There is little doubt that the recruiting cycle in college football has accelerated in recent years, so it’s never a bad idea to look at some of the talent in the forthcoming classes. This week’s Southeastern Conference Recruiting Roundup features a snapshot at the 2015 cycle in every state within the SEC’s geographic footprint (every state that includes at least one SEC university).
Top247 athlete Kerryon Johnson is one of the state of Alabama's best 2015 prospects. Auburn, Alabama and Florida State are in the mix to land him at this point.
Early Look- The Yellowhammer State doesn’t appear to be as deep as it has been in certain cycles, but there is star power at the top for 2015 and you never know who might emerge out of this state at a given time.
Off the Board- Top247 running back Desherrius Flowers from Vigor High in Mobile has already committed to the in-state Crimson Tide. He’s the top prospect currently in the talent-rich coastal region of the state (Greater Mobile), which doesn’t appear to have the depth of talent for 2015 that it normally does.
The Buzz- Payne currently is ranked is the top defensive tackle prospect in the 2015 cycle nationally and is a lean to Alabama with Auburn No. 2. Johnson could play safety or running back in college and it’s a three-way battle with Auburn, Alabama and Florida State (he’s a Tallahassee native) all contenders. McBryde holds offers from Kentucky and Jacksonville State, but the 6-foot-2, 210-pound striker should see that increase significantly moving forward.
Potential Sleeper(s)- Though he checks in at around 5-foot-7, almost universally those that have seen all-purpose back Traveon Samuel of Phenix City Central in person rave about his explosiveness and big-play ability. He could be the second coming of Marquis Maze when all is said and done. Also keep an eye on Payne’s teammate at Shades Valley Keith Mixon. He’s just a great football player.
Trending- Down. Though it is early, 2015 does not appear to be a very deep cycle in terms of high-end talent in Alabama. Still, the state should produce its annual 40-plus FBS-level signees when all is said and done and it’s almost a foregone conclusion that one or two players will be overlooked by Alabama and Auburn, head elsewhere and end up in the NFL. Granted, it's not like that's hurting either in-state program (there has not been a non-Alabama team to win a national title since 2008) but a testament to the depth of talent that is typically in the state.
Rico McGraw is part of one of the most talented recruiting cycles in the state of Tennessee during the modern era of recruiting coverage.
Early Look- The Class of 2015 in the Natural State could be one of the better groups in recent cycles. There are players at important positions like quarterback and defensive end and another talented tight end prospect (in the tradition of Hunter Henry and D.J. Williams).
Off the Board- Top247 quarterback Ty Storey of Charleston, defensive end Jamario Bell of Junction City (who will be a Top247 prospect in the near future) and high upside offensive tackle Colton Jackson of Conway all have given early commitments to in-state Arkansas. It’s about as fast of an in-state start as Bret Bielema and company could have asked for.
The Buzz- Gragg is just the latest excellent tight end prospect from the state of Arkansas. He’s 6-foot-4, 240 pounds and is extremely athletic with good hands. Chances are, he stays solidly in the Top247 throughout this cycle. The Razorbacks feel like they are in good shape early, but he will explore different options. Hill is the latest big-timer from an excellent high school program at North Little Rock (transferred in from Bryant High). Arkansas and Auburn have both offered. He could be a four-star, Top247 type when all is said and done. Pettway is a big-bodied 6-foot-3, 200-pounder who could play wide receiver or safety/linebacker in college. Nebraska has already offered.
Potential Sleeper(s)- Linebacker Ian Jackson from Fort Smith Southside comes from a football family (his older brother is the quarterback for his high school team) and has an excellent size/quickness combination for a prospect at his position.
Trending- Up. There could be 10 or more prospects in Arkansas to ink with BCS-level programs in the 2015 cycle, which would make it somewhat of an atypical cycle in the Natural State.
Defensive tackle Eurndraus Bryant hails from the same high school program that produced NFL defensive linemen Carlos Dunlap and Robert Quinn.
Early Look- 2015 is another cycle full of difference-makers in the Sunshine State, including what could be the top offensive tackle, athlete and cornerback in the entire 2015 cycle. Also, south Florida in particular is loaded for the 2015 cycle, particularly at defensive back.
Off the Board- Five-star wide receiver/athlete George Campbell of Tarpon Springs East Lake is an early pledge to Michigan while five-star cornerback Kevin Toliver II of Jacksonville Trinity Christian is an early pledge to LSU. Top247 safety Derwin James of Haines City (Florida State) and Top247 wide receiver Da’Vante Phillips of Miami Central (Florida) also have verbally committed.
