Wednesday, January 8, 2014
Most important targets: SEC
By Derek Tyson
The Southeastern Conference already has commitments from five of the top 10 players in the country and a real possibility of landing two more before signing day. With several key targets still remaining, here’s a look at the top remaining targets in the SEC.
Humphrey is a big, athletic cornerback with great size. He would be a natural fit in Nick Saban's system. Florida State is also very much in the picture for the five-star defensive back, and with a national championship in hand, the Seminoles might have the upper hand at the moment. Alabama will have to fight to keep this dynamic defensive back from leaving the state. With his skill set, Humphrey would have a chance to play early on in his career.
Arkansas DE Solomon Thomas (Coppell, Texas/Coppell) 6-3, 256 ESPN 300 rank: 31
The four-star defensive end already has visited UCLA in December and will visit Stanford on Jan. 17, Arkansas on Jan. 24 and Ohio State on Jan. 31. The Razorbacks will certainly have their work cut out for them, but a player as talented as Thomas is worth the wait. With his size, Thomas could play multiple positions along the defensive line and has the opportunity to play early, should he choose to attend Arkansas.
Auburn’s defense played well in the national championship game against Florida State, but it could use a few more playmakers such as Evans. Adding an athletic, three-down linebacker such as Evans would only help bolster a Tigers defense that ranked 12th in the SEC in total defense. Georgia, Alabama and UCLA are all in the mix for Evans. Defensive end Andrew Williams (McDonough, Ga./Eagle's Landing) is another key target, but Auburn has to find a way to keep Evans in his hometown.
The Gators will have to battle to land this talented five-star athlete. Florida is losing two starting cornerbacks, Marcus Roberson and Loucheiz Purifoy, to the NFL and will need someone to come in and compete immediately for a spot opposite Vernon Hargreaves III. The Gators' strong track program could help them land Jackson. Jackson tweeted a top six of Florida, Tennessee, Oklahoma, LSU, USC and UCLA and is planning to announce his decision on signing day.
Georgia DE Lorenzo Carter (Norcross, Ga./Norcross) 6-5, 234 ESPN 300 rank: 13
The Bulldogs appear to be the team to beat for Carter, but not by much. The athletic defensive end also likes Florida and LSU. Carter’s mother wants him to stay at home and attend Georgia, while his father likes Florida and LSU. Ultimately it will be Carter’s decision, and Georgia will get his last visit before signing day. Carter is an athletic defensive end and has very similar skills as current Bulldogs defensive end Jordan Jenkins.
Kentucky DT Matt Elam (Elizabethtown, Ky./John Hardin) 6-6, 350 ESPN 300 rank: NR
With 25 commitments, including five ranked in the ESPN 300, coach Mark Stoops has the Wildcats recruiting at a high level. Adding a big-bodied defensive tackle such as Elam would certainly bolster a defensive line that ranked 12th among 14 league teams in rush defense and 13th in overall defense in the SEC. Keeping the No. 2-ranked player in the state would also be important for the Wildcats. It won’t come as an easy task, though. Alabama is Kentucky’s main competition to land the four-star defensive tackle.
LSU landed two huge commitments from Leonard Fournette, the No. 1-ranked player in the country, and four-star safety Jamal Adams during the Under Armour All-America game. Now the Tigers will turn their attention to Dupre, who is LSU’s top remaining target. At 6-foot-3, Dupre is a big target and has outstanding athleticism. Dupre will visit the in-state Tigers on Jan. 17.
Misissippi State DE Grant Harris (Clinton, Miss./Clinton) 6-5, 260 ESPN 300 rank: NR
The Bulldogs have put together a solid class, but they still need help along the defensive line. Harris, with his size, will be a key target as signing day approaches. Marcus Griffin is another key defensive line target. Offensively, Mississippi State has set its sites on uncommitted guard Jordan Sims. Keeping Harris in-state would be a big addition for MSU.
Missouri DT Daniel Cage (Cincinnati/Winton Woods) 6-3, 290 ESPN 300 rank: NR
With 26 total commitments, Missouri might not have the room to take another player. However, if they do decide to add another prospect, Cage would be high on the Tigers’ list. The four-star interior defensive lineman has the size and athleticism to play early in his career. Ole Miss and Illinois are also in contention for Cage.
Ole Miss DE Andrew Williams (McDonough, Ga./Eagles Landing) 6-4, 251 ESPN 300 rank: 168
Head coach Hugh Freeze has again put together an impressive recruiting class, and Williams would be a great complement to the defensive line class the Rebels signed last year. The Rebels will have to battle Clemson and Auburn for Williams, but the Rebels proved last season they can go head to head with any team in the country.
South Carolina RB Derrell Scott (Havelock, N.C./Havelock) 5-11, 184 ESPN 300 rank: 108
It appeared that Scott was down to South Carolina and Tennssee, but when running back Dalvin Cook flipped his commitment from Florida to Florida State, the Gators suddenly had a need at running back. South Carolina and Tennessee have been Scott’s leaders for some time, so Florida will have a lot of ground to make up, but he is visiting Florida on Jan. 17. The Gamecocks don’t have much proven depth behind starter Mike Davis and Scott would have a chance to get playing time early on in his career.
Tennessee DB D.J. Smith (Marietta, Ga../Walton) 6-0, 182 ESPN 300 rank: 88
Smith has had the Volunteers near the top of his list for some time. The four-star cornerback will decide between Tennessee, South Carolina and Clemson on Jan. 13. The Vols already have 33 commitments, including five defensive backs, but Smith is a versatile athlete who could play multiple positions in the secondary. Tennessee is tight on numbers and might not take anymore prospects. With a solid recruiting class already in place, Smith would be icing on the cake.
Texas A&M head coach Kevin Sumlin already has put together a tremendous class, led by five-star prospects Myles Garrett and Speedy Noil. To top things off, the Aggies would love to add another ESPN 300 defensive back such as Parker. Texas A&M was 12th in the conference in pass defense and last in total defense. A big, athletic safety such as Parker would help shore things up on the back end of the Texas A&M defense. The Aggies will have to battle Arkansas and the in-state Oklahoma Sooners to land this talented prospect.
Vanderbilt OT Andrew Mike (Tucson, Ariz./Sabino) 6-6, 278 ESPN 300 rank: NR
Vanderbilt coach James Franklin is recruiting on a high level and another bowl victory for the Commodores should help them on the recruiting front. Mike has the size every coach is looking for in an offensive tackle. He will visit Arkansas on Jan. 17 and Vanderbilt is his last scheduled visit on Jan. 24. Vandy already has 20 commitments, including four offensive linemen.