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Review of the Weekend’s Biggest Recruiting Stories

Mark Richt (AJC file)

Mark Richt (AJC file)

Maybe you might have been a little too busy with bass, boats, bratwursts or ballgames over the weekend?

If that’s the case, then the recruiting rewind aims to fill a void in the lives of those who can feel their hearts race whenever they see a 4-star sitting at a table with the three or more ball caps from Power 5 schools resting in front of a microphone.

Here are the stories that stood out to me over the weekend:

The Ageless Ball Coach (AP)

The Ageless Ball Coach (AP)

1. STEVE SPURRIER YEARS SOUND LIKE DOG YEARS:  I’m actually overlooking that Spurrier-of-the-moment press conference announced to hammer home the point that the opinions of outsiders do not matter to the South Carolina coach.

What we are talking about are recent reports that state how many  years the 70-year-old SEC coaching and playing legend has in the tank. Is it six years? Didn’t he say two or three years at the end of last season?

Are there going to be as many of those as are necessary to get a blue-chip pointed to South Carolina? Here’s the thing: If he says it, I believe he can do it. Just to shake his fist at everyone to show he can.

2. RIDESHARE SHOWS THAT QBs DO CARE:  What started out as one committed QB helping out another with a 650-mile commute now might require a congressional panel. What we know now is that underrated Jonesboro QB Zerrick Cooper (Clemson commit) was spotted in the same traveling party that delivered another committed QB in Oconee County’s Zeb Noland (Appalachian State verbal) to Florida this past weekend.

Sprinkle in a high school QB coach and a Florida assistant and the only thing we need to know now is if they used the HOV lane.  Secret visits are always messy. Especially when it comes to quarterbacks. Cameras tend to find those guys

Savannah's Demetris Robertson liked what he saw along a recent visit to UF (AJC/Randy Schafer)

Savannah’s Demetris Robertson liked what he saw along a recent visit to UF (AJC/Randy Schafer)

3.  NICK SABAN 2.0: The nation’s top athlete told the AJC on Sunday night his pecking order of Stanford, Alabama and UGA could be trending toward a foursome. Savannah’s Demetris Robertson said he enjoyed his Florida trip, but that he was also hearing the same things he liked about Alabama from first-year Florida coach Jim McElwain.

Florida’s pitch includes the chance to play both ways, run track and return kicks in Gainesville. There’s two things to remember here: 1) Robertson was committed to Alabama for almost a year; 2) McElwain was a long-time Alabama assistant under Nick Saban

4. JORDAN SMITH AND UGA: The 6-foot-6 defensive end from Lithonia told the AJC that he will make his college decision on Wednesday. He’s one of UGA’s top targets at linebacker, but would rather play defensive end in college.  South Carolina is his leader. Is it because he actually knows how many years Spurrier has left in Columbia?

Smith has said he’d rather play defensive end and that’s a reason why he likes the Gamecocks. UGA’s interest in him as an OLB might offer a hint that the Bulldogs did not want to do anything to mess up their chances with a couple of targets (Lanier 5-star Derrrick Brown, American Heritage 4-star Brian Burns, new Clemson commitment Xavier Kelly) that they have rated higher on the board at defensive end.

Kelly committed to Clemson last Friday. Does that mean UGA turns up the volume on its pitch and makes a late push.

Cedar Grove's Netori Johnson will be one of the nation's elite OLs for 2017. (Mike Eden / Special to the AJC)

Cedar Grove’s Netori Johnson will be one of the nation’s elite OLs for 2017. (Mike Eden / Special to the AJC)

5. NETORI STORY: Pay close attention to the recruitment of talented Cedar Grove offensive lineman Netori Johnson over the next two years. He’s the guy with the hair that’s made for HD screens.

The 2017 prospect committed to Alabama back in May, but then camped at UGA in June and July. He told the AJC “he’s loving UGA” right now and that has to make Tuscaloosa nervous. He’s an ideal road grader for the SEC with a prowess in the trenches that will stand out even more than his technicolor hairstyle.

