THE TEN AT 10:
1. Georgia Tech picked up its second football commitment of the year on Wednesday from Chase Roberts, a 6-foot-3, 285-pound offensive lineman from Greater Atlanta Christian. Roberts, a lifelong Yellow Jackets fan whose father graduated from The Institute, committed in person to head coach Paul Johnson after Tech’s spring practice Wednesday.
“That was one of the biggest parts for me,” Roberts said of committing right there on Rose Bowl Field. “I talked to Coach Johnson for about 30 minutes there at the end and I just asked for a couple minutes of his time after practice. I went up to him and said I felt like I’d been a Yellow Jacket my whole life and I wanted to make it official right there. So that’s kind of how that went down.”
In Roberts, the Yellow Jackets are landing an extremely intelligent and versatile prospect. Roberts has a 3.8 grade-point average and plans to study to become a lawyer in Tech’s public policy school. And while he plays left tackle in high school, he could play center, guard or tackle for the Jackets. He’s been working on the side to learn the center position.
“That’s one of the things they said was kind of helpful for me is I could play anywhere on the line in their system,” he said.
Roberts joins Junior Gnonkonde as a member of the Class of 2012. He gets a three-star rating from Scout.com but is not currently rated by Rivals.com. Tech was his only offer to date but he was getting strong recruiting interest from Duke, FSU, Mississippi State, South Carolina and Vanderbilt. He also considered some of the Ivy League schools.
“Tech just had that X factor you look for as a player,” Roberts said. “I fit in with the offense real well. The academic side of it was great. I love the environment there. I love the coaches and everything about it. I’m an indecisive person by nature so I’m lucky they made it such an easy decision.”
Roberts said he is looking into becoming an early enrollee at Tech but won’t know if it’s possible until he meets with GAC counselors. As for his early decision, Roberts said he’s happy to have it over with and be able to focus on other things. He said he intends to recruit other prospects to follow him to The Flats.
“I’m 110 percent in for the Jackets and I’ll talk to anybody who will listen to me about it,” Roberts said. “Hopefully they will see what I see in the program and where it’s headed under Coach Johnson.”
2. I met another impressive under-the-radar offensive line prospect at the Atlanta MVP Camp this past weekend. His name is Shamire DeVine and he won the “Top Offensive Lineman” award for the camp (so it’s doubtful he’ll remain under the radar long).
Nevertheless, DeVine is a 6-foot-6, 320-pound rising junior at Tri-Cities High School and he came to the camp feeling he had a lot to prove.
“What I took away from this is it’s not just a game,” DeVine told me. “There are a lot of people out there that want to be in my position, who want my stats, who want my size, who want my power and all that. So I’ve got to work hard and keep getting better. That’s what I took away from this.”
DeVine held his own more than any other O-lineman in the near-impossible task of stopping a blue-chip defensive lineman from reaching a dummy seven yards deep while wearing nothing but shorts, cleats and a flimsy, cheap T-shirt. But Devine relished the challenge.
“It just feels natural going up against somebody like that,” he said shortly after dueling recent Florida commitment Quinteze Williams to a draw during the elite competition. “It feels natural and I liked it.”
Currently DeVine does not have any offers, but he said he has been drawing recruiting interest from Oregon and UGA. A Pennsylvania native, he said he didn’t grow up following one college team in particular. “I grew up being a fan of the Philadelphia Eagles,” he said.
As for being tabbed MVP of the offensive lineman, DeVine said he was surprised by it, but not for the reasons you might think. “I was expecting to perform a little bit better, to tell you the truth,” he said.
3. Eddie Printz Jr. turned some heads down in Miami last week when he walked away with top quarterback honors for 2013 prospects at the annual Nike Football Training Camp. Printz (6-3, 205), a rising junior at Lassiter High, still doesn’t have an official offer yet, but his recruitment has really picked up steam in recent weeks. He visited Miami last weeked, is visiting Tennessee this weekend, is at Florida April 7-9 and goes to South Carolina the weekend after that. Printz passed for 2,152 yards and 21 touchdowns as a sophomore last season.
Speaking of 2013, it is shaping up to be a particularly good year in the state for quarterbacks. In addition to Printz, Brad Butler of Darlington, Brice Ramsey of Camden County, Cole Segraves of Colquitt County and Jonathan McCrary of Cedar Grove all project as major prospects.
4. Just to the west of our border is another pretty good quarterback for 2012. Jonathan Wallace of Phenix City, Ala., came away with the Top QB award at the Atlanta MVP Camp, which was attended by many of the aforementioned quarterbacks.
