Commentary

Lattimore the center of attention

Originally Published: April 28, 2009
By Jc Shurburtt | Scouts Inc.

ATHENS, Ga. -- It's only April, but everybody wants to know where star running back Marcus Lattimore (Duncan, S.C./James F. Byrnes) is going. Will he join his current and former teammates at Florida State? Did Auburn really blow him away on his visit? How about Georgia? Or longtime favorite South Carolina? Does Clemson have a shot?

These questions are not going to be answered in finality for quite some time, but Lattimore is so gracious that he was willing to stand around under the hot Georgia sun following Saturday's Athens Nike Football Training Camp and talk to multiple reporters about his recruitment.

This much is clear for right now: Auburn still leads for his services. The Tigers were able to take command after Lattimore had an outstanding unofficial visit to The Plains last weekend. Head coach Gene Chizik and recruiter Trooper Taylor both laid out the red carpet for Lattimore and that's going to stick with him for a while.

"I just liked the whole city," he said. "The academic people were great. I loved the coaches and just liked the whole environment."

Auburn is strong now and is a legitimate contender to land Lattimore, but it's hard to say the Tigers have a better shot than Florida State. Before his trip to Auburn, Lattimore had an outstanding unofficial visit to Tallahassee, and the Noles have a lot going for them here.

Under Armour All-American Corey Miller and fellow defensive lineman Brandon Willis, both from Byrnes, could end up in Garnet and Gold. In fact, the chances of that happening are more likely than not, at this point. That gives the Noles Justin Bright, Everett Dawkins and those two on the Florida State roster from Byrnes High School. FSU head coach-in-waiting Jimbo Fisher, who has been instrumental in recruiting Lattimore, also can sell the fact that he is taking over as head coach, so there is no fear of transition with Bobby Bowden rapidly approaching retirement. They say recruiting is about relationships and there are a lot of relationships working in the Seminoles' favor if all of that falls into place.

But really no school can be counted out. Not the Tigers or the Noles. Not Georgia, which Lattimore says he will definitely visit officially. Not North Carolina or South Carolina or Clemson. Even Penn State and Michigan still are in the mix along with others.

More Byrnes pipeline talk

There was plenty of talk at the camp that Miller is a strong lean to Florida State. He confirmed the Noles were one of the schools he is looking at the hardest, along with California and Southern California, which he and teammate Brandon Willis will likely visit unofficially this summer.

Miller also said that Tennessee and North Carolina were also schools that he was seriously considering. Watch both of these schools here if the Seminoles don't land Miller. Both have close proximity to upstate South Carolina, where Miller, who wants to go out of state to play college football, lives. So in a sense, he can have his cake (leaving South Carolina) and eat it (being close to home) too by spending the next four years in Knoxville or Chapel Hill.

Miller also talked about being named to the Under Armour Game.

"I am excited about it," he said. "It is a big honor to be selected and there should be a lot of great talent down there."

His high school teammate, Brandon Willis, has California, Southern California and UCLA on his list, along with Florida State. He too has been considered a longtime lean to the Seminoles and there is a good chance he ends up in Garnet and Gold as things stand today, provided he doesn't decide to bolt for the West Coast.

Another Byrnes prospect, receiver Nick Jones, is on the cusp of getting BCS offers. South Carolina and Penn State are the two closest. The 5-foot-8, 180-pounder had some impressive moments Saturday at receiver.

More Class of 2010 Notes

•  Running back Kendrum Malcome (Decatur, Ga./Southwest DeKalb) recently picked up an offer from Georgia to go along with Florida State and Oklahoma. The 6-foot, 213-pounder did not go on the record with a leader, but one gets the sense from talking to him and those around him that the Bulldogs have a better-than-average chance of landing him and that he was fired up to get that particular offer. He added that he will likely camp in Athens this summer.

• Quarterback Barry Brunetti (Memphis, Tenn./University School) had perhaps the best two-day run at the Elite 11 and Nike Camp of any signal-caller. Brunetti holds offers from Mississippi State, Duke, Memphis and others. He also is getting heavy attention from Arizona and Auburn has shown interest. Chances are, Brunetti will see a slew of offers once word gets out about his ability. He's athletic, has good feet and an excellent arm and showed all of that off during the weekend.

• Defensive end Anthony Williams (McDonough, Ga./Union Grove) said that Georgia Tech and Auburn are his two current leaders. At this point, most believe he is bound for Tech unless things change.

• Tight end Davis Dudchock's father played at Auburn and he claims an offer from the Tigers, but Florida State and several other schools are actually recruiting him a bit harder. When all is said and done if Auburn pushes, the Tigers are expected to land him. If not, he could end up in Tallahassee or elsewhere.

• Quarterback Munchie Legaux (New Orleans, La./Edna Carr) says that Michigan recently offered him verbally and Tulane, Louisiana Tech and Florida International are his other offers. Baylor, Oregon and Virginia have been showing the 6-foot-4, 187-pounder interest.

Class of 2011 notes

• Class of 2011 defensive end Sterling Bailey (Gainesville, Ga./East Hall) claims an early verbal scholarship offer from Clemson. He has visited there unofficially and did not participate a lot in the camp because he was nursing a foot injury.

• Another Class of 2011 prospect from Hall County, Ga., linebacker A.J. Johnson (Gainesville, Ga./Gainesville), says that he expects an offer from Clemson soon. Some thought Johnson was the top linebacker at the camp. "I loved it up at Clemson when I went," he said.

• And finally, while we are talking Clemson and underclassmen, 2011 quarterback Price Litton (Charlotte, N.C./Price Litton) has heavy early interest in the Tigers and has been communicating with that coaching staff in the hopes of landing an early offer. He had a solid day on Saturday.

• Another Class of 2011 quarterback, Everett Golson (Myrtle Beach, S.C./Myrtle Beach), claims verbal offers from North Carolina, Florida, South Carolina, Clemson, Ohio State, Virginia Tech and others. Word is that the Tar Heels are the early leader as Golson would like to play both football and basketball in college and is enamored with the UNC basketball program. Florida is another program Golson is highly interested in. Juniors are not allowed to receive written scholarship offers until Sept. 1.

• Alabama commit Blake Sims (Gainesville, Ga./Gainesville) wore his Crimson Tide cap at the event and confirmed he was 100 percent to Bama. He worked out at quarterback and receiver and said afterward that he wants to make sure he gets the ball in his hands when he gets to Tuscaloosa.

• Defensive back Okoye Houston (Pelzer, S.C./Woodmont) recently picked up an offer from Turner Gill and Buffalo to go along with a previous offer from Vanderbilt. Houston also is getting looks from Clemson and South Carolina.

JC Shurburtt covers recruiting for ESPN.com. He can be reached at jcsespn@aol.com.

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