Commentary

RB Marlin Lane has a new leader

Originally Published: January 16, 2011
By Jamie Newberg | ESPN.com

With national signing day fast approaching (Feb. 2), this weekend is one of the busiest of the year for visits. Here is a quick look at some of the bigger visits of the weekend.

Seeing orange again

Maybe ESPNU 150 RB Marlin Lane (Daytona Beach, Fla./Mainland), who was a long-time Clemson commit until late last week, will be wearing orange after all. After notifying the Tigers he would visit Tennessee this weekend, Clemson said it no longer wanted him.

"I am done with [Clemson] for good," Lane said. "I ain't happy about it but it is what it is and it's time to move on and not look back."

Lane moved on right to Knoxville, Tenn., where he had a great trip over the weekend.

"The Tennessee visit went great," said the No. 11-ranked running back in the country. "The coaches and players are just terrific. Everyone there has such a great relationship with each other. I really liked the campus and facilities.

"I also love Coach [Derek] Dooley. He has to be the coolest head coach I have ever met. Their running backs coach is so funny and very easy to get along with. I feel real comfortable in Tennessee."

Last week, Lane visited the University of Miami and he also came home very impressed after that visit.

"I really like the coaches there," Lane said. "Golden is real cool and it seems like they are going to be really good. I think he has a good plan. I really believe I can fit in good at either Miami or Tennessee. My size [6-foot, 200 pounds] gives me an advantage."

Lane also visited Purdue back in October and Auburn in December. He will take the SAT on Saturday and then head to Tallahassee and visit Florida State for his last official visit.

"Tennessee stands out a lot," Lane said. "That was just an amazing visit. There is just something about them. They are my leader and front-runner. I will probably wait and announce my decision on national signing day."

Drew impressed with Miami

Five-star DE Ray Drew (Thomasville, Ga./Thomas Country Central) was blown away by new Miami coach Al Golden during his most recent visit.

"I love Al Golden," Drew said. "I mean, I really like him. He knows what he wants and is very hungry. He wants to bring Miami back to its glory days, back to where they were. He's a high-energy, full-speed guy that's very genuine. Al Golden is a people person. I was pretty impressed.

"I also like the staff and met a bunch of players. I like where they are going."

That's four official visits in the books for Drew and he has one left to Clemson this weekend. He has also seen Georgia, Auburn and LSU.

Does one team stand out over the others?

"No. I don't want a leader to interfere with my judgement because whenever I make a decision I want it to be the right one," said Drew. "I will decide on signing day or just before."

Carver teammates visit Alabama

Five-star RB Isaiah Crowell and his Columbus (Ga.) Carver teammate, Quintavious Harrow, came away very impressed from their first official visit, which was to Alabama.

"It was good," said Crowell, who is down to Alabama, Auburn and Georgia. "I hung out with the players and just had a good time. I just want to try and get as good of a feel with Alabama as I can. They are pressing hard. Right now I don't have a leader."

Crowell will visit Georgia [Jan. 21] and Auburn [Jan. 28] and likely make his decision on national signing day.

Meanwhile, things have gotten kind of hectic for Harrow. Georgia was the first big-time program to offer him and that came last week. However, he walked away from his most recent visit loving the Crimson Tide.

"The trip went well and I really like the program," Harrow said. "The coaches are great and I like their facilities. Alabama is a place where I can get a good education. I just like how they do everything, and I can see myself playing safety there. I think they are going to offer."

Harrow is just happy to be in the position he's in now.

"I was real excited about the Georgia offer. I mean I was happy as heck. Who wouldn't want to play in the SEC? I will visit Georgia [on Jan. 21]. That's it for now unless something else comes up."

Davis stays home

Three-star WR Andre Davis (Tampa, Fla./Jefferson) is a lucky man and so is South Florida and coach Skip Holtz. The 6-1, 180-pounder committed to the Bulls after his visit.

"I get to play at home," Davis said. "USF is just really team oriented. It's one big family and I know the coaches are always going to be there for me no matter what. I also like their academic support.

"Playing at home in Tampa is real big for me. I get to play with a lot of friends and my family can come see me play. Now, we just need to keep everyone home in Tampa. There's a lot of talent in this city."

Yellow Jackets pick up athlete

Georgia Tech has had a big weekend, getting a trio of commitments so far, highlighted by Demontavious Smith (Monroe, Ga/Monroe Area).

"Yeah, I visited and committed to Georgia Tech this weekend," said Smith, who picked the Yellow Jackets over the Hokies. "The players are terrific, I felt real comfortable there and I am familiar with the area. It's close to home and my parents can see me play. The education is great and Coach [Paul] Johnson gives you freedom and he has trust in his players."

Smith can play offense or defense for the Yellow Jackets, but he thinks he will likely get his start at cornerback.

"That's the funny thing," Smith said. "I'm versatile and will probably start at cornerback on defense. I could play quarterback, in the slot or receiver. That's another reason why I choose to come here; I have many opportunities to play here on either side of the ball."

Grooms has great trip to the "U"

ESPNU 150 ATH Kevin Grooms (Hollywood, Fla./South Broward) visited Miami and loved every minute of it.

"It went great and I had a great time with the players and coaches," Grooms said. "We talked academics, history of the program and everything else they had to offer.

"I am all in with Miami. The coaches are ready, I love the players, and I felt at home. I mean I have connected right away with those guys."

Grooms will visit Virginia Tech [Jan. 21] and he hopes to have a decision soon.

"It's Miami, Virginia Tech and maybe Florida State. I need to talk with [Eddie] Gran about visiting FSU," said Grooms. "So I may have a decision next week sometime.

Jamie Newberg has been covering recruiting both in the Southeast and nationally for 19 years. He can be reached at jamienewbergbw@yahoo.com.