After Robert Nkemdiche, one of the Georgia prospects that made the biggest impression at the Under Armour All-America week was Milton High School defensive end Carl Lawson.
Lawson, who is ranked as the nation’s No. 2 overall prospect by ESPN, dominated practices with his pass-rushing skills. In Friday’s game, Lawson finished with one quarterback hurry.
“It was a great week,” Lawson said. “I’m a little mad because I was so close to so many quarterback sacks (in the game). These quarterbacks get that ball out there so fast. The offensive linemen were good, and when I did get free, I would get a hair away from a sack. It was a great experience. I can’t complain.”
The 6-foot-2, 240-pounder is still officially committed to Auburn but said he will set up official visits later this week to Clemson, Tennessee, and probably Auburn again. Ole Miss and North Carolina are also possible trips.
Lawson will take an official visit to either Clemson or Tennessee this weekend, according to his father.
When asked about the strength of his Auburn commitment, Lawson said, “Everything is just in the re-evaluation process.”
Milton coach Howie DeCristofaro, who attended the all-star game and practices, was asked if he thought Lawson would sign with Auburn on Feb. 6. “I’m not sure about Carl and Auburn, but I guess we will see.”
Auburn’s coaching change forced Lawson to consider other options. Ironically, the new Auburn assistant in charge of recruiting him is Rodney Garner, the former Georgia recruiting coordinator who famously passed on Lawson with the Bulldogs. It infuriated UGA fans in the Milton and North Fulton area, which has one of the state’s largest and most passionate fan bases for the Bulldogs.
There is heavy speculation on message boards that Garner’s hiring will push Lawson away from Auburn, but the 5-star recruit denies it. Lawson said the two have talked a few times over the telephone within the last week.
“It never really affected me (how Garner recruited me for Georgia),” Lawson said. “I mean, it is what it is. Auburn is a program, and one coach doesn’t change the program.”
Ole Miss is one school that was thought to be emerging, although the distance from Atlanta could be factor. The Rebels already have a commitment from his close friend and Milton teammate, tailback Peyton Barber.
“Nkemdiche is going to sign with Ole Miss, from what I understand, and Carl is taking a visit to Ole Miss,” DeCristofaro said. “Can you imagine both of them on the same defensive line?”
UPDATE: Over the weekend, Rodney Garner had an in-home visit with Carl Lawson Sr., the former Georgia Tech football player and father of the 5-star recruit. The younger Lawson was unable to attend because he hadn’t returned from Florida after being diagnosed with the flu (Carl Jr. toughed it the whole week at the all-star game).
“It went well,” Lawson Sr. said. “We’re trying to build a relationship and find out what Auburn’s plans are, and see if there’s a possibility that things will work out.”
One thing that was immediately brought up by Garner was his explanation – when he was at UGA and in charge of recruiting Milton – on why he was so late in showing any serious interest in Lawson. UGA waited until two months after Lawson had committed to Auburn before considering a scholarship offer.
Lawson and his father take the high road on the topic, but the tardy interest likely ruined UGA’s chances of recruiting the best prospect out of Georgia this year not named Nkemdiche. The Bulldogs were a childhood favorite of Lawson.
“What (Garner) said was that as defensive line coach at Georgia, they run a 3-4 defense, and the defensive ends are really large,” Lawson said. “He said when they came to recruit Carl, they were recruiting him as a linebacker – and that position wasn’t his call. The reason Carl wasn’t recruited by him is because they were recruiting 3-4 defensive ends, and they didn’t see Carl as a 3-4 defensive end.”
When asked if he felt comfortable with Garner’s explanation, Lawson said, “We never took it personal. Contrary to popular belief, Georgia did try to recruit Carl. But it was a situation when they finally did show some interest in Carl, and I believe it was from (Todd Grantham), Carl already had more than 30 offers and had already developed relationships with other schools.
“It was late on Georgia’s part. But I can’t speak on their system and how they do things. It was just a done deal with Auburn by then. There was probably some personal disappointment with Georgia by that point. You’re going to assume that maybe they didn’t think he was good enough or whatever. So that was definitely an original thought. But when we sit down think about things now, this is a business and I guess they were looking at it from a schematic point of view.
“I don’t agree with Georgia not recruiting him earlier. But if that was their reasoning, then that’s their reasoning.”
When Garner took the job at Auburn, the kid he infamously passed on … instantly became his top recruit. Garner is trying his best to secure Lawson for the Tigers by the Feb. 6 signing day.
“What’s at issue is whether they can build a successful relationship in a short amount of time,” Lawson said. “They have to build some chemistry and get to know each other. There’s no doubt that Auburn’s new staff is very impressive. But what is good for Auburn might not be good for us. I’m not saying the two are separate, and I applaud what coach (Gus Malzahn) has done with his staff.”
The elder Lawson said “there’s a very good possibility” that they will take an official visit to Auburn this month, even though they’ve seen the campus countless times.
USC has been eliminated because of distance, while Ole Miss and North Carolina might be out of the picture, too. “When Carl was in Florida, his mom and I started to get the feeling that he doesn’t want to be too far from home,” Lawson said. “It’s probably going to be some place 4-5 hours away from Atlanta, tops.”
Seeing Rodney Garner carrying Reuben Foster’s MVP trophy around was 1 of the funniest things I saw this week. florida.247sports.com/Board/14/At-th…
— Luke Stampini (@LukeStampini) January 5, 2013
OH MY … HAVE YOU HEARD THE LATEST?
RECAP OF RECRUITING HEADLINES
WE’RE LESS THAN A MONTH AWAY FROM SIGNING DAY
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