We take a look around the Southeast and beyond in this week’s edition of Nuggets....
If Ohio State or Penn State offers Class of 2014 quarterback Drew Barker, they could skyrocket to the top of his list. He plans to make a decision this coming season.
-Four-star 2014 quarterback Drew Barker of Hebron (Ky.) Conner predicts that by the time summer ends he will have visited "14 or 15" schools. His parents, as you might imagine, have mentioned to him once or twice about the costs of these trips. "But," Barker says, "They told me they would spend X amount of money but getting a college scholarship in return is a lot better."
For Barker, who holds offers from Cincinnati, Illinois, Louisville, Purdue and Western Kentucky, a decision could come relatively soon. In fact, the plan is to get things over with "halfway through my football season this year." Besides the schools that already have offered, Ohio State, Penn State and Vanderbilt are three programs to watch. Barker says trips to those schools went exceptionally well and stand out a bit. If Vanderbilt, which he recently camped at, hasn't offered by the time this story is posted, it probably will soon after.
Barker makes visit No. 3 to Columbus, Ohio, on Thursday, and he seems to like everything about the school, the program and the coaches there. This weekend, he will check out South Carolina (the Gamecocks have him high on their board for the next cycle and he has been in contact with ace recruiter and quarterbacks coach G.A. Mangus). Should either the Buckeyes or Nittany Lions offer, they could skyrocket to the top from the sound of things.
-There are some who believe Georgia has put itself in good position with four-star defensive tackle Kelsey Griffin of Hoschton (Ga.) Mill Creek, but if he has a leader or leaders he's keeping it to himself. When I spoke to Griffin on Wednesday morning, he gave the proverbial "wide open" statement, adding that at this stage he hadn't even narrowed things down. However, Griffin did provide us with some info.
For starters, he says he'll be visiting both Florida and Florida State next week, with the plan to spend about a day at each. He won't be camping at either, just checking things out and hanging out with the staffs. Griffin will either be accompanied by his dad or his coach. Those will be his first two visits this summer. As of now, they're the only two he has scheduled. "I like it down there in Florida so I decided to visit. Those are two schools I've seen," Griffin says.
He plans to have his list of schools trimmed down some "by the end of the summer or maybe before then." South Carolina and Tennessee are two other programs that are active in his recruitment, and got visits from Griffin this spring. According to Griffin, he has no conference preference; he's just looking for a good fit.
By the way, while schools are recruiting him to play tackle, Griffin also will see time at end this season for his high school team. The 6-foot-1, 290-pounder has the athleticism to do it- he’s been timed as fast as 4.7 seconds in the 40-yard dash.
-Living in Tupelo, Miss., which isn't far from either Mississippi or Mississippi State, four-star safety Ashton Shumpert is regularly nudged to both schools by its fans in his community. But while Shumpert says those are the colleges recruiting him hardest and he admits there is pressure to stay in state, it's not a sure thing he will. During the past couple weeks, he has visited both Oklahoma State and Vanderbilt. His performance at the camp in Stillwater got him an offer (he already had one from the 'Dores). On Wednesday, Shumpert heard from Georgia Tech, and he hopes to visit that school soon. In July, he wants to compete in showcase camps with the Rebels and Bulldogs. Down the road, he'd like to take all five officials.
When all is said and done, we think that Ashton Shumpert will not leave the state of Mississippi to play college football.
Now … even though Shumpert seems open to leaving his home state for college, we still get the feeling when all is said and done he'll land in either Oxford or Starkville (for the moment, we're giving the Bulldogs a slight edge). But hey, maybe he'll prove us wrong.
-Remember this name: Chris Laye. He's a 6-feet-5, 235-pound tight end from Georgia's Suwanee Lambert. A 2014 kid, Laye recently earned offer No. 1 from Virginia, and it sounds like many more are on the way. Keep an eye on Boston College, as the Eagles are expected to possibly pull the trigger soon. In fact, they just requested his transcripts on Tuesday.
Virginia scouted Laye during the school year, and really liked what it saw. The Cavaliers invited him to camp, and he did well enough to earn the offer. Laye not only liked the coaches, but speaks highly of the program and the school itself. Often when someone gets offer No. 1, they fall in love with that particular school … until other offers come along. But signs point toward UVA being in this one for the long haul. That's because Laye puts a high priority on academics. Right now, he holds a 3.71 GPA. In college, he wants to focus on business. In addition to Virginia, Laye also has visited North Carolina and Vanderbilt.
Next up is a trip to Wake Forest in July. It's possible he might also check out Georgia this summer.
-Here's an interesting stat: In the defense-oriented Southeastern Conference, there are currently more quarterbacks committed (19) to its schools than defensive tackles (13). When Max Staver of Tennessee (first quarterback from the Volunteer State since Ingle Martin to commit to Florida- there was another named Steve Spurrier back in the 1960s) verbaled earlier this week the Gators became the 14th SEC school to land a signal caller … and national signing day is still a little more than six months away. After they missed out on a few other players at that position (namely Cooper Bateman to Alabama and Ryan Buchanan to Mississippi), they contemplated going without a quarterback signee in this class. But when Staver, who has excellent size (6-foot-5, 235 pounds), performed well in camp, the Gators scooped him up. For 2014, it looks like Florida will go hard after Davidson Day (N.C.) product Will Grier, who is the nation's No. 5 pro-style quarterback for his class. Those who follow recruiting in the South know the Gators have done very well in the Tar Heel State for the better part of the last decade. Chris Leak, Brandon Spikes and Carl Johnson were all North Carolina talents that performed well in Gainesville. Last recruiting cycle, the Gators landed five-star offensive tackle D.J. Humphries and four-star defensive end Jonathan Bullard from the state.