NCF Nation: Ricky Seals-Jones

Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin was never comfortable talking about all the players he lost. Throughout the offseason, he was peppered with questions about replacing Johnny Manziel, Mike Evans and Jake Matthews. Each time, he'd bite his lip, say what he needed to say and move on.

Now we know why. In spite of losing so many stars, Sumlin's offense hasn't missed a beat. On Thursday night, Texas A&M's retooled offense outdueled Steve Spurrier and South Carolina, rolling up the Gamecocks 52-28 on the road.

1. Welcome to the show, Kenny Hill

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The sophomore didn’t appear the least bit worried about living up to the legend of Manziel on Texas A&M’s opening drive. He calmly marched the Aggies down the field, spreading the ball around to his receivers. The best of his throws was this 22-yard, third-down strike over the middle to redshirt freshman Ricky Seals-Jones that nearly went for a touchdown. Hill stayed calm in a stressful pocket and stepped into the throw beautifully. Tra Carson would ultimately go between the tackles for the 1-yard touchdown, giving Texas A&M the first points of the game. But Hill was the star of the drive, announcing himself to the college football world as a quarterback worthy of succeeding Johnny Football.

2. This Seals-Jones fella can play, can’t he?

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South Carolina’s defensive backs were helpless to stop him. He was too big, too fast, way too athletic. Sound familiar? It should. In many ways, he’s Mike Evans 2.0. The 6-foot-5, 225-pound redshirt freshman can’t be covered. On this 3-yard touchdown grab, he showed off his burst, getting into his break quickly. After getting a step on the defensive back, all he had to do was hold onto the football, which came on another perfect strike from Hill. On a side note, look at the pocket. The pressure from South Carolina’s defensive line was almost nonexistent.

3. Hill can run the read-option, too

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With the game still in reach, South Carolina had the chance to stone Texas A&M on third-and-goal, but Hill was having none of it. Instead of picking apart the Gamecocks secondary with his arm, he used his feet and instincts to get the defense to commit before pitching the ball off to Carson, who had an easy path to the end zone. If Hill can keep executing the Aggies offense like this, the SEC West is going to be really, really interesting.

4. Spurrier had to roll the dice

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By this point, South Carolina's defense had shown nothing. The defensive line wasn't getting any pressure. The secondary wasn’t making any plays, either. So why not try the onside kick? Down 17 points, it was worth a shot, and Landon Ard executed it almost perfectly. But Texas A&M secured the kick and promptly went 42 yards in 2:27 for another touchdown. South Carolina nearly got back in the game toward the end of the third quarter, but Dylan Thompson put too much air on a deep throw and watched helplessly as Armani Watts came away with the game-sealing interception. What could have been a 10-point game heading into the fourth quarter instead turned into a runaway rout.
Now that we've checked out the quarterbacks I think could reach 3,000 passing yards and the guys who could hit 1,000 yards rushing, it's time to see what this season's crop of receivers is all about.

Who can reach the 1,000-yard club?

Last season, four receivers made it to the 1,000-yard club -- Vanderbilt's Jordan Matthews (1,477 yards), Texas A&M's Mike Evans (1,394 yards) and LSU's Jarvis Landry (1,193 yards) and Odell Beckham Jr. (1,152 yards). All four of those guys are gone. Actually, the SEC lost eight of its top 10 receivers from a year ago.

[+] EnlargeLaquon Treadwell
Spruce Derden/USA TODAY SportsLaquon Treadwell scored five receiving touchdowns in his freshman season at Ole Miss.
There are still some talented pass-catchers lurking in the league, so I'm going to go with three 1,000-yard receivers. Here are the guys I think have the best chance of getting to that number (in order):

1. Amari Cooper, Alabama: One of the nation's best receivers, Cooper wasn't at his best and wasn't 100 percent healthy last season, but he still managed 736 receiving yards. He's playing at a faster level now and is tougher, which means he'll have no trouble crossing the 1,000-yard mark this fall.

2. Laquon Treadwell, Ole Miss: He learned a ton from Donte Moncrief and still caught more passes than him in 2013. Treadwell is a physical specimen and is already the most athletic person when he steps out on the field. As the No. 1 guy in Oxford, he'll easily surpass the 608 yards he had last season.

3. Jameon Lewis, Mississippi State: He was so close to 1,000 yards and probably would have made it into triple digits if he didn't have to work with multiple quarterbacks all season. Lewis is still developing his game, but he's the perfect playmaker for Mississippi State's spread offense.

4. Sammie Coates, Auburn: Talk about coming out of nowhere. Coates was a real unknown before last season and somehow wound up with 902 yards. He's a deep threat and someone who isn't afraid to make plays over the middle. Getting pushed more by other players might cut into his numbers, though.

5. Malcolm Mitchell, Georgia: If Mitchell is healthy, he's one of the most athletic and talented receivers that this league has to offer. A knee injury cost him just about all of his 2013 season, and he's already have complications with his knee this fall. But if he's out there and ready to go, he'll be fun to watch.

6. Marquez North, Tennessee: In a struggling passing game, North finished the 2013 season with 496 yards. He's so much better than that, and he's playing like it this fall. He's added some needed weight and is understanding his role more and running his routes better.

7. Ricky Seals-Jones, Texas A&M: Another player who basically saw the 2013 season from the sideline, don't sleep on Seals-Jones. He was one of the nation's best recruits a couple of years ago and when he's at full speed, Seals-Jones can really fly. He'll make tons of plays inside and out.

8. D'haquille Williams, Auburn: The junior college transfer could be really special. He has all the talent to make a ton of plays in such a wide open offense. Williams will push Coates all season for the role as the Tigers' No. 1 target.

9. Shaq Roland, South Carolina: Dealing with the hype that came with him out of high school hasn't been easy, but the thought out of Columbia is that this could be a big season for Roland. He can stretch the field and is great in space.
AUBURN, Ala. -- There wasn’t much fire in the voice of Gus Malzahn as he stood at the podium following Auburn’s first scrimmage of the spring on Saturday. All told, it was a pretty boring scene. No injuries to report. No position changes to speak of. Only one turnover and a handful of big plays. His team had to move indoors because of the threat of rain, but as he said, “It didn’t bother us a bit.”

Watching Malzahn, you got the feeling he wasn’t playing coy. This was the difference a year makes. Last spring was an anxious time for Auburn. There was no quarterback, no depth chart and no sense of expectations. Malzahn and Co. were simply trying to pick up the pieces left behind from the previous staff.

