published Wednesday, February 5th, 2014

5-at-10: Merry Re-Cruitmas, Braves making moves

You know what today is? Mike, Mike, Mike.

Yes, it's Hump Day. Yes it's even National Weather Person Day — so workplace-appropriate and non-awkward interweb hugs to David Glenn and Paul Barys and the rest of the forecast gamblers out there.

And those are important. But it's also national signing day, the first Wednesday of February when college football's future takes its first big step on the big stages across the country. That also means that with the modern technology of the world, this is the biggest day in the world for fax machines. It's so big the good folks in Knoxville have dressed their fax machine up for the occasion.

Giddy-up. And as a reminder, we have a slew of talented folks spread across the South to cover the event and there will be a slew of stuff here on timesfreepress.com all and more in tomorrow's 10-pages TFP Sports section

From the "Talks too much" studios, if you signed a letter of intent in invisible ink is it still binding?

Re-Cruitmas

There are a few folks we know that take today as a vacation day every year to follow the news as it happens. In a lot of ways, that's one of the good side of our day job in that are bosses surely would not be upset with us following recruiting news and other sports happening from our desk. So it goes.

Most of the work has been done for the area college classes and fans of UT and UTC should be smiling this day. Georgia likely will close with a five-star — defensive end Lorenzo "don't call me Clarence" Carter — which is another reason to smile. Alabama has one of the three best recruiting class of all-time, and the only Tide person that won't be truly pleased today is Nick Saban.

So where does that leave the guys that dying for the drama? Well, here are five storylines to follow:

  • photo
    Alabama's head coach Nick Saban walks the sideline.
    Photo by Dan Henry /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

• What does Rashaan Evans do? Evans is a five-star linebacker from Auburn High School whose father played at Auburn and whose mother graduated from Auburn. He will pick today between Auburn and Alabama, and if Saban slides in and snags Evans it would be one of the biggest coups in recent memory and solidify Saban as the Ali/Jordan of recruiting. This would be even more impressive that snagging five-star Rueben Foster last year, and Foster had been an Auburn commit for more than a year and had AU tattooed on his forearm for crying out loud.

• How does Vandy finish? New coach Derek Mason has batted 1.000 with his sound bites. From his opening press conference to telling the Tennessean's Jeff Lockridge for a story today that "I'm not one to wait around the fax machine," Mason has been cool and impressive. We like the guy. That said, the departure of James Franklin gutted a top-25 signing class and before a week flurry, the Commodores had nine commitments. They are up to the 15 neighborhood today and are hoping for a surprise or two.

• Congrats to all the local players who put pen to paper today. It doesn't matter if it's to Alabama or Abilene Community, enjoy today and the challenges ahead.

• Mocs on the move? We believe the Mocs will land a top-five FCS class and we know the coaches should be proud of the group it has assembled. The lone question will be whether any bigger schools slide in at the 11th hour. Here are a couple names we know UTC coaches fans will breathe easier when the paper work arrives:

• Here are a few ncommitted big-time guys and our prediction where they sign: Adoree' Jackson — USC; Lorenzo Carter — Georgia; Rashaan Evans — Auburn; Ermon Lane — FSU; Malachi Dupree — LSU. There's a real chance the SEC will have seven of the top 10 classes in the country at the end of the day.

Buckle up Bluto, because nothing is over until we decide it is.

————

Braves doing deals

Atlanta made quick, decisive and important decisions and acted on them. No, not the city, the Braves silly.

  • photo
    Atlanta Braves' Freddie Freeman makes the turn at third base on his way home to score against the Seattle Mariners in the fourth inning in this file photo.
    Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

Atlanta locked up first baseman Freddie Freeman for eight years with a $125-million deal. Great move for the Braves. Yes, Freeman is a 20-or-so-homer-a-year guy, but he means so much more to the team than that. He is a future Gold Glove-winner who will hit around .300 every year for the foreseeable future. He also is a great clubhouse guy and allows the Braves to skip "Who's your leader?" questions for the better part of the next decade. Plus, he's all of 24, and eight-year deals for 24-year-old are way better than 10-year deals for 30-year-olds.

Earlier Tuesday the Braves announced that Jason Heyward had agreed to a two-year, $13.3 million deal. Here's guessing that the timing of the releases of those announcements was not by accident.

The Braves last arbitration-eligible player in closer Craig Kimbrel, someone we believe is worth the big money, one-year deal he'll get and someone that ShowinKent thinks is more a product of his environment. It's the nature/nuture debate of baseball closers.

————

Mocs stumble

Scheduling a tough non-conference foe in the middle of the conference schedule is an interesting twist. UTC did it with somewhat ugly results in last night's 74-63 loss to Eastern Kentucky.

