Those of you who visit The College Recruiting Blog regularly know I’ve been trying to run down 5-star prospect Keith Marshall to do a report on him. The 5-foot-11, 190-pound running back from Raleigh, who is a top target for Georgia as well as most of the SEC and ACC, is not a big fan of telephone interviews. Or, to be exact, his parents aren’t.
And that’s fine. I understand it. As a father, I could see why I wouldn’t want my 17-year-old son saying whatever he wanted to whichever media outlet happened to call every night. I think back to that time long ago when I was 17 and the things that were generally on my mind and, well, let’s just say it’s a good thing nobody was interested in interviewing me.
I ran into this email-only policy just last year when Tucker linebacker James Vaughters was being recruited by half the nation. His father, Jonathan, preferred that I either talk to him personally or email his son so Mr. Vaughters could read what his son was being asked and see how he was answering. And I didn’t have a problem with it. It can be helpful for both sides. The kid can’t be fed any tricky, misleading questions and the journalist can’t be accused of misquoting or taking out of context. So I’m fine with it.
But it is slow. I finally received young Mr. Marshall’s replies to my queries on Thursday. While I wouldn’t say his comments are terribly enlightening (I think I actually ask him in one question particular to “please enlighten me.” How corny is that?), he was polite, courteous and obliging of my quasi-homework assignment. So I’m going to give him a thumbs-up.
I’m also going to give Marshall the honor of kicking off this week’s Mailbag. I’m sure he’ll feel forever beholden and indebted. So please make note, in this case it’s me doing the asking and Marshall doing the telling. Here, then, is our modest exchange:
So, Keith Marshall . . .
Chip asks: (1) Obviously you have acquired the enviable position of being considered the No. 1 running back in the country this year. I say enviable but I imagine there’s a certain amount of pressure that comes with that kind of expectation. So please tell me what it felt like to learn you were a five-star recruit and generally considered the best in the nation at your position?
KM: It feels great to be named the #1 running back for this class, but I try to stay humble and continue to work hard on and off the field.
Chip asks: (2) Please tell me the nature and the extent of your recruiting relationship with UGA and then with Georgia Tech. I know everybody on the planet has offered you so please enlighten me as to your genuine level of interest with each.
KM: I’m very interested in UGA. They are one of my top schools. I have visited a few times and have developed good relationships with the coaches. At this point I’m not interested in Georgia Tech.
Chip asks: (3) I know you recently visited UGA. Please share your general observations and experiences in Athens.
KM: I like the city of Athens as well as the college campus of UGA. Every time I visit I have a good time and learn more and more about the program and city. I have family in Atlanta so that’s another reason I like UGA.
Chip asks: (4) How many total offers have you received at this point?
KM: I have around 30 offers right now.
Chip asks: (5) You hinted on Twitter (@Truthh4) recently that you were going to come out this week with your top schools. Could you please share that information with me and possibly add a brief “why” to each:
Alabama – They have a great program and have produced a lot of good running backs
Auburn – They just won a National Championship and I really like the coaching staff
Clemson – Good tradition and usually have a good program
Florida – Great program and their new staff has had a lot of success in college and in the NFL
FSU – They normally have a good program and they are on the rise
Georgia – They always have good RB’s and I like the coaches.
Michigan – Great Tradition and good school
North Carolina – Program on the rise and a great school
Notre Dame – Great school, Great tradition, and they are on the rise
South Carolina –Have a good program and I like the coaches
Stanford – Good program but great school
USC – have a winning tradition and a tradition of having great RB’s
Chip asks: (6) Everybody knows you’re a great athlete and football player. Please tell me something about yourself most people don’t know. You know, hobbies you enjoy or if you sing or play an instrument or are a master at X Box or play cards or volunteer at the retirement home or whatever? Looking for something others haven’t delved into about you?
KM: I’m a really good student with a 4.25 GPA. My fastest forty is 4.22. Off the field I’m laid back. My favorite thing to do is to go fishing.
So there you go. We now know Marshall likes to fish, is very smart, very fast, and very obliging. Don’t you feel more enlightened this morning? Now off to the real mail, of which there wasn’t a whole lot (useable anyway, ha, ha). . . .
Russell asks: Hey, Chip. Back in March, you reported that Kenno Loyal had committed to Auburn. Is that still the case? I haven’t seen that reported on ESPN.com or Rivals.com. Just curious if Georgia still has a shot at him and how hard are they pursuing? Also, what’s the latest on Keith Marshall?
Chip: I’ve moved slowly and deliberately on the situation between Loyal and Auburn. I talked to Loyal a couple of weeks ago and here’s what he told me: Auburn offered Loyal a scholarship and he accepted it. After the fact, Auburn began to look into Loyal’s academics and realized he’s not currently on track to be a qualifier. So Loyal’s recruiter, Curtis Luper, tells him him his scholarship offer is still good as long as he is able to to get his academics in order. That’s going to take some time, but Loyal says he has a plan and the ability to do just that. So I’ve chosen to just leave it at that. And as I’ve underscored here many times, schools shouldn’t offer scholarships until after they’ve thoroughly reviewed a prospect’s academics.
Ken W. asks: Any visits scheduled forto UGA or any other school?
Chip: Not yet. The deal with Ware at the moment is he’s having a good time. He is actually on spring break in Florida, as I understand it. But when he gets back he’ll settle down to make his decision. Indications are that he may favor Louisville and he’s definitely planning on getting up there to check it out. He told the AJC’s Michael Carvell that he also likes UCLA and Georgia, respectively, so I suspect he’ll visit them as well. The contact period for men’s basketball actually started Thursay and runs through the 20th, so I suspect there will be a flurry of activity when Ware returns home his weekend. We’ll be following.
Ralph J. asks: Does Georgia have any offensive linemen close to committing?
Chip: I may be mistaken about this but I don’t think so. The Bulldogs have shot very high on its O-line recruitment for next year’s class. They’ve offered three five-star-rated tackles — John Theus, Avery Young and D.J. Humphries — and a five-star guard, Jordan Simmons. They’ve also offered four-star tackles Vadal Alexander and Jessamen Dunker and four-star guards Patrick Destefano and Joe Harris.
My point on that is rarely do such highly-touted prospects make early decisions. And what has gone largely undiscussed about Georgia’s recruiting for 2012 is this: Because of the perceived uncertainty surrounding head coach Mark Richt’s future with the program, top recruits are taking a wait-and-see approach on the Bulldogs. That is, they’re going to wait to see how the season goes before making a move.
The good news is nobody will likely have to wait long to get an idea. With Georgia’s first two games against projected Top 10 teams Boise State and South Carolina, we’re likely to have a good idea of where the season is headed by Week 3.
SUHatter94 asks: Looking ahead to the new season of Entourage this summer, do you think the show has “jumped the shark” or does it have some creative life left in it?
Chip: Well, if the show hasn’t jumped the shark yet it might as well do it now. There is rampant speculation that Season 9, set to resume this summer, will be the last for Entourage and that’s probably a good thing. It has been a great show but I’m not sure where else it can go. Last season they had Vince hanging out with porn stars and doing drugs (sound familiar?). This one I suspect will end with him somehow riding off into the sunset. In a recent interview, show creator Mark Wahlberg was asked what to expect. “Lots of craziness,” he said. “Vince is back on the success trail. He hit bottom and you know he’s going to come back with vengeance.” As long as Sloan (L) plays a major role I think we’ll all be happy.