Imani Cross de-commits from Tennessee after being encouraged to look elsewhere

RB Imani Cross was committed to Tennessee for nearly a year before the two sides parted ways (Photo courtesy of 247Sports)

RB Imani Cross was committed to Tennessee for nearly a year before the two sides recently parted ways (Photo courtesy of 247Sports)

Ex-Tennessee RB recruit Imani Cross said he has “no hard feelings” after his recent separation from the Volunteers, and has set up at least two official visits with other schools in January.

The 6-foot-1, 220-pounder from North Hall High School was the Tennessee’s first commitment for its 2012 recruiting class, picking the Volunteers last February among 15 early offers, which included South Carolina and Georgia Tech. Cross is ranked as the No. 19 RB in the nation by ESPN.

However, the yearlong courtship ended after a recent conversation between Cross and Tennessee recruiting coordinator Terry Joseph. What happened? We’ll let Tim Cross, the recruit’s father, explain:

“After being committed for 11 months, the reason the recruiter Terry Joseph told Imani and then Derek Dooley told me was that, ‘they hired a new RB coach from South Carolina and don’t know if he’s a Scat guy or Spread guy, so they were re-evaluating backs and that Imani should look around at other schools.’ Derek Dooley also said that ‘they didn’t want to wait until the last minute to tell us so that we could look at other schools.’

“After being committed to Tennessee for so long and not talking to other schools after his commitment, Imani has no animosity toward UT. At the same time, we’re very thankful … that other schools began calling. We wish them [Tennessee] the best for their search for the ‘best back.’ They have 9 to choose from.”

What’s next for Imani? With around a month left before February’s national signing day, Cross has set up official visits with Nebraska on Jan. 20 and East Carolina on Jan. 13. Cross may also take recruiting trips to Vanderbilt and Virginia.

Derek Dooley has five 2012 commitments from Georgia (AP photo)

Derek Dooley has five 2012 commitments from Georgia (AP photo)

“We are not bitter at all … The best part is that Imani is on track to graduate by passing Graduation Test and ACT and has a 3.2 GPA,” said the elder Cross. “As Imani put it, ‘When one door closes, other doors open.’”

The younger Cross, who is considering going into the ministry after college, rushed for 1,700 yards and 24 touchdowns as a senior at North Hall, averaging more than 10 yards per carry. Cross also played defense and registered 88 tackles. He is the younger brother of Georgia Tech defensive end Izaan Cross.

The state of Georgia is fertile recruiting grounds for the Volunteers. Tennessee has 21 commitments for its 2012 class, including five from Georgia. The Volunteers were eliminated this week as a finalist for DE Jordan Jenkins (see below).

Want to see video of Cross? Click here to see his junior highlights. Senior clips will be up soon.

OTHER RECRUITING NEWS

  • Stephenson coach Ron Gartrell is considering banning several colleges from coming on campus to recruit his players. The DeKalb School is one of the country’s top producers of football prospects this year with 10 seniors committed to FBS schools. Stephenson was up to 12 this year, but two players recently had their scholarships revoked – OL Nicholas Gibbons with Memphis and RB TJ Moon with Florida Atlantic – after the colleges changed head coaches. “When we talked to the new coaches, they had the same line — ‘Sorry, but we’re moving in a different direction,’” Stephenson assistant Corey Johnson said. “With both young men committed to each school for so long — and being only a month away from signing day – we feel like the commitments should’ve been honored the new staffs. It’s not really fair to the kids.” Johnson said coaches at several other DeKalb County schools feel the same way about how their players were treated by other colleges. Johnson said they are considering joining together to draft a letter that will publicly both express unfair recruiting tactics and identify specific colleges.
  • The state of Georgia has a national reputation for producing college tailbacks. What about QBs? Blossoming NFL superstar Cam Newton hails from Georgia, which had its fifth senior QB commit to D1 school on Wednesday night. Who was it? Go here.
  • DE Jordan Jenkins (AJC)

    Will UGA be able to pry AJC Super 11 DE Jordan Jenkins from Alabama? Find out Jan. 7 (AJC)

