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January 4, 2013

Depth charts factor into players' choices

MORE: U.S. Army All-American Bowl

Dallas Jackson is the National Columnist for Rivals.com. Email him your comments or story ideas to DallasJ@Yahoo-Inc.com and follow him on Twitter.

SAN ANTONIO -- Mike Mitchell is one of seven U.S. Army All-Americans scheduled to make his college decision Saturday afternoon during the game's broadcast on national television.

The hats on the table for the four-star linebacker from Plano (Texas) Prestonwood Christian will be Ohio State, Oregon and Texas A&M.

Mitchell, like several players in the game, said roster analysis was a major part of the process for him.

"I looked a lot at the depth charts of the schools that were recruiting me," he said. "I have no plans on redshirting, and I want to compete for a spot right away.

"Playing time is really important to me, and I don't want to go to a place with seven linebackers already in the program ahead of me."

Mitchell is the No. 30 player in the Rivals100, and at 6-foot-4 and 216 pounds he thinks he is ready to earn his spot.

But that doesn't mean he wants to have too many roadblocks already in place.

"I think I should have to earn a spot and earn playing time," he said. "But I also think it is important to give myself the best chance to go get it. Having a lot of established guys on the roster hurts that chance (to play early)."

Houston (Texas) Alief Taylor four-star Torrodney Prevot said potential playing time was important to him in his decision to select USC.

Rivals.com analysts project the No. 209 player in the Rivals250 as an outside linebacker. Despite being listed at 6-foot-3 and 201 pounds, Prevot said he was upfront with the Pac-12 school about his interest in playing defensive end.

"I just flat out asked them where they saw me playing," he said. "It was important to know that we were on the same page.

"I spent a lot of time checking out the depth charts at defensive end, and I looked at the last class for the schools recruiting me. I want to get out there and play."

Fellow USC commit Jalen Ramsey said he also looked at the class coming in.

The five-star cornerback from Brentwood (Tenn.) Academy was far less concerned with players coming in at his position and wanted to make sure the entire defensive side of the ball was well represented.

"I am defensive minded," he said. "I wanted to make sure that all levels of the defense were getting recruited hard.

"I was more concerned with making sure I was going to school with good guys. That was more of a concern of mine than who was coming in at my position because I think everyone has to earn their playing time."

Ramsey is the No. 15 player in the Rivals100 and will be joined in the secondary at USC by two early enrollees and U.S. Army All-Americans, safety Su'a Cravens of Murrieta (Calif.) Vista Murrieta and Rancho Cucamonga (Calif.) High cornerback Chris Hawkins.

USC is still recruiting five-star safety Leon McQuay III from Armwood (Fla.) Seffner, and even if the program lands additional players in the secondary it won't scare away Ramsey.

"You have to earn your time on the field," he said. "Really, the Pac-12 schools spread it out on offense and throw it a lot so every school is going to need more than just two guys that can cover."

The SEC may not air it out as much, but that doesn't mean roster management isn't important to players in the secondary.

Newnan (Ga.) High safety Tray Matthews said the players who stayed on campus were a reason that he selected Georgia.

"When Shawn Williams and Bacarri Rambo came back, that meant there were two senior safeties on the roster," he said. "A lot of people didn't think Rambo was coming back, and if he wouldn't have there is a good chance that a younger guy would have earned a spot and been locked in when I get on campus. Now I am going to have a chance to come right in and there are two spots, not just one."

The No. 72 player in the Rivals100 said that, once he felt good about having an available spot up for grabs, his focus went to recruiting other players and helping ease concerns of other recruits about coming to Georgia.

"We all look at depth charts. Even if people say they don't, they do," he said. "Once I was in, I started looking for guys that could fill in holes. These are guys that I will be building a legacy with, and so finding good spots for us all to be successful is important."

Ezekiel Elliott believed there was a spot at running back at Ohio State for him to succeed.

The No. 77 player in the Rivals100 from St. Louis (Mo.) John Burroughs School said his style of play was a need for the Big Ten program.

"The depth chart for Ohio State had a lot of bigger backs," he said. "I really felt like I could come in and be a change-of-pace back and earn playing time early."

The 6-foot, 198-pound back said that Stan Drayton -- his position coach and lead recruiter at Ohio State -- has been honest from the start and that made Elliott feel more confident in his decision.

"They told me that I was the type of back they needed and that if I committed I would be the only back in the class," he said. "When they told me that I committed to seal up my spot, and they haven't been in on anyone else so that really makes me trust them."

Trust played a role with recruitment of Texas A&M commit Ricky Seals-Jones but not as much as who was suiting up for the Aggies.

"It felt very comfortable about both places," he said. "But what it came to for me between LSU and A&M was how many spots would be open.

"I don't want to come into a spot and be backed up because there are 12 receivers on the roster already. You want to be in a position that you can succeed, and going in behind established players will set you back already."

Seals-Jones is the top-ranked player in the class for Texas A&M. It has five other receivers committed and one early enrollee on campus.

The No. 27 player in the Rivals100 said he is comfortable with what he is walking into.

"The recruiting class is solid, and I think we will be successful," he said. "I don't know how it will all shake out, but I feel like I made the right decision."

With all of the roster turnover, surprise performers and busts, a well-informed decision is the best that any of the players can hope for.

Mitchell feels he can confidently make one.

"I feel like I am ready," he said. "I will still pray on it, but I feel like I have all the information I need and I am ready."



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