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Heyward and his teammates will play Roswell High School for the Georgia state championship this weekend. What's special is that it's only the fourth season of football for Peachtree Ridge.
"That's impressive," said Heyward. "It's such a great feeling."
Heyward, 6-feet-6 and 280 pounds, is a four-star defensive tackle prospect that is rated as the No. 27 player at that position in the nation. So far he has led his team to a 11-3 record with 115 tackles and 13 sacks along the way.
"I had to work a lot harder this season. But that has helped me. I realize that I will always have to face a double and even triple team. That helps my teammates make plays. I just have to fight through it."
In terms of recruiting, Heyward has already visited Ohio State (Nov. 17) and will also trip to Georgia, LSU (Jan. 12) and Florida in the coming weeks.
"Ohio State was just great," he said. "The atmosphere, campus and academics are awesome. But I think I was impressed with the coaches the most, especially coach (Jim) Tressel."
Heyward will tell you that he is open among these four schools although it sure sounds like the No. 1 ranked team in the land will be tough to beat.
"I will visit Georgia for sure one of these weekends," he said. "They are the home team. Georgia has some great Christians among their coaching staff and they certainly get the attention of all the players.
"I really like LSU's defense. It's their style I like. I want to see their players and get a better assumption of what it would be like to play there.
"The same with Florida. They have one of the best defenses in the country. I just love how they play and love coach (Urban) Meyer.
"Right now I am open with no leader. The comfort level of each school will be a huge factor for me. I also like to look at the coaches and see what kind of morality they all have."
Around the Nation with Allen Wallace
Jordan Bernstine, from Lincoln High School in Des Moines, says he favors Iowa solidly over UCLA, Texas A&M, Pittsburgh and Nebraska. All have offered scholarships.
"After my official visit on Dec. 8, Iowa is my favorite school," Bernstine said. "I really like their coaching staff and they're close to home. My mom would like me to stay close to home. All of the schools are recruiting me for safety and are suggesting that I can play early. But the Hawkeyes' coaches are really down-to-earth and easy to talk to - especially coach Reese Morgan (offensive line). He takes the time to really talk with me and understands that this is a big decision with a lot of things to consider.
"UCLA comes in second," said Scout.com's No. 31 safety, who lists at 5-foot-11, 200 pounds. "I had my official visit on Dec. 2. I got to watch a great game as the Bruins won over USC (13-9). I like their style of defense and Coach Todd Howard (defensive line) is an amazing coach. He takes time to review with each player. There is a lot of one-on-one coaching.
"Nebraska was a top favorite but aren't any longer. The Cornhuskers call me a couple times a week. They're ready for me to commit, and I'm just not ready yet. I need a few more weeks. I plan on making my decision sometime before Christmas. There has been pressure from Coach Dennis Wagner (offensive line) for me to give them a commitment. They said that a lot of other guys are committing and their roster is filling up. They were the first to offer and I appreciate that, but I can't be pressured into making a decision now because they want me to.
"Texas A&M is a great school," said the four-star prospect. "My uncle, Rod Bernstine, played for them, then he went on to play for the Denver Broncos and the San Diego Chargers. I turn to my mom and my uncle for advice. They will be making the decision with me. I know Texas A&M can produce great players. They have a good program and are having a heck of a year. I know a lot of their coaches and I know a lot about their program from my uncle. I'm taking them into consideration, but I still favor Iowa.
"I may be going to Pittsburgh this weekend," Bernstine said. "I don't know yet. They have an up-and-coming program. They also have a great coaching staff. I'm really looking at the coaching staffs. I think that's the key to becoming a better player. The Panthers have hard working coaches. Coach Paul Rhoads (defensive coordinator/secondary) took the time to really talk to me. He calls often and it's not always about me making a commitment. We talk about academics, my future, my strengths and weaknesses. The coaching staff is very well-rounded.
