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January 30, 2013

Mind of Mike: Breaking a commitment?

MIND OF MIKE: Jan. 24 | Jan. 18 | Jan. 7 | Dec. 28

Mike Farrell is the National Football Recruiting Analyst for Rivals.com. Want more of what's on Mike's mind throughout the week? Follow him on Twitter @rivalsmike.

Rivals.com national analyst Mike Farrell is never shy to express his opinion on everything from commitments to rankings to how on-field performance affects recruiting. In this weekly feature -- Inside the Mind of Mike -- the most experienced analyst in the industry gives some of his thoughts on the events of the past week.

Deep Thoughts

Signing Day for the class of 2013 is a week away and there are plenty of uncommitted prospects to track between now and when ink hits paper. However, I get more questions regarding the players already committed who could flip on or before that big day. Here's a few of the bigger names still thinking about breaking their verbal pledge.

DE Carl Lawson: Lawson didn't make his official visit to North Carolina, so now it will come down to the three schools most anticipated it would: Auburn, Tennessee and Clemson. The Auburn commit will visit the Tigers this weekend and with the sudden Tigers recruiting surge, they will be looking to cement his commitment. Getting the last visit is huge for Auburn and will give it momentum heading into LOI Day. But there seem to be more rumors about Clemson and Tennessee with Lawson than the school he's still committed to. Tennessee has former Auburn coach Tommy Thigpen and very good friend Ryan Jenkins, Clemson had long been considered the team to beat after the firing of the Auburn staff and sources inside Lawson's school think it will be the ACC Tigers. Auburn, meanwhile, has done a good job of keeping Lawson committed and renewing his interest. Lawson will not make an announcement, he will simply inform the school of his choice and then thank the other two, so this will be interesting to follow. Flip a coin here, but I'll say Tennessee takes it home.

DB Jalen Ramsey: Ramsey has long been committed to USC but has taken numerous official visits and has been linked to Florida and Florida State in recent weeks. The firing of defensive backs coach Marvin Sanders doesn't help the Trojans' cause, but Ramsey has never de-committed from USC, despite numerous chances. But there have been too many rumors about a flip to either the Gators or Seminoles for there not to be some concern here and I think he ends up staying closer to home, with the 'Noles offering the better option for immediate playing time.

DE Chris Jones: One of the hottest teams in the country right now is Mississippi, so do the Rebels have a legitimate chance at landing five-star defensive end Chris Jones after he took an official visit to Oxford this past weekend? The Mississippi State commit was impressed with his visit and not surprisingly, the Rebels have once again positioned themselves favorably. Jones will take an unofficial visit to Ole Miss and Mississippi State this weekend before making a final decision. Any coaching staff going head to head with Hugh Freeze and the Rebels for a top level prospect, however, is not in an enviable position. That said, I think he sticks with Mississippi State.

DT A'Shawn Robinson: Robinson took his official visit to Texas this past weekend, and while he has been very quiet publicly, it definitely seems as though the Longhorns did everything possible to firm up his commitment. Robinson's mother has been a major player in his recruiting process from the start, and while Alabama and USC will continue to push for Robinson, it would be very surprising if he didn't decide to stay closer to home with the Longhorns.

RB Altee Tenpenny: Tenpenny was originally scheduled to take an official visit to Auburn last weekend, but changed his mind. This means it will come down to Alabama and Arkansas, which most assumed it would. Not too much has changed in recent weeks with Tenpenny, and depending on whom you ask, both sides have a legitimate chance. Some assume that he will stick with Alabama, but with Coach Bret Bielema pushing his history of being a run-first coach and the fact that the Crimson Tide have numerous other running back commitments already in the fold (and still may still add Alvin Kamara), Tenpenny has a number of things to think about. My gut tells me Arkansas, but that's simply a hunch.

DT Henry Poggi: Poggi committed to Michigan in June and had stayed out of the limelight until his arrival at the Under Armour All-American Game in early January. At that time, rumors began that he wanted to take a closer look at Alabama. That seemed like it wasn't going to happen until word came out that he did make his way to Tuscaloosa last weekend. Michigan has had a fairly strict rule of not allowing committed players take official visits to other schools, so that makes this situation even more interesting. This is especially true considering there might not even be a spot for Poggi at Alabama because the Tide are definitely running low on available slots. It's doubtful he ends up anyplace but Michigan barring a surprise, but this visit has to concern the Wolverines.

RB Dontre Wilson: Long committed to Oregon, Wilson began to re-open his recruiting process once Chip Kelly made his move to the NFL. He took his much-anticipated official visit to Ohio State during the weekend, but returned home without flipping to the Buckeyes, which was a surprise to some. Part of this was likely because Oregon did have a very successful in-home visit right before he made his way to Columbus. Next Wilson will make his way to Stillwater to check out Oklahoma State, but there could also be an unofficial visit to Texas. Usually Urban Meyer gets what he wants, but I think Wilson might have his heart set on Oregon.

