Wednesday, January 1, 2014
Semper Fi Bowl notebook: Day 1
By Erik McKinney
FULLERTON, Calif. -- Four-star outside linebacker Jimmie Swain IV (Olathe, Kan./North) is listed as an uncommitted recruit, but that distinction is not exactly true.
Following the first day of practice for the 2014 Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl, Swain said he has known for a while where he will play his college football and he has let the coaches of his finalists know his decision. The public will be let in on the secret during the game on Sunday, when the 6-foot-3, 229-pound linebacker will announce his commitment.
Swain is down to four schools -- Arkansas, Michigan State, Oregon and Texas A&M -- and all but the Spartans have received official visits.
As for his leaders, Swain gave a quick look into why they stand out in the race for his signature.
"[Michigan State has] always been in my top five ever since I started watching college football," Swain said. "At Arkansas, I have a good relationship with Randy Shannon and I fit in well with the players on my visit. At Oregon, it's the whole coaching staff. My mom really enjoyed them when they came to visit. They've been at Oregon so long, and the football there speaks for itself, when a 10-2 season is considered a bad season. With Texas A&M, I had a fun visit down there. A lot of people worry about what happens to them when Johnny [Manziel] is gone, but their recruiting class is really good and I don't think they're going to skip a beat."
Swain has been avoiding interviews and any real talk of recruiting in recent weeks, as he said he's been "relaxing and enjoying time with family." But he'll make some significant noise on Sunday, particularly for the program that receives a verbal commitment from the standout linebacker, who plans on pursuing a double major in marketing and finance.
Jennings' plans still up in the air
After pulling back from his commitment to Rutgers in November, ESPN 300 wide receiver Adonis Jennings (Erial, N.J./Timber Creek Regional) has three schools still on the board -- Arkansas, Iowa and Pittsburgh. But outside of that fact, and official visits scheduled to Pittsburgh on Jan. 17 and Arkansas on Jan. 24, Jennings isn't settled at all on how his recruitment will play out when it comes to a final decision.
“I'm not sure if I'll decide on signing day or before that," Jennings said. "It's been a little stressful, but I can't complain because a lot of kids don't get this opportunity."
Jennings, the No. 141 overall prospect, said he likes similar things about all three schools, which is interesting considering they all reside in different conferences and regions of the country.
"They all have the same thing in common and that's why I like them," Jennings said. "They have great coaching staffs, the facilities, the team, the school itself and it's a great place to live at all three."
Randolph down to two
Rivals will battle it out for ESPN 300 cornerback Kendall Randolph (Tallahassee, Fla./Lincoln), who has narrowed his list down to Kentucky and Louisville.
Though he hasn't yet officially set visits, it appears as though the 5-11, 175-pound cornerback will be at Louisville on Jan. 17 and Kentucky on Jan. 24 for his official visits.
"Right now I feel like I'm close to making a decision," Randolph said. "Hopefully, depending on how those go, I'll know where I'm going to go come February."
Randolph, the nation's No. 217 prospect, holds offers from a number of college football powers, including Alabama, Auburn, Florida State, Miami and Stanford, but said he feels the opportunities presented by his two finalists represent the best opportunities for him.
"The relationships I have with the coaching staffs as a whole make them feel like that's where I'd fit best," Randolph said.
Like a number of players at the Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl, Randolph said he's enjoying being able to get away from recruiting and take a stress-relieving mini vacation, but added that he knows what's coming up in the next month.
"I'm ready to get this over with," he said. "The last couple months have been stressful and the time is closing in. I realize we're at that point now where we have to move onto the next level and it's time to make some real life decisions."
Coaches’ visits are big for Scott
Fans won't be able to watch ESPN 300 running back Derrell Scott (Havelock, N.C./Havelock) in the Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl this weekend, as the nation's No. 108 prospect suffered an injury during his state championship game. But fans of North Carolina State, South Carolina or Tennessee are just a successful coaches’ visit away from being able to see a lot more of the talented tailback.
Scott has already taken official visits to his three finalists and is now awaiting in-home visits from the staff before he finalizes a decision.
The 5-11, 184-pound tailback said he wasn't sure what dates the coaches are coming by, but said it should be shortly following the end of the dead period. He's already hosted Wolfpack head coach Dave Doeren, but expects North Carolina assistant coaches to come by, as well as head coaches from South Carolina and Tennessee.
Scott offered a quick thought on his three finalists.
"South Carolina has been there for me since the beginning," he said. "They offered me after my sophomore year and were one of the earliest schools. Tennessee, at first I wasn't really considering them, but I like the new coaching staff and what Butch Jones stands for there. And North Carolina State is pitching the hometown hero thing.
"I'm going to decide after those in-home visits," Scott said. "I'll probably do it at a press conference at my school. I won't wait until signing day."