"I have a lot to learn about these schools. I never really followed football until I was starting to be recruited my junior year. "I'll be making my decision some time around Christmas," he said. "I've been approached about having a press conference, but I don't know if I will. I just want to make a decision first, then worry about the media."
Junior college defensive end William Tukuafu, a 6-4, 265 pounder, from Mesa Junior College (Ariz.), decommitted from Arizona in favor of Oregon on December 5. He said he'll be enrolling on January 5 for the winter semester in Eugene.
"I made a commitment to Arizona on Nov. 26," Tukuafu said. "I did it for my family. I live with my older brother Masa Tukuafu who has put me through school and has taken care of me. I thought we needed to be close and that they would want me to stay close to home so that they could see me play. My mistake was assuming and not discussing things with my family.
"The following Sunday (Dec. 3), my decision to commit to Arizona just didn't feel right. It all comes down to a feeling. I decided to talk it over with my brother and family. I explained why I committed to Arizona - to be close to them. I also explained that the decision didn't feel right and that I wasn't passionate about the school or the team.
"My brother was so supportive," said the three-star prospect. "He didn't want me to commit to a school where I wasn't going to give 100%. He wanted me to make the best decision for me. He supported my decision to want to change schools. After our talk, I prayed, then called Oregon Coach Gary Crowton (offensive coordinator). I told him that I wanted to decommit from Arizona and commit to the Ducks. He was shocked and asked me to stay by the phone.
"Then Coach Mike Bellotti called me a few minutes later and I explained to him that I wanted to commit to Oregon. Coach Bellotti flew down the next day (December 4) to meet with me. He is excited to have me and thinks I made a good decision. I have the papers and plan to sign with the Ducks.
"I know that there are a lot of Arizona fans mad at me," Tukuafu explained. "But, I have to do what feels right. I called Coach Mike Stoops from Arizona the next day (December 5) after I met with Coach Bellotti. I told him that I had changed my mind - that it wasn't right to commit to a team where I wasn't going to give 100%. He was stunned and shocked. He didn't see this coming. I feel really bad, but it just didn't feel right to commit to the Wildcats. That's all it comes down to--a feeling.
"I called the Arizona linebacker coach after I spoke with Coach Stoops. He asked me to repeat myself twice. It was a huge shock for all the coaches involved. Arizona is still calling and recruiting me after I switched on them. I feel good inside now and am enjoying the feeling that I am going to play for the Ducks. I hope everyone understands that what I did was for a personal reason. I made the decision by faith."
Four-star defensive tackle Josh Brent, from Central Catholic in Bloomington, Ill., finished his senior season with 70 tackles, 19 tackles for loss and five sacks. His team finished 9-2.
Brent, who is ranked No. 12 by Scout.com and stands 6-3, weighing 300 pounds, denies a leader, but admits favoring Illinois and Ohio State slightly over Michigan and Wisconsin. All of his favorites have offered. "I'd love to have my decision made by the holidays," Brent said. "Right now it's really close between these four and it'll be hard to decide. I just got back from my official visit to Ohio State, so they are fresh on my mind."
His player host at Ohio State was freshman defensive tackle Dexter Larimore. "I loved the facilities," Brent said. "They really stood out. They are still working on them, but when they finish they are going to have the best facilities in the country. They are putting a lot of money into the program.
"I also got to go to the basketball game," Brent said. "It was cool to see Greg Oden. He's really big and brings a lot of excitement. He played really well."
Another highlight for Brent during his Ohio State official visit was getting a chance to talk with head coach Jim Tressel. "He's a real humble and down-to-earth guy," Brent said. "They told me that I'm a special player and that I could contribute early."
This weekend Brent will be taking an official visit to Wisconsin and plans to visit Michigan on January 12. "They had a great season and played a great game against Ohio State," Brent said. "They came really close this year and I think they'll be on top for a while."
Brent says that the coach recruiting him from Michigan is offensive line coach Andy Moeller. "He's a cool guy, but I need to talk with some of the defensive coaches more and see how they plan to use me and how early I could play."
