Auburn bumps out UGA for top prospect’s last visit

DE Arden Key (247sports)

DE Arden Key (247sports)

Another day, another new major development in the recruiting of Arden Key, one of the state’s top uncommitted college football prospects.

The 4-star defensive end from Hapeville Charter high school has decided to replace UGA with Auburn for his official visit on the last weekend before signing day, his coach confirmed to the AJC on Wednesday night.

“He really didn’t say why,” Hapeville Charter coach Winston Jordan said. “He said he could go to UGA anytime. He’s probably still going to visit Georgia, probably a midweek visit. I’m not sure right now.”

How did Auburn slid into the prime spot? Part of it has to do with the fast friendship that Key developed at last week’s Under Armour All-America game with Byron Cowart, a defensive end from Seffner, Fla. Apparently, the two elite prospects made a deal to visit Auburn together on the final weekend.

“He likes Auburn because Muschamp is coming in, along with the relationships that he formed with the young guys down at the Under Armour game,” Jordan said. “I know a lot of times these kids built relationships at these all-star games, and then make pacts to visit colleges together. I don’t look at this any different than that kind of stuff.”

It has been a whirlwind couple of days for Key, who is rated as the state’s No. 10 overall prospect. On Tuesday, Key de-committed from South Carolina for the second time. It generated a lot of reaction on Twitter. However, the next morning Key tried to make amends with South Carolina fans, tweeting that the Gamecocks were still his No. 1 school.

“He explained it to me just like I thought he would: He just felt overwhelmed with everything, so he opened back up his recruiting,” Jordan said.

“It’s not a knock on South Carolina. Nobody there did anything wrong. He just wanted to be able to go out on these visits and feel comfortable about it, so he de-committed. Being a kid, I guess he thought that was the only way he could feel comfortable about the visits.”

South Carolina’s coaches weren’t fazed by the double dose of de-commitments.

“They are good with everything,” he said. “They understand kids, and how they change their minds. I think the people and the fans have a lot more problems with kids de-committing than the college coaches do. The coaches know how the prospects are. They are only kids, and they’re not sure about a lot of things in life.”

If Key wants to commit to South Carolina for a third time, does he still have a firm offer to accept? Or have the Gamecocks moved on?

“Yes, he has a firm offer; Nobody has pulled an offer or anything like that,” Jordan said. “The coaches at South Carolina are just are committed to Arden now as when he committed to them.”

Back to UGA: After making the change of plans with the visit, is Key still considering the Bulldogs? “I don’t know,” Jordan said. “He’s a kid. He’s not sure. He and his parents haven’t had the opportunity to visit these other places and seriously consider them. And I think that’s what made him re-open his recruitment, so his parents could be more involved in the process.”

Key is scheduled to visit LSU next weekend, followed by Miami on Jan. 19, South Carolina on Jan. 23 and Auburn on Jan. 30.

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— By Michael Carvell, AJC’s Recruiting Blog

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