SAPAKOFF COLUMN: Clowney, Kearse in Signing Day spin machine
While breaking down the nuts and jolts of Signing Day, it's not important to know the difference between a “soft verbal” and a “close talker.”
College football recruiting has given us the “star” system and coined other terms such as “preferred walk-on” and “complete bust.” So it seems appropriate to point out the two keys to following today's talent acquisition developments:
• All dots are connected, complete with thorough South Carolina-Clemson linkage.
• Tackling and blocking impacts games more than “skill position” guys.
For instance, during Steve Spurrier's dominant tenure as head coach at Florida, the Gators were known mostly for their pass-happy offense and “The Freak,” their All-American linebacker Jevon Kearse.
Now that Spurrier is at South Carolina, rival Clemson has a commitment from Jayron Kearse, a 6-4, 210-pound defensive back/Wildcat quarterback who happens to be Jevon's nephew.
It's unlikely Kearse will have as much early impact as Jadeveon Clowney, the Rock Hill defensive end who is 2-0 against the Tigers.
Clowney picked South Carolina over Clemson after a drawn out post-Signing Day announcement that included an ESPN The Magazine photo shoot and lots of air time.
The trend continues today as high-profile recruits take to TV for drum-roll revelations. The group includes top Clemson targets Montravius Adams, Mackensie Alexander and Tyrone Crowder, and ex-Clemson commitment Robert Nkemdiche, a difference-making defensive lineman headed to Ole Miss. Or LSU. Or Hawaii.
College coaches love those media moments when they pay off.
Hate it when they don't.
Generally, coaches spend the final frantic hours locating loopholes.
Fax Girl and tattoos
Yes, perhaps you recall Alabama's “Fax Girl” faux pas, in which a rival SEC school complained about a 2011 webcast showing a provocatively dressed young woman standing next to the fax machine as commitment letters rolled in.
SEC commissioner Mike Slive “felt it was inappropriate.”
Slive, however, is thrilled that the NCAA is streamlining its much maligned rulebook. The NCAA Division I Board of Directors just three weeks ago added “simplification” and “common sense” to, among other things, recruiting.
No new legislation about tattoo removal is good news for linebacker Reuben Foster, who on Monday committed to Alabama after previously committing to Auburn, and getting a somewhat cool Auburn tattoo.
The new NCAA policy (effective July 1) embraces Twitter and other social media, vowing to “eliminate restrictions on methods and modes of communication during recruiting.”
Good news: It's easier than ever for fans to follow recruiting direct from the sources.
Bad news: There might be more “flipping” efforts.
And it's pretty bad now. Michael Carvell of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution said this week on Twitter: “With GaTech, competitors are trying to poach their prospects like they aren't there. It's ruthless. It's … recruiting”
'Flip This Recruit'
In fact, flipping recruits is such a sport, wouldn't it would be great if Charleston's “Flip This House” star Richard Davis did a “Flip This Recruit” project for ESPNU?
Davis liked the idea Tuesday.
“It would be 'The Blind Side' meets 'Wall Street' ” Davis said. “(Ole Miss head coach) Hugh Freeze would play Gordon Gekko.” Davis, by the way, runs the elite TMP AAU basketball program. Among the former TMP players is Bruce Ellington, a Berkeley High School graduate who went on to South Carolina.
Ellington is a basketball starter for the Gamecocks, and as a wide receiver has scored three touchdowns in the two football games he's played against Clemson.
Which is one reason Tigers head coach Dabo Swinney wants to officially add lots of help on defense today.
Though it isn't necessary that prospects come in with great accolades.
The star of the last Clemson-USC game, Gamecocks quarterback Dylan Thompson, picked USC over offers from East Carolina, Vanderbilt, Kentucky and Furman.
Swinney can relate to overachievement — he was a walk-on wide receiver at Alabama.
But, as we know, tackling and blocking (or lack thereof) makes the biggest difference. Swinney's clutch contribution to Alabama's 1992 national championship run was tackling Florida punter Shane Edge for a 12-yard loss in the Tide's 28-21 victory over Florida (and Steve Spurrier) in the SEC championship game.
The Gators won the next four SEC championship games, including the 1996 national title run with Jayron Kearse's uncle helping lead the way.
Reach Gene Sapakoff at 937-5593.