This spring has a much different tone. All one needed to do was look at the long-sleeve, collared shirt Malzahn wore after practice, the one with the SEC championship patch on its left shoulder. The building phase of Malzahn’s tenure is over. The questions are much fewer this year than the last. And with that, the sense of urgency is far more diminished.

“We've got more information now, so we're not as urgent,” Malzahn said. “We pretty much know a lot about the guys returning.”

Not every coach in the SEC is in the same enviable position.

“You've also got to keep in mind next year," Malzahn said. "You want to get your guys as much reps as you can moving forward for next year, because that's what it's all about ... but I would say, probably, for the most part, that we've got guys in the position that we want them to be in."

Not every coach can afford to look ahead this spring. Not every coach has the time.

With that said, let’s take a look at the programs with the most to accomplish this spring, ranking all 14 schools by the length of their to-do list.

Vanderbilt: Any new coaching staff has the most work to do, from determining the roster to installing new schemes on both sides of the ball. Throw in a new starting quarterback and the raid James Franklin put on the recruiting class, and it adds up to an enormously important spring for Derek Mason.

Kentucky: Mark Stoops has done a lot to turn around the culture at Kentucky. In fact, veteran defensive end Alvin Dupree said it feels like more of a football school now. But the fact remains that Stoops has a very young group to deal with, so inexperienced that true freshman Drew Barker is in contention to start at quarterback.

Tennessee: The Vols are facing many of the same challenges in Year 2 under Butch Jones. He has brought in a wealth of talent, including a remarkable 14 early enrollees. Considering the Vols lost all of their starters on both the offensive and defensive lines, there’s a lot of work to do.

Florida: The hot seat knows no reason. All is good in Gator Land right now as a new offense under a new coordinator is installed, injured players -- including starting quarterback Jeff Driskel -- return, and expectations creep upward. But a bad showing in the spring game could change the conversation quickly for Will Muschamp.

Arkansas: There’s nowhere to go but up for Bret Bielema after a 3-9 finish his first year with the program. The good news is he has young playmakers on offense (Hunter Henry, Alex Collins, etc.). The bad news is the quarterback position is unsettled and his defensive coaching staff is almost entirely overhauled from a year ago.

LSU: A depth chart full of question marks is nothing new for Les Miles, who has endured plenty of underclassmen leaving for the NFL before. But missing almost every skill player on offense (Zach Mettenberger, Jeremy Hill, Odell Beckham, Jarvis Landry) hurts. He has to find replacements at several key positions, and we haven’t even gotten into the defense.

Texas A&M: Cedric Ogbuehi can replace Jake Matthews at left tackle. The combination of Ricky Seals-Jones and Speedy Noil can replace Mike Evans at receiver. But who replaces the legend of Johnny Football? Determining a starter under center won’t be easy, but neither will be overhauling a defense that was far and away the worst in the SEC last year.

Georgia: Jeremy Pruitt should breathe some new life into a struggling Georgia defense. Having Hutson Mason to replace Aaron Murray helps as well. But off-the-field problems continue to plague Mark Richt’s program. With stars such as Todd Gurley, the players are there. The pieces just need to come together.

Missouri: After 13 seasons in Columbia, Gary Pinkel knows how to handle the spring. Maty Mauk appears ready to take over for James Franklin at quarterback, and even with the loss of Henry Josey, there are still plenty of weapons on offense. The real challenge will be on defense, where the Tigers must replace six starters, including cornerstones E.J. Gaines, Kony Ealy and Michael Sam.

Alabama: The quarterback position won’t be settled this spring, so we can hold off on that. But still, Nick Saban faces several challenges, including finding two new starters on the offensive line, replacing C.J. Mosley on defense and completely overhauling a secondary that includes Landon Collins and a series of question marks.

Ole Miss: Hugh Freeze has his players. Now he just has to develop them. With emerging stars Robert Nkemdiche, Tony Conner, Laremy Tunsil, Evan Engram and Laquon Treadwell, there’s plenty to build around. Include a veteran starting quarterback in Bo Wallace and there’s a lot to feel good about in Oxford.

Mississippi State: It’s a new day in the state of Mississippi as both state institutions have high expectations this spring. Mississippi State returns a veteran defense, a solid offensive line and a quarterback in Dak Prescott who could turn into a Heisman Trophy contender. A few months after Dan Mullen was on the hot seat, he now appears to be riding high.

Auburn: Losing Tre Mason and Greg Robinson hurts, but outside of those two stars, the roster remains fairly intact. Nick Marshall figures to improve as a passer, the running back corps is well off, and the receivers stand to improve with the addition of D’haquille Williams. The defense should get better as youngsters such as Montravius Adams and Carl Lawson gain experience.

South Carolina: Steve Spurrier would like to remind everyone that Dylan Thompson was the only quarterback in the country to beat Central Florida last season. Sure, Thompson wasn’t the full-time starter last year, but he has plenty of experience and is ready to be the man. Throw in a healthy and eager Mike Davis and an improving set of skill players, and the offense should improve. The defense has some making up to do on the defensive line, but there’s no reason to panic, considering the rotation they used last year.
COLLEGE STATION, Texas -- Silence isn't a word typically synonymous with a stadium hosting more than 86,000 rabid fans, particularly at Kyle Field, where Texas A&M is known to hold a tremendous home-field advantage.

But silence is a key word in describing some of the growing pains the Aggies had to go through in their season-opening win against Rice on Saturday, as they played 16 true freshmen, 11 of which were defensive players.

A&M coach Kevin Sumlin illustrated that point thusly:

"We had a couple situations where a couple guys actually froze up out there and wouldn't even open their mouths and couldn't get lined up," Sumlin said after Saturday's 52-31 victory. "The D-line said they couldn't hear and then one of them admitted to me "Coach, I just didn't say anything. I was just standing there.'"

Not exactly what a coach is looking to hear from defensive players, particularly when facing a no-huddle offense. Communication, especially in those situations, is key for a defense.

[+] EnlargeRicky Seals-Jones
AP Photo/Eric GayFreshman wide receiver Ricky Seals-Jones made an impact in his college debut, hauling in a 71-yard touchdown pass.
But that was the position the Aggies were put in, missing eight players to start the game, six on defense -- including five defensive players who were listed as starters on the week's depth chart -- because of suspensions. There were true freshmen playing in every defensive position group, plus some at receiver. That doesn't include a handful of redshirt freshmen and junior college players who were making their debuts as well.

