Alabama currently comfortably has the No. 1 class for the 2014 cycle. The Crimson Tide has 286.74 points, 23.7 points ahead of No. 2 Ohio State in the 247Sports team rankings, which are calculated exclusively using the recruiting industry-generated 247Composite ratings and rankings.
247Composite five-star receiver Malachi Dupre, who has both LSU and Alabama under consideration, could end up being one of a handful of prospects that decides the recruiting championship for the 2014 cycle.
But looking down the road a bit, there’s still a very real possibility that LSU finishes No. 1, even after losing the No. 1 overall prospect in the class, offensive tackle Cameron Robinson (West Monroe, La.), to Alabama.
The Tigers, who currently have 14 verbal commitments and sit at No. 13 overall, simply have a higher ceiling with regards to highly-ranked prospects and are set up for a monster close. In fact, it is very likely going to take Alabama not only landing some of the national prospects it is in on, but also beating LSU on more than just Robinson in the Pelican State.
LSU has an excellent shot to close with running back Leonard Fournette (No. 2 in 247Composite), cornerback Tony Brown (No. 10), wide receiver Malachi Dupre (No. 13), wide receiver Speedy Noil (No. 23), safety Laurence Jones (No. 25) defensive lineman Gerald Willis (No. 28) and linebacker Clifton Garrett (No. 31).
Right now, Bama is a safe bet to land legacy cornerback Marlon Humphrey (No. 6), but after that, it’s up in the air. Sure, the Tide could land defensive ends Da’Shawn Hand (No. 4) and Lorenzo Carter (No. 5), but Michigan and Georgia are strong contenders for the pair and Florida is lurking for both.
Chances are, it indeed will come down to Louisiana, which is the epicenter of the college football recruiting world this cycle. Alabama is in striking distance for Fournette, Dupre and Jones, so the recruiting champion for this cycle may very well be determined by the decisions of those three.
Granted, LSU has to close. It can’t afford for Noil or Willis to defect to say Texas A&M or for a wildcard to come in and land Brown or Garrett. But looking at the LSU-specific page for 247Sports Crystal Ball, things should play out quite well for the Tigers when all is said and done.
Excitement in Aggieland
There’s little doubt that this weekend when Texas A&M plays host to Alabama that it’s going to be a big weekend in College Station. That typically means loads of recruits and recruiting news. From a pure college football standpoint, there is a ton to be intrigued with. Last year’s Heisman Trophy winner who handed last year’s national champion its only loss on its home field last season for starters. That’s not to mention the other history between the two programs, including.
Four-star JUCO offensive tackle Avery Gennesy of East Mississippi JC is one of several star prospects taking official visits to College Station this weekend.
-Alabama’s legendary head coach Bear Bryant being the coach of the Aggies before heading to Tuscaloosa. -Gene Stallings, who led the Crimson Tide to the 1992 National Championship, is an Aggie- a graduate of A&M that played for Bryant in College Station.
-The Aggies swiping back, getting current Texas State head coach Dennis Franchoine to bolt Bama for College Station in 2002. I’d say Alabama got the best of those three coaching deals, but the point is there’s some history there.
From a recruiting standpoint, it won’t be as much about winning and losing the game- it will be more about comfort level of recruits, atmosphere and the pomp and circumstance surrounding the game. The Aggies have one of the four best home field atmospheres in the league at Kyle Field and the place will be electric. There are several official visits scheduled, including Noil and Willis, five-star defensive end Myles Garrett (Arlington, Texas/Martin) and 247Composite five-star safety Jamal Adams (Carrollton, Texas/Hebron) and a host of unofficial visitors.
247Sports Recruiting Insider Brian Perroni (follow on Twitter @Perroni247) has had a beat on the anticipation for this weekend from prospects in and outside of the Lone Star State for some time.
“This has been billed as the biggest game of the year since the end of last season and recruits have been talking about it all summer and fall.” Perroni said. “The lineup of prospects that will be on campus is definitely impressive.”
Perroni and Texas A&M Insider Taylor Hamm (follow on Twitter @TaylorHamm247) have loads of inside scoop and insight into the showdown and its recruiting implication. Required reading for Aggie fans - The Pulse of Aggieland from this week (VIP and All-Access VIP members only).
Explosiveness a must
There was much gnashing of teeth from the Florida faithful after the Gators’ offense was less-than-stellar from an execution standpoint during Saturday’s 21-16 loss at Miami. The scheme of offensive coordinator Brent Pease and the play of quarterback Jeff Driskel (who was turnover-prone in the contest) came under fire.
Given his ability to take it to the house, five-star running back Dalvin Cook is a "must hold onto" for Florida, which lacks the explosive playmakers on offense it has had during the program's periods of dominance. Will Muschamp and company have recruited at an elite level in nearly every other area.
