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 felt in my heart that it was the right place. When I went there again I had in my mind that this was the right school but I wanted to make sure. I got that reassurance on the second visit.”
Cross is first 2012 commitment for the Vols. He is the brother of Georgia Tech defensive lineman Izaan Cross and was holding an offer from the Yellow Jackets. He also has offers from Maryland, Mississippi State, South Carolina, UCF, UCLA and Virginia. He’s also being recruited by Georgia and several other ACC and SEC schools.
“He’s got quite a few offers,” North Hall coach Bob Christmas said. “He picked up one from Mississippi State last week and he was excited by that one, too. But he just liked Tennessee a lot and decided to go ahead and go with them.”
If Cross proves to have his injury problems behind him, he could end up being a real steal in recruiting. Cross rushed for 1,407 yards and 17 touchdowns as a sophomore at Flowery Branch. But he transferred to North Hall immediately after that season and suffered a torn Achilles tendon during his second spring football practice with the Trojans.
The injury kept Cross out of North Hall’s first five games last fall. But he rushed for 200 yards in his first game back and had his best overall performance of the year in the final game of the season against Oconee County with five touchdowns (three rushing, one receiving, one on interception return), 190 yards rushing and 73 yards receiving.
Cross finished the season with 586 yards on only 63 carries (a 9.3 average), 175 yards receiving and led the team with 16 touchdowns.
“He looks 100 percent right now,” Christmas said. “He was probably never more than 90-95 percent last year and he didn’t play until the fourth or fifth ballgame. It took him a few games to get going but once he did he was hard to stop.”
Said Cross: “The injury situation is I’m completely healed. I rehabbed with a trainer in Atlanta and that really helped. I even played basketball this season. I’m 100 percent.”
I asked Cross if he had any concerns about Tennessee’s football program currently being under investigation. Be sure to check out tomorrow’s “Ten@10″ to see what he had to say about that.
By Chip Towers, The College Recruiting Blog