NCF On The Trail: Jovan Pruitt

Recruiting hits and misses: SEC West

February, 6, 2014
Feb 6
11:10
AM ET

Now that the fax machines are quiet, the 2014 signing classes have been announced and before we start looking ahead to 2015, let's take a moment to examine how each of the SEC schools did in filling immediate needs via recruiting.

We're checking out what all 14 teams did to fill holes, and we're looking at which holes still remain. We'll start with the SEC West (click here for the SEC East):

ALABAMA

Needs filled: It was obvious Alabama needed help at cornerback, and the Crimson Tide went out and got two of the best in the country in five-star prospects Tony Brown and Marlon Humphrey. Pass rushers were also a priority, which makes five-star defensive end Da'Shawn Hand and four-star outside linebackers Rashaan Evans and Christian Miller key pickups. Cameron Robinson, yet another five-star prospect, could end up starting at left tackle next season on the offensive line.

Holes remaining: The Crimson Tide could have used another marquee receiver and lost out on No. 1 wideout Malachi Dupre to LSU. With Ha Ha Clinton-Dix and Vinnie Sunseri both heading early to the NFL, the Tide also might have come up short at safety.

ARKANSAS

Needs filled: The Hogs’ passing game was in need of a jump-start, and getting an ESPN 300 player out of Miami the caliber of JoJo Robinson adds another playmaker to the equation. Arkansas’ offensive line class is equally impressive with four-star prospects Brian Wallace and Frank Ragnow and three-star prospect Jovan Pruitt joining Denver Kirkland and Dan Skipper from last year’s class.

Holes remaining: The highest-ranked player in the Hogs’ class was defensive tackle Bijhon Jackson of El Dorado, Ark., which was big considering they need help everywhere on defense. But they missed out on a pair of highly ranked defensive ends in Solomon Thomas and Demetrius Jackson.

AUBURN

Needs filled: Gus Malzahn called ESPN 300 prospect Tre' Williams the key to the class, and he should provide an immediate boost at linebacker. With Chris Davis departing, the Tigers also needed to replenish at cornerback, which is where four-star prospects Kalvaraz Bessent and Stephen Roberts come in. Both were ranked in the top 10 nationally at their position. With Greg Robinson leaving early for the NFL draft, it was good to add muscle on the offensive line with ESPN 300 prospect Braden Smith, who could play guard or tackle.

Holes remaining: The sting of losing Evans, who’s from Auburn, to Alabama could be felt for a while. He's the kind of explosive athlete who would fit on any defense, and the Tigers need more of those guys, particularly at linebacker.

LSU

Needs filled: The loss of running back Jeremy Hill early to the NFL draft was lessened by landing Leonard Fournette, the No. 1 overall prospect in this class. It only got better for the Tigers’ offense on signing day when the country’s No. 1 receiver, Dupre, said he would play his college football on the Bayou. Safety was a real sore spot on defense last season, so getting ESPN 300 prospect Jamal Adams was a major pickup. Adams is rated by ESPN RecruitingNation as the No. 2 safety in the 2014 class.

Holes remaining: Robinson would have been a nice centerpiece on that LSU offensive line, but Alabama came into West Monroe, La., and swiped the five-star prospect. The Tigers also lost five-star athlete Speedy Noil of New Orleans to Texas A&M.

MISSISSIPPI STATE

Needs filled: Junior college signee Jocquell Johnson is already on campus and will battle for a starting job next season on an offensive line that’s losing two starters, including All-SEC guard Gabe Jackson. The Bulldogs also added a pair of playmakers at receiver in ESPN 300 prospects Jamoral Graham and Jesse Jackson. Flipping 6-foot-6, 265-pound defensive lineman Cory Thomas from Tennessee on signing day added some more punch to an already deep and talented defensive line in Starkville.

Holes remaining: More secondary help would have been nice, which is why losing cornerback Tee Shepard to Ole Miss on signing day was a downer. A couple of the offensive linemen the Bulldogs wanted, Jordan Sims and Sean Rawlings, also opted for Ole Miss.

OLE MISS

Needs filled: The Rebels wanted to continue to stockpile talent on the offensive line after reeling in Laremy Tunsil and Austin Golson a year ago and did that with four-star prospects Rod Taylor, Tyler Putman and Sims. Upgrading the defense was also a priority, which is why beating Alabama for ESPN 300 safety C.J. Hampton was so important along with getting ESPN 300 defensive end Garrald McDowell out of Louisiana. Flipping junior college cornerback Shepard from Mississippi State was a nice signing day coup.

Holes remaining: You can never have enough defensive linemen in the SEC, so losing defensive tackle Michael Sawyers to Tennessee was a blow. The same goes for ESPN 300 defensive end Davon Godchaux, who stuck with his commitment and signed with LSU.

TEXAS A&M

Needs filled: With Johnny Manziel taking his show to the NFL, Texas A&M has to find a quarterback. Early enrollee Kyle Allen is an ESPN 300 prospect and ranked as the No. 1 pocket passer in this class. Noil, another early enrollee, should help fill a void with big-play receiver Mike Evans headed to the NFL, and the Aggies also loaded up on offensive linemen, including a pair of junior college signees. Any help on defense was a priority, which makes five-star defensive end Myles Garrett one of the keys to the class.

