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Roundtree's stock continues its rapid rise

Posted: January 19, 2014 - 1:01am

Lakeside junior safety Rashad Roundtree has been getting lots of attention lately. Since Lakeside wrapped up its 2013 season, Roundtree has won numerous awards, has been courted by some of the top football programs in the country and has been the subject of a handful of articles by the various recruiting Web sites. All that has happened in a little over a month for the 6-1, 195-pound defensive back. It has been such a whirlwind, I decided to do a timeline of Roundtree’s prep career. From the first time he drew the attention of Panther Head Coach Jarrett Troxler, to becoming the most highly sought after football player in Columbia County history.

Fall 2011: Roundtree turns heads at junior varsity game.

Lakeside Head Coach Jarrett Troxler knew who Roundtree was, but the coach perked up during a J.V. game versus Burke County, during Roundtree’s freshman season. “He returned a punt for a touchdown against Burke County, and I remember thinking: This kid has a chance to be something special,” said Troxler.

Fall 2012: Who is the Roundtree kid?

That was the question I asked after Lakeside’s fifth game of the 2012 season. The Panthers won 21-17, and several other Panthers may have played a bigger role in the victory, but I remember thinking. “Wow, No. 33 (He has since changed to No. 2) is only a sophomore?” He looks like a player. I remember asking Coach Baker after the game how big Roundtree was. “6 foot, ‘bout 180” he responded. 6-0, 180 pounds in the 10th grade…okay, this kid is someone to keep an eye on.

December 23, 1012: All-County Football Team Released – 15, 9, 1.

The 2012 All-County Football Team consisted of 25 players. There were 15 seniors, nine juniors, and one sophomore. That sophomore, of course, was Rashad Roundtree. He finished the season with 72 tackles, two interceptions, two forced fumbles, and one fumble recovery. In his player capsule, I wrote, “If he works hard, Roundtree could be a special player in a couple of years.” He also picked up First Team All-Region Honors.

Spring 2013: Roundtree is on the radar.

Clemson came to see Roundtree during Lakeside’s spring practice. They liked what they saw and followed up by coming to one of Rashad’s basketball practices.

I must interrupt the timeline here for some important additional info. Back in his days as an assistant for Jody Grooms at Anson High School in Wadesboro, North Carolina, Coach Troxler served as the team’s recruiting coordinator. Anson had several high profile recruits, including Barquell Rivers (Virginia Tech) and Trinton Sturdivant (UGA). Rivers and Sturdivant were Parade All-Americans that had scholarship offers from schools all over the country. That meant Coach Troxler spent a couple of years building relationships with college coaches and recruiting analysts. As you will see as I continue the timeline, Troxler’s connections and reputation (the coaches believe what he says about a player based on their past dealings) have played a role in the assention of Roundtree among the nation’s top recruits.

July 2013: Dawg Night

This is easily the benchmark of the recruiting story of Rashad. Coach Troxler knew Mike Bobo from UGA’s recruitment of Trinton Sturdivant. So he called Bobo and let him know about Roundtree, sent UGA film on Roundtree and several other LHS players, and inquired about Dawg Night.

Dawg Night is a huge event at Georgia each summer where UGA invites the top prospects from across the state to come in and workout for the coaches. Bobo had UGA Assistant Coach Kirk Olivadotti contact Troxler. Olivadotti let Troxler know they liked Rashad’s film and invited Rashad and a handful of other Panther players to come up for Dawg Night. Once there, Roundtree did not disappoint. He ran well and they were impressed with his size. So much so that Mark Richt had Roundtree workout in the same group with UGA’s 2014 recruits. Again, Rashad performed well in seven-on-seven drills and UGA appeared ready to offer him a scholarship right then. However, they chose to try and let him fly under the radar a little longer.

November 2013: Elite Junior Classic Invitation

Word had spread about a new event in the state that would bring together the state of Georgia’s Top 70 Junior Prospects. Coach Troxler found out his friend Ed Dudley, who coaches at Ware County, had been selected to be a staff assistant for the event. He contacted Dudley to let him know about Roundtree and to put his hat in the ring so to speak. Dudley already knew about Roundtree. Ware County and Lakeside had squared off in the state playoffs during Rashad’s sophomore season. A few days later Dudley called back and said they wanted Roundtree for the event.

Nov. 15, 2013: Things are starting to heat up.

Lakeside’s team was on a bus bound for the opening round of the state playoffs versus Creekside, when Rashad got a phone call. He walked to the front of the bus to let Coach Troxler know that the call was from David Cutcliffe and Duke had offered him a scholarship -- his first D-I offer.

Late December 2013: Roundtree turns heads at Elite Junior.

All it took was one practice at the Elite Junior for Rashad to get noticed by all of the top recruiting analysts on hand. And you can bet every recruiting website in the country was on hand because two of the nation’s top juniors were at the event. Mitch Hyatt (OT/ North Gwinnett) and Trenton Thompson (DT/ Westover HS) a pair of 5-Star recruits that everyone planned to spend the week drooling over.