  • AJC Super 11 defensive end Jordan Jenkins of Harris County High School has set his announcement for Jan. 9. He will reveal his choice at 7 p.m. on “The New College Football Show” on FOX Sports South. Tennessee has been eliminated by Jenkins, who will pick between Alabama, UGA, Florida and Auburn. Alabama has been the longtime leader for the 6-3, 250-pounder, but UGA has gained a lot of ground recently. Jenkins and his father are big fans of Bulldogs defensive coordinator Todd Grantham.
  • Maybe we should make that 6 D1 QBs from Georgia for this year. Chandler Whitmer, who played QB at Creekview High School as a freshman before moving away, signed with UConn this week. Whitmer moved to Illinois for his final three years of high school, and signed with the University of Illinois in 2010. He was red-shirted as a freshman, and decided to get a new start by transferring to Butler junior college, where he earned All-America honors after passing for 3,057 yards and 28 TDs this season. Whitmer’s family recently moved back to the Atlanta area, settling in Newnan.
  • Westminster OL/DL Sam Jowers (6-3, 270) will visit to UGA on Jan. 27. He has been invited to be a preferred walk-on with the Bulldogs. Jowers has around 12 offers, including Tulane, Army, Georgetown, Penn, Eastern Kentucky, Princeton and Valdosta State … Lincoln County OL/DE Charles Folger (6-5, 220) is also considering walking on at UGA. Folger has also had recent contact with Ball State, Vanderbilt, Georgia State, Presbyterian, Clemson and Appalachian State about football, and has two NAIA offers in basketball … Lincoln County OL Dalton Wetherington (6-0, 250) was offered by Shorter College … Kell LB Jordan Chambers has offers from Southern Miss, Troy and Georgia Southern, while Kell WR Devon Williams is being evaluated by Coastal Carolina.

– By Michael Carvell, AJC Recruiting Blog

Got an item? mcarvell@ajc.com

Got an item? mcarvell@ajc.com

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237 comments Add your comment

DC

December 23rd, 2011
7:38 am

At least Tennessee was up front with him, instead of waiting until February. Best of luck to you buddy in your decision.

Alpharetta Dawg

December 23rd, 2011
7:40 am

@DC, “At least Tennessee was up front with him, instead of waiting until February.” ARE YOU SERIOUS???? Because it sounds like you are drinking the Dool-Aid too. How was Tennessee up front with him? They held him hostage for a year with his commitment while they secretly looked around at other runningbacks and then gave some lame excuse to run him off (Dooley learned well from Saban). And then your comment “instead of waiting until February”? It almost is … February. If Tennessee had any class, they would’ve done this 3-4 months ago. But they were probably busy planning out that Super Bowl celebration they had after beating Vanderbilt. I’m embarrassed to be a Vince Dooley fan after seeing the way his son treats kids. I know Mark Richt would never pull a schollie from a kid this close to NSD. Mark Richt has CLASS! Go Dawgs!

Dr. Nick

December 23rd, 2011
7:53 am

Can’t believe GT not making a move on Mr. Cross.Wake up Coach Paul Johnson & staff !

dean

December 23rd, 2011
7:56 am

I guess it’s a good move by Tennessee. But did they not ask the new coach his running philosophy in the interview process? The other schools should be ashamed of themselves. If the kids had signed any paperwork then the NCAA should step in and tell those schools they have to honor their commitments. Oh yeah, the NCAA only serves themselves, what was I thinking?

FL Jacket

December 23rd, 2011
7:57 am

Michael,

Where does Tech figure into the mix for Imani Cross? I figure he doesn’t require an OV since his brother Izaan plays there.

ignition

December 23rd, 2011
8:01 am

Sounds like Imani wants to be a minister, I don’t think The Institute has a divinity degree ….

When I grow up I want to be a B-Back

December 23rd, 2011
8:02 am

Two things: 1) any coach that withdraws a scholarship this late in the process for a reason other than grades or conduct is a jerk; 2) Cross’s apparent decision to look at other schools suggests his brother has influenced him not to go to Georgia Tech.

