Monday, December 23, 2013
Weekend recruiting wrap: SEC
By Gerry Hamilton
We are one week into the dead period that runs through Jan. 15. While the dead period limits contact, it doesn’t stop prospects from announcing decisions. As is always the case, recruiting doesn’t stop during Christmas vacation, and that was certainly the case last week.
Kyler Murray had a big season on the ground and in the air.
Biggest weekend performances: The high school season wrapped up over the weekend with the state championship in Texas taking center stage. Here’s a look at which SEC commits and targets played big on the biggest stage.
2015 QB Kyler Murray (Allen, Texas/Allen High): The No. 47-ranked prospect in the ESPN Junior 300 led Allen High to back-to-back state championships over the weekend.
The son of former Texas A&M quarterback Kevin Murray completed 11 of 14 passes for 280 yards and four touchdowns, and added 188 rushing yards and a score on 13 carries. Murray, who is considering Texas A&M and many others, finished his junior season with 3,669 yards and 46 TDs through the air and 1,274 yards and 19 TDs on the ground.
2015 RB Rodney Anderson (Katy, Texas/Katy High): The Texas A&M commitment and No. 85 overall in the junior class rushed for 146 yards and a touchdown on 23 carries in a state title game loss. Anderson finished his junior season with 1,967 yards rushing and 34 touchdowns, along with 16 receptions for 249 yards and five scores.
Most important commitment: This one is simple -- C.J. Hampton (Meridian, Ms./Meridian High). Let’s call this a solidification of a prior commitment, but this was a huge one for Ole Miss. The 134th-ranked Hampton had been waffling on his pledge all season, taking more than a handful of visits to Alabama since July. Just when it appeared Hampton would head to Tuscaloosa, he announced Friday he was sticking with his pledge to Hugh Freeze and Ole Miss. Hampton and the commitment of No. 110 prospect Garrald McDowell (Covington, La./Covington High) made for two big-time additions for Ole Miss.
Biggest question: How will Florida close in the class after the 4-8 season and coaching changes on the offensive side of the ball? The closing of the class begins with No. 20-ranked Dalvin Cook (Miami/Central High), who will make a final decision among the Gators, Florida State and Miami (Fla.) in January. Then there is No. 74-overall J.C. Jackson (Immokalee, Fla./Immokalee High), who visited Miami (Fla.) Dec. 13 and has already been a commitment of Florida State before flipping to the Gators. No. 86-overall Chris Lammons (Fort Lauderdale, Fla./Plantation High) is also a possibility to make an official visit to South Carolina.
Biggest answer: Auburn has answered the question of how much winning and momentum matters late in the season. Not only did the Tigers flip Alabama commitments No. 42-ranked Kalvaraz Bessent (Kingsland, Ga./Camden County High) and No. 69 overall Stephen Roberts (Opelika, Al./Opelika High), but also flipped former Tennessee commitment DaVonte Lambert (Milledgeville, Ga./Georgia Military College). The No. 6-ranked prospect in the ESPN Junior College 50 signed with Auburn Dec. 18, and helps fill interior needs for the Tigers. Auburn also held off a charge by LSU and signed the nation’s No. 1-ranked junior college prospect, wide receiver D’haquille Williams (Laplace, La./Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College).
A look ahead: The SEC will be directly impacted at the 2014 Under Armour All-America Game. There will be a number of commitments during the game (4 ET Jan. 2 on ESPN) that will swing the momentum in the conference recruiting race. The nation’s No. 1-ranked prospect Leonard Fournette (New Orleans/Saint Augustine High) will choose between LSU and Alabama, No. 8 Speedy Noil (New Orleans/Edna Karr) will announce between LSU and Texas A&M, No. 11 Tony Brown (Beaumont, Texas/Ozen High) will chose between LSU, Alabama, Texas and Texas A&M, No. 15 Jalen Tabor (Washington, D.C./Friendship Collegiate Acadmey) will do the same with Maryland, Alabama and Florida under consideration, No. 23 Jamal Adams (Lewisville, Texas/Hebron High) will announce between Florida and LSU and No. 61 Travis Rudolph (West Palm Beach, Fla./Cardinal Newman High) will pick Florida State, Auburn, Florida or Alabama.
If LSU has a big day, the Tigers could move up to No. 2 in the RecruitingNation class rankings and set up a down to the wire finish with top-ranked Alabama.