Alabama offered him first and got the early commitment. UGA offensive line coach Rob Sale has already acquired a reputation for being a great recruiter on the trail and he’s hungry. A Johnson flip would seal the deal that UGA’s chief OL recruiter is very aptly named.  That would be some kinda close.

6. WATCH OUT FOR THIS HARBAUGH GUY: Georgia athlete Mecole Hardman, Jr. already has my vote as the most electrifying player in the state for any class. He plays QB at Elbert County, but will spit out highlights at either cornerback or receiver in college.

UGA and Tennessee have been seen as the teams to be for his silent commitment for a long time.  Hardman told the AJC on Monday that he’ll be going to The Big House in Michigan for one of his five official visits this fall. Mr. Ludicrous Speed has great taste in college football, too. He’ll go up for the Ohio State game that should no doubt be one of the most interesting on the Big Ten card for 2015.

7. FACT-FLIPPING MISSION: Did Liberty County junor Richard LeCounte commit to Ohio State recently? Well, there’s some logic to that. Liberty County product Raekwon McMillian is up there and LeCounte did recently visit. One published report had him all but saying what Urban Meyer needed to hear to keep his blood pressure and heart rate where it needs to be, but LeCounte told the AJC over the weekend he made no such commitment.

It was a little messy, but LeCounte was tagged in a tweet that got a retweet across the timeline of BCS MVP Ezekiel Elliott. He’s also going to be very highly-rated next summer if The Opening has a back-flip competition.

8. 2017 5-star names Bama among his Top 5: Las Vegas QB Tate Martell released his Top 5 over the weekend and the Las Vegas resident had two SEC schools on his leaderboard. The pundits have him going to either Southern Cal or to Texas A&M at this time. That’s interesting, but not as refreshing as the fact that analysts went outside the growth charts and paid attention to actual football to give five stars to a QB who is listed under six feet tall.

Check his highlights. The guy can play. Anyone else get the sense this guy could be another Johnny Manziel in College Station?

9. FLIP-FLOPPING AT ITS FINEST: Grady 4-star defensive back Marlon Character gave everyone the zig and then the zag over the weekend. He told the AJC that Auburn led the pack and that he almost committed there, but then made a pledge to South Carolina the next day.

With moves like that, he’ll be able to shadow Power 5 receivers very well on Saturdays. Wonder if that Spurrier coaching until 2020 stuff cinched it for him.

Brown is the state's top prospect for 2016. (Michael Carvell/ AJC)

Brown is the state’s top prospect for 2016. (Michael Carvell/ AJC)

10. STATE’S TOP PROSPECT NEEDS MORE TIME: Lanier 5-star DT Derrick Brown told the AJC last week that he would have no clue what his college decision would be if National Signing Day was this week. What he did say was that he will announce his official visits prior to his senior season and that UGA will be among that lot.

He also visited Auburn over the weekend. Alabama and Tennessee are the other contenders. Brown also said that his fifth official visit will come down to Florida State or Southern Cal.

This one’s going to go 15 rounds, folks. Brown will be worth it as it does.

ONE MORE REP: We value character among our recruits as much as sub-4.5 40-yard 40-yard dashes here at the Recruiting Rewind. That’s why the attitude of Dooly County’s Antonneous Clayton also stood out over the weekend.

He has now almost committed to both Auburn and Florida, but held off. He said that’s because he doesn’t want to be one of those “decommit” guys. That was a sign of his maturity, but what was even more impressive was how he summed up the fact he had 32 offers, but does not have an offer from in-state UGA. Clayton’s a smart guy. No wonder he’s thinking pre-Med as he enters his senior y ear of high school ball.

 

 

Jeff Sentell covers UGA recruiting for AJC.com and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Follow him on Twitter for the latest on who’s on their way to play Between the Hedges.


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