UA All-America Game: News and notes from registration day
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – Tyreke Smith has, in most real ways, already committed. The decision is done and the involved coaches have been informed. The actual announcement, in a lot of ways, is a formality – a made-for-television moment. That will take place at Thursday’s Under Armour All-America Game.
The Rivals100 defensive end says his finalists are Oregon, USC, Penn State and Ohio State, but the Buckeyes seem to be the clear favorite to land his pledge. That much is also no secret. Smith’s final official visit was to Penn State, where head coach James Franklin appealed to his mother.
“My mom is always talking about family and how important family is,” Smith said. “She’s big on that. Coach Franklin just told me how much of a family it is there and talked about the education.”
The appeal of Ohio State, on the other hand, has to do with relationships.
“Coach [Larry] Johnson and I have a great relationship,” Smith said. “With Coach [Urban] Meyer, our relationship just continues to grow. Plus, I’m in that state, so I get to go out and see them a lot. I know a lot of players that go there, so that helps. That’s what’s up with them.”
Four-star defensive end Nikolas Bonitto will announce his decision at Thursday’s game and has narrowed his focus to include just Texas, Oklahoma and Louisville. The Sooners received Bonito’s final official visit and seem to be the favorite to land the Florida-based athlete. On Saturday, he spoke about his impressions of the OU program. “I loved being down there,” Bonitto said of Oklahoma. “It was great being around all the guys and just seeing them practice for the playoff. The coaches just welcomed me in. It was really good."
Asked if he already knew which school he’d choose, Bonitto told a group of reporters “No.” When the follow-up question became “Are you lying?” the sought-after prospect cracked.
“Yeah, I am,” he said with a laugh before admitting that he’s already informed the coaches at the school of his choice.
Four-star wide receiver Jacob Copeland, a former Florida commit says the schools in the mix to land his commitment are the Gators, Tennessee and Alabama, but an upcoming visit to Texas A&M may allow the Aggies to push their way into the mix.
Copeland will visit Texas A&M on Jan. 20, Alabama on Jan. 26 and Florida on the final visit weekend before his signing day announcement. Tennessee is the newcomer to the top of Copeland’s recruitment. And while the Vols will have an uphill battle to topple the Gators and Tide, the Florida-based wideout seems to be growing more and more fond of Jeremy Pruitt’s program.
“My visit to Tennessee was much love,” Copeland said. “I knew most of the staff already. It was good. They showed me around. I really felt like I could do my three or four years out there in Tennessee.”
Defensive back Anthony Schwartz will choose between Auburn, Florida and Georgia on Thursday, but plans to take official visits after his announcement. So while he’ll have a choice in short order, that choice may or may not be final. It’s a tale right out of the modern recruiting handbook.
“I’ll for sure visit Florida and Auburn,” Schwartz said on Saturday. “And maybe I’ll visit Georgia.” A four-star prospect and one of the fastest players in America, Schwartz has named various favorites throughout his recruitment, but said that he “couldn’t say” who currently leads. He will run track in addition to playing football at the school of his choice.
Defensive back D.J. Brown, a Virginia commit, says he hopes to visit both Cal and Duke in the coming month. He’ll visit Cal during the second week of January and is in the process of setting his Duke visit for the following weekend.
“At Cal, I want to see and hear more about the academics,” Brown said Friday. “I know it’s a great school, but I don’t know that much about it. I want to see how the coaches are, too.
“With Duke, it’s the same thing. I camped there my sophomore year, so I’ve seen it once. I just want to see it again. Coach (Derek Jones) is a real good dude.”
As for where UVA is in all this, Brown says he’s keeping the coaching staff abreast.
“They’re fine,” Brown said. “They encouraged me to take visits. I told them, and they were fine with it.”
Coynis Miller remains committed to Auburn but also remains unsigned. Saturday, he spoke about his intentions to visit both Florida and Tennessee before making things official with the Tigers on signing day in February.
Asked point-blank which schools have a chance to pry him away from Auburn, the four-star defensive tackle’s response matched his visit itinerary.
“Tennessee does if I go down there and I just love it,” Miller said. “Tennessee does for sure, and I’m going to go back down to Florida and see what (Dan) Mullen is talking about. I guess that’s it; just Florida and Tennessee.” Miller said that Tennessee’s resurgence as it relates to his recruitment stems from its decision to hire former Alabama assistant Jeremy Pruitt, with whom Miller has a relationship.
Florida State commit Christian Meadows remains pledged to the Seminoles, but declined to sign during the early period because of the staff turnover. FSU does not have an offensive line in place at this juncture, which Meadows admits gives him some level of pause.
“I didn’t sign because of the – I don’t want to call it chaos – but just everything that was going on down (AT FSU), he said. "Like I said, Florida State is still the frontrunner.” Meadows will take an official visit to Florida state on the final visit weekend before singing day. He also intends to visit Miami and Florida in the month ahead.
Defensive tackle Keondre Coburn declined to sign with Texas during the Early Signing Period, but remains a member of the Longhorns' 2018 class. Coburn's name is listed on the Longhorns’ commitment list and he intends to play his college football in Austin. That’s not to say he won’t have a final look around.
“I’ll most likely sign with Texas in February,” he said Saturday. But he then went on to outline his plan for possible visits. Coburn fully intends to take what he calls “a final look around.”