Sunday, August 14, 2011
Updated: August 17, 5:09 PM ET
SEC West recruiting breakdown
By Jamie Newberg
Here's a look at how programs in the SEC West are faring on the recruiting trail.
ESPNU 150 commitments: 7
Who they have: Few have recruited as well as Nick Saban and Alabama recently and the Crimson Tide have the makings of another stellar class. Currently at No. 4 in the class rankings, Alabama has seven ESPNU 150 members -- safety Eddie Williams (Panama City, Fla./Arnold), CB Geno Smith (Atlanta/St. Pius X Catholic), offensive tackle Brandon Greene (Ellenwood, Ga./Cedar Grove), wide receiver Chris Black (Jacksonville, Fla./First Coast) and a trio of linebackers in Reggie Ragland (Madison, Ala./Bob Jones), Tyler Hayes (Thomasville, Ala./Thomasville) and Dillon Lee (Buford, Ga./Buford) -- already committed. Williams, who is No. 5 in the ESPNU 150, is a five-star safety and the highest-ranked Tide commit. The Tide added a pair of talented running backs in Justin Taylor (Atlanta/Booker T. Washington) and Kenyan Drake (Powder Springs, Ala./Hillsgrove) and while they did lose out on the nation's top two signal-callers (Jameis Winston and Gunner Kiel), they recently landed Alec Morris (Allen, Texas/Allen).
Who they still want: Will there be enough room for all the prospects Alabama wants to bring in with this class? They are in great shape with running backs Rushel Shell (Aliquippa, Pa./Hopewell) and Barry Sanders (Oklahoma City, Okla./Heritage Hall). The same can be said with Sunshine State wideout Amari Cooper (Miami/Northwestern) and the Tide will likely make the short list of the nation's top receiver, five-star Dorial Green-Beckham (Springfield, Mo./Hillcrest), who is No. 3 in the ESPNU 150. There are several linemen to watch for, like OLs Andrew Jelks (Paris, Tenn./Henry County), Brandon Hill (Memphis, Tenn./St. George Academy), Vadal Alexander (Buford, Ga./Buford) and Ronnie Stanley (Las Vegas/Bishop Gorman), and they are in serious contention with DLs Eddie Goldman (Washington, D.C./Collegiate Friendship Academy), Carlos Watkins (Forest City, N.C./Chase) and Jordan Jenkins (Hamilton, Ga./Harris County). Linebackers Kwon Alexander (Oxford, Ala./Oxford) and Denzel Devallz (Bastrop, La./Bastrop) are possibilities. Meanwhile, Alabama is in a huge battle with Auburn for cornerback Geno Smith (Atlanta/St. Pius X) and athlete Cyrus Jones (Baltimore/Gilman), and with LSU for safety Landon Collins (Geismar, La./Dutchtown).
ESPNU 150 commitments: 0
Who they have: The Hogs' attention has been on the receiver position with this class. So far, they have commitments from six prospects who will likely end up at that position -- Jalen Cobb (Warren, Ark./Warren), Jared Collins (Tulsa, Okla./Booker T. Washington), D'Arthur Cowan (Olive Branch, Miss./Olive Branch), Keon Hatcher (Owasso, Okla./Owasso) and Eric Hawkins (Longview, Texas/Longview). Athlete Nathan Holmes (Port Arthur, Texas/Memorial) could play running back, but will likely end up at receiver. Arkansas got some O-line help with four-star offensive guard Jeremy Ward (Pottsville, Ark./Pottsville) as well as high-three-star OG Cordale Boyd (Memphis, Tenn./Ridgeway). Defensive end Brandon Lewis, Boyd's teammate at Memphis Ridgeway, is also heading to Arkansas. Running back Donovan Roberts (Norman, Okla./Norman) looks like a good fit for Bobby Petrino's offense because he can do a little bit of everything.
