Some of the top prospects in the city of Memphis gathered this week to take a whirlwind tour of the SEC over the course of four days, stopping at two programs per day.
Memphis prospects (left to right) Jamal Jones of Trezevant, Joshua McMillon of Whitehaven (2015), Cornelius Sturghill of Melrose, Nikia Cathey of Westwood, Johnathon Johnson of Melrose (2015) and Deddrick Thomas of Central (2015) toured eight SEC programs in four days.
The all-star caravan consists of: 2015 LB Joshua McMillon of Whitehaven, 2015 athlete Deddrick Thomas of Central, 2015 all-purpose back Jamal Jones of Trezevant, 2015 ATH Johnathon Johnson of Melrose, 2014 wide receiver Nikia Cathey of Westwood and 2014 ATH Cornelius Sturghill of Melrose.
The trip was comprised of Monday visits to Ole Miss and Mississippi State, Tuesday stops at Alabama and Auburn, Wednesday visits to Georgia and Tennessee and Thursday stops at Kentucky and Vanderbilt.
The six talked with 247Sports about their Mississippi visit on Monday and on Thursday recapped the rest of the week We talked to each prospect about his experience during the week and also polled them on what school stood out in several categories.
At 6-3, 230-pound McMillon is a linebacker with the size and the physicality to play inside or put his hand down to rush the passer. Heading into the week, he held early offers from ten programs including Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Vanderbilt, Kentucky and Tennessee. Over the course of this week’s trip, he added offers from Auburn, Georgia and Kentucky.
On what stood out about the last three days: “Alabama, we went up there for a camp and it was pretty intense. The coaches had us working, executing every play. Down there at Auburn, it’s beautiful down there. Coach Tim Horton made us feel welcome down there. With Tennessee and Georgia, Georgia gave me an offer, we were living great down there. They’ve got an indoor facility and a new stadium they’re building onto. Then UT-Knox, they’ve got a great facility and a their stadium seats 102,000 people. Today, coach James Franklin said I’m going to be a 2015 commit. He’s pretty sure about himself.”
On receiving an offer from Georgia: “I was pretty shocked. My coach, he was saying very little about Georgia and they seemed interested but I wasn’t expecting an offer when I came up here. My eyes got big when they told me.”
On receiving an offer from Auburn: “I was pretty excited about Auburn, Coach Tim Horton came down and talked to me for about 5 or 10 minutes then when I sat down with Ellis Johnson, he gave me the offer and said the scholarship was mine if I wanted it. He wanted me to do well in academics too so I liked that about him.”
Class of 2015 LB Joshua McMillon received offers from Auburn, Georgia and Kentucky during the tour.
A three-star wide receiver with some of the best pure speed in the state of Tennessee, Cathey is arguably the state’s top kick returner. He committed to Mississippi State in January to Tim Brewster who has since departed for Florida State. His other offers include Indiana, MTSU and Northern Illinois.
On what stood out over the last three days: “What surprised me was Auburn. The facilities were unbelievable. It was great. Everything seemed really nice. I’d never been there before. Everything surprised me and the coaches, they seemed like great coaches.”
On what school seems closest to offering next: “Tennessee and Kentucky. Tennessee was great to me and Coach (Mark) Elder, we’ve got a great relationship and the facilities, they’re off the chain, just like Auburn’s they’re tit for tat. Kentucky was good, it was real cool. That was my first time going up there. It started raining so we couldn’t see everything but it was real good.”
A three-star athlete, Sturghill can play either side of the ball on the next level but has been primarily leaning towards wide receiver. He is ranked as the No. 41 athlete in the country and holds offers from the likes of Vanderbilt, UCLA, Mississippi State and Purdue. He plans to camp at Ole Miss on Friday.
What stood out about the last three days: “When we went to Georgia, that was like a dream school. That’s what I’ve dreamed of my whole life. I was just overwhelmed. I liked the facilities. They showed me the highlights, their team is phenomenal and they’ve got a nice recruiting class coming in.”
Talk about your trip to Vanderbilt: “Vanderbilt, it feels like home. I’m real comfortable with the coaching staff. They always welcome me with open arms.”
