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Friday, February 1, 2013
Decision looms for 5-star Laremy Tunsil

By Derek Tyson

LAKE CITY, Fla. -- Signing day is just five short days away, and five-star offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil (Lake City, Fla./Columbia) is starting to feel the pressure of the recruiting process.

The 6-foot-6, 295-pound athlete has taken four official visits and hosted his three top schools for in-home visits this week. Alabama was in on Monday, followed by Georgia on Wednesday and Ole Miss on Thursday.

Columbia head coach Brian Allen said Tunsil's decision needs to be his own and not the people surrounding him.

"He's being tugged from each angle," Allen said. "And not so much from staff members of the teams, but people from other places. He's getting calls and interviews every day. At the end of the day, it needs to be about him and what he wants to do, more than anything."

Though Tunsil has been courted by just about every major college football program in the country, Allen said his finalists -- Georgia, Alabama and Ole Miss -- have been the most consistent with their recruitment.

"It's been Georgia, Alabama and Ole Miss, and not necessarily in that order," Allen said. "He enjoyed his trip to Alabama, I don't know to what extent. He's had a chance to see them. And who wouldn't be intrigued with what Alabama's been able to do over the last half-decade? I think automatically, any kid that's a good football player is excited about what Alabama is doing and what coach [Nick] Saban and his staff have been able to put together.

"Georgia played good football this year and fell just a little bit short of playing in the title [game], so again, it's that same mindset as Alabama. And with Ole Miss, there's something they've been able to do as far as connecting with him. They've gotten his interest big time. It's been those three, pretty consistent. They've been in here, they've put in the work, they've had the respect to come here and see me each time they're here and respect my program and what we are doing."

Tunsil vaulted Ole Miss to the top of his list with Alabama and Georgia after his official visit there on Jan. 25. The No. 1-ranked player in the ESPN 150, Robert Nkemdiche, and No. 1 wide receiver Laquon Treadwell, already an Ole Miss commit, also visited the Rebels last weekend. Allen, though, said he's not quite sure how Ole Miss has had so much success on the recruiting trail.

"That's the No. 1 question out there right now," Allen said. "Not only for myself but for all these other college programs that are out there -- for a lot of people. They are wondering what's going on, and I don't know. You have to take a look and say before you start to think about the negative side of it -- and for a lot of people, that's the first thing they will go to -- you have to look at who the guys are that are going on the road and talking to these kids. ...

Laremy Tunsil
Five-star OT Laremy Tunsil was wined and dined by Georgia recently, as he went on his official visit.
"The first thing, in my opinion, when you look at what Ole Miss is doing and with the recruiting class they're being able to put together, which has been pretty amazing, is to say these guys must have some really good recruiters out there. They have this thing figured out a little bit. We had a bunch of staff in here the other day, and they are a young group. Automatically, a young group that isn't far removed from being in the same seat as these athletes are, they know what they like, they know how to connect to them. They know what conversation to have with them. Where some other places may get behind because you're sending a different guy out then what they are."

Allen played linebacker for Florida State while cureent Georgia head coach Mark Richt was the FSU offensive coordinator. Though Allen remains neutral in the recruiting process, he said he can speak from experience when he has given advice to Tunsil about the Bulldogs.

"With Georgia, my offensive coordinator when I was at Florida State, Mark Richt, five of the years I was there, is the head of that program, so I know there is a good guy there," Allen said. "I know that my kid is going to be all right if he goes to that program. So I can definitely say that to him. John Lilly, the [Georgia] recruiting coordinator and a position coach, was with me for five years that I was at Florida State. So I know when I send a kid from my program there, I know he's going to be OK. They are going to talk education. Coach Richt is firm in his beliefs. He's going to develop as a young man and mature into a man when he leaves the program with their help. So for me, I can share the insight of what I remember of those guys as I played for them.

"I can guarantee that everything Georgia does will be done the right way, as far as this recruiting process is concerned with Coach Richt being the head coach. We had that conversation, me telling them, 'If somebody is going to cheat right now, then they don't care much about you as an athlete, because if they are going to put your future in jeopardy to cheat, then that's one you want to get turned off by real quick.' ... I know that's not going to happen with Georgia and that crew."

So where does Allen think his star tackle will pick on signing day?

"I don't know who's pushing the lead right now," he said. "I'm just like you guys -- I hear the different things that come out every week, and it seems like wherever he visited last or whoever did the last in-home last has taken the lead, but I guess we'll all find out next Wednesday."