Georgia Bulldogs: Laurence Jones

Today, we continue our break down of each position group in the SEC by looking at an area of defense that has a lot to prove after last season.

We’re talking, of course, about the secondaries.

Maybe it was that they were young and inexperienced. Maybe it was a case of so many quarterbacks being the opposite. But whatever it was, the league’s defensive backs should have a chip on their shoulder after the beating they took in 2013.

With that said, let’s dig into which programs are poised to rebound and sport the best secondaries in the league.

Secondary position rankings

[+] EnlargeCody Prewitt
Michael Chang/Getty ImagesOle Miss safety Cody Prewitt is the leader of an experienced, talented Rebels secondary.
1. Ole Miss: Talent and experience. Both are worth their weight in gold, and Ole Miss has loads of each. We’re probably not giving anything away when we say that both Cody Prewitt and Tony Conner will make the list of the league’s top 10 safeties later today. Prewitt led the league in interceptions last season, and Conner, a former four-star recruit, has barely scratched the surface on what he can do. Trae Elston and Senquez Golson, meanwhile, are potential impact players, along with Mike Hilton and Derrick Jones. If C.J. Hampton lives up to the hype, he could be a true freshman to keep an eye on.

2. Florida: The Gators have plenty of issues. Defensive back is not one of them, however. Despite losing Cody Riggs to transfer and Loucheiz Purifoy, Jaylen Watkins and Marcus Roberson to the NFL, Florida has plenty of talent remaining in the secondary. Only a sophomore, Vernon Hargreaves III is arguably the best corner in the SEC. If either Jalen Tabor or Duke Dawson emerges opposite him, you’re talking about a good one-two punch. And with three experienced safeties to lean on -- Jabari Gorman, Marcus Maye and Brian Poole -- coach Will Muschamp should like what he sees from the secondary as a whole.

3. LSU: Getting Jalen Mills to safety would have been huge. But with his status up in the air, LSU must move on. It's still DBU -- Defensive Back University -- and thankfully for coach Les Miles, he’s got plenty more to work with. Ronald Martin has experience at safety, along with Corey Thompson, who missed the spring with an injury. At corner, LSU is in good shape with Tre'Davious White and Rashard Robinson in position to start, not to mention Jalen Collins, a former Freshman All-SEC choice in 2012. And since this is LSU and someone always emerges from nowhere, be sure to keep an eye on Jamal Adams. The former No. 2-rated safety in the ESPN 300 didn't enroll early but should have every chance to play as a true freshman. If Mills is able to return and some the young talent on LSU's roster develops as expected, the Tigers could have an argument for the top secondary in the league.

4. Alabama: Talent and experience. Alabama has one but not the other, and you can probably guess which. Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, Vinnie Sunseri and Deion Belue are all gone. That fourth spot in the secondary? It was never settled to begin with. Getting Landon Collins back at safety, however, is huge, as the former five-star prospect has All-SEC potential. But who starts opposite him is up in the air with Nick Perry coming off an injury, Jarrick Williams entrenched at nickel corner/star and Laurence "Hootie" Jones early in his development. At corner, Alabama’s hopes are pinned to two freshmen -- Tony Brown and Marlon Humphrey -- along with a slew of unproven prospects such as Maurice Smith, Jonathan Cook and Bradley Sylve.

5. Mississippi State: Dan Mullen loves his defense heading into this season, and considering what he has at defensive back it’s easy to see why. The Bulldogs are in the enviable position of having five legitimate SEC-caliber players at both safety and cornerback. Jamerson Love and Taveze Calhoun are two rock-solid corners, and Will Redmond is a good third off the bench. Kendrick Market and Deontay Evans might start at safety today, but Jay Hughes is back from injury and Justin Cox could very well be the most talented of the bunch after transitioning from corner this spring.

6. Auburn: The Tigers secondary was atrocious for most of last season, surrendering 260.2 passing yards per game through Jan. 1 (No. 104 nationally). Really, it wasn’t until the BCS title game that we saw some fight out of them. So was that first half against Florida State a mirage or a glimpse of the future? Defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson has to hope it’s the latter. With Jonathon Mincy at corner, Jermaine Whitehead at safety and Robenson Therezie playing the star, he’s got some experienced parts to build around. Meanwhile, juco transfer Derrick Moncrief has the look of an impact player at safety. If Joshua Holsey is back to 100 percent, Johnson will have a better deck of cards to play with than last season.

