Lonnie Ballentine, a Memphis (Tenn.) Southwind cornerback who was scheduled to be in the class of…
Decision time for Lonnie Ballentine
"Yes, Lonnie will make his decision tomorrow at 1:30 at Southwind (High)," added his mother, Shelia Smith. Some reports say that Lonnie Ballentine is going to bypass his senior season altogether, instead of a semester early, and enroll at a college this summer. Is this true? "He is actually going to skip his senior year, depending on which school he commits to tomorrow. Some schools have room for him to go on a scholarship this year, and some do not until next fall, but I think he will skip his senior year." Which colleges are still in the running? "Tennessee, Memphis, and Ole Miss. Arkansas is still somewhat in it too." Has the 2009 Tennessee Dream Team member had a chance to visit each campus? "Yes, we have been to all four of their campuses." Which colleges have room for Lonnie to count against the 2010 class and which colleges will have to wait until December before they ink the Memphian? "Tennessee, Memphis, and Ole Miss have an open scholarship. Arkansas, Alabama, LSU, Auburn, and Mississippi State will have one available in December. Miami too but only the first three have room to him to sign now." Any clues in which way Tae, as he is called by his family and friends, is leaning? "I think he likes all of them the same. There are some things that are a little different. Some are a little further away from home than the others, but I think he feels like he can play at all of them. That is a big thing. Academically, they all offer his major which will be sports management. That will not be an issue. Lastly, we will look at his personal relationship with their coaches. Tennessee is the only school that he does not have a personal relationship with, but that is not a big deal, because he liked the atmosphere when he went up there while Coach Kiffin was still there. With Ole Miss, we think Coach Nutt is a great coach and Tae and myself feel like we have a good relationship with his staff. We also have a good relationship with Coach Porter (at Memphis). He has been recruiting Tae since he was at LSU, and I have kind of known him personally since he was at Memphis (as a football player). But I also know Coach Vaughn personally. We went to school together at Murray State, and I am good friends with Chris (Vaughn) and his wife." Does Lonnie know yet where he is going to announce or is he still unsure? "I do not think he has made a final decision. He still has some details that he is trying to iron out, but after a good night's rest, I think he will have a clearer head tomorrow and will make a final decision." And what are those details? "I would say some of the details would be just how comfortable he is with that school. We want it to be a perfect fit. There are some things he has to work out in his own mind." Is there a chance Ballentine could make his commitment and also sign his letter of intent tomorrow? "I think he will go ahead and sign tomorrow and not prolong the situation if it is with one of the schools that has an available scholarship right now." Some might ask, why graduate a year early? "We have talked about this at great length. It has always been his goal to get out a year early so this is not just something that popped up. He is in the honors program at S' West and has taken all of his core classe. There is nothing available in high school to further his education. Athletically, he has enjoyed his teammates and coaches, but maybe he can get up to college and take a greyshirt or redshirt and get a year ahead academically and in the weight room. We just feel that he would benefit more with the college trainers and learning how to study film from the college coaches. He does not have to play right away. If he took a greyshirt he could get in around 30 hours and his eligibility clock will not have started. He is 6' 3", 215 now and is physically ready for the next level. Now we just want to get him ready to play on the next level. He needs to identify the things he needs to work on and get the best possible tutoring he can get. Tae worked hard to put himself in this situation to graduate a year early and now he has that choice because of all of that hard work. He is in a win/win situation, and I could not be anymore proud of Tae." Ballentine was named one of the state's Top 12 overall players this past season after he broke up 23 passes, intercepted seven of them and took back five to the house.
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