Five things to watch this Weekend from the Atlantic Coast:
Making waves at Wake
Wake Forest will host Florida State on Saturday with a chance to put itself in the driver's seat of the Atlantic Division of the ACC. Wake is 2-0 in the conference. Florida State is 0-1. A win would undoubtedly help Wake recruit in the state of Florida.
Wake has 30 players from Tennessee on its roster. Most – if not all - were passed over by Florida State.
“Every Florida player (on the Wake Forest team) will have a little extra for them,” linebacker Kyle Wilber, who is from Apopka, Fla., told the Shelby Star. “Because, again, we weren’t good enough for them.”
Now, I don't see Wake regularly beating Florida State for prospects the Seminoles truly desire, but making the Demon Deacons an attractive option can certainly help build a program even if Florida schools have passed those same prospects by. Saturday is a chance for Wake to get some pub -- and some revenge.
Georgia vs. Tennessee
There are plenty of subplots in this rivalry that will affect recruiting. First, Georgia coach Mark Richt's seat will become red hot if the Bulldogs lose to Tennessee, which is certainly possible. Georgia is just a one-point favorite and, traditionally, the Bulldogs haven't played well in Neyland Stadium. Richt needs this win in a bad way. Many prospects have discussed the uncertainty in Athens as a major factor in their recruitment.
On the other sideline, Tennessee coach Derek Dooley is still looking for a signature win. Counting his record in three seasons at Louisiana Tech before he came to Knoxville in January 2010, Dooley is 1-21 against Football Bowl Subdivision teams that ended the subsequent season with a winning record. The one win came against Fresno State in 2006 while Dooley was at Tech. If Dooley doesn't begin to climb the ladder at some point, prospects will understandably become concerned. With LSU, Alabama and South Carolina coming up next on the schedule, this may be Dooley's best shot to beat a quality SEC opponent -- if Georgia can prove to be as much.
And while I don't think much of either team's chances to win an SEC title, representing the East Division is a realistic possibility with a win on Saturday since the division is so muddled. Both programs would love the exposure of a December game in Atlanta -- win or lose -- because it would surely benefit recruiting.
Dooley and defensive line coach Lance Thompson, who recruits Georgia, said one win doesn't make or break you in recruiting. I concur -- for the most part. I typically don't place too much emphasis on one game and how it might affect prospects' decisions. Then I heard sophomore offensive tackle Ja'Wuan James address the issue this week.
"It really could, especially being from Georgia,” the former standout from Suwanee (Ga.) North Gwinnett said. “Georgia kids come up here and want to see this game. They might be stuck between Tennessee and Georgia. Some kid might see Tennessee beat Georgia by 40 (points) and be like, 'OK, well this is where I feel like I need to be.'"
Case in point, James committed to Tennessee one month after the Vols beat Georgia 45-19.
"It definitely helped," James said of the win in Knoxville in 2009.
James was rated the second-best offensive tackle in 2010 when he committed to former Tennessee coach Lane Kiffin. Dooley secured a recruiting coup in Georgia as well when he secured receiver Da'Rick Rogers from Calhoun (Ga.) High School. Rogers was rated the sixth-best receiver prospect in the nation when he signed with Tennessee shortly before signing day after long being committed to Georgia.
James said he followed Rogers' recruitment closely.
"I was already talking to him when we went down to the [Under Armour All-America Game] together,” James said. “We were on the same plane. I was like, 'Man, you need to come on and come to Tennessee.' He was like, 'No, I'll never come.'
“Then a couple weeks later I heard that he was talking about coming and then I started talking to him and he came on his visit and I hosted him and it just clicked like and he said he was coming."
It didn't take long for athlete Ryan Switzer to be drawn to Tennessee, and the feeling might be mutual. The 5-foot-10, 180-pound athlete from Charleston (W.Va.) George Washington said after talking to Tennessee linebacker coach Peter Sirmon this week that he feels as if he's close to an offer.
The junior seems likely headed out of state since West Virginia is loaded at receiver. Switzer recently said Penn State led for his services but the Vols could shake that up if they indeed extend an official invite. Switzer, who will likely play slot receiver in college, has family in Knoxville and he likes the city. He also likes Tennessee's program, the chance to play in the SEC and the opportunity to play in an explosive offense, according to a text he sent to ESPN.
Switzer also has scholarship offers from Florida State, North Carolina State, Wake Forest, Marshall and Purdue, among others.
It's still hard to tell just which direction receiver Stefon Diggs is leaning, even though the receiver from Olney (Md.) Good Counsel cut his list down to 11 schools. The finalists were hardly surprising: Auburn, California, Southern California, Florida State, Florida, Maryland, Michigan, Virginia, Virginia Tech, Miami and South Carolina.
But considering his list spans the country and represents five conferences, it's hard to predict who might make the next cut -- whenever that might be. However, I'll be brave and try to handicap it. I'd look for Auburn, Florida State, Southern California and Maryland to be in the final grouping. Hopefully, I'll learn more after visiting with the four-star prospect this week.
There will be a bevy of prospects on the field Saturday when Olney (Md.) Good Counsel plays at Hyattsville (Md.) DeMatha. Each team has more than a handful of Division I prospects on its roster. There will be plenty at stake, not the least of which will be an advantage when recruiting players to one of the two private schools.
Saturday's game will also continue a rivalry that has gotten more intense since DeMatha offensive coordinator Chris Baucia allowed players from rival schools, including Good Counsel, the opportunity to enroll in his Quarterback Factory for offseason training. For more on that sordid tale, click here.