7. Georgia: The good news is that the two main culprits from last season’s heartbreaking loss to Auburn -- Tray Matthews and Josh Harvey-Clemons -- are gone. The bad news is that those same players were expected to start this season. Throw in the loss of Shaq Wiggins and you’re looking at Georgia, under new defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt, essentially starting over in the secondary. It’s not all bad, though. There might not be much depth at cornerback, but veteran Damian Swann is a good place to start. And the same can be said of safety, where Corey Moore and Quincy Mauger have some experience.

8. Tennessee: The Volunteers have one of the deeper secondaries in the SEC, returning all four starters, but it’s a group that received its fair share of criticism last season after giving up 283 yards per game. There’s still talent back there, though, with safety Brian Randolph and cornerback Cameron Sutton. In particular, Randolph led the team in interceptions (4) and finished second in tackles (75), and though he missed the majority of spring due to injury, he’s expected back for fall camp. At cornerback, freshman Emmanuel Moseley arrived in January and could make a push for playing time after a strong spring.

9. South Carolina: You have to fear the unknown if you’re a Gamecocks fan. Brison Williams is a solid safety, but both of your starting corners from last season -- Victor Hampton and Jimmy Legree -- are gone, and the senior you expected to be starting by now, Kadetrix Marcus, is trailing sophomore Chaz Elder on the depth chart. Rico McWilliams, the corner with the most returning experience, isn’t even a sure thing to start. A redshirt freshman, Ali Groves, is in line to start at the second cornerback spot, but keep an eye on two talented true freshmen who could play early: Wesley Green and Chris Lammons.

[+] EnlargeDeshazor Everett
AP Photo/Bob LeveyDeshazor Everett has all-conference potential, but the Texas A&M secondary is filled with question marks.
10. Texas A&M: The Aggies return plenty of experience in the secondary this season. That's good in the sense that they have a defensive backfield with a lot of SEC football under its belt but make no mistake, this unit has a lot of room for improvement. Cornerback Deshazor Everett is the best player of the group and could be headed for an all-conference season, while junior corner De'Vante Harris continues to grow as a player. The safeties -- Howard Matthews, Floyd Raven and Clay Honeycutt -- must show improvement this season after last year's performance. The nickel position is open and a number of candidates could step in, including sophomore Noel Ellis or junior Devonta Burns.

11. Missouri: Much of the attention has been paid to reloading on the defensive line after the departures of Kony Ealy and Michael Sam, but Missouri should be fine there. The real concern, however, is the secondary, as three of last year’s starters (E.J. Gaines, Randy Ponder and Matt White) are gone. Getting Braylon Webb back at safety is huge, but he’ll need help. Ian Simon and Duron Singleton should vie for the second safety spot, and John Gibson and Aarion Penton are two of the more experienced options at corner. The wild card in all of this, though, is an incoming class that featured seven defensive backs.

12. Kentucky: With two of the better pass rushers in the league, one would think that Kentucky could force the opposing quarterback into throwing some interceptions. That didn’t happen last season. The Wildcats were dead last in the SEC with just three interceptions. Mark Stoops and his staff are hoping to turn that around this season, and they have plenty of capable bodies to work with on the back end. All four starters are back, five if you include nickel back Blake McClain -- who was third on the team in tackles as a freshman -- and junior college transfer A.J. Stamps might be the most talented defensive back on the roster.

13. Arkansas: Depth is going to be a concern for new secondary coach Clay Jennings, who is stressing turnovers this spring after the Razorbacks came in dead last in that category in the SEC in 2013. But in terms of front-line starters, he’s got some experience to work with, as every projected starter at safety and corner is a junior or senior. The most reliable of the bunch is safety Alan Turner, who led the team in tackles last season and should continue to play a pivotal role on defense. Another one to watch is cornerback Tevin Mitchell. It wasn’t that long ago that the 6-foot senior was an SEC All-Freshman selection. For Arkansas to take the next step, he’ll need to fulfill the early promise of his career.