The Southeast with Andrew Bone and Steve Robertson
Scout.com four-star cornerback Phelon Jones, from Mobile-McGill-Toolen, Ala., took an official visit to LSU and gave his verbal commitment to the Tigers. He had re-opened his recruitment after a spring commitment to Miami.
"It was probably because they only have four cornerbacks on scholarship and
two of them are seniors so the need to come in and get some playing time as a
freshman was real good," Jones told Sonny Shipp of TigerRag.com. "I
already know Chevis (Jackson) too so he can really help me out."
Alabama hosted two official visitors during the weekend. Scout.com four-star linebacker Rolando McClain from Decatur High School (Ala.) and teammate offensive lineman Caleb Thomas. McClain re-affirmed his commitment to the Tide. Thomas has been invited to walk on but does not plan to accept.
Scout.com three-star running back Terrell Edwards, from Mobile-UMS-Wright, Ala., took an official visit to South Carolina. The Gamecocks currently lead for his signature.
Two-star linebacker Terrell Johnson, from Silas-Southern Choctaw, Ala., gave his verbal commitment to the Mississippi State Bulldogs. Johnson chose Mississippi State over Arkansas.
Offensive lineman Scott Haverkamp, from Butler County Community College in El Dorado, Kan., gave his verbal commitment to the University of Georgia. Havercamp chose the Bulldogs over scholarship offers from Arizona State, Illinois, Memphis, New Mexico, Troy and UAB. He will arrive in Athens in early January.
Haverkamp originally signed with Kansas
out of high school, but redshirted his first season and played limited time the
second year. "Going to Butler was the right thing for me at the time,"
Haverkamp told Dean Legge from Scout.com DawgPost.com. "When I was at
Kansas I was not a very good player. Butler was like a miracle for me they
really worked on me. They turned me into a football player."
Georgia received an official visit from Scout.com four-star offensive lineman Chris Little of Jeffersonville-Twiggs County, Ga.. Little has narrowed his college choices to Florida, Notre Dame, Georgia, LSU and Florida State.
The nation's top linebacker Chris Donald, from Memphis-Huntingdon, Tenn., took an official visit to Tennessee and has trimmed his list to the Volunteers and Notre Dame.
Tennessee landed Scout.com four-star junior college cornerback DeAngelo Willingham from Palm Desert College of Desert, Calif.,during his official visit Dec. 10. Scout.com three-star linebacker Chris Walker, from Memphis-Christian Brothers, Tenn. gave his verbal commitment to the University of Tennessee as well. He chose the Volunteers over LSU.
Offensive lineman Eugene Goree, from Murfreesboro, Tenn., gave his verbal commitment to Colorado.
Scout.com two-star defensive end Theron Kadri, from Brighton, Tenn. verbally committed to Vanderbilt.
Ole Miss received a verbal
commitment from Jamariey
Atterberry of Kosciusko, Miss. The Scout.com three-star cornerback switched
his pledge to the Rebels from Mississippi State.
The Rebels had a big recruiting weekend as well. The group of official visitors was highlighted by Scout.com four-star linebacker Malachi Lewis from Oxnard-Rio Mesa, Calif., four-star defensive end Kenny Rowe, from Long Beach-Poly, Calif., and three-star linebacker Marshall Williams from Decatur-Southwest DeKalb, Ga.
Scout.com four-star cornerback Ellis Lankster, from Jones Community College in Ellisville, Miss., gave his verbal commitment to West Virginia during his official visit December 10. He switched his commitment to the Mountaineers from Mississippi State.
Scout.com three-star offensive lineman Cody Stubblefield, from Itawamba Community College, Miss., gave his verbal commitment to Memphis.
Southern Miss landed a trio of verbal commitments. Scout.com three-star junior college tight end Brennan Houston from Cerritos, Calif., running back Ike Bowden from Poplarville, Miss. and wide receiver Jeremy Snowden from Liberty-Amite County, Miss. gave their pledges to the Golden Eagles.
