Alabama or LSU? Where Leonard Fournette decides to go will be the top story in SEC recruiting.
This is the question everyone wants to know. Fournette (New Orleans/St. Augustine) will likely make his decision between Alabama and LSU. The No. 1-ranked player in the nation visited Alabama over the weekend and, by all accounts, he enjoyed his time in Tuscaloosa. LSU, the home-state team, cannot afford to lose both Fournette and five-star offensive tackle Cameron Robinson (Monroe, La/West Monroe) to their arch-rival. This one will go down to the wire, with both teams pulling out all of the stops to land this ultra-talented running back.
2. Will Florida have a coaching change?
After Florida’s disastrous season, Florida head coach Will Muschamp is considered by many to be on the coaching “hot seat.” But after finishing 11-2 just a year ago, he could get at least one more year to turn things around. There could, however, be some shake up on the offensive coaching staff. If offensive coordinator Brent Pease is not retained, how will that affect Florida recruits? The Gators have commitments from top 50 offensive skilled players Dalvin Cook (Miami/Central), Will Grier (Davidson, N.C./Davidson Day) and Ermon Lane (Homestead, Fla./Homestead). A lot would depend on who Florida would hire to replace Pease, if there is a change, but this will certainly be something to keep an eye on.
Head coach Mark Richt has a reputation as a strong closer, and this year will likely be no different. With top prospects such as defensive end Lorenzo Carter (Norcross, Ga./Norcross), offensive tackle David Sharpe (Jacksonville, Fla./Providence), wide receiver Josh Malone (Gallatin, Tenn./Station Camp), linebacker Raekwon McMillan (Hinesville, Ga./Liberty Co.) and defensive tackle Elisha Shaw (Tucker, Ga./Tucker) still remaining on their recruiting board, it is likely the Bulldogs will finish in the top five of the recruiting rankings with a strong finish.
4. Will Alabama hang on to the No. 1 recruiting class?
Alabama has already put together an unbelievable class that is ranked as the No. 1 class in the country. With Fournette and other top prospects including safeties Laurence “Hootie” Jones (Monroe, La./Neville) and Marlon Humphrey (Hoover, Ala./Hoover), cornerback Tony Brown (Beaumont, Texas/Ozen) and Carter all considering the Crimson Tide, the odds are certainly in favor of Alabama holding on to their No. 1-ranked class.
5. Which school will have the strongest finish?
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It appears as though LSU could be setting up to make a huge run at the end. With prospects such as Fournette, Jones, Brown, Clifton Garrett (Plainfield, Ill./Plainfield), Speedy Noil (New Orleans/Edna Karr) and teammate Gerald Willis III, Malachi Dupre (River Ridge, La./John Curtis) still remaining on their recruiting board, LSU is one of the few teams that could really challenge Alabama for the No. 1 recruiting class in the country.
6. Will Tennessee and Kentucky maintain their recruiting success despite sub-par seasons?
Tennessee jumped out to a great start in recruiting and continues to build on that momentum. The Vols currently have 30 commitments and can’t take many more prospects, unless of course, someone decommits. It doesn’t appear that wins and losses are playing a factor at all for head coach Butch Jones. Recruits understand that it takes time to rebuild. Kentucky, like Tennessee, jumped out to a great start but has slowed down over the past few months. Barring any major setbacks, it looks as if both teams will continue to recruit at a high level this year.
7. Could all 14 SEC schools finish in the top 40 of the recruiting rankings?
It definitely appears that way. Missouri was the only SEC school not ranked in the top 40 of the rankings before last week. However, the Tigers landed two ESPN 300 members, Andy Bauer and Brandon Lee, and have worked their way into the top 40. Arkansas (No. 35) and South Carolina (No. 31) are really the only other schools that would have a chance of falling out of the rankings. The Gamecocks are short on numbers and could be in danger if they lose any commits. That appears unlikely at this point, though.
Prospects say all the time that they want to be a package deal with their teammate or friend, but it rarely happens. It could very well happen for Noil and Willis though. LSU, the home-state team, is targeting both prospects extremely hard and have a great shot at landing both players. Both prospects are also seriously considering Florida and Texas A&M. Considering their proximity to Baton Rouge, it wouldn't be a surprise if both players ended up at LSU.
The way Florida’s season has played out, it could be in danger of losing one of its top commitments. Cook has visited a few other schools, including Florida State, and continues to show a lot of interest in the Seminoles. Publicly, he says all the right things about being firmly committed to the Gators, but he continues to flirt with other schools. Cook might still end up signing with Florida, but at this point, it could go either way for the four-star running back.
10. Who has the most underrated class?
Missouri has a class that is deceptively good. There are several athletes in this class from talent-rich states Florida and Georgia. The Tigers also kept Bauer in-state and went to Indiana to land four-star linebacker Brandon Lee. Missouri coaches have done an excellent job of developing talent, and with the prospects the Tigers are bringing in, this has a chance to be a very special class a few years from now.