THE TEN AT 10:
1. Lorenzo Mauldin is still not sure what he’s going to do, but he’s starting to feel better about his options. The Maynard Jackson High defensive end and longtime South Carolina commitment, who was stuck without a scholarship after the Gamecocks oversigned on national signing day, is now heavily considering an offer from Louisville.
Cardinals’ second-year coach Charlie Strong has offered to bring in the 6-foot-4, 240-pound defensive end as a non-qualifer if he continues to come up short on his test scores, according to Mauldin. That means Mauldin would have to pay his own way the first year but would have three years of eligibility remaining and a qualify for a fourth if he’s on track to graduate.
“That’s a pretty good option for me,” Mauldin said Monday. “I believe it’s better than prep school. I’ll already be there with the team and I could be playing football the next fall.”
Louisville would, of course, prefer to take Mauldin as an out-right qualifier. Mauldin, who has lived in 16 foster homes and currently resides in a children’s group home in Atlanta, said he believes he would be able to come up with the money to pay tuition at Louisville for a couple of semesters if he doesn’t.
“I have supporters that are not alumni of Louisville that will help me out with that,” said Mauldin, who has been committed to the Gamecocks since last July. “Playing football here [at Maynard Jackson], I’ve gotten to know a lot of people who want to help me. Plus, there’s the Pell Grant. So, yes, I think I can come up with [the money].”
Meanwhile, Miami and Troy continue to recruit Mauldin and prep school remains a possibility. But clearly he would prefer to stick with his first option, which is to meet freshman eligibility requirements by spring and force the Gamecocks to find room for him. Mauldin said he is now undergoing individual tutoring sessions on taking college entrance exams twice a week at Georgia State.
“It’s all based on the score,” said Mauldin, who said he is awaiting an ACT score and will take the test at least one more time. “I see that I’m so close on these scores, I feel sure I’m going to get it. If I do get the score I hope [South Carolina's] word is good and I get the scholarship.”
South Carolina signed 32 players in its 2011 football recruiting class. Four of those recruits enrolled in January and will count toward the 2010 class. But that still leaves them three over the NCAA maximum of 25 that can be added to the scholarship roll this fall.
Mauldin said Gamecocks assistant coach Lorenzo Ward promised him the football program would find room if he qualified.
“He said if I get the score I will get the scholarship from one of the other boys who won’t academically qualify,” Mauldin said. “He tells me that’s his word. A man’s word is his bond, so I’m hoping that will be carried out.”
2. Reaction to Mauldin’s story has been strong from both ends of the spectrum. Opinions tend to fall into two categories: (1) Those who believe Mauldin and others like him have been terribly wronged and disgarded by the system; (2) those who believe South Carolina simply did what others do to remain competitive and/or that Mauldin knew all along he wasn’t going to be signed due of academic shortcomings.
Mauldin admits that not signing was brought up as a possibility by Ward “a couple of weeks” before national signing day. But, he said, “I didn’t know for sure until they sent that letter over. I don’t know what day they faxed it because they sent it to my coach, but it was right before signing day.”
Maynard Jackson coach Eric Williams told the AJC that they were informed by the day before national signing day the scholarship he’d been promised would not be available.
3. Oversigning has been a hot topic since national signing day. The Wall Street Journal published a story on Monday in which three SEC coaches — including South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier — defend oversigning on the basis that it helps underprivileged prospects and those that don’t qualify. The Big Ten forbids oversigning and “I think that really hurts them a lot,” Spurrier said. “They end up giving scholarships to a lot of walk-ons.”
Spurrier does admit in the article to making some mistakes this year. But he falls short of being apologetic. “What we probably could’ve done earlier in the recruiting [process] is tell them that this could happen,” he said. “But then again, we didn’t know it was going to come up. It’s a ticklish situation.”
“Ticklish” is one way to put it. Then there’s the way Walter Banks put it.
