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January 25, 2011

LBs continue as mystery position

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Four of the top five high school linebackers in the 2011 class entered Tuesday as uncommitted prospects, a rarity to have that many remaining at one position with National Signing Day creeping this close.

National Signing Day - the first day that high school senior football stars can sign with a college - is only eight days away. C.J. Johnson dropped off that list Tuesday by revealing he would play for Ole Miss. The other top linebackers still without a future home are Curtis Grant of Richmond (Va.) Hermitage (No. 2 overall player in 2011), Tony Steward of St. Augustine (Fla.) Pedro Menendez (No. 13) and Stephone Anthony of Wadesboro (N.C.) Anson (No. 24).

Anthony visited Virginia Tech last weekend and said the visit was very comfortable, mainly because of the time he spent with the players and coaches. He particularly bonded with his cousin and host, Barquell Rivers, and many other teammates, along with his family. He has Virginia Tech up there with his other finalists, Clemson, Florida and North Carolina, where he is headed on his final official this weekend. He's intending to announce on National Signing Day, Feb. 2.

Grant visited Virginia last weekend and said the visit went well. He knew many of the current players and recruits on the visit, and said there is still a chance for the Cavs. Next up is UNC and Grant has already visited Ohio State and Florida. He will decide on signing day.

Steward is down to Clemson, Florida State, Alabama, Auburn and UCLA.

Biggest commitments

Monday's biggest news surrounded two major commitments, Reserve (La.) East St. John cornerback Floyd Raven choosing Texas A&M and Daytona Beach (Fla.) Mainland running back Marlin Lane picking Tennessee.

Raven committed to Ole Miss in early December. However, since his recruiter and position coach, Kim Dameron, was let go, the Rivals250 prospect reopened his recruitment.

Raven took official visits to Utah and Pittsburgh, but decided to commit on Monday to the school that finished No. 2 the first time. According to former East St. John head coach Larry Dauterive and junior teammates Gerron Borne and Darion Monroe, the 6-foot-2, 180-pound cornerback pledged to Texas A&M.

Though his teammates and coach confirmed the commitment, the nation's No. 12 corner and No. 151 overall prospect created some confusion when he texted RebelGrove.com on Monday evening that he had not committed to any school.

Sources close to Raven indicate that Ole Miss was out of the running when Dameron was let go and, although he tripped to Pitt, the Panthers were never a serious contender for his services. Alabama defensive coordinator Kirby Smart recently asked for film but that has been the extent of its interest to this point.

As for Lane, Word started to leak on Monday he had committed to Tennessee. Lane fought back the reports, until his bus ride home from school when he decided to make it official.

"I committed to Tennessee," Lane said. "I was having a good day until sixth period and my phone started blowing up. I don't even know how many phone calls I got. My pockets were vibrating."

The dynamic Sunshine State running back chose the Vols over Miami, Florida State and others. In the end, the SEC was too much to pass up.

"It's the SEC," Lane said. "They are an uprising school and the people were amazing. I really like the coaching staff because they make it easy to fit in. I was looking for a pro-style offense and that is what they run. That was a big plus."

Jernigan update

Lake City (Fla.) Columbia defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan isn't the talkative type when it comes to recruiting, but one person he has shared a lot of information with is Columbia head coach Craig Howard.

Unlike the recent routine, after returning home from his official visit to Tallahassee to check out Florida State, Howard and Jernigan haven't had much of an opportunity to speak on Monday.

"He was busy taking tests today so I didn't really get a chance to visit with him today," Howard said. "I didn't really talk with him about his visit to Florida State. I wanted to get with him and get an update on how it went, but that didn't happen."

While Howard didn't speak with Jernigan, he did hear a bit of feedback in regards to the visit.

"I have heard that it went really well from other people," Howard said. "It sounds like he is highly interested in Florida State, looks like they are a front-runner."

Jernigan is considering Florida State, LSU, Florida, Alabama, and Tennessee. Jernigan's final decision is supposed to come on National Signing Day and is expected to be televised on ESPN.

More notes

Two weeks after Trey Grissett, a three-star defensive end from Warner Robins (Ga.) Houston County, committed to UAB, Florida has entered the picture. The Gators first showed interest in the 6-foot-5, 230-pounder early last year, and remained in contact throughout Grissett's senior season. But recently, Florida has ramped up its efforts.

Although the Gators have not yet offered Grissett, who committed to UAB shortly after visiting there Jan. 7, he thinks that may soon change.

"I know the defensive coordinator (Dan Quinn) is coming up to watch me play (a basketball game) this week," he said. "And hopefully, that's a good sign. I guess I'll get a better feel of it when I go on my visit and talk to coaches and people down there. I'll see if I'll fit."

Three-star Ohio linebacker Frank Clark from Cleveland (Ohio) Glenville enjoyed his official visit to Michigan over the weekend and new head coach Brady Hoke plans on visiting him later this week. He likes what he's learned of Hoke so far, although Michigan is playing catch-up because of the coaching change. Michigan State came by the school and told him it needs his decision by Friday. Clark said he might be ready by then and he isn't going to set a decision date yet. If he's not ready by Friday, then he'll look elsewhere. He claims Michigan, Michigan State and North Carolina are even, though he did say the Tar Heels are "just hanging in there".

