Auburn will take advantage of a new SEC rule to entertain some of the nation’s top college football prospects at Saturday’s Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game.
Reuben Foster, Montravius Adams, AJ Jackson and Trey Johnson are among the celebrity recruits who confirmed with the AJC that they will make an unofficial visit with Auburn to the Georgia Dome on Saturday.
Last spring, the SEC passed league rules that finally gave permission to the home team of a game at a neutral site to entertain prospective student-athletes. It was already permitted by the NCAA. Auburn, which traditionally recruits the Atlanta area as well as any out-of-state school, has immediately taken advantage of the new rule as Saturday’s home team versus Clemson.
“It’s really neat [to be able to bring in recruits], to be honest with you,” Auburn coach Gene Chizik said. “I think obviously, to be able to come to a venue of this sort is really going to be neat for the guys that choose to come. We’re excited. We think it’s going to be a great game to watch for any spectator, certainly any recruit. So we’re looking forward to it.”
Foster is the 5-star linebacker who transferred from Troup to Auburn High School for his senior season and is committed to Auburn. Adams, who is from Dooly County, is ranked as the nation’s No. 1 defensive tackle by several recruiting services and has both Auburn and Clemson among his leaders. Johnson is from Central Gwinnett High School, may be the state’s top prospect at linebacker after Foster’s transfer, is committed to Auburn but plans to visit other schools. Lovejoy tight end AJ Jackson has also stated his intention to sign with Auburn. Kell defensive back Brendan Langley, who is pledged to South Carolina, also told the AJC he may go on Saturday.
What about Friday night’s game at the Georgia Dome? NC State is the home team against Tennessee but has decided not to invite recruits. Said NC State spokesperson Annabelle Myers, “Coach … said that the kids they would invite are playing [in high school games] on Friday night.”
To the surprise of many, UGA decided not to take advantage of the new SEC rule to bring in recruits for its annual showdown with Florida in Jacksonville, Fla. UGA athletic director Greg McGarity said it was due to logistical concerns, including the availability of tickets. The state of Florida produces nearly double the amount of D1 recruits as Georgia, and the Bulldogs have a strong presence in the talent-rich state. It is being viewed in some recruiting circles as a gigantic missed opportunity by the Bulldogs. It is difficult for many Florida recruits to make it to UGA for a Saturday game because of the lengthy travel.
Most other SEC schools are expected to take advantage of the new legislation.
WHO IS THE STATE’S BEST DEFENDER? UGA-bound offensive lineman Brandon Kublanow of Walton High School has squared off against most of the state’s top defensive prospects over the last year, and ranks 5-star linebacker Reuben Foster as the best. “He’s an animal,” Kublanow said. The rest of Kublanow’s top five? In order, Foster and then DE Montravius Adams (undecided), both ahead of Grayson DE Robert Nkemdiche (committed to Clemson) at No. 3. “Robert is pretty good, but I think Reuben and Montravius are better.” Kublanow’s former teammate at Walton High School, DE Koty Allen (signed with The Citadel last season) is at No. 4, with probably Brookwood DE Shaun McGee (committed to UGA) rounding out the shortlist. Kublanow and McGee battled in last Saturday’s Corky Kell Classic at the Georgia Dome, which was won by Walton. “I think Shaun will be a great player at Georgia,” Kublanow said of his future teammate. “He’s got good size, and great speed on the edge.” Kublanow said another elite defender may crack the top five when he plays against Auburn 5-star DE Carl Lawson of Milton later this season.
RING, RING, RING FOR EX-FLORIDA RECRUIT: Since offensive lineman Joshua Outlaw de-committed from Florida a couple of weeks ago, the 6-4, 290-pounder has been contacted by FSU, Clemson, Arkansas, Ole Miss, Miami and Vanderbilt. Outlaw broke it off with the Gators because he wanted to visit other schools and Will Muschamp did not approve. “I’m definitely satisfied where things stand now,” Outlaw told the AJC on Tuesday night. “It feels good to have things clear cut and open. This allows me to fully explore my opportunities.” Outlaw hasn’t had any contact with Florida since de-committing, but says they’re still in the running. He would also like to hear from LSU, USC, Oregon and UGA.
FLORIDA RECRUIT WILL VISIT OTHER SCHOOLS: Carver-Columbus WR Marqui Hawkins said he is a “solid” commit to the Florida Gators but will visit other schools. He said he will definitely take official visits to Tennessee and North Carolina, and maybe Clemson and Auburn. What about Florida fans worried about the trips? “I mean, they ain’t got nothing to worry about,” Hawkins said. “I just want to experience some other things, do things on my free time, and get out of Columbus. My commitment is solid to Florida. I’m not going to de-commit. I’m just visiting other places. I’m not going to change my commitment.” The 6-3, 208-pound Hawkins missed Carver’s season-opener with a bruised collarbone. While elevating for a ball in practice, Hawkins got flipped and landed on his shoulder. “I was out for five weeks; the doctors released me, so I will be playing this Friday,” Hawkins said.
QB SCORES SKYMILE POINTS: Juwaan Williams, who was QB on Tucker’s state championship team last year, has finalized three of his official visits: He will go to Notre Dame on Sept. 22 for the Michigan game, to Oregon on Oct. 6 for the Washington game, and to Clemson on Oct. 20 for the Virginia Tech game. He’s in the process of setting up a recruiting trip to Florida State, while Vanderbilt has asked for him to wait until January. Every school is recruiting Williams at wide receiver except for Clemson, which projects him at DB. “At first, I was a little hesitant about DB. But when I started to talk it over with my coaches at Tucker, they said I was a versatile guy and could play corner at the next level.”
THE FOOT IN FOOTBALL: East Paulding’s Kamani Thomas, one of the state’s top running backs, said colleges are anxious to evaluate his senior film. The 5-9, 195-pounder missed 5-6 games as a junior with turf toe. “They want to see what I look like when I’m feeling 100 percent, which I am now,” Thomas said. “My foot is healthy.” Thomas said he has offers from Vanderbilt, Arizona State, Ole Miss, Southern Miss, Ohio, Troy, Middle Tennessee State, South Alabama and Southern Miss.
THIS JUST IN …
FOOTBALL SEASON IS ALMOST HERE
– By Michael Carvell, AJC Recruiting Blog
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