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SEC Recruiting Notebook: The Nation’s Top Target… Mom

sec-recruiting-notebook-gfxThe story of Arkansas running back signee Alex Collins dominated headlines last week.

Collins, who attends South Plantation High School in Plantation, Fla., had committed to the Razorbacks two days before signing day and was set to sign with Arkansas on Feb. 6. But Collins’s mother refused to sign his national letter of intent, leading Collins to seek out his father’s help to get the letter signed.

A similar situation could have occurred with Florida State linebacker signee Matthew Thomas from Booker T. Washington High School in Miami.

Thomas told Noles247.com he wanted to sign with Southern California but his mother refused to sign his letter of intent. Unlike Collins, Thomas chose not to battle his mother on the subject.

“We couldn’t agree, but it’s my mom, I just did what I had to do,” Thomas told Noles247.

Thomas insisted he’s not upset about his mother’s refusal to sign a letter to USC.

“I think everything works out how it’s supposed to,” Thomas said. “I’m going to make the best of my situation. It’s not like I’m unhappy, I really like Florida State. It’s not a problem, I’m happy with my decision.”

How many prospects would be happy with a situation similar to the one involving Thomas? Obviously Collins wasn’t; he still signed with Arkansas instead of staying close to home as his mother insisted.

But there are many prospects who would react the same way Thomas did, simply saying, “It’s my mom.”

Last week, standout defensive end Chris Jones from Houston, Miss., signed with Mississippi State instead of rival Ole Miss. One major reason: his mother wanted him in Starkville. At least that’s what Ole Miss co-defensive coordinator Wes McGriff told SI.com.

Ole Miss couldn’t sway Jones’s mother, but it was able to do so with other recruits. The Rebels staff made connections with the people closest to its top targets. With defensive end Robert Nkemdiche, it was his brother, who plays at Ole Miss, and mother, who made it clear Ole Miss was her top pick. With wide receiver Laquon Treadwell, Ole Miss’s recruiting started with his friend and former high school teammate (who signed with Ole Miss last February) and ended with his mother.

So with the 2014 recruiting period already underway, it should be obvious who coaches should target. It starts with the prospects, but with many, it will end with mom.

Hold off on those visits

The 2013 class featured many prospects who committed to one school (or two) but signed with another last week.

Flipping commitments is common practice in recruiting. And it’s the most common cause for headaches among college coaches.

That’s why some schools have adopted a new policy: “No visits elsewhere if you commit to us.” Texas is the latest school to do this, joining others such as Georgia Tech, Michigan and Oregon.

Will this policy work? Maybe for Texas, which recruits at such a high level that it can drop one four-star and pick up another without much trouble. But even Texas is having to recruit against on-field struggles, questions about its head coach’s future and that former in-state rival that’s now in the SEC, Texas A&M.

It’s also hard to believe schools will be 100 percent committed to this plan. Will a school really tell a highly-touted prospect to take a hike because he looks at another school? Michigan didn’t. Offensive lineman David Dawson visited elsewhere after he committed to Michigan. The Wolverines welcomed him back with open arms once he decided Ann Arbor was the best place for him.

Recruiting is a growing beast, especially in the SEC. Don’t expect schools in the league to adopt the “no visits elsewhere” policy anytime soon. That is unless it gives the school an out with a prospect it no longer wants to sign.

Rivals releases its Top 100

The Rivals100 list for the class of 2014 is out. This year’s top prospect: defensive end Da’Shawn Hand from Woodbridge (Va.) High School.

Hand listed his top five schools last month: Alabama, South Carolina, Michigan, Notre Dame and Virginia Tech.

Expect 2014 to be another strong recruiting year for the SEC, maybe even stronger than 2013 (if possible). The top five players in the Rivals100 are below.

DE Da’Shawn Hand – Woodbridge (Va.)
DB Jabrill Peppers – Paramus (N.J.) Catholic
RB Leonard Fournette – St. Augustine in New Orleans
DB Quin Blanding – Bayside in Virginia Beach, Va.
RB Sony Michel – American Heritage in Plantation, Fla.

The top-rated SEC commitment for the 2014 class? Hold your surprise. It’s Tuscaloosa, Ala., running back Bo Scarbrough (No. 17 overall), who’s committed to Alabama.

Watch Watson

The attention surrounding quarterback Deshaun Watson from Gainesville (Ga.) High School continues to grow.

Watson, who’s committed to Clemson, is the nation’s highest-rated quarterback in the 2014 class, according to Rivals. While he’s committed to Clemson, he will continue to hear from schools around the country.

Will his Clemson commitment stick? He says yes and maintains he isn’t tied to offensive coordinator Chad Morris, who could see some head coaching opportunities after the 2013 season.

But Watson’s recruitment will be worth following. His offer list includes in-state Georgia, Tennessee, Florida State and Ohio State. And more power programs will be added to that list between now and the day Watson signs on the dotted line.

 


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