‘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 and I will be there until early January,” said Mauldin, a 6-foot-4, 240-pound defensive end at Atlanta’s Maynard Jackson High School. “So I mean that’s pretty good. I’m used to making good decisions in life and to me that sounds like a pretty good decision.”

Mauldin is used to making hard decisions. He has been a ward of the state most of his life. His mother has been incarcerated since he became a teen-ager and his father, who lives in California, is not involved in his life.

Now 18, Mauldin said he has lived in 16 foster homes and two group homes. He currently resides at Families First, a children’s group home in Atlanta.

Since last July, I knew Mauldin only as a name on a list, a good looking prospect who committed to play football for the Gamecocks before last season started. He wasn’t what you’d call “heavily recruited.” Mauldin got some long looks from Georgia Tech but ultimately received offers from only South Carolina, Kentucky, Middle Tennessee State, South Alabama and Troy. He accepted the Gamecocks’ offer way back on July 23rd of last summer and really never bothered much with the recruiting thing again.

But Mauldin didn’t end up signing with South Carolina as expected. He found out via a letter faxed to his school the day before national signing day that the Gamecocks would not have room for him in their Class of 2011. South Carolina signed 31 players on national signing day and added one more — Jadeveon Clowney, the nation’s No. 1 prospect — on Feb. 14th.

Mauldin wasn’t the only to be left at the altar by the Gamecocks. Linebacker Jordan Montgomery of Groveland, Fla., was also left hanging despite being committed since August.

“I kind of feel like I’ve been shoved away,” Mauldin told me recently. “Then again, on the other hand, I realize that I wasn’t academically eligible and I understand that was on my part. And I can’t really use the times I’ve been through as an excuse for that. It’s all right.”

Never mind that a number of South Carolina’s prospects also have not met entrance requirements.

Mauldin is just the latest victim of the growing problem of over-signing. The NCAA and the Southeastern Conference have done what they can to control it. This past year the collegiate sports’ national governing body adopted the SEC’s “25/28 rule” that limits to 28 the total number of signed letters-of-intent schools can accept. But there is little or no jurisdiction for ethics.

In the Gamecocks’ case, four of their 2011 signees enrolled early and actually count against the 2010 class. But that still leaves them three over the maximum number of 25 that will be able to enroll in August. At least that many are expected fall short of academic entrance requirements or suffer a similar fate as Mauldin and Montgomery. Why they were signed instead of the other two is left to interpretation.

“We’ve handled it,” head coach Steve Spurrier told reporters when asked about the unsigned commitments on national signing day. “Hopefully they’re still going to be with us. That’s about all I can tell. . . . We’ll see how it plays out down the road.”

If Mauldin fails to qualify — he still needs to achieve the minimum test score on either the SAT or ACT — he will be able to enroll at Fork Union Military Academy, a prep school in Virginia, according to Maynard Jackson coach Eric Williams. But if and when that happens and who will pay for it is unclear at this point.

The bigger question is what happens if Mauldin does qualify between now and the end of summer. He has taken the tests several times and says he is very close to getting the score he needs. In fact, he is currently awaiting word on his latest attempt.

“What I’m telling Lorenzo is, basically, ‘you’re a free agent,’” Williams said. “‘Although we have that letter, what will really force their hand is to get your score. Get your score and see if they’re going to honor what they say they’re going to do and bring you in.’”

In the meantime, Williams is seeing that his star player doesn’t sit around waiting in vain. Mauldin made an official visit to Louisville last weekend and he’s in the process of setting up a trip to Miami. Kentucky has also made inquiries about Mauldin’s possible availability and Troy has never stopped pursuing him. The national signing period for college football continues until April 1.

“He would be a jewel for any them at this late date,” Williams said. “He’s the real deal.”

Quite clearly, though, Mauldin favors South Carolina over any of his other options. Before his recent trip to Louisville, it was the only place he visited.

“I just fell in love with their campus over there, their football program, their academic program,” Mauldin said. “It was all what I wanted. Plus it was close to home. I didn’t want to go too far from home because of the family situation.”