Dawgs92

December 23rd, 2011
8:11 am

Does UGA have any interest? Need RB’s now. I know they are after Gurley and Davis, who are very talented but they could also move this kid to defense. Looks like good OLB size if he doesn’t make it at RB. Never can have enough talented players especially at LB in the 3/4 and RB in the SEC.

atnvol

December 23rd, 2011
8:13 am

Good for Imani and his attitude. I do have very mixed emotions about de-recruiting a young man after that length of time. Yes, it does seem unfair, but this whole recruiting business just seems to be less than honorable. I hope Imani Cross makes All-American at whatever school he selects. College football has become less enjoyable for me since I began following it closely in 1968. Its just the world we live in I suppose.

Dawgs92

December 23rd, 2011
8:13 am

For the record, hate what colleges have done to this kid and the 2 from Stephenson. Hope all of them find another school and get to follow their dreams. Looks like they will.

Brown Dog

December 23rd, 2011
8:14 am

Knoxville sounds more and more like an asylum and Dooley sounds more and more like he’s over his head. Don’t know what kind of halfback the new assistant prefers? That must have been one heckuva job interview.

Dawg 22

December 23rd, 2011
8:16 am

Derek Dooley has NO CLASS for running off a kid this late in the recruiting process. NO CLASS! I know Mark Richt would never pull a bunch of crap like this. His word is gold. As much as I don’t want to say anything nice about Georgia Tech, Paul Johnson wouldn’t do it either. CLASSLESS BY THE VOLS!

brick

December 23rd, 2011
8:18 am

UT’s excuse is “we don’t know if he is a Scat or a Spread guy? Did UT not ask during the interview? Does the OC and head coach not have any input? I hope every coach in the state takes notice of this and reminds his kids what a UT offer means, NOTHING, because they can and have pulled them at any time. 2 losing seasons in a row, number 3 heading our way in 2012, with Missouri joining the East, UT, UF and Vandy are fighting it out for 4th in the East. Gotta love it.

RedandBlackDawg

December 23rd, 2011
8:21 am

Wish the young kid a lot of luck and I hope he finds a good school for himself. I think I would avoid Nebraska, unless he likes playing for a coach that will most likely land his school in hot water, sooner than later. I think it was rather lame what Dooley did, but remember, he is fighting for his job right now, so disappointing a kid that has been committed to you for 11 months, even at this late date, is not below him doing. I don’t think his ole man approves of it, but I am sure momma will be there to defend him.
I am not sure that Tenn. has really improved their coaching situation much from Kiffin. He is not really a very class act I guess.

gdawginkalamazoo

December 23rd, 2011
8:21 am

3.2 grade point average, possibly going into the ministry after his football career? Obviously this kid just doesn’t fit into the UT’s player profile that they like to recruit. Good luck to him, sounds like a stand up kid.

Paul From Milton

December 23rd, 2011
8:32 am

@Alpharetta Dawg ” I know Mark Richt would never pull a schollie from a kid this close to NSD. Mark Richt has CLASS! Go Dawgs!”

Buddy, are really that clueless or just playing dumb to take a shot at Dooley? This goes on at every school. Georgia and Tennessee and every other school have recruits flip on them all the time so it works both ways. You may not like it, but that is how it works.

PT

December 23rd, 2011
8:33 am

Unfortunately SEC football has become big business mirroring the NFL.

Vampire Bill

December 23rd, 2011
8:39 am

‘they hired a new RB coach from South Carolina and don’t know if he’s a Scat guy or Spread guy,

What a bunch of garbage that is. They didn’t discuss such things in the interview process? Short plane ride between the two states. I also have to believe the younger Cross is a little upset but has decided to give the “politically correct” answer. Best of luck to Imani, sounds like a good kid.

RedandBlackDawg

December 23rd, 2011
8:40 am

Paul from Milton.

I assume you can back up your claims with facts, concerning this practice happening at UGA with CMR?

Old Dawg

December 23rd, 2011
8:40 am

I can’t believe Vince Dooley is even related to Derek Dooley. Vince would never pull these shenanigans. At Georgia, we may not be having the best year in recruiting, but at least we operate with truth and honesty.

KZGuy

December 23rd, 2011
8:40 am

How is it possible for any coach to make Kiffin look good?

