One of Georgia’s top college football prospects admits he would likely be committed to North Carolina if the Tar Heels weren’t under an NCAA investigation.
Sheldon Rankins, a 6-foot-3, 260-pound defensive end from Eastside High School, said he nearly committed to North Carolina during an unofficial visit on June 13. The next week, the NCAA handed the ACC football program a notice of allegations that listed nine major violations.
“Yes, I almost committed when I went up there for a visit but I didn’t want it to be a spur-of-moment thing,” Rankins told the AJC on Monday night. “I decided to wait a few days until I could get back home and think about it. When I got back, I heard all the talk about the NCAA sanctions and that has kind of delayed everything.”
Despite all the bad news, Rankins said that North Carolina remains his leader out of 20 early scholarship offers, which also includes Stanford, Ole Miss, South Florida, N.C. State, Duke, Mississippi State, Louisville and Kentucky. Rankins has not had contact with UGA or Georgia Tech.
“Even with all the sanction talk at North Carolina, I’m pretty confident that I know what’s going on up there — North Carolina has been my leader, and they still are my leader; South Florida is right behind them,” Rankins said.
“I talk to the North Carolina coaches. They feel pretty confident about the outcome. I’ve done my own research. From what I hear, the coaching staff should remain intact. At the most, it should be a few scholarships lost and a one-year ban from a bowl game. Other than that, I’m pretty confident what I will hear later this year will be good. But you never know what can happen with the NCAA. So I’m going to wait to see what happens.”
North Carolina has 90 days to respond to the allegations, and is scheduled to appear before the NCAA Infractions Committee on Oct. 28. Rankins said he would like to wait until then before making his college decision but is unsure.
Rankins said North Carolina coach Butch Davis has had an upbeat attitude during their conversations. “Coach Davis feels like the coaching staff will remain intact, that North Carolina will get the players they need, that they are on the rise in the ACC, and that they are going to have a good season this year.”
“It’s important to me that Coach Davis is still the coach. I really like him as a person and a coach. If he was forced out, I would see who the new coach is there and go from there.”
For now, Rankins is checking out other options. He also visited Mississippi State and N.C. State in June, and will make recruiting trips to South Florida and Ole Miss within the next couple of weeks.
Rankins wants to study pre-med in college, and hopes to be an orthopedic surgeons. He has a 3.5 GPA, crediting his mother’s influence. “She’s a sixth-grade math teacher, so education always, always, always comes first,” Rankins said.
“It has been a pleasure working with Coach Richt and the staff at Georgia football,” Cantor wrote. “The future looks bright at Georgia . This past year we assembled an outstanding recruiting class that [the] Bulldog nation should be very proud of and allow the Bulldogs to have the increased competition at every position across the board. It is competition that will allow Georgia to get to the top of SEC. Georgia is in a great position to finish out through signing day with a great 2012 recruiting class. I know I gave my all to Georgia football and every one of the past and present recruits that ever stepped foot in Athens knows that.
“I never knowingly broke any recruiting rules at the University of Georgia . We have worked within the framework of the NCAA recruiting manual to present Georgia as a ideal place for many young men to pursue their college football aspirations. Great opportunities lie ahead in my future and I am prepared to pursue those now.”
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