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Tuesday, November 13, 2012
ESPN 300's Ashton Shumpert talks SEC

By Dave Hooker

Ashton Shumpert knows the nearby schools well. But a program farther from home has piqued his interest.

The ESPN 300 athlete from Fulton (Miss.) Itawamba told ESPN today that he would like to visit Texas A&M before he makes his college decision. That's a bit of change for Shumpert, who had previously shown the most interest in Georgia, Vanderbilt, Ole Miss and Mississippi State.

He hasn't named any finalists, as he is considering several schools. However, this is the first mention of the Aggies.

"I just want to go check it out down there and see what it's like down in Texas," the 6-foot-2, 195-pound prospect said.

Beating Alabama, who was ranked No. 1 in the nation heading into last weekend, surely has helped the Aggies' stature among prospects. Shumpert said he wasn't surprised by the upset at all.

"I called it," Shumpert said. "I said they were going to win. It was just a matter of time until Bama got beat. These last few weeks it had been close. Had to happen."

Shumpert said A&M isn't actively recruiting him. That will likely change when the school receives word that he is interested.

During the last two weekends, he has taken short drives to visit the campuses of Ole Miss and Mississippi State. Both figure to be prominent throughout his recruitment.

He was in Oxford on Saturday to see Ole Miss up close. The Rebels lost to Vanderbilt 27-26.

"I enjoyed it," Shumpert said. "I met a lot of people this time, met some of the recruits and talked to the coaches a little more. I enjoyed it. They should have won that one."

Visiting prospects on hand were well aware of the major recruiting news last week. After weeks of speculation, the nation's No. 1 prospect, defensive end Robert Nkemdiche from Loganville (Ga.) Grayson, decommitted from Clemson and continued to show strong interest in Ole Miss, which he visited the previous weekend.

The Rebels appear to be the quiet leader for the five-star prospect, mainly because his brother, Denzel Nkemdiche, is a freshman linebacker for Ole Miss. Shumpert definitely noticed the buzz that the younger Nkemdiche created in Oxford.

"I would say if they get him, momentum will be going their way," Shumpert said. "They'll probably get a lot more [highly rated prospects] with him coming in."

Before his trip to Ole Miss, Shumpert visited Mississippi State in Starkville. The Bulldogs lost to Texas A&M 38-13.

Despite the loss, Shumpert said he was impressed with the Bulldogs' performance. He has been to Starkville several times and said he has gotten familiar with the town.

When asked what he liked about the area, he said, "For one, it's close to home. It's not too far. It's about a 45-minute trip from home. It's a quiet area."

It appears the Aggies made an impression as well, even on the road.

Shumpert said he isn't sure where he might visit this weekend. He has held off on scheduling official visits until after his senior season. Itawamba is in the quarterfinals in the playoffs, meaning he'll have two more games after this week if his team continues to advance.