It has it's merits and it's shortcomings. When we get Will Wade back on the Press Row radio show — which will be all-signing day, all-the-time today from Thunder Creek Harley off Lee Highway — we'll ask him if he'll do that again.

Here's the 4-1-1: UTC turned it over a bunch to a team that thrives on turnovers. The Mocs have enjoyed a stellar 2014 by imposing their will on foes. Last night UTC was the imposee rather than the imposer. So it goes. Davidson was a meltdown mixed with a debacle and a disaster. EKU was a loss. They happen. Now we pick up and move on to the next one.

We will say that we'd really like to see the Mocs develop a consistent No. 3 option on offense. More on this to come.

————

This and that

— John Elway said the Broncos "came up short" in the Super Bowl. In related news, officials said the Hindenburg came up short on it's landing and the Titanic came up short in its maiden voyage. Short? Short? Nothing is short until we decide it is. Let's ask short expert Verne Troyer.

— Richie Incognito's suspension has been lifted. This whole Incognito-Jonathan Martin saga has been like a steroids snuff film. There's been very little of the moral outrage these sports "issues" cause and in mass it feels like everyone — including Martin and Incognito and the Dolphins and the NFL — wants to pretend this just didn't happen. And it will be interesting to see which player gets an NFL job first after all that has transpired.

— Sizable game for the Vols tonight considering they are on the road against a Vandy team that is struggling. Let's see how this plays out, hmmm. How about a Fresca?

————

Today's question

We had some fun on the radio and we'll see if we can continue here with the following questions:

Who is the biggest college football recruiting bust you can remember?

Who in this year's recruiting haul for your team are you the most excited about?

Discuss. And hey, remember the mailbag and if you get a chance, we'll be at Thunder Creek Harley today and come on out, or call us on the Hardee's Hot Line at 423-648-1051.

Giddy-up.

about Jay Greeson...

Jay was named the Sports Editor of the Times Free Press in 2003 and started with the newspaper in May 2002 as the Deputy Sports Editor. He was born and raised in Smyrna, Ga., and graduated from Auburn University before starting his newspaper career in 1997 with the Newnan (Ga.) Times Herald. Stops in Clayton and Henry counties in Georgia and two years as the Sports Editor of the Marietta (Ga.) Daily Journal preceded Jay’s ...

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Comments do not represent the opinions of the Chattanooga Times Free Press, nor does it review every comment. Profanities, slurs and libelous remarks are prohibited. For more information you can view our Terms & Conditions and/or Ethics policy.
MocTastic said...

JG, You said: Mocs on the move? We believe the Mocs will land a top-five FCS class and we know the coaches should be proud of the group it has assembled. The lone question will be whether any bigger schools slide in at the 11th hour. Here are a couple names we know UTC coaches fans will breathe easier when the paper work arrives:

No names, would that be Dale Warren and Penny Smith?

February 5, 2014 at 10:05 a.m.
chas9 said...

Big Julius Randle grabbed the rebound and dribbled hard full court to pound home a teeth-rattling dunk. At the last moment an Ole Miss defender in the lane who had beat him downcourt got big eyes and wisely stepped aside from the runaway freight train.

Sorta the way the game went. The Big Blue express steamrolled a Rebel Black Bear team that was good enough to enter the game tied with UK for SEC second place.

The Cats (whose defense has been criticized) held shooting whiz Henderson to 33% and the team to 35.7%.

I'd rather have McRae than Henderson. The Vol hits a higher percentage of his threes and has a better game otherwise. In spite of his quick release, the Marshall wouldn't get off enough shots in the NBA, and his defense isn't good enough. He's no Stephon Curry.

UK loves a block party, but that stat was down lately. They got 12, half by Cauley-Stein (18/11/6). Willie's return to form is key to Kentucky's rest of the season. But the whole team played well. Looks like they are "getting it."

UT's hero/goat Bruce Pearl was complimentary, saying through clenched teeth that the Wildcats WILL make a run in March. And between games he had highest praise for the one who got away, a.k.a. Aaron Craft.

Butch's Vols may own Tennessee, but UK owns Ohio. Guess which state has more blue chippers? And the SEC may have 9 of the top 15 football classes.

The meat-ologists deserve no special day. They've got our weather so screwed up, it's colder in JMC's neck of the woods than in Boston.

Confidential to Florida's Chris Walker--The three kissy lips tat on your neck is bizarre. Consider having your favorite ink artist turn them into a dragon or a gator. It can be easily done, out on highway 61.

February 5, 2014 at 10:22 a.m.
JonathanMCook said...

Not to sound Devil's Advocate or Lisa Simpson, but I tend to not draw an easy breath until I know what the rising crop is capable of. While I don't predict any of the new Mocs to become another Ryan Leaf, after T-Rob gate, the Allison-era, and lord knows what else, I'm in the camp of prepare for the worst and hope for the best.

