Five-star recruit picks Tide over LSU; mom very unhappy
There are times when a picture — or a video clip — is worth a thousand words. This, though, is one of those times where it’s worth a whole helluva lot more.
First the backstory, then on to the good visual stuff: five-star high school safety Landon Collins, one of the most talented defensive players in the country, had whittled his collegiate to-do list down to the two schools that will be squaring off in the BcS title game Jan. 9, Alabama and home-state Louisiana. At the Under Armour All-American game Thursday night in St. Petersburg, Fla., and with his mom at his side, Collins gave his non-binding verbal commitment to one of those two football powerhouses.
And let’s just say that Collins’ mom was not a big fan of his choice. And that he’s probably grounded from his Xbox until after prom, too:
So, yeah, I’m guessing that’s the dictionary definition of a “soft verbal” commitment, at least as far as his mother is concerned.
After totally mortifying his mother on national television with a “Roll Tide Roll!”, Collins said how his family feels about leaving the state to play for the Tide will not alter his choice. And that her reaction was “kind of funny” and completely real.
“My mom is not going to affect my decision,” Collins said according to Bryan Fisher of CBSSports.com. “I made up my mind two years ago. …
“It was kind of funny to me since I knew how she felt already when I told her. She felt kind of bad. She wasn’t about to come (to the game) because of my decision. She’s genuinely upset, it’s not a show.”
For some reason, the name “Brent Calloway” comes to mind. And I don’t have the slightest idea why.
SEC commits shine in UA Game
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- At times it looked like a celebration of Alabama football and by the fourth quarter it was appropriate that “Sweet Home Alabama” was the tune of the night.
From Amari Cooper's 75-yard touchdown reception in the first quarter to the announcement of Geismar, La., five-star safety Landon Collins in the fourth quarter, Thursday night was all about the Crimson Tide.
“This is why I committed to Alabama,” Cooper said. “I wanted to play with great players and win championships. The guys we have in this game are going to be part of that next group of superstars to play at Alabama.”
Cooper, who at times can be as quiet as a calm wind, has come up big all season when the lights were on. The 6-foot-1, 180-pound four-star prospect from Northwestern High in Miami added a 93-yard punt return for a touchdown in the White team's 49-16 win over the Black team and quickly gained a fan base from his future teammates.
“Amari doesn't say a lot, but you don't have to when you have that much game,” said five-star athlete Eddie Williams (Panama City, Fla./Arnold), another Bama commit. “You see his technical skills, his footwork, his ball skills and you know he's a big-time player.”
The Tide continued to roll all night -- four-star athlete Cyrus Jones (Baltimore, Md./Gilman) committed to Alabama in the third quarter and then scored on a 40-yard interception return.
While this might have been a glimpse of the future for Jones, it appears likely that his career in Tuscaloosa will see him on the offensive side of the ball.
“If you like what you see out of me on defense wait until you see me on offense,” said Jones. “I'm thinking about the future and lining up with Amari. I know he can teach me some things and I can teach him some things.”
With the commitments of Jones and Collins, the Tide had eight commits in Thursday's game and now have the nation's top-ranked recruiting class with national signing day less than a month away.
“Alabama is the premier program in the nation right now and the guys in the game should tell everyone how bright the future is,” Collins said. “I know my decision surprised some people but I feel firm and comfortable with my choice and my future.”
Although Alabama's future stars appeared to shine brightest, there were other programs that should look forward to great things to come.
Florida State, who had six verbals in the game, may have the quarterback of the future if Jameis Winston's commit sticks. The 6-foot-4, 195-pound senior from Hueytown, Ala., walked away with MVP honors for the White team after going 8-of-9 for 178 yards and two touchdowns.
Winston has remained firm with the Seminoles despite constant overtures from Alabama and the potential of a future in Major League Baseball.
“It was a great experience to play with a lot of these guys that I'm going to be doing the chop with for the next few years,” Winston said.
Four-star defensive lineman Dante Fowler Jr. (St. Petersburg, Fla./Lakewood), playing just minutes from his school, started for the Black team and had a sack.
“I probably could have had a few more out there but it's OK,” Fowler said. “Jameis was great and I think tonight was a good start for the future of FSU football.
“We want to get the Seminoles back to where they used to be.”
FSU's bitter rivals to the southeast, the Florida Gators, should also have plenty to look forward to based off of Thursday's performances. Four-star cornerback Brian Poole (Bradenton, Fla./Southeast) set the Under Armour All-America Game with a 93-yard interception return for a touchdown in the second quarter.
