Tennessee Vols may have gotten a steal in RB Imani Cross (UPDATED)

After overcoming an Achilles tendon injury, Imani Cross rushed for 586 yards and scored 16 touchdowns in just five games for North Hall. (Photo provided by North Hall High School)

After overcoming an Achilles tendon injury, Imani Cross rushed for 586 yards and scored 16 touchdowns in just five games for North Hall. (Photo provided by North Hall High School)

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

211 comments Add your comment

Ramblin Man

February 28th, 2011
1:32 pm

Good luck to him at Tenn. thought GT would have the inside track but what are you going to do. Hopefully GT can land Loyal and/or Waller.

joe

February 28th, 2011
1:43 pm

Seems Dooley has moved the Vols out of the heap of trash left behind by Lame & Co. How long til that smell overtakes Los Angeles?

ChattaDawg

February 28th, 2011
1:43 pm

Glad he was not recruited by Kiffin or by Pearl for basketball. “He chose the Vols because of “the family atmosphere.”

“I love being around people that care about us not just as football players but as students as well,” Cross said. “They teach us to how to handle every aspect in my life, not just football.”

Does that mean.. Lie and Cheat your way thru life?

Believe we will stick with Coach Richt and Coach Fox

Go Dawgs.

how2fish

February 28th, 2011
1:43 pm

Sounds like he could indeed be a power!

Reality Check

February 28th, 2011
1:45 pm

Many of these committments don’t mean squat right now.

Skankdashian

February 28th, 2011
1:52 pm

Hows Derrick rogers?

lawzoo

February 28th, 2011
1:57 pm

“Every aspect of life “? Apparently my ut friends took Golf 101 or some other pie course instead.

Flatwoods Dawg

February 28th, 2011
1:58 pm

Sounds like a deep year for RBs in the state.4 Ga backs have already committed to SEC schools. Hope we get Farleigh Fudge that big back out of Echols County.

joe

February 28th, 2011
2:01 pm

How do you know Kiffin isn’t recruiting him to be a Trojan?

“Believe we will stick with Coach Richt and Coach Fox”–how’s that workin out fer ya? 6-7 and NIT.

What do they say in NASCAR, if you aint cheatin you aint tryin…

joe

February 28th, 2011
2:03 pm

Auburn took cheating to a whole new level with SCAM and won an NC…should give the dogs a blueprint.

BIG BEE

February 28th, 2011
2:04 pm

CHATTADAWG, Naw, it just means that he will not be suspendsd for 3weeks out of each month!!!

MS. Bully

February 28th, 2011
2:07 pm

Enjoy Tenn. and waiting on the probation to end before your eligibility runs out.

PJ whiffs again

February 28th, 2011
2:08 pm

so dispel the rumors that PJ doesn’t try to sign more highly sought after running backs and wide receivers , they just don’t want to play in a service academy offense.

@joe

February 28th, 2011
2:09 pm

41-14 sound familiar, and I think with the loss to Miss. State Tennessee is sitting on the same bubble.
Glass houses.

kb

February 28th, 2011
2:13 pm

Tennessee will be paying for hiring Kiffin for a while. Think the hammer will come down pretty hard.

FRED

February 28th, 2011
2:26 pm

WE JUST CAN NOT RECRUITE IN THIS SCHOOL(STEPHENSON’S) WHY?????

D A DoubleU G

February 28th, 2011
2:31 pm

It makes perfectly good sense why any RB would steer clear of signing with UGA in this class, since the general consensus is that they would likely be sitting behind Isaiah Crowell for a few years.

But what I am puzzled by, is the fact NONE of these in-state running backs have any interest in signing with Georgia Tech. Especially when they have family already there??

I would try and make a valid argument that the Triple Option is clearly and obviously hurting the Tech program, but the Techies that read this blog are overly sensitive on the subject, and would attack me for being a “fry cooking, pickup truck driving, toothless redneck if I tried to talk football with them with an actual debate at hand.

So I am not even going to bother.

GO DAWGS!!!

GTBob

February 28th, 2011
2:31 pm

Why commit this early to a school that has significant NCAA allegations being thrown at them? It doesn’t really make sense.

VolsRule

February 28th, 2011
2:31 pm

Welcome to Rocky Top!!!!

While it may take another season or two – Dooley is collecting kids for HIS program – not going for quick fixes.

Our AD needs to be fired!!!
It’s bad enough when character issues flare from kids you gamble on that have grown up in poor environments – but when your coaches blatantly demonstrate character issues – well – someone has to be accountable.

I am afraid we will get what we deserve. But I think Football will avoid anything major. Basketball?, Well – that’s a different story.

Hey – enjoy the back and forth – one thing Vols and Dawgs have in common – we both hate the Gators!!!!

Go Vols!

RRTDawgs

February 28th, 2011
2:31 pm

John Theus was in Athens for the 9th time also i heard about this 2013 QB Brice Ramsey from Georgia out shined everyone down at the MVP camp in Orlando hey Chip do have any info on this kid .

