SEC: recruiting

Best of the visits: SEC

September, 14, 2014
Sep 14
There were some great games around the SEC over the weekend. Several prospects attended games and used social media as a platform to share their experiences. Here's a look at some of the top social media posts:

The No. 2-ranked inside linebacker in the country, Roquan Smith, visited South Carolina for its 38-35 victory over Georgia. The Under Armour All-American tweeted out a picture of his family in Williams-Brice Stadium. Georgia is one of Smith’s favorite schools, while South Carolina has fallen behind. A big win against the Bulldogs could have given the Gamecocks a boost.

Former Florida defensive back commit Marcus Lewis is still considering Kentucky and Florida. The four-star prospect might not have attended the game, but Lewis was definitely watching on TV. The ESPN 300 prospect tweeted out his thoughts on how Kentucky looked.

David Womack tweeted a picture of his son, Matt Womack, an LSU commit, with Alabama head coach Nick Saban. Womack has been committed to LSU since July, but it appears the Alabama offer could give this three-star offensive lineman something to think about.

Five-star defensive end CeCe Jefferson, despite suffering a shoulder injury Friday night, visited Florida for the third consecutive week. In this photo he tweeted out, Jefferson is in the Florida locker room holding a “Chucky” doll. The doll, which is usually taken through the Gator Walk prior to the game, is a recent Florida defensive tradition started by New England Patriots defensive tackle and former Florida player Dominique Easley and passed down to defensive end Dante Fowler Jr.

ESPN Junior 300 quarterback Brandon McIlwain poses with his mom for a photo in front of Williams-Brice Stadium. McIlwain has narrowed down his choices to South Carolina, Duke, Florida, Auburn, Penn State and Virginia Tech. The strong-armed quarterback is one of the top signal-callers in the country for 2016.

Miami running back commit Dexter Williams visited Florida for its thrilling 36-30 victory over Kentucky. Despite his commitment to the Hurricanes, the Gators have continued to pursue Williams. Williams tweeted about his time in Gainesville.

2017 OL prospect Jack Anderson, who already holds offers from Arizona State, New Mexico, Texas Tech and UAB, visited Texas A&M for its 38-10 victory over Rice on Saturday night.

Georgia and South Carolina is quietly becoming one of the best rivalries in the SEC. Not just because of some of the on-field success the two teams have shared over the last five-to-10 years or so, but because it extends to the world of recruiting. The two schools located in neighboring states, as to be expected, recruit multiple prospects who are considering both schools.

Georgia occasionally will dip in to South Carolina to land a big prospect but South Carolina has made it a habit of heading over to the Peach State to look for the next great Gamecock. In fact, South Carolina has 27 players on its roster from the state of Georgia.

When the Gamecocks take on Georgia at home this weekend, South Carolina will host three recruits on unofficial visits who are ranked in the top 50 of their respective classes: Roquan Smith (2015), Isaac Nauta (2016) and Mecole Hardman (2016).

ESPN 300: SEC's must-get recruits 

July, 30, 2014
Jul 30
The SEC already has commitments from 77 prospects in the ESPN 300, but there are still several key targets available. Whether it's a current commit, a position of need or just the best available player, here is a look at the top must-get recruits for each SEC team.

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Recruiting has Tide, Irish in 2013 title mix

January, 10, 2013

Getty ImagesNick Saban and Brian Kelly have Alabama and Notre Dame primed for another run in 2013.

Before the season, the Alabama Crimson Tide were one of the favorites to play in the BCS National Championship. The Tide were ranked second in both the Associated Press and coaches’ preseason top 25 polls. However, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish were a surprise participant. The Irish were unranked in the AP preseason top 25 and 24th by the coaches.

The Tide rolled the Irish 42-14 to capture their third consensus national title in four seasons. Despite the loss, the trip to the title game marked a return to prominence for one of the country’s most storied programs. Looking ahead, what are the chances one or both teams reach Pasadena for next year’s BCS National Championship?

Alabama has proven it has staying power, but the Tide will lose at least two members of their offensive line in highly decorated center Barrett Jones and left guard Chance Warmack.