Four-star safety Marcus Maye (Melbourne, Fla./Holy Trinity), playing outside linebacker Thursday, blocked a punt for a safety and recovered a fumble.
“There were a lot of future Gators out there working hard,” said wide receiver Latroy Pittman (Citra, Fla./North Marion), a Gators commit who had one reception and one massive crackback block. “They are great guys and I'm looking forward to what we can accomplish together over the next few years.”
Overall, the SEC continued to be the dominating theme in the Under Armour All-America Game. Aberdeen, Miss., four-star defensive end Channing Ward, who committed to Ole Miss during the event, had two sacks and 3.5 tackles for loss.
The 6-3, 230-pound senior is hopeful that his commitment and the play of White team teammate Issac Gross (Batesville, Miss./South Panola) will help turn things around in Oxford.
“I think the offense at Ole Miss is pretty good but they need some big playmakers on defense,” Ward said. “I'm hopeful we can come in and help the home school get back on track.
“The SEC is where the best football is played and the SEC West is the toughest division but we're going to grind and work and fight to get the program in contention.”
Some players are still undecided and for Hamilton (Ga.) Harris County four-star defensive end Jordan Jenkins nights like Thursday make an already tough decision even tougher.
The 6-3, 235-pound senior will make his announcement Jan. 9 and is choosing between Alabama, Auburn, Florida and Georgia.
“I spent time with a lot of the guys from each program, just hanging out,” said Jenkins, who had two sacks.
Jenkins gave each program's top commits equal time, hanging out with Georgia commit John Atkins, Auburn commit Joshua Holsey, Alabama commit Brandon Greene and Florida commit Austin Hardin.
“They are all great guys and it's going to be tough because some will be my teammates and others will be the guys I have to go through to win ball games,” Jenkins said. “The decision didn't get any easier.”
2012 Under Armour game rosters
Check out some of the names. Some should look very familiar.
BLACK TEAM (HIGHLIGHT)
No. Name Pos. Ht. Wt. School College
1 Randy Johnson RB 5-9 174 Miami Norland (Fla.) Miami
1 Terry Richardson CB 5-9 160 Cass Technical (Mich.) Michigan
2 Landon Collins S 6-0 202 Dutchtown (La.) Undecided
3 Nelson Agholor ATH 6-1 180 Berkeley Prep (Fla.) Undecided
3 Deion Sanders Jr. ATH 5-8 170 Marcus (Texas) Undecided
4 Cayleb Jones WR 6-2 189 S.F. Austin (Texas) Texas
5 Joshua Holsey CB 5-10 175 Creekside (Ga.) Auburn
5 Angelo Jean-Louis WR 6-0 185 Palm Beach Central (Fla.) Miami
6 Ricardo Louis ATH 6-1 200 Miami Beach Senior (Fla.) Auburn
7 Connor Brewer QB 6-2 190 Chaparral (Ariz.) Texas
7 Ifeadi Odenigbo DE 6-3 212 Centerville (Ohio) Undecided
8 Thomas Johnson WR 6-0 180 Skyline (Texas) Texas
9 Noah Spence DE 6-4 245 Bishop McDevitt (Pa.) Ohio State
10 Noor Davis LB 6-3 225 Leesburg (Fla.) Stanford
11 Preston Dewey QB 6-2 200 St. Andrews (Texas) Miami
12 Chad Kelly QB 6-2 205 St. Joseph's (N.Y.) Clemson
14 Sterling Shepard WR 5-10 185 Heritage Hall (Okla.) Oklahoma
15 Chaz Elder S 6-2 185 Banneker (Ga.) Undecided
16 Trae Elston S 6-0 175 Oxford (Ala.) Undecided
