December 20, 2012

Blazevich down to six

There is often very little about the recruiting process that, for the prospect, feels or even appears organized.

Calls, texts, emails, Facebook messages, and Twitter messages come at all times of the day from coaches and reporters, and it can get rather hectic.

2014 Christian (Charlotte, N.C.) tight end Jeb Blazevich isn't quite comfortable with handling his recruitment that way, so he has taken an approach that isn't always easy for teenagers.

He's listening to his parents and his coaches, and adhering to a strategy.

"Pretty much it is my dad, my mom, and Coach Jason Estep that are helping me. Of course there are outside sources that help me here and there with Coach Casey and Coach Rhodes and just a lot of different people," said Blazevich. "We sat down and said 'where do I want to be?' Then we worked backwards to get there. We said 'where do we need to go and who do we need to visit?' We are pretty much sticking to the plan and try to mess up and not mess their (the school's) plan up."

That "plan" has already allowed the four-star prospect to narrow down his list of schools that started at upwards of 20 schools, to six.

"The six schools are Alabama, Notre Dame, Clemson, Georgia, Ole Miss, and Ohio State," he said. "We are going about this by narrowing down what I want and finding the schools that meet that. All of those schools have great tradition. They have great coaching staffs. Day in and day out, I feel comfortable going there and being a student there and not just football. I narrowed it down to those six schools and had to tell the other schools that they were out. It was one of the hardest things to do, but we are happy with those picks and I am going to stay with them."

With a firm top-six already in place, the next step for the star junior is to start the process of continually narrowing his list of schools until he reaches a final two and then commit.

At that point, however, Blazevich understands that not everyone will be happy.

"The plan is to, once again, narrow it down and cut the list down. Eventually it is going to come down to two schools and one school is going to be mad at me and the other school is going to be happy," laughed Blazevich. "Right now, I honestly don't know in terms of what I want and what I want to look for in a college. That is the next step. Just to sit and pray and ask a lot of advice. I have to see what is important to me, how I should I prioritize it, and what schools meet those credentials. That's something that I need to sit and pray and think about for a while. On these trips, hopefully I will know all that before I take them, and will narrow it down after that."

Schools hold junior days during the winter and spring to host some of the top prospects and potential targets for the upcoming class, but when Blazevich talks about "trips" he doesn't necessarily mean visiting a campus with a ton of other recruits.

He wants to make sure he has a chance to really get a feel for a team's coaching staff.

"Nothing concrete yet," said Blazevich when asked about his plans to attend campuses and junior days this winter and spring. "I know I'm trying to get to a bunch of different places. I'm more inclined to go on a separate trip because at junior days, there are probably 500 kids and 50 or so amazing prospects that I have to compete with time for, but if I go on a separate day, it is say me and five other guys who get to talk and get time with the coaches. The plan right now is to go to all of these schools for like a junior day or a little trip like a basketball game or something and to spring practice and keep evaluating and praying. God willing, I will have it more narrowed down in the spring."

While the Tarheel State prospect is in the process of trying to narrow that list of six schools down, those six schools are also trying to help him make up his mind.

All six, according to Blazevich, are showing the 2014 a great deal of attention despite the fact that the 2013 class has yet to sign.

"Pretty much all of those schools are recruiting me really hard," he said. "Ohio State is, I know for sure. Notre Dame has been by the school three times with multiple coaches including Coach (Brian) Kelly. Alabama has been by twice. Clemson has been by twice. Ole Miss brought their head coach (Hugh Freeze). Pretty much all of the schools have been by with the exception of Georgia and they have been emailing me a lot and trying to get me on the phone and everything so it is pretty level and they are all showing a lot of love right now."

Last summer Blazevich attended Georgia's annual Dawg Night event that is reserved for some of Georgia's top targets from all different classes, and he also visited Athens to see UGA take on Vanderbilt this fall.

In his trips to the Classic City, the North Carolina native has formed a high opinion of a couple of Georgia coaches.

"I know Coach (Mark) Richt in the sense that I have met with him a lot and I know what I think of him. He is very transparent, and he's not going to shade his personal life. He's going to be open and honest. I've heard of things and learned enough things where I feel like I know his character and I trust and respect that about him," said Blazevich. "Of course I need to get to know Coach John Lilly a lot more because he would be the guy I would be spending most of my time with. I just can't say enough good things about him (Lilly). Football is completely thrown out the window. He is just a good man and I truly respect him. When you bring in football, he is a great coach. He is certainly very close to his guys, and in college football that is almost impossible to find so that is definitely a plus."

The Georgia staff has shared their plans with Blazevich when it comes to his position in 2013.

"Well in the 2013 class they have (Jordan) Davis. He is just an amazing athlete and a great guy. He'd be a guy that I wouldn't mind sitting in a meeting room with for long hours and spending time with because he is such a cool guy," he said. "Coach Richt emailed me and told me that they have their guy (at tight end) for 2013 and they are looking to take two more in the 2014 class. So that is where they are now and I know they have a few offers on the table."

When talking about his list of top schools, one thing that has really impressed Blazevich each team's tradition at tight end and how all six programs have allow for versatility at the position.

"Notre Dame has had first rounders left and right. Alabama uses their two-tight end set a lot. Clemson had Dewayne Allen and they use their tight ends in more of a spread and more as a weapon receiving wise," he said. "Ohio State says they are going to start moving their guy around a lot more. Ole Miss moves their guy around a lot and in a lot of different sets. Shoot, with Georgia, watching the Alabama game, their tight end caught a touchdown pass and then threw a first down. I was like 'Shoot, if they let me throw for a first down, which might be pretty cool.' Their (UGA"s) guys are freak athletes and all of their guys are used in a bunch of different ways. They pretty much have to be the smartest guys on the field and they have to know what they are doing and do it well. All the schools are great in how they use the position."

At this point in the process, Blazevich says that all schools are even and no one really stands out in that group of six.

He also admits that while the recruiting process has been fun for him and his family, he isn't the kind of guy to wait things out until signing day, and hopes to have a decision sometime in the near future.

"I'm jealous of those guys who have their top picks growing up because I Just don't know," said Blazevich. "The timeline is just to develop my thinking and try to articulate that and get that out there in terms of what I want from a school and see how they respond to that and answer those questions. Then I'll do my homework on my own and see, from the outside looking in, if they meet those criteria. Hopefully this spring I'll start to find some of that out and do my homework on that. Then, honestly, I want to be committed before summer if that is possible and God willing. Before this senior summer."





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