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Monday, September 30, 2013
Weekend recruiting wrap: SEC

By Gerry Hamilton

With the college football season nearing the halfway point, there is plenty of recruiting news each and every weekend. From Georgia’s big win over LSU with several key visitors to some big-time performances by SEC commitments, here is the latest.

Biggest commitment: ESPN 300 defensive end Keyon Brown (Wauchula, Fla./Hardee County) committing to Georgia was a big one for the Bulldogs. With five-star outside linebacker prospect Lorenzo Carter (Norcoss, Ga./Norcross) being far from a lock for Georgia, adding a pass-rushing outside linebacker who fits Todd Grantham’s 3-4 was key after missing on Darrion Owens (Orange Park, Fla./Oakleaf) this summer. With Brown now in the fold, the Bulldogs can go after Carter, ESPN 300 Rashaan Evans (Auburn, Ala./Auburn) and Alabama commitment Christian Miller (Columbia, S.C./Spring Valley) with the comfort of having one very capable prospect at the position in the fold.

Best weekend performances: Many SEC pledges were in action this weekend. Here's a look at some of the top performances over the weekend. Most important visits: While five-star inside linebacker and No. 14 overall Raekwon McMillan made his official visit to Georgia this weekend, it might well be No. 99 Josh Malone (Gallatin, Tenn./Station Camp) who was the most important visitor in Athens. Even though the Bulldogs have a pair of wide receiver commitments, Malone is the prospect at the position the Georgia staff has coveted in the 2014 class – and features instant impact ability. Having Malone, who is considered a Tennessee lean headed into the official visit process, on campus for the huge win over LSU in a big-game celebratory environment certainly can’t hurt the reigning SEC East champions’ chances. If not for Malone, the unofficial visit of offensive tackle and No. 15 overall David Sharpe (Jacksonville, Fla./Providence) would be most important.

Biggest question: Will Kentucky or Tennessee get that big SEC win this season to take on the road recruiting with either staff in December? Both new coaching staffs created momentum in the offseason, but they have little to show on the field. Kentucky has lost games to Louisville and Florida the last two times out but was competitive in both contests. With games remaining against three ranked opponents, at South Carolina this week, home for Alabama in two weeks and at Georgia on Nov. 23, it doesn’t appear as if the Wildcats are in a great position to get that marquee victory. The Volunteers, on the other hand, have Georgia coming to town this week off the emotional win over LSU, followed by South Carolina (Oct. 19), at Alabama (Oct. 26) and home for Auburn (Nov. 9). Butch Jones and staff certainly have the more favorable schedule to snag a marquee win in 2013. The Volunteers will have a number of key recruits in town officially this weekend for the Georgia game.

Biggest answer: While Missouri isn’t ranked among the top 40 classes, the Tigers are answering some questions with the 2014 class. They have shifted recruiting gears, having left the Big 12 and the fertile state of Texas that was huge in Gary Pinkel and staff ascending and turned their attention to the states of Florida and Georgia. With the Thursday commitment of three-star running back Ishmael Witter (Tampa, Fla./Alonso), Missouri now has six commits from the Sunshine State and three from the Peach State. That makes nine of the Tigers’ 24 pledges from two of the top four talent producing state in the country -- a number Missouri signed annually out of Texas in recent cycles. With the Tigers’ 4-0 start, the question now becomes can they show an ascending pattern in year two in the SEC with a very tough schedule ahead.

Other notes: In case you missed it, ESPN 300 safety and Ole Miss commitment C.J. Hampton (Meridian, Miss./Meridian) was a guest of Alabama unofficially for a second consecutive week, this time for the Crimson Tide’s win over Ole Miss. Hampton will officially visit both schools, and possibly Georgia and Auburn as well before making a final decision.