“I told [South Carolina] this was foul,” said Banks, the coach of Groveland (Fla.) High defensive back Jordan Montgomery, another longtime South Carolina commitment who was stuck on the outside looking in. “I didn’t have a clue [the scholarship was being withdrawn] until 18 hours before signing day. And if they say anything else, they’re lying.”
Closer to South Carolina, Ron Morris, a columnist for The State newspaper in Columbia, calls the practice of oversigning “repugnant” and says rules should be enacted to eliminate it. But he doesn’t hold out much hope. “Do not hold your breath on that happening,” he writes.
4. Yesterday I reported that North Hall running back Imani Cross committed to Tennessee over the weekend. Understandably, a number of people asked me whether Cross had any concerns about the ongoing NCAA investigation into the Vols’ football program (and basketball program). I wondered that, too, and asked Cross about it.
“One thing I understand is it wasn’t them; it was the previous coach, Lane Kiffin,” Cross said. “They made that clear. The program was in other hands at the time and that’s why the investigation is going on. So they didn’t really harp much on the investigation, etcetera. They just said Tennessee is heading in the right direction and they’re doing things right. And that’s the vibe I got from Coach [Derek] Dooley and all of their assistant coaches.”
I asked Cross if he worried how potential sanctions might impact him or the team. “No, I’m not too concerned about that.”
Cross rushed for 586 yards and scored 16 touchdowns in five games for the Trojans as a junior last season. He missed the first half of the season while rehabbing a torn Achilles tendon suffered in spring practice. He’s 100 percent healthy now.
5. Booker T. Washington running back Justin Taylor, who committed to Alabama last week, got an unexpected call on Monday. Taylor said Georgia assistant coach Bryan McClendon dialed his coach to inform them that the Bulldogs were offering Taylor a scholarship.
Taylor (5-10, 215) was flattered but otherwise unimpressed. “It doesn’t make a difference,” said Taylor, who also has offers from Georgia Tech and Arkansas. “I’m going to stay committed to Alabama. Georgia is just another school that offered me.”
Taylor said the same answer stands for any other would-be suitors. In fact, the signature line on his cell phone texts reads “100% BAMA BOY LOL.”
6. Two other local products who recently received scholarship offers from the Bulldogs were a little more appreciative. Linebacker Raphael Kirby and defensive lineman Jafar Mann, both of Stephenson High, were extended offers while on a brief visit to the UGA campus last week.
“It’s a great honor just to get an offer from Georgia being from Georgia,” said the 6-2, 220-pound Kirby. “I have visited many times and it meant a lot for Mark Richt to offer me.”
Said Mann, a 6-4, 285-pound two-way starter: “The offer from Georgia, I’m really happy about it because it’s from my home state. When you’re from Georgia you come up kind of hoping to get an offer from them.”
That said, it doesn’t appear very likely either will end up signing with the Bulldogs, though anything could happen. Florida, which offered both players early in the recruiting process, appears to be in the lead. Stephenson teammate Mike Davis has already committed Florida and Kirby and Mann were with him on the same trip to Gainesville.
“Really, Florida is a beautiful state; everybody knows that,” Mann said. “But I went down there and it felt like I’d been going there all along. Right now, they look very good.”
However, Mann, who has 17 offers, said he won’t make a move until national signing day.
7. One of the drawbacks to so many players from one school having so many scholarship offers — Stephenson currently has 10 players hold more than 70 scholarship offers between them — is occasionally teammates who play the same position get offers from the same school.
That’s the case with Mann and fellow junior Carlos Hood. Both play interior tackle positions in the Jaguars’ 4-3 defense and both have ended up with offers from defending national champion Auburn, which the two of them visited along with some teammates last weekend.
There is little chance, it seems, that both will decide to sign with the defending national champions.
“Carlos and I and everybody at one time decided we were all going to the same school,” said Mann, who lists Florida, Miami, Tennessee, Auburn and Georgia as his five favorites. “But I don’t think me and Carlos are going to do that now. We decided he’ll be better off if he goes over there and we go over here. But me and Jarontay [Jones], that’s a different story. He’s a D-end. So me and him won’t be fighting for a position like that.”
