Thursday, December 5, 2013
Under Armour game storylines: SEC
By Gerry Hamilton
The seventh annual Under Armour All-America Game is less than a month away. The 2014 game, which is set for 4 p.m. ET Jan. 2 at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on ESPN, features 90 of the top high school football prospects in the country. Practices begin Dec. 29.
No. 1 Leonard Fournette is one of several five-star prospects who haven't made a commitment.
As is usually the case, the SEC will be well represented. Here are some of the storylines:
Year of dominance: The top 15 prospects in the ESPN 300 are all scheduled to take part. That means that all 13 five-star prospects in the class will be competing, including No. 1 Leonard Fournette (New Orleans/Saint Augustine). All told, 28 of the top 30 prospects in the ESPN 300 are on an UA All-America roster.
SEC leads the way: It comes without surprise that the SEC has the most committed prospects taking part, with 34. The Big Ten and ACC have 13 each, the Big 12 has three and the Pac-12 has two. Notre Dame has five commits in the game.
The SEC West alone has 25.
Tide rolling with the most commits: Alabama has the nation's top-ranked recruiting class, which includes 18 ESPN 300 commitments. It's natural that the Crimson Tide also has the most commitments in the game: 13. All are members of the ESPN 300, including No. 3 Cameron Robinson (Monroe, La./West Monroe) and No. 6 Da’Shawn Hand (Woodbridge, Va./Woodbridge).
Undecided five-stars: There are seven five-star prospects yet to make decisions -- No. 1 Fournette, No. 7 Adoree’ Jackson (Gardena, Calif./Junipero Serra), No. 8 Speedy Noil (New Orleans/Edna Karr), No. 9 Marlon Humphrey (Hoover, Ala./Hoover), No. 11 Tony Brown (Beaumont, Texas/Ozen), No. 12 Raekwon McMillan (Hinesville, Ga./Liberty County) and No. 13 Lorenzo Carter (Norcross, Ga./Norcross). All seven have either made official visits to SEC schools or will in December and January.
With three five-star prospects already committed to SEC schools, it’s not out of the question that nine of the top 13 prospects in the country will sign with SEC programs on Feb. 5.
December decision: At least one five-star prospect is likely to be off the board by game time. The 6-foot-2, 249-pound McMillan has made official visits to Georgia, Ohio State, Alabama, Clemson and Auburn, with a decision scheduled for Dec. 16. While Ohio State has long been the favorite, the schools closer to home have made late charges, as expected. He made an official visit to Auburn last weekend for the Iron Bowl.
Five could flip? As usual, there are several prospects who could flip in the weeks leading up to national signing day. There are five key guys to keep an eye on that will be playing in the UA game:
RB Dalvin Cook (Miami/Central): A Florida commit and the No. 20 prospect overall, Cook visited Florida State in October and will be at Miami this weekend. By the end of next week, the explosive playmaker will likely make a final decision, with the Seminoles riding a wave of momentum.
CB Kalvarez Bessent (Kingsland, Ga./Camden County): The Alabama commit was on campus at Auburn last weekend for the Iron Bowl and is now a threat to flip to the surging Tigers. Bessent is No. 42-overall in the ESPN 300.
ATH J.C. Jackson (Immokalee, Fla./Immokalee): Jackson, ranked No. 74, is another Florida commit who is looking at both Florida State and Miami. The talented playmaker was committed to the Seminoles before flipping to the Gators. He has been on campus at Miami several times this season.
DT Dexter Wideman (Saluda, S.C./Saluda): The Florida State commit and No. 178 prospect overall has been flirting with in-state South Carolina since committing to the Seminoles in late July. The 6-foot-4, 275-pound Wideman has been on campus in Columbia three times this season, and is considered a lean to the Gamecocks despite his commitment to the nation's top-ranked team.
DT Dontavius Russell (Carrollton, Ga./Carrollton): Russell is on the list but has already officially reopened his recruitment by backing off his verbal pledge to Georgia. While the Bulldogs are not out of the mix at this point, it looks like the momentum is with Auburn for the No. 201 prospect.
Most to gain: When looking at the impressive list of uncommitted prospects in the game, the team with the most to gain is LSU. The Tigers are in the hunt for five-stars Fournette, Noil and Brown, as well as No. 23 Jamal Adams (Lewisville, Texas/Hebron), No. 25 Malachi Dupre (River Ridge, La./John Curtis Christian) and No. 29 Gerald Willis III (New Orleans/Edna Karr). The Tigers would vault all the way to the No. 2 class if they signed five of the six uncommitted prospects listed above.