Arkansas hosted a handful of official visitors and was highlighted by Scout.com four-star cornerback Ryan Broyles, from Norman, Okla., and four-star linebacker Larry Asante from Coffeyville Junior College in Kansas.
"They seem to be very strict about their academics and I need that," said four-star cornerback Ellis Lankster when talking about his commitment to West Virginia. The Jones County Junior College product had previously committed to Mississippi State and canceled all other visits. Late Thursday night, Lankster made the decision to visit West Virginia just to be sure. Right now he is sure he wants to be a Mountaineer.
Quarterback Austin Davis picked up an offer from Louisiana Tech just before Thanksgiving. The offer was Davis' first division one offer. Since extending the offer the Bulldogs have terminated the employment of head coach Jack Bicknell. To say things are up in the air for the West Lauderdale prospect would be an understatement.
The Southwest with Jason Jewell and Jeremy Patterson
Five-star recruits Everson Griffen and Kris O'Dowd are both expected to announce this week. USC appears to have the lead for both, but Arizona and head coach Mike Stoops have an in-home visit with O'Dowd and Notre Dame and Charlie Weiss did an in-home with Griffen. Could the Wildcats and Fighting Irish sneak these highly rated recruits from the mighty SC?
Nebraska has already done a fine job recruiting in the desert with three-star wide receiver Eric Hagg committing on his visit to Lincoln and four-star cornerback Armando Murillo from Eastern Arizona Junior College committing last week. The Huskers are also in the running with four-star tackle Jaivario Burkes, three-star running back Prince Amukamara, three-star defensive endWilliam Yancy, all Phoenix natives. All have visited and all were impressed.
Wide receiver Kerry Taylor from Hamilton HS in Chandler, Ariz., reconfirmed his commitment to Arizona State after the Sun Devils hired Dennis Erickson as their new head coach. In-state players Aaron Tevis (Canyon del Oro HS) and Morris Wooten (Glendale Community College) made their commitments to Boise State and West Virginia respectively this week.
Receiver Devin Aguilar reconfirmed his commitment to Washington after making his official visit this week. Originally a soft verbal to the Huskies, the three-star wideout told Scout.com's Chris Fetters, "It (official visit) reinforced my decision," and added that he will not take any more official visits. UW also got a verbal from CB Jared Campbell out of Aurora, Colorado. The two are both friends with four-star wide receiver Drew Davis and are in his ear to get him to join them at Washington.
The University of Colorado landed four-star JC DE Drew Hudgins improving on a very solid class that has several four-star players and is highlighted by five-star tackle Ryan Miller.
The Texas Longhorns have the top-ranked recruiting class in America right now according to Scout.com. Typically the Longhorns rack up a bunch of early commitments and then bring most of them in on a December weekend and that is exactly what happened this past weekend as the Longhorns hosted 17 commitments over the weekend including four five-star prospects. The Longhorns chose this weekend because of the senior awards banquet. The committed prospects, whose teams are still alive in the playoffs, that were not in town this weekend will be in town in January.
Oklahoma State picked up two commitments as the Cowboys'class is nearing capacity. The Sooners landed four-star linebacker Jared Glover of Bixby, Oklahoma and defensive tackle Tonga Tea of Snow Junior College in Ephraim, Utah. They become commitments No. 15 and 16 of the 2007 class for the Cowboys. There were also a number of official visitors in Stillwater over the weekend.
The Texas Tech Red Raiders which are expected to ink a small class this year picked up commitments No. 13 and 14 this week. Sleeper offensive lineman Dominique Delpeche of North Crowley in Fort Worth and running back Jared Flannel of West Columbia, Texas, gave their commitment to Mike Leach and company this week. Flannel, who is ranked as a three-star prospect and the nation's No. 88 running back, committed on his official visit over the weekend.
