Wednesday, January 5, 2011
Updated: February 1, 5:14 PM ET
Eight All-Americans commit at UA Game
By Corey Long
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Four-star defensive end Xzavier Dickson (Griffin, Ga,/Griffin) will leave the Peach State to play for Nick Saban at the University of Alabama.
Dickson chose Alabama over Auburn and Georgia. He is one of the members of the Georgia "Dream Team" -- a group of in-state players that were being heavily courted to come to the University of Georgia.
Instead Dickson, a 6-foot-4, 242-pounder, says he's living his own dream.
"I think Alabama has a pretty good recruiting class too," Dickson joked. "I love the coaches there and I feel like their style of football best works for me."
Dickson, the No. 22-rated player in the Class of 2011, gives Alabama its eighth commitment from the ESPNU 150. The Crimson Tide currently have the second-best recruiting class in the nation and are in a battle with Texas and FSU for the top-rated class overall.
As a senior, Dickson had his second straight year of double-digit sacks and was a first-team all-state selection.
Bray commits to Auburn
ESPNU 150 athlete Quan Bray (LaGrange, Ga./Troup County) becomes the second Under Armour All-American to commit to Auburn during the game. Robenson Therezie (Miami, Fla./Miami Jackson) committed at halftime of the Under Armour All-America Game.
Bray, a 5-foot-11, 180-pound offensive weapon, is rated as the 23rd best overall player in the Class of 2011.
"For me it was all about the system that they run at Auburn," Bray said. "I think it's the best fit and the school is real close to home so my family will be able to watch me often."
Bray has spent the week playing running back, receiver and return specialist. He chose Auburn over Georgia, Alabama, Florida and LSU. As a running back, Bray rushed for well more than 1,000 yards as a senior. He's also played wide receiver and quarterback.
"Auburn uses their offensive talent a lot of different ways," Bray said. "That was something that really interested me."
Devon to the Ducks
Four-star wide receiver Devon Blackmon (Fontana, Calif./Summit) is ready to be part of the Quack Attack.
The 6-foot, 180-pounder, the No. 39-ranked player in the ESPNU 150, chose the Ducks over in-state schools USC and UCLA.
"Oregon is a very exciting place to be right now with the way the football program has taken off," Blackmon said. "They run a very explosive offense that is fun to watch and fun to be involved in."
Blackmon, who played quarterback, running back and wide receiver as a senior, is ready to focus on one position and join fellow Under Armour All-American Tacoi Sumler (Miami, Fla./Columbus) in Eugene.
"There's a great opportunity in Oregon because a lot of receivers are finishing up their college careers," Blackmon said. "So I know if I can come in and work hard there will be a chance for me to see the field next year.
"The more guys like myself and Tacoi learn the system, our speed and talent will shine."
Buckeyes land Grant
Despite a heavy courtship from Michigan State, four-star defensive back Doran Grant (Akron, Ohio/St. Vincent & Mary's) will follow his heart and head to Ohio State.
"The coaching staff is strong, from Coach [Jim] Tressel to the position coaches," Grant said. "It's a place where a lot of good defensive backs have went in the past."
Grant had family ties to Michigan State, where his father is an alumnus, but the 5-foot-11, 177-pounder went another direction.
"This was the place that I felt most comfortable at," Grant said. "My family is excited for me and always encouraged me to make my own decision."
Grant, the No. 66-rated player in the country, is the Buckeyes' 20th commitment overall and sixth in the ESPNU 150. A superb coverage cornerback, Grant wasn't tested often as a senior but grabbed two interceptions and six pass breakups.
Gorman doing the chomp
Four-star defensive back Jabari Gorman (Miami, Fla./Monsignor Pace) had been a long-time lean to Ohio State but the 6-foot, 185-pounder was courted by Florida in recent weeks and the move paid off.
"I loved coach [Urban] Meyer] and I believe coach [Will] Muschamp is going to pick up where he left off," Gorman said.
Florida was a late arrival into Gorman's recruiting as the Gators made a strong impression on the defensive back during a December visit that caused him to drop Alabama.
Gorman was impressed with Muschamp on their first meeting, which didn't come until after his official visit.
"We talked and he had a plan for what he wanted to do with me," Gorman said. "That was a big deal. He's a great person and we connected right away."
Gorman, the No. 85-rated player in the country, was also considering Miami.
The Gators now have 16 commits, six in the ESPNU 150.
Jackson picks Tennessee
Former Miami commit Marcus Jackson (Vero Beach, Fla./Vero Beach) will give Derek Dooley and Tennessee's offensive line class another boost in the upcoming months.
The 6-foot-2, 305-pound guard said the group of linemen coming into Knoxville were a huge factor.
"I think they have an excellent class of linemen coming in and we're going to get great coaching," Jackson said. "Tennessee is the best opportunity to get better and play quality opposition."
Jackson chose the Volunteers over Miami and Michigan State. He committed to Miami early in the recruiting process but backed away from that verbal when Randy Shannon was fired. Despite being heavily courted by new Hurricanes coach Al Golden, Jackson will be sporting a different shade of orange.
"It's just about finding a good place that feels like home and a stable situation," Jackson said. "I felt comfortable with the people at Tennessee and I believe the coaching staff will be successful."
Jackson, the No. 87-rated player in the Class of 2011, is Tennessee's third commit in the ESPNU 150 and 20th member of its recruiting class.
Townsend Jr. doesn't follow in father's footsteps
Rather than head to his father's alma mater of TCU, defensive end Greg Townsend Jr. (Beverly Hills, Calif./Beverly Hills) will stay close to home and attend USC.
"It was a tough decision, but my family and I feel like this is the place for me to be," Townsend said. "Coach Monte Kiffin is an amazing coach; he and coach [Ed] Orgeron will make me a much better player."
He might also get some tips from his dad, former NFL star Greg Townsend Sr.
"I'll be able to stay home and maybe Dad will help me work on some more technique," Townsend Jr. joked.
Townsend Sr. played 12 seasons in the NFL and compiled more than 100 sacks, mostly with the Los Angeles Raiders.
Despite being hit by sanctions and scholarship reductions from the NCAA, the Trojans are putting together another top-10 recruiting class. Townsend Jr. attributes the success to the staff.
"Players know that going to USC will prepare you for the next level," Townsend Jr. said. "That staff is the best in the country."
Therezie headed to Auburn
Four-star defensive back Robenson Therezie (Miami, Fla./Jackson) becomes the latest commit for Auburn after making his announcement Wednesday night at the Under Armour All-America Game.
The 5-foot-10, 190-pounder is rated as the 11th best safety in the Class of 2011.
"I have a great connection with coach [Gene] Chizik," Therezie said. "He's a defensive-minded coach and he's someone that will help me get to the next level."
Therezie chose Auburn over Alabama, Florida, Tennessee and Miami. Although he has visits to Tennessee and Florida planned for the next two weekends, Therezie appears solid in his choice.
"Auburn is heading to the national championship game and I feel like that's a great jump start for the legacy of this program," Therezie added. "The players coming in from this point forward will try to meet the higher expectations that this team set."
Corey Long has been covering high school football and recruiting in the Sunshine State since 1995. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.