Tuesday, October 22, 2013
Most important targets: SEC
By Derek Tyson
The Southeastern Conference already has two commitments from a top-10 player (Cameron Robinson to Alabama and Myles Garrett to Texas A&M), but the SEC has a real possibility of landing the final six uncommitted top-10 prospects in the country. Here is a closer look at the top remaining recruiting targets in the SEC.
Humphrey is an athletic cornerback with great size and would be a natural fit in Nick Saban's system. FSU is also very much in the picture for the five-star defensive back, and Alabama will have to fight to keep this electric playmaker from leaving the state. RB Leonard Fournette also could be mentioned here, but Alabama does have depth at running back, and Humphrey would have a chance to play from day one at Alabama.
Frazier has the size and athleticism to be a difference-maker along the defensive line. The Razorbacks will do everything in their power to make sure he stays in state. Auburn, however, will put up a fight for Frazier. After all, Auburn coach Gus Malzahn is from Springdale, Ark., and Frazier has an official visit set up to Auburn on Nov. 29. To stay competitive with some of the physical offenses in the SEC, Arkansas would love to land a prospect with Frazier's abilities.
Auburn gave up 41 points to Texas A&M in the Tigers' big win against the Aggies last week and could still use more playmakers on defense. With more and more teams implementing some form of the spread offense, having athletic three-down linebackers such as Evans will be crucial moving forward. Defensive end Andrew Williams is another key target, but Auburn has to find a way to keep Evans in his hometown.
This five-star defensive back has a long way to go with his recruitment, and the Gators will certainly have to battle to land the talented athlete. Florida could potentially lose two corners, Marcus Roberson and Loucheiz Purifoy, to the NFL after this season and will need someone to come in and compete immediately for a spot opposite Vernon Hargreaves III. The Gators' strong track program could eventually help them land Jackson, but Oregon is in the same boat.
Georgia OT David Sharpe (Jacksonville, Fla./Providence Christian) 6-6, 288 ESPN 300 rank: 15
The Bulldogs appear to be the team to beat for Sharpe. The big tackle also likes Florida State and Florida. Sharpe has visited Clemson, Florida and Georgia twice, and he is planning a visit to FSU at some point. Sharpe's AAU basketball team is also in Atlanta, so leaving Florida doesn't appear to be an issue. Georgia's offensive line has had its ups and downs through the first half of the season, and a prospect like Sharpe could help provide immediate depth and earn potential early playing time.
Kentucky DT Matt Elam (Elizabethtown, Ky./John Hardin) 6-6, 350 ESPN 300 rank: NR
With 25 commitments, coach Mark Stoops has the Wildcats recruiting at a very high level. Adding a big-bodied defensive tackle such as Elam would certainly bolster a defensive line that ranks 13th among 14 league teams in rush defense and last in overall defense in the SEC. Keeping the No. 2-ranked player in the state at home would also be very important for the Wildcats.
LSU RB Leonard Fournette (New Orleans/St. Augustine)
6-1, 226 ESPN 300 rank: 1
With running back Jeremy Hill likely turning pro after this season, there is a need for a back who can make an immediate impact. Fournette is that type of player. It's not every day you find a hard-nosed, physical back with breakaway speed. No matter where he chooses to go, Fournette will have an impact early in his career. At this point, it looks like the Tigers might be in a good position to land the talented athlete.
Mississippi State DT Cory Thomas (McCalla, Ala./McAdory) 6-6, 265 ESPN 300 rank: NR
The Bulldogs recently landed their No. 1 target, wide receiver Jesse Jackson, and now the attention shifts to the defensive side of the ball. Thomas has the athleticism and build to anchor the Mississippi State defensive line. His top three are Tennessee, MSU and Florida, and the Bulldogs will certainly have their work cut out. Thomas recently named the Vols his leader, but there is still time for MSU to make up ground. He would be a key piece to MSU's defensive class.
Missouri RB Markel Smith (St. Louis/St. John Vianney)
ESPN 300 rank: NR
Missouri is off to a 7-0 start and sits atop the SEC East division. The Tigers are hoping the on-field success translates into success in recruiting. Smith is an athletic prospect who can do a lot of things with the ball in his hands. Missouri runs an attacking offense that skilled players like Smith want to play in. The Tigers will have to fight off Ole Miss and Iowa, but at this point, Mizzou appears to be the team to beat.
Ole Miss DT Elisha Shaw (Tucker, Ga./Tucker)
6-6, 295 ESPN 300 rank: 82
Under Hugh Freeze, the Rebels are once again on pace for a terrific signing class, and Shaw would be a great complement to the defensive line class the Rebels signed last year. This massive interior defensive lineman is exactly what Ole Miss is looking for, especially against run-heavy SEC West teams every year. Linebacker Nyles Morgan is another key target for the Rebels.
South Carolina DE Dante Sawyer (Suwanee, Ga./North Gwinnett) 6-3, 250 ESPN 300 rank: 40
Tennessee, Auburn, Alabama and Georgia are also in the mix for this talented defensive end. Sawyer visited Tennessee over the weekend and came away impressed with the Vols. The Gamecocks will have their work cut out for them with Sawyer -- but selling him on the possibility of replacing Jadeveon Clowney next year could help their chances. It would be nearly impossible to replace Clowney's production, but Sawyer could be a disruptive pass-rusher early in his career.
Butch Jones has his team playing at a high level and it's translating to success in recruiting. The Vols are in a fight with Georgia for Malone, and don't count out Vanderbilt and Florida State. This big, physical wide receiver comes from a great high school program and could help contribute early in his career. Look for the Vols to pull out all the stops to land the talented playmaker.
After recently landing five-star defensive end Myles Garrett (Arlington, Texas/James Martin), the Aggies will shift their focus to someone who could hopefully block Garrett in practice over the next several years. Tucker has ideal size and is everything colleges are looking for in a left-tackle prospect. The Aggies will have to battle with Stanford and Arizona State, but they are certainly right in the mix.
Vanderbilt DE Nyles Morgan (Crete, Ill./Crete-Monee) 6-2, 225 ESPN 300 rank: 64
Vanderbilt coach James Franklin is recruiting on a very high level, and the big win over Georgia on Saturday only helps the Commodores' recruiting efforts. They are in a good position to land Morgan, the No. 4-ranked inside linebacker in the country, but they will have to battle with Ole Miss to land the talented prospect. Vanderbilt's excellent academic record might give them the slight advantage, but only slightly at this point.