January 6, 2011

Whitehead reevaluating decision

Wednesday was a long day for Jermaine Whitehead.

Thursday might be even longer.

The next four weeks, for that matter, could be different than what the four-star cornerback from Greenwood (Amanda Elzy), Miss., expected just 24 hours ago.

On Wednesday, Whitehead learned that Mississippi State defensive coordinator Manny Diaz, who Whitehead described as "the glue" to his commitment to the Bulldogs, was leaving to take the same post at Texas.

"He was a cool guy," Whitehead said. "The way he talked, he made football fun. He made me feel like we were going to do something that everybody thought was impossible."

Then the phone started ringing. Whitehead talked to Mississippi State assistant Melvin Smith.

"I told him that right now I can't even say I'm 90 percent (committed)," Whitehead said. "I think my percentage went way down. I told him my mom feels more comfortable with Ole Miss, but it's all up to me. I'm going to weigh my options.

"It's a hard decision. I want to de-commit, but I don't at the same time. I'm going to talk to (Mississippi State) Coach (Dan) Mullen (Thursday) and weigh my options."

Whitehead talked to fellow Mississippi State commitment C.J. Johnson, who subsequently de-committed from the Bulldogs and re-opened his recruiting. Johnson said he'll decide between Mississippi State, Ole Miss and LSU.

"C.J. was the first big-time commit I really bonded with," Whitehead said. "He was part of the reason I did commit to Mississippi State. He's a cool guy. I talked to him for 30 minutes. He told me he didn't have any answers and he was shocked that Coach Diaz was leaving. He just told me he's still going to see what happens there but he can't call what he's going to do right now."

Whitehead tried to touch base with four-star wide receivers {db]Nickolas Brassell[/db] and Tobias Singleton, who, like Johnson, are in San Antonio this week for the U.S. Army All-American Game. Both wide receivers are expected to make verbal commitments to their school(s) of choice during Saturday's nationally-televised contest.

"I don't know what they're going to do," Whitehead said. "I really don't know. Of course, it will have an affect on me. I want to play with them. It's not the only option I have, but I want to play with them definitely."

Whitehead also talked to Ole Miss coaches throughout the day. The Rebels have steadfastly recruited Whitehead for the past two years and consider him a candidate to start at cornerback next season if he signs with Ole Miss.

"They're telling me that I can help make a clean sweep for them," Whitehead said. "They feel like they're going to get Tobias and Nick this weekend. …Today's been a long day."

Whitehead also talked to four-star wide receiver Donte Moncrief, who committed to Ole Miss early in the process and has been one of the Rebels' chief recruiters ever since.

"Donte is telling me Ole Miss is a family," Whitehead said. "He brought it to my attention that (Ole Miss defensive coordinator) Coach (Tyrone) Nix had a chance to leave and go to Florida last year and he didn't take it. It's a recruiting pitch, but it's a true statement. Donte is my boy. He's got all of the respect in the world from me. He's one of my favorite players."

Whitehead said he'll visit Miami this weekend, Mississippi State on Jan. 14 and Ole Miss on Jan. 21. Auburn and Stanford, he said, are "still in it for sure."

"I'm kind of back to square one," Whitehead said. "I feel like I'm just starting to get recruited again almost. I'm back to weighing my options."

Still, Whitehead conceded that his decision will likely be between the in-state Egg Bowl rivals, two schools and programs he's come to know intimately.

"Both places have their ups and downs," Whitehead said. "It's just where I want to be and who I want to be around. That's all it's going to come down to."

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