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Wednesday, November 7, 2012
ESPN 150 prospect Conner talks visits

By Dave Hooker

Antonio Conner is focused on his team and academics. That's been evident by his unwillingness to take official visits during his senior season. Such trips take 48 hours and can cause a prospect to miss school or practice.

That's not doable for the No. 21 overall prospect in the nation. He's focused on bringing a title to Batesville (Miss.) South Panola. Yet when the nation's second-best safety has a chance to visit a school on a Saturday, he's willing to hit the road.

Alabama and Mississippi State have been recent beneficiaries of such travel. Georgia might soon be as well.

Conner has taken recent visits to Tuscaloosa, Ala., and Starkville, Miss., and is considering a trip to Athens, Ga., in the near future. Moreover, Conner is considering a trip to Ole Miss or a return visit to Alabama this weekend.

Conner was in Tuscaloosa on Oct. 27 when the Crimson Tide pounded Mississippi State 38-7. He was plenty impressed.

"It was a real fun game," Conner said. "The fans were crazy, It was a good game."

Conner has long said his finalists are Alabama, Georgia, LSU, Ole Miss and Mississippi State. While there's no public leader, he has been understandably wowed with Bama head coach Nick Saban and his coaching resume.

Even as a head coach, Saban is a renowned defensive back coach. He also was the head coach for the Miami Dolphins in 2005 and 2006. That background means a ton.

"I weigh it a lot because Coach Saban, he's been to the league and he's been coaching in the NFL," Conner said. "Being the head coach at Alabama and being the defensive backs coach, he knows everything and what to do.

"And I'm pretty sure he's got connections to the pros. That's good."

Conner's trip to Starkville to see the Bulldogs was a bit different. Sure, he enjoyed his visit to Mississippi State last weekend, but the nearby school didn't hold up the bargain like Alabama, losing to Texas A&M 38-13.

"They came out and played, but I guess it was just one of those days," said Conner, who is ranked the top player in Mississippi.

Some other SEC schools have tried to make a recent push for Conner, namely Kentucky and Auburn. They seem like long shots at best.

Ole Miss is not. Conner said he is considering a visit to the nearby school this weekend to see the Rebels host Vanderbilt. A return visit to Bama is also being considered for this weekend. Eventually, Conner said he'd like to take an unofficial visit to Georgia to see Athens for the first time.

"To see how the coaching staff is," Conner said when asked what he'd like to learn on the trip. " How the school is and just have a look all around."

All the final schools in Conner's list will have a chance to make a last impression. Conner said he'll take official visits to each of the five. For now, however, he's focused on the playoffs, which begin on Friday.

"Just trying to get through the season and keep my focus on the season," Conner said when asked about focusing on recruiting. "When I get through the season, I'll get more into it."