Cyrus Kouandjio (Hyattsville, Md./DeMatha) heard the snickers when he listed New Mexico among his top five, but the Under Armour All-American tried to convince everyone that his interest in Mike Locksley's program was legitimate.
Over the weekend the 6-foot-7, 325-pounder proved it with an official visit.
"I had a nice time, it was nice to see something different," said Kouandjio, who is No. 6 in the ESPNU 150. "I met a lot of new people and everyone was nice."
New Mexico is probably the biggest underdog in a five-team race that includes Alabama, Iowa, Miami and Southern Cal, but the five-star lineman says the Lobos provide an interesting challenge.
"There's a lot of potential there and I'm one of those guys that doesn't mind getting his hands dirty to build up a program," Kouandjio said. "New Mexico is the type of place where a great player can really build a legacy and develop something special."
Kouandjio's relationship with Locksley was a big reason for the visit.
"Coach Locksley is a D.C. guy like me, we're actually from around the same area," Kouandjio said. "If you follow his history as a coach his teams usually struggle the first couple of seasons and then they start winning so I think his plan is about to take effect."
Kouandjio took a visit to Alabama last week. His brother, Arie, currently plays for the Tide.
"[Arie] really seems to like it at Alabama," Kouandjio said. "He was redshirted this season but he has a lot of good things to say about the program."
It was hard for defensive tackle Kevin McReynolds (Washington, D.C./St. John's) to discuss his visit with Syracuse because he was waiting to see if he would get home.
"Right now I'm stuck here at the airport because of the weather," McReynolds said Sunday. "They've already delayed the flight for six hours and I think they are going to cancel."
McReynolds was part of a huge group of visitors to Syracuse this weekend that included ESPNU 150 defensive end Ishaq Williams (Brooklyn, N.Y./Lincoln), but that wasn't his main concern as he sat waiting at the airport.
"My football banquet is tonight and I don't want to miss it," McReynolds added.
Benjamin ready to announce
Four-star wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin (Belle Glade, Fla./Glades Central) wasn't able to help his team capture a state championship due to reaching the age limit. And now the 656 pass-catcher is ready to move on.
He will announce a decision Thursday between Florida, FSU and Miami.
"It's been tough not being able to play," Benjamin said Saturday night. "Right now I'm trying to do what I can to contribute and help out the guys like Davonte [Allen] and Jamie [Wilson] do everything they can."
As for Benjamin's next destination, he isn't going to look too far.
"I'm definitely going to stay in the state of Florida," Benjamin said. "At first I was going to try to take my visits out-of-state but I don't think so anymore. Maybe I might still go to West Virginia, but that's about it."
Ever since Benjamin stepped off the field there have been rumors surrounding his recruitment with reports saying he was interested in Marshall and even Boise State.
"There's always going to be a bunch of rumors surrounding me," Benjamin said. "A lot of schools talk to me but you know that's really all it is."
In recent weeks it appears that Florida State has taken a clear lead for Benjamin's services. It doesn't hurt that his best friend, wide receiver Greg Dent, is already on the Seminoles' roster, but Benjamin says it's deeper than that.
"When I went to the Florida game they were talking about more than just football," Benjamin said. "They were talking about academics and how they are going to help me get a degree, everyone else was just coming at me with football."
Benjamin, who was informed of the hiring of Will Muschamp to Florida after Saturday night's game, expects coaches from all three schools to make in-home visits this week.
Buie open, talking visits
Three-star running back Chevelle Buie (Cocoa, Fla./Cocoa) was held out of Saturday night's Class 2A final for disciplinary reasons but he did make the trip to watch his team win a third straight title.
Now it's on to the next step and the 5-8, 160-pound speedster says he is not committed to any school right now. Earlier in the year there was confusion whether he had decommitted from Rutgers or not.
"I consider myself wide open and I'm not committed to any one school," Buie said. "Right now I'm planning on taking visits to Rutgers, Marshall and East Carolina and we'll see after that."
Big weekend in Athens
If Georgia can pull off a top five class it will be in large part due to the contingent that was in Athens over the weekend.
The dozen names on the list included current commitments like defensive back Chris Sanders (Tucker, Ga./Tucker) and offensive lineman Zach DeBell (Tarpon Springs, Fla./Tarpon Springs) as well as some of the top names in the Peach State, including ESPNU 150 members Ray Drew (Thomasville, Ga./Thomas County Central), Malcolm Mitchell (Valdosta, Ga./Valdosta) and Damian Swann (Atlanta, Ga./Grady).
Keep an eye on four-star tight end Jay Rome (Valdosta, Ga./Valdosta), who was also on an official visit this weekend. Rome, who took an official visit last month, has publicly stated that he is heavily leaning to Georgia and could commit at any time. He took this second visit with teammate Mitchell, who had been more of an Alabama lean until recently.
News and notes
• Colorado made news on several fronts this week. First the Buffaloes were able to get offensive lineman Marc Mustoe (Arvada, Co./Arvada West) to switch from UCLA. But the staff also decided to pull the scholarship offer for quarterback Nick Sherry (Petaluma, Calif./Casa Grande) according to Sherry's parents. Colorado still has a verbal commitment from quarterback Brock Berglund (Highlands Ranch, Co./Valor Christian).
• Defensive end DeVante Wilson (Corona, Calif./Corona) took a visit to Southern Cal over the weekend and now he's ready to make his call. The three-star defensive end will choose between USC, Nebraska and Arizona.
• Florida commit Nick Waisome (Groveland, Fla./South Lake) took an official visit to Florida State this weekend. Waisome, who was primarily recruited by Dan McCarney and Urban Meyer, who have since left, will visit with new coach Will Muschamp next weekend.
• Junior college defensive end Cornellius Carradine (Butler County C.C.) will make an announcement on Wednesday and the 6-4, 250-pounder is expected to choose between Georgia and Florida State.
• Arizona State hosted several players this weekend, with offensive lineman Cyrus Hobbi (Scottsdale, Ariz./Saguaro) being the most notable of the group. The four-star lineman has already taken visits to Oregon State and Nebraska and has plans to go to USC and UCLA. Hobbi, No. 33 in the ESPNU 150, could make his announcement at the Under Armour All-America Game on Jan. 5.
Corey Long has been covering high school football and recruiting in the Sunshine State since 1995. He can be reached at email@example.com.