February 27th, 2014 10:15 AM║ Posted By: John Pennington ║ Permalink
║ Schools: Alabama, Auburn, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Missouri, South Carolina, Tennessee, Vanderbilt
Tags: Deon Grant, Georgia, Jamal Lewis, NFL
Tennessee enjoyed a recruiting revival earlier this month when the Vols signed what most services considered to be a top 5 class. Worries about Butch Jones — a Michigan native — being able to recruit in the South were nixed.
As usual, the Volunteers dipped into the state of Georgia for some of their newbies. Four Peach Staters total signed on with neighboring Tennessee. Asked by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution about his sales pitch inside the state, Jones said the following:
“We treat Georgia as a home state for us. You look at the proximity from Georgia to the University of Tennessee. This is home territory for us, and I think we’ve proven we’ve had great success with players from the state of Georgia when you look at players like Jamal Lewis, Inky Johnson, Chuck Smith, Deon Grant and I could go on… Eric Berry and Willie Gault. You look at the success now with Ja’Wuan James that he’s having in pursuing his goal to play in the NFL. And Ja’Wuan also has his degree from Tennessee as well. You look at our past history, the proximity, and we have a tremendous amount of respect for the high school coaches in that state and the produce that they produce. And they obviously have great players as well.”
Kudos to Jones for knowing the names of so many ex-Tennessee Georgia natives. One wonders if Derek Dooley could have named one.
As we’ve noted on several occasions, the state of Georgia is raided by numerous schools each February. South Carolina and Auburn snare top prospects from the state. Alabama has had greater success since Nick Saban opened his football factory. Pre-Mark Stoops Kentucky targeted Georgia more than it did Ohio. Vanderbilt has gone into Georgia. Missouri is trying its best to make inroads with billboards and mailers.
For years, the state boasted only two FBS programs in Georgia and Georgia Tech. With the amount of talent produced in the state, there were enough top players left over for all those schools mentioned above to pluck a few stars.
Now there is a third — Georgia State. Sure, GSU is a fledgeling, struggling FBS program now. But based in Atlanta, the Panthers have the opportunity to improve quickly just as South Florida (Tampa) and Central Florida (Orlando) have done. Obviously, GSU won’t be on equal recruiting footing with SEC schools anytime soon. But that does not mean Georgia State won’t be able keep at least one or two Peach State natives at home each February; recruits that might otherwise have left the state. In 10 years, it will be interesting to see if schools like Auburn, South Carolina and Tennessee are finding it any more difficult to nab Georgians for their own rosters.
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