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Vandy Dance-Off Continues To Show That VU “Gets It” When It Comes To Internet Recruiting

A strong argument can be made that no athletic department in the SEC has done a better job of using internet video to promote itself than Vanderbilt’s.  (And now that David Williams has actually been named “athletic director,” it’s probably time to stop with the “but Vandy doesn’t have an athletic department” jokes.)

From behind-the-scenes video on signing day to the unveiling of the Commodores’ new unis, the folks at VU “get it” when it comes to marketing their new “anchor down” brand online.  Which is no surprise, these folk are at Vanderbilt after all.

Yesterday, a new video was posted at the school’s website showing the Vandy football team — players and coaches — having a “dance-off” in a team meeting room.  Silly?  Maybe.

But to a prospect watching the clip and seeing a grown man do the worm while head coach James Franklin laughs his rear off, it’s probably a pretty good inducement to answer the phone when VU calls.  Get an eduction, live in a big city, play better football — at least that will be Franklin’s pitch — and have a good time while doing it.

 

Vanderbilt Football Dance-Off

 

The guy doing the worm?  Offensive line coach Herb Hand.  Not bad.

Not a bad way to continue to promote one’s program, either.

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Florida Adds To Defensive Line

Florida added defensive ends Antonio Riles and Jordan Sherit to its commitment list for the 2013 class this weekend.

Riles, who attends Archer High School in Lawrenceville, Ga., committed to Florida over Georgia, the school he grew up cheering for as a fan.

“My runner-up was definitely Georgia,” Riles told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “But Florida kept on me. I really wasn’t hearing from or having any contact from Georgia. Then I finally saw Florida and it’s a great program. So I pulled the trigger and committed.”

Sherit did the same after attending Florida’s Friday Night Lights camp. The Tampa (Fla.) Hillsborough High School standout chose the Gators over Florida State, Notre Dame, Stanford and Vanderbilt.

“I felt 100 percent comfortable with coach (Will) Muschamp and the whole coaching staff,” Sherit told ESPN RecruitingNation. “The fact it’s in the SEC conference, it’s close to home and not to mention the networking at the University of Florida in the state is bar-non. It’s the biggest and the greatest in the state. You can be anywhere in a Gators shirt and someone will just walk up to you and give you the Gator chomp. Really, as far as networking goes, it’s Gator Nation — it’s not just fans, it’s a nation. Just getting to know the other commits and the players, it’s become second nature to me. It was a no-brainer.”

Florida, which also received a commitment last week from highly-touted Tampa cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III, has 20 commitments for the 2013 class. And it could have the nation’s top class by the first Wednesday in February.

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UF Denies Admission To 4-Star DT Signee

Four-star defensive tackle signee Dante Phillips won’t be suiting up or Will Muschamp’s defense this fall.  In fact, he won’t be on the Florida campus as a student, either.  According to his stepfather, Damon Wilson, Phillips has been denied admission into the school:

 

“We were kind of blindsided.  He did everything he needed to do to be cleared by the (NCAA) clearing house, but now he’s been told he doesn’t have a scholarship to Florida.  He’s been cleared by the NCAA.  He’s academically eligible.  But the admissions office says he can’t enroll at Florida.  If he can’t get in there, we have to look at other places.  He’s got some offers out there.  He’s totally qualified (academically)…

Something like this should never happen.”

 

Wilson told The Gainesville Sun the family is appealing the decision, but he doesn’t expect a reversal on the ruling.

Phillips was ranked by Rivals.com as the #9 defensive tackle prospect in the nation on signing day.  Fellow top D-line signees Jonathan Bullard and Dante Fowler have yet to enroll as well, but it’s expected — as least for now — that they will be cleared by the NCAA and by the school.

That doesn’t help Phillips, however.  And it won’t help Will Muschamp on the recruiting trail, either.

The University of Florida admissions office — or someone in the athletic department — should have gotten a look at Phillips’ transcripts long before signing day and found that there were potential potholes.  The fact that a player was recruited by UF, signed by UF, but then denied entry to UF will be used against the Gators’ coach on the recruiting trail.  Of that you can be sure.

“They might tell you that you can get in, but did you hear what they did to Dante Phillips?”

One can only imagine Muschamp’s private response when given the news that he’d wasted a scholarship — and a helluva lot of time — on a player cleared by the NCAA but not cleared by his own university.