17 Kwon Alexander LB 6-2 215 Oxford (Ala.) Undecided
18 Devonte Fields DE 6-3 225 Martin (Texas) TCU
19 Peter Jinkens OLB 6-1 210 Skyline (Texas) Texas
20 Bryson Echols CB 5-9 165 DeSoto (Texas) Texas
21 Davonte Neal ATH 5-10 170 Chaparral (Ariz.) Undecided
22 Jalen Cope-Fitzpatrick TE 6-4 261 Whitney (Calif.) USC
23 Ross Martin K/P 5-10 185 Walsh Jesuit (Ohio) Duke
27 Joe Bolden LB 6-2 225 Colerain (Ohio) Michigan
32 Johnathan Gray RB 5-10 190 Aledo (Texas) Texas
44 Dalton Santos LB 6-2 240 Van (Texas) Tennessee
54 Zach Hirth LS 6-3 200 Eureka (Mo.) Undecided
56 Avery Young OT 6-5 270 Palm Beach Gardens (Fla.) Undecided
57 Jay Guillermo C 6-3 287 Maryville (Tenn.) Clemson
58 Eddie Goldman DT 6-4 310 Collegiate Academy (D.C.) Undecided
60 Joey O'Connor OT 6-4 280 Windsor (Colo.) Undecided
70 Leonard Williams DT 6-4 265 Mainland (Fla.) Undecided
71 Patrick Destefano OT 6-5 275 Dorman (S.C.) Clemson
72 Curtis Riser OG 6-4 290 DeSoto (Texas) Texas
74 Alex Norman DT 6-3 280 Bishop Dunne (Texas) Texas
75 Andrus Peat OT 6-6 280 Corona Del Sol (Ariz.) Undecided
76 Michael Flint OG 6-3 305 Oxford (Ala.) Undecided
77 Evan Boehm OG 6-3 290 Lee's Summit West (Mo.) Missouri
78 Kennedy Estelle OT 6-6 300 Glenda Dawson (Texas) Texas
86 Justin Meredith TE 6-5 220 T.L. Hanna (S.C.) Tennessee
90 Malcom Brown DT 6-2 280 Brenham (Texas) Texas
92 Jordan Jenkins DE 6-3 228 Harris County (Ga.) Undecided
BLACK TEAM COACHES (HIGHLIGHT)
Name Position Affiliation
Herm Edwards Head coach Former NFL head coach, current ESPN analyst.
Larry Kennan Offensive coordinator Former NFL coach.
George Dyer Defensive coordinator Former NFL coach.
Carl Mauck OL Former NFL coach.
Bob Milloy RB Coaches at Good Counsel HS in Maryland.
Clarence Inscore CB Coaches at Millbrook HS in North Carolina.
Joey Florence S Coaches at Denton Ryan HS in Texas.
Mario Edwards Sr. CB assistant Coaches at Denton Ryan HS in Texas.
Matt Scott WR/TE Coaches at Hueytown HS in Alabama.
Rodney Gray RB Coaches at Ely HS in Florida.
Thadd McNeal QB Coaches at Carlsbad HS in California.
Scott Earley DL Coaches at Lexington HS in South Carolina.
Jess Simpson LB Coaches at Buford HS in Georgia.
Kale Ane LB Coaches at Punahou HS in Hawaii.
Josh Niblett WR/TE Coaches at Hoover HS in Alabama.
Al Luginbill Operations Former college coach.
WHITE TEAM (BLUR)
No. Name Pos. Ht. Wt. School College
1 Avery Johnson WR 6-1 185 Ely (Fla.) LSU
2 Shaq Roland ATH 6-1 180 Lexington (S.C.) South Carolina
3 Lucas Thompson S 6-1 190 West Orange (Fla.) Undecided
3 Trey Griffey WR 6-2 184 Dr. Phillips (Fla.) Undecided
4 Keith Marshall RB 5-11 185 Millbrook (N.C.) Georgia
5 Cyrus Jones ATH 5-10 180 Gilman School (Md.) Undecided
5 Zach Kline QB 6-1 195 San Ramon Valley (Calif.) Cal
6 Dante Fowler Jr. DE 6-3 236 Lakewood Senior (Fla.) Florida State
6 Alton Howard WR 5-9 175 Edgewater (Fla.) Tennessee
7 Eddie Williams ATH 6-3 205 Arnold (Fla.) Alabama
8 Jameis Winston QB 6-3 190 Hueytown (Ala.) Florida State
9 Ronnie Feist OLB 6-1 215 West Saint John (La.) LSU
10 De'Vante Harris CB 5-10 160 Horn (Texas) Oklahoma
10 Darius Powe WR 6-2 190 Lakewood (Calif.) Cal
11 Tanner Mangum QB 6-2 190 Eagle (Idaho) BYU
11 Channing Ward DE 6-3 230 Aberdeen (Miss.) Undecided
