What to watch this weekend


It’s never easy even if you have them

Florida State works just as hard to keep its committed recruits committed as it does trying to close out and finish up its 2012 recruiting class. That’s a big reason why is that Jimbo Fisher and his staff have recruited so well. Teams will keep coming after the Seminoles’ top recruits because they are among the nation’s best.

The top recruit in the nation, defensive end Mario Edwards (Denton, Texas/Ryan), is flirting with Oklahoma, LSU and Texas and is taking a hard look at these other schools even though he still insists he’s committed to FSU. The nation’s top QB, Jameis Winston (Hueytown, Ala./Hueytown), is committed to the Seminoles but he recently made an official visit to LSU and will be at Alabama again this weekend for the LSU game. There’s some talk that FSU safety commit P.J. Williams could also be in Tuscaloosa over the weekend. We are also hearing that Florida State running back commitment Mario Pender (Island Coast, Fla./Island Coast) could make an official visit to Tennessee on Saturday. There are even a few other Noles commits who are looking around to making visits to other schools.

The fact of the matter is that every team will have committed players visit other schools. Like it or not it’s the nature of the beast. But it seems like Fisher and his staff this season are really feeling the brunt of it. In the end, I was suspect they will hang on to most of the prospects, but regardless, you can’t be complacent for even a second or else there’s always someone else that can swoop right in and steal one away.

A juggling act

With dozens of top prospects heading to Tuscaloosa, Ala., for the LSU-Bama game, how does Saban and his coaching staff give each prospect the individual attention they seek when coming on their visit?

The game will obviously take precedence for Saban and his staff on Saturday. Saban, his coaching staff and players will be focused on the LSU game and the fact it’s an 8 o’clock kick means Saturday is basically gone. Sure there will be some relationship building pre-game but recruits shouldn’t expect much. Instead, recruits will soak in game day atmosphere and perhaps meet with some non-football personal. Sunday will be the day the coaching staff huddles up and meets with the recruits.

As for the dozens of prospects making unofficial visits, it will be tough for all of them to get face time with Saban. There’s no question that with this many visitors on the weekend of the year’s most important game, this is certainly going to be a tough act for the Crimson Tide. But expect Saban and Bama to be extremely well organized. The Tide has a very deep support staff to assist and Alabama can just let the game itself and the atmosphere surrounding it sell the program.

It will be real interesting to see how the Crimson Tide capitalizes off of this weekend in the days and weeks after.

Gamecock commit to visit Arkansas

It’s interesting that South Carolina commitment, Kelvin Rainey (Yulee, Fla./Yulee), will make an official visit to Arkansas this weekend when the Razorbacks host the Gamecocks. Rainey wants to make a visit or two to just make sure he made the right choice with South Carolina. He’s scheduled to officially visit Columbia, S.C., next weekend.

Rainey, 6-foot-3 and 212 pounds, is a four-star recruit. He’s the No. 12 ranked tight end and the No. 44 rated player from the state of Florida.

Collision course is Alabama 6A

It’s Round 1 of the high school state football playoffs in Alabama and two super powers in the state, Prattville and Daphne, are on a collision course to play in the second round. Prattville takes on Mobile Alma Bryant and Daphne plays Opelika in the first round.

This is a game you would typically see in the state semifinals or championship game. Since 2000, either Prattville and Daphne have played for the 6A title every single season but 2002. Daphne won it all last season and in 2001. They lost to Hoover three times in that span. Meanwhile, Prattville were the state champs in 2006, 2007 and 2008 and they lost to Hoover in 2009 and 2004.

Both teams are absolutely loaded. Daphne is led by ESPNU 150 running back T.J. Yeldon, the nation’s No. 7 ranked running back who has had an incredible senior season. He has committed to Auburn. His teammates, defensive ends Ryan Anderson and Eric Lee, have committed to Alabama and USF, respectively. Cornerback Torren McGaster has scholarship offers Vandy, Missouri, Illinois, and Kentucky.

Prattville has even more Division I recruits. Quarterback/athlete Justin Thomas is headed to Alabama. So is defensive end Caleb Gulledge. Defensive tackle Justin Shanks is committed to FSU, as is junior offensive tackle Austin Golsen. Cornerback LaRonji Vinson is headed to Wake Forest, defensive end Jay Minor is committed to South Alabama, quarterback/athlete Jalen Whitlow has pledged to Arkansas State, and safety Derrick Moncrief has committed to Southern Miss.

Showdown in DeKalb County

There’s a showdown Friday night in metro-Atlanta when unbeaten Stone Mountain (Ga.) Stephenson takes on undefeated Lithonia (Ga.) MLK. Stephenson, one of the most talented teams in the nation, already has 10 seniors committed to BCS schools. They are led by Gator commitment Mike Davis, who has rushed for over 1,500 yards and 19 touchdowns. He’s averaging 10 yard per carry. MLK is led by Georgia WR commit Blake Tibbs and defensive end Kenderius Whitehead.