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SEC Roundup: QB shuffle

Quarterback recruiting is always fun to analyze during the summer. It’s the one position where prospects make commitments based almost exclusively on football-related matters like depth chart and scheme.

The Notre Dame offer could change things with DeShone Kizer and LSU.

It’s also a position where major college programs typically tell multiple talented players thanks but no thanks as there usually is only one spot per class.

So with that, the top storyline currently in college football recruiting is where will these guys all end up? That’s also the top topic of conversation around the Southeastern Conference.

LSU casts a wide net recruiting quarterbacks. Last cycle, the Tigers signed Anthony Jennings out of Georgia and Hayden Rettig out of California - both are already in Baton Rouge and enrolled. This recruiting cycle, LSU appears to have locked in on one of the top prospects in the Midwest - DeShone Kizer (Toledo, Ohio/Central Catholic) and the nation’s top dual-threat quarterback Brandon Harris, an in-state prospect from Parkway High in Bossier City.

Tigers head coach Les Miles and offensive coordinator Cam Cameron were in Columbus, Ohio, last week to watch their sons workout at the Elite 11 quarterback camp. They also got the chance to watch Harris and Kizer throw.

For most of the cycle, LSU has been recruiting Kizer harder than any other program and is high on the 6-foot-5, 210-pound four-star, who is a three-sport standout and is just scratching the surface of his potential at quarterback. All signs pointed to him making a commitment to the Tigers during his visit next weekend until....

Notre Dame offered last Wednesday.

The Notre Dame campus is two hours from Kizer’s home and the school fits what he is looking for in terms of academics and football. So that combined with the proximity reinforces the notion that this is a game-changer.

247Sports Crystal Ball reacted to the offer in dramatic fashion. Kizer went from a 100 percent prediction to LSU to 67 percent Notre Dame in a matter of hours after the news broke. It now stands at 92 percent in favor of the Irish.

LSU, Alabama, Auburn and Ohio State are among the schools in the mix for Brandon Harris.

So if Kizer heads to South Bend, all eyes are on Harris.

LSU offered Harris in May after Cameron saw him throw and the Tigers would definitely take he and Kizer both in this class should that scenario unfold (Kizer isn’t a lock to switch to Notre Dame, by the way). But if there is no Kizer, Harris becomes the No. 1 target.

After Harris eliminated Texas A&M after the Aggies landed four-star Kyle Allen, it appears Alabama, LSU, Auburn and Ohio State are the four primary contenders right now. 

Assuming the Crimson Tide decides on five-star David Cornwell or four-star Jacob Park as its quarterback in this class, taking Bama out of the equation let’s examine the other options.

Harris had a good visit to Columbus and Auburn has always been a factor, more prominent now that the Aggies aren’t an option. There was a strong belief that Texas A&M was the team to beat for most of the process until Allen became part of the Aggies‘ class.

Both Ohio State and Auburn are excellent scheme fits for Harris, as a dual-threat quarterback and the opportunity to see the field early is at both programs.

But there could be opportunity at LSU as well with Jennings and Rettig both in the early stages of their development. Harris is the type of playmaker that can revolutionize an offense and considering the Tigers project to end up with the top recruiting class in 2014, one that will be littered with offensive playmakers, that will be appealing, especially considering he’s an in-state prospect and with what it means for players in that state to suit up for the Tigers in Death Valley on a Saturday night.

Given all of that, LSU will have to hold off Auburn and Ohio State for his services and it’s not a given that it will.

Should the Tigers strike out on Kizer and Harris, there really is no third option. Mason Rudolph (Rock Hill, S.C./Northwestern) was a quarterback they liked, but he committed to Oklahoma State last Wednesday (he was not a take for LSU at the time of his decision). Three-star quarterback Brandon Dawkins (Thousand Oaks, Calif./Oaks Christian) camped at LSU this week, but there doesn’t seem to be much brewing there at present. Dawkins has a strong arm and had a fantastic sophomore season where he was among the best passers statistically in the Golden State. He’d like to go to Notre Dame, but right now the Irish are focusing on Kizer.

So it should be interesting to see how this all plays out. Shea Dixon from Geux247 had more insight into the specifics in Baton Rouge as it relates to that topic late last week.


Kyle Allen's commitment pushed Texas A&M back to the top of the 247Sports Team Recruiting Rankings.

