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SEC Recruiting Notebook: Elam Chooses In-State Kentucky

sec-recruiting-notebook-gfxKentucky received the news it had been waiting for on Thursday when defensive tackle Matt Elam from John Hardin High School in Elizabethtown, Ky., announced his commitment to the Wildcats.

Elam chose Kentucky over Alabama.

“The whole time I was just struggling to pick a school,” he said, according to the Lexington Herald Leader. “It’s hard to turn down Alabama, and it’s crazy that I did. But I feel my heart is at the University of Kentucky — that was the main thing.”

Elam became a main target for Kentucky’s coaching staff early in the recruiting process. The Wildcats knew keeping him from leaving the state would be difficult.

“Coach Stoops is doing something right,” John Hardin coach Chad Lewis told the Herald Leader. “He can’t build this program in one year. The way the program was … it was on a downhill slide.

“It’s going to take some time to rebuild it. The way to rebuild a program is to recruit the best players, and you have to go after the best players. When you land these type of kids, your program’s going to change.”

Kentucky coach Mark Stoops has certainly helped improve the Wildcats’ recruiting. Kentucky has 27 commitments for the 2014 class, which is ranked No. 13 in the nation by

Elam’s commitment means Kentucky has landed three of the state’s top five prospects for 2014. He believes that will be a key in Stoops’ attempt to turn the program around.

“I feel like that’s one of the main reasons why I stayed is just to help out my home-state program, because to have a good program you need great players,” Elam said. “And it has to start with those in-state kids just to be the cornerstone of that. So I feel like me and Drew, we stayed home, and I feel like we’re definitely gonna help out Coach Stoops and the UK program.”


Humphrey chooses Alabama

Cornerback Marlon Humphrey from Hoover (Ala.) High School announced his commitment to Alabama this week.

Humphrey chose the Crimson Tide after considering Florida State.


Humphrey’s commitment gives Alabama two of the nation’s top cornerbacks in the 2014 class. Tony Brown from Beaumont, Texas, enrolled at Alabama earlier this month.

Humphrey, who’s ranked the nation’s No. 5 cornerback by ESPN RecruitingNation, could help the Crimson Tide immediately. ESPN national recruiting analyst Tom Luginbill wrote in part:

“Humphrey is ready physically and mentally to come in and contribute early in his career. He has the size (6-foot, 179 pounds) and fundamentals Saban covets on the perimeter. We see a quick acclimation to the next level, particularly in zone-scheme packages.”

Alabama remains in the running for several highly-touted prospects. Defensive end Chad Thomas from Miami Washington High School will visit Alabama this weekend. He’s committed to Miami but has remained open to looking at other schools.

Defensive end Lorenzo Carter, wide receiver Malachi Dupre and linebacker Rashaan Evans are all considering Alabama, although all three prospects appear to be leaning elsewhere.


Texas A&M lands in-state linebacker

Texas A&M beat out rival Texas for a commitment from linebacker Otaro Alaka from Cypress Falls High School in Houston this week.

It’s another recruiting win for Texas A&M, which probably hasn’t received enough attention for the 2014 class it’s putting together.

Texas A&M, which has the nation’s No. 3 ranked class by Rivals, has talent everywhere.

Quarterback Kyle Allen, who’s already on campus, is probably the highest-profile player because of his position and talent. He’ll receive plenty of help from junior college offensive linemen Jermaine Eluemunor and Avery Gennesy and wide receiver Speedy Noil.

On defense, Alaka joins a talented list of prospects that includes defensive linemen Qualen Cunningham, Myles Garrett and Zaycoven Henderson.

Texas A&M will be challenged next season to replace quarterback Johnny Manziel, receiver Mike Evans and left tackle Jake Matthews. But coach Kevin Sumlin continues to improve the Aggies’ chances of staying competitive in the SEC.


Vanderbilt looks to rebuild class

New Vanderbilt coach Derek Mason has plenty of work to do as he attempts to close out the 2014 class.

The Commodores head into the weekend with only nine commitments for the class, which is ranked No. 94 in the country by Rivals. Vanderbilt had a top 25 class before coach James Franklin left for Penn State.

Mason received good news this week when defensive back Trent Sherfield from Danville (Ill.) High School reaffirmed his commitment to Vanderbilt. Rivals ranks Sherfield the nation’s No. 20 safety.

“Vanderbilt is where I want to be,” Sherfield told Rivals. “Me and my mom sat down with coach (Derek) Mason and she said that’s where she wanted me to be and that’s where I want to be. It wouldn’t make any sense to visit any other schools when that is where I want to be.”

Vanderbilt will host close to 10 visitors this weekend.

The top target among the visitors will likely be defensive end Nifae Lealao from Capital Christian High School in Sacramento, Calif. The former Stanford commitment has a strong relationship with Mason, who previously served as the Cardinal’s defensive coordinator.

Capital Christian coach Phil grams told 247Sports Lealao could wait until after signing day if he’s not totally sure of his decision.

“It’s hard because he hasn’t found that fit yet so maybe Vandy is that unique fit,” Grams said. “The kid loves playing football too and we have a unique close-knit experience at Capital Christian and he’s looking for that same thing.”


Jackson down to four

Athlete Adoree’ Jackson from Junipero Serra High School in Gardena, Calif., has trimmed his list to four schools.

He announced on Instagram this week he’s considering Florida, LSU, Southern California and UCLA.

Jackson, who’s ranked the nation’s No. 1 athlete by Rivals, has been secretive of his plans through the recruiting process.

USC appears to be the favorite to land Jackson heading into the final weekend before signing day. Crystal ball predictions from 247Sports give USC an 83 percent chance of landing Jackson, who plans to announce his decision on signing day.



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