleges on soccer scholarships on Wednesday. They are Bryana Gold (Villanova), Kelsey Keown (Rhodes College), Elizabeth Kinsel (Georgia State), Andrea Papania (University of Dallas), Grace Raines (West Point) and Andrew Wolverton (Penn State).

By Chip Towers, The College Recruiting Blog

187 comments Add your comment

Jon Kontract

February 22nd, 2011
10:29 am

Coach(sic) Paul Johnson

February 22nd, 2011
10:36 am

Georgia Tech has lost 5 of their last 6 football games, only beating Duke.

Georgia Tech only graduates 43% of their football players.

LOL

February 22nd, 2011
10:38 am

Un thats only 5.

schmeckdawg

February 22nd, 2011
10:39 am

He looks like a beast on film. Go get him DAWGS!!!!!!!!!

dawgster

February 22nd, 2011
10:39 am

it appears that RB I. Cross may be off the table also, according to Vols 247 sports…the Marshall kid is very, very good, but its going to be a battle with UNC for his services…if i had to bet i would say the dawgs will finish 2nd to UNC, but its a long ways to go and alot of things can happen…I am surprised that Bama is making so many offers this early expecially to RB’s…I know they are still hoping for Barry Sanders, Jr..but they may feel that he will stay out Midwest with OK St…the dawgs need to start getting som O-line and D-line recruits to commit…RB’s will take care of itself i believe and also we need a bigtime WR…we are in on a few right now, but need to get them to pull the trigger…go dawgs

ATLANTA

February 22nd, 2011
10:40 am

Though Alabama landed two commits RB prospect from state of Georgia, none of them is highly at the top, Drake is so far number in the list while Justin Taylor is about number 9. So UGA could as well land the no 1 instate RB Imani Cross from North Hall High school.

ATLANTA

February 22nd, 2011
10:41 am

Drake third in the list

RxDawg

February 22nd, 2011
10:42 am

I hope it works out with Marshall. I’m just as interested in that 4.3 GPA as I am that 4.3 40 yard dash. UGA football has had a lot of problems the past few years. One of those problems at the top of my list is our team has just not been football smart. We’ve been the bad news bulldogs and just found ways to lose games. It would be in our best interest to up the team IQ a little bit.

German Shepherd Dawg

February 22nd, 2011
10:43 am

And I remember how Richt got ripped in previous years for taking too many early commitments and not waiting on the final blue chippers.

Damned if you do….

D A DoubleU G

February 22nd, 2011
10:43 am

I truly think the signing of Isaiah Crowell is and will be the biggest risk UGA has wagered since a similar situation with…….. Jasper Sanks.

I do not see any big name RB wanting to sign with UGA in the 2012 class. We the Dawg fans, as well as the media have already declared Isaiah “The Savior” before he has even stepped foot on campus as a student. Any RB in this class will go elsewhere in anticipation of the Isaiah crowning being correct.

This is not necessarily a bad thing for UGA, so long as Isaiah does become a producer. Nobody can blame RBs in the 2012 class for wanting to go anywhere but UGA.

So any and all of the haters who LOVE to come on here and jab UGA for “losing another in-state talent”, needs to look at the big picture from perspectives of the kids involved.

Make the argument that Alabama is already stacked at RB, but not with anybody has highly touted as Isaiah.

GO DAWGS!!!!

RxDawg

February 22nd, 2011
10:43 am

Oh, and I sure do miss Lowndes input on the blogs.

But also a special thanks to the poster that goes by K Conley. He/she has some good thoughts.

RxDawg

February 22nd, 2011
10:44 am

And wheres naga? He’s always got some great input from a seminal perspective too.

German Shepherd Dawg

February 22nd, 2011
10:45 am

Dawgster,

It’s an awfully long way to signing day, too. Remember D. Rodgers from 2 years ago, a signing day turncoat. We owe UT.

dawgster

February 22nd, 2011
10:47 am

@Atlamta…Cross will not be a dawg…more than likely a Vol…at least thats what i am hearing up in this area…but with recruiting anything can happen and usually does…go dawgs

Concrete Pete

February 22nd, 2011
10:49 am

Stephenson is a top producer nationally of talent, yet no state titles. Speaks volumes to the quality of HS football and coaching in Ga.

rduck

February 22nd, 2011
10:49 am

Good to see Tech in on alot of good players early. Hopefully this will be the year we can pull off a really good class of players. We got some good ones last year but had alot of projects mixed in. Seems we are making some inroads on some quality players early. Best of luck to all. Alot of time before NSD again… Go Jackets!

dawgster

February 22nd, 2011
10:50 am

@German Shepherd Dawg…I hear you and i do agree…as i you said, a long ways till NSD…our season will play a big part in the next recruiting class…It does appear that alot of teams are trying to lock up their committments earlier than usual…Our state is being raided pretty good, maybe we should return the favor and perhaps we will…go dawgs

Desperation on the Ave

February 22nd, 2011
10:50 am

Check out how absolutely OBSESSED Techies are with all things UGA.

http://www.stingtalk.com/forums/forumdisplay.php?f=5

About half of their “discussions” are UGA topics. If you feel like reading them, the hate the display is the most classless example of human beings on Earth.