The Aggies coaches did what they could to prepare their newcomers, but some lessons are only learned the hard way.

"It's like anything else," Sumlin said. "As a coach, you try to prepare guys for all situations, but until the live bullets are flying, you don't know. It'll get better as it goes on, but I think the experience that we gained from today will help us down the road, a bunch. Particularly [in the front seven] because that's where most of the guys are gone."

The struggles were clear. As the defense tried to find its footing, Rice showed the ability to move the ball with ease. The Owls finished the game with 509 total offensive yards, including 306 rushing. The last time they gave up that many offensive yards was in their marathon battle against Louisiana Tech last October (615) and they haven't allowed that many rushing yards since a 66-28 drubbing at the hands of Oklahoma on Nov. 8, 2008.

True freshman played on the defensive line (Jay Arnold, Isaiah Golden, Daeshon Hall and Hardreck Walker), at linebacker (Darian Claiborne, Jordan Mastrogiovanni, Shaan Washington) and defensive back (Noel Ellis, Tavares Garner, Alex Sezer Jr. and Jonathan Wiggins).

"There's no way to duplicate the tempo and the emotion [of a game]," Sumlin said on Tuesday. "You know what you're doing, but the pressure to perform in that environment can be very, very difficult on a young guy, and that's what experience is all about."

Offensively, the Aggies were much better off. Even though Matt Joeckel made his first career start at quarterback, he's a junior who has spent more than a year practicing in the offense and he had at least seen some game time. Center Mike Matthews, who received high praise from Sumlin on Tuesday, also played in games and traveled with the team last season.

The true freshmen who saw the field for the first time on offense were all receivers: Ricky Seals-Jones, Jeremy Tabuyo, LaQuvionte Gonzalez and Ja'Quay Williams. But because there were more experienced players surrounding them on Saturday, not to mention Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel entered the game in the third quarter, the transition was smoother for the Aggies' offense.

In total, 21 newcomers saw the field for Texas A&M on Saturday, many in significant roles. Plenty will log significant time this Saturday against Sam Houston State, as four players received two-game suspensions and won't be back until Sept. 14 against Alabama. With a signing class of 31 players in February, there was no question the Aggies were going to need some of the newcomers to contribute. By being forced to play so many in the first game, Sumlin feels like it could be a positive later in the season.

"[It's] a real, real learning experience," Sumlin said. "I think for those guys, that's going to pay dividends for us down the road."


COLLEGE STATION, Texas -- There are several reasons Texas A&M was so highly thought of and had lofty expectations coming into the 2013 season.

The No. 7 Aggies, who were ranked in the top 10 of both preseason polls (they were No. 6 in the coaches' poll), returned a Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback, a plethora of running backs and an All-America caliber tackle, and play a style of offense that many SEC teams -- defending champion Alabama included -- find hard to defend.

And while there were several positives to take away from Texas A&M's season-opening 52-31 win over Rice on Saturday at Kyle Field, the win also illustrated that the Aggies still have a long way to go in several areas if they plan on fulfilling championship expectations.

[+] EnlargeJohnny Manziel
AP Photo/Eric GayThe good news is Johnny Manziel looked like his Heisman Trophy winning self once he got in the game. The bad news is the Aggies look like they still have lots of work to do if they want to win titles.
One of those areas is maturity. Head coach Kevin Sumlin discussed that after the game, and while he was specifically addressing it in relation to the ejection of freshman defensive end Daeshon Hall and the unsportsmanlike conduct penalty drawn by quarterback Johnny Manziel after a touchdown pass, Sumlin's words can apply across the board.

The Aggies had eight players miss at least the first half of Saturday's game. Four were suspended for "violating Texas A&M athletics department rules and regulations." Three were suspended after offseason arrests and Manziel was suspended for the first half after "inadvertent violations" that occurred as a result of signing autographs after the conclusion of an NCAA investigation.

That was also part of Manziel's message, according to Sumlin, to his teammates when he addressed them on Friday as part of the requirements of restoring his eligibility.

"Actions just like today and just like other guys on this team, those actions may be actions that you think just hurt you, but they end up hurting the whole football team," Sumlin said. "That was the real gist of [Manziel's] message to the team. That everybody's individual acts affect the team. When that happens, it's not good."

Of the suspended players, five were defensive starters (defensive tackle Kirby Ennis, cornerbacks Deshazor Everett and De'Vante Harris, linebacker Steven Jenkins and defensive end Gavin Stansbury). Another, Floyd Raven, is a key player expected to contribute this fall and was one time projected to start at free safety before Clay Honeycutt wound up first on the depth chart after a strong training camp.

As a result, the Aggies' defense was filled with true freshmen and newcomers getting significant playing time on Saturday and ended up surrendering 509 total offensive yards. Now, Rice is a good team in Conference USA that could contend for the league title, but it’s not nearly the caliber of opponent Texas A&M will see on its SEC schedule. The Owls ran for a whopping 306 yards -- six yards a carry -- and appeared able to run right at the Aggies' defense.

The Aggies struggled with missed tackles and missed assignments, which are to be expected when you have a significant number of 18- and 19-year-olds on the field.

"We played 20 guys out there that had never played before," Sumlin said. "Is that an excuse for our play? No. I think we learned from today."

The Aggies regain the services of Ennis and Raven next week, though Everett will again have to sit out a half, by rule, because he was ejected in the second half after being called for a targeting penalty. The other four suspended -- Jenkins, Harris, Stansbury and receiver Edward Pope -- won't return until Sept. 14 when the Aggies host No. 1 Alabama.

But there were plenty of positives to be seen as well, most notably in the win column. Backup quarterback Matt Joeckel showed he was capable of moving the offense, leading the Aggies to 28 first-half points while putting up more than respectable numbers (14-of-19 passing, 190 yards). Joeckel's lone touchdown pass was a 71-yard catch-and-run completion to an apparent star in the making, 6-foot-5, 240-pound true freshman receiver Ricky Seals-Jones.

Players who are considered to be among the team's leaders, running back Ben Malena (100 total offensive yards, two touchdowns) and Mike Evans (84 receiving yards, two touchdowns) played their roles aptly. The kicking game was consistent as Taylor Bertolet was perfect on all his kick attempts, something he struggled with last season. And as Sumlin noted, the positive to having so many young players on the field on defense means they'll have a chance to learn from their mistakes and develop. Though there were struggles, they came up with turnovers and still did enough to win.