McDawg

February 28th, 2011
2:34 pm

i know we livein a mobile society but what is the deal w/ all these athletes constantly transferring between programs???

RRTDawgs

February 28th, 2011
2:35 pm

DA DoubleU G we are totally focused on Kieth Marshall right now and i hear also we offered this huge 2013 RB Derrick Henry this guy is a bruiser from what i read on 247 sports .

VolsRule

February 28th, 2011
2:35 pm

Agree with the above post in that RB is not a huge target for UGA this year.

With Crowell coming in – and to be honest with you – Ealey is probably a pretty darn good back – your OL did not do him or King any favors last season – then with those two doing silly stuff to get suspended – well not a consistent year.

However – if UGA’s OL improves – King and Ealey will look a lot better. These guys are good backs.

Mike

February 28th, 2011
2:42 pm

HAHAHA UGA. You’re not getting Marshall. Its between UT and USCw. We will dominate you in your home state again in recruiting. We have took your State Gatorade of the Year in Da’Rick Rogers in ‘09 and Brian Randolph in ‘10. We will kick your @** again in Neyland this year. GFY.

b

February 28th, 2011
2:42 pm

Cross is a good athlete, but he is more suited for LB than RB in college.
He doesn’t have the cutting ability or instincts to be a great college RB.
IMO, linebacker is his future position.

RRTDawgs

February 28th, 2011
2:43 pm

VolsRule thanks for those nice comments congrats on I. Cross our main need on Offense is WR to replace Green and your right about the O Line .

Mike

February 28th, 2011
2:43 pm

Georgia Gatorade Player of the Year*

RRTDawgs

February 28th, 2011
2:45 pm

Mike your wrong UT and USC are not going after Kieth Marshall its going to be UGA and UNC battle Marshall has good relationship with and Richt and the coaching staff .

wrecked

February 28th, 2011
2:45 pm

@fred military academy offense. Having played running back in college there is no way I would want to play B back position or in this type of offense, B back gets hit most every down with or without touching the ball, like carrying the ball 40 times per game, not so bad if you’re playing in Division 1a or a school like Navy that play mostly weak opposition.

Mike

February 28th, 2011
2:46 pm

UT’s football program is, for the most part, almost unaffected by Kiffin’s transgressions. So nice try Dawgs.

Mike

February 28th, 2011
2:47 pm

@RRTDawgs Yeah with Richt signing happy birthday to him must have changed his mind (roll eyes)

D A DoubleU G

February 28th, 2011
2:48 pm

“we will dominate recruiting in your state again”………

huh??

You mind telling us how you “dominated us in our state” this past year?

Remember that Freshman QB wearing the red helmet that tore your secondary up, and rushed for 2 impressive TD’s last October??? He will only be better this coming season.

Go get your players out of Bar Knoxville. There are undercover cops there and we don’t want them getting their skulls bashed in. And the players who aren’t there, go take away their black hoodies and pellet guns. It’s not fair for every convenient store clerk in Knoxville to be stripped of their hard earnings.

VolsRule

February 28th, 2011
2:48 pm

Question for DAWG fans out there?

What happens if UGA wins 8 games (which I think they will do) – but gets the crap beat out of them by Florida under 1st year coach Will Muschamp and his big round OC?

I do not think losing AJ will destroy UGA – UGA was winning SEC titles with WR like T. Edwards and S. Bailey.

I think the key to UGA success in 2011 is defensive improvement – then OL would be second.

I think UGA will be better than most fans – do not know about Florida – loaded – I mean loaded with speed and talent – Urban could not run his scheme with current players – proset will be a cood change for them.

As for SC, Vandy and KY – who cares!

Go Vols!

Mike

February 28th, 2011
2:51 pm

Montana- Win
Cincinatti- Win
At Florida- *Win
Buffalo- Win
Georgia- Win
LSU- *Loss
At Bama- Loss
South Carolina- *Win
MTSU- Win
@ Arkansas- *Win
Vandy- Win
@ Uk- Win
LSU/Bama – Loss (but *Win if its LSU)

10-3

Getting Florida so early is a huge break with new O and D schemes plus starting QB and QB depth issues.

Georgia @ home without AJ Green, I’ll take it.

Yes karma is with us in the LSU game, but they are soooooo loaded this season. All they need is basic competency from the QB and they could win the SEC. the JuCo transfer QB might be just the ticket and he should be good and battle tested by the time he comes to town.

If LSU is loaded, Bama is really really loaded. I think they get something crazy like 20 guys back from the defensive 2-deep.

We played SC close last year when Bray was raw, now he has expereince and its at home. Them having Lattimore and us having a problem stopping the run could flip this.

Arky is loaded and would be the SEC favorite if not for LSU and Bama. But this is a major sandwich letdown game for them, so I like our chances. Plus the Hog D isnt exactly a wall, so this could be a fun shootout.

