CHARLES ODUM, AP Sports Writer
ATLANTA (AP) — Two of the nation’s most decorated high school players were on very different schedules Thursday as national signing day drew closer.READ MORE: Michigan Matters: Theaters & Politics
Defensive lineman Rashan Gary of Paramus, New Jersey, the nation’s top prospect according to the 247Sports composite of the major recruiting services, is still considering such colleges as Michigan, Clemson, Mississippi, Alabama and Auburn.
Quarterback Jacob Eason of Lake Stevens, Washington, already is enrolled at Georgia and is preparing for spring practice. Eason, named the national player of the year by USA Today, Gatorade and the Maxwell Football Club, is taking four classes this semester.
Gary and Eason were given Bobby Dodd awards as the nation’s best lineman and back on Thursday night by the Touchdown Club of Atlanta.
Gary said he was headed for a final visit to Clemson after leaving Atlanta. He said he might squeeze in a trip to Alabama or Auburn.
For him, the countdown to Wednesday’s national signing day “is getting crazy.”
“A lot of college coaches are trying to get back into the fight,” Gary said. “It’s just me and my mom, me and my family handling it. It’s getting crazy, but I’m enjoying it.”
Gary said all contact from recruiters goes through his mother, Jennifer Coney, who said they heard from Ole Miss, Auburn and Michigan on Thursday. Oh, and don’t leave out Alabama, which was working hard to have Gary and his mother on campus this weekend.
“I was talking with Nick Saban a couple hours ago, so that is in the works,” Gary said. “He was just telling me that Bama really wants me and give them another try before I leave here.”READ MORE: CDC: New Listeria Outbreak Tied To 23 Illnesses, 1 Death
Gary, who is 6-foot-5 inches, weighs 293 pounds and attends Paramus Catholic High School, is ranked as the nation’s top prospect by most recruiting experts, including Rivals, ESPN and CBS Sports.
He said he plans to sit down with his family on Sunday night and make a decision, though it won’t be announced before Wednesday. He plans to make his announcement on ESPN.
Eason, the son of former NFL quarterback Tony Eason, said he was glad to avoid the pressure that accompanies the final days before signing day, even for recruits who seem firm in their commitments.
He said he already is enjoying college life with other early enrollees. He also has lobbied to sway other recruits to join him at Georgia.
“I’m definitely glad I could do it early so I could recruit some guys,” Eason said, adding he was learning his way around campus “so when some of the other guys come in I can show them some stuff.”
The lofty recruiting rankings and national awards will put the spotlight on Eason and Gary in college. Having a former NFL quarterback as a father helps Eason keep honors in perspective.
“My dad was a big part of keeping me humble and staying grounded,” he said. “Winning these awards is an honor. It’s a lot to live up to. Like they were saying, Peyton Manning won this award.”
Eason will be expected to win the starting job as a freshman, and he acknowledged the chance to make an early impact was a factor in his decision to sign with Georgia.
Eason stuck with the decision after Georgia fired coach Mark Richt and hired Kirby Smart, the former Alabama defensive coordinator.MORE NEWS: Red Wings Hire Lightning Assistant Derek Lalonde As Coach
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