Mauldin has four brothers and sisters, three of whom remain in state custody. And that’s where his story gets really sticky.

Upon graduation from Maynard Jackson in June, Mauldin will be emancipated from the Department of Family and Children’s Services (DFACS) system. Effectively, he’ll be on his own.

“Whatever school he goes to, it ain’t like he can come back,” Williams said. “His mom recently got out of prison, so hopefully she will have herself established soon and he’ll be able to go stay with her. But who knows? Even when we thought he was going to sign with South Carolina, we were already talking about the prospects of the next four years and him coming home to stay with us over the Christmas break or after bowl games. I told him he could come to my house.”

For his part, Mauldin says he’ll be just fine.

“I think everything will work out eventually,” he said. “Again, it’s better than nothing. As long as I’m playing football, I’m OK. I’m still getting my education. If I’m not playing football with my team right away, in the end, I will play with them eventually.”

From Lorenzo Mauldin’s perspective, it’s a smooth ride from here.

By Chip Towers, The College Recruiting Blog

252 comments Add your comment

Lagdawg

February 24th, 2011
12:45 pm

1st. This is a very sad situation and needs to be addressed and it is even more alarming that the kid still wants to attend USC. With all the programs in state of GA., I’m sure one of the programs probably recruited him. Is there not going to be a ten @ ten?

old timer

February 24th, 2011
12:46 pm

Good luck Lorenzo.

robodawg

February 24th, 2011
12:53 pm

Too bad, if his academics weren’t in order he’s easy picking. But the NCAA has got to show some balls and put a stop to this.

JFKDawg

February 24th, 2011
12:57 pm

Good luck, Lorenzo. Even though you may end up a Gamecock, you have done yourself proud by what you have accomplished to date given the circumstances that life has thrown your way.

The rest of us

February 24th, 2011
1:00 pm

Bet he wouldn’t have been “shoved” away if he was an original Coors in a can, huh Spurrier?

sandman053

February 24th, 2011
1:01 pm

Good luck Lorenzo….sounds like a good kid with a little guidance.

the real Old Gold

February 24th, 2011
1:01 pm

Coaches like Paul Johnson and Super Steve get all mad if a kid de-commits but when these coaches dump a kid..it’s no big deal! Sad how these kids are used by some of these coaches!

Samoa Dawg

February 24th, 2011
1:03 pm

Even if a kid like this can qualify, which I hope he does, how would he be able to handle college with no (legal) spending money? From what I’ve heard, the NCAA does not allow athletes to work, and his mom just got out of prison. How does a kid in this situation play ball in college for 3-4 years with no money? Just wondering…….

Viking87

February 24th, 2011
1:07 pm

6′4″ – 240 DE. Did UGA take a look at this kid? Can always use DE/OLBs and he may be able to fit the bill. Don’t know if any spots are available but why not take a look.

Hope all works out for him.

go gamecocks

February 24th, 2011
1:07 pm

I hope to see this man in a gamecock uniform someday – 16 foster homes? wow – he deserves a medal to have kept himself in school and out of jail.

JT

February 24th, 2011
1:08 pm

Gotta like the kid’s attitude about the whole thing. It would be all too easy to start throwing blame around. I’m confident things will work out for him somewhere if not ultimately at SC.

Vick=Dog killing Thug

February 24th, 2011
1:08 pm

Wow Good luck to the young man. I wonder if the chickens would have saved him a spot if he was eligible ? That’s the real question?

K Conley

February 24th, 2011
1:11 pm

Really Steve? “We’ll see how it plays out down the road.” And that’s where it ends for Darth Visor. He could care less. He is going to get his 18 holes in today, and this story concerns that prick in the least. The bottom line is that Steve and the South Carolina crew threw out as many lures from their boat as they could, hooked more fish than are allowed, and then kept the nice ones in the bait well, and threw the others in the back of the boat to be sun-baked. The difference with Saban and Spurrier, is at least Nick does have genuine interest in the kids he recruits. (All you need to do is ask his former players) All of Steve’s former players have a very limited relationship with the Coach. He doesn’t get close to his guys He’s always just “Coach”. I hope the kid goes to Troy or Louisville. Those staffs will help the kid, if he goes to Carolina and it’s decided he’s not good enough, the story could just become even worse. This story and the UT problems should tell all UGA fans why you should just keep your mouth shut when it comes to the “Fire Richt” talk.