Both of those criticisms may very well be valid for the loss to the Canes, but it’s not the larger issue. The larger issue will only be solved through recruiting- the Gators lack the explosive playmakers that their great offenses have had in the past. There are very few that can make one move and take it to the house like a Percy Harvin or a Jeff Demps or the many great receivers that Steve Spurrier and company had during their tenure in Gainesville.
That’s why holding onto five-star running back Dalvin Cook, a 2014 commit from Miami Central, is a must for the Gators. Cook, who officially visits Texas this weekend and says he plans to take other officials, is the one of the most explosive, big-play backs in this cycle. He’s a player that can turn what seems like a conservative approach into a pinball machine-type lighting up of the scoreboard in a hurry. Given that the Gators like to wear you down and knock you out late, one can easily see long, back-breaking touchdown runs by Cook in future fourth quarters. Matt Jones and Kelvin Taylor are skilled backs, but both are grind-it-out types. Cook is the homerun threat. That’s why it’s paramount to keep him in the fold. At this point, the very strong prediction is that he ends up in Gainesville, but the door is always cracked for other suitors when prospects take multiple official visits.
Looking back, a couple of players Florida was in the game for late and lost may be stinging a bit. You never know in recruiting, so it’s tough to say losing one or two players down the stretch is a big negative, but Florida sure could use a guy like Nelson Agholor (USC) right now. Also, while 2013 Gator receiver signees Ahmad Fulwood and Demarcus Robinson are promising, keeping the speedy James Clark from going to Ohio State late last cycle would have given Florida another fast option.
When the Gators have been great, under Steve Spurrier and then again under Urban Meyer, they always have put up a lot of points or at least been capable of it, so it’s reasonable that Florida fans will have to adjust to winning a different way under Will Muschamp. The Gators have recruited as well or better than anyone in the country on both lines of scrimmage and overall on defense. They are just one or two of those explosive playmakers away from having the roster to play for national championships and win the SEC and it’s not out of the question that they find a way using the current make-up.
Saturday was just a situation where if things go wrong, there’s no “bailout” guy that can put a quick touchdown on the board and turn the game.
Lets say Texas does make a coaching change at the end of the season. On SEC Press Pass (Follow @SECPressPass) we take a "Tweet of the Week" question and talk about which coaches in the SEC the Longhorns could potentially come after.
Check out the video below as I give my take on the matter to host Lisa Cornwell (Follow @LisaMCornwell).
War Eagle, recruiters
Robinson is currently ranked No. 1 while Craig has been on top of the rankings for most of the cycle.
Robinson has made a name for himself on the recruiting trail during his tenure with the Gators and is one of that staff’s top recruiters, perhaps the best (and definitely the best according to our numerical formula this cycle). Prior to returning home to Auburn this year, Craig was responsible for helping Florida State head coach Jimbo Fisher (who he played for at Auburn) assemble great classes for the Noles- including perhaps the most important recruiting victory during the last three cycles- swiping 247Composite five-star quarterback Jameis Winston away from Alabama and Auburn in the 2012 cycle out of Hueytown (Ala.) High.
SEC recruiters make up the current top four of the recruiter rankings with Crimson Tide assistant Billy Napier No. 3 and Georgia assistant Bryan McClendon No. 4. Napier is in his first cycle with Alabama and cut his teeth recruiting under Tommy Bowden and Dabo Swinney at Clemson. The former star quarterback at Furman University is the son of a Georgia high school coach and is a rising star in coaching.
McClendon has similarities to both Craig and Robinson. Like Craig, he’s home. He played at UGA. Like Robinson, he’s ascended to the role of top recruiter on what is annually one of the best recruiting staffs in the country.
Athens at the Alamodome
Georgia has a load of representation on the 2014 U.S. Army All-American Bowl roster, including what could be its entire future backfield.
Top247 quarterback Jacob Park is one of several Georgia pledges on the roster for the 2014 U.S. Army All-American Bowl.
Bulldogs quarterback commit Jacob Park (Goose Creek, S.C./Stratford) and running back commits Nick Chubb (Cedartown, Ga.) and Sony Michel (Plantation, Fla./American Heritage) are in the game on the East roster, along with offensive tackle commit Dyshon Sims (Valdosta, Ga./Lowndes) and cornerback commit Malkom Parrish (Quitman, Ga./Brooks County). The UGA contingent could grow, too, as the Dawgs are heavily in the mix for five-star offensive tackle David Sharpe (Jacksonville, Fla./Providence) and four-star receiver Josh Malone (Gallatin, Tenn./Station Camp). Both are undecided, but Sharpe had a great visit to Athens this past weekend and Georgia is battling Florida, Clemson and USC for his services (Gators are the 90 percent Crystal Ball favorites, but last two predictions have come in for UGA) and the Dawgs, along with Florida State and Clemson, have a shot at prying Malone out of the state of Tennessee away from the Vols and Vanderbilt.
