Will These Blue-Chip Recruits Commit To In-State Schools?
There's something in the American character that makes us respect talented people who don't stray far from where they grew up. The poorer and more dastardly the circumstances, the greater the sacrifice the hero is making...and the bigger louse he is for leaving.
None of these ten players are making a major sacrifice. The ten in-state schools that they're considering are all BCS-level institutions at or near the top of the conference standings.
But there's something about staying in-state that will appeal to the fanbases of each school should the recruit decide to stay home. They can say, for example, that not only did he win the Heisman, but he was a Texas kid.
I've looked at 10 blue-chip recruits and decided what their odds are for remaining in-state versus the out-of-state suitors. Take a look and see if you think I have my odds right.
Tony Steward, LB (Florida State)
Things looked good for the Clemson Tigers and their shot at grabbing five-star linebacker Tony Steward of St. Augustine, FL...but ESPN writer JC Shurburtt recently retweeted a rumor that Steward was favoring Florida State after a visit this past week.
While it's safe to say his recruitment won't end until the dotted line is signed, he doesn't strike me as someone who would make a rash commitment. He even made his recruiting plan public, and while it did not include the prospect of an early verbal, I doubt it foresaw the intensity of the programs after him.
Whoever gets his first verbal is likely getting his final one. Florida State is surely pushing hard to make sure they're the last ones standing.
James Wilder, RB (Florida State or Florida)
Along with Steward, five-star athlete James Wilder was the most high-profile no-show of Florida's Friday Night Lights, an event held this past weekend for many of Florida's top recruits to get together and compete.
The reason? Wilder was on an intense visit at Florida State, one that went beyond schedule.
I've consistently said that Wilder is a lock to go to Florida—hence making him more than likely to commit to an in-state school—but I did not anticipate the Seminoles being Florida's biggest challenger. Yet Florida State needs an elite running back, and Jimbo Fisher, remember, is an ex-offensive coordinator. Plus, Tallahassee has become like Tuscaloosa in that recruits rarely leave without the Seminoles having jumped up the list, perhaps to the top.
Watch for Wilder's comments afterwards. With an announcement ceremony planned in the coming weeks—one that will also feature the commitments of Wilder's teammates, OT Tony Posada and QB Phillip Ely—he'll be pressed to make his mind up soon. We'll see if FSU had the gumption to change it at the eleventh hour.
Malcolm Brown, RB (Texas)
Cibolo, TX five-star running back Malcolm Brown is now mentioning suitors Texas and Alabama in the same breath.
If it's a true 50/50 split, that's a stunning amount of ground gained by the Tide. Even the nearby Oklahoma Sooners backed off Brown, both because they grabbed a RB commitment of their own, and because his heart seemed so set on the Longhorns early in the process.
I still believe the Longhorns hold the edge, but Alabama is stringing them out like one long stretch run left. If they're the victors at the end of summer—when e plans to announce—the Longhorns will have lost the top in-state recruit to an out-of-state for the first time in human history*.
Even if the Horns grab the next 19, the Mack won't be pleased to hear that news.
*Not a verified fact.
Doran Grant, CB (Ohio State)
After briefly reopening his recruitment and taking a trip to Cal and Arizona, five-star Ohio cornerback Doran Grant has resettled on a top seven of Ohio State, Cincinnati, Michigan State, Michigan, Iowa, USC, Georgia Tech, and UCLA.
For most, that list is a top one and six schools vying for second place—he's been ticketed to the Buckeyes and, along with OLB Trey DePriest, considered the last major piece in their 2011 recruiting class puzzle.
OSU grabbed the most obvious commitment of the year in QB Braxton Miller, who also held fast to a top five despite every indication that he was headed to the Buckeyes. The practical part of me suggests I should ticket him as a Buckeye, too.
But this recruiting year got a heckuva lot more exciting once Miller committed, and there's reason to believe Michigan and MSU will bring it down to the wire with Doran. I'd give OSU a 65% chance...which is still probably good enough.
Nick O'Leary, TE (Miami)
Florida tight end Nick O'Leary just got done showing off his elite receiving skills at the Gridiron Kings event in Orlando, where he won offensive MVP.