Chip Towers

February 24th, 2011
1:17 pm

Lagdawg: Sorry, no Ten@10 this morning. I was working on this story. Will resume on Tuesday. . . .

Somoa Dawg: There are things such as the Pell Grant that students can apply for and Mauldin would certainly qualify. And college football players can work jobs but their time is limited.

schmeckdawg

February 24th, 2011
1:21 pm

Don’t the DAWGS have two more scholarships to give?

Reality Check

February 24th, 2011
1:27 pm

Just like the Alabama apologists, USC fans can come on here and say that the oversiging is not that big a deal, he will not qualify, etc. Send a letter the day before signing day to tell him that his committment will not be honored??? This shows no class and apparantly a committment was good unless someone higher rated came along. As a UGA fan, at least CMR has never pulled this trick and to wait until the 11th hour is disgusting.

OldFan

February 24th, 2011
1:29 pm

This is the kind of story that challenges all the “student-athlete” nonsense the NCAA spews about its vision of big time college football. College football may be the only real opportunity this young man has to keep his life on track. The NCAA should match his desire and find a way for a good athlete to live his dream. The NCAA needs to reach out to players like this, help them become academically qualified, and make rules that make sense. All the NCAA needs to do is look at who’s on the field in major college football and who’s in the stands. Take care of these kids. They’re making you rich.

Mean Machine

February 24th, 2011
1:29 pm

@ K Conley: ” The difference with Saban and Spurrier, is at least Nick does have genuine interest in the kids he recruits”. Oh really? And I’m sure that’s why Alabama leads the way when it comes to medical disqualifications. Because Nick cares about his players, right? Give me a break. Saban is the king of over signing and finding ways to trim the fat. Spurrier, Saban, and all these coaches need to be held accountable for their actions. If a school offers a kid, and he does everything that is asked of him, but he just doesn’t develop, guess what coach? You shouldn’t get to take his scholarship away because you screwed up in your evaluation of the kid. College football is not supposed to be the NFL.

DZ

February 24th, 2011
1:30 pm

How can a ward of the state afford to go to a prep school???

Paul in RDU

February 24th, 2011
1:34 pm

A terribly sad story and indicative of some major problems in the NCAA.
South Carolina fax’d a letter to the kid’s school the day before NSD that they didn’t have a scholarship for him after him being committed since July! WTF is that all about? They couldn’t even call the coach or the kid? Pulled it at the last minute to make sure he wouldn’t go anywhere else?
I can’t believe he is still thinking of going there – he should visit a few schools and see what ihe is offered.

Worm

February 24th, 2011
1:39 pm

Interesting story..Good luck to the young man..Sounds like Spurrier has put on his Saban thinking cap..Have another Coors Steve!

Aaron

February 24th, 2011
1:42 pm

Looks like it is time to change some more diapers. The crybabies are wailing.

Flatwoods Dawg

February 24th, 2011
1:46 pm

Screwing over kids like that is going to end up hurting those programs.

NC Dawg

February 24th, 2011
1:46 pm

this is the kind of kid you want to reach out and help, even if it is only giving him $20. Good attitude from a terrible situation. I have a feeling he will be all right because he seems to have a good head on his shoulders.

Hal

February 24th, 2011
1:47 pm

I wish I could feel sorry for all those guys who are caught up in the oversigning ….. but I don’t It’s the SEC what do you expect?

Who cares

February 24th, 2011
2:00 pm

@the real Old Gold. What does Paul Johnson have to do with this. I don’t recall him getting mad at a kid for DECOMMITTING it you can give a specific case do so.

