It’s been a difficult week for Alabama following it’s loss to Auburn.
Alabama’s hope of winning its fourth BCS championship in the last five years was likely dashed by its fierce rival. There’s still hope, but that likely rests on the shoulders of Duke as it tries to upset No. 1 Florida State this weekend.
The consolation prize for Alabama: the Crimson Tide is all but assured of winning its sixth recruiting national championship in seven years.
Alabama received two commitments this week from safety Laurence “Hootie” Jones from Neville High School in Monroe, La., and defensive lineman Jarren Reed from East Mississippi Community College in Scooba, Miss.
Alabama 24 commitments in its 2014 class, which has a comfortable hold on No. 1 in the Rivals Team Rankings.
Alabama’s loss to Auburn has rejuvenated the Nick Saban-to-Texas rumors, which shouldn’t be a surprise considering their popularity in recent months. But they haven’t appeared to cause any concern among recruits.
“(Saban) told me he is too old to build another program,” Jones, who chose Alabama over LSU, told TideSports.com. “He would rather keep what he has now. He wants to retire at a place where he loves. He doesn’t want to go somewhere and try to rebuild. He may not be able to rebuild by the time he is ready to retire.”
There is no rebuilding at Alabama, just reloading. And Reed will help with that. The former Florida signee chose Alabama because he wants to help the Crimson Tide return to winning SEC and BCS titles.
“I felt like Alabama was the best place for me,” Reed told TideSports.com. “I can become a better person and player. Everything stands out to me about their program, the football aspect and the academics, the graduation rate.
“It’s an elite program. I want to be the best I can be. I want to play with the best.”
Alabama is focused on once again securing the best class in the nation. The Crimson Tide’s list of top uncommitted targets includes running back Leonard Fournette from New Orleans, cornerback Marlon Humphrey from Hoover, Ala., linebacker Raekwon McMillan from Hinesville, Ga., and cornerbacks Tony Brown from Beaumont, Texas, and Jalen Tabor from Washington, D.C.
Fournette and Tabor will take official visits to Alabama next weekend, as will wide receiver Travis Rudolph from West Palm Beach, Fla., and offensive lineman Brian Wallace from St. Louis. Alabama commitments David Cornwell and Cameron Robinson are expected to be in Tuscaloosa that weekend helping Alabama’s coaches recruit the uncommitted prospects.
The week hasn’t been easy for Alabama or its fanbase, and a long offseason is sure to come as the Crimson Tide prepares to replace quarterback AJ McCarron. But there’s good news for Alabama. More help is on the way.
Malone the latest to choose Tennessee
Wide receiver Josh Malone from Station Camp High School in Gallatin, Tenn., gave Tennessee good news when he committed to the Vols on Wednesday.
Malone, who’s ranked the nation’s No. 2 wide receiver and No. 20 overall prospect by Rivals.com, chose Tennessee over Georgia, Clemson and Florida State. He’s the second Rivals five-star prospect to choose Tennessee, joining running back Jalen Hurd from Hendersonville, Tenn.
The Vols have commitments from six of Rivals’ top 10 prospects in the state of Tennessee.
“I look forward to playing with those guys,” Malone told Rivals. “They’re great players, and great players should want to play with other great players. I look forward to working with those guys to try and really make an impact and help turn the program around.”
Tennessee’s 2014 class will be key to the program’s turnaround. The Vols have suffered four straight losing seasons and have only reached the postseason twice since 2007.
Malone said he believes Tennessee coach Butch Jones and his staff will help return the Vols to their past success.
“You have to trust in him a lot because you put your future in his hands and also I’m going to a team that’s been struggling recently,” Malone said, “but I’m going to a team that has been close so obviously they’re not too far behind.”
Tennessee is behind only Alabama in the Rivals Team Rankings. The Vols aren’t finished, either. They’re recruiting several uncommitted prospects, including offensive lineman Alex Bookser from Mt. Lebanon, Pa., cornerback Adoree’ Jackson from Gardena, Calif., and lineman Charles Mosley from Brighton, Tenn.
Tennessee will sign as many prospects as it can in 2014. The Vols have 34 commitments, including freshman defensive back Devaun Swafford, who played as a walk-on this fall but was promised a scholarship next season. How will Tennessee fit everyone in?
“It will work out,” Jones told the Knoxville Quarterback Club last week. “I promise you.”
Missouri’s recruiting refocused
Missouri’s on-field success has led to improved results on the recruiting trail.
The Tigers have the No. 27 class in the country, according to Rivals. Last year, Missouri signed the No. 41 class in the nation. That ranked dead last in the SEC.
Now Missouri calling prospects and selling an improved program that’s battling for an SEC championship. The Tigers are also reaching out to prospects in different areas of the country.
Fourteen of Missouri’s 21 signees last year came from Missouri and Texas. Almost 71 percent of Missouri’s signees in the last five years have come from those two states (that thanks to ESPN).
Things have changed. Missouri has more 2014 commitments from Florida, Georgia and Tennessee (12) than Missouri and Texas (nine). The Tigers have gone into traditional SEC states and convinced prospects that Missouri belongs in the conference.
“I like how it’s on the rise and I could play against good opponents in the SEC,” Buford, Ga., athlete Thomas Wilson told Rivals when he committed to Missouri in September.
This doesn’t mean in-state recruiting will become less of a priority for Missouri. The Tigers received a commitment last month from St. Louis offensive lineman Andy Bauer, who will serve as one of Missouri’s most important members of the 2014 class.
But Missouri will likely need to shift its previous focus from recruiting in Texas to recruiting in other Southeastern states. So far, so good for Missouri.
SEC represented in ESPN Juco 50
The SEC has done well recruiting junior college prospects, according to the recently released ESPN Junior College 50 rankings.
The top-rated junior college prospect, wide receiver D’haquille Williams from Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College, is committed to Auburn. The Tigers have landed two of the top 10 and three of the top 50 prospects on ESPN’s list.
The SEC has dominated junior college recruiting overall. The conference has landed 19 of the 29 prospects who have given commitments. Eight of the top 10 committed junior college prospects have chosen SEC schools.
Here’s a list of the SEC schools and their number of commitments in the ESPN Junior College 50:
Tennessee – 5
Auburn – 3
Alabama – 2
Ole Miss – 2
South Carolina – 2
Texas A&M – 2
Georgia – 1
Kentucky – 1
Mississippi State – 1