14. Vanderbilt: The Commodores were spoiled last season with four seniors starting in the secondary. You don’t replace the talent and experience of an Andre Hal and a Kenny Ladler overnight. And you certainly will have a hard time doing so when the entire coaching staff has changed. But such is new head coach Derek Mason’s task. The good news for him is that the cupboard wasn’t left entirely bare as the entire second string of the secondary -- Paris Head, Jahmel McIntosh, Andrew Williamson and Torren McGaster -- returns after having played in a combined 50 games last season.

Weekend recruiting wrap: SEC 

January, 6, 2014
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College football recruiting is currently in a dead period, but that doesn’t mean there wasn’t a ton of recruiting news around the SEC. There were several commitments during the Under Armour and U.S. Army Bowl All-America games, including the top player in the country, Leonard Fournette, announcing his decision. There were also some decommitments and new, important offers were handed out. Here’s the latest news around the SEC.

SEC schools land big commitments: There was a flurry of commitments during and after the All-American games this weekend. SEC schools landed commitments from eight different players during the Under Armour All-America game and the U.S. Army Bowl. Here’s a closer look at who committed where. All eight players were ranked in the top 150 players of the ESPN 300.

RB Leonard Fournette (New Orleans/Saint Augustine) -- Committed to LSU over Alabama and Texas.
DT Gerald WIllis III (New Orleans/Edna Karr) -- Committed to Florida over LSU and Alabama.
S Laurence “Hootie” Jones (Monroe, La./Neville) -- Committed to Alabama over LSU and Ole Miss.
ATH Speedy Noil (New Orleans/Edna Karr) -- Committed to Texas A&M over LSU.
WR Frank Iheanacho (Houston/Westside) -- Committed to Texas A&M over Missouri, LSU, Oregon and Arkansas.
OL Brian Wallace (Saint Louis/Christian Brothers College HS) -- Committed to Arkansas over Alabama and Missouri.
S Jamal Adams (Lewisville, Texas/Hebron) -- Committed to LSU over Florida.
DB Tony Brown (Beaumont, Texas) -- Committed to Alabama over LSU.

Weekend recruiting wrap: SEC 

December, 2, 2013
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As the regular season winds down, there was a lot of news around the SEC over the weekend. Texas A&M received a big commitment on Thanksgiving at a position of need, and Auburn hosted several visitors for its incredible last-second victory over Alabama. Here’s a closer look at some of the top storylines in the SEC this weekend.

Biggest commitment: Though Texas A&M suffered a tough loss to Missouri on Saturday night, the Aggies did have something to be thankful for when junior college offensive tackle Avery Gennesy (Southhaven, Miss./East Mississippi CC) verbally committed to Texas A&M on Thursday.

The 6-foot-5, 315-pound tackle chose the Aggies over Ole Miss, Tennessee and Ohio State.

Texas A&M now has 18 commitments, including 10 from in the ESPN 300. The Aggies have the fifth-ranked recruiting class in the country.

Georgia, Tennessee lose commitments:
ESPN 300 defensive tackle Dontavius Russell (Carrollton, Ga./Carrollton), after visiting Auburn over the weekend, decided to open back up his recruitment. The four-star defensive lineman announced his decision on Twitter.
Auburn now appears to be the team to beat for Russell. Tennessee lost another wide receiver commit from ESPN 300 wideout Dominique Booth (Indianapolis/Pike) on Sunday. Booth is the third pass-catcher to decommit from the Vols this year. Junior college prospects Eric Lauderdale (Fayettville, Ga./Saddlebrook) and Kameel Jackson (Arlington, Texas/Blinn) also backed off their pledges to Tennessee earlier in the season.


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Questions for signing day: SEC 

November, 12, 2013
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With signing day three short months away, several questions remain in the SEC. Here's a look at the top questions to ask as signing day quickly approaches.

1. Where will Leonard Fournette go?


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SEC ESPN 300 analysis 

October, 29, 2013
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Several SEC targets and commits made big moves in the updated ESPN 300 rankings. Georgia had two commits make big jumps, while Tennessee didn't fare as well. Could the SEC make a huge splash in the top 10 of the rankings? Here's a closer look at what the new ESPN 300 means in the SEC.