CF

February 24th, 2011
2:01 pm

Prep Schools can give scholarships. If he qualifies, he will be signed and enrolled. What was not written was that Jackson was told that he was likely a sign and place anyways because of his academic standing. It was not just dropped on him the day before NSD.

I love this kids ability and his courage and perseverance. He will be a Gamecock, sooner or later.

GA06

February 24th, 2011
2:01 pm

Anyone think he wants to stick with SC because they want to stick with him? Chip’s friends with people much more familiar with this situation, I would have at least expected him to check with them. When it comes down to 2 players you want who are both long shots to qualify, you sign the in state kid and hope things work out with the out of state kid. If he qualifies, he’ll get his place.

DawginLex

February 24th, 2011
2:03 pm

This is the kind of kid you pull for. 16 foster homes?

I hope he gets to go to college and get a degree and play some football.

Johnny Too Good

February 24th, 2011
2:05 pm

I’m wishing Mauldin the best of luck in the future, I hope he can get that score in, and I also think its bad business by Spurrier and staff to wait until the day before signing day

http://www.youtube.com/thatsjohnanderson

Big Worm

February 24th, 2011
2:06 pm

This is a very sad story. It is. But the facts are he has basically no shot to qualify and he was told about this as a possibility a couple of months ago in case he wanted to look around. From the sound of the article he doesn’t and is still strong to USC. He may have gotten a letter the day before NSD but that just made it 100%. He was informed it was at least a 50/50 shot back before Christmas. Since all you Dawgs are acting so high and mighty I’ll pose you this question — Would you save a spot for a guy like Mauldin who only had offers from USC, Kentucky, and Louisville and is a long shot to qualify or would you take a commitment from the #1 DE in the country Jadaveon Clowney?

Johnny Too Good

February 24th, 2011
2:11 pm

@Samoa Dog……… thats how the AJ Green and Terrelle Pryor situation comes about……. sure they’re on a full scholarship, but they have no pocket money, no money for gas or a phone bill, or to buy a greyhound ticket to go home on the holidays……. and not all kids qualify for the pell grant, i know from experience, what if their family doessnt have money?

http://www.youtube.com/thatsjohnanderson

Flatwoods Dawg

February 24th, 2011
2:12 pm

A lot of people criticize Richt because he hasn’t offered every player in the state. I think his approach of being selective and making solid offers to players is better then Saban or Spurrier who throw offers fast and early.

Big Worm

February 24th, 2011
2:14 pm

Another thing Chip — did you think about getting some quotes from the other side of the story? I know USC can’t talk about players that aren’t signed but there are numerous “recruiting gurus” out there that cover USC like Rivals.com, 247sports.com, ESPN.com, Scout.com, SuperPrep, etc, etc, etc, that could have given you a little more insight besides “he got a letter the day before NSD” and could have spelled it out for your readers a little more. Looks like to me you decided to go one-sided since it made Spurrier look bad and we all know how your readers (Dawgs) hate Spurrier. Way to play up to your audience. Maybe you can give The State in Columbia some pointers on how to do that.

yearofthedawg

February 24th, 2011
2:15 pm

Can’t give him $20. The NCAA won’t let you. Can’t give him a job either. NCAA won’t let you. We could take up a collection to help him pay for his education… but if he’s an athlete the NCAA won’t let you do that either.

But at least they let all the Ohio State players they ruled ineligible postpone their punishment until after the Sugar Bowl to “preserve the integrity of the game”.

Good luck, young man. You’ve done a great job already. Get that test score and get into school. I’ll be cheering for you no matter where you wind up.

Ross

February 24th, 2011
2:17 pm

Funny how all you “dogs” are all hot and bothered over this. You really think UGA football has any room to talk about morals or ethics? Hypocrites.