Most importantly, the Aggies got their quarterback, Manziel, back on the field in the second half and he looked like the player who captivated the nation a season ago. He was 6-of-8 passing for 94 yards with three touchdown passes and showed his trademark scrambling ability, though Rice did a solid job of keeping him from running too wild.

This is a team that has encountered a lot this offseason. From the headlines Manziel made and the NCAA investigation, to the suspensions and most importantly, the death of a teammate -- Polo Manukainiu -- the Aggies have already dealt with their fair share of adversity.

The Aggies honored Manukainiu on Saturday by wearing decals with his number, first name and a Tongan-inspired design on their helmets and electing sophomore defensive tackle Alonzo Williams to wear Maunkainiu's No. 90. The team will elect a different defensive lineman to do so each week as a nod to Manukainiu and his family that he is "still out there with us," senior defensive back Toney Hurd Jr. said.

This team has lofty goals. Hurd mentioned Saturday the team would wear the Manukainiu decal "each and every week, leading [up] to the national championship." If they plan to get there, they have a lot of work still to do.

Future SEC Power Rankings

June, 21, 2013
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In keeping with the theme of peering into our crystal balls to see what's in store for the future of college football, it's time to look at how all 14 SEC teams will do over the next few years.

To come up with our future rankings, we looked at coaching, current players, depth, recruiting and the current state of each program.

It was a very tough process, but someone had to do it. This shouldn't cause much of a stir at all:

1. Alabama: So Alabama is equipped with the sport's best coach, has some of the best facilities in the country and is still recruiting better than anyone else? Yeah, I think Alabama will be just fine over the next few years and will continue to look down at the rest of the SEC. It'll be interesting to see what happens when AJ McCarron leaves, but Nick Saban might have his quarterback of the future in David Cornwell and appears to have plenty to work with on both sides of the ball for years to come.

2. LSU: The Tigers will always be able to recruit with the best of them. Les Miles has a strong group of younger players, and many will get some valuable time this fall, especially on defense. With John Chavis around, LSU's defense will be fine. It's the offense that people wonder about. But the addition of Cam Cameron as offensive coordinator should definitely help. The plan is to become more explosive in the passing game, and a good start in 2013 would go a long way toward securing more passing deep threats.

3. Florida: Will Muschamp has seen both the good and bad during his two years with the Gators, but he's building his program the right way. Florida could miss out on another trip to the SEC championship game this year, but the Gators are built for the long run with the recruiting job Muschamp has done. He has a handful of young offensive players already on campus to build around and appears to have his quarterback of the future -- 2014 recruit Will Grier. Florida's future on defense looks extremely bright as well with the foundation being built up front.

4. Texas A&M: Johnny Manziel will soon be gone, but Kevin Sumlin has done a great job of recruiting since his arrival in College Station. As long he's around, the Aggies should be fine. Last year, he brought in highly touted pass-catchers Ricky Seals-Jones and Sebastian LaRue. Both could see good time this year and will eventually help Manziel's replacement, who could be 2014 commit Kyle Allen. There are some holes to fill this year, but the good news is that a lot of younger players will get valuable experience, which will only make this team stronger in the years to come.

5. Georgia: Like the top SEC teams, Georgia won't have any trouble recruiting over the next few years. It's all about development and breaking through in the big games. Mark Richt doesn't always get the credit he deserves, but he's made back-to-back SEC championships. The Bulldogs are young on defense, but that won't matter over the next couple of years, as those players get all those game reps. The future of the offense looks bright with the players signed this year and how the 2014 class is shaping up.

6. South Carolina: As long as Steve Spurrier is around, the Gamecocks will compete for an SEC East title. South Carolina has held its own in the recruiting world since Spurrier arrived, and while it's going to get tougher with schools like Kentucky, Tennessee and Vanderbilt recruiting at a much higher level these days, don't expect Spurrier to miss much of a beat. It helps that the Gamecocks have a good base of young players to work with now.

7. Ole Miss: Hugh Freeze has totally changed the perception of this program, and he's recruiting like no other Rebels coach in recent history has. Ole Miss has depth issues, but that historic 2013 recruiting class will be the foundation of Freeze's first few years in Oxford. If it lives up to the hype, watch out. Ole Miss surprised many with its play last year, and expect that to improve as the talent continues to roll in thanks to Freeze's recruiting efforts.

8. Auburn: Gus Malzahn hopes to have the right recipe for turning Auburn around. He was around when the Tigers won the national championship in 2010, and the hope is that his spread offense rejuvenates a team that took too many steps backward last year. He has his type of players on his roster now, and after closing strong on the recruiting front with his first class, Malzahn isn't missing a beat this year. He'll make sure the Tigers are more competitive in the SEC West.

9. Vanderbilt: James Franklin has done a tremendous job transforming pretty much everything at Vandy, and he doesn't look like he's going to stop any time soon. The Commodores are recruiting at a very high level, and this team is looking for more than just bowl victories. The Commodores want an SEC title, and Franklin believes he can get his team there. If that attitude remains and the recruiting momentum keeps chugging along, the Commodores will stay around the eight- or nine-win mark.

10. Tennessee: There's no question that Butch Jones has brought much more excitement to Knoxville since his arrival -- and he hasn't even coached a game yet. The Vols aren't built to win the SEC East right now, but if Jones can keep his current 2014 class intact, Tennessee will have a great foundation to work with. But we've seen that before with the Vols. This new staff has to make sure it's developing all that talent the right way as well.

11. Arkansas: The success that Bret Bielema had at Wisconsin has Arkansas' fan base extremely excited about the future. Right now, he just doesn't have the players he needs to compete at the high level that he wants to. Bielema did a good job of closing his first class with the types of players he wants in order to have the big, physical team he wants. It'll be tough enough competing in the West, which will only get stronger, so Bielema has to make sure that his recruiting efforts improve and that he builds more evenly on both sides of the ball.

12. Mississippi State: There's no question that Dan Mullen has done a great job during his time at Mississippi State, but the emergence of Ole Miss could hold the Bulldogs back when it comes to recruiting. The best players in and around Mississippi are now more interested in the Rebels, which certainly doesn't help. The Bulldogs also have to play much better in big games. Last year, Mississippi State waltzed through a very soft nonconference slate before ending the season with a 1-5 record, including four losses to ranked teams.

