One of the largest elite football camps kicked off Monday at Nike’s campus in Beaverton, Ore.
The three-day seminar features 150 of the country’s top prospects, including 2014 Vanderbilt quarterback commit K.J. Carta-Samuels and several other players targeted by Commodores coaches.
National recruiting analyst Barton Simmons is there covering the event for 247Sports. From mingling and chatting up some of the nation’s best talent, Simmons said the dismissal of four Vanderbilt football players amid a police investigation into an alleged sexual assault at a Vanderbilt dorm is “surprisingly a non-factor.”
“In Nashville and in the media locally it is sort of the story,” Simmons said on Tuesday. “But when you’re out here at national events I think you realize that the firestorm hasn’t really spread nationally just yet. Maybe it will, but at this point it is just not on the minds of all these guys. Frankly, even some of the guys I talked to kind of off the record, the bigger impact in their eyes is that there are four new scholarships available.
“It is definitely not something that is on the tip of tongue of these guys and on top of their list of concerns.”
Metro police said on Monday that its Sex Crimes Unit is continuing its investigation into an alleged sexual assault on June 23. On Saturday, Vanderbilt dismissed four football players from the team, placed them on interim suspension from the university and banned them from campus unless they have explicit permission from the Office of Student Conduct and Academic Integrity.
Vanderbilt head coach James Franklin and athletics director David Williams have remained quiet publicly on the matter.
But Simmons says Carta-Samuels, the younger brother of Vanderbilt senior quarterback Austyn Carta-Samuels, has heard from Franklin.
“He has spoken to coach Franklin specifically about that,” Simmons said. “Just sort of touching base and making sure everything was straight and he didn’t have any questions [for Franklin]. There is no doubt that this is not something that makes [Carta-Samuels] pause or makes him doubt his decision. Just from talking to him … he is not concerned and doesn’t seem to be blinking about his commitment.”
Both 247Sports and Rivals.com have Carta-Samuels ranked as the 11th best quarterback in the 2014 class. He is one of nine commitments for Vanderbilt for 2014. That group also includes Murfreesboro-Oakland safety Emmanuel Smith, running back Mikale Wilbon — both four-star prospects — and Montgomery Bell Academy defensive tackle Jashon Robertson.
Joining Carta-Samuels in Oregon this week are offensive lineman Isaiah Wynn, linebacker Nyles Morgan and cornerback Kyle Gibson — all three have been offered scholarships from Vanderbilt.
“A national kid looks at this as not a reflection on James Franklin,” Simmons said, “not a reflection on Vanderbilt, but just an isolated incident from which four new scholarships have emerged. That is kind of the reality of it.”
The identities of the four dismissed players have not been revealed and no arrests have been made.
Simmons said he doesn’t know what affect the incident will have on Vanderbilt’s recruiting. How much national media attention the case draws and what details emerge could be factors.
But he does believe the biggest consequence will be the “ammunition” for opposing coaches to use against Vanderbilt.
“Any impact is going to be totally dependent on how the narrative plays out moving forward,” Simmons said. “Regardless, we could see a situation where it has virtually no effect. One area of concern is how much negative recruiting does this instigate? Obviously this is something other coaching staffs are really going to try to use against Vanderbilt. But I think right now, based on how things have played out to date, how Vanderbilt handled things and where we sit with the incident, it is just not much of a factor as I think local people might assume.”