DE Junior Gnonkonde is looking for a new school after being committed to Georgia Tech for 11 months (AJC)
Here’s the lastest information on Junior Gnonkonde, Georgia Tech’s first commitment for 2012 who was informed last Friday that his scholarship offer was being withdrawn because his test score was too low. (Click here to read both a recap and a heated debate on the message boards).
The 6-foot-5, 225-pound defensive end from Lanier County High School had committed to Georgia Tech last February. Here’s the latest from Sunday night from John White, who is Lanier County’s athletics director and Gnonkonde’s legal guardian.
- New schools? “Central Florida has offered. The University of Florida will be here on Monday. With Louisana Tech, we’re thinking about flying out on Wednesday for an official visit. North Carolina has called and I think they may make an offer. And I just got off the phone with Air Force Academy.”
- You said you reached out to UGA assistant Mike Bobo. What is the latest with the Bulldogs? “Bobo did call me back on Sunday and said they are not in a position to do anything right now. He said they are pretty committed with the offers they have out, and he didn’t think he would have anything unless something went wrong on signing day. It looks like they are going to sign all of their outside linebackers and defensive ends. He said they have this kid at Lowndes [Josh Harvey-Clemons] who is not going to tell anyone until Feb. 1. It’s between Georgia and Florida, and we’re hoping he picks Georgia because Junior had a big interest in Florida early on. Early on, it was Georgia, Florida State, Florida and Georgia Tech that were Junior’s big interests. Georgia Tech made an early offer and we decided to take it, based on Paul Johnson’s reputation. By doing that, we could jump off the recruiting process early and not have to go through all of this crazy stuff. But that was my mistake and I take all of the responsibility for all of that. I was trying to keep Junior out of all the hoopla that surrounds recruiting. It can real wild. I thought Georgia Tech, being three hours away and with their academics, would be a great move for him. As it turned out, now we’re back in the middle of what we were trying to avoid.”
- What about the other schools? “In the last 24 hours, I’ve found out more about what you’ve got to do to sign a D1 scholarship than I did in 10 months with Georgia Tech. I pulled Junior’s ACT test score and the sliding scale. He does qualify, according to the NCAA Div. I Clearinghouse. Obviously he doesn’t meet the standards of whatever Georgia Tech needed for him to get into school. But with everybody we’ve talked to since, I have sent them a transcript and test score and said ‘Here’s the problem we had with Georgia Tech. You look at this. And the first thing we need to know is: Will Junior be qualified to go to your school?’ Louisana Tech said he would be. Central Florida said we’re probably going to get him to take the test again. The University of Florida said if they did offer at the end of the week, and they have to get Coach Will Muschamp’s approval, they would offer him a scholarship with the understanding that if he doesn’t get his score up high enough, he couldn’t come. That’s all I asked. That’s all I needed to know. I was never given that information from Georgia Tech. But I take responsibility. It’s my fault. I put faith in other people. I should’ve stayed on Georgia Tech. Now we did ask them several times ‘Is he going to be OK?’ They always said ‘Coach, it’s going to be OK.’”
NCAA rules prevent college coaches from commenting on prospective student-athletes. So we did the next best thing: We asked Kelly Quinlan, who is the publisher of Georgia Tech’s Rival’s website (JacketsOnline.com) for his best understanding of the situation. Kelly talks and interviews the coaches on a regular basis while covering Georgia Tech games and practices:
Paul Johnson (AJC photo)
- What happened? “From my understanding, and from my sources at Georgia Tech, they were told by Georgia Tech’s admission office that the kid would not be getting into school with his test score. So Coach Johnson, being the nice guy that he is, decided to cut him loose and give him the opportunity to sign elsewhere, somewhere where he might be able to get into school, rather than hold a spot for him and tell him in June or July that he would not be getting admitted like other schools do. So Coach Johnson made the hard phone call, told the kid he couldn’t accept his commitment any longer, and cut him loose.”
- Why wait until less than two weeks before signing day to withdraw the offer? “Georgia Tech’s coaches were only told in the last few days about it by admissions. As soon as Paul was given a firm ‘no,’ they told the kid immediately to give the kid time to make other arrangements.”
- Why not leave open the possibility of Junior getting his test score by the summer or sending him off to a prep school next year if he did not? “They really don’t take [football players] from prep schools. There’s a lot of issues there with accepting the credits. [Gnonkonde’s test score] was too far off. Now most colleges will sign a kid in this situation and then when June or July comes, he won’t be able to enroll. There’s not a big deal made out of it then. But in this circumstance, they felt like since the kid was the first commit [for the 2012 recruiting class], they felt like they owed it to him to find him another place to play because he is a good football player. That’s why they made a phone call to Central Florida. I guess [Gnonkonde] could’ve taken the test over and over until he got the number he needed but there was no guarantee of that happening. And if he signs with Georgia Tech and doesn’t get admitted, then he’ll miss another year of college with transferring.”
UPDATE AT 1:30 MONDAY: Florida assistant Brian White stopped by Lanier County on Monday morning to check on Junior and pick up his senior film. “Florida said they had to go back to talk to Coach Muschamp because he’s the only one who can make the offer,” John White said. “But Florida likes Junior, they want him to come visit this weekend. They are checking with their admissions people about his test scores to make sure he’s qualified.”
Junior may visit Florida, North Carolina or Central Florida this weekend – or two of the three on quick trips. “I would say that North Carolina might be a frontrunner right now,” White said. “North Carolina said that Junior is qualified and his test scores were good enough without Junior retaking it. They haven’t offered yet but they are sending a coach to meet with us on Wednesday.”
Wake Forest and Air Force also contacted White on Monday. “We’re getting a bunch of calls right now. We’d much prefer that Junior was going to Georgia Tech but they didn’t give us that option.”
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT ….
AND EVEN MORE RECRUITING NEWS …
– By Michael Carvell, AJC Recruiting Blog
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