Happy Monday, everyone. Recruiting season is particularly absurd this year, and once again most of the college football news centers around it:
Ah, football recruiting. The seedy underside of player procurement always seems to find a new way around the rules. There's a reason that manual grew to more than 400 pages. That's also why a committee assigned to trim it down was able to reduce the big book by all of 12 pages.
As we chug toward signing day, it's worth a reminder not all recruits sign with a school because of the staff or school. Cheating still endures. If anything, it has gotten more sophisticated. Until recently, there hadn't been many high-profile cases lately. But just wait … "I think there will be some major programs involved [this year]," Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby said.
One thing that has always puzzled me: I love college football as much as the next guy, but if I was a rich booster, I can't imagine that my fandom would inspire me to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to make sure that top recruits came to my favorite school. It's just not that important in the grand scheme. I'd like to think that I could find better things to throw that money toward.
"I'm going to get back home and sit down with my family and see and pray about it and find out what's the best place for me and not worry about where anybody else wants me to go," he said. Davis' latest visit to Auburn was focused mostly on academics, and he and his family came away impressed with that the university had to offer. New Auburn defensive coordinator Kevin Steele first started recruiting Davis to LSU when he was a 10th grader, and that long relationship is now paying off for the orange and blue. "I got to see a lot of things I was wondering about and answered a lot of questions," Davis said. "Coach (Gus) Malzahn and Coach Steele, they're great coaches. I'm glad I got down here to see. It's going to be tough on signing day."
Just say no, Ben. Seriously, I think Alabama will be fine here. While earning a starting job as a true freshman is unlikely, inside linebacker is one of the thinner spots on the team. With Reuben Foster in his final season and Shaun Dion Hamilton a rising junior, there should be plenty of opportunity for a top-notch player to come in and play.
"The comment he gave me was he's got a good relationship with Kirby but he wants to win," his mother said. "It is kind of hard to say because I really don't know what direction he is going in for sure. But that was the comment he made.
Wilson said she felt that either way her son goes that he "would win."
When Smart was hired in December, the five-star prospect immediately put UGA in his Top 3. He scheduled an official visit for the weekend of Jan. 15. Did that visit give UGA a fighting chance?
7. LB Lyndell Wilson (Montgomery, Ala.) There was a time when the five-star linebacker looked like a lock for Alabama. Then Florida started to get some traction. But the big news regarding this recruitment was Kirby Smart leaving his post as the Crimson Tide's defensive coordinator for Georgia. There is no coach closer to Wilson than Smart and the Bulldogs are working to pull off an upset here.
While there is certainly more depth outside than there is inside, an elite OLB such as Mack Wilson will have opportunities as well with Ryan Anderson and Tim Williams in their final seasons and Rashaan Evans draft eligible after the season.
Kirby Smart was the first Alabama coach to make contact with Tyler Simmons, playing a role in the Tide getting a commitment from the three-star wide receiver from Georgia. That was before Smart took over as Georgia's head coach. During an in-home visit with Simmons Thursday, Smart, likely in a playful manner, told Simmons that he "needs to undo what he did" at Alabama. Simmons shared that during an interview with UGASports.com.
The "I now hate Kirby" contingent should have a ball with that quote.
The five-star receiver talked about Alabama and what keeps them in the race. "They’re still a pretty high priority for myself," Robertson said. "Coach (Nick) Saban, we have a great relationship. I think I see him staying there a couple more years while I’m there. I like the environment and I like what they have to offer." Robertson predicted how many more years and how many more titles Saban will win at Alabama. "I say about three or four more years and that’s all I need," Robertson said. "I’d say two more national championships and three more SEC (championships).
Robertson was scheduled to visit Alabama on Sunday but didn't make it. He says that he will wait until after NSD to sign and still plans to visit UGA and Alabama. I'm starting to think that Robertson wants to prioritize football and winning (thus the early commitment to the Tide) but his family is pressuring him to choose a brand name school from an academic standpoint. He has made three official visits thus far, and two of the three (Cal and Georgia Tech) aren't even listed in his supposed final four of Stanford, Notre Dame, UGA, and Alabama.
Both Davis and Wilson have Alabama in their top two. That shouldn’t come as a huge surprise. They’re homegrown. But the other school in their top two isn’t Auburn, the other in-state power. It’s Georgia. And with former Crimson Tide defensive coordinator Kirby Smart now the head coach in Athens, the Bulldogs have become a real threat to land both players.
While this could be something of a concern, Kirby managing to build a fence around talent-rich Georgia would be much more damaging.
The speedy all-purpose back showed he can be used in a variety of ways at the next level and received a strong endorsement for his wide skill set from Alabama head coach Nick Saban. "I think he has a great future because he’s sort of a specialty back," Saban said Tuesday. "He’s a great receiver, would be a great third-down back, he can play receiver or play running back, he’s a very good special teams player. "Everybody’s looking for guys like Kenyan Drake."
Kenyan Drake isn't going to be an early round pick, but his versatility will certainly make him attractive to NFL teams.
With Marlon Humphrey and Tony Brown back from last season, three freshman have joined the list. Starting defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick highlights the next wave of two-sport athletes. The freshman All-American ran the 60 meters Friday at the Indiana University Relays on Friday in Bloomington. His time of 7.01 was good for 16th, while the top eight qualified for the Saturday's finals. Football teammate Xavian Marks made the championship round in the 60 meters with a fifth-place time of 6.92.
Hard to believe that any program has this amount of speed in the secondary.
Lastly, Julio Jones made himself a nice TD catch in the Pro Bowl yesterday:
That's about it for today. Have a great week!