Said Hood: “It’s really an independent decision. We could end up going to the same school but, at the same time, we could be fighting for the same position, too. I guess we could end up playing beside each other but we’re not really thinking about it like that.”
Hood, who also has offers from Memphis, Miami, Mississippi State, Ole Miss, South Carolina, South Florida and Tennessee, made it clear he favors Auburn. But, “I want to wait to see who the D-line coach is going to be,” he said.
8. Online registration began Monday for the second annual Atlanta MVP Camp. The star-studded event, organized by recruiting analysts Chad Simmons of Scout.com and Rusty Mansell of 247Sports.com, will be held March 26 at Lovejoy High School. Like last year, it’s expected to attract some of the best prospects in Georgia and surrounding states.
According to Mansell and Simmons, one position that looks particularly strong this year is quarterback. Among the signalcallers expected to participate are 2012 prospects Greyson Lambert (Wayne County), Will Gardner (Coffee County) and Chad Voytik (Cleveland, Tenn.); and 2013 targets Brad Butler (Darlington), Taylor Lamb (Calhoun), Jonathan McCrary (Cedar Grove), Eddie Printz Jr. (Lassiter), Brice Ramsey (Camden County) and Cole Seagraves (White County). There’s even a 2014 prospect in Cole Garvin of Sandy Creek.
Lambert (6-5, 200) is generally regarded as the top quarterback in the state this year and one of the best in the country. He already has offers from Alabama, Clemson, Georgia and N.C. State and is being intensely recruited. “I like guys like him that have all those offers but aren’t scared to compete,” Simmons said.
AJC “Tentative Ten” prospects Vadal Alexander, Kenyan Drake and Jordan Jenkins are also scheduled to participate. Go to TheMVPCamp.com for more information.
9. Speaking of the MVP Camp, Mansell and Simmons hosted their Florida version last weekend in Orlando. Some Georgia kids were among the standouts at that event, including the Camden County quarterback Ramsey. Ramsey, who measured in at 6-2 1/2, 191 pounds, was named the top performer at his position.
“That kid can play,” Mansell said. “I don’t know what Jeff Herron is going to do with that Wing-T down there but Brice has a cannon of an arm.”
Mansell said other Georgians to play well were DE/OLB Kenneth White of Clinch County, DB T.J. Gurley of Cairo and QB Steven Bench of Bainbridge. All of the them were slated for Elite 101s, meaning they’re considered among the top few at their position. Simmons lauded DL Bryan Attaway of Camden County, OL DeAndre Wise of Alpharetta and DE Randy Wooten of Cairo for their work at the camp.
10. THIS & THAT: Speaking of Gurley, the 5-11, 180-pound cornerback is drawing a great deal of interest from Georgia Tech. He told GoJackets.com that assistant coach Todd Spencer has been checking in on him and he would not be surprised if an offer might be imminent. “[Spencer] said he checked my profile and that they would be recruiting me this year,” Gurley said. “If I were invited to come up to their practice or spring game, I would like to go to one of them.” Gurley, who earned his way into Elite 101 status at the Orlando MVP camp, is not currently holding any FBS offers but is drawing interest from numerous ACC and SEC schools. He said he prefers North Carolina and will be looking at early playing time and comfort level on campus as key factors in making his decision. . . .
Georgia offered Banneker safety Chaz Elder on Monday, according to Scout.com’s Simmons. . . . Clarke Central quarterback Martay Mattox, who enrolled at South Carolina early, is working out with deensive backs. . . . Brad Lambert, a former defensive assistant under Jim Donnan at Georgia, has been named head football coach at Charlotte. He comes from Wake Forest, where he was defensive coordinator, to start the football program from scratch. The 49ers will play their first FCS season in 2013. . . .
It’s not exactly recruiting but since their people bothered to send me a link, here’s a link to a survey by universityreviewonline.com on the highest paid college coaches in all sports. You won’t be surprised about who tops the list.
By Chip Towers, The College Recruiting Blog