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Thursday, November 7, 2013
SEC recruiting storylines: Nov. 7

By Gerry Hamilton

It’s been a busy week in recruiting in the SEC already, but the beginning of the week is only the start with two announcements Friday that could impact SEC recruiting class, and the annual LSU-Alabama showdown that draws almost as many top prospects as a postseason all-star game.

LSU-Alabama game a recruiting champion

The annual LSU-Alabama game has become the who’s who recruiting visitor list year after year, and it's more of the same this year. The expected visitor list includes No. 1 overall Leonard Fournette (New Orleans/Saint Augustine), No. 3 Cameron Robinson (Monroe, La./West Monroe), No. 9 Marlon Humphrey (Hoover, Ala./Hoover), No. 11 Tony Brown (Beaumont, Texas/Ozen), No. 13 Raekwon McMillan (Hinesville, Ga./Liberty County), No. 22 Laurence Jones (Monroe, La./Neville), No. 39 Johnnie Dixon (Palm Beach Gardens, Fla./Dwyer), No. 38 John Smith (Long Beach, Calif./Polytechnic), No. 40 Michiah Quick (Fresno, Calif/Central East), No. 54 Damien Mama (Bellflower, Calif./St. John Bosco), No. 84 Rashaan Evans (Auburn, Ala./Auburn), Ole Miss commitment and No. 134 C.J. Hampton (Meridian, Miss./Meridian), No. 292 Matt Elam (Elizabethtown, Ky./John Hardin) and many more from 2014, 2015 and beyond.

The group of prospects making official visits includes Brown, Dixon, Smith, Quick, Mama and several committed players.

The Class of 2015 list includes Crimson Tide commitments and ESPN Junior 300 members DeSherrius Flowers (Prichard, Ala./Vigor, No. 22), Mekhi Brown (Columbus, Ga./Carver, No. 35), Deionte Thompson (Orange, Texas/West Orange-Stark, No. 93) and Dallas Warmack (Atlanta/Mays, No. 297). Other top juniors visiting are No. 30 Daron Payne (Birmingham, Ala./Shades Valley), No. 62 Kerryon Johnson (Madison, Ala./Madison Academy), No. 82 Javon Patterson (Petal, Miss./Petal), No. 113 Natrez Patrick (Atlanta/Mays) and several others.

Big-time visitors expected in Knoxville

If holding 29 commitments and the No. 2 recruiting class isn’t already enough for Volunteers fans, Butch Jones and his staff will be hosting two big-time prospects this weekend for the Auburn game. No. 7 overall Adoree’ Jackson (Gardena, Calif./Junipero Serra) and No. 18 David Sharpe (Jacksonville, Fla./Providence School) are scheduled to make official visits. Jackson, a special athlete and two-sport star, made an official visit to Florida State last weekend after trips to Oklahoma and LSU the first two weekends in October. Florida, USC and UCLA also remain in the mix for the budding star, with track and field playing a part in his recruitment.

The recruitment of Sharpe has taken recent twists and turns. One time thought to be a Florida-Georgia battle with Florida State on the outside looking in, the 6-foot-6, 288-pounder is now focused on the Volunteers, LSU and possibly Auburn as much as any, with Georgia being tight on numbers and Florida State not making a strong push. Playing as a true freshman and the chance to play basketball at the next level is likely to be a key for Sharpe.

The Vols are also likely to have two or three junior college prospects in town this weekend as Tennessee continues to address needs on the defensive front. Included on the list of possible official visitors is South Carolina defensive tackle commit Abu Lamin (Fayetteville, N.C./Fort Scott Community College).

Florida scheduled to host five-stars

No. 6 overall Da’Shawn Hand (Woodbridge, Va./Woodbridge) will conclude his official visit process this weekend at Florida. The 6-foot-4, 262-pound Hand has already made official visits to Michigan and Alabama, with many believing the Wolverines continue to be the team to beat headed into the visit to Gainesville, Fla. With that said, once was a big lead for Michigan has seemingly shrunk following the Under Armour All-America selection's official visit to Tuscaloosa on Oct. 25. Academics, social life and football all are legitimate factors in Hand’s decision, which will come on Nov. 14.

Also scheduled to be in Gainesville this weekend are five-star playmaker and No. 8 overall Speedy Noil (New Orleans/Edna Karr) and No. 29 Gerald Willis III (New Orleans/Edna Karr). Their official visits to Florida have already been bumped back once. The 5-foot-11, 176-pound Noil has a top five of LSU, Texas A&M, Florida, Oregon and USC, with the Tigers and Aggies having the momentum. Willis has LSU and Texas A&M atop his list.

Missouri scores big in state

Missouri is making the most of a rebound season on the recruiting trail, and on Monday the Tigers received the best news yet, picking up a commitment from No. 82 overall and Under Armour All America selection Andy Bauer (St. Louis/De Smet Jesuit). This recruiting victory was huge for Gary Pinkel and his staff, in particular because the 6-foot-6, 304-pound Bauer was once a Missouri commitment in 2012, committed to Ole Miss in March following the Tigers' tough first season in the SEC, and on Monday flipped back to the in-state Tigers.

Getting Bauer back in the fold is huge when considering he flipped from another SEC program that entered the season with a lot of recruiting momentum, and the Missouri staff can use his decision as a message for other in-state prospects in 2014 and beyond.

Will Missouri land another ESPN 300 prospect this week?

Ranked No. 239 overall, Brandon Lee (Indianapolis/Lawrence Central) is set to announce his decision on Friday, which is his birthday. The 6-foot-2, 210-pound outside linebacker prospect will choose between Missouri, Virginia Tech, California and Louisville, and all but the Cardinals have received official visits. With that being said, Louisville has long been though to be the favorite for Lee, with Missouri making a strong run late, leading up to last weekend's official visit. Lee is the No. 16 outside linebacker in the class.

Arkansas looking for good news Friday

Another prospect scheduled to decide Friday is three-star tight end DeAndre Goolsby (Derby, Kan./Derby). The 6-foot-4, 225-pound Goolsby has made official visits to Oklahoma, Florida, Ohio State and Arkansas and visited Kansas State last weekend, where his father played. While Kansas State received the last visit and has ties to the family, there are also family ties to Arkansas. If Goolsby does not choose the Wildcats or Razorbacks, as many expect, the Sooners could be the pick. Goolsby is the No. 9 tight end in the 2014 class.