- Gerry Hamilton, ESPN Staff Writer
If the first four weeks of the college football season weren’t enough for SEC fans, this weekend is sure to be the midseason tipping point with a number of big games, including LSU at Georgia and Ole Miss at Alabama. As is always the case, the official and unofficial visit process takes center stage in recruiting with many of the top prospects scheduled to be on hand for the marquee matchups.
Georgia snags Sunshine State pass rusher
While a win over LSU is what would make for a great week for the Georgia Bulldogs, it turns out Thursday hasn’t been too shabby either, Mark Richt and staff landed a key piece to the 2014 recruiting class, plucking edge pass-rushing prospect Keyon Brown (Wauchula, Fla./Hardee County) out of the Sunshine State. The 6-foot-3, 243-pound Brown committed to Georgia over Miami and Florida State, becoming the 17th commitment for the Bulldogs in the class, which is ranked No. 5.
Brown, the No. 210 prospect in the ESPN 300, will play outside linebacker in Georgia’s 3-4 scheme. He becomes the fifth prospect from Florida to commit in the 2014 class, which includes No. 18 overall Sony Michel (Plantation, Fla./American Heritage). Georgia signed five prospects from Florida in the 2013 class.
The Bulldogs remain in the hunt for No. 11 overall Lorenzo Carter (Norcross, Ga./Norcross), No. 14 Raekwon McMillan (Hinesville, Ga./Liberty County) and No. 15 David Sharpe (Jacksonville, Fla./Providence), among others.
Five-star McMillan begins official visit process
ILB McMillan will begin the official visit process this weekend with a trip to Georgia. The No. 14 ranked prospect overall will follow the visit to Athens with trips to Clemson Oct. 18, Ohio State Oct. 26, Alabama Nov. 8 and Florida Nov. 29. The Buckeyes have been the favorite for more than a year, but Clemson and Alabama have closed the gap in recent weeks and months. If distance from home becomes a factor as decision time nears, the Gators will likely be right there with Georgia, Alabama and Clemson.
Georgia surging with nation’s No. 2 OT
Headed into the season, the favorite to land David Sharpe was Florida. Now five weeks into the season, there is little doubt that Georgia is the program trending with the No. 2 offensive tackle. After tripping to Athens to take in the South Carolina-Georgia game Sept. 7, the 6-6, 288-pound prospect will be back in Athens this weekend for the Bulldogs’ game against LSU, a program that recently offered. Considering Sharpe also watched Georgia take on Clemson at Clemson Aug. 31 and has yet to step on campus in Gainesville this season, Georgia fans certainly have reason for hope.
Ohio State hosting Florida WRs
In the 2013 class, Ohio State dipped into Texas and Florida and signed speedy playmakers Dontre Wilson and James Clark. Urban Meyer and staff are looking for more of the same in 2014 and will have a pair of ESPN 300 wide receivers in Columbus this weekend: Johnnie Dixon (Palm Beach Gardens, Fla./Dwyer), No. 42 overall, and No. 65 Travis Rudolph (West Palm Beach, Fla./Cardinal Newman). The 5-11, 197-pound Dixon has already made official visits to NC State (Sept. 6) and Arkansas (Sept. 13) and will trip to Alabama on Nov. 8. The Crimson Tide and Miami Hurricanes are considered the favorites headed into this weekend. This will be the first official visit for the 6-1, 188-pound Rudolph. He will trip to Tennessee on Oct. 4 and is considering visits to Florida, Florida State, Auburn and Alabama. The Gators are considered the favorite for the Under Armour All-America headed into the official visit process.
SEC represented in Featherston’s top 5
Lorenzo Featherston (Greensboro, N.C./Page), the No. 27 overall prospect, has a top five of Clemson, Florida, NC State, North Carolina and Georgia per a source close to the 6-7, 220-pounder’s recruitment. Clemson is considered the favorite for the No. 4 defensive end in the 2014 class headed into the official visit process, with the in-state programs fighting hard to keep the Under Armour All-America home.
Tennessee big visit weekend taking shape
The Tennessee Volunteers will host a number of top-ranked prospects in two weeks when they play host to Georgia. Among the official visitors scheduled to be in Knoxville Oct. 4-6 are No. 59 Clifton Garrett (Plainfield, Il./South Plainfield), Travis Rudolph, No. 99 Josh Malone (Gallatin, Tenn./Station Camp), No. 176 Derrell Scott (Havelock, N.C./Havelock), No. 189 Dewayne Hendrix (O’Fallon, Ill./O’Fallon Township) and four-star receiver Braxton Berrios (Raleigh, N.C./Leesville Road). Both Scott and Berrios are scheduled to announce their decisions in October, with Berrios set for Oct. 12.
The visit is key in particular with the playmaking Malone as Butch Jones and staff work to keep the best of the best in-state. Malone officially visits Georgia this weekend, will visit Florida State Nov. 1 and also is considering Clemson and Florida.
Tabor will officially visit two SEC schools
On Tuesday, No. 17 overall Jalen Tabor (Washington, D.C./Friendship Collegiate Academy) announced the five schools he will officially visit, including two in the SEC. Hometown Maryland made the cut along with Alabama, Florida, Arizona and Southern California. The 6-1, 188-pounder’s first official visit will be to Arizona on Dec. 13 with a pair of his teammates, Arizona commitment Jonathan Haden and defensive back Daejuan Funderburk. Headed into October, Maryland is considered the favorite, with Florida and Alabama providing stiff competition.
Evans heading West
ESPN 300 No. 8 outside linebacker Rashaan Evans (Auburn, Ala./Auburn) will begin the official visit process this weekend with a trip to UCLA with teammate and UCLA commitment Antreal Allen. The 6-3, 217-pound Under Armour All-America Game selection also will take officials to Auburn, Alabama and Georgia,but has to set the dates. Evans, the No. 150 overall prospect, is considered an Auburn lean
Familiar face in Tuscaloosa
Ole Miss safety commitment and No. 201 overall in the ESPN 300 C.J. Hampton (Meridian, Miss./Meridian) is scheduled to be at Alabama unofficially for the second weekend in a row. Hampton attended the Crimson Tide’s win over Colorado State last weekend, and this weekend will watch Ole Miss take on Alabama. Hampton, who intends to go through the official visit process, will likely make trips to Georgia and possibly Auburn along with Ole Miss and Alabama.
3dTom VanHaaren and Erik McKinney