Memphis' recruiting momentum since the hiring of Larry Porter didn't stop on the first Wednesday in February. After landing a very impressive haul for the class of 2010, Memphis may have saved the best for last with a late 2010 signing on Monday.
Memphis (Tenn.) Southwind defensive back Lonnie Ballentine, one of the top athletes in the Memphis area in any class recently made the decision to forgo his senior year in high school, graduate early and sign with the hometown Memphis Tigers.
Ballentine had initially committed to Memphis in the summer with plans on signing early with the Tigers. He then had second thoughts and had wanted to play out his senior season. With the recruiting job of Larry Porter and his staff though, Ballentine no longer felt the need to wait.
"It's official. He's a Tiger," said Southwind head coach Cedric Miller said on Monday.
Ballentine chose the Tigers over a list of finalists that included Tennessee, Arkansas, Louisville and Ole Miss. Ballentine had also received offers from the likes of LSU and Alabama. However, the relationship that he had built with Larry Porter was the overwhelming deciding factor.
"I think it was Coach Porter number one," Miller said. "Number two, he's at home and three he was ready to come out and he had nothing else to prove. I know the main thing was Coach Porter. He came in and was up front and serious with the kid. It was a great relationship with him. Coach Porter came to him with the truth and told him what it was going to be and I think he was genuine with him and his parents."
Miller, a former Memphis Tiger himself, is happy to welcome Ballentine into the Memphis family after a late decision.
"He made the decision last week," he said. "He kept it to himself. He went along with what he and his momma wanted to do. I'm happy that he's a Tiger. I'm not going to push him in any direction but I played there and he's just another alumni in the family now."
Ballentine is a unique prospect as a 6-foot-3 cornerback with track speed. He has the ability to play cornerback or safety and is rated by Rivals.com as a 5.7 three-star.