Texas A&M took back over the No. 1 spot in the 247Sports team recruiting rankings for 2014 this past week and it’s a class deep in quality as eight of the 13 current commits have a rating of four-stars or higher from the recruiting industry-generated 247Composite. All but one, Allen, is a state of Texas prospect with eight of those ranked among the top 40 prospects (247Composite) in the Lone Star State this cycle. 

This is the type of recruiting monster many envisioned would evolve with the Aggies joining the SEC. What wasn’t certain was how long it would take them to get it rolling, but it’s happened at a frantic pace. 

Texas A&M also is in great shape to land five-star (247Sports) defensive end Myles Garrett (Arlington, Texas/Martin), four-star pass rusher Qualen Cunningham (Chandler, Ariz./Hamilton) and others. The Aggies also are big factors with four-star offensive lineman Braden Smith (Olathe, Kan.) and have a puncher’s chance at five-star receiver Speedy Noil (New Orleans, La./Edna Carr), who is ranked as the No. 1 receiver prospect in the 2014 class by 247Sports. 

Two Aggies assistants, David Beaty and Clarence McKinney, currently are No. 2 and 3 nationally in the 247Sports Recruiter Rankings for the cycle. 

So things continue to go well in College Station.

Vols continue to build

Not only does Tennessee have a top five recruiting class for the 2014 cycle, the Vols are off to a fast start for 2015 as well, with four early verbal commitments.

What’s intriguing about it is three of the four are in-state prospects. 

The point has been made over and over. Right now, it’s hard for Tennessee to go too terribly far beyond its borders and sign top-shelf talent. The erosion of the perception of that program through multiple coaching changes and losing seasons has made it somewhat of a tough sell to get prospects to visit from far distances. Once you get on campus, a program as rich in history and tradition and with the facilities UT has, can sell with anyone in the country, but it’s not as easy for Butch Jones and company as it was for Phillip Fulmer and company, even as recently as the mid-2000s.

So the key, with talent trending upward in the Volunteer State for the 2014 and 2015 cycles, is to keep the top players at home. Not only that, keep the top players at home and heading to Knoxville (Memphis kids will often head to an SEC West program and Vanderbilt has gotten its share of late).

Tennessee has Jalen Hurd and Todd Kelly, the top two in-state prospects for 2014, committed and solid. What’s intriguing about this 2015 group, though, is that none of the three Tennesseans committed to the Vols are among the six prospects ranked in the 2015 Top247, so there’s even more high-end in-state talent that Jones can land. Can you imagine what good it would do for the foundation of that program if Tennessee signed a top 10 class in 2015 with double-digit in-state prospects?

Gamecocks, Hogs will be fine

There has been some grumbling (mostly on Twitter) from South Carolina and Arkansas fans about the current recruiting class rank in the SEC for each program. The Gamecocks currently are No. 13, the Razorbacks No. 14 with the two flip-flopping for the basement each time the other gets a commit. 

While any program would rather be ranked higher than lower, there’s little reason for concern as both programs will end up with excellent classes barring an unforeseen turn of events within their program. South Carolina doesn’t have a ton of scholarships to give this cycle (15-18 max) and with talent in the Palmetto State on the upswing, this class is expected to be in-state heavy with prospects like U.S. Army All-American wide receiver Shaq Davidson (Gaffney, S.C.), Top247 offensive guard Donell Stanley (Latta, S.C.) and Top247 defensive linemen Dexter Wideman (Saluda, S.C.) and Poona Ford (Hilton Head, S.C.) among the prospects that the Gamecocks are waiting on and in good to great shape to land.

Arkansas looks great to land four-star defensive tackle and Army All-American Josh Frazier (Springdale, Ark./Har-Ber), and other in-state targets as well. Plus, watch the Razorbacks staff make a big late push in south Florida, where prospects pop up late with big senior years or simply went undiscovered, but have great athleticism. The Hawgs will sign another good class and finish strong yet again this cycle. 

So don’t worry. It’s June and we don’t have an early signing period/day...yet. 

Quick Hitters

-Auburn is the latest program to make a big move with the top defensive tackle (JUCO) prospect in the 2014 cycle, Abu Lamin of Fort Scott (Kan.). Veteran recruiter Rodney Garner, the Tigers‘ defensive line coach, is recruiting Lamin and should have Auburn in the thick of things. It’s looking more and more like Lamin will head to the SEC (he as much as said it after his recent interview) and likely will go more toward his home state of North Carolina to an Auburn, Georgia, South Carolina or Florida. The 6-foot-5, 320-pounder has three years to play three and a ton of upside. 

