With the final quarter of the 2014 recruiting cycle approaching, 247Sports takes a look at the best prospects available at each position. In this series, the industry-generated 247Composite is utilized, which compiles the ratings and rankings used by the major recruiting services and is used in the 247Sports Team Recruiting Rankings, making them the most unbiased and comprehensive in the recruiting industry.
Damien Mama's college choice could be tied to the coaching hire at USC.
In this feature, we check out the five best available interior offensive linemen. This group is somewhat top heavy, with the first two being inside the top 60 and the only uncommitted guards in the 247Composite. The list also includes a standout center and several in the group could fill in if needed at offensive tackle at the next level. With the battle in the trenches often seen as the key to sustaining success in college football, these five recruits should be highly valued.
Damien Mama, Bellflower (Calif.) St. John Bosco
The No. 1 guard in the country took his first official visit last weekend to Wisconsin, and while the Badgers impressed Mama with its local food and success in developing offensive linemen, they are a longshot to reel him in at this point. Notre Dame will get Mama on campus this weekend for his second official visit, another program rife with tradition that will try to sell the massive five-star prospect on leaving the state. LSU is hoping to steal an official visit away from USC or UCLA, since Mama can easily visit either nearby program. For a long time USC has been the team to beat, but it is quite possible that stranglehold could be in jeopardy, especially if interim head coach Ed Orgeron is let go at the end of the season. Mama has built up quite a strong relationship with Orgeron, so a small window of opportunity has opened for UCLA or possibly Alabama to make a big move. Crimson Tide head coach Nick Saban has told Mama he will have an opportunity to play offensive tackle at Alabama, something other schools have not done so far. In the end though, Mama will most likely stay close to home and play for the Trojans or Bruins.
Crystal Ball: 95 percent USC, five percent UCLA
Braden Smith, Olathe (Kan.) Olathe South
Smith has been able to see his top schools, Alabama, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Texas A&M and TCU, already on unofficial visits. Expect him to schedule official visits to a few of them after the season, with Texas A&M and TCU most likely at this point. With his sister competing at TCU in track & field, the pull to the Horned Frogs is strong. Look for Smith to take his recruitment into late into the cycle.
Earlier this fall, Smith was on hand for TCU’s loss to LSU. He is not expected to take another unofficial visit this fall. Following his high school season, he’s planning to take officials to his top three schools. Notre Dame and Ohio State are two other programs still under consideration for Smith, however he’s expected to ultimately stay South.
Joshua Casher decommitted from Auburn over the summer.
Joshua Casher, Mobile (Ala.) St. Paul's Episcopal
After decommitting from Auburn in July, Casher has mentioned Alabama, Auburn, FSU and Ole Miss as schools being considered. All but Ole Miss have already secured a commitment from a center, so they have the ability to be patient and continue to recruit the No. 2 center in the country. Auburn and FSU appear to be making the biggest push at the moment, although a final decision is not expected until Casher takes his official visits.
Crystal Ball: 72 percent Auburn, 28 percent Alabama
Jordan Sims, Birmingham (Ala.) Homewood
Sims has pinpointed the weekend of the Iron Bowl for a possible commitment, which just so happens to be the weekend he intends on taking his official visit to Auburn. Alabama and Florida seem to be out of room for Sims at the moment, although he is held in high regard by both coaching staffs. Ole Miss is in contention, but right now all signs lead to Auburn getting a big in-state target that should be a very solid interior blocker in college.
Crystal Ball: 74 percent Auburn, 26 percent Alabama
Nick Gates, Las Vegas (Nev.) Bishop Gorman
Like many uncommitted prospects, Gates has mostly put recruiting on the backburner as he tries to focus on his senior season. Arizona, Nebraska, and Texas A&M have stood out for a while with Gates, and recently Oregon threw its hat into the ring as the Ducks continue to try and fill its needs along the offensive line. Those four, along with Alabama, figure to get official visits from Gates, who has no timeline for a decision right now.
Crystal Ball: 100 percent Oregon