Pacific Dawg

February 24th, 2011
2:18 pm

Big Worm

How would you feel if your girlfriend dumped you because a guy with a job, more then three teeth, and a doublewide winked at her? Especially after you have had her name tramp stamped on your butt. Commitments should mean something.

jarvis

February 24th, 2011
2:18 pm

@Big Worm, we wouldn’t have offered the scholly if we needed one for Clowney.

Blackoutanyone?

February 24th, 2011
2:21 pm

Chip… great story. What I hate is when all these coaches get thrown in together in regards to oversigning. It’s easy to glance at the problem and say they are all guilty until you really dive in and look at each circumstance. When a kid is recruited to play football at Alabama the kid and his parents know where they stand in regards to a scholarship for that year. Some are told if player a, b, and c qualify… you’ll have to greyshirt. If these players and their parents have this information up front and decide to commit then I don’t see the big deal. What Spurrier and Miles have done …. well there is no defense for that. As for clearing room for players… it’s a year to year scholarship. When you cut trouble makers or kids who don’t go to class that’s called discipline. As for medical cuts… I have questions myself as to why Bama has so many more than any other school. ROLL TIDE

ROLL TIDE

Blackoutanyone?

February 24th, 2011
2:23 pm

bigtime…. hearing Barry Sanders may be real close to ending his recruitment. Bama made a great impression on him and his dad so we’ll see.

RxDawg

February 24th, 2011
2:24 pm

Well, if the kid isn’t academically eligible than it’s all on him. But if he becomes eligible and USC doesn’t uphold their end of the bargain… well let’s just say I sure am glad Richt doesn’t practice this. I hope future recruits notice it too.

usccock07

February 24th, 2011
2:27 pm

So withholding a scholarship for someone who would not qualify anyway, is now unethical? They would have signed him, wasted a scholarship spot, just to put him into prep school on a scholarship. Now we have signed the No 1 player in the country, hopefully he will qualify, and Lorenzo will hopefully go to prep school, get his grades to qualify, and become a gamecock. This could also be blammed on high school athletes waiting until after signing day to commit to a school (Feb 14th for Clowney). At least three schools (Alabama, Clemson, and USC) withheld a spot for this kid, causing two potential student athletes to not get a letter on signing day.

Pacific Dawg

February 24th, 2011
2:36 pm

Alabama just got verbals from 2 rbs in Ga. They are still after Barry Sanders Jr. among others. I get a feeling that Justin Taylor and Mike Davis will still be listening to other schools because a verbal from Saban and Spurrier ain’t worth jack #%&@.

JFKDawg

February 24th, 2011
2:40 pm

I don’t think that the number one recruit Clowney has qualified yet, has he?

red

February 24th, 2011
2:41 pm

Chip Towers is moran

Big Worm

February 24th, 2011
2:41 pm

@Pacific — So kids commit to schools all the time and then change their mind and go elsewhere but if the school does it (which I don’t really think USC did here) then they’re the bad guys? He was told this was a possibility months ago!

@Jarvis — Who is we? Georgia? So all schools only give out 25 scholarship offers and hope to get them all?

Bottom line is, the kid isn’t qualified and probably won’t. I hope he does and we have some great storybook ending when he makes All-SEC in a few years and gets drafted. That’s not the case today.

PS — Nobody gives a damn about USC until we start winning something.

red

February 24th, 2011
2:43 pm

Corey Simmons ring a bell
ERIC NORWOOD ring a bell

Both from GA

Chipster?

February 24th, 2011
2:49 pm

Any updates on Imani Cross from Gainesville GA?
Read where he is taking his mom to Knoxville and will committ to Dooley this w/e.

He is a bruiser at RB / 6-1 225 and 4.5 forty.

GoalieLax

February 24th, 2011
2:52 pm

@the real Old Gold – the difference with Paul Johnson is that he doesn’t oversign to the point where he would pull an offer to a committed recruit. that’s why he has that policy…he would never offer then dump a kid the day before signing day to make room for someone else. he is committed to the player and expects the same back from the player to him

Pacific Dawg

February 24th, 2011
2:54 pm

JFKDawg

GOOD POINT!!!! CHA CHING!!!!!!