April 6, 2013

Rivals Camp Birmingham: The buzz

MORE: Rivals Camp Series presented by Under Armour

Dallas Jackson is the National Columnist for Rivals.com. Email him your comments or story ideas to DallasJ@Yahoo-Inc.com and follow him on Twitter.

HOOVER, Ala. -- When Jakell Mitchell announces his college choice, that will be the end of his recruiting story.

At least that is what he says now.

The three-star tight end from Opelika (Ala.) High was competing at the Birmingham stop of the Rivals Camp Series presented by Under Armour and said that, when he is ready, his decision will be final.

"Once I make my commitment, I am going to stick with it," he said.

"I don't know when that will be, but when I do it will be done."

The battle of SEC powers could make this a long journey for Mitchell, who said he has a top three of Auburn, LSU and Florida.

It is his willingness -- and that of other competitors -- to take his time and make one, real commitment that is encouraging to Rivals.com national recruiting analyst Mike Farrell.

Farrell said there have been entirely too many de-commitments happening around the country.

"It has become meaningless and bothersome," he said. "These kids are being pressured to commit, but they don't mean anything -- and we know that, they know that, and the coaches know it."

The fact that many coaches pressure kids into a soft verbal pledge is more worrisome for Farrell than the fact that the kids are making the declaration.

"I think that the coaches feel if they can get a kid to commit they can guilt them into not de-committing," Farrell said. "They will tell the kid and his family that they stopped recruiting other guys at their position or that they are building the class around the kids, which only adds to the confusion."

Mobile (Ala.) Murphy defensive tackle Taylor Stallworth said he respects coaches who do not make him feel pressured.

The 6-foot-2, 270-pound prospect added offers from Arkansas and Southern Miss this week. He already held an offer from South Carolina.

Stallworth plans on waiting until National Signing Day before announcing his intentions.

"I want to see what opportunities I get," he said. "I am going to announce everything on signing day."

With Alabama and Auburn joining his growing list of interested schools, Stallworth said he is paying attention to the depth charts of all schools and the looming NFL entry of Jadeveon Clowney will factor into his choice.

Proximity to home played a role for Prattville (Ala.) High running back Kamryn Pettway.

The power running back had a whirlwind month as he committed to Florida State in the middle of February only to de-commit two weeks later and give his pledge to Auburn.

His recruitment was more the norm in the process, in which players make rushed decisions. He regrets the de-commitment but faces it head on.

"Kids at school ask me if I am going to change my mind again," he said. "But I am not. I am locked into Auburn."

Mitchell said that, while he plans on staying the course, he doesn't hold anything against players who go back and forth with the process.

"They probably just ran into a great recruiter," Mitchell said.

The problem with great recruiters, according to Farrell, is that they confuse the players.

"They are pulled in a lot of directions with so many people telling them so many things," Farrell said. "At some point a final decision gets made, but it would be better for everyone if it was the first and final decision."

Breeland Speaks plans on being among those who announce once and stay the course.

The three-star defensive end from Jackson (Miss.) Callaway took home the positional MVP at the event, and he holds offers from Ole Miss and Mississippi State -- with many other programs close to offering.

He wants to enroll early as a December graduate, which not only accelerates the process but puts more pressure on him to make the right decision.

"That is why I am going to take my time," Speaks said. "I don't want to go back and forth. I want to have it all done all at once."

Underclassman steals the show

Baton Rouge (La.) University Lab prospect Dylan Moses has been on a fast rise in recruiting, adding offers from Alabama and LSU recently.

The Class of 2017 athlete showed up in Birmingham and immediately turned the heads of the Rivals.com team of analysts.

Farrell was impressed with the 6-foot-1, 215-pound 14-year-old.

"Wow, what a good-looking kid," Farrell said. "He has thighs that are like tree trunks already.

"I don't know how big he is going to get or if he can stay as a running back, defensive back or if he has to slide into being a defensive end, but with the athleticism he has he will be special at any position."

Moses' performance earned him an invitation to the Rivals Underclassman Challenge presented by Under Armour at DeSoto (Texas) High in July.

Moses said he hopes his play will land him more offers -- namely one from Florida.

With three years before his class can even sign with any school, Moses said people can expect him to remain quiet as the process moves forward. He will wait until National Signing Day in 2017 to make a commitment.

"I want to visit a lot of schools and weigh all my options," he said. "I don't want to just limit myself to LSU, Alabama and Florida.

"I want to explore everywhere and make my decision."

His approach to recruiting may have impressed Farrell more than his play on the field.

"He is more mature than most kids I have met, let alone someone his age," Farrell said. "He may be more mature than me, and I am an old man."

Invites earned in Alabama

Three athletes at the Birmingham event earned invitations to the circuit-ending Rivals100 Five-Star Challenge presented by Under Armour.

Linebackers Tre Williams of Mobile (Ala.) St. Paul's and Shaun Dion Hamilton of Montgomery (Ala.) Carver were joined by Class of 2015 Memphis (Tenn.) University School offensive tackle Drew Richmond in gaining entrance to the national event.

Farrell said the defensive prospects were exactly what he looks for in players at the position.

"Both are SEC linebackers from SEC country," he said. "They are big, physical players with speed, and when that all comes together it is something that I just love."

Williams is the No. 35 player in the Rivals100 and has offers from across the country.

Hamilton entered the camp at No. 173 in the Rivals250 and drew comparisons to a former five-star player.

"When I first saw him, I thought it was Reuben Foster," Farrell said. "They look so similar it was very impressive."

Richmond is one of the 20 underclassmen who will be invited to the final event of the summer, and his size and skill impressed the analyst team.

"He is huge," Farrell said. "But more than that he has a great pass set and is very well coached. We are going to take 20 underclassmen to the Rivals100 Five-Star Challenge, and I believe he is a great one to have."

Richmond registered at 6-foot-6 and 326 pounds. The next step will be seeing how he performs against the older players this summer.

"I look forward to seeing them all," Farrell said, "but it is good to get those younger guys out there. I think all three that we took from this camp will be quality additions."



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