“There were a lot of QBs out here with a lot of talent,” said Wallace, who plays for Central High. “I was just blessed to come out of here with the MVP trophy. I was surprised. I had the possibility in mind, but mainly I just wanted to get better and see where I am right now as far as getting ready for other camps.”
Currently Wallace (6-2, 185) has only one offer from Arkansas State. But Georgia Tech is among the schools starting to show some interest. “I have a couple of other schools looking at me in the South,” Wallace said. “I’m getting stuff in the mail from Oregon and UCLA, too, so things are starting to heat up. I believe things will really start rolling before the end of spring.”
Camp performances like the one he had this past Saturday will help.
5. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope of Greenville High and Shannon Scott of Milton played in the McDonald’s All-American Game last night in Chicago. Caldwell-Pope, a five-star prospect and Georgia signee, finished with six points on 2-of-6 shooting. Scott, a guard who’s heading to Ohio State, had four points on 2-of-3 shooting and a couple of steals.
“He started the game and I think he finished with six or seven points,” Greenville coach Richard Carter said of the five-star prospect. “He had two slam dunks and a couple of steals. But it was an all-star game and, as those things go, everybody was trying to shine.”
During practices earlier in the week, Rivals.com’s Jerry Myer labeled the 6-5 Caldwell-Pope, a Georgia signee, the team’s best pure shooter. Conversely, he called Scott, an Ohio State pledge, the most reluctant shooter.
In the meantime, I was able to determine that the East boys beat the West 111-96. Florida signee Brad Beal led the East with 17 points and 4 assists and UK signee Michael Gilchrist (16 points) and North Carolina signee James McAdoo (17 points) shared MVP honors.
In the girls game, the East won 78-66 and Fayette County’s Brianna Banks, a UConn signee, led the West with 17 points.
6. All indications are that Milton basketball star Julian Royal is likely to stick with Georgia Tech. The Yellow Jackets’ signee was extremely impressed with new coach Brian Gregory. Gregory called the 6-foot-8 forward within an hour of being appointed to the position on Monday and had a two-hour, in-home visit with Royal and his Tuesday night, according to the AJC’s Michael Carvell. Nonetheless, Royal still has not made up his mind but is expected to within the next few days or so.
7. St. Pius defensive back Geno Smith was the highest-rated player from Georgia in Tom Lemming’s Top 100 national prospect rankings released this week. Smith was No. 19 on the list, which included eight Georgians. The others were Lowndes LB Josh Clemons (52), Buford OL Vadal Alexander (55), Woodward Academy DL Jordan Watkins (55), Jenkins County DL Jonathan Taylor (64), Buford LB Dillon Lee (83), Callaway QB/TE Ricky Parks (89) and Harris County DE Jordan Jenkins (97).
Georgia’s representation in the rankings was third among states. Florida was first with 16, followed by Texas (10) and then California (7).
8. Speaking of Lemming, the Junior Rank Diamond Flight Camp — scheduled for April 8-10 at Walton High School — had their plan to allow the first 100 junior and senior prospects attend free nixed by the NCAA. Turns out that would be a violation of NCAA rules because the fee for fifth through 10th graders at the camp is $99. The rising juniors and seniors cannot be given the “extra benefit” of attending the camp for free.
Now they all will be charged $99 to participate in the three-day camp, that will give them to opportunity to be evaluated by Lemming. Rising juniors and seniors can register by contacting camp director Oscar Dillard at 404-626-1264, or email at email@example.com. Fifth through 10th graders should register at the Junior Rank website www.juniorrank.com.
9. Georgia State added two more signees to its 2011 football recruiting class this past week. The Panthers signed Mark Young, a 6-5, 205-pound wide receiver from the Providence Day School in Charlotte, N.C., and Lynquez Blair, a 5-10, 175-pound athletic from Swainsboro. The signing period for football expires at the end of this week. State reportedly has room to sign a few more recruits.
10. THIS & THAT: Maynard Jackson HS DE Lorenzo Mauldin announced via his Facebook page that he made the SAT score he needed to gain his freshman eligibility at at Louisville. Mauldin (6-4, 240) was a longtime South Carolina commitment but was spurned by the Gamecocks on national signing day after they over-committed their scholarship allotment. . . .
A Red Bull 7-on-7 tournament is scheduled for June 14 at Lovejoy High. The field will be capped at 16 teams. If interesting in entering a team contact Eddie Printz Sr. via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. . . . Ole Miss offered Stephenson DB Kyle Fleetwood on Wednesday. . . . The SEC issued a statement Wednesday saying it would investigate the claims of cash payments made to players at Auburn and LSU. The allegations were revealed in a report on HBO’s Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel on Wednesday night.