Quietly tonight in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, a battle is brewing.
A recruit who has enjoyed little national fanfare is in the middle of a bicoastal recruiting battle. Anthony Kimble, the 6'1" wide receiver recruit from University Lab School in Baton Rouge, has taken official visits to Stanford and Duke the last two weeks. He welcomed the Blue Devils into his home tonight and tomorrow will have Stanford's Buddy Teevens in for a visit. A decision is coming soon.
It looks like time to get caught up quickly on this hot target from the Bayou.
"I enjoyed both visits," Kimble says of his two January official trips to Palo Alto and Durham. "I now have most of the information to put myself in a position to make a decision. I should have my decision on Thursday. I'm talking with my parents and my high school coach, the people I most trust, to help me with advice and guidance."
For a young man who had never been west of Texas in his life, the trip 10 days ago to California was more than a look at Stanford, it was his first glimpse at the West Coast. Kimble has only known his local culture, but he appears to have opened himself to what he saw.
"Living in the Southern part of the nation, it was my first time on the West Coast," the recruit reveals. "It was a pretty different place, but it's a place where I could be comfortable. By nature I think I could evolve any place I go."
Kimble's host was fellow Lousiana native Brandon Harrison, the Stanford freshman who also hails from Baton Rouge. "I knew Brandon as a really good student-athlete in Baton Route," the University Lab senior explains. "It's a small town, and you know exceptional people like that. Brandon is someone I've followed at Catholic [High School]; he's someone I've looked up to."
These kinds of connections should not be underrated. Recruits go to schools on visits not to hear more babble and empty promises from coaches, but rather to get the straight scoop from the players. In a situation like this one, a trusted friend from one's hometown can be the most valued opinion of all.
"Brandon said [Stanford] was a great experience," Kimble details of his findings. "But he didn't overexagerate what he was telling me, which was good."
This past weekend the 6'1" athlete headed to the opposite coast for his second official visit - to Duke. He squeezed the trip between basketball games, Saturday through Monday, and he had a positive visit that at least countered his time at Stanford.
"It was a great experience," Kimble says of the Duke trip. "It was like the Southern style I'm used to. The place was beautiful. The weather was different from what I enjoyed at Stanford, but that isn't a real factor in my decision. Duke reminded me of Stanford. Both are programs not at their best, but making positive progress toward better days."
What you read was careful praise of both schools and their visits, but with a decision coming in the next 48 hours, we need to know more. For Kimble, just how do these two schools stack up against each other at this present date?
"Stanford has a great atmosphere, but they don't have my position coach right now," the receiver recruit opens up. "When I got to Stanford, I didn't really know the coaches. Both Coach Kelly and Coach Moses were gone. I connected with the players better at Stanford, but Brandon Harrison was a big part of that. And then there's the distance - I have family in Atlanta, and they would be closer to me at Duke. My parents could see me play games at both schools, but more at Duke."
The issue of a receivers coach appears to be the biggest gap between Stanford and Duke right now. Not only do the Cardinal lack this critical piece to the Kimble puzzle, but also the recruit has a longstanding relationship with their recently ousted position coach. David Kelly is now manning that position at Duke, and his recruiting prowess that served Stanford so well for two years is now leveraged against the Cardinal. Though he gave his word on the way out that he would not personally pursue any of his Stanford recruits at his new employer, Kelly has a new master and has visited Kimble each of the past two weeks.
A discussion of coaching ethics can be visited another day, but for now, Stanford has an uphill battle to fight. Teevens has an in-home visit Wednesday for what appears to be the last coaching contact before Kimble's decision. And though the recruit received the exciting news Monday that he had been accepted by Stanford's Admissions Office into the University, I would call this one in favor of Duke today. I do not have news of a wide receivers coaching hire this week, so presumably Teevens will not be armed with that important asset when he hits the Baton Rouge living room tomorrow. He has his work cut out for him.
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