13. Kentucky: Mark Stoops has one of the country's best recruiting classes, which bodes well for the future of this program. But can this staff develop this talent once it arrives? That's yet to be seen, as Stoops hasn't even coached a game at his new school. The good news is that the Wildcats will be built on a more defensive foundation. We know how important that is, but Kentucky is behind most of its conference counterparts when it comes to immediate talent as a whole.

14. Missouri: We learned last year that the Tigers just weren't properly built to immediately compete in the SEC. Sure, injuries really hurt this team, but Mizzou has to get tougher all around and bigger up front if it wants to really compete in the SEC. It also has to start recruiting at a much higher level. With Kentucky, Tennessee and Vanderbilt currently outpacing Mizzou on the recruiting trail, the Tigers have a lot of ground to make up. And they have to start getting more SEC-ready players or they'll dig themselves into a deeper hole.

Fans: Hogs' Collins top impact freshman

February, 15, 2013
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Yes, it’s early to be predicting which freshmen will have the biggest impacts next season.

But the fans have spoken in our SportsNation poll and selected Arkansas running back Alex Collins by a comfortable margin.

With more than 9,200 votes cast, Collins garnered 41 percent of the vote. Ole Miss defensive end Robert Nkemdiche was second with 21 percent and Texas A&M receiver Ricky Seals-Jones third with 20 percent.

Collins made the Hogs sweat a little bit, but signed a day after he was initially scheduled to because his mother refused to sign his letter-of-intent on national signing day. Collins' father ended up signing his paperwork.

He's exactly what Arkansas needs at the running back position with Knile Davis and Dennis Johnson both departing. The 5-11, 200-pound Collins rushed for 2,915 yards and 38 touchdowns his last two seasons of high school in Plantation, Fla., and was ranked by ESPN as the No. 7 running back prospect in the country.

First-year Arkansas coach Bret Bielema has shown in the past that he likes to run the football, so Hogs' fans shouldn't have to wait long to see Collins get his first carry.

Texas not tolerating wandering eyes

February, 8, 2013
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Texas didn't have to worry about players decommitting in recent years. That's changed, and especially so this year, when five different players committed to Texas before reneging and eventually signing with other schools like Texas A&M, Alabama and Notre Dame.

Texas coach Mack Brown stopped short of saying he's going to pull scholarships for players who continue to look around after committing to Texas, but if recruits do so, Texas may do the same.

[+] EnlargeMack Brown
Michael C. Johnson/US Presswire"If you're committed to us and you're looking, that's a simple message, we're going to look, too," said Mack Brown.
"What we'll tell guys, 'Don't commit to us unless it's over and you want to come.' Then the message we get, if you're committed to us and you're looking, that's a simple message, we're going to look, too," Brown told reporters. "If we find somebody as good as you that wants to come, you're looking around, we'll take them. I think that's fair."

Running back Kyle Hicks decommitted and signed with TCU. Receiver Ricky Seals-Jones decommitted and signed with the Aggies, who also nabbed defensive end Daeshon Hall, who had been committed to Washington after leaving the Longhorns' class. Defensive tackle A'Shawn Robinson decommitted days before signing day and signed with Alabama and tight end Durham Smythe decommitted before signing with Notre Dame.

Brown's absolutely right in that his approach is fair, and while he's not explicitly saying it's a reaction to the 2013 decommitments, it's hard to believe they didn't at least influence his recent comments. He says he's done it before, but don't be surprised if it happens a little more now. Texas won't have trouble getting other players to listen if its current commitments begin to waver.

"My job is to do what's best for the University of Texas and get the guys that want to be here. Guys can change their minds," Brown said. "If you start looking, to me you're looking for something different than you've got. I'm going to look for something different than I've got."

Still, Brown's also clear that if a player's not wavering, Texas won't be wavering on him.

"I like to go to the school, see the coach. The other thing is that if you get a commitment, you'd like for the high school coach to help you keep it. We're going to make sure the high school coach buys into the commitment as well," Brown said. "I need to see those guys, shake their hand, tell them we're not backing out on kids. If we're not, if your young man and his parents want to commit to us, we want you to commit, too, that he's going to stay with us."
Signing day is behind us, so let's take a look at how the West Division teams did in filling their needs, even though definitive answers won’t come for a couple of years.

ALABAMA

Needs filled: Reuben Foster's recruitment was bizarre to say the least, but he gives the Crimson Tide another talented linebacker to plug into that defense. The one-two punch of receiver Robert Foster and tight end O.J. Howard should make Alabama’s passing game that much more explosive, and nobody in the country stockpiles running backs the way Alabama does. Derrick Henry, Alvin Kamara, Tyren Jones and Altee Tenpenny are all top-10 running back prospects.

Holes remaining: The Crimson Tide lost out on one of their top offensive tackle targets when Laremy Tunsil signed with Ole Miss. They’re losing D.J. Fluker early to the NFL, and Cyrus Kouandjio will almost certainly follow if he has the kind of 2013 season everyone expects.

ARKANSAS

Needs filled: Arkansas landed some much-needed help on the offensive line, led by ESPN 150 offensive tackle Denver Kirkland. A Miami product, Kirkland chose the Hogs over the Hurricanes on signing day. Offensive tackle Dan Skipper and offensive guard Reeve Koehler were also key gets, not to mention ESPN 150 tight end Hunter Henry of Little Rock, Ark. Henry was the top prospect in the state and ranked as the No. 2 tight end nationally.

Holes remaining: The biggest hole centers around the Hogs’ most high-profile recruit. Running back Alex Collins of Plantation, Fla., announced Tuesday that he was signing with Arkansas over Miami, but he didn’t sign as scheduled Wednesday and is getting pressure from his family to stay closer to home and sign with the Hurricanes. Stay tuned.

AUBURN

Needs filled: The Tigers were looking for more difference-makers on defense and scored big up front with ESPN 150 defensive tackle Montravius Adams and ESPN 150 defensive ends Carl Lawson and Elijah Daniel. Lawson was the No. 2 prospect in the country and had been looking around after initially committing to Auburn under the previous staff.

Holes remaining: Auburn can use all the help it can get in the secondary, which is why losing cornerback Mackensie Alexander to Clemson stung so much. Auburn signed Alexander’s brother, Mackenro, but Mackensie would have been the catch at cornerback. He’s ranked No. 4 overall in the ESPN 150.

