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Sunday, March 23, 2014
Atlanta NFTC notebook

By Derek Tyson, Jeremy Crabtree & Gerry Hamilton

ROSWELL, Ga. -- The Atlanta Nike Football Training Camp is generally one of the most impressive groups of high school football players you will find in the country. This year’s camp didn’t disappoint. Eight invites were handed out to The Opening, a prestigious invite-only camp held in Beaverton, Ore., in July.

The list of invitees included cornerback Kevin Toliver II, the No. 3-ranked prospect in the country, and ESPN Junior 300 prospects Roquan Smith, Dallas Warmack, Taj Griffin, Preston Williams, Terry Godwin, Quarte Sapp and Chuma Edoga. Godwin and Edoga also earned MVP honors at their respective positions.

Toliver will take visits

Toliver was one of the best cornerbacks on hand Sunday. The 6-foot-2, 185-pound athlete has been committed to LSU since 2012 but still plans to take all five official visits.

“I will take officials to LSU, UCLA, Ohio State, Auburn and Virginia Tech,” Toliver said. “Those are schools I felt like I had a connection with from the first time I met the coaches. I could just see myself playing at those five schools.”

But LSU fans can rest easy, Toliver remains adamant that he is still a solid commitment to the Tigers. Though the Jacksonville native continues to hear from the in-state schools Florida, Florida State and Miami, he said he wants to leave the state.

"I just can’t see myself playing at any Florida schools,” he said. "I just want to get out of the state, explore the world and see other places. I’m 110 percent committed to LSU. I don’t even know. Other schools are going to have to pull something out of the hat for me to switch.”

Williams committed but still looking

Receivers Godwin and Williams were arguably the two best pass-catchers to participate on Sunday. Williams has been committed to Tennessee since September but he recently visited Florida, Auburn and Georgia. Of the three, Georgia and Auburn made an impression on him.

“I liked those visits,” Williams said. "Georgia is recruiting me the hardest. They talk to me every day. Every day on Twitter, they send me mail. I can say they’re recruiting me the hardest. It was my first time going to Auburn. I like Auburn a lot. I can see myself there but then I can’t. Like the way they throw the ball I like that, I watch that, but I just can’t see myself being a War Eagle.”

Williams, who is planning to visit Knoxville for the Tennessee spring game, also said he would like to visit UCLA, USC and Syracuse at some point before his senior season. Much like LSU with Toliver, Tennessee fans can rest easy about Williams’ commitment.

"Tennessee is home,” he said. "That’s just my house. My Day 1 school. They were my first offer before everyone else came. They stuck with me and I’m sticking with them. If I could sign now I would."

Abernathy ready for busy spring

Micah Abernathy, a 6-0, 195-pound cornerback, wasn’t able to participate on Sunday because of a sore hamstring, but he still showed up to pick up some pointers and also talk recruiting with the other top prospects at the event.

“It’s funny how well all of us Atlanta guys all know each other pretty well,” Abernathy said. “We see each other at other events like this or at track meets. We’ve all gotten to know each other pretty well, and we’re always talking smack about how many offers we got. It’s pretty funny actually.”

Abernathy plans on getting serious about the recruiting process this spring. He has scholarship offers from Alabama, Florida, Georgia and Georgia Tech, among many others.

“I want to get out to some schools,” Abernathy said. “I want to see the campuses I’ve not seen before and see how their coaching staffs are. I haven’t been down to Florida yet, but I want to get down there. There’s a couple of other schools, but I’m not sure yet. I just have to plan my schedule.”

Abernathy isn’t tied to staying in state and said he’s definitely open to looking hard at the out-of-state schools that have offered him. But when he looks at them, he will have an idea of what he wants in the perfect school.

“Distance isn’t a factor for me at all,” he said. “I’ve not narrowed any schools down at all. I’m open to everybody, but definitely distance isn’t a factor for me. I’m looking for a great education and a great environment. I’m thinking about majoring in physical therapy, so the school will have to have a good program in that. Maybe sports management. I like the process of helping people get back to the way they were. That’s really cool.”

Edoga to decide in May

Edoga, the No. 55-ranked player in the ESPN Junior 300, not only put together a dominant day on the field earning offensive line MVP Sunday following a terrific SPARQ performance Saturday, but he also dropped some news on his recruitment.