Best Available- Martez Ivey, OT, Apopka; CeCe Jefferson, DE, Glen Saint Mary Baker County; Jeffery Holland, OLB, Jacksonville Trinity Christian; Jordan Scarlett, RB, Fort Lauderdale University School; Torrance Gibson, QB/ATH, Fort Lauderdale American Heritage
The Buzz- The current three best available in Florida for 2015 all are considered leans in one form or fashion to in-state Florida. Ivey in particular appears destined to be a Gator and it would be a surprising to not see at least one (likely two) of Jefferson and Holland play their college football in Gainesville. Scarlett, who is a top 2-3 running back prospect nationally for ’15 (could be the best), is a lean to Florida State early and Gibson, a potential five-star who wants to play quarterback, could end up out-of-state playing that position at an Ohio State or Texas.
Potential Sleeper(s)- This state is full of them, but two come to mind early. Miramar running back Alex Anderson and Delray Beach American Heritage defensive back Desmond Cain are two that could emerge moving forward. There will be and are currently plenty of others, though.
Trending- Up. Given the amount of prospects that are top five at their position nationally for 2015, this group of prospects in Florida appears to be slightly ahead of the 2014 cycle. Let’s be honest, though, it’s always loaded in the Sunshine State.
Class of 2015 Top247 quarterback Drew Lock is the next highly-touted signal caller from the state of Missouri, which has produced its share over the years, including former Mizzou and current NFL quarterback Blaine Gabbert.
Early Look- The Peach State, which is solidly No. 4 behind California, Florida and Texas in producing football talent, has another bumper crop of talent in the 2015 cycle, including the No. 1 prospect overall in the early 247Composite and a slew of excellent pass rushers.
Off the Board- Top247 defensive end Mekhi Brown of Columbus Carver has committed to Alabama. Top247 safety Arrington Farrar of Atlanta Woodward Academy has pledged to Stanford while four-star receivers Christian Owens of Griffin (Georgia) and Preston Williams of Lovejoy (Tennessee) also have committed early.
Best Available- Mitch Hyatt, OT, Suwanee North Gwinnett; Trent Thompson, DT, Albany Westover, Terry Godwin, ATH, Hogansville Callaway; Taj Griffn, APB, Powder Springs McEachern, Natrez Patrick, DE/OLB, Atlanta Mays
The Buzz- Hyatt has deep family ties to Clemson and while he’s giving several schools a look, it’s going to be difficult to beat the Tigers in the end. Only Georgia and Georgia Tech are closer to his Gwinnett County home than Clemson, which sits just up I-85 across the border in South Carolina, is. Thompson is a life-long UGA fan and it would not be a surprise to see him end the process and commit to the Bulldogs sooner rather than later. Godwin is interesting. He has a lot of options and appears open to leaving the state. Auburn could swipe a great one here down the road. Griffin is one of the fastest backs in the country and has a slew of options. UGA is in good shape, but the early word is watch out for Oregon because of offensive system fit. Patrick’s skill set fits UGA’s defensive scheme and the Bulldogs are in excellent shape here, too.
Potential Sleeper(s)- Defensive tackle Quay Picou of powerhouse Buford doesn’t have a whole lot of film (transferred in), but is 6-foot-3, 287 pounds, can move, earned offers at college camps and plays at a high school where he will get flat-out coached. Anree Saint-Amour of North Gwinnett has an excellent frame and like Patrick could end up being an excellent outside linebacker/dpr (down pass rusher) in college. Also, Greater Atlanta Christian cornerback Darius Slayton is 6-foot-1 and won state titles in both the 100 and 200-meter dash on the track this past spring.
Trending- Up. Despite the fact that it’s been known that Georgia was great for talent for years, it appears the state could end up challenging the big three (California, Florida, Texas) if things continue. That’s not bad considering the state has half the population of Florida, just more than a third of Texas and just more than a fourth of California.
Malik Dear weighs almost 200 pounds and runs a confirmed sub-4.5 second 40-yard dash. He is one of three elite prospects in the state of Mississippi for the 2015 cycle.
Early Look- While there aren’t multiple high-end prospects in the Bluegrass State for 2015, there is elite talent, including one of the best running back prospects in the country and high-end prospects at linebacker. Oh, yeah, there are a couple of FBS-level quarterbacks, too, something Kentucky is no stranger to producing.
