Fewer elite Southern college football recruits stretching decisions to max

Fewer elite Southern college football recruits stretching decisions to max

February 2nd, 2014 by David Paschall in Sports - College

YET TO DECIDE

Prospect: Athlete Adoree' Jackson (ranked 6th overall by Rivals.com)

• Hometown: Gardena, Calif.

• Capsule: Jackson eliminated Tennessee this past week and will pick Wednesday among Southern Cal, Florida, UCLA and LSU.

Prospect: Linebacker Rashaan Evans (ranked 14th overall by Rivals.com)

• Hometown: Auburn, Ala.

• Capsule: Evans will choose between Alabama and Auburn and is believed to be leaning to Auburn, where his father played.

Prospect: Receiver Malachi Dupre (ranked 17th overall by Rivals.com)

• Hometown: River Ridge, La.

• Capsule: Dupre has a list of LSU, UCLA, Florida State, Ole Miss and Alabama but is expected to pick between LSU and UCLA.

Prospect: Offensive tackle Damian Prince (ranked 20th overall by Rivals.com)

• Hometown: Forestville, Md.

• Capsule: Prince was considering Florida, Maryland, Penn State and South Carolina but will choose Florida or Maryland.

Prospect: Defensive end Lorenzo Carter (ranked 36th overall by Rivals.com)

• Hometown: Norcross, Ga.

• Capsule: Carter is visiting Georgia this weekend and is expected to select the Bulldogs over Florida, Florida State and LSU.

Prospect: Defensive tackle Travonte Valentine (ranked 59th overall by Rivals.com)

• Hometown: Hialeah, Fla.

• Capsule: Valentine has committed to Louisville, Florida and Miami so far and is deciding between LSU and Miami.

After snow and ice paralyzed parts of the South last week, perhaps it's best that college football recruiting's drama has been minimized this year.

Only three Southern recruits ranked among ESPN's top 50 overall prospects are scheduled to declare their intentions on Wednesday's 11-hour signing day special on ESPNU. There were nine such players last winter who had their announcements televised nationally by the cable network, including former Ridgeland High safety Vonn Bell, who signed with Ohio State over Tennessee and Alabama.

"In this neck of the woods, it seems like everything has calmed down," said J.C. Shurburtt, the national recruiting director for 247Sports.com. "Across the country, it's a different story. The Los Angeles area alone still has three or four big decisions to be made."

There are eight scheduled ESPNU announcements overall from Southern programs' prospects scheduled for Wednesday, whereas last year there were 17. Some of the more notable last winter in addition to Bell were defensive end Robert Nkemdiche (Ole Miss), cornerback Mackensie Alexander (Clemson), offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil (Ole Miss), linebacker Matthew Thomas (Florida State) and defensive tackle Montravius Adams (Auburn).

Whether reduced signing-day fanfare among elite prospects is a one-year occurrence or a trend is unknown, but the trend of prospects committing earlier and earlier to schools continued this winter. Alabama, Auburn, Georgia and Tennessee all have top-10 classes according to ESPN, yet those four programs received just seven combined commitments in January.

"You're starting to see more and more prospects go ahead and make a decision because they're getting information at an earlier rate than ever before," ESPN national recruiting analyst Tom Luginbill said. "Sophomores and juniors are getting widely recruited and are taking unofficial visits and going to camps, and coaching staffs are having to keep pace with earlier and earlier classes. Unfortunately, some prospects don't gather all the information and become enamored with what's in front of them, and that's when you see decommitments come into play.

"This class has contradicted that for the most part, so we have a lot of prospects who made early commitments and a lot of high-profile guys who are not expected to make a ton of surprises."

That's not to say the unexpected can't occur.

Two years ago, receiver Dorial Green-Beckham (Missouri), offensive tackle Avery Young (Auburn) and linebacker Kwon Alexander (LSU) had much-anticipated signings that were televised. Safety Josh Harvey-Clemons was deciding between Georgia and Florida State and went on television to pick the Bulldogs, but he stopped short of signing the letter-of-intent, which occurred the next day.

In 2011, Cyrus Kouandjio was the nation's top tackle prospect and committed to Auburn on national television but signed three days later with Alabama.

"It does seem like it could be a little quieter this year," Shurburtt said, "and it does seem like there are fewer guys to keep an eye on."

Contact David Paschall at dpaschall@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6524.