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SEC class rankings analysis 

October, 9, 2013
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Each Wednesday, ESPN RecruitingNation updates its national class rankings. For an in-depth look at the SEC, check out our conference rankings:

1. Alabama, 21 commits: The Crimson Tide sit atop the RecruitingNation class rankings with a class that features 15 ESPN 300 prospects, including most recent commitment Ronnie Clark (Calera, Ala./Calera), the No. 96 overall prospect. Alabama remains in the hunt for several five-star prospects, including No. 1 overall Leonard Fournette (New Orleans/Saint Augustine) and No. 9 Marlon Humphrey (Hoover, Ala./Hoover).


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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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Top SEC recruiting rivalries 

October, 1, 2013
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From year-to-year the Southeastern Conference is full of recruiting battles. This year it appears that Alabama and LSU could have some of the best recruiting battles we've seen in a while. Here's a closer look at the five top recruiting rivalries in the SEC.


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SEC recruiting storylines: Sept. 19 

September, 19, 2013
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Fans in the SEC are still trying to catch their breath after a wildly entertaining game between Alabama and Texas A&M. With that said, there are plenty of hot topics on the recruiting front throughout the SEC.

[+] EnlargeLaurence Jones
Greg Ostendorf/ESPNLaurence Jones will be one of the big names in attendance when LSU opens SEC play with Auburn on Saturday.
Impressive visitor list for Florida
Last week it was Texas A&M hosting a star-studded group of visitors. This week, it will be Florida when the Gators play host to Tennessee. On the official visitor list are the No. 11-ranked prospect overall Lorenzo Carter (Norcross, Ga./Norcross), who has a top three of Alabama, Georgia and Florida; No. 25 Jamal Adams (Lewisville, Texas/Hebron), No. 59 Clifton Garrett (Plainfield, Ill./Plainfield South) and three-star tight end DeAndre Goolsby (Derby, Kan./Derby), who had an official visit to Oklahoma on Sept. 6. Among the uncommitted unofficial visitors in the 2014 class are three-star defensive tackle Cory Thomas (McCalla, Ala./McAdory) and No. 257 overall Jordan Sims (Birmingham, Ala./Homewood). The class of 2015 list of unofficial visitors scheduled to be in attendance includes No. 2 overall and LSU commitment Kevin Toliver II (Jacksonville, Fla./Trinity Christian Academy), No. 6 Martez Ivey (Apopka, Fla./Apopka), No. 13 Jeffery Holland (Jacksonville, Fla./Trinity Christian Academy), No. 48 CeCe Jefferson (Glen Saint Mary, Fla./Baker County), No. 77 Kendrick Norton (Jacksonville, Fla./Trinity Christian Academy) and No. 158 Jake Fruhmorgen (Tampa, Fla./Plant), among many others.

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SEC recruiting mailbag

September, 6, 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.

@LisaHorne: If UGA loses again this week, will it affect their recruiting?

Derek Tyson: If history is any indication, then no, it should not make much of a difference in recruiting. Remember, Georgia started off 0-2 in the 2011 yet finished with the No. 5-ranked recruiting class including stud running backs Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall. Head coach Mark Richt has recruited at a very high level and has Georgia in a place to compete for conference and national championships just about every year. His job is not in jeopardy and recruits believe in what he and his staff are trying to accomplish. Starting the season off with two top-10 opponents is no easy task for any team, and I would be shocked if Georgia isn't in the hunt for the SEC East title come November. Georgia will be just fine in recruiting.

@Time2Strive: No LSU in Gerald Willis III & Speedy Noil top 3. Is UF the team to beat?

DT: I'll admit, I was just as shocked as everyone else to see LSU not in the top three for New Orleans Edna Karr teammates Speedy Noil and Gerald Willis III. Though I wouldn't completely count out the Tigers, it looks as if Florida, Texas A&M and USC are the teams to beat. Florida will have the first crack to impress the two Under Armour All-Americans, as they are both set to officially visit the Gators when UF hosts Tennessee on Sept. 21. At this point, I believe this will be a Florida-Texas A&M battle. Rarely do "package deals" work out, but in this case, the two seem set on playing together in college.

@kylelambsports: How much do Alabama's chances increase for Leonard Fournette and Hootie Jones with the commitment from Cameron Robinson?