Who they still want: The Razorbacks have 10 more spots to fill in their 2012 class. They want to close with some help for the offensive and defensive lines. Offensive linemen Jordan Diamond (Chicago/Simeon) and Alex Kozan (Castle Rock, Co./Valor Christian) and defensive linemen Marrick Charles (Destrehan, La./Destrehan), Bryan Singleton (Destrehan, La./Destrehan), Bryce Cottrell (Plano, Texas/West) and Taiwan Johnson (Marvel, Texas/Marvel) are all showing great interest. So too is linebacker Harding Harper (Montgomery, Ala./Carver). The Razorbacks would also love some help in the secondary and are targeting Andre Scott (Orlando, Fla./Oak Ridge), Josh Shelton (Mount Juliet, Tenn./Mount Juliet), Damien Lawry (Dallas/Wilmer-Hutchins) and LaDarrell McNeil (Dallas/Wilmer-Hutchins). No quarterback is on board yet, but could Jamil Golden (Memphis, Tenn./Ridgeway) join his high school teammates in Fayetteville?
ESPNU 150 commitments: 4
Who they have: There has been a change of recruiting philosophy for the national champions. In the past, Auburn liked to close strong with numbers late in the recruiting cycle. This year, the Tigers are trying to be a little more balanced and more aggressive earlier in the recruiting year and their numbers reflect just that. The Tigers, No. 8 in the class rankings, have 13 commitments, including four ESPNU 150 members in athletes Ricardo Louis (Miami Beach, Fla./Miami Beach) and Ricky Parks (Hoganville, Ga./Callaway), cornerback Joshua Holsey (Fairburn, Ga./Creekside) and running back T.J. Yeldon (Daphne, Ala./Daphne). Louis will likely end up at receiver and Parks at tight end. Running back Jovon Robinson (Memphis, Tenn./Wooddale) and wide receiver Ja'Quay Williams (Tyrone, Ga./Sandy Creek) are two big-play prospects who will help Gus Malzahn's offense.
Who they still want: The Tigers are in some major recruiting battles for several ESPNU 150 prospects. Auburn is fighting Georgia for running back Keith Marshall (Raleigh, N.C./Millbrook) and in-state rival Alabama for linebacker Kwon Alexander (Oxford, Ala./Oxford), athlete Cyrus Jones (Baltimore/Gilman) and cornerback Geno Smith (Atlanta/St. Pius X). Smith will announce this week. Of course, the Tigers would love to close with standouts like wide receiver Stefon Diggs (Olney, Md./Our Lady of Good Counsel), offensive guard Vadal Alexander (Buford, Ga./Buford), linebacker JaViero Mitchell (Leeds, Ala./Leeds), safety Deon Bush (Miami/Columbus) and cornerback T.J. Davis (Tallahassee, Fla./Godby). Auburn is battling Florida and Alabama for defensive end Jordan Jenkins (Hamilton, Ga./Harris County). They won't get them all, but the Tigers will land their share.
ESPNU 150 commitments: 3
Who they have: The Tigers, who are No. 12 in the class rankings, are loading up on in-state prospects (15 of their 18 commits are from Louisiana), including two ESPNU 150 members in defensive end Torshiro Davis (Shreveport, La./Woodlawn) and outside linebacker Ronnie Feist (West St. John, La./Edgard). Two very good tight end prospects are headed to Baton Rouge in John Thomas (New Orleans/Airline) and Dillon Gordon (River Ridge, La./John Curtis). The Tigers landed a trio from Breaux Bridge with Lamar Louis, wide receivers Travis Dural and Kavahra Holmes. Two talented players flying a little under the radar are defensive end Jerald Hawkins (Baldwin, La./West Saint Mary) and offensive tackle Derek Edinburgh (New Orleans/Edna Karr). LSU has four cornerback commits, led by Dwayne Thomas (New Orleans/O. Perry Walker) and Jerquinick Sandolph (Boutte, La./Hahnville). LSU's top commitment is former LSU star Patrick Peterson's younger brother, ESPNU 150 wide receiver Avery Johnson (Pompano Beach, Fla./Ely).
Who they still want: Atop the Tigers' wish list is Under Armour All-American safety Landon Collins (Geismar, La./Dutchtown). It's shaping up to be an Alabama-LSU fight, but other powers like Texas are involved. Another safety the Tigers are chasing is Deon Bush (Miami/Columbus). Other defensive standouts to keep an eye on are defensive end Leonard Williams (Daytona Beach, Fla./Mainland) and linebackers Richie Brown (Long Beach, Miss./Long Beach) and Denzel Devall (Bastrop, La./Bastrop). On the other side of the ball, LSU is after quarterback Anthony Alford (Petal, Miss./Petal), wide receiver Dwayne Stanford (Cincinnati, Ohio/Taft), athlete Jeremy Liggins (Oxford, Miss./Lafayette) and offensive linemen Patrick Miller (West Palm Beach, Fla./Dwyer) and Vadal Alexander (Buford, Ga./Buford).
