Tuesday, December 10, 2013
Most important targets: SEC
By Derek Tyson
Evaluating the most important recruiting targets for each school in the SEC for the Class of 2014:
Alabama CB Marlon Humphrey (Hoover, Ala./Hoover) 6-foot, 180 pounds ESPN 300 rank: 9 The Crimson Tide have already put together the No. 1-ranked class in the country, and adding a playmaker such as Humphrey would cement their status as the top recruiting class for the 2014 cycle. Humphrey is an athletic cornerback who has great size and would be a natural fit in coach Nick Saban's system. FSU is also in the picture for the five-star defensive back, and Alabama will have to fight to keep this electric playmaker from leaving the state.
Arkansas DE Demetrius Jackson (Miami/Booker T. Washington) 6-4, 225 ESPN 300 rank: NR Jackson might not be as highly ranked as his teammate Chad Thomas, but he is every bit the playmaker. The talented athlete has been wavering on his commitment to Miami and Arkansas is considered to be a team he would have considerable interest in if he did, in fact, back off his pledge to Miami. Arkansas assistant coach Randy Shannon was in attendance to watch Jackson’s team win the state championship game over the weekend and is the primary recruiter for Jackson. As the former coach of the Hurricanes, Shannon has many ties in South Florida which will only help with Jackson.
Auburn OLB Rashaan Evans (Auburn, Ala./Auburn) 6-3, 217 ESPN 300 rank: 84 Auburn won the SEC this season despite ranking 12th out of 14 teams in total defense. The Tigers would love to add this hometown linebacker to a young but talented defense. With more and more schools implementing some form of the spread offense, having athletic three-down linebackers such as Evans will be crucial moving forward. Defensive end Andrew Williams is another key target, but Auburn has to find a way to keep Evans in his hometown.
Florida CB Adoree' Jackson (Gardena, Calif./Junipero Serra) 5-10, 182 ESPN 300 rank: 7 You could also substitute cornerback Jalen Tabor (Washington, D.C./Friendship Academy). The bottom line for the Gators is that Florida likely loses two corners, Marcus Roberson and Loucheiz Purifoy, to the NFL draft after this season and will need someone to come in and compete immediately for a spot opposite Vernon Hargreaves III. The Gators' strong track program could eventually help them land Jackson, but Oregon and LSU are in the same position.
Georgia DE Lorenzo Carter 6-6, 235 ESPN 300 rank: 13 At one point, Florida was the school to beat and the Gators are certainly still in contention, but Georgia has made a strong push recently and might be at the top of his list. Georgia ranked second in the conference in sacks, and adding an athletic defensive end with length would add just another weapon in this already dangerous Georgia pass rush.
Kentucky DT Matt Elam (Elizabethtown, Ky./John Hardin) 6-6, 350 ESPN 300 rank: 292 With 25 commitments, coach Mark Stoops has the Wildcats recruiting at a very high level. Adding a big-bodied defensive tackle such as Elam would help bolster a defensive line that ranks 12th among 14 league teams in rush defense and ninth in overall defense in the SEC. The Wildcats are battling with Alabama and Notre Dame to get Elam, which is no easy task, but Kentucky will do everything it can to keep this defensive tackle in state.
LSU RB Leonard Fournette (New Orleans/St. Augustine) 6-1, 226 ESPN 300 rank: 1 LSU lost in-state ESPN 300 prospects Cameron Robinson and Laurence “Hootie” Jones to rival Alabama, and the Tigers will do everything in their power to not lose the No. 1-ranked player in the country to the Tide. Fournette is a rare player. It’s not every day you find a hard-nosed, physical back with breakaway speed. No matter where he chooses to go, Fournette will have an impact early in his career. At this point, it looks like it will come down to the wire.
Mississippi State CB Tee Shepard (Fresno, Calif./Holmes CC) 6-1, 193 ESPN JC 50 rank: 7 The Bulldogs landed their No. 1 target, wide receiver Jesse Jackson, and now the attention shifts to the defensive side of the ball. Shepard is a true cover corner and with his experience would have a chance to start from Day 1. He’s originally from the state of Mississippi and he still has interest in Ole Miss. It looks as if it will come down to the two home-state schools for his services.
Missouri DB Raymond Wingo 5-11, 162 ESPN 300 rank: NR After winning the SEC East, Missouri is starting to enjoy more success on the recruiting front. Wingo has offers from Auburn, Arkansas and Michigan State and is planning to officially visit all three schools. Missouri certainly has their work cut out for them, but Wingo, with his athletic ability, is worth the wait. The Tigers are also trying to capitalize off their success and keep the in-state talent at home.
Ole Miss DE Kentavius Street 6-2, 265 ESPN 300 rank: 32 The Rebels continue to build on their recruiting success from last year by putting together another solid class this year. Adding a top 50 player such as Street would give this class a huge boost. The Rebels have a young and talented defensive line, but the Rebels defense ranked 11th in the conference in sacks. Street has the size and athleticism to compete for playing time early on in his career. He has already visited Ole Miss and has scheduled visits to N.C. State, Miami and LSU, but if there is one thing the Rebels proved last year, it’s that they can recruit head-to-head with any school in the country.
South Carolina DE Dante Sawyer (Suwanee, Ga./North Gwinnett) 6-3, 250 ESPN 300 rank: 91 Tennessee, Auburn, Missouri, Alabama and Georgia are all in the mix for this talented defensive end. The Gamecocks will have their work cut out for them with Sawyer -- but with South Carolina losing Jadeveon Clowney, the four-star defensive end would have a chance for early playing time in Columbia. It would be impossible to replace Clowney's production, but Sawyer could be a disruptive pass-rusher the South Carolina defensive system.
Tennessee RB Derrell Scott (Havelock, N.C./Havelock) 5-11, 182 ESPN 300 rank: 108 The Vols received a commitment from Charles Mosley on Monday which brings their total number of commits to 34. Obviously, Tennessee can’t take many more prospects but Scott is a prospect worth waiting on. South Carolina is also a program Scott is heavily considering and it could come down to those two schools.
Texas A&M OT Casey Tucker (Chandler, Ariz./Hamilton) 6-6, 290 ESPN 300 rank: 46 The Aggies recently received a commitment from junior college offensive tackle Avery Gennesy, but there are still holes to fill along the offensive line. Tucker has ideal size and comes from a great program. Stanford is another school that this Under Armour All-American is considering. His recruitment could go down to the wire.
Vanderbilt DE Nyles Morgan (Crete, Ill./Crete-Monee) 6-2, 225 ESPN 300 rank: 65 Florida and Ole Miss are also in contention for this four-star linebacker. Vanderbilt looks to be in a good position to land Morgan, the No. 4-ranked inside linebacker in the country, but it won’t come easy. Vanderbilt's excellent academic record might give them the slight advantage, but only slightly at this point.