The Texas A&M Aggies hosted a number of commitments over the weekend and several prospects still on board as well. The visit was a great one for defensive end Brandon Joiner of Shoemaker High in Killeen, Texas as the four-star prospect gave his commitment to the Aggies. The Aggies also hosted four-star prospects Ron Brooks, Dez Bryant and Christian Scott as well as highly regarded three star linebacker Jermaine Love.
The Oklahoma Sooners hosted offensive center commitment Jason Hannan of Waxahachie, Texas, as well as five star defensive tackle Luther Davis of West Monroe, La., over the weekend, which he gave rave reviews. "My visit went great," Hannan said. "I had a completely great time. I felt so at home because I knew a lot of the guys there already, and I am fortunate to say that a lot of guys knew me. I just had a great time interacting with the players and seeing."
The West with Chris Fetters and Brandon Huffman
The Washington Huskies have picked up 10 commitments during a 14-day period - clearly putting an emphasis on the past two recruiting weekends. The cream of the latest crop of four-prospects that committed is Anthony Boyles, a 6-3, 185-pound receiver from Junipero Serra High School in Gardena, Calif. Boyles is rated the No. 10 wide receiver prospect in the country by Scout.com. "If I go in there and work hard, I can play as a true freshman," he told Dawgman.com of his plans while at UW. "I'm gonna do that. And I think that quarterback (Jake Locker) is going to go first or second round, and he's going to help me get to the first or second round. That's why I'm going there."
Curtis Shaw is a 5-11, 190-pound running back from Lincoln High School in Stockton, Calif., and Shaw comes from the same high school that produced current UW junior running back Louis Rankin. Rankin hosted Shaw and the two immediately hit it off. Shaw verbally committed during a team recruiting dinner. "The stadium - when I walked in - I just had this feeling that I could play here next year," Shaw told Dawgman.com. "I have a chance to showcase my skills here, that's what was going through my head."
Sean Douglas graduates from Washington, so the Huskies were on the lookout for a top-notch punter. Enter Jared Ballman, a 6-0, 195-pound punter/placekicker prospect from Grossmont College in El Cajon, Calif. Ballman, who had a 44.7-yard average per kick this past season, will sign a mid-year letter of intent, which means he'll be available to play for spring football. "I can really pin it deep inside the 20 and I had a good average," he told Dawgman.com when talking of his commitment.
Skyler Fancher may have been a little under the radar, but it's hard to believe the 6-6, 290-pound offensive tackle from Huntington Beach, Calif., didn't turn some heads in Southern California just on size alone. "The facilities are great," Fancher told Dawgman.com. Like Curtis Shaw, Fancher also committed the night before during their team recruiting dinner. "(Washington head coach) Tyrone Willingham, he's a great coach - all the coaches are. Those are some of the things that got me. The whole thing kind of jumped out at me."
Washington State pulled off a huge coup by snagging Byron Davenport, a 5-11, 190-pound cornerback from UCLA via El Camino College in Torrance, Calif. People may remember Davenport by the last name he used while a Bruin - Velega. "I'm definitely excited about WSU and I'm definitely excited about being coached by Ken Greene "He coached my high school coach and I've heard nothing but good things about him," Davenport told Barry Bolton of Cougfan.com. "He's strict, but he's fair. And that's what I want, I want to go someplace where I'm going to get better."
The recruiting process is known for its crazy twists and turns, and there might not be a bigger turn so far this year than with the recruitment of William Tukuafu, a 6-4, 265-pound defensive end from Mesa College in Mesa, Ariz. He first committed to Arizona because of family concerns, but it just never felt right to him. Last week he set his conscience straight by decommitting from UA and committing to Oregon instead. "I feel good inside now and am enjoying the feeling that I am going to play for the Ducks." Tukuafu told Scout.com. "I hope everyone understands that what I did was for a personal reason. I made the decision by faith."
