With the presidential election just a day away and the battleground states playing a big part in the country's next commander-in-chief, there is not a better time to take a look at five key “battleground recruits” in the Southwest region for the 2013 cycle.
5. Kendell Beckwith, LB/DE, Jackson (La.) East Feliciana
Beckwith has been a two horse race for some time now between in-state LSU and Alabama. While continues to give serious consideration to leaving the state and playing for SEC rival Alabama, this is another one of those recruitments that it’s tough to see the four-star prospect leaving home due Beckwith being the cousin of former LSU linebacker Darry Beckwith. LSU assistant Frank Wilson and Alabama assistant Burton Burns go head-to-head on a number of Louisiana prospects, and this is no different.
National Analyst Brian Perroni on Beckwith’s recruitment: “The do-everything athlete and No. 99 prospect in the country will play either linebacker or defensive end at the next level. Beckwith has been a little quieter than other recruits and has not done much to tip his hand. However, it has long been assumed – like with many of the top players in Louisiana as of late – that this is an Alabama/LSU battle. He camped at both schools early in the summer but then made news by returning to Baton Rouge for LSU’s second summer camp session in July as well. He has also taken in a Tigers’ game this fall. It would be somewhat of a surprise if Les Miles did not keep him in state when all is said and done.”
4. Justin Manning, DT, Dallas (Texas) Kimball
The four-star Manning has been long thought to end up at Oklahoma due his brother, DeMarcus Granger, having played for Bob Stoops and the Sooners. With Oklahoma slow playing him early on, it gave other regional programs the chance to build and develop key relationships, and now the 6-foot-2, 285-pounder is on the verge of staying in state.
National Analyst Brian Perroni on Manning’s recruitment: “The No. 101 overall prospect in the country has offers from pretty much every program under the sun. Most assumed he would have been committed to Oklahoma now, though, as his older brother DeMarcus Granger was a star defensive tackle for the Sooners. Oklahoma was a little late to offer which opened the defensive tackle’s eyes to other programs. It is now a three-team race between Oklahoma, TCU and Texas A&M. The Horned Frogs and Aggies both feel good about their chances but it is hard to dismiss the Sooners with the family ties. It is not nearly the slam-dunk for OU as many people assume though.”
3. Tim Williams, WDE, Baton Rouge (La.) Southern Lab
Williams is one of those big time athletes from the state of Louisiana that has high NFL draft ability down the line. The 6-foot-3, 230-pounder with 4.6-speed and a near 40-inch vertical is a top target for programs nationally because of that same fact. While Williams has flirted with numerous programs in the Southeast region, most believe family will be the reason he ultimately stays home – if LSU continues to make him a priority.
National Analyst Brian Perroni on Williams’ recruitment: “The No. 36 overall prospect in the country is one of the top pass rushers around. Williams goes to schools at Baton Rouge University Lab, which is literally on the LSU campus. That, combined with the fact that the Tigers do not often lose in-state recruits, points to him likely staying very close to home for college. He has been to almost every LSU game this season as well. However, Williams has given many different answers when asked about schools. At one point he claimed Miami as his leader while at another time it looked like an Alabama/LSU battle. While Alabama, Florida State, Miami and USC are all still in it, all signs point in-state LSU being the team to beat.”
2. A'Shawn Robinson, OL/DL, Fort Worth (Texas) Arlington Heights
If there is a recruiting battle that is about to truly heat up in the region, it’s four-star A’Shawn Robinson. The long time Texas commitment first visited Florida State officially in September, but will now trip to Alabama this weekend and childhood favorite USC Dec. 7. This recruitment definitely falls into the battleground category with Texas fighting hard to keep one of the nations top prospects in state, and out of the hands of some of the nations top national programs.
National Analyst Gerry Hamilton on Robinson’s recruitment: “Robinson is one of two major recruiting battles in the state of Texas that in-state programs must keep at home. Because Robinson is a rare talent with high NFL draft ability on the line, he’s not only a prospect Texas must keep in the fold, but also the level of prospect the top programs nationally come to Texas to try and pluck. While Robinson is technically committed to Texas, one could argue the Longhorns are essentially even with USC and Alabama – if not slightly coming from behind. Talk to anyone close to the kid, and they will tell you USC has always been the program Robinson talks about the most.”
1. Ricky Seals-Jones, Ath., Sealy (Texas)
The recruitment of Seals-Jones is the most talked about in the state of Texas in the 2013 class. First there was the commitment to Texas, then the de-commitment, then talk of playing basketball in college, then a senior season injury in which he just returned to the field from and the true battleground recruitment. With the five-star prospect down to Texas A&M and LSU, it’s a first year SEC grudge match between an in-state program on the rise looking to continue to build momentum vs. an SEC out of state power that borders Texas and has designs on heavily recruiting the Houston area.
National Analyst Brian Perroni on Seals-Jones’ recruitment: “The five-star athlete and No. 17 overall prospect in the country was once committed to Texas and had shut the recruiting process down. However, he de-committed in June, though still keeping the Longhorns on his list that also included LSU, Oregon, Texas A&M and USC. In a somewhat surprising development, Mack Brown and company decided over a month ago that Texas would no longer pursue him. Since then it has been pretty much down to LSU and Texas A&M. After a recent unofficial visit to College Station, the Aggies appear to be in the lead at this time but you can never count Les Miles out of anything.”
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