Alabama Crimson Tide: Garrald McDowell

Recruiting hits and misses: SEC West

February, 6, 2014
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Now that the fax machines are quiet, the 2014 signing classes have been announced and before we start looking ahead to 2015, let's take a moment to examine how each of the SEC schools did in filling immediate needs via recruiting.

We're checking out what all 14 teams did to fill holes, and we're looking at which holes still remain. We'll start with the SEC West (click here for the SEC East):

ALABAMA

Needs filled: It was obvious Alabama needed help at cornerback, and the Crimson Tide went out and got two of the best in the country in five-star prospects Tony Brown and Marlon Humphrey. Pass rushers were also a priority, which makes five-star defensive end Da'Shawn Hand and four-star outside linebackers Rashaan Evans and Christian Miller key pickups. Cameron Robinson, yet another five-star prospect, could end up starting at left tackle next season on the offensive line.

Holes remaining: The Crimson Tide could have used another marquee receiver and lost out on No. 1 wideout Malachi Dupre to LSU. With Ha Ha Clinton-Dix and Vinnie Sunseri both heading early to the NFL, the Tide also might have come up short at safety.

ARKANSAS

Needs filled: The Hogs’ passing game was in need of a jump-start, and getting an ESPN 300 player out of Miami the caliber of JoJo Robinson adds another playmaker to the equation. Arkansas’ offensive line class is equally impressive with four-star prospects Brian Wallace and Frank Ragnow and three-star prospect Jovan Pruitt joining Denver Kirkland and Dan Skipper from last year’s class.

Holes remaining: The highest-ranked player in the Hogs’ class was defensive tackle Bijhon Jackson of El Dorado, Ark., which was big considering they need help everywhere on defense. But they missed out on a pair of highly ranked defensive ends in Solomon Thomas and Demetrius Jackson.

AUBURN

Needs filled: Gus Malzahn called ESPN 300 prospect Tre' Williams the key to the class, and he should provide an immediate boost at linebacker. With Chris Davis departing, the Tigers also needed to replenish at cornerback, which is where four-star prospects Kalvaraz Bessent and Stephen Roberts come in. Both were ranked in the top 10 nationally at their position. With Greg Robinson leaving early for the NFL draft, it was good to add muscle on the offensive line with ESPN 300 prospect Braden Smith, who could play guard or tackle.

Holes remaining: The sting of losing Evans, who’s from Auburn, to Alabama could be felt for a while. He's the kind of explosive athlete who would fit on any defense, and the Tigers need more of those guys, particularly at linebacker.

LSU

Needs filled: The loss of running back Jeremy Hill early to the NFL draft was lessened by landing Leonard Fournette, the No. 1 overall prospect in this class. It only got better for the Tigers’ offense on signing day when the country’s No. 1 receiver, Dupre, said he would play his college football on the Bayou. Safety was a real sore spot on defense last season, so getting ESPN 300 prospect Jamal Adams was a major pickup. Adams is rated by ESPN RecruitingNation as the No. 2 safety in the 2014 class.

Holes remaining: Robinson would have been a nice centerpiece on that LSU offensive line, but Alabama came into West Monroe, La., and swiped the five-star prospect. The Tigers also lost five-star athlete Speedy Noil of New Orleans to Texas A&M.

MISSISSIPPI STATE

Needs filled: Junior college signee Jocquell Johnson is already on campus and will battle for a starting job next season on an offensive line that’s losing two starters, including All-SEC guard Gabe Jackson. The Bulldogs also added a pair of playmakers at receiver in ESPN 300 prospects Jamoral Graham and Jesse Jackson. Flipping 6-foot-6, 265-pound defensive lineman Cory Thomas from Tennessee on signing day added some more punch to an already deep and talented defensive line in Starkville.

Holes remaining: More secondary help would have been nice, which is why losing cornerback Tee Shepard to Ole Miss on signing day was a downer. A couple of the offensive linemen the Bulldogs wanted, Jordan Sims and Sean Rawlings, also opted for Ole Miss.

OLE MISS

Needs filled: The Rebels wanted to continue to stockpile talent on the offensive line after reeling in Laremy Tunsil and Austin Golson a year ago and did that with four-star prospects Rod Taylor, Tyler Putman and Sims. Upgrading the defense was also a priority, which is why beating Alabama for ESPN 300 safety C.J. Hampton was so important along with getting ESPN 300 defensive end Garrald McDowell out of Louisiana. Flipping junior college cornerback Shepard from Mississippi State was a nice signing day coup.

