- Gerry Hamilton, ESPN Staff Writer
The long awaited college football season is set to kick off tonight. And while the start to the year has been at the forefront this week, a few storylines have developed on the recruiting front. Here is a closer look at some of the hot topics throughout the SEC:
Tennessee’s top recruit lost in season opener
Record-setting running back Jalen Hurd (Hendersonville, Tenn./Beech) saw his senior season come to end following Beech’s 42-39 victory over Station Camp. The 6-foot-4, 222-pound playmaker re-injured his surgically repaired right shoulder early in the game. He played through the pain and rushed for 177 yards and three touchdowns and played significant snaps at safety. Hurd is set to undergo surgery Sept. 9 to repair the partially torn labrum with a recovery expected to take between four to six months. The No. 39-ranked prospect in the ESPN 300 plans to enroll at Tennessee in January. Hurd set a state single-season rushing record with 3,357 yards, and 43 touchdowns in 2012.
The Volunteers currently have the nation’s No. 3-ranked class, which includes a second ESPN 300 runner in Treyvon Paulk (Alpharetta, Ga./Milton).
Nation’s No. 3 player to commit
The top-ranked tackle in the 2014 class is set to come off the board Sept. 3 when five-star Cameron Robinson (Monroe, La./West Monroe) will announce his decision between Alabama and LSU. The 2014 Under Armour All-American will make his decision known live on ESPNU. The 6-foot-5, 330-pound Robinson has been on both campuses multiple times with Alabama receiving the most recent unofficial visit, in August. Alabama is considered the team to beat.
Five-star names top 5
Late Wednesday night, five-star athlete and Under Armour All-American Speedy Noil (New Orleans/Edna Karr) announced his top five via Twitter. The 6-foot, 176-pound playmaker tweeted Texas A&M, Oregon, LSU, USC and Florida. Texas A&M and LSU are considered the teams to beat. Noil is the cousin of LSU assistant coach Frank Wilson.
Florida makes the cut for West Coast RB
ESPN 300 running back Joe Mixon (Oakley, Calif./Freedom) announced on Twitter Monday afternoon that he has cut his list of schools to five. The lone SEC program to make the cut was Florida. The Gators are joined by California, Oklahoma, Wisconsin and Oregon. The versatile 6-foot-2, 195-pound back will begin the official visit process Sept. 13 making the short trip to Berkeley. Official visits to Florida, Oklahoma and Wisconsin have also been tentatively set, with the Gators scheduled for Sept. 20. The visit to Oklahoma, set for Oct. 4, was the first set by Mixon.
ESPN 300 wide receiver has a top 5
In what has become a week of top 5 releases, ESPN 300 wide receiver Travis Rudolph (West Palm Beach, Fla./Cardinal Newman) named a top five of Florida, Florida State, Alabama, Vanderbilt and Ohio State. Once thought to be a serious contender, Auburn did not make the list. The Gators are considered to be the front-runner for the one-time Miami commitment.
Top SEC target will be at Clemson Saturday
The marquee game for recruits in the Southeast Region this weekend is Clemson hosting Georgia. The game will bring out a number of top prospects from the classes of 2014 and beyond, including the No. 2 offensive tackle in the 2014 class, David Sharpe (Jacksonville, Fla./Providence School). The 6-foot-6, 288-pound has both Georgia and Clemson high on his list along with the Florida and Florida State. Sharpe also tweeted that he plans to officially visit North Carolina. USC is also in the running.
Strong start continues for Kentucky
The Kentucky Wildcats have been making plenty of noise in the 2014 cycle. This week, first year head coach Mark Stoops and staff added commitment No. 23 to the nation’s 16th-ranked class. Three-star receiver Blake Bone (Woodruff, S.C./Woodruff High) became the latest to pick the upstart Wildcats over Arkansas, Louisville and others. Bone is the fourth wide receiver commitment in the class.
The top target remaining on the board for Kentucky in the class is four-star defensive tackle Matt Elam (Elizabethtown, Ky./Hardin). The 6-foot-6, 350-pound Elam will officially visit Lexington Dec. 14. Kentucky and Alabama are the top two for Elam, with Notre Dame trying hard to make a push. The Fighting Irish will receive an official visit Oct. 19, and Alabama is in line to receive the last official visit in the days following the Kentucky visit. Ohio State and Louisville could also receive official visits.
Decision coming for Mosley
Three-star defensive tackle Charles Mosley (Brighton, Tenn./Brighton) will announce his decision Oct. 4. The 6-foot-5, 353-pound two-way lineman will choose between Tennessee and Alabama. Mosley will make an unofficial visit to Knoxville Sept. 7 for the Vols game against Western Kentucky.
Top 2015 in Gainesville Saturday
The marquee visitor at Florida’s season opener against Toledo Saturday hails from the Class of 2015. Defensive tackle Trenton Thompson (Albany, Ga./Westover) will be making his second unofficial visit to Gainesville over the weekend. The No. 5-ranked prospect in the ESPN Junior 300 is a top target for Georgia, Alabama, Auburn, Florida State and the Gators in the junior class. Georgia sits atop Thompson’s list.
3dGreg Ostendorf and Alex Scarborough