Ole Miss or Vanderbilt?
Everything seemed to point toward Mississippi so Nashville Christian offensive tackle Alex Givens committed with the Rebels on Thursday.
“I felt more comfortable with the staff there (at Ole Miss),” Givens said. “I felt more comfortable with the athletics, academics and spiritual life there.”
Givens is the second The Tennessean Dandy Dozen player (Overton’s Ugo Amadi) to commit to Ole Miss and the ninth overall – all to Southeastern Conference schools.
Givens (6-6, 290) said Vanderbilt’s 0-2 start under first-year coach Derek Mason wasn’t a factor in his decision. The Commodores have been outscored 78-10, including last week’s 41-3 loss to Ole Miss (2-0).
“Not really much at all – you can’t go anywhere but up from there so they have a good future in my opinion,” said Givens of Vandy’s slow start. “But they’ve just got to get some things worked out. The coaching staff, I really liked them.”
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Givens said he felt a stronger bond with coach James Franklin’s staff, but he left to take the Penn State job in January.
“I was a lot closer (to Franklin’s staff),” Givens said. “They were my first offer. The line coach, Herb Hand, he really took me under his wing and showed me the ropes, and helped me out a lot with my recruiting and stuff like that. (Coach Mason’s staff) was also really interested in me. It just transferred over.”
Givens said the FedEx student-athlete academic support center at Ole Miss also swayed him.
“It’s top-notch,” Givens said. I just felt like that was a lot better for me than at Vanderbilt. They didn’t have that. I need more of that. They set up all of your tutoring there and they have academic advisors that talk to you about your homework and classes.”
Givens formed a good connection with Rebels center Ben Still, a former all-state player at Memphis University School.
Givens will never get to block for quarterback Bo Wallace because the former Giles County star is in his senior year.
Nashville Christian coach Jeff Brothers played free safety and returned punts at Vanderbilt from 1990-93.
“Of course, I love Vanderbilt and loved my time there,” Brothers said. “But I’m here for these boys and their hopes and dreams. (Picking a school) is up to him. A lot goes into it besides where their coach went to school.”
Brothers believes Givens can be successful at the Southeastern Conference level.
Givens is believed to be the first football player in the 43-year history of Nashville Christian to commit with an SEC school straight out of high school. The Class 1A school has an enrollment of 190.
There may be another soon. Eagles linebacker prospect Daniel Bituli has five offers, including Ole Miss, Tennessee and LSU.
“(Alex’s commitment) is big,” Bituli said. “It just shows a school is never too small to have big dreams. We’re just going to continue to do big things like this. Ole Miss is high (on my list) right now.”
Givens has over 30 pancake blocks this season, including 20 in a season-opening win over Harpeth. Brothers said he typically grades out in the 90 percent range for the fourth-ranked Eagles (3-0). The senior is ranked as the state’s No. 14 prospect by 247 Sports.
Reach Chip Cirillo at 615 664-2194 or on Twitter @ChipCirillo.