As for Phillips, if he and his family were truly as “blindsided” as Wilson says, then someone in Gainesville owes the young man an apology.

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Hogs’ Long Needs To Worry About A Coach, Not Recruits

There’s an old saying that goes a little something like this: “It’s not about the Xs and Os, it’s about the Jimmys and Joes.”  Translation: Players are more important than coaches.

There are quite a few Arkansas fans today who buy into that line even though they’re last coach just proved you don’t have to have five-star guys to win double-digit games in a season.

This week, we’ve stated repeatedly that Razorback AD Jeff Long needs to take his time in replacing Bobby Petrino.  By all indications, that’s what it looks like he’s going to do — use an interim coach this season while conducting a long, thorough coaching search in the hopes of finding a long-term solution to the school’s current problem.

Each time we’ve touted the “take your time” approach, we’ve received a number of emails from Hog fans who believe that going the interim route will destroy/crush/annihilate/end Razorback recruiting.  “The school will lose out on the 2013 class and it won’t be making valuable connections to this year’s high school juniors and sophomores, either,” they claim.

And to their point we say… so?

Petrino provides two examples of why fans should be more worried about the man at the head of the program than the kids who may or may not ink with, arrive at, develop for, and stick with said program.

First, Petrino proved that Xs and Os can mean more than Jimmys and Joes.  Under their ex, the Hogs finished in the bottom half of the SEC just about every year in terms of signing day rankings.  Good coaches know how to win and they know how to recruit to fit their needs.

Second, Petrino also proved that making a hasty hire can eventually blow up in a school’s face.  Arkansas and Long — the same guy who’s getting praise for ousting Petrino now — are the same ones who snuck into Atlanta and absconded with the Falcons’ head coach in the middle of the NFL season.  Despite many warnings about his character, Long and his school and its fans went all-in with Petrino.  And then they found out the hard way why people were sending out warnings.

Arkansas fans need to pay attention to their recent history and understand that finding the right coach is much, much more important than landing a good recruiting class or two.

Question: Would UA be better served by grabbing Garrick McGee to come in right now, save the season, and recruit… or by waiting til year’s end and hiring Nick Saban?  Or Les Miles?  Or Bob Stoops?

No, we don’t believe Arkansas will land any of those guys, but the point should be clear — hire the right coach and the recruits will come.  Might the Hogs take a short step backwards by waiting and making a patient decision?  Possibly.  But the long-term gain of finding the right coach to recruit and win and do it the right way for the long haul should far exceed any short-term pain Hog fans would have to endure.

Long has already proven that when he sets his mind and his boosters’ money to landing the coach he wants, he gets him.  There’s no reason to believe that UA — at year’s end — can’t identify and land a man with a proven track record (a positive one, this time).  Do that, and the Hogs will recover and succeed long-term.

But rush things in order to save a recruiting class?  Well, good luck.

In January of 2010, Lane Kiffin hit the eject button and left Tennessee for Southern Cal less than three weeks before signing day.  Panic set-in in Knoxville.  Then-Vol AD Mike Hamilton announced he would have a new coach by the week’s end, placing a wholly unnecessary deadline on himself and the search process.

The Vols had planes criss-crossing the country in search of someone who could save their recruiting class.  The AD was interviewing a candidate in one place.  Another member of the UT brass was interviewing a different candidate in another spot.  All while a key booster was meeting with yet another candidate somewhere else.

Tennessee’s search looked like a jumbled, panicky mess.  No wonder coach after coach turned the Vols down.  Why would Will Muschamp, Kyle Whittingham, or Troy Calhoun have wanted to jump into a rushed, shotgun wedding?

As a result, the Vols wound up hiring a coach with an overall losing record who’d just finished a 4-8 campaign at Louisiana Tech.  And while the jury’s still out on Derek Dooley, the evidence so far seems to be piling up against him.

Oh, but Tennessee saved its recruiting class.

Arkansas fans should pay attention to their own recent history as well as that of their neighbor to the east.

Finding the right coach is more important than saving a recruiting class.  Much, much more important.

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Muhammad, Noel To Announce On ESPNU

Forward Shabazz Muhammad and center Nerlens Noel will announce their college decisions live on the ESPNU Signing Day Special on Wednesday night.

