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Wednesday, August 14, 2013
The Early Offer: Juco success helping Vols

By Jeremy Crabtree

The Early Offer is RecruitingNation's latest feature, giving you a daily dose of recruiting in the mornings. Today's offerings: Tennessee having tremendous success in the junior college ranks is a good thing for the Volunteers, Michigan's attempt to crack Ohio State’s Glenville pipeline, and why Florida State landing a player in Maryland is bad news for the rest of the ACC.

Tennessee rebuilds with juco players

When visiting with Tennessee recruiting coordinator Zach Azzanni this spring, he said the Vols were going to explore every nook and cranny to find players that can make a difference. In a number of cases, the exploration process led Tennessee to junior college players.

DaVonte Lambert
DaVonte Lambert is the latest commit in Tennessee's juco revolution.
On Tuesday, the Vols landed a commitment from their fourth highly regarded juco prospect. This time it was defensive tackle DaVonte Lambert of Milledgeville (Ga.) Georgia Military Academy that decided Tennessee was the place for him. Lambert, a 6-foot-2, 275-pound defensive tackle, chose the Vols over offers from Florida, Auburn, Miami (Fla) and Georgia, among others. He joins wide receiver Kameel Jackson (Arlington, Texas/Blinn College), outside linebacker Chris Weatherd (Carrolton, Texas/Trinity Valley C.C.) and wide receiver Eric Lauderdale (Fayetteville, Ga./Saddleback College) as touted juco players heading to Knoxville.

There was a time that major programs scoffed at the idea of recruiting juco prospects. Coaches used to believe they were above recruiting players that landed at community colleges in California, Kansas, Mississippi and Texas. But seeing juco players succeed at places such as Kansas State, Georgia, Ole Miss, Utah and Auburn, schools are suddenly not afraid to make a beeline to places like El Dorado, Kan., or and Scooba, Miss.

It’s a smart move for the Vols. If you’re good with your evaluations, there are impact players in the junior colleges to be found, especially at premium positions such as defensive line and defensive back. Plus, the battles many times are easier to navigate than when recruiting a four- or five-star high school prospect.

Michigan trying break into Ohio State stronghold

There are schools that are considered pipelines to certain programs, and then there is Cleveland Glenville and its relationship with Ohio State. Simply put, nobody Ohio State wants from Ted Ginn’s Glenville program goes anywhere but Ohio State. However, Michigan is trying to crack the pipeline, as 2014 stars Marshon Lattimore and Erik Smith recently took unofficial visits to Ann Arbor and both had glowing comments about their time around the Wolverines' program.

“I’m considering them, too,” said Lattimore, an athlete that ranks as the No. 51 player in the nation. “It was everything. It was just the coaches, everyone was laid back. It’s like a team up there. It was nice to see the chill side of the coaches and see how they really are outside of football. I liked it.”

Smith, the No. 14 safety and also a member of the ESPN 300, echoed Lattimore’s comments.

Still, Michigan fans shouldn’t get their hopes up too much. RecruitingNation has Lattimore projected to commit to Ohio State, and all signs are pointing the same direction for Smith. Yet, it still shows you the good work that’s being done by Hoke and Co. to even get Glenville kids on campus.

FSU’s Maryland commit a bad thing for rest of ACC

While Florida State landing a commitment from defensive end Rick Leonard (Middletown, Md./Middletown) might not grab a lot of national headlines, to me it signals that the lure of the Seminoles' program is as strong as ever. While it’s good news for FSU, it’s bad news for the rest of the ACC. The Noles beat out conference rival Clemson for Leonard’s commitment, and they were also able to march right into Maryland’s back yard and beat the Terps on a kid they had been recruiting since last fall. Leonard is FSU’s 24th commitment, and with a class that is expected to be high on numbers, the rest of the ACC better be ready to defend their home turf.