Paula

December 23rd, 2011
8:42 am

@When I grow up I want to be a B-Back: A 3.2 GPA will not get Cross admittance into Georgia Tech.

atlvol55

December 23rd, 2011
8:43 am

Paul from Milton:

Dead on. Just two weeks ago a juco (Otis Jacobs, I think is his name), decommitted from Texas AM and committed to TN. He went on several radio shows and interviews with Knox News Sentinel. Two days ago he switches back and signed with Texas AM.

The same with a juco DL who switched from TN and signed with Florida. How is that any different. TN may have lost out on other prospects because these guys had given their word to Dooley and TN.

If the players are allowed to decommit and switch schools,,,why can’t coaches? As someone mentioned on here, at least Dooley told him two months before signing day so he has plenty of time to decide on another school.

On a side note, congrats to my Vols for picking up 5 star power forward and the 11th ranked player in the country, Jerrel Stokes out of Memphis. Huge get and will enroll to start playing for the Vols in January

bucket

December 23rd, 2011
8:50 am

I wonder if such a positive spin would have been put on this story if it had involved UGA?

Bogey

December 23rd, 2011
8:50 am

Dooley is on the panic button and he should be. Won’t survive another losing season.

PR

December 23rd, 2011
8:50 am

Oh really Paula? One of Tech’s most recent DB commits has a 2.7 GPA (according to this AJC recruiting blog). Don’t be so pompus…

gt4ever

December 23rd, 2011
8:50 am

Come on CPJ, I mean we really are covered up with offensive and defensive lineman…. Get another running back…. Sounds like a kid with his head on straight… Good Luck to him…

Michael Carvell

December 23rd, 2011
8:51 am

Imani Cross hasn’t had much contact with Georgia Tech since he committed to Tennessee last February, and there hasn’t been much communication with UGA all along. Don’t be surprised to see Wisconsin make a late charge if RB Montee Ball declares for the NFL Draft

LHarding Dawg

December 23rd, 2011
8:53 am

I have a problem with the whole recruiting process. What if a player commits to your school only to put on a different hat on signing day. That means the school he originally commited to is out that position for that signing. It should be a two way street, if a school wants you and you commit, then if you don’t sign with that school, you should not be able to sign with another school until after spring ball.

SickandTired

December 23rd, 2011
8:56 am

Mark Richt would never do nothing like this. The legend grows. He lives on a mount in Athens and chisels stone tablets all day long.

The Truth

December 23rd, 2011
8:56 am

@Paula… A 3.2 will get you into tech on a football scholarship.

Wet Willie...keep on smiling

December 23rd, 2011
8:56 am

Jenkins to Alabama….and so will the #4,5,and 6th ranked players. Nick is reloading folks…again. You oversigning folks get out your signs! If you’re going to play the game then you need to know the rules.

utmama

December 23rd, 2011
8:58 am

Sorry to hear Imani won’t be a VOL.
I’m sure he will be ‘moving the chains’ for years to come.
Our loss.
God Bless and wish you all the best(even if its against us… lol )

LHarding Dawg

December 23rd, 2011
8:59 am

If St. Nick wants to cheat, thats his business. One day the NCAA will get it and level the playing field.

tide roll

December 23rd, 2011
9:01 am

Can you imagine if the roles were reversed, and Tennessee pulled Derek’s scholarship this close to signing date? “Crazy Barb” would hit the airwaves and shout from the highest mountain about the unfairness of it all. And it is. But you think you’ll hear a peep out of the woman now? About Derek misleading this kid, not only throughout the recruiting process, but now with him lying about the reason for them revoking the offer? The whole Dooley clan should be ashamed, and Tennesee’s AD should reprimand this guy. He and Crazy Barb continue to embarrass the Tennessee program They both need to learn some respect. I’ve always had my doubts about Vince, and this behavior just confirms it.It’s true isn’t it? The apple don’t fall far from the tree. I’m sick and tired all of of the Dooleys, aren’t y’all? UGA and UT would be better off if the whole clan would just pick up and move on. Merry Christmas Imani. Your better off without Dooley. UT’’s fixing to drop the hammer on the Geek anyway.

Paddy

December 23rd, 2011
9:04 am

Hope UT loses all its commits. I hate UT about as much as I do Arkansas.

