Signing Day Around The SEC
An overall look at how the 14 schools in the Southeastern Conference fared Wednesday on Signing Day.
National rankings (Rivals 7; Scout 10).
Best in class: Jalen Tabor, CB, Washington, D.C. Already enrolled in school, Tabor is a significant addition since starting CBs Loucheiz Purifoy and Marcus Roberson left school early for the NFL.
Best of the rest: David Sharpe, OL, Jacksonville, Fla. Sharpe should help fill the team’s biggest need.
Late addition: Treon Harris, QB, Miami. Coach Will Muschamp convinced Harris to switch from Florida State to Florida, prying a gifted athlete away from the defending national champion.
One that got away: Adoree’ Jackson, ATH, Gardena, Calif. A budding track star, Jackson probably would have given Florida a top-five class. But he chose USC over Florida, LSU and UCLA.
NOTE: Muschamp finds it amusing to see other staffs celebrate signing day. “They film these staff rooms and the staffs all cheer when they get the (guy),” he said. “Most of the time, you know. You know if you’re getting them and you know if you’re not. If you haven’t talked to them in 48 hours, you’re not getting them. So that’s an indicator. If you’re on the phone that morning with mom and dad and brother and uncle, you’re probably going to sign them. But still, you never know. It’s always a little stressful, a little anxious.”
National rankings (Rivals 8; Scout 12).
Best in class: DE Lorenzo Carter, RB Sony Michel
Best of the rest: Chubb, TE Jeb Blazevich, DT Lamont Gaillard, WR Isaiah McKenzie, QB Jacob Park.
Late addition: Georgia made a successful late run to sign McKenzie, who attends the same high school as Michel. McKenzie had Virginia Tech, Florida and Mississippi on his list of finalists. Also, West Hall tight end Hunter Atkinson picked Georgia over Cincinnati, where he had committed.
One that got away: DE Andrew Williams from Eagles Landing Christian Academy near Atlanta chose Auburn over Georgia and Clemson.
NOTE: “He’s a guy that we believe can come in and make an immediate impact on our football team. He’s got a big skill set. I don’t think he’s just a running back. I think he’s got great hands and will be able to do stuff out of the backfield,” Georgia offensive coordinator Mike Bobo on Michel.
National rankings (Rivals 14; Scout 20).
Best in class: Drew Barker, QB, Conner, Ky. Ranked by Rivals.com as Kentucky’s top prospect, his early commitment to the Wildcats over South Carolina and others opened the eyes of top-flight recruits who began looking at Kentucky as a viable choice.
Best of the rest: Matt Elam, DE, Elizabethtown, Ky. Chose the Wildcats over Notre Dame and Alabama.
Late addition: Lloyd Tubman, DE. The Louisville native picked Kentucky on Wednesday over the hometown Cardinals and Nebraska.
One that got away: Derrick Kelly, OL. The Havana, Fla., product de-committed from the Wildcats to accept a late offer from national champion Florida State.
NOTE: Barker is among seven recruits enrolled this semester and was featured in a Kentucky football commercial that ran in parts of the state during halftime of Sunday’s Super Bowl. Wildcats offensive coordinator Neal Brown said the new QB “has those abilities that will give him the opportunity to come in and compete, and he’s going to be thrown into the fire this spring.
National rankings (Rivals 35; Scout 32).
Best in class: Andy Bauer, OL, DeSmet HS, St. Louis, Mo.
Best of the rest: Nate Brown, WR, North Gwinnett HS, Suwanee, Ga.
Late addition: Spencer Williams, DL, First Coast HS, Jacksonville, Fla.
One that got away: DT Poona Ford signed with Texas
NOTE: “When we started winning, being successful, he just changed his mind.” — Pinkel on Bauer.
National rankings (Rivals 22; Scout 30).
Best in class: Bryson Allen-Williams, LB, Ellenwood, Ga.
Best of the rest: Dante Sawyer, DE, Suwanee, Ga.; Dexter Wideman, DT, Saluda, S.C.