Right tackle D.J. Fluker could also leave early for the NFL, as could running back Eddie Lacy and cornerback Dee Milliner. However, quarterback AJ McCarron returns, as do as freshmen T.J. Yeldon and Amari Cooper.

As for Notre Dame, the Irish’s biggest personnel losses will be linebacker Manti Te'o on defense and tight end Tyler Eifert and running back Theo Riddick on offense. Te’o won the Butkus Award as the nation’s top linebacker and was the runner-up for the Heisman Trophy. Eifert captured the Mackey Award as the country’s top tight end, while Riddick led the team in yards from scrimmage (1,244).

Like Bama, Notre Dame’s starting quarterback also returns, Everett Golson. Although the defense loses Te’o, eight other starters return, including defensive end Stephon Tuitt and nose tackle Louis Nix III. Tuitt led the Irish with 12 sacks and was just 1.5 shy of the school’s single-season record set by Justin Tuck in 2003.

One reason these schools enjoyed success in 2012? Recruiting. Alabama and Notre Dame have brought in top-10 recruiting classes each of the previous two years and this year’s classes are no different. The Irish currently have the top-ranked recruiting class, while the Tide’s is third according to ESPN Recruiting Nation.

Notre Dame’s defense, which was exposed a bit by Alabama, has help on the way in outside linebackers Jaylon Smith (No. 2-ranked OLB) and Alex Anzalone (No. 5). Greg Bryant, the second-ranked running back, has also committed.

As for the Tide, the rich get richer as Robert Foster, the nation’s No. 2 receiver, will join a corps that already includes the aforementioned Cooper. With the players returning and the new pieces on the way, don’t be surprised if both teams make another title run next season.

Video: ESPN 150 -- Biggest risers

June, 7, 2012

Tom Luginbill breaks down the recruits who moved up the most in the June 6 update to the ESPN 150 rankings.

SEC, recruiting

Video: Signing day buzz

January, 31, 2012

In the last RecruitingNation 411 prior to national signing day, our host of recruiting experts from around the country share all of the latest information on what the top uncommitted recruits are thinking and where they might end up.


Podcast: The Verbal Commitment

January, 25, 2012
From the latest on No. 1 prospect Mario Edwards to what Florida needs to close out its class to whether FSU can overtake Alabama for the nation’s top class. All that and much, much more.
DESTIN, Fla. -- Auburn might be in a rebuilding year on The Plains, but that isn't pushing many top prospects away.

Since Saturday, the Tigers have grabbed three verbal commitments, with two being members of the ESPNU 150 Watch List. Auburn now has eight verbal commitments in its 2012 recruiting class.

Auburn got things started with the commitment from Parker, Colo., Chaparral offensive tackle Shane Callahan, who committed at Auburn's Big Cat recruiting weekend. The ESPNU 150 Watch List member stands 6-foot-5, 280 pounds and also had offers from Arizona, Colorado, Michigan, Utah and Washington.

Here's what Callahan told The Birmingham News about his commitment to Auburn: "I knew awhile back. I knew I should make the decision now. I'm ready. It's where I want to be.

"I'm excited to be a part of the family."

ESPN recruiting analyst Jamie Newberg also caught up with Callahan and Monday commit Darius Philon, who is a defensive tackle from Pichard, Ala.

Miami Beach, Fla., Senior athlete Ricardo Louis committed Tuesday. Louis is a member of the ESPNU 150 Watch List as well.

Here's what the 6-foot-1, 200-pound athlete, who had about 20 offers, told ESPN recruiting analyst Corey Long about his decision to pick the Tigers: "Auburn is just the right place for me, it's the type of atmosphere that I believe will bring the best out in me. Coach [Trooper] Taylor is like a family member to be honest and being around the rest of the recruits and seeing everything, I'm proud to call myself an Auburn Tiger."
There must be something in that Nashville water these days.

After having just one 2012 verbal commitment more than halfway through the month of April, Vanderbilt and new coach James Franklin have been on a roll. The Commodores have increased their commitment number to six, after getting pledges from five prospects in the last week.

Of those five, three -- outside linebacker Darreon Herring, inside linebacker Jacob Sealand and defensive end Stephen Weatherly -- are members of the ESPNU 150 Watch list.

