Originally Published: May 22, 2013

Meyer continues to cast shadow over SEC

By Mitch Sherman | ESPN RecruitingNation

LAWRENCEVILLE, Ga. -- Central Gwinnett High School, northwest of Atlanta, emerged as a recruiting hotspot two years ago as defensive end Francis Kallon rocketed to prominence before signing with Georgia Tech.

It continued last year with ESPN 150 linebacker Trey Johnson, a longtime Auburn commit who signed with Ohio State after a furious pursuit that followed the Tigers' troubled season.

Urban Meyer
AP Photo/Jay LaPreteUrban Meyer is no longer coaching in the Swamp, but he's still making an impression in SEC country.

Central Gwinnett remains a destination this year for college recruiters eager to see cornerback Darious Latimore, who collected early offers from Tennessee, Vanderbilt and Virginia. He added offers from Georgia Tech and Kansas State last week.

K-State receivers coach Andre Coleman stopped by the high school during spring practice.

Through it all, coach Todd Wofford has received an education in the realities -- good and bad -- of the recruiting process. The experience has revealed to Wofford just what coaches will do and say to get ahead. And it's not always pretty.

As I visited last week and connected with Johnson, Wofford and I made the short drive down Lawrenceville Highway for lunch at Hometown Barbeque.

I recommend the brisket sandwich and cole slaw. And beware, they accept only cash or checks.

More notably, the restaurant served as the favorite local stop for Ohio State coach Urban Meyer last year during his courtship of Johnson. Many coaches tested the fare, Wofford said, but none left an impression like Meyer -- at lunch or nearby at the high school.

For sure, his presence still looms large in Southeastern Conference country.

Meyer is known, of course, for his offensive wizardry and unmatched ability among active coaches to adapt his system to the players in place after arriving at a program. He did at Bowling Green, Utah, Florida and in finishing 12-0 last season in his first fall at OSU.

The barbecue story offers a sliver of insight into Meyer's tactics in taking that critical next step. At Florida, it helped produce national championships in his second and fourth years.

Meyer's recruiting savvy, though surely not overlooked, is perhaps less understood than the work he accomplishes in the meeting room, practice field and sideline. But it is no less important. And equally as impressive. Just ask the folks at Hometown Barbeque.

Mitch Sherman

ESPN Staff Writer

Fournette follows in famous footsteps

By Gary Laney | ESPN GeauxTigerNation

Leonard Fournette
Alex Scarborough/ESPNLeonard Fournette is following in famous footsteps, but blazing his own path.

NEW ORLEANS -- There are probably a lot of kids at St. Augustine High School who can do an impression of Avery Johnson, the former NBA player and coach with the distinctive, high-pitched voice.

They could probably tell you their favorite play by the "Honey Badger," Tyrann Mathieu, and they've seen the exploits of BenJarvus Green-Ellis on NFL Sundays.

Indeed, St. Augustine, New Orleans' historically African-American all-boys Catholic High school, has a rich history of stars including the two mentioned above.

"But we've never had one like Leonard Fournette," head football coach Cyril Crutchfield said. "Never had one rated as high as him."

Fournette, the nation's top player in the ESPN 150, is a running back perhaps unlike any before him in New Orleans prep football history. Big and strong with speed, quick feet and a sublime feel for the game, Fournette has been getting attention since his days as a New Orleans youth playground league legend.

For the full story, check out GeauxTigerNation Insider.

Gary Laney | email

Reporter, GeauxTigerNation

Juco DT Wyche making best of second chance

By Blair Angulo | ESPN RecruitingNation

MONTEREY PARK, Calif. -- Nothing can wipe the smile off Michael Wyche's face nowadays.

Not that his mother passed away this year after a battle with cancer. Not that his father is less than halfway through a 40-year prison term. Not that he's about 2,700 miles from his 7-month-old daughter, Sky'mariah.

No, the East Los Angeles College defensive tackle flashed his smile whenever possible during a recent practice as the sun beamed down on Weingart Stadium. The native of Chesapeake, Va., giggled when coaches jokingly questioned his punctuality, grinned at the thought of post-workout Mexican food and laughed when he was asked what he thinks of the Los Angeles area.

"C'mon, man, it's the city of big dreams," the 6-foot-4, 325-pound Wyche said. "When I first got out here, I knew it didn't get any bigger than this."

So big, in fact, that Wyche has made plans to stay in town a little while longer. Just moments after landing a scholarship offer from USC earlier this month, the fast-rising juco prospect committed to the Trojans. It was a sequence he never imagined, so he smiled and cried at the same time while visiting campus.

For the full story, check out WeAreSC Insider.

Blair Angulo | email

Reporter, WeAreSC.com