LSU

Needs filled: Flipping ESPN 150 defensive end Tashawn Bower of Somerville, N.J., was a coup for the Tigers, especially considering that they’re losing their top four defensive ends. Auburn and Florida were thought to be the leaders for Bower, but he chose LSU on signing day. Holding on to defensive end Frank Herron after a late visit to Texas was equally important. The Tigers also signed two ESPN 300 quarterbacks. Anthony Jennings is a dual-threat guy, while Hayden Rettig is more of a pocket passer.

Holes remaining: The Tigers missed out on a couple of top safeties, which is magnified with Eric Reid leaving early for the NFL. Priest Willis and Tahaan Goodman both went to UCLA.

MISSISSIPPI STATE

Needs filled: Adding some punch in the defensive line was a must, and the Bulldogs were able to keep one of the top players in the state at home in defensive end Chris Jones of Houston, Miss. With four senior receivers leaving, Mississippi State hopes that junior college transfer Jeremey Chappelle can step in and be a key cog in the passing game. He’s already enrolled in school. Fred Ross is also an ESPN 300 receiver.

Holes remaining: The Bulldogs would have liked to have added more offensive line help. In particular, losing Deon Mix of Batesville, Miss., to Auburn hurt. Mix, a four-star offensive guard prospect, had been committed to Mississippi State for eight months before backing off that pledge in the final weeks.

OLE MISS

Needs filled: Nobody in the country made the kind of signing day splash the Rebels did. They landed potential game-changers on offense and defense. Defensive end Robert Nkemdiche was the No. 1 prospect in the country. Laremy Tunsil and Austin Golson were ranked as the No. 1 and No. 3 offensive tackles in the country. Laquon Treadwell was the No. 1 receiver in the country, and Antonio Conner was the No. 2 safety.

Holes remaining: The Rebels didn’t get everybody they wanted and lost out on a pair of coveted defensive ends. Chris Jones, the in-state player everybody was recruiting, stuck with his original commitment and signed with Mississippi State, while Elijah Daniel had a change of heart on signing day and went to Auburn.

TEXAS A&M

Needs filled: The Aggies reeled in a couple of highly rated receivers for Johnny Football to throw to, which was especially important with three senior starters departing and freshman Thomas Johnson unlikely to return. This class includes six new receivers, including ESPN 150 prospects Ricky Seals-Jones, Sebastian LaRue and LaQuvionte Gonzalez. The Aggies also picked up four defensive tackles, including ESPN 150 prospect Justin Manning.

Holes remaining: Getting defensive end Daeshon Hall to flip from Washington on signing day was big for the Aggies, and they would have liked to have had one more pass-rusher with Damontre Moore leaving early for the NFL draft. But defensive end Torrodney Prevot signed with Oregon after giving a hard look to Texas A&M.

SEC recruiting primer

February, 6, 2013
2/06/13
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ESPN RecruitingNation has signing day covered. Follow ESPNU’s coverage, chat with analysts and get breaking news on our Signing Day Live page beginning at 7:30 a.m. ET through 7 p.m. ET. For more on what to expect on signing day, check out the SEC conference breakdown Insider.

Bold Prediction for the SEC:

Ole Miss' class will eventually be ranked in the top five nationally with the addition of No. 1 overall prospect Robert Nkemdiche from Loganville (Ga.) Grayson and possibly ESPN 150 prospects Chris Jones from Houston (Miss.) High and Antonio Conner from Batesville (Miss.) South Panola.

SEC East

Florida
Biggest need: Florida wants immediate help at defensive tackle. Jarran Reed from Scooba (Miss.) East should be able to provide that if he decides to sign with the Gators on national signing day.
Biggest recruit: The Gators have two five-star commitments: cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III from Tampa (Fla.) Wharton and running back Kelvin Taylor from Belle Glade (Fla.) Glades. No other school in the country can say that.

Georgia
Biggest need: The Bulldogs would like to pick up another top offensive lineman. They looked destined to land Laremy Tunsil from Lake City (Fla.), but the competition has heated up for him lately.
Biggest recruit: With 12 ESPN 300 commitments, Georgia has plenty of star power. However, it's impossible to overvalue the commitment of Brice Ramsey from Kingsland (Ga.) Camden, a quarterback the Bulldogs can build around.

(Read full post)

SEC recruiting scorecard

January, 30, 2013
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National signing day is just around the corner (Feb. 6), and with things really, really heating up on the recruiting trail, we thought we'd take a look at how all 14 SEC teams are doing when it comes to finding the next college stars.

The SEC currently has five teams ranked in the top 10 of ESPN's RecruitingNation class rankings and 12 in the top 40. Florida, which has 26 commitments, including 11 in the ESPN 150, owns the nation's No. 1 class. Alabama is second with 22 pledges (10 ESPN 150 members).

Here's how the entire SEC is doing with only a week left until pens are put to paper:

ALABAMA

2013 verbal commitments: 22

Spotlight: Yulee, Fla., athlete Derrick Henry is big, physical and very athletic. Plus, he's already on campus. He's versatile and could play multiple positions at the college level. After breaking the national high school career rushing yards record, he'll probably spend most of his time in Alabama's backfield.

ESPN 150 members: 10 (Henry; WR Robert Foster of Monaca, Pa.; DE Jonathan Allen of Ashburn, Va.; DE Tim Williams of Baton Rouge, La.; TE-H O.J. Howard of Prattville, Ala.; RB Altee Tenpenny of North Little Rock, Ark.; QB-PP Cooper Bateman of Salt Lake City, Utah; RB Tyren Jones of Marietta, Ga.; CB Maurice Smith of Sugar Land, Texas; OG Grant Hill of Huntsville, Ala.)

ARKANSAS

2013 verbal commitments: 17

Spotlight: Tight end Hunter Henry of Little Rock, Ark., is the gem of this class after being very active on the offensive side in high school. He isn't the greatest blocker, but he creates mismatches over the middle of the field with his size and speed. There was some concern that he might go elsewhere, but Bret Bielema and his staff secured his commitment earlier this month.

ESPN 150 members: 1 (Henry)

AUBURN

2013 verbal commitments: 19

Spotlight: Defensive end Carl Lawson of Alpharetta, Ga., is the headliner of this class, but he's looking around a bit at other schools. Clemson and Tennessee are still in the race for Lawson's services. He'd be a major get/loss for Gus Malzahn's first class. He current ranks as the No. 2 defensive end in the country and is the No. 2 overall prospect in the country.