Sealand (Tucker,Ga.) was the first to get the ball rolling for Vanderbit. The 6-foot-1, 215-pounder committed to the Commodores' staff Sunday and had nearly 20 scholarship offers. He was also considering North Carolina, Purdue, Virginia Tech, Wake Forest and South Carolina. As a junior, Sealand recorded 85 tackles, 17 tackles for loss, and six sacks.

Here's what Sealand told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution about his commitment: "It was the best overall choice anyone could make, especially for myself," Sealand said. "I've always put education first. I feel like with Vandy, I don't have to settle for a sub-par education just to join a winning program."

"I feel like I can go to Vanderbilt, help turn the program around, and be a part of a winning team that will compete for SEC championships -- along with getting a world-class education."

And here's what ESPN's Billy Tucker said about Sealand: "This is huge land for the Commodores as we feel Sealand is an upper-tier inside linebacker in this class," he said. "Not the most fluid, but he possesses great downhill power and shows dominate strength and physicality taking on blocks and stacking the run at the point of attack. A strong wrap up tackler and tough, aggressive linebacker."

The next commitment came from Chattanooga, Tenn., Baylor School offensive lineman Barrett Gouger. The 6-foot-4, 284-pound lineman was also considering Memphis and Wake Forrest.

This is what Gouger told The Chattanooga Times Free Press: "I went up to Vanderbilt over the weekend for a baseball game and really felt that family atmosphere," he said. "I've been thinking about it for a while, and the more I thought the more I felt Vanderbilt was the place for me."

Defensive end Ladarius Banks, Herring and Weatherly all committed to Vanderbilt Thursday. Banks, who stands 6-2 and weighs 265 pounds also had offers from Cincinnati, Southern Mississippi and Troy.

Herring had close to 20 offers and had schools like Clemson, Arkansas, Kentucky, Nebraska, South Florida and North Carolina high on his list. Despite getting interest in a handful of schools, Herring maintained that Vanderbilt was always his top school.

Here's what he told ESPN's Jamie Newberg about his pledge to the Commodores: "Vandy is the place where I want to be," he said. "They have great academics and the program is on the rise. It's just a great opportunity for me.

"I also really liked the coaching staff. They have a great attitude and I really feel comfortable with those guys. It feels like home."

Weatherly rounded out the Thursday trifecta. The North Atlanta standout also received a lot of attention from other schools, including Georgia Tech, Kentucky, North Carolina State, Ole Miss and Wake Forest.

This is what Weatherly told the AJC about his commitment: “Coach Franklin said we need to get this thing going, we need a ‘plunger,'" he said. "I didn’t know what he meant by ‘plunger’ and then I realized a little later. He said he needed one big-name player in the Atlanta area to commit and people would follow. I didn’t know I’d be that guy. But as soon as I committed last week, I guess other people saw it because we got more commitments from our area. I’ve been calling and talking with Darreon and other recruits. Hopefully, we can get some more committed very soon.”
There are a couple new faces in the SEC family.

Thursday, we saw as Florida, Ole Miss and South Carolina all added to their 2012 recruiting classes.

Florida gained a commitment from Under Armour All-American tight end Colin Thompson (Warminster, Pa./Archbishop Wood Catholic) to push new coach Will Muschamp's verbal commitment number to 10.

Ole Miss picked up a verbal pledge from Panama City Beach, Fla., running back Andre Allen. And South Carolina grabbed commitments from Greensboro, N.C., Western Guilford offensive line twins Brock and Clayton Stadnik.

Here's a little more on each prospect:

