With all the midseason progress reports and grades, it only felt right for me to weigh in on the recruiting efforts by SEC teams at the halfway point of the season.
While it might not be the halfway point of the recruiting year, these things are fun. I’m sure tons of people will disagree with me, and that not only means you read it, but you know something yourself. It’s a nice conversation piece at work. Maybe your kids will have their own opinions? And think of how knowledgeable you’ll sound around the water cooler in the morning after reading this.
Without further ado, here are my observation of the SEC and how its teams are doing in recruiting.
Key commits: S Hasean Clinton-Dix (Orland Dr. Phillips), LB Brent Calloway (Russellville, Ala.), LB Trey DePriest (Springfield, Ohio)
The rundown: Defensively, this is one of the best-looking classes out there. Clinton-Dix is one of the best safeties in the country, while Calloway will be a beast for the Tide. Four wide receivers, including 6-foot-3 speedster Marvin Shinn, and Tampa Plant quarterback Phillip Ely headline a pretty athletic and tough offensive haul. This is easily the best class in the conference.
Key commits: OL Brey Cook (Springdale, Ark., Har-Ber), QB Brandon Allen (Fayetteville, Ark.), WR Keante Miller (East St. Louis, Ill.)
The rundown: I like Cook’s size and strength on the o-line and Allen looks like he’ll flourish in Bobby Petrino’s offense, but after that I’m not too blown away — and Arkansas already has 20 commitments. I like the balance (besides having three commits who project as tight ends), but no one really screams “playmaker” to me. There’s still time to find one, and with the way the offensive is playing, it shouldn’t be too hard to sell this offense.
Key commits: QB Kiehl Frazier (Sprindale, Ark., Shiloh Christian), ATH C.J. Uzomah (North Gwinnett, Ga., Suwanne), OL Reese Dismukes (Spanish Fort, Ala.)
The rundown: Frazier is one of the top dual-threat quarterbacks around and reminds me a lot of Cam Newton. Defensively, this class is OK, but could get a lot stronger. Besides Frazier, Uzomah and receiver Jaylon Denson are the only other real playmakers. Auburn also lost two commits this week and needs to land a running back to become more complete.
Key commits: DE Sterling Bailey (Gainesville, Ga., East Hall), QB Christian LeMay (Mint Hill, N.C., Butler), LB Amario Herrera (College Park, Ga., North Clayton)
The rundown: Georgia’s class hasn’t been praised much nationally, but it’s a solid group, so far. But with coach Mark Richt on the hot seat, who knows what this class will look like after the season. Still, I like how balanced it is. My concern is how LeMay, who isn’t playing football this fall will look after taking an entire season off.
Key commits: QB Jeff Driskel (Oviedo Hagerty), DE Jeoffrey Pagan (Asheville, N.C.), CB Nick Waisome (Groveland South Lake)
The rundown: This class has done a good job at securing three much-needed offensive line commits. They’ll need to be developed, but getting the bodies was key. The defensive back class is one of fastest and most athletic I’ve seen in a while. Linebacker and receiver are still an issue. Florida needs at least one more receiver, and with Plantatation’s Ryan Shazier the only linebacker, getting at least two more is essential. Losing tight end A.C. Leonard is big hit to this class, but Driskel keeps it third best in the SEC right now.
Key commits: DB Glen Faulkner (East St. Louis, Ill.), TE Jon Davis (Middletown, Kent., Eastern), QB Theltus Cobbins (New Orleans McDonogh 35)
The rundown: It’s nice that Coach Joker Phillips is dipping into a bunch of states to grab players. He’s currently got guys from California, Texas and Louisiana. This class has yet to find its star and the defensive side could use some more playmakers and, well, bodies. It’s tough for a first-year coach, and Phillips must be applauded for stretching his efforts so far from Kentucky’s comfort zone. Still, there has to be someone who truly jumps out at you to give this class any sort of punch.
Key commits: OL La’El Collins (Baton Rouge, La., Redemptorist), RB Jeremy Hill (Redemptorist), DT Anthony Johnson (New Orleans O. Perry Walker)
The rundown: Collins isn’t quite the attention-getter as Seantrel Henderson was a year ago, but he’s as talented as they come on the line. Receiver Jarvis Landry doesn’t have intimidating size, but after watching film, he’ll burn you if you’re not careful. Defensively, this is one of the more athletic in the conference with David Jenkins and Jalen Collins in the defensive backfield.
Key commits: DB Gerard Holliman (Miami Southridge), WR Donte Moncrief (Raleigh, Miss.), DB Senquez Golsen (Pascagoula, Miss.)
The rundown: Finally, the Rebels are snagging the top players from the state of Mississippi. Houston Nutt also went all the way to south Florida to get two guys out of Southridge High and got a real sleeper in Sanford Seminole linebacker Sederious Bryant. The speed of this class is quite impressive on both sides of the ball, but Nutt should invest in trying to find another quarterback as well.
Key commits: LB C.J. Johnson (Philadelphia, Miss.), DB Jermain Whitehead (Greenwood, Miss., Amanda Elzy), WR Joe Morrow (Ocean Springs, Miss.)
The rundown: Dan Mullen has a nice class forming in 2011. He’s doing the smart thing by using the talent around him. Only four of his commits are from outside the state of Mississippi, and even the out-of-staters are only from Georgia and Louisiana. He definitely has spread offensive players, and I like the potential Morrow and receiver Devin Fosselman have with their speed. Quarterback Dak Prescott is a bruiser, but I’d like to see him use his arm more.
Key commits: RB Shon Carson (Lake City, S.C.), WR K.J. Brent (Waxhaw, N.C., Marvin Ridge), LB Edward Muldrow (Snellville, Ga., South Gwinnett)
The rundown: Outside of the two prep school commits, I’m not thoroughly impressed with South Carolina’s class. I really like Carson. He’s a blazer. And Brent is not only tall but has great speed. Groveland South Lake linebacker Jordan Montgomery looks like he’ll be a player and so does defensive back Thomas Finnie (Miami Central), so that’s a good sign for the Gamecocks. There are solid players in this class, and I like some of the talent I see, but it’s not very exciting right now. I think I like the prospects South Carolina is still going after more than I like what’s already here.
Key commits: LB A.J. Johnson (Gainesville, Ga.), DB Pat Martin (Greenville, S.C., J.L. Mann), QB Justin Worley (Rock Hill, S.C., Northwestern)
The rundown: It’s tough when you’re a new coach (Derek Dooley) and you have to fill in for someone (Lane Kiffin) who didn’t leave the program in the best shape. Dooley lost some guys early but reclaimed Johnson, who I think is a heck of a linebacker but could also play defensive end in college. Safety Brian Randolph is a decent player and could be a sleeper. I also like Worley at quarterback, but he has no one to throw to. Tennessee hasn’t gotten a commitment from a wide receiver yet. Looking at the offense the Vols are running isn’t helping I’m sure.
Key commits: DE Keith Heitzman (Hillard, Ohio, Davidson), OL Jake Bernstein (Crystal Lake, S.C., South), RB J.J. Keels (Melbourne Florida Air Academy)
The rundown: Vandy has yet to grab double-digit commitments, but the Commodores are never the kings of the SEC when it comes to recruiting. There is potential in this small class, though. I saw Neptune Beach Fletcher running back Mitchell Hester over the summer and was really impressed with what he did on the field. But does it really matter who Vandy brings in? We’ll all be working for them one day anyway.