WR Tyler Boyd: It seemed like Boyd was going to visit Tennessee last weekend, then he changed to West Virginia. Considering he's a Pittsburgh commit, this would be a worst-case scenario for Panthers fans. Before his commitment to the Panthers, it had long been thought that it would come down to West Virginia and Pittsburgh, so this visit shouldn't come as a huge surprise. Pittsburgh is still confident in its ability to sign Boyd, but Tennessee will continue to try to get Boyd on campus and West Virginia is now firmly in the picture. I think he sticks with Pitt.

Alabama offensive lineman Austin Golson had been committed to Florida State since April, but since December he has taken official visits to North Carolina, Mississippi and Alabama. Last weekend he made it back to Tallahassee for his official visit and the Seminoles were optimistic that it was enough to re-confirm his commitment. However, Golson has de-committed and it's clear that he will end up at Ole Miss, barring a surprise. FSU's offensive line recruiting has been interesting to follow in the past two years and this is a big loss for 2013.

With the de-commitment of Golson, Florida State is now in urgent need of additional offensive linemen in this class.

The Seminoles were hoping to grab at least five in this class, but with only two commitments a week before National Signing Day, options are thin. Wilson Bell becomes the top remaining target now, but he still has an official visit coming up this weekend to Ole Miss. A new target likely will be Deon Mix, who de-committed from Mississippi State earlier this week. Look for the Seminoles to have an in-home visit with Mix later this week with the hopes of getting him on campus for an official visit this weekend. Mix would be a nice late addition, although UCLA has been interested for awhile.

I've said recently that UCLA was going to close strong and I meant it. After the flurry of defensive back commitments, look for quarterback Asiantii Woulard to chose the Bruins on Signing Day and I expect defensive end Kylie Fitts to become a Bruin as well. I think UCLA still leads for five-star defensive end Eddie Vanderdoes despite a good visit to Notre Dame and a pending visit to Alabama, but that remains to be seen. I think USC and Washington could be out of it.

I said it a long time ago and I'll say it again -- running back Derrick Green just looked like a Big Ten back when I first began scouting him and especially in his final years of high school, so Michigan is a good fit. And for those who think I'm wrong, Hall of Famer Rod Woodson said the same thing, unsolicited, during NBC's broadcast of the U.S. Army All American Bowl.

With all the focus on 2013 prospects, Florida is now a major player for 2014's No. 1 player Da'Shawn Hand with the hire of former Gamecocks defensive line coach Brad Lawing. The Gamecocks are still very much in the mix as well as they quickly hired North Carolina defensive line coach Deke Adams. UNC could be the one left out once Hand re-sets his top five list.

Interesting note on why I think defensive tackle Montravius Adams picks Clemson over Georgia (with an Auburn visit this weekend). Georgia defensive coordinator Todd Grantham has become a big enough name to where Adams fears he could leave after next season for either a head coaching job in college or the NFL. With Rodney Garner gone to Auburn and Chris Wilson just getting to know Adams, Clemson's 1-2 punch of Dan Brooks and Brent Venables brings much more comfort to Adams and family.

Changing a few of my guesses -- not predictions -- from last week. I hit on Derrick Green but that was easy and I'll keep my predictions on Lawson to Tennessee, Laremy Tunsil to Georgia, Matthew Thomas to Miami, Vanderdoes to UCLA and A'Shawn Robinson to Texas. I'll switch from Florida to FSU for Jalen Ramsey, but Vonn Bell is the toughest one to figure. I said it would be Alabama then but now it appears to be a battle between Ohio State and Tennessee. There is a lot of smoke about a silent Tennessee commitment and I know Bell's parents loved Knoxville, but a reliable source told me that the Buckeyes still have the edge despite the excellent visit to the Vols. I'm going to say Ohio State, but not with a ton of confidence.

Quick Hitters

There were some rumors on Monday that three-star running back Augustus Edwards had finally officially de-committed from Syracuse, but that was proven untrue. However, it just seems a matter of time before it becomes official because this has turned out to be a battle between Florida State and Miami. Edwards named Florida State his leader earlier this week after Coach Jimbo Fisher stopped by to visit him, but with Miami receiving the final official visit this coming weekend, this will likely go to the finish.

Regarding Johnathan Ford and his offer from Georgia, some people believe that this may be an indication that the Bulldogs believe that four-star running back Alvin Kamara will end up at Alabama. This has been a back-and-forth battle between the Bulldogs and Crimson Tide for several months now, and even though Kamara took his visit to Athens last weekend and publicly has mentioned that it is still a tie, most now believe that he will end up at Tuscaloosa.

Oddly enough I think all the people telling Kamara he's crazy to head to Alabama because of the stockpile of running backs already in this class could be pushing him there instead. As a fierce competitor, I think he wants to prove the naysayers wrong. As for Ford, unless he takes an official visit to Georgia this weekend and the Dawgs make a strong push, I think Auburn is the place. The one-time Vanderbilt commitment blew up in the last month unlike any other player this year.