But don’t YOU dare talk smack about Tech! These Nerds don’t understand the concept of a 2-way rivalry. While it is okay for them to do what they do on that website, any ill words aimed at them will set them off in an uproar of academic and underage drinking arguments of epic proportions.

42-34
9-1

Don’t worry Techies. Stephon Tuitt still may flip-flop and save you.

trupert

February 22nd, 2011
10:51 am

Marshall and Crowell as a one two punch, sounds good to me.

The dream continues, Go Dawgs!!!

renegade#1

February 22nd, 2011
10:53 am

Does seem like Ga needs too pick up the pace a mite. Seems like there is never a sense of urgency at UGa. Maybe there will be some good ones left by signing day. Lets go Mark. gata

uga

.Maybe there will be some goodun’s left by signing day.Lets go guys. gata

DZ

February 22nd, 2011
10:54 am

@ATLANTA What “list” are you referring to?

Where is Richt? Is he on vacation? He needs to learn his job is a 12 month per year position.

bigtime

February 22nd, 2011
10:55 am

DAUUG…..Trent Richarson was certainly just as highly touted coming out of HS

bigtime

February 22nd, 2011
10:55 am

*RicharDson*

D A DoubleU G

February 22nd, 2011
10:56 am

bigtime,

Trent Richardson will also be gone after this year. Crowell could very well be a starter for the next 3 years. Recruits realize this.

bigtime

February 22nd, 2011
11:00 am

Guess What

February 22nd, 2011
11:04 am

I can’t wait to see “the savior” Isaiah Crowell bring UGA football back to the promise land just like…….Jasper Sanks, Caleb King, Richard Samuel….do I need to go on mutts. This kid will be average at best so don’t get your hopes up as usual. All these duds were suppose to be the next H. Walker coming out of high school and all were…..you guessed it average.

RRTDawgs

February 22nd, 2011
11:05 am

Eddie Prince Jr . visited Athens over the weekend and was very impressed just let you know .

jp

February 22nd, 2011
11:05 am

Georgia is not behind on recruiting. They have 4 commits technically with Marshall Morgan, CJ Curry, Jalen Fields and Lonnie Outlaw(two former UGA signees currently in JUCO).

This class is going to be small with only around 15-18 signees based on attrition. You can say they are a quarter of the way finished with their class.

Getting Marshall is going to be big but also getting some WR’s would help a lot. They need at least 4 WRs including Outlaw. They also need some big uglies on the DLine. Abry Jones, Deangelo Tyson and John Jenkins may all be gone next year.

BigTimeTECHFan

February 22nd, 2011
11:05 am

Stephon Tuitt – Signed LOI with Notre Dame

trupert

February 22nd, 2011
11:05 am

Nobody should be suprised by Alabama handing out scholarship offers as if it’s inexpensive candy.

Saban can afford to make twice as many offers as any coach who has integrity because he dosen’t, and if a player dosen’t work his way into the starting rotation in two years he will just cull them as if they were the smallest fish in a livewell.

They do things a little differently in ol Bamer. That’s the reason that Saban won’t disclose how many players are on scholarship.

There are alot of secrets being covered between Alabama and Auburn. They do have their individual styles, Alabama just offers twice as many kids while Auburn puts their booster support program to work.

D A DoubleU G

February 22nd, 2011
11:07 am

Bama is a good brand…. has been and always will be…

Unfortunately the signing of so many Blue-Chippers by UGA in 2011 will only assist Bama in getting those names out of the state of Georgia this go-round.

For those of us who understand how recruiting works, there are cycles. While UGA cashed out big last year, don’t expect the same this year.

Kids are not that intrigued by entering a program being #2 on a depth chart where the #1 is only a sophomore or RS Freshman.

UGA fans just need to hope the recruits we just got will pan out, and win the next few seasons, and then let the next wave of Blue-Chip recruits come in knowing the big names are about to be gone.

Those who don’t understand this, need to stop wasting your time following recruiting.

dawgster

February 22nd, 2011
11:08 am

Its funny how the gators are not worried about the dawgs at all, but they jumped all over the story by repoting it on Gators 247 that Murray had broken his ankle…funny no other SEC school seemed to pay any attention to it, but the gators…I thought we were not a concern to them…go dawgs

gt

February 22nd, 2011
11:11 am

And uga has great talent and went 6-7 last year and only graduates 33% of its players…Whats your point thugs?

dawgster

February 22nd, 2011
11:12 am

Its going to be interesting to watch if the dawgs can truly only signg about 18 next year in seeing how that compares to others that continue to sign the max and then some…hopefully the NCAA and SEC can get this thing under control where everyone is playing by the same rules, and not finding loophole…notice, i didn’t call out any school since i have no valid info that that is what some are doing, but its has created a lot of talk in the media…go dawgs

RRTDawgs

February 22nd, 2011
11:15 am

We need defense and OL championships are won in the trenches what is that old saying defense wins championships if we get big John Taylor and Lenard Floyd that would huge those two guys are beasts .

dawgster

February 22nd, 2011
11:16 am

@D A Double U G…agree with alot of what you said, except i would expect the dawgs to follow up last recruiting class with another highly touted group, it may be smaller but i think we should expect the quality to be outstanding and to continue to build depth at alot of positions…I think RB and WR are always something you look at, but right now we need alot of O-line and D-line recruits to build that depth and we need the players tha fit into our system…go dawgs

Don4654

February 22nd, 2011
11:18 am

trupert,All schools offer way more kids than they can sign because they know they aren’t going to get everyone they want.