WnE

December 23rd, 2011
9:08 am

When I grow up I want to be a B-Back
December 23rd, 2011
8:02 am

Two things: 1) any coach that withdraws a scholarship this late in the process for a reason other than grades or conduct is a jerk; 2) Cross’s apparent decision to look at other schools suggests his brother has influenced him not to go to Georgia Tech.

_______________________

Very good insight.

As good as your insight is however, had WnE made that comment, then everyone on this blog would have assumed I was crazy and that I had no idea what I was talking about.

For some REASON (i.e. Coach Kung Fu Panda), GT doesn’t do very well with the younger brothers of GT players. Greg Smith Graduated from GT with an extra yr. of eligibility and yet Coach Fish Fry had no chance to sign Garrison Smith, the kind of 300lb. D-lineman that GT sorely needs.

BTW Bama lost Justin Thomas as a DB and they picked up a 6-2 200lb. CB that is the top JUCO CB; so AFTER losing Thomas to GT they have flipped a 5* RB from Auburn to Bama and have brought in a CB that figures to be a better CB/DB than Thomas projected to be, so much for GT “stealing” a recruit from Bama.

Fleming Island Dawg

December 23rd, 2011
9:09 am

The kid was recruited by and had an offer from SC. So now TN takes the SC runningn backs coach and say they don’t know if Inman will fit in. Is this not the same SC coach that recruited him previously?

Admiral Obvious

December 23rd, 2011
9:09 am

It’s a blessing in disguise. I don’t how Dooley even still has a job after losing to Kentucky, last season. UK had to use a second string wide receiver as Quarterback in that game. It’s obvious he’s over his head and only got the job because his last name is Dooley. As far as wasting his college career at Tech under the football genius Paul Johnson(just ask him, he’ll confirm it) that would be a mistake too.

DawginLex

December 23rd, 2011
9:11 am

I think Derek Dooley is a fine person but he has got himself a big mess in knoxville.

BigOrangePityParty

December 23rd, 2011
9:12 am

@ Paula, If Ga. Tech needs you bad enough, you can be dumb as a rock and play there. GPAs are for kids who can’t make GT money.

Remarkable

December 23rd, 2011
9:13 am

How can a Dooley be so stupid? This kid can run and we are going to see him play on TV for years to come. UT, stay out of Georgia.

Ryno

December 23rd, 2011
9:14 am

Blaming UT is asinine. Everything about college football is fluid. Coaches come and go. Systems change. UT’s may change, and the new RB coach will be working with the OC to determine if any changes need to be made. If Cross is as good as UT originally thought, picking up new offers shouldn’t be difficult.
Any dawggie, gator, or any other fan who dares complain is being highly hypocritical. No one seems to mind when a player flips to them after being committed elsewhere, so try to be a tad bit more honest about this stuff.

Old Dawg.

December 23rd, 2011
9:14 am

UT just sucks in everything… but with coaching turmoil at Fla. Awlbarn, and now S.C. UGA should be looking good next couple years.. Go Dawgs beat MSU in the Outback bowl !!

BigOrangePityParty

December 23rd, 2011
9:17 am

@atlvol55. “How is that any different. (QUESTION MARK ??????)” You are obviously an alumnus (That’s means you went to school there) of UT.

gdawginkalamazoo

December 23rd, 2011
9:17 am

Fleming Island, makes you wonder what the heck is going on doesn’t it? You will probably see a highly rated SC RB commit switch to UT. That would be my guess.

The Game

December 23rd, 2011
9:19 am

Alabama would have went ahead and signed him – and about 30 more. Then got rid of him if he didn’t work out after he signed. Dooley needs to learn how the game’s played if he wants to keep his job,.

Duh...

December 23rd, 2011
9:19 am

@Paula…yes it will. Colleges athletics have lower grade expectations for their athletes. You should check them out. Lower SAT and ACT scores allowed. About the only school that lives up to higher expectations is Vanderbilt.

Destin Dawg.

December 23rd, 2011
9:20 am

Jordan Jenkins Come to UGA.. be an instate hero and get coached up by Todd Grantham .. kids that stay in state do better in school and life after sports.

BobDawg

December 23rd, 2011
9:20 am

ATLVOL… Yes, you are a BBall school now! Great pickup on the PF… at first I thought we were talking football, but you folks don’t have much to talk about in that area now, do you???