The recruiting process for linebacker Skai Moore has also become interesting. Originally committed to Rutgers, an impressive senior season saw SEC offers roll in from schools such as South Carolina, Arkansas and Tennessee. At this time, and also after supposedly receiving some pressure from people around him, Moore de-committed to check out his options. First was a visit to South Carolina last weekend, but then, unexpected to some, Moore made his way back to Rutgers for an official visit last weekend after the Scarlet Knights had a successful in-home visit. The Scarlet Knights are back in the picture, but now back in Florida, it should be interesting to see what the people around Moore will tell him. The Gamecocks are the team to beat despite the best efforts, or those of Rutgers. Arkansas could make a final push, but it might be too late.

An interesting development in the Damon Mitchell saga occurred on Tuesday afternoon. The Georgia Tech commit had been throwing out feelers to other schools, but the Yellow Jackets seemed to nip that in the bud by telling him that if he took an official visit to another school, they would pull the offer. So where does this leave Mitchell now, with word that he plans to take an official visit to Arkansas this weekend? I guess you can say that the ball is now in Georgia Tech's court. If the Yellow Jackets pull his offer and he enjoys his visit to Arkansas, I guess that makes things easy. However, what if they pull his offer and his visit to Arkansas doesn't go as planned? That might put Rutgers in a good position. The Scarlet Knights had an in-home visit with Mitchell a few days ago to try to get him on campus for an official visit this weekend. While that attempt seems to have failed, Mitchell is already very familiar with the coaching staff and campus, so if his other options don't pan out, Rutgers will be there waiting for him.

Auburn jumped into the game late, but the Tigers managed to convince four-star athlete Cornelius Elder to take an official visit Wednesday and Thursday. After the visit to Auburn, he will then take his last visit this weekend to Georgia Tech. Ohio State is also still in the game, but that might depend on what Dontre Wilson and James Clark decide to do; UCLA is a long shot. Meanwhile, Purdue has offered Elder the opportunity to play basketball. This is Elder's best basketball offer to date, and it is something that means a great deal to him, but without being able to take an official visit to West Lafayette, it's difficult to see the Boilermakers as a viable option. Elder wanted to go to Ohio State, according to sources, so it will be interesting to see who the Buckeyes end up with. If they strike out on Wilson and Clark, it might be too late to get back in on Elder.

Florida entering the picture this late for JUCO quarterback Tanner McEvoy was unexpected, but it makes sense after the transfer of Jacoby Brissett. McEvoy will take an official visit this weekend, and it offers him a new opportunity since the Gators are relatively thin on their roster at the position. West Virginia was the likely destination for McEvoy before this new development, and probably still offers the best opportunity for early playing time, but the Gators will be out to prove that with only Jeff Driskel, there is an opportunity for him.

McEvoy has already struck out once in the SEC with the Gamecocks so perhaps the Mountaineers might be more of a fresh start.

Four-star linebacker Myles Jack is another interesting name to watch. Committed to UCLA, Jack took an official visit to Washington last weekend and came away extremely impressed. Most assume it will come down to the Bruins and Huskies, but he still does have an official visit scheduled with Florida State this weekend. The Seminoles are still confident, but getting him to campus will be the major issue. Word is that he is getting pressure from family and friends on the West Coast to stay closer to home, but he's still bound for Tallahassee this weekend. I have a feeling Jack will flip to Washington in the end.

In recent weeks I have mentioned that the recruitment of four-star Mackensie Alexander was one of the more chaotic of any in the country. At that time, he seemed set to officially visit Rutgers last weekend and then he was rumored to be visiting South Florida. So when he actually ended up at Auburn, it wasn't much of a surprise. Alexander has one visit left, but nobody, including probably himself, knows if he will take that visit this weekend. Whatever his decision is for the weekend, it's a safe assumption that National Signing Day will have a number of schools on edge as they wait for Alexander's Letter of Intent.

North Carolina State experienced an unfortunate flashback when three-star athlete Marcus Edmond flipped to Clemson after taking an official visit to the Tigers this past weekend. If this sounds familiar, it's because Kyrin Priester also flipped to Clemson after taking an official the previous weekend. Both players received recent offers from Clemson, and had mentioned that the Tigers were a "dream offer" for them, so it turned into a bad situation for the Wolfpack. The difference between Clemson and N.C. State in recruiting has never been more evident regardless of the coaching change in Raleigh.

Four-star running back Alex Collins took his final official visit to Arkansas during the weekend. The visit helped out the Razorbacks, and they will be in his final group of schools when he makes his decision on Feb. 4. But Miami remains the leader. Another Miami prospect who took an official visit to Arkansas during the weekend was Denver Kirkland. Once again, the visit helped the Razorbacks, but it will be a surprise if he doesn't stay local and end up at Miami. Florida State is still making a push and will until the end, but he is the Hurricanes' to lose.

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