Noel is ranked No. 1 in the ESPNU 100 for 2012. He’s considering Kentucky, Georgetown and Syracuse. Muhammad, who’s considered the nation’s second-best prospect by ESPNU, will choose among Kentucky, Duke and UCLA.

Undecided SEC prospects Anthony Bennett and Tony Parker will make appearances on the show, according to a release from ESPN. The show is scheduled to begin at 7:30 eastern time.

Parker’s coach at Miller Grove High School in Atlanta said Monday that Parker is unlikely to sign with a school on Wednesday. Georgia is the only SEC school on Parker’s list, which also includes Duke, Georgetown, Kansas, Memphis, Ohio State and UCLA.

“I don’t think he’s just quite ready (to choose a school),” coach Sharman White. “He’s trying to figure out the last intricate parts of this decision … so he can make the best choice.”

Bennett, whose list of schools includes Florida, Kentucky, Oregon, UNLV and Washington, is expected to wait until May to make his choice.

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SEC Commitment Comparitor – 2/28/12

We’re nearly a month removed from Signing Day 2012… what better time to start looking toward 2013?  Below you’ll see our first commitment comparitor for next year’s signing class.  Keep in mind that many of the 61 players already committed to SEC programs have not even been reviewed, graded or ranked yet.  For that reason, you’ll see a whole lot of 0-star players on our list.

As usual, we use Rivals.com’s rankings.  We assign one point for each star they hand out to a player, but we also count 0-star prospects as being worth a point.  God don’t make no junk, as the old saying goes.

At the end of the table, you’ll notice a new category: In-State Commits.  If you want to know why so many coaches are not in favor of an early signing period, just check out the advantage programs located in talent-rich states have over schools located in talent-poor states.  There’s a reason Florida, Georgia, LSU and Texas A&M should always rank near the top of SEC recruiting lists.  And there’s a reason many coaches running programs in states bereft of blue chip prospects would just as soon not give their rivals a chance to close off their borders early.


School
Commits
5-stars
4-stars
3-stars
2-stars
1- & 0-stars
Total Points
In-State Commits
Alabama
9
1
8
0
0
0
37
4
Florida
10
0
8
0
0
2
34
10
Texas A&M
13
0
5
0
0
8
28
13
Georgia
6
0
3
0
0
3
15
3
Auburn
5
0
3
0
0
2
14
3
LSU
5
0
3
0
0
2
14
3
Tennessee
4
0
3
0
0
1
13
3
Vanderbilt
2
0
1
0
0
1
5
0
S. Carolina
1
0
1
0
0
0
4
1
Missouri
3
0
0
0
0
3
3
3
Ole Miss
2
0
0
0
0
2
2
1
Arkansas
1
0
0
0
0
1
1
0
Kentucky
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
Miss. State
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
                 


As you can see, Nick Saban’s program continues to rack up top ‘o the line talent.  And from all over the Southland, too.  Of the Tide’s nine early commitments, four come from Alabama, two from Georgia, and one each come from Arkansas, Florida and Louisiana.

That train, just keeps on rolling.




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Alex Kozan Signs With Auburn

Auburn should be able to win plenty of battles in the trenches in the upcoming years.

The Tigers received a signed letter of intent on Monday from Castle Rock, Co., offensive lineman Alex Kozan, who is the seventh offensive lineman to sign with Auburn’s class of 2012.

“It’s the best place where I can go to better myself as a person and player,” Kozan told the Denver Post.

Kozan originally committed to Iowa before signing day but wasn’t ready to sign on Feb. 1. He also considered Michigan.

Kozan is the No. 12 ranked offensive guard in the nation by Rivals. He joins a group of offensive linemen that includes Will Adams from Tyrone, Ga., Patrick Miller from West Palm Beach, Fla., and Avery Young from Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.

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UT Adds Another: LB Bynum From Florida

Linebacker Kenneth Bynum from Raines High School in Jacksonville, Fla., signed with Tennessee on Wednesday.

Bynum, who is the 22nd member of Tennessee’s 2012 class, had originally committed to Cincinnati but decided to reevaluate his options when he received an offer from Tennessee the day before National Signing Day.

It was an unexpected offer.

“People said I wasn’t fast enough to land an SEC offer,” Bynum said. “I was basically doubting myself that I would land an SEC offer. But it ended up happening and I think it happened for a reason.”

