Wednesday, November 14, 2012
Top Tennesseans will visit UCLA
By Dave Hooker
This weekend figures to be big for UCLA as it tries to establish a recruiting presence in Tennessee.
Three of the top prospects from the Volunteer State will travel to Los Angeles to see the Bruins host archrival USC on Saturday. One is already committed, another has said he is close to doing so, while the last could be swayed by the Bruins' storied basketball tradition.
Offensive tackle Christian Morris from Memphis (Tenn.) East committed to UCLA in July. Since then he has been pursued by many other tradition-rich schools, namely Nebraska, to which he took an official visit in September.
Oklahoma has also shown interest but has yet to offer Morris a scholarship. If the Sooners do, expect them to immediately become a strong player. Morris has repeatedly said he is fond of the program's history of producing top-flight offensive linemen. Until then, however, Morris should certainly be considered a UCLA commitment. He has long expressed a desire to play on the West Coast.
Morris' connection with UCLA has brought his teammate, center Bobby Billingsley, into the fold, and Billingsley will take the trip to Los Angeles alongside his offensive line mate.
Despite Billingsley considering other schools, Morris has been active in recruiting him to UCLA. Billingsley doesn't have a scholarship offer from the Bruins yet, but he has said he'll likely commit this weekend if he receives one.
The highest-rated Tennessee prospect headed to UCLA this weekend is ESPN 300 running back Cornelius "Corn" Elder. The versatile athlete could play running back, slot receiver, defensive back or run a Wildcat offense in college. He has yet to name a list of finalists but has shown strong interest in Vanderbilt, Ohio State and Georgia Tech, where he visited this fall.
Alabama has also been in the mix, but the Crimson Tide have yet to offer Elder a scholarship. He has cancelled at least one visit to see the Crimson Tide in Tuscaloosa. Most likely, Bama's coaches would need to see the 5-foot-10, 170-pound prospect in person before extending an offer.
Georgia Tech is well worth watching for Elder. After his visit to see the Yellow Jackets, the two-sport star talked about how he'd like to play basketball in the ACC. UCLA's basketball history could also be appealing if the Bruins' coaches agree to let him pursue both sports.
Nearby Vandy should also be a factor until the end of Elder's recruitment. And the Buckeyes offer an offense that could capitalize on his skills.
An offensive tackle, a center and a versatile athlete? UCLA is looking for some Volunteers at each position. It might find them this weekend.