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Wednesday, July 17, 2013
The SEC continues to own recruiting

By Jeremy Crabtree

Need more proof that the SEC dominates the landscape of college football?

Things usually slow down for recruiting news when coaches flock to their respective conference media days, but don’t tell that to the leaders of programs in the SEC. While the attention of the college football world has been on the Wynfrey Hotel in Hoover, Ala., assistants from some of the top programs in the SEC have been busy making recruiting waves.

SEC programs have landed three significant commitments since SEC Media Days started, and there’s a strong chance that tally could grow even higher on Thursday when Brandon Harris, the nation’s No. 2 dual-threat quarterback from Bossier City (La.) Parkway, picks between LSU, Ohio State and Auburn. All signs point toward LSU being his destination when he announces his decision at 3 p.m. ET Thursday with ESPN’s RecruitingNation.

Butch Jones
Despite being a first-year coach for a rebuilding program, Butch Jones has put together an impressive 2014 class.
It started in earnest on Tuesday when Tennessee scored a commitment from ESPN 300 safety Cortez McDowell of Locust Grove (Ga.) High School. McDowell said he called Butch Jones with the news as Jones was making his way to Hoover.

"Coach Jones said I gave him goose bumps and that I fired him up to talk to the 500 people at SEC Media Days," McDowell told RecruitingNation’s Kipp Adams. "It is amazing to see what he and his staff have been able to do in only a few months."

McDowell’s pledge continued Tennessee’s climb up the RecruitingNation class rankings. The Vols continue to trend upward and move into the top five with the news.

You can’t help but be impressed with the job Jones & Co. have done in Knoxville. The Vols have nine commitments from players in the ESPN 300, while the rest of the top 30 averages only five. And even more importantly, Tennessee is tied with Alabama and Texas A&M for the most ESPN 300 commits in the SEC. That’s pretty elite company for a program that has a new head coach and finished 5-7 in 2012.

Auburn continued the SEC’s recruiting momentum with a commitment from its quarterback of the future -- four-star Sean White of Fort Lauderdale (Fla.) University School. White pledged to the Tigers on Tuesday afternoon, picking Auburn over Cincinnati, West Virginia and Syracuse. White’s stock was as red hot as any quarterback in the country after winning most valuable player honors at the Elite 11.

To win at Auburn, head coach Gus Malzahn needs an effective quarterback to run his high-octane offense, and White seems to fit the mold perfectly. RecruitingNation scouts compare White to former Missouri star and Heisman Trophy finalist Chase Daniel, and White identified Malzahn’s success with Cam Newton as a big reason for the decision.

"Coach Malzahn knows what he's looking for,” White told RecruitingNation’s Derek Tyson. “So when he thinks I have the ability to come in and play for him and be successful -- it means a lot. He's had a lot of success, and he knows what he's looking for, so that's a great thing."

The Tigers weren’t finished after White. Early Wednesday, ESPN 300 athlete Stanton Truitt of Monroe (Ga.) Monroe Area committed to the Tigers, giving White a weapon to work with on offense. All signs point toward Truitt ending up as a slot/scatback player with elite speed. Players like that often excel in offenses like Malzahn's.

And as the stage was being set for SEC media days, Georgia was grabbing the most national headlines. While the Dawgs didn’t land commits while coach Mark Richt was in Hoover, it should be noted that after four commitments in the last week -- including ESPN 300 offensive lineman Isaiah Wynn of Saint Petersberg (Fla.) Lakewood and four-star receiver Shakenneth Williams of Macon (Ga.) Rutland -- UGA was the biggest mover in the class rankings.

The Dawgs moved to No. 9 overall to give the SEC five of the top 10 spots and 10 of the top 30 overall. It would be six of the top 10, but Notre Dame narrowly bumped Florida to No. 11 after gaining a commitment from ESPN 300 receiver Corey Holmes (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla./St. Thomas Aquinas).

It shouldn’t be a shock that we’re in this position. It’s just college football’s most dominant conference doing what it does best -- dominating the landscape and beating up on everybody else.