So we should be 6-2 in conference and 5-0 in the East.
If LSU makes the title game, I would definately give us a shot to knock them off in the title game just based on coaching matchups.

VolsRule

February 28th, 2011
2:52 pm

Hey D A Double U G – be carefull of the mud slinging my friend – plenty of UGA players on police blotters. After all, UGA is the reigning FULMER CUP champion.

Let’s hope all campusses are quiet this year.

APT

Black N Red

February 28th, 2011
2:55 pm

I think with the Vols being investigated by the NCAA, players would be a little cautious about joining their program.

D A DoubleU G

February 28th, 2011
2:55 pm

Tyler Bray, the young inexperienced QB the orange criminals are so giddy about…..

He came in late last season and won 4 games…… Memphis, Ole Miss, Vandy and Kentucky. I am pretty sure Logan Gray could have started those 4 games and won.

Then…… Tyler Bray got beat by a VERY depleted UNC team in a home-game bowl.

I fail to understand why the orange criminals feel they “have their guy”.

RRTDawgs

February 28th, 2011
2:56 pm

VolsRule i agree the three players to look out for is Jay Rome, C. Conley, and Malcolm Mitchell i think Rome was a huge get because not only his great blocker but he is a safety net .

Black N Red

February 28th, 2011
2:57 pm

@Mike get real, 3-10

Destin Dawg

February 28th, 2011
2:57 pm

bad choice this early with all the choices he has…. he won’t like Knoxville

ted

February 28th, 2011
2:58 pm

this one has to “sting” the nerds.

D A DoubleU G

February 28th, 2011
2:58 pm

UGA arrests: Underage drinking, suspended driver’s license, not having a middle name, fireworks

UT arrests: Beating the crap out of an undercover cop. Armed Robbery.

College kids being college kids or THUGS?????

Randall "Pink" Floyd

February 28th, 2011
2:58 pm

Gimme some of what you’re smoking, Mike. A 4-loss run starting with UGA and ending with USCe is a given. Florida will beat you. Then it’s just a matter of avoiding a 6th or 7th loss somewhere.

collegeballfan

February 28th, 2011
2:59 pm

The UGA fans are the last ones on earth that need to comment on other teams having players with “legal problems”.

Just noting for the record.

Lets be positive.
UT has an early commit at RB.
Last recruiting season UGA got the guy they wanted at RB.

Fans of both UGA and UT have one big thing in common; both hope that “legal problems” for their teams do not pop up in 2011.

At least the grads of the respective institutions think that. Who knows or cares what the “fans” think.

D A DoubleU G

February 28th, 2011
2:59 pm

Why Vol fans want to come on a state of Georgia newspaper the offseason after getting their butts handed to them by UGA and act like they are “up and coming” is quite baffling and entertaining to me.

D A DoubleU G

February 28th, 2011
3:02 pm

Johnny Too Good

February 28th, 2011
3:03 pm

@GTbob………. the word commitment doesnt mean anything anymore……… all these guys choosing sides early, in six months they might have a change of heart

http://www.youtube.com/thatsjohnanderson

JB

February 28th, 2011
3:04 pm

Dooley is like his dad….Very Smart……The bad news he took over Tennessee gutted and is rebuilding it LEGALLY and will not be allowed to finish the job…You can see it coming a mile away.He will have them in year four rebuilt and turning the corner….And will be fired for going 8-4 or so and the new guy will come in with a loaded roster and win 10 out of the box and be a hero. Maybe my Dawgs will hire him?

JB

February 28th, 2011
3:05 pm

Da’Rick was a Georgia lock until signing day. BOOM….Gone……..We’ll see.

Tdawg

February 28th, 2011
3:06 pm

I don’t get it. Are these parents in Georgia illiterate or something? Can they not read? Can they not hear? Do they not see? I am truly stumped. What ignorant parent would want there kids going to a corrupt program? What would it cost for these parents to take a step back and see what happens with the on going investigations that the NCAA is doing at some of these schools and we all know who these schools are? If you are determined to go to that school because no matter the findings of the NCAA and if it is the school that you have always dreamed of going to, then I say commit. Most likely some of these kids would not be commiting so fast if they knew that the NCAA were about to come down on some of these cheating programs. If these schools are cleared of any wrong doing then by all means, commit. Now on the other hand, if you’re getting some of that Cam type money, well then by all means commit? Parents, get a grip. Slow your roll. Unless your kids are retarted, they will get their ship. If they fall short athletically then commiting now guarantees your kid nothing, because Tennessee will pull that offer so fast your head will spin if this kid were to fall short of their expectations. A school should not be able to offer a kid a scholarship until one month before signing day in my opinion. If a school were to take a kids commitment then they should have to allow them to sign a letter of intent on the very day the school accepts their commitment. This would put a halt to a lot of that offering before signing day bull.