Monday, January 27, 2014
Weekend recruiting wrap: SEC
By Derek Tyson
Less than two weeks remain until national signing day, and this was the second-to-last official visit weekend before Feb. 5. There were a couple of big decommitments, a few commitments and several key official visits. Here’s a closer look at all the latest recruiting news around the SEC.
Biggest commitments: Texas A&M received a big commitment from ESPN 300 linebacker Otaro Alaka (Houston/Cypress Falls), who flipped his commitment from Texas. The No. 187-ranked player in the country announced his decision via Twitter.
The Aggies, who currently have the second-best recruiting class in the country, now have 22 commitments, including 11 ranked in the ESPN 300.
Missouri, in continuing with its normal trend of landing tall receivers, added a commitment from 6-foot-3 wide receiver Keyon Dilosa (Round Rock, Texas/Round Rock). With Dilosa's pledge, Missouri now has 26 commitments in the 2014 class, including 25 who are ranked three-star prospects or higher. He’s also the third receiver commit who is 6-2 or taller.
Arkansas added a commitment from three-star running back Joshua Liddell (Pine Bluff, Ark./Dollarway) over the weekend. The 6-foot, 195-pound back also had offers from Memphis, Boise State, Arkansas State and Louisiana Monroe. The Razorbacks now have commitments from 20 prospects, including two ranked in the ESPN 300.
Alabama picked up a 2015 commitment on Saturday night from three-star defensive lineman Jonathan Ledbetter (Tucker, Ga./Tucker). The 6-foot-4, 254-pounder, who also had offers from Auburn, Clemson, Georgia, Vanderbilt and many others, made his decision after visiting Alabama for its junior day. Like Dilosa, Ledbetter also announced his commitment on Twitter:
Ledbetter was a standout at the Under Armour All-America junior combine in St. Petersburg, Fla., earlier in January. Here is a Vine of Ledbetter facing Tennessee 2015 commit Jack Jones (Murfreesboro, Tenn./Oakland) in a one-on-one battle during the combine:
Biggest decommitments: There were a couple of important SEC decommitments over the weekend. ESPN Junior 300 quarterback Ricky Town (Ventura, Calif./St. Bonaventure) backed off his pledge to Alabama on Saturday and quickly turned around and committed to USC. Town is the nation's No. 22-ranked player overall and No. 2 pocket passer for 2015.
The loss of Town hurts, but it isn’t devastating for the Crimson Tide. Alabama has depth at the position, albeit unproven depth, and former FSU backup QB Jacob Coker is transferring to Alabama. Because Coker is on course to graduate this spring, he would be eligible to play immediately at Alabama. The Tide also still have five commitments in their 2015 class, including four ranked in the ESPN Junior 300.
Tennessee, meanwhile, received some bad news over the weekend when ESPN 300 linebacker Kevin Mouhon (Norcross, Ga./Norcross) backed off of his pledge to the Volunteers. Cincinnati, which Mouhon visited last week, now appears to be the clear favorite to land Mouhon. With 33 total commits, including 10 ranked in the ESPN 300, the Vols still have one of the top recruiting classes in the country.
Biggest visits: There were several important visits over the weekend. Auburn hosted hometown linebacker Rashaan Evans (Auburn, Ala./Auburn) for his last official visit. The ESPN 300 prospect has a final three of UCLA, Alabama and Auburn and will make his decision on signing day. After Evans visited Alabama last week, the Tigers were hoping to make a final push heading into signing day.
ESPN 300 outside linebacker Bryson Allen-Williams (Ellenwood, Ga./Cedar Grove) has been committed to South Carolina since last April, but the four-star defender decided to take visits to Alabama this past weekend and Georgia next weekend. Judging by the photo he posted on Twitter of him and uncommitted defensive tackle Elisha Shaw (Tucker, Ga./Tucker), it appears as though Allen-Williams and Shaw enjoyed their time in Tuscaloosa.
ESPN 300 defensive tackle Travonte Valentine (Hialeah, Fla./Champagnat Catholic) visited LSU over the weekend. The No. 164-ranked player in the country has decommitted from three different schools during his recruiting process, so it appears the team that is on top last will have the best shot of landing the four-star defensive lineman. All indications are that he enjoyed his trip to Baton Rouge, La. He is scheduled to visit Miami next weekend, but if that trip doesn’t happen, that may be a clear sign the Tigers are the team to beat.
Florida hosted uncommitted three-star offensive tackle Andrew Mike (Tucson, Ariz./Sabino) and Florida State wide receiver commit C.J. Worton (Homestead, Fla./South Dade) over the weekend. Worton has family ties to Florida and the Gators have a need at wide receiver, so Florida has a realistic chance of landing both prospects.
Biggest question: Will Vanderbilt be able to rebound? After losing coach James Franklin to Penn State, the Commodores lost 12 commitments. New coach Derek Mason has sent out a flurry of offers and the Commodores are trying to hold on to the commits they still have. Uncommitted ESPN 300 wide receiver Trevon Lee (Fort Lauderdale, Fla./Cardinal Gibbons) visited Vanderbilt over the weekend and despite the coaching change still has Vanderbilt in his top two along with Duke.
Three-star cornerback Bryce Lewis (Lilburn, Ga./Parkview), who has been committed to Vanderbilt since March 2012, posted a picture on Twitter of him and other Vanderbilt defensive back commits. The picture included ESPN 300 defensive back Kyle Gibson (Seffner, Fla./Armwood), who has been considering other schools such as UCF.
Biggest answer: ESPN 300 wide receiver Travis Rudolph (West Palm Beach, Fla./Cardinal Newman) committed to Florida State at the Under Armour All-America Game earlier this month, but Alabama and Florida continue to recruit the four-star receiver. Last week, rumors swirled that Rudolph was considering those other schools. But he said in a text that he is still solidly committed to the Seminoles.
“I’m committed to FSU! And nothing is changing that,” the text read.
Rudolph also took to Twitter over the weekend to reiterate his feelings toward FSU.
So for now, it does appear Rudolph will be sticking with his commitment to the Noles.