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National notes: New rivalries

Alabama and Florida State have faced each other on the football field only four times in their long and storied histories. They are making up for lost ground off of the field though. There may not be a team in the country that is recruiting at a higher level than either Alabama or Florida State and both schools are finding success despite some serious haymakers being thrown by the other.

Alphonse Taylor was a huge get for Florida State out of Mobile.

This week, Florida State dipped into the state of Alabama for the second time in its 2012 recruiting class to land four-star offensive tackle Alphonse Taylor. At 6-6, 330 pounds with light feet and unique athleticism, Taylor was a highly-coveted prospect. More specifically, he was, and remains, a highly coveted prospect by the University of Alabama.

Back in January, four-star top 100 defensive end Chris Casher also shunned the in-state Crimson Tide for Jimbo Fisher’s Seminoles. Fisher may not be finished yet. Florida State is hard after five-star quarterback Jameis Winston out of Hueytown, Ala. and it looks to be a two-team race for Winston’s signature between Alabama and Florida State.

But don’t feel sorry for the Tide. Alabama has already landed some of its own state’s top prospects lead by Reggie Ragland and Justin Thomas. It has also dipped into Seminole territory, stealing five-star safety Eddie Williams from under Florida State’s nose out of Panama City.

Along with Winston, there are still plenty of mutual targets remaining that should incite heated competition. Five-star wide receiver Chris Black, four-star linebacker Dillon Lee, four-star cornerback Geno Smith and four-star safety Marcus Maye all have both Alabama and Florida State among their small groups of favorites. All four are ranked within the top 120 players nationally.

As the lone major power in the talent rich state of Louisiana, LSU’s domination of in-state recruiting is usually absolute. But every year, there is a team that dips into the state and tries to steal a top prospect or two. Alabama has found some success, landing speedster Bradley Sylve out of the 2011 class. Auburn has made headlines with Greg Robinson and Trovon Reed both heading to the Tigers in back to back classes but ultimately LSU gets who it wants.

A new school attempting to challenge the Pelican State status quo is Texas A&M. The Aggies have found success with LSU castoffs in recent years. Reserve, La. offensive lineman, Patrick Lewis never picked up an in-state offer from LSU but has been a two-year starter at Texas A&M while current Aggie RB Christine Michael was highly rated but ended up in College Station only after LSU and others passed on him in 2009.

In the class of 2012, Texas A&M has already landed a pair of Louisiana commits in Lewis’ former East St. John teammate Darion Monroe and Abbeville, La. tight end Alonzo Williams. Since neither Monroe nor Williams have received an offer from LSU yet, it’s hard to label the Aggie-Tiger Louisiana battles much of a rivalry. But Mike Sherman hopes that there is more on the horizon.

Four-star Patterson (La.) High School linebacker Lorenzo Phillips is very much an LSU target, as is Denzell Devall out of Bastrop (La.) High School. Both are four-stars in the Top247. Phillips has already committed to Texas A&M once before backing out and taking a closer look at LSU. Meanwhile Devall has gone so far as to previously put Texas A&M on the top of his list.

Leonard Floyd gives Mark Richt a in-state big pickup.

Under Les Miles, LSU has proven that it will always dominate the state of Louisiana in recruiting but Texas A&M is ready to put up a fight. Perhaps LSU’s 2011 Cotton Bowl victory over Texas A&M was just the one of several upcoming battles between the two programs.

Georgia fighting back

It’s getting tough to defend the state boarders in Georgia. With Georgia native Will Muschamp as the new Florida head coach the Gators have landed three four star commits out of Georgia. Alabama is making a serious push into the Peach State behind Kirby Smart’s efforts and has scored verbals from highly touted prospects such as Kenyan Drake and Dakota Ball. Even Florida State behind the efforts of Dameyune Craig landed a four-star commit this week in Markuss Eligwe.

Mark Richt’s job is getting that much tougher. But Richt and the Bulldogs responded on Wednesday with a big pickup of their own. Leonard Floyd, the nation’s No. 8 outside linebacker out of Eastman (Ga.) Dodge County committed to the Mark Richt on Thursday.

A defensive end/linebacker hybrid, Floyd is a great fit for the 3-4 scheme under Todd Grantham at Georgia. He becomes Georgia’s sixth verbal pledge to the 2012 class and fifth from inside the Georgia boarder.

Odds and ends

- Four-star defensive end Noah Spence (Harrisburg, Pa./Bishop McDevitt) says that Florida, Auburn, Alabama and Penn State all are recruiting him the hardest at the moment with the Gators coming after him harder than any school. This summer, he hopes to take unofficial visits to Gainesville, Auburn and South Carolina, among other possible destinations.

- Rutgers landed a commitment on Thursday out of all-purpose back Desmon Peoples. Peoples committed to the Scarlet Knights over Pittsburgh and UCLA.

- One 2013 prospect to watch will be Dashon Hunt out of Thousand Oaks (Calif.) Westlake. The diminutive athlete landed a UCLA offer this week and if he is able to grow another inch he may emerge as one of the top prospects in the 2013 class out of California.

- Arroyo Grande, Calif safety Seth Jacobs has seen his stock skyrocket in the past few weeks. He is up to 12 offers with schools such as Arkansas, California, Arizona and Arizona State all offering.

- Four-star defensive end Pharoah Brown told Steve Wiltfong that four schools are standing out at this point in the process. Currently Michigan, Nebraska, Pittsburgh and West Virginia are tops on his list. Brown is a versatile athlete that projects at defensive end but has spent much of his time at quarterback in high school.

Around the network

- DuckTerritory takes a look at the incoming visitors for Oregon’s Saturday Spring Game.

- HuskerIllustrated breaks down Nebraska’s quarterback recruiting in the class of 2012.

- GVX247 took a sweeping tour of west Tennessee, talking with some of the top prospects in the state HuskerIllustrated breaks down Nebraska’s such as Top247 WR Drae Bowles.

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