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Wednesday, May 22, 2013
SEC teams top ESPN 150 WR's top five

By Jared Shanker

LSU and Ohio State were the top two for ESPN 150 wide receiver Saeed Blacknall. Now the two are bookends for the Manalapan (N.J.) High School star's top five.

The 6-foot-3, 205-pound Blacknall released a top five Tuesday night. LSU remains at the top, but the Tigers are now followed by -- in order -- Alabama, Notre Dame, Florida State and Ohio State.

Blacknall, who is No. 108 in the ESPN 150 and the No. 13 WR in the nation, made LSU his early leader in March after an unofficial visit to Baton Rouge. LSU receivers coach Adam Henry and Blacknall have built a strong relationship since the visit, but that is just one of the reasons the Tigers are at the top.

"The whole situation of the coaching staff, me being comfortable, I've been down to visit and I've seen it," the four-star prospect said. "The relationship between me and the receivers coach is clicking. We have it going right now.

"I'm waiting to see how everything else will play out, but right now they're the leader."

Where you find LSU you almost always find Alabama, so it is no surprise the Tide are directly behind the Tigers on Blacknall's leaderboard. Blacknall has family littered throughout the South -- including Alabama -- which is a reason two SEC programs are at the top.

The Tide are the most recent of his top-five schools to offer, but they made an immediate jump when assistant coach Mario Cristobal offered on a visit to Manalapan. The relationship between Cristobal and Blacknall has blossomed since then, and Tide receivers coach Billy Napier also made an impression.

"[Cristobal and Blacknall] have a good relationship, starting to get to know each other. He saw the person I was on and off the field and likes what I can do and feels I can be a big factor and have a legitimate role in that system," Blacknall said. "Next is to go down there, thinking in July."

Notre Dame is also one of the more recent offers for Blacknall, and New Jersey has been kind to Notre Dame in 2014 and previous years. ESPN 150 defensive end Andrew Trumbetti (Demarest, N.J./Demarest) and Quenton Nelson (Red Bank, N.J./Red Bank Catholic) are committed to the Irish, and Nelson is already recruiting his close friend Blacknall, ranked No. 3 in the state. The Irish moved to No. 3 on Blacknall's list after assistant coach Tony Alford came to Manalapan.

"I felt his presence and vibe and how he does things [on the visit] and called him right up after and we talked and got to know each other and he told me his background and who he coached and what he's trying to do," Blacknall said. "From there we talked about how the program is doing -- going to the national championship -- that plays a big role. They're not just a team that's playing for bowl games."

While Blacknall has not discussed FSU much in recent months, the Seminoles checked in at No. 4 on his list because of the comfort level he has with the coaches in Tallahassee, specifically receivers coach Lawrence Dawsey. Although the Seminoles just added WR Markell Pack (Purvis, Miss./Purvis), Blacknall sees an opportunity for early playing time at Florida State.

"A great aspect is they're losing a lot of receivers and in need of a wide receiver on the depth chart," Blacknall said, "and I feel I can go in and make an impact right away. The situation going in would be great."

The Buckeyes sit fifth on Blacknall's list, which would look as if they dropped a bit from their top-two status a few weeks ago. But Blacknall said it is not a case of Ohio State falling out of favor. Ohio State is "in high consideration" and will play "a legitimate role on my list."

There is a sense of loyalty to Ohio State dating back to the season. Coach Urban Meyer had his sights on Blacknall early, and Ohio State has been to Manalapan as much as the NCAA allows.

"[Meyer] was one of the first coaches to come see me and the first head coach to see me, and that means a lot," he said. "Coach Meyer speaks for himself. He has an amazing track record and he's wide receiver friendly, and he's Urban Meyer on top of that. He knows what he's doing. I just need to go see it."

Blacknall expects to have a decision not long after his summer visits and plans to make a commitment before the season.