Texas A&M Aggies: Jesse Jackson

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.

SEC recruiting storylines: Oct. 10 

October, 10, 2013
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Taking a look back at the week that was in SEC recruiting and looking ahead to future visits as teams build toward signing day:

Banner week for Tennessee

While Tennessee couldn’t pull out a victory over Georgia Saturday, the Vols had more success in the minds of prospects. The Volunteers have picked up a pair of commitments since Saturday, and both are significant. Defensive end Derek Barnett (Brentwood, Tenn./Brentwood Academy), the No. 298 player in the ESPN 300, helps fill a serious need on the defensive front. Junior college offensive tackle Dontavius Blair (Anniston, Ala./Garden City Community College) has the ability to be an impact player at a key position that will be hit by graduation. The 6-foot-7, 307-pound Blair was a huge recruiting win over SEC programs Auburn and Texas A&M. The Vols look like a lead-pipe cinch to sign a top-10 class at this point.


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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 recruiting mailbag

October, 4, 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.

@superBowl: Where do you think Josh Malone (Gallatin, Tenn./Station Camp) goes? Vols, Dawgs, someone else?

Derek Tyson: I believe this will be a great recruiting battle between the two schools you mentioned. He visited Georgia last weekend and by all accounts really was impressed with the the Bulldogs had to offer. Now it will be Tennessee's turn to impress the ESPN 300 wide receiver. Florida State is still in the mix and he will officially visit the Noles on Nov. 2, but at this point I believe this will be a Georgia-Tennessee battle. In my opinion I believe Georgia has a slight advantage, but if the Vols can impress him this weekend, then things could swing in their direction.


@chadhoward0808: Where do you think Lorenzo Featherston is going?

DT: I feel like Clemson is probably the team to beat right now. He will officially visit Florida this weekend, and his parents are torn between North Carolina and NC State. Georgia is another team that is in the mix, but when all is said and done, I think the 6-foot-7, 203-pound defensive end will end up at Clemson.


@nathan0223: What's the story with Jamal Adams (Lewisville, Texas/Hebron)

DT: Adams, the 25th-ranked player in the country, has already visited Texas A&M and Florida and those two schools appear to be out front of everyone else -- though he doesn't come out and say that publicly. He will visit Ole Miss on Oct. 18, Ohio State on Oct. 25 and his final visit will be to Texas on Nov. 15. As we all know, things can change on a dime in recruiting, but at this point I think the Gators are the team to beat, with A&M right there as well.


@Ctomemobile: It seems like there hasn't been any recruiting buzz coming from the plains in East Alabama. Any news?

DT: Auburn has put together a solid class, but yes, things have slowed down a bit on the plains. The Tigers, however, offered wide receiver three-star wide receiver Myron Burton Jr. (Suwanee, Ga./Peachtree Ridge) earlier this week and Auburn appears to be high on his list, especially considering his father Myron Sr. played at Auburn. The Tigers will also have a big visitor in ESPN 300 wide receiver Jesse Jackson (Petal, Miss./Petal) this weekend. Auburn is in a battle with Mississippi State and Ole Miss for Jackson. ESPN 300 athlete Ronnie Clark (Calera, Ala./Calera) is set to make his decision sometime on Friday and it will likely come down to Auburn or Alabama.


@catorano: Do you see that A&M joining the SEC has helped other schools come into Texas to recruit?

DT: Maybe to an extent. It certainly hasn't hurt, but SEC schools have always tried come in to Texas and pull some of the top players, with limited success. Two big Texas prospects -- Jamal Adams (Lewisville, Texas/Hebron) and Tony Brown (Beaumont, Texas/Ozen) -- have some ties to SEC schools, which is maybe why they are looking harder at some SEC schools.. LSU has always been able to recruit well in the Longhorn State because of proximity. I do think that the longer Texas A&M is in the SEC, the more it will help, just because recruits will get to see these big SEC games that involve the Aggies and will be exposed to other schools and SEC venues.

Most important SEC recruiting targets 

September, 17, 2013
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The Southeastern Conference already has one commitment from a top-10 player in the ESPN 300 (Cameron Robinson to Alabama), but the conference has a real possibility of landing the last six uncommitted top-10 prospects in the country. Here is a closer look at the top remaining recruiting targets in the SEC, by school:

Alabama
CB Marlon Humphrey (Hoover, Ala./Hoover)
6-foot, 180 pounds
ESPN 300 rank: 9

A case could certainly be made for Leonard Fournette in this position, but Alabama has talent and depth at running back and the Tide secondary surrendered 464 passing yards and five touchdowns to quarterback Johnny Manziel on Saturday. Humphrey is an athletic cornerback with great size. FSU is also very much in the picture for Humphrey, and Alabama will have to fight to keep this electric playmaker from leaving the state.


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The List: Must-have SEC recruits 

August, 13, 2013
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There are still several months for before national signing day, but this week, we take a look at who we feel is the top remaining prospect on each SEC team's recruiting board. The list is in alphabetical order.

Alabama
LT Cameron Robinson (West Monroe, La./West Monroe)
6-foot-5, 330 pounds
ESPN 300 rank: 3

Alabama already has a solid offensive line class but the addition of Robinson could make their OL class the tops in the country. Robinson was dominant out at The Opening last month and there is no question he is the top tackle prospect in the country this year. The Under Armour All-American will chose between LSU and Alabama. RB Leonard Fournette, could also be listed here for Bama, but the Tide have a stable of running backs, and left tackle is the second most important position on the field. Robinson has the look of a future top-10 draft pick.


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