GTJason

February 22nd, 2011
11:21 am

For the Imani Cross comments, from everything I’ve heard he’s going to join his brother at GT. Possibly another case of parents making their kid’s choices for him but we’d be glad to have him.

trupert

February 22nd, 2011
11:23 am

@ D A ——.

People who understand how recruiting really works should be able to look passed the front cover of the recruiting rankings and see the truth.

Every three years or so UGA will only have 18 or so scholarships to offer ( LIKE ALABAMA HAD THIS YEAR) and will only sign 18 or so players, ever wonder why Alabama never seems to only have about 18 or so on hand? They oversign an average of between 8-10 players every year and have to cut an average of 8-10 players from those supposed top ranked classes.

In reality, UGA’s class is much better than bamas or any other top ranked class that oversigned 8+ players.

So keep touting Saban and his class rankings and some will believe but those who really understand recruiting will see the truth.

trupert

February 22nd, 2011
11:28 am

@ Don4654. Yes, most but not all, but only a select few actually oversign players and UGA is one of the teams with integrity who won’t do it.

That’s why Saban is handing out unlimited offers so early while Richt is staying in touch and holding off on offering something that he may not be able to deliver on. It’s called integrity.

hairydawg

February 22nd, 2011
11:30 am

ST PIUS X BABY! Wolverton’s a boss, he plays on the national team, he’s so sick…thanks for the pius shout out chip

[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Georgia Sports Now, deepsouth365, Keith Niebuhr, Chad Simmons, Chip Towers and others. Chip Towers said: Ten@10: Stephenson recognized as one of nation’s top producers of college talent http://bit.ly/hf1bOi [...]

dawgster

February 22nd, 2011
11:31 am

@GTJason…i had thought the same, but the Vols feel that he will commit to them…not sure why they are so confident, but thats the info thats being heard…still a ways to go though…

bigtime

February 22nd, 2011
11:31 am

dawgster,RRTDawgs…… Good to hear from some regulars on here talking some recruiting today. I think UGA will benefit greatly from the new S&C regime in Athens. SEC games are won/lost in the 4th quarter and IMO that is where the Dawgs have failed the last couple of seasons. These new S&C coaches will jerk a knot in these guys tails for sure and conditioning will no longer be an issue in the 4th . The Dream Team will make an impact before most of them ever arrive on campus. You think the players already at UGA aren’t sick of hearing how these freshman are going to come in and start right away ? That motivation will pay off in the offseason conditioning program…..get better or ride the pine behind a freshman….yeah , that’s pretty good motivation.

Also , I think a new Mark Richt will appear this year ; one that is hungry and has no other option but to come out swinging because his back is against the year. I think UGA will suprise a few people this year
with their play.

Roll Tide

Johnny Too Good

February 22nd, 2011
11:32 am

2. I wonder how does mark richt and staff feel about the stephenson crew?

http://www.youtube.com/thatsjohnanderson

GT

February 22nd, 2011
11:33 am

Junior Gnonkonde deserves to be on the Ten @10 this week! Awesome story!

Taco

February 22nd, 2011
11:35 am

Quit all the whining about Saban and Alabama’s recruiting. Carry your sorry A$$ back to Athens and win some games. Bama does what Bama does because they can. It ain’t illegal. Kids want to play for them and Saban, right or wrong. Law of Jungle. Would you prefer Saban keep all the recruits that wash out on the payroll like UGA does to “level” the playing field? If UGA cut all the 4 and 5 star recruits that didn’t produce, they would not have enough players to play pick up basketball 5 on 5. No more crying please. Win.

bigtime

February 22nd, 2011
11:37 am

Chip Towers

February 22nd, 2011
11:39 am

hairydawg: Added Grace Raines. Thanks!

K Conley

February 22nd, 2011
11:40 am

@ dawgster, I posted a week or two ago that we were behind UNC for Marshall, and that was based largely upon my readings. After doing some more research and checking comments from Lowndes25, I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that the Dawgs probably have a slight lead to get the kid’s signature. I don’t want to get ahead of myself, but let’s just say that I don’t start getting excited until I see real evidence. Well, I’m starting to get excited because the fact is that he and Coach Richt have developed a solid relationship. I hope we can close the deal here, because he’s a special football player. He will not be in Athens next year if Mark Richt is not our coach. That being said, if we can get this kid on board to go with John Theus, that will be 2 kids coming to UGA who are considered top 10 nationally at this point. Theus has stated that he is going to wait until the Army All-American Game to decide, but that decision is already in place. He will be a Dawg!