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SEC Recruiting Notebook: Texas A&M Lands Legacy Cunningham

sec-recruiting-notebook-gfxTexas A&M received good news Thursday when defensive end Qualen Cunningham from Hamilton High School in Chandler, Ariz., committed to the Aggies.

Cunningham, who’s ranked the nation’s No. 22 defensive end by ESPN RecruitingNation, chose Texas A&M over offers from such schools as Oklahoma, Oregon, Southern California, UCLA and Washington.

Cunningham will follow in the footsteps of his father, Rick Cunningham, who played on the offensive line at Texas A&M from 1988-89. Qualen Cunningham told ESPN he was glad to go ahead and make a decision.

“I’ve been thinking about it a lot, and I had my list narrowed down to schools I felt comfortable with,” Cunningham said. “It just seemed like the best situation for me, individually, being able to play in the SEC. It’s a great school, and I’m really excited for it.”

Cunningham is the second 2014 defensive line prospect to commit to Texas A&M in the last week. Defensive end Myles Garrett committed to the Aggies last week. Texas A&M has a total of four defensive linemen committed to the 2014 class.

“I know the players that are going to be on the field are going to be the best players,” Cunningham said. “I just have to step up and compete, and at the end of the day, that’s all it’s about.”

Texas A&M’s 2014 class is quickly turning into one of the best in the nation. The Aggies’ class is ranked No. 7 in the country and fourth in the SEC by Rivals. Texas A&M’s 16 commitments is the fewest total of any school ranked in the top 10.

The news of Cunningham’s commitment was met with excitement by Texas A&M quarterback commit Kyle Allen. The fellow Arizona native has pushed publicly for Cunningham to commit to the Aggies. Allen tweeted:

“Q!!!! My boy you finally came to your senses ahah! Congrats man so happy for let’s ball out! #gigem”

Texas A&M added to its 2015 class earlier this week when defensive tackle Daylon Mack from Gladewater (Texas) High School committed to the Aggies.

Mack, whose offer list also includes LSU, Florida State, Miami, Oregon and Texas, is expected to be one of the highest-rated prospects in the 2015 class. He’s confident he will help Texas A&M as soon as he arrives in College Station.

“I really just feel like I can come in and help from day one,” Mack told Rivals. “I wouldn’t mind fighting for a starting job. I think I would win, too.”

It’s another in-state recruiting win for Texas A&M. All four of the Aggies’ 2015 commitments are from in-state prospects. Allen and Cunningham are the only two commitments in the 2014 class who live outside the state of Texas.


South Carolina lands a quarterback

Quarterback Michael Scarnecchia from Fleming High School in Orange Park, Fla., committed to South Carolina this week.

Head coach Steve Spurrier led the charge for Scarnecchia, who received an offer from the Gamecocks last week. He had previously committed to UAB.

“For one, Coach Spurrier is going to be one of the best quarterback coaches in the country,” Scarnecchia told Rivals this week. “I felt very comfortable with the area and the coaches and loved it up there. It’s SEC, you will be playing against the best talent and I like the style of offense they run. I feel it will prepare me for the NFL.”

South Carolina was the first school from a power conference to offer a scholarship to Scarnecchia, who isn’t rated by Rivals. But he believes he has plenty of ability to be successful at South Carolina.

“I’m very coachable and I have a strong arm,” Scarnecchia said. “One good thing is my coaches work with me to make audibles on the field and give me the reins so I’m good at understanding defenses and making reads.”


Farrell: Elam is Kentucky’s to lose

Matt Elam is arguably the most important prospect remaining on Kentucky’s board for the 2014 class.

The defensive tackle from John Hardin High School in Elizabethton, Ky., is the nation’s No. 18 defensive tackle and second-best prospect in Kentucky, according to Rivals.

The good news for Kentucky is the Wildcats appear to lead Alabama, Tennessee, Notre Dame and Ohio State for Elam’s services. Mike Farrell of Rivals recently called Kentucky the “team to beat” for Elam. Farrell explained his thoughts to the Lexington Herald-Leader.

“I believe that, I really do,” Farrell said. “I think Matt’s the type of kid that likes the attention. I think Matt’s the type of kid who will take his visits, who will be flattered by the big schools. Almost awe-inspired by some of them. I think it’s extremely tempting to be recruited (at that position) at Notre Dame, where Louis Nix is. Or at Alabama, where they’ve put like the last three of those guys in the NFL.

“But when all is said and done, I think he wants to stay home. That’s just my feeling.”

Elam has official visits scheduled to Ohio State on Oct. 18 and Kentucky on Dec. 13. He will likely take his official visit to Alabama, which appears to be the top challenger to Kentucky, sometime after the season ends.

Kentucky still has work to do to land Elam, and Alabama should never be counted out of a battle for a highly-touted prospect. But it looks like the Crimson Tide will have to catch Kentucky in this race.

“Recruiting is unpredictable, but I think right now he’s going into this and he’s comparing everything to Kentucky,” Farrell said. “And that’s a good thing.”


Top prospects set to visit Alabama

There will be several highly-touted prospects in Tuscaloosa this weekend to watch Alabama host Tennessee.

The list of visitors is expected to include linebacker Shaun Dion Hamilton from Montgomery, Ala., defensive end Da’Shawn Hand from Woodbridge, Va., defensive tackle Charles Mosley from Brighton, Tenn., and running back Bo Scarbrough from Bradenton, Fla.

Scarbrough, who’s committed to Alabama, visited Notre Dame last week and has shown interest in other schools, including Florida and Ole Miss. This is an important weekend with Scarbrough for Alabama, according to ESPN’s Derek Tyson.

“Alabama would like to use this opportunity to impress the multi-dimensional player enough for him to reaffirm his pledge to the Tide,” Tyson wrote.

Alabama has 21 commitments in the 2014 class, which is ranked No. 1 in the nation by Rivals.


Hootie’s decision split ’50-50′

Safety Laurence “Hootie” Jones from Neville High School in Monroe, La., is still torn as he nears his decision date.

The nation’s No. 4 safety according to Rivals is planning to announce his college decision on Nov. 15. It’s a “50-50″ battle between Alabama and LSU.

Jones told WNXX Radio this week he has plenty to think about before he makes a final decision.

“I’m kind of at a loss right now,” Jones said, via the Baton Rouge Advocate. “I need to get my mom’s input.”




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