Holes remaining: You can never have enough defensive linemen in the SEC, so losing defensive tackle Michael Sawyers to Tennessee was a blow. The same goes for ESPN 300 defensive end Davon Godchaux, who stuck with his commitment and signed with LSU.

TEXAS A&M

Needs filled: With Johnny Manziel taking his show to the NFL, Texas A&M has to find a quarterback. Early enrollee Kyle Allen is an ESPN 300 prospect and ranked as the No. 1 pocket passer in this class. Noil, another early enrollee, should help fill a void with big-play receiver Mike Evans headed to the NFL, and the Aggies also loaded up on offensive linemen, including a pair of junior college signees. Any help on defense was a priority, which makes five-star defensive end Myles Garrett one of the keys to the class.

Holes remaining: The Aggies are still thin at safety after swinging and missing on several of their top targets in this class, including Adams, Steven Parker II and Mattrell McGraw. They also had ESPN 300 safety Dylan Sumner-Gardner committed but lost him to Boise State when Marcel Yates took the defensive coordinator job there.
The practices are in the books and now is the time for the nation’s top prospects to showcase their skills under the bright lights of the Under Armour All-America game (4 p.m. Thursday, ESPN). With an outstanding collection of talent taking the field, it can be easy to feel a football sensory overload. No matter where you look, you will see a promising prospect in action, but to help guide your focus, we put together a few viewing tips. You can’t go wrong wherever your eyes take you on the field, but the following could be a good place to start.

If you want to know where next year's top college freshmen will play …


LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- One thing is for sure for all the 2014 Under Armour All-Americans: This isn’t high school anymore. Day 1 is about gauging the competition. Some guys dive right in and some test the waters with their big toe, but by the end of the first day of practice, all those in attendance have a pretty good idea of where they stand and what they need to do to compete and get better.

Given that it is Day 1, the playbook is introduced (Team Nitro is going no huddle with wrist bands and limited plays), and there can be sloppy moments of indecision and uncertainty. With each rep, most, if not all, prospects began to get a better feel for what is expected. Most importantly, the center-quarterback exchanges were very good for the most part, which is generally the biggest worry. Upon completion of the first practice, here are some observations and things to look for over the week:

Top Performers


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SEC recruiting storylines: Nov. 14 

November, 14, 2013
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A week after LSU-Alabama took center stage in the recruiting universe, the Auburn Tigers will take the spotlight this weekend with a number of big-time prospects expected on the Plains.

Stellar visitor list expected on the Plains


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SEC 2014 recruiting scenarios 

October, 8, 2013
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With signing day still several months away, schools will add and in some cases lose committed prospects. Here is a look at the best and worst case scenario for each SEC school.


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SEC recruiting mailbag

September, 27, 2013
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It’s time to dip into the SEC recruiting mailbag and answer your questions. Because of the amount of questions we’ve received, we won’t be able to get to all of them today -- but we encourage you to ask again next week by tweeting your questions to @DerekTysonESPN or @HamiltonESPN and use the hashtag #SECRecruiting.

@UTSportsAction: Are the #SEC schools recruiting in states that are not known for football... #DiamondInTheRough

Derek Tyson: There is no question that several SEC schools are willing to go anywhere to get top recruits, but for the most part, SEC schools stick within the usual southern states to fill out a majority of their recruiting class. Alabama signed quarterback Cooper Bateman from Utah last year, but Bateman was one of the most highly rated quarterbacks in the country and would have been highly recruited no matter where he lived. This year, however, Florida has a commitment from four-star defensive end Taven Bryan from Wyoming. He's the first person the Gators have ever landed from the state. Ole Miss has a commitment from kicker Will Gleeson, who is from Australia. As for a diamond in the rough, I believe Bryan could be that player. He's a physical defensive end that has a lot of upside.


@SportsNewsTN: Who in ESPN's Top 300 is #TENN's Butch Jones going after to help finish out their 30 total recruits?