12 Chris Black WR 5-11 165 First Coast (Fla.) Alabama
13 LaTroy Pittman WR 6-0 195 North Marion (Fla.) Florida
14 P.J. Williams S 6-0 180 Vanguard (Fla.) Florida State
15 Marvin Bracy ATH 5-9 168 Boone (Fla.) Florida State
16 Austin Hardin K 5-11 200 Marist (Ga.) Florida
17 Mario Edwards DE 6-4 250 Billy Ryan (Texas) Florida State
18 Marcus Maye S 6-0 195 Holy Trinity (Fla.) Florida
19 Reggie Ragland ILB 6-3 245 Bob Jones (Ala.) Alabama
21 Chris Casher ATH 6-4 225 Davidson (Ala.) Florida State
21 Sean Price TE 6-4 215 North Marion (Fla.) South Florida
22 Amari Cooper WR 6-1 185 Miami Northwestern (Fla.) Alabama
24 Brian Poole CB 5-10 192 Southeast (Fla.) Florida
25 Ronald Darby ATH 5-11 176 Potomac (Md.) Notre Dame
26 Wes Brown RB 6-0 200 Our Lady of Good Counsel (Md.) Undecided
28 Alex Ross RB 6-1 205 Jenks (Okla.) Oklahoma
30 Michael Rose LB 6-0 220 Rockhurst (Mo.) Nebraska
44 Dakota Ball DT 6-2 290 Pepperell (Ga.) Alabama
45 Donald Hopkins DT 6-2 275 Lago Vista (Texas) Missouri
53 Jonathan Taylor DT 6-3 315 Jenkins County (Ga.) Georgia
56 Isaac Seumalo OG 6-3 275 Corvallis (Ore.) Oregon State
58 Brandon Greene OT 6-5 290 Cedar Grove (Ga.) Alabama
62 Devon Desper C 6-4 295 Madison (Miss.) Mississippi St.
64 Reid Ferguson LS 6-2 235 Buford (Ga.) LSU
65 Brock Stadnik OT 6-5 290 Western Guilford (N.C.) South Carolina
72 Mike Madaras OT 6-5 286 Our Lady of Good Counsel (Md.) Maryland
74 Vadal Alexander OT 6-5 320 Buford (Ga.) LSU
75 Jessamen Dunker OT 6-6 315 Boynton Beach (Fla.) Florida
77 John Atkins OG 6-3 305 Thomson (Ga.) Georgia
78 Josh Garnett OT 6-5 275 Puyallup (Wash.) Undecided
84 Colin Thompson TE 6-4 255 Archbishop Wood (Pa.) Florida
85 Korren Kirven DT 6-3 270 Brookville (Va.) Undecided
99 Issac Gross DE 6-2 265 South Panola (Miss.) Ole Miss
WHITE TEAM COACHES (BLUR)
Name Position Affiliation
Steve Mariucci Head coach Former NFL head coach, current NFL Network analyst.
Ted Tollner Offensive coordinator Former NFL coach.
John Levra Defensive coordinator Former NFL coach.
Dave Levy OL Former NFL coach.
Aazaar Abdul-Rahim CB Coaches at Collegiate Academy in Washington D.C.
Charlie Ragle LB Coaches at Chaparral HS in Arizona.
Dave Huffine WR/TE Coaches at Chaparral HS in Arizona.
Claude Mathis CB Coaches at DeSoto HS in Texas.
Jeff Weachter WR/TE Coaches at Bish McDevitt HS in Pennsylvania.
John Grass QB Coaches at Oxford HS in Alabama.
L.D. Williams RB Coaches at Austin HS in Texas.
Robert Jones LB assistant Former NFL player.
Thomas Wilcher RB Coaches at Cass Technical HS in Michigan.
Tim Buchanan DL Coaches at Aledo HS in Texas.
Joey McGuire S Coaches at Cedar Hill HS in Texas.
Reggie Torres S assistant Coaches at Kahuku HS in Hawaii.
Al Luginbill Operations Former college coach.
Dave Ohton ST Former college coach.
Cyrus Jones, ATH
Baltimore, Md./Gilman School
ESPNU 150 rank: 33 | Position rank: 5 | Grade: 82 | Stars: 4
Height: 5-10 | Weight: 180 pounds | Evaluation
Recruiting update: All signs pointed to Jones heading south. He recently gushed about his official visit to Alabama in November, and he has taken official visits to Auburn and Virginia Tech. But now that Urban Meyer is at Ohio State, the Buckeyes are worth watching.