Lorenzo Mauldin finally did last week what he thought he was going to do more than a month ago. The defensive end from Atlanta’s Maynard Jackson signed a national letter-of-intent to play football on scholarship in college.
Only this LOI was not from South Carolina, as he expected it to be when he committed to the Gamecocks last July. Mauldin signed instead with Louisville. With a little luck and some more hard work, he’ll join the Cardinals for preseason practices in August.
“South Carolina was, you know, planning on me signing with them after prep school,” said Mauldin, a 6-foot-4, 240-pound senior. “I don’t believe they thought I would make the [qualifying test] score. It kind of made me feel like they were wishing for me to not make the score.
“[Louisville] Coach [Charlie] Strong had faith in me from the beginning. He said he believes I’m going to make the score and said I could be out there with them in no time. They were straight forward with me. There wasn’t a bunch of playing around with the whole thing. So I decided to take his offer and become a Cardinal.”
Mauldin went into the national signing period expecting to sign with the Gamecocks. But Mauldin and Maynard Jackson coach Eric Williams were informed on Feb. 1 — the day before national signing day — via a faxed letter that South Carolina had overcommitted its allotment of scholarships. Since they had not yet achieved minimum test scores, Mauldin and one other commitment, linebacker Jordan Montgomery of Groveland, Fla., were asked to not sign their letters-of-intent.
Since he already had a signing ceremony planned, Mauldin went through the motions on Feb. 2. He signed a fake LOI and put on a South Carolina cap for cameras at his school. The Gamecocks went on to sign 32 other players to national letters, including the nation’s No. 1 recruit, Jadeveon Clowney, who did not sign until Feb. 14.
A ward of the state who has lived in 16 foster homes and two children’s shelters, Mauldin at first vowed to stick with South Carolina. But he eventually decided to re-open his recruitment and took an official visit to Louisville three weeks ago. To little fanfare, he signed an LOI with the Cardinals in his coach’s office last week and faxed it to Louisville.
“In life, I’ve had to make big decisions and I just saw this one as another big decision,” said Mauldin, who refers to himself as Lorenzo “Doinitalone” Mauldin on his Facebook page. “The way South Carolina did me was not an ideal situation because I didn’t expect it to happen. But it did, so when it came down to it, I just took it as another trial in life and decided to overcome it. So I went on some visits to see what other teams had to offer and I liked Louisville.”
Mauldin still has the matter of qualifying for freshman eligibility to overcome. He has been taking ACT/SAT courses at Georgia State and has attempted the tests a number of times.
“I actually just took the SAT two weekends ago,” Mauldin said. “I felt pretty good about. If not, I have another chance to take it. I don’t know whether I’ll take the SAT again but I’m going to continue to take the ACT.”
Louisville offered him the option of coming in as a non-qualifier, but Mauldin said he’ll likely still go the prep school route if he continues to come up short on the entrance exams. At prep school he can continue to study for and take the exams without his eligibility clock starting. As soon as be achieves the minimum score he would be eligible to enroll.
“I believe my best bet would be to go to prep school,” Mauldin said. “As a non-qualifier, there would be the advantage of getting to know my professors and the school and everything, but football is the reason I’m going there and that’s the main factor. I couldn’t practice with team, so I feel like I’d be better off getting bigger and stronger while working on the test.”
Mauldin said he did not inform South Carolina of his decision and hasn’t spoke with its coaches for a while.
“I’m sure they found out through media,” he said. “They still haven’t contacted me and I haven’t made an effort to contact them either. Once again, I felt like there was some favoritism going on there. I kind of gave up on that situation.”
Thankfully, Mauldin has yet to give up on himself.
By Chip Towers, The College Recruiting Blog