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February 2, 2011

The complete Raven saga

Our story…if you can call it that…begins with Reserve East St. John, Louisiana four star cornerback prospect Floyd Raven. Last summer, Raven received offers from both Texas A&M and Ole Miss. Raven committed to Ole Miss after taking his official visit to both schools. However, after Ole Miss assistant Kim Dameron left the Ole Miss program and Raven lost his main point of contact with the program for a while, he de-committed and took visits to Utah and Pittsburgh.

A week ago Monday, it was widely rumored via former teammates at East St. John that Raven had committed to Texas A&M during an in-home visit from A&M head coach Mike Sherman. Other sources indicated that Raven had indeed committed to A&M but Raven texted Ole Miss publisher Neal McCready that same afternoon saying that he had NOT committed to A&M. He texted us at AggieYell.com the very next day saying the exact same thing and that he he was going to take an official visit to Michigan last weekend. This situation changed again in a matter of hours when it came out that not only Raven was not going to Michigan and Raven actually texted us that he had re-committed to Ole Miss.

Everything looked to be put to bed at that point. However, nothing is ever easy on signing day involving Texas A&M.

Early this afternoon, word filtered out on RebelGrove.com (the Ole Miss site for Rivals.com) that there was something wrong with Raven's letter of intent. Depending on who you talk to and whether they can even talk or not, there are two different versions of what occurred.

Ole Miss' version goes like this:

"His mom. Mom really wanted him here, David," UM coach Houston Nutt said to Associated Press reporter David Brandt during the Ole Miss news conference. "Mom wanted him here in the worst way. And so, David (Wells, Ole Miss' compliance officer) our expert on that, so the bottom line is when they told us that we said 'Hey, look, I want you to be here because you really want to be here.' And he was so torn. It's really hard, it's a hard hard decision, but when mom told me that, "Hey, look, I want you to do what's in your heart. And I think at the time he wanted to go elsewhere and look, I want them to want to be here."

"Bottom line is, hey, we did get a signature, we did get a letter, but I want people that want to be here," Nutt continued. "I want people that really truly want to be here. I'd rather just talk about the ones that we have."

Raven himself has a slightly different version which makes this story so different from all of the others we're been associated with.

"My mom signed the papers but they were all messed up" he said on the phone. "I felt like that she signed my name to the letter of intent I didn't do a signing day at school."

He later said in a text "I have no idea that she signed my letter of intent for Ole Miss. She said that she figured that's what I wanted to do and she sent it in and told me she sent it."

Raven admitted in a phone conversation that his mother had signed the letter for him…in other words, she had signed not only where her signature was supposed to go but where HIS signature needed to go as well. Raven said that he wasn't even at home last night to sign it (he was staying at a friend's house).

So, Ole Miss gets the letter and not wanting to discuss the actions of Raven's mother, asks him to fax another one. However, Raven admitted having second thoughts about going to Ole Miss.

"Sitting up talking…I don't know" he said. "I just thought the situation through. My mom talked up Ole Miss but I went up there (A&M) for an official visit. It was like a turning."

At East St. John, a couple of Raven's teammates said, pandemonium broke loose when the coaching staff found out about the LOI sent to Oxford. Raven, they said, told them he hadn't signed it and the signature was forged. The second LOI, with Raven's real signature (and that of his mother), was sent to College Station. At that point, Raven's coaches and teammates were satisfied he would be an Aggie.

According to sources at Ole Miss, at some point during this drama Ole Miss head coach Houston Nutt decided that Raven simply wasn't worth the effort any more. By then, though, Raven had decided that Ole Miss wasn't for him either. He came in this morning wanting to sign with A&M anyway rather than Ole Miss. Eventually (and after the LOI to Ole Miss had been rejected by their compliance office), he had talked his mother into signing a new letter of intent with him and sending it to A&M in the early afternoon.

Even then, there was more waiting in store for A&M fans. A&M did not put Raven as a signee on its list and as the hours dragged on, people began to get more anxious. It resembled a situation in the 2008 class involving Arp receiver Sedrick Johnson who told us he was signing with A&M the night before signing day and then got into his coach's office the next day and wanted to sign with Iowa State (where he had taken an official visit). His mother refused and his biological father (with whom he had little contact with in his life) drove in and signed in her place. She challenged the validity of it because he was not Johnson's legal guardian with another letter of intent sent to A&M a few days later (the NCAA eventually ruled that because Johnson was 18 he did not require a guardian's signature).

This time, A&M was on the other end and this time things worked out more successfully. After a few hours, A&M's compliance office finally gave its approval and A&M's athletic department tweeted that Raven was officially on board shortly before 6:00 pm.

With all of today's drama, people have a tendency to forget that Raven is a four star prospect per Rivals.com. He's a big (6 foot 2, 180 pound) corner who should work well in A&M's scheme that features physical corners like Terrence Frederick and Coryell Judie. According to his former high school at East St. John, Larry Dauterive, Raven is also qualified academically.

Most importantly, with former teammate Patrick Lewis already in place in College Station and perhaps other teammates such as athlete Darion Monroe and defensive lineman Gerron Borne ready to follow him to College Station, Raven will have friends around him when he hits the A&M campus. Given everything that Raven has been through recently, that's probably the best news of all.


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