Just when you thought it was safe to move on the class of 2011, there is still some drama remaining in the class of 2010. The late signings of Seantrel Henderson and Latwan Anderson seemed to close the books on the class of 2010 as it relates to the highly recruited prospects. Now a late decision by Lonnie Ballentine gives teams another opportunity for hope - if only for the weekend.
Ballentine is already being touted as one of the top prospects in the state of Tennessee for the 2011 class with offers from Alabama, Duke, LSU, Memphis, Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Tennessee and Vanderbilt. Rather than wait until his senior year to sign with one of those programs, the Memphis (Tenn.) Southwind defensive back has opted to sign late and leave as a junior. He will announce his college decision and sign his LOI on Monday.
"He said he's ready to start his college career," said Southwind head coach Cedric Miller. "He was going to come out in December (of 2010) regardless because he was through with all of his course work. He could come back and build his stats even more but that wasn't important to him and it wasn't important to me either."
Though the decision is a bit last minute, it is certainly not something that hasn't been thought through. Back in July, Ballentine committed to Memphis with plans of graduating high school early and enrolling in Memphis before his senior year of high school.
With the arrival of numerous major college offers, Ballentine held off on that decision and had decided to play out his senior season. However, with all his course work completed, Ballentine has found an opportunity that he is ready to jump on.
"My thing for him is for him to be happy wherever he goes and that's between him and his mother," said Coach Miller. "I support him 100 percent."
Ballentine's decision is known only to him and his mother. Even his head coach hasn't been told his finalists and assumes that they are among his eight official offers.
"I'm sure he knows," Miller said. "Him and his momma. They don't want it leaked out right now. They're going to keep it hush hush and let it all come out on Monday."
As a prospect, Ballentine is certainly unique. Not only is he a legit 6-foot-3 playing cornerback, but he also has legit track speed. That combination of size and athleticism has college coaches drooling over a skill set that has NFL potential. His high school coach agrees.
"Anywhere he goes, he's going to make an immediate impact because of his pure athleticism, size, speed and the position he plays. He can play corner, or safety. He can help somebody right off the bat. I personally think the kid probably plays three years and then he'll probably be gone (to the NFL)."