-Florida assistant Travaris Robinson, who could be one of the more undervalued recruiters in the country, shot up 26 spots to No. 10 nationally in the 247Sports recruiter rankings this past week. That placed him No. 5 in the SEC. His ascension also means that two of the current top five recruiters are Auburn grads. Tigers assistant and former quarterback Dameyune Craig remains No. 1 in the league and nationally. 

-Like Craig, Georgia assistant Bryan McClendon is coaching at his alma mater and could have the most upside of any recruiter in the country from a rankings standpoint. Targets include five-star defensive end Lorenzo Carter, four-star defensive tackle Elisha Shaw and four-star running back Nick Chubb, among others. 

Auburn is making a move with JUCO DT Abu Lamin.

-Mississippi State has to hold off Florida State and other talent-raiders this cycle, particularly for Top247 running back Aeris Williams from nearby West Point. The Seminoles love Williams in their system and former State assistant Tim Brewster has made the 6-foot-1, 210-pounder a priority. That being said, Crystal Ball still says the Bulldogs sign a ton of in-state talent, including the local running back when all is said and done. 

-Ole Miss made a lot of noise last week landing the nation’s top JUCO running back Akeem Judd (Georgia Military College) and several other prospects, vaulting to the No. 6 class nationally for 2014. Make no mistake about it, though, ground zero for the Rebels recruiting efforts this cycle is at Callaway High in the Magnolia State’s capital city of Jackson. The Rebels already have explosive receiver Dayall Harris and safety Ronald Walker committed from the school, but Roderick Taylor is one of the top interior offensive line prospects in the country and is a rare athlete for his size and three-star defensive tackle Breeland Speaks seemingly gets offers every where he goes. If the Rebels can sweep the Callaway four, it will be huge for in-state perception.

-Vanderbilt continues to be the darkhorse for Top247 wide receiver Jamil Kamara (Virginia Beach, Va./Bishop Sullivan), who recently narrowed his list to seven and praised Commodores recruiter Josh Gattis, Vanderbilt’s receivers coach and one of the recruiters on the rise nationally. Most still would be surprised if it’s not Virginia, but if there’s a “but” school, it’s Vandy.

-Georgia offered four-star linebacker/safety Darrion Owens (Orange Park, Fla./Oakleaf) at camp and the Bulldogs suddenly are the consensus pick to land the 6-foot-3, 230-pounder, who also has Michigan high on his list and in the mix.

-It looked good for Alabama to sign one of the top three junior college offensive tackle prospects in the cycle, but now with Jermaine Eluemunor and Dominick Jackson committed to UCLA and Chad Mavety a 100 percent prediction to Ohio State, chances of that happening appear to be a bit slimmer. That being said, you never know what prospects are going to emerge in the junior college ranks and Alabama, while also being one of the best programs in the country at corralling known talent, also can uncover its share of unknown talent as well.

-Things are looking good for Kentucky to land three-star JUCO offensive tackle Adam Duckett (Georgia Military College), a prospect who has been on the radar for years since coming out of East River High in Orlando, Fla., in the Class of 2012. Quick historical note on Duckett - When 247Sports was first formed, I went to Orlando to visit high schools and catch up with top prospects (we didn’t even have a site at the time) and I stopped by East River where the coaching staff introduced me to a gigantic rising junior tackle, which was Duckett. He’s always had size and upside (something you can never have too much of on a football roster) and it looks like the Wildcats have spotted and want to get him in the fold.

-Missouri could be in position to land another prospect from Lassiter High in Marietta, Ga., one cycle after signing quarterback Eddie Printz from the school. Predictions are consensus (100 percent on Crystal Ball) that three-star cornerback Chris Murphy will end up a Tiger. Recruiter Alex Grinch, who has done an excellent job establishing in-roads in the Peach State for Missouri during the transition to the SEC, is leading the way here. 

Crystal Ballin’

Now SEC fans can keep up with the latest Crystal Ball predictions from national recruiting experts on their team’s targets as they occur. Follow the links below for the team-specific Crystal Ball update page.

Alabama Target Predictions
Arkansas Target Predictions
Auburn Target Predictions
Florida Target Predictions
Georgia Target Predictions
Kentucky Target Predictions
LSU Target Predictions
Mississippi State Target Predictions
Missouri Target Predictions
Ole Miss Target Predictions
South Carolina Target Predictions
Tennessee Target Predictions
Texas A&M Target Predictions
Vanderbilt Target Predictions


SEC 2014 Team Rankings
SEC 2014 Recruiter Rankings

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