But as far as my honest opinion goes, I would say the one new player I have the most vested interest in is Will Young. Given the number of FBS interest, I want to see if this guy has what it takes to be Jacob's new "go to" target (assuming he's not readshirted right off the bat).

February 5, 2014 at 10:23 a.m.
jgreeson said...

From friend of the show StuckinKent

The Mocs have three consistent offensive options in my opinion, despite the fact that two had off nights last night. Z Mason is obviously one. Casey Jones and Rico White are the other two. All rank in the Top 16 of scoring in the SoCon in conference games. Jones has only had three single digit scoring games in 2014. White has only had two. They have each developed into pretty reliable scorers.

Now after that, it's unpredictable. Will Bareika be on or off? Will McGhee be on or off? Who knows? The Mocs need a consistent three point threat, and even when White is scoring, he is not really that. Bareika could be, but he's not consistent enough.

The beauty of last night is that outside of turnovers, the Mocs outplayed EKU. I know that doesn't mean much, but I'm OK with it. Like you said, this was just a loss. There was no referendum made on the Mocs here. It was just loss. Pick up and move on. I was afraid another Davidson style beatdown might be in order (after all, EKU ranked higher than Davidson in Pomeroy's rankings by 20 spots), but that didn't happen. The Mocs can now go to Samford and focus on that. Huge homestand coming up after that with Western Carolina and Georgia Southern at home. Huge.

February 5, 2014 at 10:31 a.m.
jgreeson said...

MT —

Sorry, been running full speed all morning.

The names we had there were Will Young (signed), Richarde Bagley (signed), Dale Warren (waiting) and Penny Smith (waiting).

Stuck —

We know Casey Jones is averaging 12 a game and shooting almost 60 percent, but most of those are stick-backs and transitions. Yes, that's offense, but it's not a third option as far as calling a play or running the "Hey Casey, go get a put-back" play. But we see your point.

JMC —

It's always prudent to wait and see, but the logic argument rarely works on us. Ask the Mrs. 5-at-10.

9er —

Missed the Marshall massacre.

But we are remiss that we have not mentioned Chris Walker sooner. Dude turns Florida from a tough out into a near-impossible out.

The Gators are legit.

February 5, 2014 at 10:38 a.m.
BIspy4 said...

National Weather Person Day ... hmm ... there is one cutie who does the weather down here. Used to be an Alabama Crimsonette, I believe.

Biggest recruiting bust ever? Not named Jasper Sanks or Charles Grant (the latter was really Donnan's fault after playing him on offense)

And Mrs. 5 is so not letting you get a Harley today.

February 5, 2014 at 11:11 a.m.
JonathanMCook said...

Chase wrote-

"The meat-ologists deserve no special day. They've got our weather so screwed up, it's colder in JMC's neck of the woods than in Boston."

No kidding. If I can hear the wind blowing from my third floor walk-up and the Weather Channel says 31 in Grapevine (On 635 I'm 3-4 minutes from the town limit line between Irving and GV) and says "feels like 17" = No 5 AM jog for me. T_T Cook breakfest and put on Jeff Styles and friends via online streaming before Al Roker and Stephanie Abrams all but make my head hurt (And please don't get started on the local morning news programs here. Nutshell: Top 10 Media Market and they make "Good Morning Chattanooga" look like the BBC).

February 5, 2014 at 11:28 a.m.
BIspy4 said...

Timesfreepress.com/sports front page? Whole bunch on recruiting.

ajc.com/s/sports front page? Whole bunch on recruiting.

boston.com/sports front page? When it comes to national signing day, you hear the crickets chirping.

February 5, 2014 at 11:30 a.m.
chas9 said...

JMC--What is T-Rob gate?

Jay--Concur about Walker & FloRida.

Weeds has a thought-provoking column today. Read it if you haven't.

My team's snatching big five-star Matt Elam from The Tide made me smile, but the biggest success may be four-star Drew Barker, since the Stoops system depends on a potent passing game. Speaking of which, here's a good Friday bag question:

Why haven't the resurgent Vols signed a QB? Are they happy with their four-headed monster?

February 5, 2014 at 11:34 a.m.
MocTastic said...

Dale Warren is in the Moc House. Waiting for Penny Smith. All others have signed except Melvin Hill who flipped to Kennesaw St. They added long snapper Emory Norred from Baylor HS today.

February 5, 2014 at 11:43 a.m.
jgreeson said...

Spy —

No way about the Harley. NONE.

And of course we have signing day overload. It's Re-Cruitmas after all.

And gang, if there's any doubt who the best recruiter is, well, know that Nick Saban has now pulled five-star linebackers from Auburn High School in consecutive years, one had an AU tattoo on his arm and the other had parents who went to Auburn.

