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Thursday, December 12, 2013
SEC recruiting storylines: Dec. 12

By Gerry Hamilton

Another wild week of recruiting in the SEC is in the rearview mirror. Today, the Florida Gators take center stage with all eyes on Alabama heading into the weekend of official visits before the dead period begins Dec. 16.

Gators nab one of the nation's best

No. 18 David Sharpe (Jacksonville, Fla./Providence School) seemed to be a Florida lean for more than a year. After trips to Georgia twice during the season and official visits to Tennessee and Florida in November, the 6-foot-6, 288-pound four-star offensive tackle made it official Thursday, committing to the Gators.

Sharpe becomes the 17th commitment for head coach Will Muschamp and his staff, including the 10th ESPN 300 prospect to select the Gators.

Speaking of Florida, the final decision of No. 20-ranked Dalvin Cook (Miami/Central) likely will come following the Rockets' state title game this weekend. Florida is fighting Florida State and Miami to keep the explosive playmaker.

Make it two for Thursday

Not only did Florida pick up a commitment from Sharpe, but also No. 206 Moral Stephens (Perry, Fla./Taylor County). The 6-foot-3, 200-pound versatile wide receiver that could play a flex tight end role considered offers from the ACC, American and Pac-12 before he committed to the Gators.

I just committed to the university of Florida #GatorNation

— moralstephens03 (@moralstephens03) December 12, 2013
With Stephens, the Gators have 18 commits, including 11 in the ESPN 300.

Huge weekend ahead in Tuscaloosa

To say it’s a big recruiting weekend for Alabama would be an understatement. The Crimson Tide are set to host a laundry list of blue-chip prospects this weekend. Included in the list scheduled to visit are No. 1 overall Leonard Fournette (New Orleans/Saint Augustine), No. 15 Jalen Tabor (Washington, D.C./Friendship Collegiate Academy), No. 61 Travis Rudolph (West Palm Beach, Fla./Cardinal Newman) and No. 145 Brian Wallace (St. Louis/Christian Brothers).

Fournette was at LSU on an official visit last weekend and is scheduled to announce his decision Jan. 2 during the Under Armour All-America Game. Tabor's recruitment is considered to be a battle between hometown Maryland, Alabama and Florida. Wallace is a considered a battle between Missouri, Alabama, Iowa and Arkansas, with the Tigers having made a very strong push with their rebound season.

Among the committed prospects on hand will be No. 3 overall Cameron Robinson (Monroe, La./West Monroe), No. 22 Laurence Jones (Monroe, La./Neville), No. 43 David Cornwell (Norman, Okla./Norman North), No. 63 Cameron Sims (Monroe, La./Ouachita Baptist) and others.

Alabama sits atop the RecruitingNation class rankings, and is poised to close as strong as ever. The Crimson Tide have 23 commitments, including 17 members of the ESPN 300, led by five-stars Robinson and No. 6-overall Da’Shawn Hand (Woodbridge, Va./Woodbridge).

Who will get Hampton?

No. 134 C.J. Hampton (Meridian, Miss./Meridian) has been committed to Ole Miss since June 2012. During that time, he has been on several visits to Alabama, including an official trip in November. In the next couple of weeks, the hard-hitting and athletic safety prospect will make a final decision, with the Crimson Tide expected to win out over LSU, Arkansas and the Rebels.

Five-star to decide Monday

The next five-star prospect to make a decision will be Monday, when No. 12 overall Raekwon McMillan (Hinesville, Ga./Liberty County) announces his decision. He has made official visits to Georgia, Ohio State, Alabama, Clemson and Auburn, with the his process concluding with in-home visits the last two weeks by head coaches from the programs being seriously considered. While Ohio State has been the long-time favorite, Alabama and Clemson have been closing the gap as decision time has neared. Auburn received the last official visit for the Iron Bowl.

Garrett could start a run for LSU

The LSU Tigers are currently the No. 11 class nationally. As much as any other program in the country, the Tigers have the most big fish remaining in play.

On Tuesday, No. 37 overall Clifton Garrett (Plainfield, Ill./Plainfield South) is scheduled to announce his decision with the Tigers having been the favorite for months. The instinctive linebacker has made official visits to Florida, Tennessee, Ole Miss and LSU, with the Tigers receiving the last visit.

LSU is also in the race for No. 1 overall Fournette, No. 7 Adoree’ Jackson (Gardena, Calif./Junipero Serra), No. 8 Speedy Noil (New Orleans/Edna Karr), No. 11 Tony Brown (Beaumont, Texas/Ozen), 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), among others.

Holley at two

No. 87 Thomas Holley (Brooklyn, N.Y./Lincoln) is down to a pair of schools: Penn State and Florida. The athletic defensive tackle prospect made an official visit to Penn State on Oct. 12 and Florida on Nov. 29, with the Nittany Lions considered the favorite headed down the home stretch. Holley also made an official visit to Ohio State and considered Notre Dame and Syracuse before trimming his list to the final pair.