The Buzz- Ryan claims an early verbal offer from Louisville, which just got a pledge from a 2015 quarterback in Ross Trail of Olive Branch (Miss.), but he’s a good passer who should end up at the FBS level (quarterback spots get taken in a hurry as we all know). Smith, who obviously has a great football name, caught our eye at the Columbus (Ohio) Nike Football Training Camp. The four-star prospect is a big-bodied linebacker who could transition to defensive end in college if he keeps growing. We like in-state Kentucky’s chances here. Sindelar claims an early verbal offer from the Wildcats and the 6-foot-4 prospect from the western portion of the Bluegrass State has a quick release to go along with his size. UK could land him if it pushes hard.
Potential Sleeper(s)- Running back Donald Brooks of Louisville Trinity caught the eye of 247Sports National Recruiting Analyst Barton Simmons earlier this season and received an initial grade of 87 (high three star) despite having no offers. He plays for one of the best programs in the state and has good vision and balance. Offensive lineman Mason Wolfe of Henderson County needs to reshape his body a bit, but the 6-foot-5, 270-pound tackle/guard showed some potential at the VTO Prep 100 Combine in Cincinnati back in March.
Trending- Down. The 2014 cycle, with Army All-American quarterback Drew Barker, five-star defensive tackle Matt Elam, Top247 defensive end Lloyd Tubman and several others, is a tough act to follow. There should be more prospects to emerge, however, for 2015, as we move forward.
Wide receiver Tyron Johnson is one of the top big-play threats in the country for the Class of 2015 and is in the mix to be the top prospect from Louisiana for that cycle.
Early Look- While it certainly doesn’t have the star power at the top that the 2014 cycle does, 2015 is another deep year in the Pelican State. There is plenty of talent at running back and wide receiver, in particular.
Off the Board- Top247 running back Nick Brossette of Southern Lab and Top247 cornerback Xavier Lewis of East St. John have committed to LSU. Top247 offensive tackle Jerry Tillery of Shreveport Evangel Christian has committed to Notre Dame.
Best Available- Tyron Johnson, WR, New Orleans Warren Easton; Derrius Guice, RB, Baton Rouge Catholic; Jazz Ferguson, WR/TE, Saint Francisville West Feliciana; T.D. Moton, DT, Shreveport Woodlawn; Kevin Henry, S, Baton Rouge Central.
The Buzz- Johnson is a big-play threat who has excellent speed. As a pure receiver, there is some development to be done, but you can’t really coach what he has- which is the ability to take it to the house at any point. LSU is in good shape here. Guice is one of the better running back prospects in the country and even though LSU has Brosette committed, the hometown Tigers are the team to beat. Ferguson has a ways to go as a football player, but the upside is there. Moton is an excellent athlete for his size and is at the top of the board at defensive tackle for several schools. Henry is your classic Louisiana big safety prospect that will come up and hit you.
Potential Sleeper(s)- Johnson’s teammate at Warren Easton, linebacker Arthur McGinnis, doesn’t have a lot of film, but looked the part athletically in camp settings this past summer. The 6-foot-2, 215-pounder could be one to keep an eye on moving forward.
Linebacker Emmitt Smith of Bowling Green (Ky.) Warren Central is an early four-star prospect in the Bluegrass State for the 2015 cycle.
Early Look- It’s all about the big three in the Magnolia State for 2015 as there’s yet another elite interior offensive line prospect, an outstanding safety prospect and one of the more versatile, explosive athletes in the cycle.
Off the Board- Top247 athlete Willie Hibbler of Sardis North Panola has committed to Ole Miss. Trail has committed to Louisville.
The Buzz- There’s a school of thought that LSU could come across the border and snag Peters, a tall, rangy safety that can move and strike you. Mississippi State and Ole Miss are the likely frontrunners at this point. Still, Bassfield is in the southern part of the state where the Tigers can play a proximity card. Dear, who is 5-foot-10, more than 200 pounds and runs a legitimate 4.4-second 40-yard dash, is shaping up to be an in-state battle with a nod toward the Bulldogs at this point. He fits the offensive system of both in-state programs quite nicely. Patterson follows Roderick Taylor from the 2014 cycle as the next big-time athlete on the offensive interior from Mississippi. Taylor is a pledge to the Rebels and the early thought is that Patterson could also end up in Oxford.
Potential Sleeper(s)- There is a lot of buzz about 6-foot-5, 210-pound dual-threat quarterback Blake Hawkins of Tishomingo County. Early interest is coming from the two SEC in-state programs, along with Southern Mississippi, Vanderbilt and others. He’s been timed below 4.6 seconds in the 40-yard dash (hand-timed) and has a good arm.
Trending- Up, slightly. All of the “big three” are among the top 50 prospects in the country currently. Right now, previous cycles seem a little deeper, but the feeling is more players will emerge.
Taj Griffin of McEachern High in Powder Springs, Ga., is one of the fastest running backs in the country for the 2015 cycle and a potential five-star prospect.