ESPN 150 members: 3 (Lawson; DE Tashawn Bower of Somerville, N.J.; QB Jeremy Johnson of Montomgery, Ala.)

FLORIDA

2013 verbal commitments: 26

Spotlight: Cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III of Tampa, Fla., is rated the No. 1 cornerback prospect in the country and is the No. 3 overall player in the nation. He's one of the more complete players out there and it looks like he'll be able to play right away for the Gators when he arrives in Gainesville.

ESPN 150 members: 11 (Hargreaves; Caleb Brantley of Crescent City, Fla.; RB Kelvin Taylor of Belle Glade, Fla.; OLB Daniel McMillian of Jacksonville, Fla.; WR Ahmad Fulwood of Jacksonville, Fla.; WR Demarcus Robinson of Fort Valley, Ga.; S Keanu Neal of Bushnell, Fla.; S Marcell Harris of Orlando, Fla.; ATH Alvin Bailey of Seffner, Fla.; OLB Matt Rolin of Ashburn, Va.; LB Alex Anzalone of Wyomissing, Pa.)

GEORGIA

2013 verbal commitments: 29

Spotlight: Cornerback Shaq Wiggins of Tyrone, Ga., is a top corner prospect, despite his smaller frame. He might not have elite size, but Wiggins plays like a bigger, more physical defensive back. He can cover a lot of ground and has a chance to make an instant impact for the Bulldogs' defense in 2013.

ESPN 150 members: 5 (Wiggins; ATH Tramel Terry of Goose Creek, S.C.; QB-PP Brice Ramsey of Kingsland, Ga.; S Tray Matthews of Newnan, Ga.; C Brandon Kublanow of Marietta, Ga.)

KENTUCKY

2013 verbal commitments: 18

Spotlight: Junior college defensive end Za'Darius Smith from East Mississippi Community College is Kentucky's top get for the 2013 class, and what's even better is that he's already on campus. He excels as both a pass-rusher and a run-stopper and has shown good speed along the way. His speed off the edge will be a welcomed addition to Kentucky's defense.

ESPN 150 members: None

LSU

2013 verbal commitments: 27

Spotlight: Athlete Kendell Beckwith of Jackson, La., was a major addition to LSU's class early this month. He was mostly a dual-threat quarterback in high school, but could play both wide receiver and outside linebacker at the college level. His speed and mobility will help him get on the field early to help the Tigers.

ESPN 150 members: 6 (Beckwith; Jeryl Brazil of Loranger, La.; OT Ethan Pocic of Lemont, Ill; DT Greg Gilmore of Hope Mills, N.C.; TE-H DeSean Smith of Lake Charles, La.; DT Maquedius Bain of Fort Lauderdale, Fla.)

MISSISSIPPI STATE

2013 verbal commitments: 22

Spotlight: Defensive end Chris Jones of Houston, Miss., could develop into a trouble-making pass-rusher. He has good size and quickness and flew off the line during his senior year. He continues to get a lot of attention from other schools, especially Alabama, so keeping him will be a tough chore for Dan Mullen and his staff.

ESPN 150 members: 1 (Jones)

MISSOURI

2013 verbal commitments: 19

Spotlight: DT Josh Augusta of Peoria, Ill., is Mizzou's top-rated commitment right now. He was a big January get for the Tigers' staff and is a major athlete who played multiple positions at the high school level. He could play along the defensive line or offensive line in college. He played some tight end in high school, but doesn't project there at the next level.

ESPN 150 members: None

OLE MISS

2013 verbal commitments: 23

Spotlight: Wide receiver Laquon Treadwell of Crete, Ill., was a major pickup for the Rebels' staff. He's rated as the nation's No. 1 receiver and while he might be a taller prospect, he's very explosive. He has the ability to be a big-time deep threat for the Rebels and should also make plenty of plays after the catch.

ESPN 150 members: 2 (Treadwell; DE Elijah Daniel of Avon, Ind.)

SOUTH CAROLINA

2013 verbal commitments: 19

Spotlight: Defensive tackle Kelsey Griffin of Hoschton, Ga., is a big-bodied lineman who should be a solid run-stopper with his girth and explosion. He doesn't have great height, but he has a big enough body that he should cause plenty of problems for opposing linemen at the next level.

ESPN 150 members: 2 (Griffin; RB David Williams of Philadelphia, Pa.)

TENNESSEE

2013 verbal commitments: 17

Spotlight: Quarterback Riley Ferguson of Matthews, N.C., has a big-time arm and shows pretty good mobility in the pocket. He also has a lot of confidence in his arm and his throws. The coaching turnover didn't hurt Tennessee's chances of keeping Ferguson, who could push for time once he gets on campus.

ESPN 150 members: None

TEXAS A&M

2013 verbal commitments: 32

Spotlight: Tight end Derrick Griffin of Rosenberg, Texas, should cause major matchup issues for his opponents when he gets to the college level. He's the nation's top tight end/H-back and could be used all over the field by Kevin Sumlin and the Aggies' staff. He's versatile enough to be a major asset for A&M in the near future.

ESPN 150 members: 6 (Griffin; ATH Ricky Seals-Jones of Sealy, Texas; ATH LaQuvionte Gonzalez of Cedar Hill, Texas; QB Kohl Stewart of Houston, Texas; DT Justin Manning of Dallas; WR Sebastian LaRue of Santa Monica, Calif.)

VANDERBILT

2013 verbal commitments: 24

Spotlight: Defensive tackle Jay Woods of Jackson, Ga., is a powerful body up front, who will be even better at the next level once he adds some bulk. He has good speed off the line and can clog holes up front. He'll be used as a run-stopper and can get to the quarterback when needed.

ESPN 150 members: None

Aggies pull in Texas' top prospect

December, 10, 2012
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Johnny Manziel has some newfound celebrity status after winning the Heisman Trophy, and he's also getting a new receiver target.

Ricky Seals-Jones, the top prospect in the state of Texas and No. 13 nationally on the ESPN 150 list, announced Monday that he would sign with Texas A&M. The 6-5, 230-pound Seals-Jones could end up playing a number of different positions in college.

