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Wednesday, September 18, 2013
ESPN 300 duo finds balance in recruiting

By Brad Bournival

Marshon Lattimore (Cleveland/Glenville) and his teammate Erick Smith can relate to what many top-ranked prospects are going through this fall.

While the two ESPN 300 seniors might not have the circus surrounding them like Da’Shawn Hand (Woodridge, Va./Woodbridge) and Raekwon McMillan (Hinesville, Ga./Liberty County), their days aren't much different.

Being a top recruit -- Lattimore is ranked 51st and Smith 231st in the ESPN 300 -- their cell phones run out of battery almost as soon as they turn their phones on.

Sometimes it might be a college coach, other times it’s a recruiting writer calling and sometimes it might even be a friend.

All of them ask the same questions: What’s the next step, and do you know where you’re going to school next year?

Lattimore and Smith politely answer, get off the phone and get ready for the next call.

“I have to do it,” Lattimore said. “I can’t blow them off. I’m doing it for the underclassmen. I can’t give Glenville a bad wrap. I just do it, get it over with and don’t complain about it.”

The question becomes where do they find the balance?

With three hours of homework piled up at times and family obligations -- let alone the responsibility of the Tarblooders’ football team -- there are only so many hours in a day.

Smith estimates his phone rings 30-40 times a week in regards to recruiting. While he has some coaches’ numbers saved in his phone, sometimes it’s a number he doesn’t know.

To put that in perspective, few coaches and/or writers will call on a game day. That means in an five-hour span on weekdays and 12-hour window on weekends Smith is getting between five to seven calls about what his next step will be.

The fact Lattimore and Smith are considered a package deal by many means Lattimore is getting the same number of calls as well.

Some are polite and keep the conversation short, while others keep them on the phone for seemingly hours on end.

“I just take it all in stride and don’t let it overwhelm me,” Smith said. “I know in the end it’ll work out if I keep a level head. Over time it gets overwhelming, but you start to get used to it.”

With schools like Alabama, Georgia Tech, Louisville, Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State, Oregon and USC strongly recruiting them, the task of finding normalcy can sometimes be hard to find.

In the end, it’s about finding that happy medium. Smith has admitted to taking a break from the college scene and simply ignoring his phone for a day.

Lattimore doesn’t, but if a message isn’t left from a phone number he doesn’t recognize, don’t expect a call back.

At Glenville, the recruiting process isn’t a given, but countless Tarblooders have gone through the routine, so Lattimore and Smith know what to expect.

They’ll shoehorn in times where homework absolutely must be done, while making sure they give family and friends as much attention as they can.

The onslaught of phone calls is expected and will likely grow as the winter months bathe them in a blanket of more recruiting questions. Neither is close to a decision, so the long days and sleepless nights will continue.

In the end, however, both know it will be worth it.

“I try to stay focused,” Lattimore said. “It can take a toll on me, but I need to get it done. I try to stay humble about everything.”