Who is closest to adding to your offer list?: “I’d say Ole Miss, Tennessee and Kentucky. Tennessee, they like my skill set and they want me to come to camp. Kentucky they primarily want me to play corner.”
Johnson is a two-way standout that excels as a slot receiver and return man but can also play cornerback on the next level. He has landed early offers from Indiana and Ole Miss.
One what stood out over the last three days: “What really stood out to me was Auburn. They’ve got nice facilities and it really stood out how things looked. Mississippi State looked nice too.”
Who do you think is closest to offering next?: “I really don’t know. I’m really hoping I get an offer from Tennessee but I don’t know what’s going on. To me, I feel like they’re close to home and I feel right at home at Tennessee. It was a good experience down there.”
A rising junior, Thomas holds early offers from Memphis and Ole Miss and is getting significant interest from the likes of Vanderbilt, Tennessee and LSU. He projects to either wide receiver or defensive back on the next level.
On what stood out the most about the last three days: “Today, the Vanderbilt visit. I liked everything. I liked the coaches. They were just cool. Not even on the recruiting, they were just talking to us man to man.”
Who is the next school that may offer?: “Tennessee and Kentucky seemed close. Kentucky told Coach that he was going to call later to tell him if we were gonna offer or not. Tennessee is one of my favorites. I like them. Kentucky, that’s a growing program.”
Jones is versatile all-purpose back that rushed for 1170 yards as a sophomore on 7.7 yards per carry. He is still waiting on his first offer. He plans to camp at Ole Miss Friday.
On what stood out about the last three days: “Auburn really stood out to me. They not only have a lot of Heismans but they have statues of their Heisman players. I found that very fantastic.”
What schools seemed the most interested?: “Auburn and Tennessee. They made me feel wanted.”
The exit poll
Sturghill: Georgia. I loved everything about how their campus is made. They’ve got a lot of unique things that I’ve never seen before.
Cathey: Tennessee and Auburn. They go hand in hand. At Auburn, the players’ lounge, they’ve got a game room downstairs with a pool table and they’ve got orange and blue lights. It’s off the chain. Tennessee was great too, just all of it.
Jones: Auburn. It just stood out to me because they had a lot of things that other colleges don’t have.
Johnson: Auburn. I liked all of it.
Thomas: Auburn. When I first walked in the stadium, I said this is beautiful.
McMillon: Tennessee. Their stadium, their indoor facility and weight room and the rehab rooms. They have three or four whirlpools to work with your body and a lot of machines to get you back in top shape.
Sturghill: Tennessee. It was the biggest and had the most attendance.
Cathey: Tennessee. They’ve got the biggest stadium and their locker room was off the chain.
Jones: Tennessee. That Checkerboard end zone.
Johnson: Georgia. Probably Georgia and Tennessee.
McMillon: Tennessee. That’s a big crowd, you play in front of 102,000.
Best looking girls
Favorite Assistant Coach
Sturghill: I’d say Tennessee coach Mark Elder.
Cathey: All the coaches were great with me, Auburn, Tennessee, Mississippi State, Ole Miss. I liked everybody’s coaches.
Johnson: Coach Elder at Tennessee. He’s just a nice guy. He’s just awesome.
Thomas: Coach Elder at Tennessee
McMillon: Coach (Geoff) Collins from Mississippi State. He almost jumped on me when he saw me. He was very excited to get me down there. He actually gave me a motto. He said Mississippi State makes the best linebackers in the SEC.
Favorite Head Coach
Sturghill: Coach James Franklin. Me and Coach Franklin have got a real good relationship. We just clicked.
Jones: The Auburn coach and the Tennessee coach. Both of them, they stood out to me by how they were communicating, with how they showed me around.
Johnson: Tennessee’s head coach. He seemed like he’s very cool and laid back. He’s straight forward with you.
Thomas: Tennessee’s head coach. He’s just laid back with us.
McMillon: Coach James Franklin. We talked twice now. When I came down to their 7on7 camp, he actually brought my bags to the dorm. I kind of like that. He was just telling me about their new facilities and stuff like that.