Manziel's future recruiting stable is coming along nicely. In addition to Seals-Jones, Fork Union (Va.) Military Academy's Ja'Quay Williams, Cedar Hill (Texas) High School's Quincy Adeboyejo, Manvel (Texas) High School's Kyrion Parker and Honolulu Saint Louis School's Jeremy Tabuyo are also receiver commitments in the 2013 class. Athlete commits LaQuvionte Gonzalez (Cedar Hill), Cameron Echols-Luper (Auburn, Ala./Auburn) and tight end commit Derrick Griffin (Rosenberg, Texas/Terry) could all wind up as receivers as well.

That's not to mention Mike Evans, who led the Aggies in receiving this season as a redshirt freshman with 75 catches for 1,022 yards.
It's not every day that any recruit decommits from Texas.

It's even rarer that the nation's No. 1 receiver reneges on the Longhorns.

That's what Ricky Seals-Jones has done, though, just two days after attending a camp in Austin with the rest of the Longhorns' 2013 recruiting class, HornsNation reports.
It is believed that this decision could have something to do with his desire to play both football and basketball in college, which LSU and Baylor both have given him the option to do. When reached by phone Tuesday night, Eric Thomas, Seals-Jones' AAU basketball coach, had no comment on Seals-Jones' decision.

Texas isn't out of the Seals-Jones sweepstakes just yet, but the 6-foot-5, 220-pounder, who is rated the nation's No. 7 overall recruit, has reopened his recruitment with a host of other schools. The Sealy, Texas, native shocked many recruiting experts with his decision, but fellow commits weighed in and weren't too worried about the news.
Texas four-star quarterback pledge Tyrone Swoopes (Whitewright, Texas/Whitewright) has perhaps the strongest relationship with Seals-Jones of the Longhorn commits, and he reached out to Seals-Jones on Tuesday evening to offer his support.

"I'm a little surprised," Swoopes said. "I told him I would respect his decision if he does want to decommit, but it would be good for him if he would stay just because we can do great things at Texas with our recruiting class, and he's a big part of it.

"He said Texas is still No. 1 but he just wanted to see what other schools had to offer. I told him I respect that."

Still, pretty surprising stuff. Texas now has 14 commits for its class, whose members can't sign letters of intent until national signing day in February.

Recruiting season got started in earnest on Tuesday with the release of the ESPN 150, so it's time to offer our first real check-in on where the Big 12 recruiting classes sit with a little less than 10 months before players can officially sign.

Remember, this card is in pencil. Players are free to switch commitments until they sign a letter of intent with a school.

1. Texas Longhorns

Total commits: 13
ESPNU 150 commits: 7
Key commits: QB Tyrone Swoopes, WR Ricky Seals-Jones, C Darius James, OT Jake Raulerson
Class notes: Texas' top three commits are all the best at their positions, and 10 of the class' 13 commitments are four stars or higher. That's nothing new in Austin, but Swoopes looks like the quarterback of the future in Austin, though he hails from a smaller school in Whitewright, Texas. Seals-Jones is a physical presence at 6-foot-5, 220 pounds.

2. Oklahoma Sooners

Total commits: 4
ESPNU 150 commits: 3
Key commits: RB Greg Bryant, RB Keith Ford, DE D.J. Ward
Class notes: Oklahoma's class is still pretty small for now, but the Sooners are getting some much needed help at running back, where numbers are suddenly thin following a rash of transfers after the season. Ward joins fellow DE Matt Dimon in the class, too.

3. Baylor Bears

Total commits: 6
ESPNU 150 commits: 1
Key commits: QB Chris Johnson, RB Johnny Jefferson, WR Quan Jones
Class notes: No surprise here: Baylor's new class is loaded with skill position talent. Johnson is the nation's No. 2 dual-threat passer and Jefferson is the nation's No. 36 running back. It seems like almost every year, Baylor reels in a huge prospect. For now, 2013 is no different, and coach Art Briles looks like he can continue his QB lineage. Johnson is a four-star, and Jefferson and Jones are three-star recruits.

4. Texas Tech Red Raiders

Total commits: 5
ESPNU 150 commits: 0
Key commits: ATH Devin Lauderdale, WR Dylan Cantrell, CB Will Barrow
Class notes: Texas Tech has landed top-25 recruiting classes in each of Tommy Tuberville's first full seasons in Lubbock, and the Red Raiders are off to another nice start in 2013. Super recruiter Robert Prunty's developed a penchant for reeling in ESPN 150 talent, so keep an eye on the newest major player on the recruiting scene. Lauderdale is a four-star recruit.

5. Kansas State Wildcats

Total commits: 3
ESPNU 150 commits: 0
Key commits: ILB Tanner Wood, DE Jordan Willis, WR LeAndrew Gordon
Class notes: Two of Kansas State's three commits are three-star recruits. The Wildcats won 10 games in 2011, but another solid year in 2012 could help spur recruiting efforts even further.

6. Oklahoma State Cowboys

Total commits: 1
ESPNU 150 commits: 0
Key commits: WR Fred Ross Jr.
Class notes: Ross is a four-star and the nation's No. 21 receiver, but OSU could climb this list quickly, riding the success from its first Big 12 title in 2011. It's a slower start than you'd envision for OSU, but we'll see if the Cowboys can win some battles with Texas Tech, TCU and others.

7. TCU Horned Frogs

Total commits: 2
ESPNU 150 commits: 0
Key commits: OLB Sammy Douglas, OG Patrick Morris
Class notes: Douglas is a three-star recruit and the nation's No. 36 outside linebacker. That's a big position of need for TCU, but the Big 12 entrance and recent campus drug sting that resulted in four players being arrested will be battling for positive and negative pushes on the recruiting trail. We'll see which one wins out in 2012.

8. Kansas Jayhawks

Total commits: 3
ESPNU 150 commits: 0
Key commits: QB Montell Cozart, TE Ben Johnson, LB Kellen Ash
Class notes: Kansas doesn't have a nationally ranked recruit, but Weis sounds like he's high on Cozart, a highly recruited QB from the Kansas City area who had offers from West Virginia and Minnesota.

9. West Virginia Mountaineers

Total commits: 0
ESPNU 150 commits: 0
Key commits: None
Class notes: WVU is one of two teams without a commit yet in the 2013 class. We'll see if that picks up if WVU can validate its membership in the Big 12 with a strong debut season.

10. Iowa State Cyclones

Total commits: 0
ESPNU 150 commits: 0
Key commits: None
Class notes: Iowa State has started slow, too. Another bowl appearance would help, but it has to be a bit frustrating for the Cyclones to be behind the eight-ball for now. That's especially true considering what Kansas has done thus far.

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