Early Look- 2015 appears to be a normal cycle in the Show Me State with 3-5 national-level prospects and 20-plus FBS-level prospects concentrated in St. Louis and Kansas City and then littered across the state.
Off the Board- None.
The Buzz- Missouri, which has lot a significant amount of in-state talent thus far in the 2014 cycle, looks to be in excellent shape for Lock, a Top247 prospect. Also, you have to like the Tigers chances early with local product Ofodile, who has good hands and explosiveness. Hentges could possibly give Missouri a sweep of the current top three.
Potential Sleeper(s)- It’s tough to call him a sleeper because he’s a four-star prospect, but Kansas City athlete Marquise Doherty is an excellent player who could help the program of his choice at a number of different positions.
Trending- Down, slightly. This could change as more prospects emerge from the Missouri part of St. Louis area. There is plenty of known talent across the river in East St. Louis, Ill., in the 2015 cycle, but that’s a different state.
Torrance Gibson is a potential five-star prospect by 247Sports. The Class of 2015 athlete has special ability and wants to play quarterback in college. His position preference could lead him out-of-state.
Early Look- The Palmetto State, which is the southern portion of what 247Sports National Recruiting Insider Ryan Bartow calls “defensive line heaven” (the Carolinas), features two of the best defensive line prospects in the country for 2015, another with SEC/ACC offers and yet another that stands 6-foot-7 with great potential.
Off the Board- Five-star defensive end Shameik Blackshear of Bluffton has committed to South Carolina.
The Buzz- Huggins is a 6-foot-5, 270-pounder with a slew of offers. Florida, Clemson, Georgia and South Carolina are the four teams that are primarily in the mix with an edge to the Tigers, Gators and Bulldogs. Sutton is a bit undersized, but is fast and will hit you. Clemson has the early advantage there and with Chalmers, who is from the same high school that produced Houston Texans draft picks D.J. Swearinger (South Carolina) and Sam Montgomery (LSU) last year. Barnett likes Virginia Tech and has the Hokies on top, but his school is a Clemson pipeline and the Tigers could end up with him in the end. Clemons is a move-in from New Jersey. If LSU offers, he is likely Baton Rouge-bound, otherwise he’s wide open.
Potential Sleeper(s)- Defensive tackle Eurndraus Bryant of Fort Dorchester (the same school that produced Carlos Dunlap of the Bengals and Robert Quinn of the Rams) is a 6-foot-2, 320-pound nose tackle type that has really come on the past two seasons. He’s got the strength and athleticism to be a nose guard-type and an effective one in college.
Trending- Up. South Carolina in 2014 is light years better than 2013 or 2012, but 2015 takes it up another level with two top 40 defensive line prospects and several others that have a chance to be recruited nationally.
Will Gragg is the latest national-level tight end prospect to hail from Arkansas, joining recent top tight ends Hunter Henry and D.J. Williams.
Early Look- With a double digit number of prospects rated four-stars or higher this early in the 2015 cycle, it’s safe to say that this could be one of the best classes on paper in the history of recruiting in the Volunteer State. The Nashville area in particular is up.
Off the Board- Four-star defensive back Donovan Sheffield of Nashville Ensworth has committed to Vanderbilt. Tennessee has commitments from offensive linemen Zach Stewart of Coalfield and Jack Jones of Murfreesboro Oakland, along with Lenoir City athlete Jaylond Woods- all three stars.
Best Available- Rico McGraw, CB, Nashville Ensworth; Drew Richmond, OT, Memphis University School; Kyle Phillips, DE, Nashville Hillsboro; Jauan Jennings, DQB/ATH Murfreesboro Blackman; Van Jefferson, WR, Brentwood Ravenwood
The Buzz- McGraw, an early selection for the 2015 U.S. Army All-American Bowl, is one of the best defensive backs in the country for his cycle and it’s an excellent, deep cycle at both cornerback (where he projects) and safety. Alabama is the early pick as to where he will end up, but watch out for the Vols and others. Richmond has good size, footwork and has a slew of offers. Tennessee and Ohio State are two early suitors with staying power. Phillips’ mother is the AD at Tennessee State University in Nashville and is a Vanderbilt graduate, so the hometown Commodores look good early. Phillips is a dominant pass rusher that is already 6-foot-4, 250 pounds. Jennings is 6-foot-4, 200 pounds and has verbal offers from the likes of Ohio State and others. The only question- is he a quarterback in college? Like Phillips, Jefferson has good bloodlines. His father is Tennessee Titans receivers coach Shawn Jefferson, who played in two Super Bowls and had more than 7,000 career receiving yards in the NFL. Ohio State and others have offered Jefferson, a great route runner, early.