In more conventional recruiting news for the Ducks, Todd Doxey, a 6-2, 180-pound safety prospect from Hoover Senior High School in San Diego, Calif., committed to Oregon this past week. One of the top two-way players in California, Doxey had a monster senior season, catching 80 passes for 1,331 yards and 15 touchdowns and finished just seven yards short of the San Diego Section career receiving yards record, ending his career with 2,669 yards. The No. 2 safety in the West in the class of 2007, Doxey was twice named the Central League Defensive Player of the Year and finished 2006 with six interceptions and over 100 tackles.
The Oregon State Beavers got some good news last week from a familiar face - Jon Ioane, a 6-5, 340-pound OSU-bounceback from Santa Ana College in Santa Ana, Calif. Ioane originally committed to the Beavers out of high school. "I have to take the spring (academic session at Santa Ana College) so I'll be at Oregon State before June, probably late May -- everything is on track right now," Ioane told Barry Bolton of Cougfan.com. "Tell the Beaver fans I'm ready to play."
Another player that had a personal message for fans was Antwon Murray, a 5-10, 165-pound cornerback prospect from Kathleen High School in Lakeland, Fla. Murray committed to Boise State after taking an official visit. "When I first went out there, I thought I would just see a bunch of potato fields out there, but I fell in love with the place," Murray told Scout.com. "It was nothing like that. It was nothing like I expected. Boise is the best place for me. Just tell everyone I'm now a Bronco and a potato-eater!"
With USC and UCLA having their big recruiting weekends the past two weekends respectively, it was California's turn to bring in their large haul, and the Bears staff welcomed 18 guys for official visits. By the time it was over, the Bears got a commitment from the top junior-college safety in the country, a four-star linebacker and a underrated JC tight end. Terry Mixon, from Grossmont College in San Diego, is a five-star safety who was a bounceback from San Diego State. His older brother Tim also plays for the Bears and after decommitting from Arizona State when Dirk Koetter was fired, Mixon decided to join his brother in Berkeley. D.J. Holt, a four-star linebacker from Crespi High in Encino, didn't even need to take the whole weekend to make his decision, verballing to Cal when the trip started. And Skylar Curran, a tight end from Butte College in Oroville, Calif., made it a trio before the weekend was over.
Several other key prospects visited and Cal's chances for them increased greatly. Those included including Drew Davis, the No. 2 player in Colorado from Montbello in Denver; Brandon Carswell, a receiver out of Milpitas, Calif., and Jahvid Best, the top running back in Northern California from Salesian High in Richmond. Another visit came from four-star junior-college prospect, Tony Fein from Scottsdale College in Arizona. *****
Fresno State had a big recruiting weekend, bringing in some of its primary targets this past weekend. Prince Amukamara, a three-star running back from Apollo High in Glendale, Ariz., and Jermaine Thomas, a three-star cornerback from Duarte, Calif., were the two big ones who visited. Amukamara has been one of the main recruits the Bulldogs staff has been on and Thomas is one of their keys on defense. Neither committed, but Thomas said that Fresno State solidified their spot as his leader. Also visiting was Zak Hill, a cornerback from Clovis West High. Hill is no stranger to the Bulldogs program; his father Pat is the head coach of Fresno State.
The Bulldogs did get a commitment this weekend, though, from Terrance Dennis, a two-star safety from Diamond Ranch High in Pomona, Calif. Dennis' commitment makes him the third member from his family to play for the Bulldogs, joining his father and uncle in playing at Fresno State.
USC could be receiving good news this week from Arizona. Kristofer O'Dowd, the top-ranked center in the nation from Salpointe Catholic in Tucson will announce his decision this week, and the Trojans are the favorites to receive his commitment. UCLA and hometown Arizona are also in the mix. Meanwhile, Everson Griffen, the top-ranked defensive end in the nation from Agua Fria High in Avondale, Ariz., will possibly announce this week, and the Trojans are also the favorites for his commitment, with Michigan and Notre Dame also hoping to hear their name announced.
For more in-depth coverage of college-football prospects, visit SuperPrep.com