Gerry Hamilton: I’m not sure Robinson picking Alabama helps with Leonard Fournette (New Orleans, La./St. Augustine). Their decisions will be separate, and Fournette has a long way to go in the process with his recruitment having even more importance now for LSU after Robinson picked the Crimson Tide. When looking at Laurence Jones (Monroe, La./Neville High), he’s on I-20, where Alabama has made its run in the Pelican State in this class. Obviously, Jones knows Robinson and Cameron Sims (Monroe, La./Ouachita High), but he’s not as close as Robinson and Sims. It certainly doesn’t hurt Alabama’s chances with Jones, but I don’t believe it will sway his decision one way or another. Both players will very likely come down to LSU and Alabama, as has been expected.

@AshevilleLaw: What effect does Clemson's win have on recruits balancing CU-GA decision?

GH: I believe the Clemson win and showcasing of an electric atmosphere will resonate more with the 2015 class than 2014. When looking at the 2015 class, and especially in the Atlanta area, the Clemson staff being able to walk into high schools having beaten LSU and Georgia is suddenly a different and stronger message than a year ago. It will also be even easier to get top prospects to make unofficial visits -- not that the Tigers have struggled in that area. That’s not to take away from the positive reviews by David Sharpe (Jacksonville, Fla./Providence School) and Raekwon McMillan (Hinesville, Ga./Liberty County High), but the win will almost certainly have a lasting impact on 2015 if the Tigers go on to have a BCS bowl game-type of season. Beating SEC powers changes the message of the staff on the trail, and that is very key when battling SEC programs in Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina and Florida for top prospects.

The List: Top SEC games for recruits 

August, 27, 2013
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Every SEC game is crucial for recruiting in some form or another. It was difficult to narrow down a top 10, but here's a list of the most important games of the year from a recruiting standpoint.

1. LSU at Alabama, Nov. 9

Not much else needs to be said about why this game is so important. LSU and Alabama will go head-to-head for many targets, including Leonard Fournette, Cameron Robinson and Laurence "Hootie" Jones and this game could play a big role in determining where these elite players will wind up.


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SEC recruiting mailbag

August, 23, 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.

@Watup_Haun: Who's going to land Clifton Garrett (Plainfield, Ill./Plainfield South)?

Derek Tyson: LSU appears to be the team to beat for the ESPN 300 linebacker and by a wide margin. Garrett will also take official visits to Ole Miss, Tennessee and Florida. LSU is shaping up to have a monster recruiting class, and right now I expect Garrett to be a part of it.

[+] EnlargeAdoree' Jackson
Jeff Barlis/ESPNESPN 300 athlete Adoree' Jackson likes Florida's football and track teams and met with both head coaches during his July visit.
@UltimateLemons: What's your gut tell you about Florida landing Adoree' [Jackson] and [Lorenzo] Carter? Do the Gators even contend realistically for Raekwon [McMillan]?

DT: Though Florida has made a big impression on the five-star prospects, Jackson and Carter, the Gators certainly have their work cut out for them. Florida's track program recently won a national championship, and track will be a key factor in Jackson's decision. USC, Michigan, Tennessee and LSU are a few other schools squarely in the mix for the talented athlete. Carter has Florida in the lead with Alabama and Georgia slightly trailing. At this point, Florida feels good about both prospects, but there is still a long way to go.

As for McMillan, the Gators are in his top five, but Ohio State is clearly the team to beat. Clemson and Georgia are also near the top of his list. He is talented enough for the Gators to continue to pursue him, but at this time, I don't think he will end up in Gainesville.

@UTSportsAction1: Do the SEC school's generally look for three-star athletes and above?

DT: If you ask coaches in college football if they only recruit players ranked three-stars or higher, you would probably get the same overwhelming response. "We don't look at stars," they would likely say, and probably in a stern voice. The truth is, a lot goes in to our recruiting rankings, and we don't just rate someone a four-star prospect for the fun of it. A lot of research goes in to every player we rank. I know for a fact that some college coaches do in fact look at rankings, but they wouldn't be doing their job if they didn't do their own evaluations. So to answer your question, I think college coaches use rankings as a general guide to see if they are missing out on certain prospects or to see which other schools have offered players, but they do their own evaluations and decide who they want to offer based on a number of factors.