MT —

Stellar Mocs class from top to bottom.

9er —

You are in the bag and yes Weeds was stellar today.

JMC —

This: (And please don't get started on the local morning news programs here. Nutshell: Top 10 Media Market and they make "Good Morning Chattanooga" look like the BBC) was extraordinarily well-played.

February 5, 2014 at 12:08 p.m.
jgreeson said...

From friend of the show StuckinKent —

For the record, I think Kimbrel's great. I love having him. Not sure he's worth the contract he's going to get. I think starting pitchers and everyday players are much more important. I guess if it comes down to it, would I rather have Kimbrel or someone better than BJ Upton or Dan Uggla, I choose a hitter better than Upton or Uggla. I think in the long run, that wins more games for the Braves than having Kimbrel.

February 5, 2014 at 12:19 p.m.
MocTastic said...

Penny Smith is now a Moc. On paper, best recruiting class ever. However, football is not played on paper, so time will tell.

February 5, 2014 at 12:22 p.m.
JonathanMCook said...

Jay: You're welcome. And I wasn't exaggerating either. I literally MEAN it. It's that sad. u_u

Chase: My "Gate" reference to T-Rob who in my eyes has now become the "Marcus Dupree" of the UTC program. So much talent, so much he could have done, to much baggage, to many "conspiracies" etc. etc.

It's not that big a deal. I just have this feeling that my program is put more under the microscope of criticism when a player does a boo-boo vs. a Tennessee or Alabama because UTC's not a multi-million dollar revenue machine. But that's the way it is so again hope for the best, prepare for the worst.

Aside from that, I'm interested to read the transcript of Russ' press conference or if I can view it when I get home that's even better.

MT- Word (in response to what you just posted about Penny).

February 5, 2014 at 12:25 p.m.
Stewwie said...

Agreed with Jay that Casey Jones is not really a good 3rd-option scorer. He's scoring better this season, but it's mostly clean-up type stuff that he's getting with his extra effort. I'm really surprised/disappointed that Gee McGhee has not developed into that 3rd (or even 2nd) option. That's who it needs to be.

[John Elway said the Broncos "came up short" in the Super Bowl.]

He didn't say it like that. He was referring to the season as a whole, not the Super Bowl game. Below is his quote:

[It was a great year," Elway said. "We came up short, but it wasn't due to lack of effort or lack of want-to. We didn't play very well two days ago. I know that's what everybody is disappointed about. We're disappointed about it, players are disappointed. But, it was a (heck) of a year. We went through a lot of different things, but I'm proud of the team.]

February 5, 2014 at 12:47 p.m.
MocTastic said...

JMCook, still waiting on your Moc knowledge at mocfans.com

February 5, 2014 at 12:47 p.m.
chas9 said...

JMC--Thanks for the clear explanation. I heard stupid stuff on the subject, too. It's really not that complicated. If the Big D morning shows are that bad, I'd love to see them. For the laughs.

February 5, 2014 at 12:50 p.m.
JonathanMCook said...

Chase- I'll see what I can do and you're welcome.

MT- I can't really do chat rooms at work (I'm "pushing it" with regards to being on the 5 & 10 but I've been here for so long I know how to keep stuff under the radar). But hopefully soon.

February 5, 2014 at 12:57 p.m.
BIspy4 said...

Now that Freddie is getting paid, does he re-size the fat ice he put on his girl's ring finger? I just wondered if the Braves really did spend wisely. If you lock up Freeman, what do you do with Heyward? And I wonder how long into spring training will the Braves continue to lug along Struggla before cutting him loose.

Look, I'm trying everything I can to stay away from national signing day (no caps ... ever) stuff, and I would probably care a little bit more about UTC hoops if Georgia Southern didn't stink and wasn't leaving the SoCon for the Sun Belt (which at one time was a good hoops league).

The Broncos came up short like the Hindenburg, Elway.

February 5, 2014 at 1:33 p.m.
chas9 said...

Jay--What kind of dirty dealing did it take for Satan to steal Auburn's Evans? And is mom happy about it? How's she gonna face the gals at the mall, the grocery store, the beauty parlor? Have the residents of the loveliest village on the plains found a new place to unwind their toilet paper, now that the trees are gone?

February 5, 2014 at 2:44 p.m.
GratefulDawg said...

Spy, did you really mention Charles Grant in relation to the biggest recruiting bust ever? Grant still ranks in the top ten for career sacks at UGA. He ranks just below Greg "Muddy" Waters and just above Mo Lewis. Grant was voted to the All-SEC team during his final year at Georgia and was picked up by the New Orleans Saints in the first round of the NFL Draft.

Grant may not have lived up to the ridiculous levels of hype surrounding him, but his career would not even begin to border on total bust.

February 5, 2014 at 3:18 p.m.
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