- Gerry Hamilton, ESPN Staff Writer
After a sensational weekend to open the college football season, this weekend features a number of marquee games that are sure to have an impact on recruiting. Two games in the Southeast Region, in particular, are expected to bring out a number of big time prospects in the class of 2014 and 2015. Here is a closer look at some of the hot topics throughout the SEC:
The beat goes on for No. 1
Not only is Alabama going for a three-peat on the field this season, but also in recruiting. Already opening up a nice lead in the 2014 class rankings with the commitment of Cameron Sims (Monroe, La./Ouachita High) two weeks ago, the Crimson Tide placed a stranglehold on the competition Wednesday securing a commitment from five-star offensive tackle Cameron Robinson (West Monroe, La./West Monroe). With the pledge from Robinson, Nick Saban and Co. now have 20 commitments, including 14 in the ESPN 300.
While the current class could finish today and remain in the top two on national signing day, Alabama is poised to add significant pieces to the class. Nine five-star prospects remain uncommitted in 2014, and the Crimson Tide stand a good chance to receive official visits from six or seven, including cornerback Marlon Humphrey (Hoover, Ala./Hoover), defensive end Lorenzo Carter (Norcross, Ga./Norcross) and defensive end Da'Shawn Hand (Woodbridge, Va./Woodbridge).
Eyes on South Florida
When Florida and Miami take the field Saturday at Sun Life Stadium, it will be a rare sellout. Among those in attendance will be many of the top prospects in South Florida, and the Sunshine State. In the 2014 class, Miami commitment Joseph Yearby (Miami/Central) and Florida commits Dalvin Cook (Miami/Central) and Khairi Clark (Hollywood, Fla./Chamindae) headline. While the 2014 group expected is impressive, the 2015 visitors expected to attend take the cake. Among them are Florida commitment Da'Vante Phillips (Miami/Central), athlete Torrance Gibson (Plantation, Fla./American Heritage), cornerback Tyrek Cole (Miramar, Fla./Miramar), safety Calvin Brewton (Miami/Central) and a host of others.
Big names expected Between the Hedges
Not only is South Carolina at Georgia a key game in the SEC East race Saturday, but also a big game in recruiting. Five-star 2014 defensive end Lorenzo Carter (Norcross, Ga./Norcross High) will be attending there for an unofficial visit. Class of 2015 offensive tackle Mitch Hyatt (Suwanee, Ga./North Gwinnett) and athlete Terry Godwin (Hogansville, Ga./Callaway) will be on hand, while defensive tackle Trenton Thompson (Alabany, Ga./Westover) is a possibility. No. 15 overall in the class of 2014, tackle David Sharpe (Jacksonville, Fla./Providence School) will be watching the Bulldogs live for a second straight week after visiting Clemson last week. Defensive end Dante Sawyer (Suwannee, Ga./North Gwinnett) is also scheduled to attend. Sawyer is considered a South Carolina lean over Auburn, Tennessee and Georgia.
Five-star names top 3
One week after announcing a top five on Twitter, five-star athlete and Under Armour All-America Speedy Noil (New Orleans/Edna Karr) tweeted a top 3 of Texas A&M, Florida and USC. Rounding out the electric playmaker’s top five are LSU and Oregon. Noil also made news on Twitter this week saying he and teammate Gerald Willis III plan to play at the same college. Noil and Willis will make an official visit to Florida Sept. 21, and are scheduled to attend the Alabama-Texas A&M game unofficially Sept. 14.
Five-star Hand begins the official visit process
Five-star defensive end Da'Shawn Hand will make the first of three official visits this weekend. The 6-foot-4, 245-pound Hand will be in Ann Arbor for Michigan’s game against Notre Dame. The Wolverines are considered the favorites for Hand. On Oct. 5, he will make an official visit to Florida before concluding with a trip to Alabama Nov. 8. Hand remains scheduled to announce his decision Nov. 14.
Four official visits for Malone
ESPN 300 wide receiver Josh Malone (Gallatin, Tenn./Station Camp) will make at least four official visits before making a commitment. Florida State, Georgia, Clemson and Tennessee will surely receive officials, with a fifth visit still an outside possibility. Malone, who will visit Florida State Nov. 1, made an unofficial visit to Clemson last weekend for the Tigers game against Georgia. He made an unofficial to Vanderbilt last week as well for the Commodores season opener against Ole Miss.