Originally created 01/22/06

War Eagles star reverses course



Ronnie Tyler's recruitment to the Atlantic Coast Conference had an interesting stop in the Southeastern Conference.

The Wagener-Salley standout was a virtual lock to Georgia through the fall after committing to the Bulldogs in June. He was quoted by The Augusta Chronicle in July as saying he was "110 percent sure" a Georgia Bulldog.

That changed. Considerably.

"I have to look back on that and call it a rushed judgement," Tyler said. "I was a 16-year-old kid then. I had gotten an offer from what was then the No. 11 team in the country. Athens is close. What 16-year-old doesn't get caught up in something like that?"

Tyler and Georgia mutually agreed to a "decommitment" in December.

The slot receiver prospect had other suitors. Clemson, Maryland, Middle Tennessee State, South Carolina and Virginia Tech were solidly behind their previous scholarship offers to him.

Tyler settled on Maryland and committed to the school while on an official visit two weeks ago. The specific reason for the change of heart is personal; Tyler and his family would prefer those reasons remain private.

"I just really don't have a lot to say about it," Tyler said. "I just feel like I am happy where I am at now. Maryland was second in the ACC in passing yards this year. It's not a bad offense to go play for by any means. It's a great place to play college football. I'm very excited and can't wait to get there."

Wagener-Salley coach Steve DeRiggs said it had nothing to do with ability. The 5-foot-10 Tyler can run a consistent 4.4 in the 40-yard dash. He has a 41-inch vertical leap that allows him to get both elbows above the rim on a slam dunk try.

"Ronnie's a fine young man," DeRiggs said. "A great character young man. I don't want to be negative in any way about this. He's tried to take the high road and move on from it. But Georgia did have some questions about the amount of work he had to do in the classroom and whether or not he would be able to come in right away and qualify academically."

Tyler has work to do to become academically eligible, but he's had his best high school year in the classroom so far. But he added the Georgia change of mind wasn't solely about academics.

"It was nothing like that," Tyler said. "It didn't get to that point. I don't know if Georgia would have felt that way, to say this was all about them worrying about my grades.

"I don't want to go down that path. In the end, I just didn't feel like that was the place for me. Some other things were going on I wasn't real pleased with and my high school coaches weren't really pleased with. That's all I will say about that. We just decided on another direction. I'm happy now and in a great place."

Tyler met with the academic counselors at Maryland to gauge his substantial academic improvement. He has an 890 on his SAT, which he feels is sufficient, but will take the test again to improve that mark.

"I met with the admissions people at Maryland and they said my score and the work I'm doing academically are on track," Tyler said. "If I just continue with the progress I've been on, then I'll be accepted and be able to enroll at Maryland in the fall."

If that happens, the Terrapins will have landed a superior talent for placing their faith in him.

"I hope this is an example of things working out for the best," DeRiggs said. "We all want what's best for Ronnie and that appears to be just what's taken place here. Maryland never wavered in their commitment to him."

GATOR-BOUND: Georgia coach Mark Richt and assistant coach John Fabris visited Josey's Lawrence Marsh this month but came away empty-handed trying to sway Marsh to take an official visit to Athens, Ga.

"Georgia was still trying to get me," Marsh said. "They were telling me about the depth chart and stuff and wanting me to take an official visit. There's no need for Florida to worry. I'm not going to visit Georgia. Lawrence Marsh is 100-percent Florida Gator and that's not changing."

Florida coach Urban Meyer and defensive coordinators Charlie Strong and Greg Mattison visited the Marsh home Thursday.

Marsh made 990 on his SAT as a junior, and his family has said he is fully qualified to enroll at Florida this fall.

Reach Jeff Sentell at (706) 823-3425 or jeff.sentell@augustachronicle.com.