Instead, one of the first players to get special recognition was Roundtree. 24/7 Sports’ Rusty Mansell immediately singled out Roundtree for his impressive stature and pegged him as a player to watch during the week.

By the end of the event, Roundtree (who had come in a virtual unknown) was selected as one of the Top 10 players at the event. That notoriety would mean two things for Roundtree. First, his recruiting was about to pick up. And, secondly, UGA can forget about him flying under the radar.

Early January 2013: Things are about to get crazy.

By this time Troxler and the Lakeside staff have sent out game film all over the country. And not just for Roundtree. Everywhere they sent Roundtree tape, they sent tape of several other players who have the ability to play at the next level. Most notably Stephon Houza (Athlete/DB) and B.J. Raymond (WR). Both of whom are getting plenty of looks of their own. Because of this and Roundtree’s impressive showing at the Elite Junior Event calls are pouring in from major programs. One problem, it takes the coaches longer today to weed out the top players. An Ohio State coach told Troxler that he gets film on about 300 kids a day because of Web sites like www.hudl.com. Those sites are great to assist players and coaches, but they are also so easy to use that... well, Ohio State gets film on 300 players a day. And according to the coach 290 of those players cannot play at the Big Ten level.

Jan. 10, 2014: Let the madness begin

Up until this day, Roundtree had garnered three D-I offers. Duke, Vanderbilt, and Mississippi State. While those are tremendous offers from great schools, they pale in comparison to what is about to occur.

10:30 a.m.

Kirk Olavidotti calls Coach Troxler and asks if he can call him back in five minutes. Troxler rounds up Rashad and makes the call. On the other end was UGA Head Coach Mark Richt with a scholarship offer.

10:45 a.m.

Coach Troxler calls and old friend, Ryan Bartow, to tell him about the UGA offer. Bartow works for the recruiting site 24/7 Sports. Bartow tweets out the information about UGA’s offer to Rashad.

11 a.m.

Ole Miss does not waste any time. They call with an offer for Rashad to be a Rebel.

12:15 p.m.

Michigan State, who had liked Rashad for a while and is trying to really make some headway in recruiting the state of Georgia, calls with an offer. The Spartans nearly offered before UGA on Thursday, but did not pull the trigger.

3 p.m .

Clemson Offensive Coordinator Chad Morris (who recruits this area for the Tigers) calls and says he is going in a staff meeting and would be calling shortly.

4 p.m.

Morris calls back with a Clemson offer.

Jan. 13, 2014

8:15 a.m.

Virginia Tech calls. Troxler had been in contact with them and sent them game film. The call was to the point. One of the Hokie’s assistants said “Coach Foster (Long time Virginia Tech Defensive Coordinator Bud Foster) liked what he saw. We want to (make an) offer to Rashad.”

11 a.m.

Alabama calls to request more game film on Roundtree. Apparently Defensive Coordinator Kirby Smart loves Roundtree, but Head Coach Nick Saban likes to evaluate more film than most coaches. Hard to argue with his formula.

Jan. 14, 2103

11:30 a.m.

Florida Head Coach Will Muschamp calls and asks Coach Troxler if he can get Rashad. Coaches are not allowed to directly contact players. However, they can contact High School coaches and players are allowed to call college coaches as well. Another new way for coaches and recruits to communicate is Twitter. The NCAA allows coaches to contact recruits directly via twitter. You guessed, Florida made an offer to Roundtree, too.

4 p.m.

Roundtree is front page news on two high profile recruiting sites. 24/7 Sports and Scout.com did feature stories on the hectic couple of days he was experiencing.

Jan. 15, 2014

4:30 p.m.

Ohio State contacts Troxler to inform him that they are extending a scholarship offer to Rashad.

Wow! Quite a whirlwind for a high school junior to take in.

However, if you are worried about this going to Roundtree’s head and the moment being too big for him. Quit worrying.

First, he has a great support system.

He lives in Columbia County with his mom and stepfather.

His father, Richmond County Sheriff Richard Roundtree, is supportive and attends all of his games.

He also has an uncle, Raleigh, that played in the NFL for Arizona and San Diego. Not to mention the support he gets at Lakeside.

Then, as far as Rashad letting this all go to his head. First, I have always heard what a great young man he is.

Well, I spoke to him last night and one thing he said should sum up what kind of kid he is. The last thing he asked me to do in the story was to please mention his teammates, especially Stephon (Houza), Josh (Jones) and B.J. (Raymond).

As far as Houzah, Jones and Raymond: Each are getting several looks and if they get a little bigger and stronger in the off season, there is a chance that each can play at the D-I level.

In 2015, National Signing Day is Feb. 4.

It is going to be a fun ride for the next year.

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