Holes remaining: The Aggies are still thin at safety after swinging and missing on several of their top targets in this class, including Adams, Steven Parker II and Mattrell McGraw. They also had ESPN 300 safety Dylan Sumner-Gardner committed but lost him to Boise State when Marcel Yates took the defensive coordinator job there.
Arkansas will be hosting several prospects on official visits this weekend, and the team the Razorbacks are hosting -- No. 11 Auburn -- will have many eyes on them as well.

Looking at the Arkansas official visitor list, there are three ESPN 300 prospects scheduled to be in Fayetteville, and one rising senior four-star offensive tackle. That position is now a need in the class after junior college offensive tackle Jermaine Eluemunor (Rockaway, N.J./Lackawanna College) flipped from Arkansas to Texas A&M this week.



Texas Tech has been one of the new darlings of college football through the two few months of the season. At 7-0 the Red Raiders sit tied atop the Big 12 and are No. 10 in the BCS standings.

The country is anxious to see how they’ll handle the meat of their conference schedule, which begins with a road test at Oklahoma on Saturday.

The Sooners are expected to have several top targets on hand, including two prospects committed elsewhere. Oklahoma is also expected to have one of the top players in the country for 2015 in attendance ... again.

Here’s a look at some of the top targets who will be in attendance in Norman, Okla., plus a recruit who will be keeping a close eye on the game:

2014 DT Zaycoven Henderson (Longview, Texas/Longview)
6-foot-1, 281 pounds
This is a huge opportunity for the Sooners to impress one of their top remaining targets. Henderson, a former TCU commit, seems to be down to Texas and OU, though, Ole Miss might have something to say about that. The Sooners have to blow him away on this visit considering the good things he had to say during and after Texas’ victory over Oklahoma a few weeks ago. OU really needs help on its defensive front with only one commitment in 2014 (three-star DT Brandon Glenn).


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Bret Bielema and the Arkansas coaching staff probably wish they could have weekends like this more often.

After starting Sunday morning with only five commits, the Razorbacks are up to 12 after Saturday. Four players who were in attendance for the Razorbacks’ elite prospect camp -- all from the state of Louisiana -- gave their verbal pledges on Saturday. The Metairie (La.) Archbishop Rummel duo of safety/outside linebacker Dwayne Eugene and three-star cornerback Henre’ Toliver and the Geismar (La.) Dutchtown receiver duo of four-star Corey McBride and Torrance Mosley each committed to Arkansas.

“The Boot’s coming to Arkansas,” a proud Mosley said. “I guess the other guys felt the same way I felt. They fell in love with the campus and the coaches. It’s pretty cool; I’m not going to lie.”

Eugene is a 6-foot, 218-pound defender with 4.5 speed in the 40-yard dash, making him a target to be a hybrid safety/linebacker if the Razorbacks choose to utilize him in such a way. Toliver, a 6-1, 180-pound athlete, is a big, physical cornerback who might be the most intriguing recruit of the four. He has offers from Oklahoma, Kentucky, Mississippi State, Nebraska and others.

“We’re doing big things in Louisiana,” Toliver said. “For me, it was my choice. I liked it athletically, academically and socially. I liked the town and everything.”

Perhaps the biggest pickup of the four is McBride, a 6-1, 172-pound receiver who is ranked No. 43 in his position. McBride said he and Torrance, a 5-10, 162-pound receiver, went in together to speak with the Arkansas staff. McBride is expected to be more of an outside receiver, Mosley more of a slot receiver.

“I’m very happy and lucky to be in the SEC with the Razorbacks,” McBride said. “It’s beautiful out here, kind of like another world. Plus, I want to major and drafting and architecture, and they’re like No. 2 in the country.”

Added Mosley: “I liked the coaching staff and the new facilities they’ve built. I met some of the team [Friday] night and had a great time. The coaches are real. I don’t think it gets any better than this.”

In addition to the Louisiana commits, Arkansas also scored a 2015 pledge Saturday in 6-6, 291-pound offensive tackle Colton Jackson (Conway, Ark./Conway). Jackson, who also had a Central Arkansas offer, is the third 2015 commit for the Razorbacks and the second in-state pledge.

Along with the five Saturday pledges, Arkansas picked up three-star offensive tackle Jovan Pruitt (Dallas/Bishop Dunne) on Friday. On Thursday, junior college cornerback Kweishi Brown (El Cajon, Calif./Grossmont College) became a part of the 2014 class. Three-star 2014 cornerback Christopher Murphy (Marietta, Ga./Lassiter) kicked the week off with a verbal commitment on July 14.
Three-star offensive tackle Jovan Pruitt (Dallas/Bishop Dunne) is still a way off from making a final decision in his recruiting process. A trip to West Texas over the weekend further complicated an already difficult decision.

Pruitt took in Texas Tech on June 29 and gave the visit high marks. The 6-foot-6, 295-pound lineman is being recruited by Red Raiders cornerbacks coach Kevin Curtis to play left tackle.


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DALLAS -- At 6-foot-6 and 295 pounds, three-star offensive tackle Jovan Pruitt (Dallas/Bishop Dunne) is a physical specimen. He’s also someone who is taking his recruiting process seriously.


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Jovan Pruitt still regrets the fact that he didn’t make it to Texas’ second junior day on Feb. 23 as planned, and he’s hoping to make amends later this month.


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