Late addition: ATH Chris Lammons, DT Dexter Wideman.
One that got away: None.
NOTE: The biggest difference in Spurrier’s 2014 class compared to his first classes at South Carolina is he tends to land all the players he wants. “All the papers we sent out came back with a signature on it. Hasn’t always been that way,” Spurrier said.
National rankings: (Rivals 5; Scout 4).
Best in class: WR Josh Malone is rated as the nation’s No. 27 overall prospect by Rivals.
Best of the rest: RB Jalen Hurd, LB Dillon Bates, S Todd Kelly Jr., DE Dewayne Hendrix, TE Daniel Helm, DE Derek Barnett, RB Derrell Scott, DB D’Andre Payne, DB Rashaan Gaulden and DT Michael Sawyers are all rated among the nation’s top 250 prospects by Rivals.
Late addition: Sawyers, who lives in Nashville, Tenn., withdrew his verbal commitment to Vanderbilt after Penn State hired away former Commodores coach James Franklin. Sawyers visited Tennessee last weekend and signed with the Vols on Wednesday.
One that got away: DE Cory Thomas made a Signing Day switch to Mississippi State after verbally committing to Tennessee.
National rankings (Rivals 50; Scout 50).
Best in class: Nifae Lealao, DL, Sacramento, Calif. A 6-foot-5, 310-pound lineman, Lealao had a four-star rating by both Rivals and Scout.
Best of the rest: Ronald Monroe, ATH, Houston. Monroe played quarterback but is listed as an athlete. Vanderbilt coach Derek Mason said Monroe is talented enough to play a handful of positions, and they plan to move him around.
Late addition: Lealao came to Vanderbilt for an official visit last weekend, and Mason couldn’t have been happier after watching the lineman play basketball last week. “To see him on the basketball floor was amazing,” Mason said. “He made my ears perk up, and that doesn’t happen often.”
Tall and lengthy: Mason says he wants “space takers” to fill up lanes, and he got just that with 11 of the 22 players committed listed as 6-3 or taller.
National rankings (Rivals 1; Scout 1).
Best in class: DE Da’Shawn Hand of Woodbridge, Va., could bring a pass rushing prowess that Saban has been seeking. The 6-foot-4, 260-pounder collected 56 sacks during his four-year high school career.
Best of the rest: LB Rashaan Evans, OL Cam Robinson, ATH Bo Scarbrough, OL Dominick Jackson and CBs Tony Brown and Marlon Humphrey are also five-star prospects, according to at least one service.
Late addition: For the second straight year, Alabama raided rival Auburn’s backyard for a high-profile linebacker. Evans joined Reuben Foster in leaving Auburn High School for Tuscaloosa. “As soon as Rashaan committed to us, Reuben Foster called me and absolutely said that he was a much better recruiter than I was and he was really responsible for that,” Saban said.
One that got away: There weren’t many important targets the Tide whiffed on. They made a late run for Miami commitment (and signee) Chad Thomas, a five-star defensive end.
National rankings: (Rivals 29; Scout 32).
Best in class: Bijhon Jackson, DT, El Dorado, Ark.
Best of the rest: Kendrick Edwards, WR, Miami, Fla.; Cole Hedlund, K, Argyle, Texas; Frank Ragnow, OT, Chanhassen, Minn.; Brian Wallace, OT, Florissant, Mo.
Late addition: JoJo Robinson, WR, Miami, Fla.
One that got away: Solomon Thomas, DE, Coppell, Texas.
NOTE: “Brian might have been one of our more heavily recruited kids. He’s a very talented young man with nothing but upside in front of him. He has the potential to maybe help us right away.” — Arkansas coach Bret Bielema on OT Brian Wallace.
National rankings (Rivals 9; Scout 9).
Best in class: RB Roc Thomas is a top-15 overall recruit by both Rivals and Scout. He could compete with Corey Grant and Cameron Artis-Payne to replace Heisman Trophy finalist Tre Mason in the backfield. “We really feel like he’s got the ability to come in immediately and make a huge impact,” Malzahn said.
