football

Prospects not often swayed by realignment

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ThetopiccomesupoftenwhenRivals250tightendChristianMorganwalksthehallsofPlano(Texas)PrestonwoodChristianAcademy.
Afterall,realignment'saprettyhardsubjecttoavoidforanyrecruit,letaloneoneinMorgan'sposition.
Morgan'safour-starprospectwhohasFloridaStatehighonhislistofpotentialschools.HealsolivesintheheartofBig12country.SotherumorslinkingFloridaStatetotheBig12naturallyhavecausedMorgan'sfriendsandclassmatestoimaginethepossibilities.
"Definitely,Ihearaboutitallthetime,"Morgansaid."Everybody'srealexcitedabouthowifIdidgooverthere,aBaylorfanoraTexasfancouldcomeouttoseemeplayinTexasandalsocouldseemeplayinFlorida,too.''
EventhoughMorgansaidamovetotheBig12definitelywouldrepresentamajorplusforFloridaState,hedidn'tnecessarilythinkitwouldinfluencehisdecision.Otherprospectsseemtofeelthesamewayaboutrealignment.
Theydefinitelypayattentiontotherumors,butconferenceaffiliationisn'tnecessarilyforemostontheirmindswhenthey'remakingtheircollegechoices.
"Idon'tknowifitmakesadifferenceinmydecision,"Morgansaid."Forme,it'saboutfitwiththeplayers,coachingstaffandsystem."
Evenprospectswhowouldseemadverselyaffectedbyrealignmentdon'tseembotheredbyalltheseconferenceswitches.
Forinstance,JerseyCity(N.J.)St.Peter'sPrepall-purposeathleteBrandonNapoleoncommittedtoWestVirginiainthesummerof2011.Atthetime,Napoleonfiguredhe'dgetplentyofopportunitiestoplayrelativelyclosetohomewhenWestVirginiawentontheroadtofaceBigEastrivalsSyracuseandRutgers.
Sincethen,Syracusehasannouncedit'sonitswaytotheACCandWestVirginiahasleftfortheBig12.InsteadofplayingroadgamesintheNortheast,WestVirginiawillbeheadingwesttoplaythousandsofmilesfromNapoleon'shome.
Thatdidn'tstopNapoleonfromsigningwithWestVirginiaanyway.
"Ijustthinkfootball'sfootball,"Napoleonsaid."WestVirginiahasatraditionofplayinggreatcompetitionandalwaysdoingwell.SoIfigureditdidn'tmattertome-Big12,BigTenorstayingintheBigEast."
Thesamegoesfor2012FloridaStatesigneeRonaldDarbyofOxonHill(Md.)Potomacand2013FloridaStaterecruitE.J.LevenberryJr.ofWoodbridge(Va.)C.D.Hylton.EventhoughbothliveintheheartofACCcountry,neithersaidhewouldmindiftheSeminolesjoinedtheBig12.
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"Itdoesn'treallymatter,"Darbysaid."IhavenoproblemswiththeBig12."
Levenberrysaidhewaspickingaschoolandnotaconferencewhenhemadehischoice.
"IloveFloridaState,"Levenberrysaid."WherevertheyplayiswhereI'mgoingtoplay."
Ifanything,LevenberryseemedtoprefertheideaofplayingintheBig12.HenotedthatheinitiallyconsideredOklahomainpartbecauseofhisappreciationofthatconference.HealsothinkshisgamesuitstheBig12'spass-firstmentality.
"Ihavetheabilitytocoverrunningbacksandreceivers,"Levenberrysaid."PlayingintheBig12-that'sapassingleague-I'dbeabletoshowmyskills."
AmovetotheBig12wouldn'tnecessarilychangeFloridaState'srecruitingapproach.Overthelastfiveyears,FloridaStatehassignedmoreplayersfromTexas(five)thanfromthestatesofMaryland,NorthCarolina,SouthCarolinaandVirginiacombined.
FloridaStatedoesrecruitGeorgiaveryheavily,butitsproximitytotheGeorgiaborderassuresthattheSeminoleswillcontinuedrawingplayersfromthePeachStatewhetherornotthey'reinthesameconferenceasGeorgiaTech.
OnlytimewilltellwhetheramovetotheBig12affectsWestVirginia'srecruiting,thoughtheMountaineershavemademuchmoreofanarecentefforttopursueTexasprospects.TheMountaineers'recruitingbaseremainsFloridaaswellasthestatesthatborderWestVirginia.HowmanyofthoseFloridaprospectswillcarethatWestVirginiaandUSFaren'tleaguerivalsanymore?
ThefactthatWestVirginia'sintheBig12andFloridaStatemaybeconsideringasimilarmovesuggeststhatgeographyisn'tmuchofafactorinconferencerealignment.Andapparentlywhenitcomestorecruiting,thegeographicfalloutofrealignmentisn'tmuchofanissueeither.
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ClickHeretoviewthisLink.ConsiderthecaseofKlein(Texas)OaklinebackerA.J.HilliardClickHeretoviewthisLink..AsaTexasresident,hewasquitehappywhenTCUClickHeretoviewthisLink.abandonedplanstojointheBigEastandmovedtotheBig12instead.Butthatdidn'tplayaroleinhisdecisiontosignwithTCU.
"Itactuallydidn'thaveanyeffect,"Hilliardsaid."Ithoughtthatwasgreat,thatTCUendedupintheBig12becauseit'sagreatconferencewithgreatcompetition.Itwasgreattheyhadtheopportunitytogothere....Forafewyears,IwantedTCUtoofferme.IreallywantedtogotoTCU.AndthatwasbeforetheBig12waseveninquestion."
Nowanotherteam'spotentialmovetotheBig12mayormaynotinfluenceonemoreTexasprospect'sdecision.
Morgansaysheplanstomakeaverbalcommitmentsometimebeforehissenioryear.HisinterestinFloridaStatearoselongbeforetheinitialreportslinkingtheSeminolestotheBig12.Andhisdecisionwon'tdependonwhetherthoserumorsturntoreality.
"FloridaState'saprogramIlikenomatterwhatconferencethey'rein,"Morgansaid."Butit'sdefinitelyexcitingthinkingaboutbeingabletogofartherawayandyetstillbeingabletocomebackandplayaroundheretoo."
SteveMegargeeisthenationalcollegecolumnistforRivals.com.Hecanbereachedatsmegargee@rivals.com,andyoucanclickheretofollowhimonTwitter.
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