Looking back at last year's SEC recruiting classes and excluding kickers, long snappers, punters and junior college, prep school and transfer players, SEC teams only signed seven players who were ranked two-star prospects or below:

2013: Alabama - 0, Auburn - 0, Arkansas - 1 (WR Drew Morgan), Florida - 0, Georgia - 0, LSU - 0, Kentucky - 2 (QB Reese Phillips and OT Justin Day), Mississippi State - 0, Ole Miss - 0, South Carolina - 1 (DE Kendal Vickers), Tennessee - 0, Missouri - 2 (OC Alec Abeln and DT DeQuinton Osborne), Texas A&M - 0, Vanderbilt - 1 (ATH C.J. Duncan)

The numbers speak for themselves. Though it's uncommon, the SEC does generally recruit prospects ranked three-star prospects or higher.

@madveal37: The SEC has widespread talent. What true freshmen are going to have a big impact in 2013?

DT: This is not really a recruiting question, but because I had an opportunity to see a lot of these players in high school and at all-star games over the last few years, I'll give my opinion on a few I think could make an early impact.

DE Robert Nkemdiche (Ole Miss): There is a reason he was the consensus No. 1-ranked player in the country. He will play early and often for the Rebels and should make a big impact.

WR Demarcus Robinson (Florida): Florida needs help at wide receiver, and Robinson has been a star in fall camp.

RB Alex Collins (Arkansas): Collins was a steal for the Razorbacks. His explosiveness will earn him carries early in his career.

DE Carl Lawson and DE Elijah Daniel (Auburn): With Auburn's top defensive lineman, Dee Ford, out for the opener, it should open the door for Lawson and Daniel to make their marks.

LB Reuben Foster (Alabama): It's not easy to get on the field early at Alabama, but head coach Nick Saban has specifically singled out Foster for having a strong camp. Look for him to see the field early.

@miketag98: Will UK lose a lot of recruits if [Mark] Stoops flops on the field? Like if they go 4-8?

DT: I really don't believe so. Obviously Kentucky hasn't had much success on the field over the past few years, and recruits understand that. What Stoops is selling to these recruits is an opportunity to help turn the football program around. The opportunity to play early is another key selling point. As long as Kentucky shows improvement and is at least competitive in most of their games, I don't see recruits bailing on this impressive recruiting class.

@bigjpl2: Does Georgia have a real shot at Elijah Hood (Charlotte, N.C./Charlotte Catholic)?

DT: Hood, the former Notre Dame commit, was considering North Carolina, Georgia and Virginia Tech before he originally committed to the Fighting Irish. Now that he has backed off his pledge, you would think Georgia might still be in the picture. However, Georgia has two stud running backs in Keith Marshall and Todd Gurley. The Bulldogs signed four-star running back A.J. Turman last year, and they have two ESPN 300 running backs (Sony Michel and Nick Chubb) committed this year. Chubb is very comparable to Hood as far as size, speed and build. At this point, Georgia doesn't have a pressing need at the position and could risk losing one of its other commits if the coaches put the full-court press on Hood. Though Hood might still show interest in Georgia, in my opinion, I don't believe he will end up in Athens.

@BlakeBoswell1: What are the odds [Leonard] Fournette stays in LA?

In my opinion, the odds are in LSU's favor to land Fournette -- but not by much. Alabama is certainly putting up a big fight. In fact, Fournette was in Tuscaloosa last weekend with Cameron Robinson and Laurence Jones to watch the Crimson Tide scrimmage. I think this will be a battle to the end, but Alabama has a lot of depth at running back, and LSU's proximity to home gives the Tigers the slight advantage.

Weekend wrap: SEC 

August, 19, 2013
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SECThe college football season is nearly upon us but there was still some big recruiting news throughout the Southeastern Conference this past weekend. There was an ESPN 300 commitment, a big decommitment and several other top storylines throughout the SEC.

Here's a look at the weekend that was in the SEC.


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SEC recruiting mailbag

August, 16, 2013
8/16/13
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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.

@csull31: Can I get a comment on the direction Arkansas is headed with their new coaching staff?

Derek Tyson: Up -- that is the direction the Razorbacks are headed. New head coach Brett Bielema will have his work cut out for him to compete with the big boys from the SEC West, but it appears he is up to the challenge. Last recruiting cycle, in just a few short months on the job, Bielema was able to pull ESPN 300 prospects Denver Kirkland and Alex Collins out of Florida. This year, the Razorbacks already have a top 40 class, including 11 commits who are ranked as three-star prospects or higher. The SEC is a line-of-scrimmage league, and the Razorbacks were able to get one of the top junior college offensive lineman in the country, Jermaine Eluemunor, to switch his pledge from UCLA to Arkansas. It may take a few years for Arkansas to get to where Bielema wants his team to be, but it certainly appears as if the Razorbacks are headed in the right direction.