The U.S. Army All-American Bowl will be played Jan. 4, 2013 at the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas, with live television from NBC. The game will precede the NFL Playoffs (Wild Card Weekend) on the network. 247Sports is the official selection partner of the game.
-The official visit of Hand to Michigan was good enough to make landing him a precarious situation for his SEC suitors- Alabama and Florida. The atmosphere at Michigan Stadium for the Wolverines home game with Notre Dame certainly was incredible, but it was more about what the Michigan coaches and staff did on the visit that may have the Wolverines looking good. The good news for the Tide and Gators is that those officials are forthcoming when Alabama plays host to LSU and Florida plays host to Arkansas.
-At least one SEC program is interested in four-star JUCO offensive tackle Jordan Prestwood of Arizona Western. Prestwood signed with Florida State out of high school, enrolled early, then transferred to Notre Dame, then transferred away from South Bend, then was going to enroll at UCF, then didn’t. The former Top247 prospect from Plant City (Fla.) High could be a steal if he commits to playing football in one spot. Talent and potential has never been an issue.
-It’s an excellent cycle in the Land of Lincoln as far as talent goes and SEC programs have a shot at really raiding the state. LSU is the favorite to land Garrett. Four-star linebacker Nyles Morgan (Crete, Ill./Crete-Monee) is an Ole Miss-Vanderbilt battle. Those are the top two prospects per 247Composite. Ohio State landed the No. 3 prospect, offensive tackle Jamarco Jones, but No. 4, cornerback Parrker Westphal (Bolingbrook, Ill.) and No. 5, defensive end Dewayne Hendrix (O’Fallon, Ill.) could end up in the SEC. Vanderbilt is battling Northwestern for Westphal while Tennessee is a 100 percent prediction for Hendrix per Crystal Ball. The two state of Tennessee programs have done quite well in Illinois this cycle. Vanderbilt already has three Illinois prospects pledged in safety Trent Sherfield (Danville), offensive tackle Brendan Brosnan (Park Ridge/Maine South) and four-star running back Mikale Wilbon (Chicago/De La Salle). The Vols have a pledge from four-star (247Composite) tight end Daniel Helm of Chatham Glenwood.
-Speaking of states out that way, success in the state of Missouri continues to elude the Tigers, which is a bad sign for the future of that program. As things stand today, Missouri could get shut out of the top 10 in-state according to 247Composite. What makes matters worse is as many as half could end up at SEC programs and that in addition to Ole Miss and Arkansas swiping top talent, Nebraska, Kansas State, TCU and Notre Dame all have landed players. The highest-rated in-state Tigers commit is a Columbia prospect- outside linebacker Grant Jones from Hickman High. Missouri has enough talent to win some games this year and get to a bowl. Positive momentum is needed to reverse the fortunes in recruiting. Otherwise, the Tigers won’t have the talent to avoid the abyss in this league.
-Staying on a geographic topic, Kentucky is going to continue to work Ohio for the foreseeable future. The Wildcats have 62 known offers out for the 2015 cycle, 18 of them are for Buckeye State prospects. In many cases, the Cats are the first to offer, which shows due diligence is being done by head coach Mark Stoops, Ohio recruiter Vince Marrow and the UK coaching staff.
-Ole Miss and Mississippi State have done an excellent job keeping the top talent from the Magnolia State at home the last few cycles. So which program is getting more talent in-state? On paper, it’s been even and in this cycle it continues to be that way. The Rebels currently have four of the top 10 committed to the Bulldogs‘ three. Wide receiver Jesse Jackson (Petal, Miss.) is the lone uncommitted and he is a heavy lean to MSU.
-It’s hurry up and wait for South Carolina to finish off its 2014 recruiting class. The Gamecocks don’t have a ton of scholarships this year and primarily are focused on four players- Top247 offensive lineman Donell Stanley (Latta, S.C.), Top247 defensive end Dante Sawyer (Suwanee, Ga./North Gwinnett), running back Derrell Scott (Havelock, N.C.) and quarterback Bo Baldwin (South Aiken, S.C.) (grayshirt offer). All are expected to make decisions in the next 90 days, but there is some thought that at least one or two would have committed by now.
-Auburn is in the thick of things for potential five-star Class of 2016 quarterback Xavier Gaines (Frostproof, Fla.), National Recruiting Insider Ryan Bartow (follow on Twitter @RyanBartow says. This kid is a potential five-star.
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