  • The 5-foot-9, 180-pound running back rushed for more than 2,000 yards and had 26 touchdowns as a junior.
  • While Allen received interest from some SEC schools, Ole Miss was the only one to offer him.
  • Allen became the second commitment of the week for the Rebels. Ole Miss received its fourth verbal pledge of the year from Franklin, Tenn., Battle Ground Academy quarterback C.J. Beathard, who passed for 2,406 yards and 15 touchdowns as a junior.
  • Here's a story from ESPN Recruiting writer Corey Long about Allen from March.
Brock Stadnik
  • The 6-foot-5, 295-pound tackle became the first member of the ESPNU 150 Watch List to commit to the Gamecocks.
  • He also received offers from a handful of schools, including Auburn, Florida, Michigan, Tennessee, Virginia Tech, Florida State, Duke, Clemson, Wake Forest, NC State and East Carolina.
  • Brock Stadnik told The Greensboro News-Record that the recruiting process is over for him and his brother: “Our phones have been off the hook. It wore us out, but it needed to be done.”
Clayton Stadnik
  • Clayton Stadnik will play center and stands at 6-foot-2, 250 pounds.
  • He also received offers from NC State, Wake Forest, East Carolina and Virginia Tech.
  • Clayton Stadnik said playing with his brother in college was a major factor in their decision. “Playing together is really important with me and my brother … we have such a close relationship. “It’s been our dream ever since we stepped on the field.”
  • The 6-foot-5, 255-pound tight end became the eighth member of the ESPNU 150 Watch List to commit to the Gators.
  • Thompson had more than 20 offers, including ones from Alabama, Michigan State, Rutgers, Tennessee, Syracuse, Penn State, Stanford and Northwestern. Thompson said he chose Florida over Wisconsin and Boston College.
  • What Thompson told "Florida is just the right place for me, it was the right fit with the coaches and the players that are currently there. Coach Muschamp is a great coach and a great man; he's bringing in the right players to continue this winning tradition at the program."
It's pretty hard to question Nick Saban's recruiting habits.

Since 2008, Alabama's recruiting classes have ranked no worse than third in ESPN's class rankings. In that span, Saban has coached the Tide to two SEC championship games and a national championship.

Alabama was a strong contender for the national championship heading into the 2010 season and will again be a favorite for the title game this fall.

ESPN recruiting writer Jamie Newberg dives into Saban's meticulous recruiting process and how it has caught on with his coaching disciples.

LSU on top of early SEC recruiting rankings

June, 4, 2010
ESPN has released its early team rankings for the 2011 recruiting class, and LSU is the top SEC team at No. 2 nationally.

The Tigers already have 11 commitments, and 10 of them are from the state of Louisiana. Obviously, it's a good year in the state.

Texas is No. 1 nationally.

The SEC owns five of the top 10 classes and eight of the top 25 classes.

Alabama was No. 3, Florida No. 7, Georgia No. 8 and Auburn No. 9.

Also making an appearance in the early top 25 was Kentucky at No. 20. Joker Phillips, in his first year as the Wildcats' coach, already has nine commitments, including ESPNU 150 prospect Jon Davis.

Arkansas made the cut at No. 21 and Mississippi State at No. 24.

Studying the recruiting classes

February, 2, 2010
Does finishing in the top 10 or even the top 25 in the final recruiting rankings equate to finishing in the top 10 or Top 25 of the final polls?

It's a question that's debated endlessly this time of year.

Jon Solomon of The Birmingham News did a study this week where he came up with the top 25 recruiting classes based on the last five years (from 2005-09). Of the top 15 classes he came up with, eight of those teams weren't ranked in the final Associated Press poll this season.

Here are those eight teams with their recruiting ranking in parentheses:

  • Georgia (No. 3)
  • Florida State (No. 5)
  • Oklahoma (No. 6)
  • Michigan (Tied for No. 9)
  • Auburn (No. 12)
  • Tennessee (No. 13)
  • Notre Dame (No. 14)
  • South Carolina (No. 15)
What's more, Boise State, TCU and Cincinnati never had a single year from 2005-09 where they were ranked in the top 45, according to the recruiting rankings Solomon studied.

Despite that, Boise State finished No. 4 this season in the final AP poll, while TCU was No. 6 and Cincinnati No. 8.

In fact, five of the teams that finished in the top 10 in the final AP poll this season (Boise State, TCU, Iowa, Cincinnati and Penn State) were not included among the top 20 recruiting classes over the last five years.

Video: Florida's dominating recruiting class

February, 1, 2010

A look at the Florida Gators’ 2010 class and recruiting throughout the SEC.

Video: The class of recruiting

February, 1, 2010

SEC blogger Chris Low takes a look at Florida’s impressive recruiting class and the other conference schools primed for a big signing day haul.



Thursday, 9/18
Saturday, 9/20