@QueBarbaro34: Who do you think will have the top 3 recruiting classes in the SEC after NSD?

DT: There are six teams in the top 11 of the team recruiting rankings, so a case could be made for several teams, but if I had to select three teams that would have the top three classes in the SEC, it would be LSU, Alabama and Georgia. Alabama already has the No. 1-ranked class in the country and still has several big targets such as Leonard Fournette, Cameron Robinson, Lorenzo Carter, Marlon Humphrey and Elisha Shaw remaining on its recruiting board. LSU, meanwhile, is in a similar situation. With prospects like Fournette, Robinson, Speedy Noil, Trey Quinn, Malachi Dupre, Gerald Willis III, Clifton Garrett and Laurence Jones left on their board, the Tigers could make a huge run as the recruiting season plays out. Tennessee has a very strong class and is currently ranked as the No. 3 class in the country, but that's including 24 commits. Georgia, on the other hand, has only 16 commits and it is ranked only two spots lower at No. 5. If the Bulldogs can land a few more prospects such as Carter, Raekwon McMillan or Josh Malone, Georgia could certainly find itself in the top three. Florida is another school that could make a big run toward the end. The Gators are limited in scholarships, but with prospects such as David Sharpe, Adoree' Jackson, Jamal Adams and Travis Rudolph left on their board, they could make a big run, too.

@SEC_Logo: How do recruits view all these new football facilities, how big of an impact do you think they play?

DT: In my opinion, facilities do play a role in a recruit's decision. Most of these top high school prospects want to attend a place that will prepare them for the next level. So if a school has top-notch training facilities, it only makes sense that a prospect would be more interested in that school. However, I think facilities are just one of many factors, such as on-the-field performance, proximity to home, chances of early playing time, academics and relationships with coaches, that ultimately determine which school a prospect will attend. If I had to rank the importance of each factor, I would say facilities would be near the bottom of that list.

Just for fun, I asked SEC blogger Edward Aschoff to tell me which schools have the top facilities in the conference. In no particular order and based on what he has seen, Aschoff said Alabama, Tennesee, Florida, Texas A&M, Georgia and LSU have arguably the top facilities among the SEC schools. It's interesting to note that all of those schools he mentioned are in the top 11 of the team recruiting rankings.

@THE_BOOMSTEIN: How do the 3 recruits from this past week set up the #Gators for other South Florida guys? #SEC

DT: By landing ESPN 300 defensive backs Chris Lammons and Quincy Wilson and wide receiver Ermon Lane, the Gators hit the jackpot in South Florida on Monday. Add in top 25 running back Dalvin Cook and ESPN 300 defensive tackle Khairi Clark, and the Gators have done exceptionally well in the area. It certainly can't hurt Florida's chances of landing other South Florida prospects such as wide receivers Travis Rudolph or Johnnie Dixon, but I think more importantly, it will help Florida in the future. The Gators already have a commitment from the No. 1-ranked wide receiver Da'Vante Phillips out of Miami Central and are in the mix for several other top 2015 recruits such as running back Jordan Scarlett, wide receiver Torrance Gibson, tight end Devonaire Clarington, cornerback Tyrek Cole, safety Kendrell McFadden and cornerback Tarvarus McFadden. By developing a pipeline in the talent-rich area, it will certainly help the Gators recruit younger prospects who see their friends leave South Florida and go on and have success in Gainesville.

@rbarguia: Where do Jamal Adams and Tony Brown land?

DT: With Brown, Alabama, Texas, LSU, Florida State and a few other schools are in the mix, but it's hard to ignore the fact that his older sister is headed to LSU to run track. There is still a ways to go in his recruitment, but as of now it looks like the Tigers could be the team to beat. If that is in fact the case, LSU could wind up with a top two or three class when all the pieces fall in to place. As for Adams, Florida, Texas A&M and Texas are all near the top of his list. The Gators might have the slight advantage because his godfather, Joker Phillips, is the receivers coach at Florida.

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