He's favoring in-state schools Florida State and Miami and considering Alabama and Georgia...but which will he choose?
The Hurricanes are putting together a solid wide receiver recruiting class to complement passer Teddy "Heisman" Bridgewater...but Florida State is putting muscle into its offensive recruiting after a dominant defensive year.
I'd put the battle between the Noles and Canes at 40/40, with Alabama holding a decent shot at scoring the upset.
Jay Rome, TE (Georgia)
Rome, a five-star tight end out of Georgia, recently named the Bulldogs and Crimson Tide as his favorites.
That announcement came as a surprise, as many expected him to end up at Clemson, where his father played college ball. Rome had kept Clemson in every cut save this one.
A write-up by the AJC's Chip Towers showed that Rome had really enjoyed a recent unofficial to Georgia, hanging out with five-star ATH James Wilder and four-star QB and current UGa commit Christian Lemay, who has said many times he will recruit heavily on behalf of the Dawgs.
In spite of a rough offseason, Georgia has still managed to get after many of the best in-state kids, and they're succeeding. A good season will do wonders to help them close the deal.
Kasen Williams, WR (Washington)
For most of his recruitment, wide receiver Kasen Williams has had to deflect the supposition that he should go to Washington because his high school teammate, QB Jake Heaps, spurned the in-state Huskies for BYU in one of 2009's more fierce recruiting battles.
Yet Williams has continually said that the Huskies, despite the proximity and the relationships his parents have with the skill (they're both alumni), hold no significant lead.
Three out of five kids saying this are usually fibbing a bit. But I'm inclined to believe Kasen, who has spent this offseason taking visits to places like LSU, Georgia Tech and Notre Dame, the latter of which I still think has a better than average shot at him.
With a top five set to be released soon, I anticipate the Huskies and Irish making the final list. With an announcement penciled in for August, watch for the Irish to score the upset.
Trey DePriest, LB (Ohio State)
Four-star Ohio linebacker Trey DePriest is just now wrapping up a four-day trip to both Ohio State and Alabama, the finalists for his commitment, which he is hoping to announce this week.
The subject of in which defense he actually fits was the subject of a longer post I put up over at U Recruit.
But the short, simple prediction I'd like to offer is this: DePriest spent one day at Ohio State and three at Alabama. The Tide may have been willing to concede the battle for QB Braxton Miller, but they won't be able to stomach losing his friend DePriest to the Buckeyes. They've thrown everything they have at landing him, practically at the exclusion of other, more relatively local linebackers. I think this one tips Tide at the end of the day.
Greg Robinson, OT (LSU)
Four-star offensive tackle Gregory Robinson has had a torrid affair with LSU, sometimes claiming them as the preferred school, other times skipping out on an unofficial to spend a week at Auburn...or so some rumormongers suggest.
With how hard LSU (and really every school) has been pressing for early commitments, any Louisiana player who hasn't already committed to the Tigers must have another serious suitor in mind.
For Robinson, Auburn has filled the role formerly occupied by USC, who fell off Robinson's radar once the sanctions were announced.
What are the odds he still chooses LSU? Their linemen recruiting has been stellar (two stud commitments in Trai Turner and five-star La'El Collins) and their gravity with in-staters has only increased. But somehow, Robinson appears to have achieved the escape velocity necessary to look elsewhere. I'd put the chances at 40% he stays in-state.
JaDeveon Clowney, DE (South Carolina)
Five-star defensive end and near-consensus top recruit Jadeveon Clowney entered spring favoring the in-state South Carolina Gamecocks, and now claims them as his co-leader along with Alabama.
How realistic are South Carolina's chances?
Number one, Clowney's impact would be as immediate or more immediate should he choose to enroll at what I would consider a second-tier SEC school.
Two, the Gamecocks have been no slouches on the defensive side of the ball—some might say it's actually been their strength, in spite of Spurrier's grooming as an offensive guru. And they put defender Eric Norwood in the NFL draft this year.
A year after landing the top in-state recruit in RB Marcus Lattimore, I'd give South Carolina a better-than-average shot at besting Alabama for Clowney. They can't take a day off doing it, but he's never struck me as a recruit fond of straying too far from the nest.