Ford looking at four?

Johnathan Ford's de-commitment from Vanderbilt Monday night was a surprise to some, but others saw it coming based on the late offers and interest his way after his senior tape got out. After some dust has settled, FOX Sports NEXT spoke with his coach about who may be in it down the stretch.

It wasn't a slight against James Franklin or his staff at Vanderbilt, but New Hope (Ala.) four-star running back Johnathan Ford let Scout know he parted ways with the program Monday night.

On Tuesday, New Hope Head Coach Randall Taylor spoke of his top prospect's situation.

"He has de-committed from Vanderbilt," he said. "It looks like Tennessee, Auburn and Georgia are still in the mix right now."

"It was just a scenario where he was able to get out (on his commitment)," Taylor continued. "He committed to them very early. He had and still has all the respect in the world for James Franklin.

"The more he talked with his family and prayed about it, he decided it's the best for him."

The Seminoles are also considered in the mix at this time as well, and they are one of a few staffs looking for a visit from Ford on the last weekend before national signing day.

"He is not visiting Florida State or Georgia at the moment, but Georgia is more of a possibility," the coach added.

The late offers certainly had a lot to do with Ford backing out of his pledge to Vandy, but it wasn't just because of the offers themselves. Taylor pointed out how much each staff had already been in his ear well before Monday's news broke.

"It's not quite as late as you think it is," he said. "Jeremy Pruitt at FSU, was recruiting him at Alabama. Georgia was in the mix well before Christmas; coach [Bryan] McClendon was contacting us. He's been to Tennessee numerous times going back to his junior year.

"Auburn, he's been there several times before. Gus [Malzahn] and all of his staff were on him at Arkansas State, too."

With four big-time schools, each with different situations, courting the 5-foot-11, 200-pounder, will it come down to who pursues him the hardest?

"Tennessee has been coming since the new staff has come in," said Taylor. "They've been very persistent on the phone and in his home. Florida State made a special trip here to see him yesterday and Georgia has been in here three times. Auburn was here today, including Coach Malzahn himself.

"Overall, it boils down what's the best fit for him. Not just athletically, but socially and for his family."

To make things even more interesting, especially at this time of year, New Hope's head coach suggested a final decision may come sooner than February 6.

Said Taylor, "He's looking to make a decision, but it's not going to be public until closer to signing day."

Ford is ranked as the No. 35 running back in the class of 2013 on FOX Sports NEXT/

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