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Thursday, April 4, 2013
SEC dominates TE Helm's four favorites

By Jared Shanker

Daniel Helm (Chatham, Ill./Glenwood) spent his spring break in Florida. He went to all of the typical vacation spots in Orlando and the Disney theme parks. For most teenagers, especially from the Midwest, that would have been the highlight of his spring break. But for a top football prospect, it was actually a visit to a college that left the lasting impression.

While in the Sunshine State, Helm made a trip to Gainesville to visit Florida, and it was that trip he enjoyed most during his vacation.

“It was everything I’m looking for,” Helm said. “I didn’t realize how awesome the academics were there. The strength and conditioning coach is great, atmosphere is great, coaching staff is great. They talked about getting me for a camp, and I’d like to go to a camp and work with the coaches more and get to know them better.”

Helm has 15 offers including several from the SEC, although Florida has not offered. The Gators said Helm did not have to camp for an offer and that the staff would be up to see him work out during the spring evaluation period.

The Gators are the only program in Helm’s top four that have not offered. Michigan, Ole Miss and Tennessee round out his newly formed top group. Helm likes Notre Dame and has visited South Bend twice, but the Irish coaches told him the staff is not close to offering.

Michigan was Helm’s top school for a few weeks, but his visit to Florida and second trip to Notre Dame forced him to reopen things at least a little, although he still says “Michigan is definitely one of the top schools.”

“This is an ever-changing process it seems like,” Helm said. “When I went on the Michigan visit I said, ‘I really liked it and it’s the school for me.’ And then I went to Notre Dame and felt the same way and went to Florida and felt the same way there.”

Helm will make a few more visits this spring, see which coaches come watch him during the evaluation period and get as many new offers as he can. Then he will sit down with his family and evaluate his top four schools and all of his options.

He will get a closer look at two of his favorite schools this weekend when he visits Ole Miss and Tennessee.

The Rebels are coming off a top-five recruiting class under second-year coach Hugh Freeze, who was the talk of the town on signing day after landing No. 1 prospect Robert Nkemdiche and fellow five-star recruit Laremy Tunsil. Helm believes Freeze is the right kind of coach to turn around Ole Miss.

“Their faith and character, that’s what sticks out the most,” Helm said. “They had a great recruiting class considering a 7-6 record. They could be contenders [in 2013]. I want to investigate more how they use the tight end because it sounds like they use him more in the slot. I want to see how much it’d prepare me for my own goals.”

Tennessee coach Butch Jones was recruiting Helm while at Cincinnati, so Helm knows a little about the coaches and how they use the tight end already. Bearcats tight end Travis Kelce led Cincinnati in receptions, yards and touchdowns in 2012.

“When they were at Cincinnati, Kelce was very heavily used in the offense and I know the tight end will be used [at Tennessee],” Helm said. “It’s a great football program, has history and tradition and atmosphere. I heard the facilities are amazing as well.”

Originally, Helm was planning to make a few official visits during the fall before a decision, but he knows his scholarship might not be available at some schools if he waits. While he still could take a decision into the season, a commitment could come right before the season starts in August. That would be the earliest he makes a decision, though.