Wednesday, April 3, 2013
ESPN Watch List CB has tentative finalists
By Dave Hooker
Some have speculated that cornerback D'Andre Payne's commitment to Tennessee could lure nearby prospects, especially teammates, to follow his path to Knoxville. Perhaps, but the Volunteers still have plenty of work to do.
"No, not really," Payne's teammate, ESPN Watch List cornerback Jalen Tabor, said when asked if Payne's commitment would have a strong influence on other prospects at Washington (D.C.) Friendship.
Tennessee recruiters, however, are hoping Tabor is underestimating Payne's effect. Friendship will have at least five BCS-level prospects in the 2014 class. Friendships at Friendship might not be the deciding reason a prospect chooses a particular college, but there is a close bond among prospects at the inner-city school.
"We're pretty close," Tabor said when asked about his relationship with Payne, who is also an ESPN Watch List prospect.
Friendship's recent success means there are plenty of ties to other schools, not just Tennessee. The school has produced prospects that have gone to Maryland, Florida State and several other smaller schools. There will be many more connections in the near future.
Another connection could soon be created at Vanderbilt. After a visit to the Commodores' campus this week, Tabor left impressed.
"I loved it," the 6-foot-1, 170-pound prospect said. "It really opened my eyes to Vanderbilt."
Tabor said he didn't think much of Vandy until he took his visit there this week. Now, he realizes the Commodores can offer an up-and-coming football program, a chance to play in the SEC and an elite education.
"Vanderbilt is really at the top of my list right now," Tabor said.
Spending time with Vandy head coach James Franklin was the key to changing Tabor's perception of the Commodores. Tabor said Franklin seemed much like Friendship head coach Abdul Aazar-Rahim.
"I loved him," Tabor said of Franklin. "He reminds my of my high school coach. He's a down-to-earth guy."
Franklin knows the Washington D.C. and Baltimore areas well. Once a coach at Maryland, he recruited those areas regularly for the Terrapins.
Building Vanderbilt into a top contender is part of Franklin's sales pitch. Along with that comes a chance for early playing time and an opportunity be a part of Vandy folklore -- if the Nashville-based private school can have success in the SEC.
"He said we're working and we need guys like you to help us get there," Tabor said.
When asked who he is primarily considering, Tabor cited Vanderbilt, Florida, Alabama, Tennessee, South Carolina, Clemson, Maryland and Michigan. When asked if that was a list of finalists, he said "somewhat".
Tennessee coaches are certainly pleased to be in that mix of "somewhat" finalists. Payne's commitment on Thursday might not help, but it can't hurt.