Pitt is coming on strong for McKeesport (Pa.) defensive end Branden Jackson because of recent assistant hires but the Panthers still trail Texas Tech and Oregon. The Red Raiders will have a coach swing by McKeesport on Thursday to touch base with Jackson and the three-star prospect isn't sure if any other schools will come by. Jackson does not have a decision date in mind.

Rockdale (Texas) offensive tackle Le'Raven Clark has been a topic of frequent discussion on various message boards over the past month. Though he committed to Texas Tech, the 6-foot-6, 255-pound lineman took official visits to Missouri and TCU last month. Then, another in-state program recently called.

When Rivals100 offensive tackle Christian Westerman switched his pledge from Texas to Auburn on Friday, the Longhorns looked to fill his spot in the class. They initiated communication with Clark and rumors began to swirl that he could make the switch to Texas. However, that does not appear to be the case after he was visited by new Longhorn offensive line coach Stacy Searels on Monday.

"(Texas) asked me if I was interested and things like that because they lost their commit or whatever," Clark said. "I told them I was committed to Texas Tech."

Clark affirmed his commitment to the Red Raiders and says he plans to sign with Tech next Wednesday.

Four-star defensive tackle Marquise Wright had visits from Miami and Pitt coaches on Monday. Pitt came in the afternoon and it was really his first chance to meet with the new head coach. It sounds as if the meeting went well and Wright said he thinks Pitt has a good, new staff, but it seems as if it's just too late in the game for them. The visit from Miami went very well. He said he knows more about that staff and felt comfortable with them. Wright said he is down to Michigan State and Rutgers as his leaders followed by Pitt and Miami. The 'Canes want him to visit this weekend and he is thinking about it and no decision date has been set.

Michael Eubank remains committed to Arizona State but the four-star dual-threat quarterback from Corona (Calif.) Centennial just visited Utah last weekend and will go to either Vanderbilt or Tulsa for his final visit.

Things look especially interesting for the Utes because the same weekend Eubank visited, three-star dual-threat quarterback Derrick Brown from Murrieta (Calif.) Vista Murrieta decommitted from Utah and picked Washington.

Four-star running back Ka'Deem Carey has been committed to Arizona since June but Arizona State has made a serious push in his recruitment and the Oro Valley (Ariz.) Canyon Del Oro standout is taking a real look at the Sun Devils.

Colorado, USC and many others had been involved with Carey in the past but the 5-foot-10, 180-pound recruit has said that his decision will come down to Arizona and Arizona State. No other program will be considered.

Stefan McClure has California, UCLA, Michigan, Oregon State and Boise State as his final five and the four-star cornerback from Vista, Calif., who shined at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl, plans to make his decision at the end of the week.

Hoke held an in-home visit with McClure on Monday night and he visited Ann Arbor last weekend. McClure said at the Army game that Cal and Boise State were his favorites but the Wolverines were not involved at that point.

With new offensive coordinator Norm Chow in place, Utah has shown more interest in four-star wide receiver Devin Lucien recently. The Utes will bring Chow, coach Kyle Whittingham and possibly other coaches for an in-home with the Encino (Calif.) Crespi standout this week.

When Texas Tech hired Otis Mounds as its cornerbacks coach, it had an automatic in with the No. 2 cornerback in the nation, Fort Lauderdale (Fla.) Saint Thomas Aquinas Rivals100 prospect Marcus Roberson. Less than a week ago, Roberson committed to the Red Raiders, but made it clear at the time that the commitment was anything but 100 percent and that he still planned on taking his official visit to Florida. That visit took place this past weekend.

Upon returning home from spending the weekend in Gainesville, Roberson said he would rate the visit a perfect 10 - just like his other official visits.

Ever since Jacksonville (Fla.) First Coast defensive back Jared Henry took an official visit to Central Florida last weekend, rumors swirled that he may flip to the Golden Knights. On Monday, Henry confirmed that he had indeed switched his verbal commitment from South Carolina to UCF, and now plans on signing with the Orlando program.

"Well, it wasn't a particular reason," he said. "It was just that I felt like it was a better fit for me. The only thing I can say is that UCF had more majors. Like I said, it's just a better fit."

Forest (Miss.) three-star receiver Josh Pinkston is waiting on Ole Miss to make a decision so he can make one of his own. According to Pinkston, the Rebels are trying to decide whether to offer him a scholarship for 2011 or offer him a grayshirt, in which case he wouldn't enroll until January 2012. If he has an opportunity to join this signing class, the 6-foot-2, 190-pounder likely will take it, he said.

But if grayshirting is his best option, Pinkston may look elsewhere. Arizona, Iowa, Miami and North Carolina have started to show interest, he said. Additionally, Pinkston visited Northwestern State, which has offered, and came away impressed.



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