Recruiting notebook

Dontavius Russell, who committed to Georgia before changing his mind and committing to Auburn, hasn’t ruled out the possibility of taking an official visit to Athens.

The four-star defensive tackle from Carrollton High committed to UGA in April, but backed off his pledge last month because he “wanted to look around.”

Russell was expected to take official visits to UGA and Auburn next month before reaching a final decision, but tweeted Friday that he had committed again, to Auburn.

“I’ve always wanted to go to a place where I could be happy, and Auburn has always been my favorite school since I was younger,” Russell said. “So I just knew it’s where I wanted to be.”

Family connections factored into the decision: Russell’s uncle, Dennis Wallace, played safety in the late 1980s for Auburn. One of Wallace’s teammates was Rodney Garner, the former UGA recruiting coordinator who is Auburn’s defensive line coach and in charge of recruiting Russell for the Tigers.

“Dontavius has grown up an Auburn fan his whole life,” Carrollton coach Rayvan Teague said. “His uncle played at Auburn. Him and his parents are big Auburn fans. I think he enjoyed coach Mark Richt when he went over to Georgia last spring break. He felt like that was a good fit for him and made the commitment to go there. He’s not a wishy-washy kid and not the type to flip back and forth like that.

“But coach Garner and Auburn never stopped recruiting him. I think they had the good fortune of getting him on the sidelines for the Auburn-Alabama game. That play at the end of the game changed his perspective a little bit. You know, that got him thinking about how much of an Auburn fan he was.”

When Russell was asked specifically if he would visit UGA after committing to Auburn, he wouldn’t rule it out. “I’m going to take the visits my parents want me to take.” He declined to elaborate further.

UGA hasn’t given up on Russell since last month’s change of heart. Bulldogs defensive line coach Chris Wilson attended Carrollton’s Class AAAA championship game loss to Griffin to observe Russell. Garner also was there.

UGA has lost five commitments from its 2014 recruiting class, including running back Stanley Williams (committed to Kentucky), safety Nick Glass (undecided), and wide receivers Demarre Kitt (Clemson) and Krenwick Sanders (Wisconsin). The Bulldogs have 16 commitments and expect to sign between 20-23.

North wins game: North Oconee High's Kawon Bryant rushed for 112 yards and a touchdown to lead the North to a 20-17 win over the South in Saturday's Elite Junior Classic.

The all-star game, which was played at McEachern High, featured 70 of the state’s top juniors.

Bryant was chosen the North’s co-MVP, along with Allatoona’s Josh Bettistea, who rushed for 113 yards on 22 carries. The South MVP was Marietta’s KirVonte Benson, who ran for 58 yards and one touchdown.

The game’s overall most impressive player may have been Tucker’s NeKyle Lundy, who finished with two acrobatic catches for 101 yards and one touchdown. Lundy, known for his physical style of play, also had a bone-crushing block in the first quarter.

Just before halftime the game was stopped for nearly 20 minutes when Jefferson County linebacker Daylan Williams was injured, possibly with a broken arm.

Quarterback on the mend: The bad news is that the state's No. 1 quarterback prospect, Gainesville High's Deshaun Watson, suffered a sprained left knee in the final minutes of the Class AAAAA semifinals loss to Tucker. The good news is that Watson avoided a serious injury and should be ready to participate in Clemson's spring workouts.

“I had an MRI on my knee, and it turned out well,” Watson said Friday. “Nothing was torn. It was just a sprain in my left knee. So I’m in a brace, and I have to rehab for four to six weeks. Once I get to Clemson, I’ll start working out with the team, and I’ll be ready for spring practice. I will be 100 percent by then.”

It was a scary experience for Watson, who graduated from high school this month and will report to Clemson on Jan. 5.

“The rain started coming down when we were on that turf,” said Watson, recalling the play. “I was running, and a guy hit me low. He had my legs wrapped up, and then another guy came high. I just fell backwards, and it started hurting from there. I just felt a sharp pain in my knee, and after that, I just walked off the field.

“I thought I could play through it. After the game, it started getting worse and worse. I thought it was something really bad. The doctors said I was lucky to have this kind of injury, rather than a torn ACL or something.”

Watson said Clemson’s coaches were “excited and relieved” it wasn’t more serious. He is expected to compete immediately for playing time with the Tigers because of the graduation of Tajh Boyd.