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SEC Recruiting Notebook: The Nation’s Top Target… Mom

sec-recruiting-notebook-gfxThe story of Arkansas running back signee Alex Collins dominated headlines last week.

Collins, who attends South Plantation High School in Plantation, Fla., had committed to the Razorbacks two days before signing day and was set to sign with Arkansas on Feb. 6. But Collins’s mother refused to sign his national letter of intent, leading Collins to seek out his father’s help to get the letter signed.

A similar situation could have occurred with Florida State linebacker signee Matthew Thomas from Booker T. Washington High School in Miami.

Thomas told he wanted to sign with Southern California but his mother refused to sign his letter of intent. Unlike Collins, Thomas chose not to battle his mother on the subject.

“We couldn’t agree, but it’s my mom, I just did what I had to do,” Thomas told Noles247.

Thomas insisted he’s not upset about his mother’s refusal to sign a letter to USC.

“I think everything works out how it’s supposed to,” Thomas said. “I’m going to make the best of my situation. It’s not like I’m unhappy, I really like Florida State. It’s not a problem, I’m happy with my decision.”

How many prospects would be happy with a situation similar to the one involving Thomas? Obviously Collins wasn’t; he still signed with Arkansas instead of staying close to home as his mother insisted.

But there are many prospects who would react the same way Thomas did, simply saying, “It’s my mom.”

Last week, standout defensive end Chris Jones from Houston, Miss., signed with Mississippi State instead of rival Ole Miss. One major reason: his mother wanted him in Starkville. At least that’s what Ole Miss co-defensive coordinator Wes McGriff told

Ole Miss couldn’t sway Jones’s mother, but it was able to do so with other recruits. The Rebels staff made connections with the people closest to its top targets. With defensive end Robert Nkemdiche, it was his brother, who plays at Ole Miss, and mother, who made it clear Ole Miss was her top pick. With wide receiver Laquon Treadwell, Ole Miss’s recruiting started with his friend and former high school teammate (who signed with Ole Miss last February) and ended with his mother.

So with the 2014 recruiting period already underway, it should be obvious who coaches should target. It starts with the prospects, but with many, it will end with mom.

Hold off on those visits

The 2013 class featured many prospects who committed to one school (or two) but signed with another last week.

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2013 Signing Class: Mississippi State’s Target Zone

target-with-dartsMississippi State added 21 players from 9 different states on Wednesday and Thursday.  A breakdown of the Bulldogs’ “target zone” is below:


Mississippi = 8 recruits

Alabama = 3

Louisiana = 2

Texas = 2

Virginia = 2

Florida = 1

Georgia = 1

Maryland = 1

Tennessee = 1


In-State Signees = 38.0%

Out-Of-State Signees = 61.9%



While Ole Miss was making national headlines with an eye-popping (and eyebrow-raising) signing class, Dan Mullen and crew were putting together what’s become a typical MSU type of class — plenty of in-state recruits with a solid overall ranking after the fact.  But there’s no question The School Up North stole the spotlight this year.  Mullen was even asked about Hugh Freeze’s class during his brief phoner with ESPNU.  Ouch.  But at least State held onto the state of Mississippi’s top-ranked player, Chris Jones.  If the big, five-star defensive end had flipped to the Rebels, a few Dog fans might have flipped their lids.

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Chris Jones: ‘I Received Death Threats’

Defensive end Chris Jones from Houston (Miss.) High School might have a reason for not telling the truth about his travel plans during the weekend.

He was receiving death threats from fans.

That’s what Jones told Kipp Adams of ESPN RecruitingNation Sunday night following a weekend that included visits to both Ole Miss and Mississippi State.

Jones, who’s committed to Mississippi State, originally denied taking an unofficial visit to Ole Miss this past weekend. But the truth is he visited Oxford Friday night and again late Saturday, with a trip to Mississippi State’s campus sandwiched in between.

“It was a crazy weekend,” Jones told ESPN. “I received death threats, insane messages, you name it. I mean it has not been as stressful as people would think it has been.

“I have tried to handle it in the most comfortable way possible, so it has really been alright for me, and in the end, I am very blessed to have this opportunity to play for either in-state school.”

Jones appears to have made his decision but doesn’t plan to reveal it until Wednesday.

“I think I have my mind made up,” Jones said. “I am excited about the people I will be surrounded with at that program. I have not told my parents, and I am not going to worry about making them or anyone unhappy.

“I am ready to make the best decision for me. Some people’s feelings might get hurt, but sometimes you cannot make everyone happy. A couple people might get angry on Facebook and Twitter too, but that is life. I will announce my decision signing day, and I do no plan to tell either school before then.”

Jones is right. Fans of the runner-up school will be angry and many of them will let Jones know it, which is just inexcusable. Make no mistake, anyone who sends an angry message to a high school recruit has a serious problem and should be held responsible.

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SEC Recruiting Headlines 1/31/13

1. Auburn is still recruiting several highly-touted prospects.

2. One of those targets: DE Carl Lawson, who’s also considering Tennessee and Clemson.

3. RB Alex Collins, who visited Arkansas last weekend, is still mulling his decision.

4. Standout defensive end Chris Jones will decide between Ole Miss and Mississippi State.

5. Could Florida make a run at former South Carolina quarterback Tanner McEvoy?

6. Can Missouri convince running back Ezekiel Elliott to stay close to home?

7. A lot to read here from Florida CB commit Vernon Hargreaves III.

8. Still no favorite for standout defensive tackle Montravious Adams.

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SEC Headlines – 4/8/11 Part Three

1.  Four Kentucky basketballers will take their time before making NBA decisions.

2.  UK’s big-armed freshman quarterback Maxwell Smith says he’s so far behind starter Morgan Newton in knowing the Cats’ offense that “it’s not even funny.”

3.  This writer says benching Stephen Garcia is the best option at South Carolina.

4.  This writer says the Gamecocks are “not as united” in their support of Garcia as a few tweets might’ve indicated.  (Great read from Travis Haney of The Charleston Post & Courier.)

5.  Cuonzo Martin says Top 50 player Chris Jones no longer wants a release from his signed letter of intent at Tennessee.

6.  Receiver Justin Hunter is working on his short routes to go along with his long-ball game.

7.  This writer says Vol fans should hope for slight progress in Derek Dooley’s second season.

8.  James Franklin wants Vanderbilt to hold another scrimmage tomorrow… if his team isn’t too beat up to do it.

9.  If you aren’t familiar with Vandy’s new coach yet, here’s video of him talking about yesterday’s practice.

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UT Basketball Signee At New Prep School

Class of 2011 Tennessee basketball signee Chris Jones has landed at a new prep school in Charlotte, North Carolina… but it’s not the diploma-in-a-day school he mentioned in an interview two weeks ago.

The point guard from Memphis was dismissed last month from Oak Ridge Military Academy (also in North Carolina) for allegedly having a confrontation with a teacher.  Jones said at the time that he was leaving in order to boost his grades.  He also claimed that he would be enrolling with Brittain Academy which “touts a high school diploma program that allows those who register to graduate in 30 days or less.”

Tennessee officials were surprised by Jones’ comments, put a gag order on him, and presumably helped him land at Evelyn Mack Academy.

Jones is a four-star prospect according to

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Jones, Ware Sign with Vols Basketball

Tennessee head coach Bruce Pearl announced Wednesday that Memphis native Chris Jones and Conyers, Ga., native Kevin Ware have signed with the University of Tennessee and will play basketball for the Volunteers beginning with the 2011-12 season. Both signees plan to enroll at Tennessee next summer.

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