Potential Sleeper(s)- Defensive end Dylan Jackson of Maryville impressed at the Atlanta VTO Combine this past spring and has great size and athleticism at 6-foot-6, 240 pounds. He could end up being a tight end or even an offensive tackle in college, but he’s got excellent potential. Also- quarterback Nick Tiano of the Baylor School in Chattanooga is 6-foot-5, 220 pounds and has a good arm. Expect his stock to rise moving forward.
Trending- Up. During the modern era of recruiting coverage (starting at the turn of the century/millennium), there has never been, on paper, the deep number of legitimate, High-FBS level prospects spread across the state of Tennessee as there is for 2015. That’s good news for Butch Jones, who is trying to rebuild the Vols. That’s good news for James Franklin, who has made in-state recruiting a point of emphasis during his time at Vanderbilt and it’s good news for other programs who recruit the state. Perhaps the most rare thing about the 2015 cycle besides the talent depth is the fact that the players are not all concentrated in the west (Memphis). Nashville has most of the talent and there are quite a few in eastern Tennessee as well.
Cornerback Kendall Sheffield has the speed/size and talent to make an impact from the moment he steps on a college football field. He currently is a Texas A&M lean.
Early Look- Now in the footprint of the SEC because of the addition of Texas A&M, the Lonestar State annually has a huge chunk of the top prospects in any given cycle. The state has the best high school football in the country, so recruiting in Texas can give you more impact/finished product types of players because the develop so well at the high school level. Things are no different for Texas in the 2015 cycle with one of the nation’s top running back prospects and instant impact linemen and linebackers leading the way.
Off the Board- Five-star offensive tackle Maea Teuhema of Keller and four-star offensive guard Patrick Vahe of Euless Trinity have committed to Texas. Top247 safety Deionte Thompson of West Orange Stark has committed to Alabama.
Best Available- Daylon Mack, DT, Gladewater; Soso Jamabo, RB, Plano West; Kendall Sheffield, CB, Fort Bend Marshall; Malik Jefferson, OLB, Mesquite Poteet; Kyler Murray, DQB, Allen; Larry Pryor, S, Sulphur Springs; J.W. Ketchum III, ATH, Fort Bend Marshall; Chris Warren, ATH, Rockwall
The Buzz- Mack has been a long-time lean to the Aggies and there was a school of thought that the east Texas five-star would already be College Station-bound. Sheffield is a dynamic playmaker who not only has great athleticism, but he’s a great football player. There aren’t many cornerback prospects in the country that could have the impact right away that Sheffield, who is considered an Aggies lean, could. Jamabo is the latest “taller” back in the tradition of Derrick Henry (2013) and Jalen Hurd (2014) to spur debate about position in college. He and Scarlett are the top two backs we’ve seen for 2015 on film. Most have his recruitment as Texas or Texas A&M. Several of our analysts believe that Jefferson is the No. 1 overall prospect in the state. Athletically, he certainly has a case. The 6-foot-3, 215-pounder can move and passes the proverbial “eyeball test”. Texas is the favorite to land him. Pryor hits like a truck and could end up moving down in the box as a safety/linebacker hybrid in certain schemes. There’s questions as to what position Warren will play, but he looks great with the ball in his hands. Baylor has some early buzz there. If Murray were three inches taller, he’d be in the discussion for the No. 1 overall prospect in the class. He’s an Aggies legacy and is likely bound for College Station. Ketchum could end up being one of the biggest risers for 2015. He’s special with the ball in his hands. Texas has the early edge.
Potential Sleeper(s)- It’s hard to have a true sleeper in this state, but we will try to point out a handful of guys. Dual-threat quarterback/athlete Blake Lynch of Troup is 6-foot-3, is a great athlete and can run and pass quite well. Look for him to either remain a sleeper and surprise in college and beyond or emerge during the next two seasons as a touted prospect nationally. Cornerback Keivon Ramsey of Converse and wide receiver Carlos Strickland of Dallas Skyline both have excellent size for their positions and it’s likely both end up being ranked nationally when all is said and done. For now, though, they are sort of in the “emerging” category.
Trending- Up, slightly. There are a lot of excellent, high-level prospects in the Lone Star State for 2015 and probably more quality at the middle of the top end. There isn’t a Tony Brown or a Myles Garrett at the top and in fact there is no clear-cut No. 1 or 2 in the state. But there is more to the top group with multiple prospects among the top 2-3 nationally at their positions, including critical spots like offensive tackle, cornerback and quarterback.