The 6-4, 276-pound tackle not only reported a top four in order of Tennessee, USC, Georgia and Stanford, but he also knows when he will make decision.

“It’s pretty much set,” Said Edoga. “I’m going to announce my decision on my birthday, May 25.”

Before Edoga’s commitment day, the nation’s No. 3-ranked offensive tackle will make unofficial visits to three schools.

“Before I decide, I’m going to USC and Stanford the first week in April and Tennessee for their spring game.”

Edoga said he will be accompanied on the West Coast by his mother, who favors Stanford and Georgia. He is unsure if his mom will travel with him to Knoxville for the Volunteers’ spring game.

Griffin keeping it close to the vest

Much of the recruiting talk around Griffin, the No. 19 overall prospect, centers around Oregon, Clemson and Ohio State trying to pull the speedy prospect away from the Georgia Bulldogs. While the quartet of schools are certainly in the mix for the speedy and versatile playmaker, Griffin said he remains in evaluation mode.

“Really visiting a lot schools right now and learning about a lot of schools,” Griffin said. “That’s where I’m at.”

For Griffin, the decision remains a long way away because he plans on taking a few official visits.

“I don’t know when I will make a decision,” he said. “I have thought about signing day, but I’m not sure. It’s kind of whenever it happens, but I plan to make official visits though. I’m definitely taking one to Oregon. I’m definitely taking one to Clemson, and I will also take one to UGA.”

When it comes down to deciding factors, Griffin knows exactly what he is looking for in a university and football program.

“Education is important, and where I feel can play early and be most effective.”

Patrick down to five

Natrez Patrick, ranked No. 8 overall, continues to be one of the most highly sought after prospects in the Southeast. The 6-foot-3, 235-pound edge-rushing end has been offered by more than 20 programs since bursting onto the scene, but has trimmed his list to workable number.

“I think I have narrowed it down to a top five right now,” Patrick said. “It’s Georgia, Florida, Auburn, Alabama and Clemson.”

Prior to finishing up a busy weekend on Sunday at the NFTC, he was on campus to take another look at one his five favorites.

“I just came from Georgia,” Patrick said. “I was there yesterday. They were one of my first offers, and I have a good relationship there. I like the coaching staff a lot.”

The latest unofficial visit to Athens will not be the last for Patrick.

“Next up for me, I think I want to hit a couple of spring games. I want to hit Georgia, and maybe Alabama or Auburn’s,” he said.

Every program is recruiting Patrick as a third-down, hand-on-the-ground rusher with the ability to play end or outside linebacker depending on scheme. He plans to make his decision during his senior season.

Colbert picks up dream offer

Under Armour All-America outside linebacker and safety Jordan Colbert has become one of the fastest-rising prospects in the Peach State. The 6-2, 205-pound defender has been adding offers weekly, and on Friday, picked up the biggest to date.

“I just recently received an offer from Florida State on Friday,” Colbert said. “That was the offer I’ve been waiting on, or one of the offers I’ve been waiting on. I was offered by coach [Tim] Brewster -- the tight ends coach.”

While the Seminoles offer fulfills a childhood dream, Colbert’s recruitment is far from over.

“Right now, my top three is still Auburn, Florida State and Clemson,” he said. “I don’t think I will commit until the week of the Under Armour Game. I want to go see my top three, and more schools before I make a decision. I’m going to get down to Florida State, but I’m not sure when.”

Swinney has top five

The No. 122-ranked player in the country is starting to narrow things down.

“My top five is Florida, Florida State, Georgia, Ole Miss, Tennessee and Auburn in no particular order,” Eric Swinney said. "They are just wonderful schools that are trying to build their programs. They started recruiting me early and they have been recruiting me the hardest.”

The 5-9, 179-pound back is planning to visit Ole Miss in the spring and would like to make a decision before his senior season.

Though Swinney claims to be wide open at this time, the home-state Bulldogs might have a slight advantage early on.

“Athens is amazing,” Swinney said of his recent unofficial visit to Georgia. "I grew up as a Bulldogs fans so my first time in Athens was amazing. It was pretty nice."