Tennessee had a reason to offer Bynum. The Vols saw two linebacker commits – Otha Peters (Arkansas) and Dalton Santos (Texas) – decide to sign elsewhere less than a week before signing day.

Bynum is the third linebacker to sign with Tennessee’s 2012 class, joining Justin King from Dunwoody, Ga., and LaTroy Lewis from Akron, Ohio.

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VU’s Franklin Backtracks From “Men Of Honor” Comments

After signing day last week, Vanderbilt coach James Franklin told a group of Commodore backers that those players who decommitted from Vandy were “not men of honor” and “not men of integrity.”  He did not mention anyone by name, but most assumed that he was referring to defensive end Josh Dawson who decided on the eve of signing day to stay in his home state and attend Georgia rather than VU.

As a result of his words, Franklin took some heat.  Now, he’s backtracking a bit… and blaming the media (of course):

 

“First of all, it really wasn’t written the way it was delivered. I think the biggest thing is when a kid commits to Vanderbilt, I go into great detail and make sure they understand what they’re doing – that they understand ‘commitment’ and ‘what commitment means.’ That I’d say if five other schools come in and offer you, would you change your mind? We make sure everybody is on the same page: the kid, the parents, and the high school coach. We explain it in real detail. I would just rather a kid not commit to us than commit and not be completely sure what he’s going to do. When you lose a kid, it hurts your heart. You feel bad, like all college coaches do, because you feel like your institution is the best possible place for that kid. So when you lose them, it hurts.

I think I probably would’ve worded some things differently [that I said that day]. And I think it would’ve probably been reported a little differently than it was intended. But it is what it is. I have great respect for all the young men that committed to us. I have great respect for some of the men that changed their minds and went in another direction. They thought it was in the best interest for them and their family. But it hurts when you lose a guy when you’ve been recruiting him for a year.”

 

So Franklin wishes he’d said things differently.  And clearly he still thinks those players who decommitted from Vandy don’t understand “what commitment means.”

Then how exactly is any of this the fault of Jeff Lockridge of The Tennessean who initially tweeted the coach’s exact words?  Franklin tries to blame the press for not putting his words in context but he admits he chose the words poorly and that the context — turns out — looks pretty dead-on correct.

Michael Carvell of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution asked several coaches about Franklin’s “not men of honor” comments and Vandy’s coach didn’t get a lot of support.  Especially from new North Carolina coach Larry Fedora who lost quarterback Patton Robinette to Franklin at the last possible moment (Robinette actually left orientation at UNC to sign with Vandy):

 

“What does [Franklin] say about the kids that were committed elsewhere and de-committed from their places to go to his place? That’s my comment. What is his comment on those people? He’s got someone in his recruiting class that did that very thing. He’s saying those guys are not men of honor? Basically, he’s saying he has got kids in his own recruiting class that are not men of honor. He said that, and I didn’t.”

 

We pointed out as much last week when writing of Franklin’s clear double-standard.  The AJC asked the coach if he saw his stance as being a double-standard:

 

“I think you get frustrated, and you get upset because kids commit to you.  But you’re exactly right. It was like the year before, when we got in here at the last minute and only had a month left for recruiting, we got kids to de-commit to us. I think that’s a very, very valid point.”

 

At least he admits that his comments post-signing day were out of line.  And in this instance he doesn’t try to blame the evil press for twisting his words.

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SEC Recruiting Headlines – 2/7/12

1. Get ready for the recruiting circus that is sure to follow 2013 defensive end Robert Nkemdiche from Loganville, Ga.

2. The top-rated unsigned prospect for the 2012 class is getting closer to making a decision.

3. Here are some signing day grades for the 2012 class from CBSSports.com.

4. Alabama signee Dalvin Tomlinson had nothing to do with Darius Philon losing his scholarship at Bama, according to Tomlinson’s coach.

5. Chris Hays of the Orlando Sentinel takes an early look at the 2013 class in Florida.

6. Here’s a look into Kentucky’s efforts to sign its class for 2012.

7. Nkemdiche won’t be the only highly-touted prospect in the state of Georgia for 2013. The group will be large again.

8. South Carolina received a visit from offensive lineman Tyrone Crowder from Rockingham, N.C.

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