Best of the rest: Five-star WR D’haquille Williams, who is already enrolled, was Rivals’ No. 1 junior college prospect. LB Tre’ Williams is another five-star recruit who was rated one of the nation’s top two linebackers by several recruiting sites. Both play positions where Auburn has immediate needs.
Late additions: Auburn picked up two more big men on signing day. Braden Smith of Olathe, Kan., was rated the nation’s top guard by Scout. Auburn targeted him hard after Greg Robinson left for the NFL draft. Auburn beat out Clemson and Georgia for Andrew Williams, rated as the No. 12 defensive end by 247Sports and Rivals.
One that got away: Auburn High School five-star linebacker Rashaan Evans chose Alabama in another signing-day announcement. He would have been Auburn’s top-rated signee if he had signed with his hometown school.
National rankings: (Rivals 2; Scout 2).
Best in class: Leonard Fournette, RB, New Orleans, La.
Best of the rest: Malachi Dupre, WR, River Ridge, La.
Late addition: Travonte Valentine, DT, Hialeah, Fla.
One that got away: Cameron Robinson, OL, West Monroe, La. (Alabama)
NOTE: Les Miles on Leonard Fournette: “The inhibitor for a running back is he is big and doesn’t have great speed or he has speed and is not quite big enough. So, you have to work on his speed or build him up. Leonard Fournette has both size and speed. He has ball skills and great vision. He is a guy who will step in and play.”
National rankings (Rivals 18; Scout 14).
Best in class: Rod Taylor, OL, Jackson, Miss. The 6-foot-3, 320-pound Under Armour All-American could help the Rebels right away on the offensive line. He was the consensus top-rated recruit in Mississippi and among the nation’s top interior offensive linemen.
Best of the rest: Breeland Speaks, DL, Jackson, Miss.; Markell Pack, WR, Purvis, Miss. Speaks and Pack will be expected to compete for playing time quickly. Pack could help fill the void left by WR Donte Moncrief, who declared for the NFL Draft.
Late addition: Tee Shepard, DB, Fresno, Calif. The Rebels surprised many by landing one of the nation’s top junior college defensive backs. He could help immediately at a spot the Rebels need some depth. Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze said Shepard has some work to do academically, but the coach is optimistic he can be eligible next season.
One that got away: Malachi Dupre, WR, New Orleans. The Rebels wanted Dupre, but it was always a long shot to lure the star receiver from LSU.
National rankings: (Rivals 41; Scout 39)
Best in class: Aeris Williams, RB, West Point, Miss. The 6-foot-1, 200-pound Williams rushed for nearly 4,000 yards during his prep career and could help the Bulldogs’ backfield immediately.
Best of the rest: Gerri Green, LB, Greenville, Miss.; Jamoral Graham, WR, Decatur, Miss. Mississippi State hopes Green is the latest in a long line of quality linebackers in Starkville.
Late addition: Cory Thomas, DL, Bessemer, Ala. The Bulldogs were able to add some depth along the defensive line with Thomas. The 6-foot-5, 273-pounder was also considering Tennessee.
One that got away: Tee Shepard, DB, Fresno, Calif. Mississippi State thought it had a great shot at Shepard, who was one of the nation’s top junior college defensive backs. He ended up signing with rival Mississippi.
National rankings (Rivals 6; Scout 5).
Best in class: QB Kyle Allen.
Best of the rest: DE Myles Garrett.
Late addition: Zaycoven Henderson, DT, Longview, Texas.
One that got away: Mattrell McGraw, DB, New Orleans.
Note: One member of Texas A&M’s recruiting class will never play a down of football for the Aggies. Dallas Skyline cornerback Cedric Collins committed to the Aggies before his junior year in 2012, but discovered at the end of that season that he had a rare congenital cervical problem and couldn’t continue his football career. The Aggies chose to give him a scholarship anyway, and Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin said the decision was about “honoring commitments.”
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