ESPNU 150 commitments: 0
Who they have: Coach Dan Mullen and the Bulldogs had a great month of July, netting seven commitments off their Big Dawg camp, highlighted by their lone four-star commitment, defensive tackle Nick James (Long Beach, Miss./Long Beach). They also added more defensive help, especially at defensive end with Ryan Brown (Marrero, La./Archbishop Shaw), Nelson Adams (Brandon, Miss./Brandon) and Torrey Bell (River Ridge, La./John Curtis). Safety Quadry Antoine (Belle Chasse, La./Belle Chasse) and athlete Will Redmond (Memphis, Tenn./East) are two terrific out-of-state recruits headed to Starkville. The offense is getting a boost with running back Xavier Grindle (Columbia, Miss./East Marion) and athletes Brandon Holloway (Tampa, Fla./Alonso) and Adairius Barnes (Port Gibson, Miss./Port Gibson). Holloway can play many positions for the offense, while Barnes will likely be a receiver. Devon Desper (Madison, Miss./Central) is one of the top center prospects in the region.
Who they still want: It could be good news for the Bulldogs later this week when three-star wide receiver Jason Croom (Norcross, Ga./Norcross) makes his decision. He is deciding between Mississippi State and Tennessee. The Bulldogs are also recruiting wide receivers Javon Bell (Perkinston, Miss./Gulf Coast C.C.) and Nathan Cole (Memphis, Tenn./Mitchell). The Bulldogs want to close with an offensive lineman or two and Andrew Jelks (Paris, Tenn./Henry County) is one to watch. They have offered quarterback prospects Anthony Alford (Petal, Miss./Petal) and Jeremy Liggins (Oxford, Miss./Lafayette). You can't forget about the big fellas on the defensive front, like Quay Evans (Morton, Miss./Morton), Channing Ward (Aberdeen, Miss./Aberdeen) and Sheldon Rankins (Covington, Ga./Eastside). Don't be surprised if Mississippi State is the team in the end that lands ESPNU 150 athlete Beniquez Brown (Florence, Ala./Florence), who is also considering Florida, Alabama, Georgia and Tennessee.
ESPNU 150 commitments: 1
Who they have: The Rebels have an SEC-low eight commitments to date, but for the Rebels and coach Houston Nutt, that's exactly where they want to be. Ole Miss prefers the old-school method of wrapping up most of its commitments in the months of December, January and right up to February's national signing day. Of their eight verbals, the Rebels do have one ESPNU 150 commitment in defensive tackle Issac Gross (Batesville, Miss./South Panola). The Rebels landed an under-the-radar signal-caller in C.J. Beathard (Nashville, Tenn./Battle Ground Academy). Ole Miss actually went out to Missouri and Indiana to land tight end Austin Ray (Columbia, Mo./Rock Bridge) and offensive tackle Jake Meador (Whiteland, Ind./Whiteland Community). The Tigers don't usually land recruits from those places. In all, six of their commitments are out-of-state players, including running back Jayden Walton (Memphis, Tenn./Ridgeway) and defensive back Jordan Batiste (Lutcher, La./Lutcher).
Who they still want: Anthony Alford (Petal, Miss./Petal) and Jeremy Liggins (Oxford, Miss./Lafayette) are two QBs that the Rebels covet. Liggins, who is No. 121 in the ESPNU 150, is also considering LSU, Alabama, Tennessee and Mississippi State and the Rebels would obviously like to keep him at home. Ole Miss is one of a handful of SEC teams that offensive lineman Andrew Jelks (Paris, Tenn./Henry County) likes. The Rebels are also after OLs Jordan Diamond (Chicago/Simeon) and Cordarrly Gaines (Jackson, Miss./Provine). Ole Miss will battle Mississippi State and others from defensive line prospects Channing Ward (Aberdeen, Miss./Aberdeen), Quay Evans (Morton, Miss./Morton) and Sheldon Rankins (Covington, Ga./Eastside).
Jamie Newberg has been covering recruiting both in the Southeast and nationally for 19 years. He can be reached at email@example.com.