DT: Tennessee still has a shot a few different ESPN 300 members. Defensive tackle Garrald McDowell (Covington, La./Covington) named the Vols in his top four along with Arkansas, LSU and Ole Miss on Thursday. Wide receiver Josh Malone (Gallatin, Tenn./Station Camp), wide receivers Travis Rudolph (West Palm Beach, Fla./Cardinal Newman) and Braxton Berrios (Raleigh, N.C./Leesville), running back Derrell Scott (Havelock, N.C./Havelock) and linebacker Clifton Garrett (Plainfield, Ill./Plainfield South) are all planning to visit Tennessee next weekend. There is still a long way to go until signing day, and some recruits might wait to see how Tennessee's season plays out, but in the end I think the Vols will end up with at least two of these players, if not more.


@will_hartley21: Who do you think will turn out to be Florida's top DB recruit? Also what other top DB's will possibly be the next UF commit?

DT: Based on their current defensive back commitments J.C. Jackson (Immokalee, Fla./Immokalee), Duke Dawson (Cross City, Fla./Dixie County), Quincy Wilson (Fort Lauderdale, Fla./University School) and Chris Lammons (Fort Lauderdale, Fla./Plantation), I believe Lammons could be the best prospect, but not by much. They all have their own unique skill sets and are all solid additions to Florida's class, but Lammons has that big-play ability that you are looking for in a defensive back. Come signing day, my answer could be very different. The Gators have a great shot at landing safety Jamal Adams (Lewisville, Texas/Hebron) and are in the mix for Adoree' Jackson (Gardena, Calif./Junipero Serra). As far as who could be the next DB to commit. I'd say Adams would be most likely.


@guru1039: What are the chances Bo Scarbrough decommits from Bama? Is it true he wants to be an RB in college?

DT: I spoke with Scarbrough a few weeks ago and he claims he doesn't care where he plays, but from everything I've heard and seen with my own eyes, it does appear that he wants to play running back in college. Though committed to Alabama, he is planning to take all five official visits, including trips to Florida, UCLA, Notre Dame and Georgia. Alabama likes Scarbrough's size and athletic ability to play linebacker, and that could be something that Scarbrough is considering, but it does appear he is keeping his options open. His recruitment will continue on for some time.

ESPN 300 DT McDowell names leader 

June, 30, 2013
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LAKE OSWEGO, Ore. -- ESPN 300 defensive tackle Garrald McDowell (Covington, La./Covington) received good news recently when his favorite childhood team, LSU, extended a scholarship.

The 6-foot-1, 257-pound defensive tackle, who has offers from Alabama, Ole Miss, Florida and many others, said it was a big relief to receive the offer from his home-state team.


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Now that five-star defensive tackle Andrew Brown (Chesapeake, Va./Oscar Frommel Smith) has verbally committed to Virginia, his other four finalists -- Alabama, FSU, Virginia Tech and Clemson -- are forced to look in other directions. Here's a closer look at some of the targets they are considering:


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The accolades are growing by the day for defensive tackle Garrald McDowell (Covington, La./Covington).

Becoming an Under Armour All-American, being invited to The Opening and getting ranked No. 105 in the ESPN 150 is not a bad way to start a spring.

Oklahoma has taken notice as the Sooners are the latest of many top schools to enter the race to land McDowell, who is 6-foot-3 and 257 pounds. With offers from Alabama and Florida and USC, among several others, it’s going to be a busy few months coming up for McDowell.


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Lessons Learned: Memphis NFTC 

April, 14, 2013
4/14/13
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- The Nike Football Training Camp circuit stayed in the southeast on Sunday, stopping at the Memphis University School for an event that, to the surprise of no one, featured solid line play. No doubt, it’s a staple in this part of the country. In fact, coaches praised the participants for play as strong in the trenches as they’ve seen at any Nike camp this spring.

Mitch Sherman of Recruiting Nation attended the event. Here’s what he learned:

Youth has been served

While a strong contingent of upperclassmen dominated the positional MVP honors, a few 14- and 15-year-old prospects shared time in the spotlight. Notably, linebacker Dylan Moses of Baton Rouge, La., showed no hesitation in facing players four years his senior. Moses, an eighth-grader set to begin high school at LSU Laboratory School in the fall, added an offer on Saturday from Ole Miss to a list that already featured Alabama and LSU. Running back Gabe Angel, a freshman at Lebanon (Tenn.) Wilson Central, performed well on Sunday after recently adding Ole Miss, Vanderbilt and Tennessee to a Mississippi State offer he received last year. Another 2016 prospect, receiver Harry Ballard of Florissant (Mo.) McCluer North, showed well, too.

Ole Miss is surging


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