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SEC Recruiting Notebook: Florida Lands D.C. Standout Lewis

sec-recruiting-notebook-gfxFlorida received a commitment Thursday from cornerback Marcus Lewis from Gonzaga High School in Washington, D.C.

Playing for Gators coach Will Muschamp was an important factor in Lewis’ decision.

“I liked the hands-on recruiting by coach Muschamp and (secondary) coach (Travaris Robinson),” Lewis told Rivals. “I can come in there and play early. They don’t have a lot of defensive backs.

“A few left after last year and Vernon (Hargreaves III) could be gone soon, too. They are constantly putting defensive backs in the pros and they need some more so my ability to come in and step on the field is tremendous.”

Lewis, who’s ranked the nation’s No. 8 cornerback by Rivals, is looking forward to playing alongside Florida cornerback Jalen Tabor. The Washington, D.C., native arrived on campus in Gainesville in January.

“It did play a small role,” Lewis said of Tabor’s presence at Florida. “We’re from the same area and we’re friends. It definitely played a part.”

Lewis, who previously committed to Virginia Tech and also considered Clemson and Miami, is Florida’s sixth commitment for the class of 2015. He’s the highest-rated prospect committed to the Gators, according to Rivals.

Florida hopes the commitment of Lewis will create some momentum with its recruiting on the defensive side of the ball. Cornerback Kareem Ali Jr. told Rivals he’s strongly considering the Gators and credited Tabor for helping sell the idea of playing for Muschamp.

“(Tabor) told me it’s real there and the coaches treat it like it’s the NFL and the coaches are hard on you to motivate you and they move fast,” Ali Jr. said. “He said they had a bad season last year, but they are on the come up with a young team and a good coach and are going to bring it back up this year.”

Ali Jr. said he plans to make his college decision in January.

“I just want to get everything off my shoulders,” he said. “I am just going to take visits and find what the best fit for me is.”

 

Missouri lands Georgia receiver

Missouri received a commitment this week from wide receiver Daniel Imatorbhebhe from North Gwinnett High School in Suwanee, Ga.

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Pearl Lands First Commitment At Auburn

Power forward Cinmeon Bowers from Chipola Junior College in Marianna, Fla., became the first prospect to commit to coach Bruce Pearl at Auburn on Saturday.

Bowers signed with Florida State in November but was released from his national letter of intent in January after he was arrested for allegedly eating marijuana in order to conceal it from police officers during a traffic stop. Charges were later dropped.

Bowers told AuburnSports.com he wasn’t guilty of any wrongdoing during the alleged incident.

“About that incident, I was proven innocent,” he said. “I was falsely accused. People might think badly of me, but I don’t smoke. I was around the wrong people. People think I’m a bad guy – I’m a good guy.”

Bowers, who plans to sign with Auburn on Wednesday, believes he will be able to help the Tigers immediately.

“I looked at the depth chart and they need a four man,” Bowers told Auburn Sports. “I love the offense, they let the four man go and everybody shares the ball. It would be a great fit.”

Auburn signed two prospects – forwards Sam Logwood and Jack Purchase – during the fall signing period.

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SEC Recruiting Notebook: Lock Helps Missouri Bolster Offense

sec-recruiting-notebook-gfxMissouri’s offense received a big lift this week when it received commitments from quarterback Drew Lock from Lee’s Summit (Mo.) High School and running back Natereace Strong from East St. Louis (Ill.) High School.

Lock, who’s ranked the nation’s No. 5 pro-style quarterback by Rivals, chose Missouri over Tennessee. Kentucky, Ole Miss, Michigan State, Ohio State and Texas also offered Lock a scholarship.

Lock said during a press conference Wednesday night that Missouri led throughout the recruiting process. His father, Andy Lock, played on the offensive line for the Tigers from 1986-89.

“I don’t feel like I could have played anywhere but Missouri because I feel like that’s where their heart lies, and that’s where my heart lies, too,” Drew Lock said. “(Lock’s father) did walk out into that stadium. To think that so many years later, I’m going to get the chance to actually do that, it’s surreal.”

Missouri’s recruiting on the offensive side of the ball is off to a strong start in the 2015 class.

The commitment from Strong, who’s ranked the nation’s No. 21 running back by Rivals, is the third running back commitment for the Tigers. He told Rivals he believes he will fit in nicely to Missouri’s offense.

“Their offense is a good offense – they are powerful and physical,” Strong said. “They put up numbers and I want to be in an offense that puts up numbers because that will help me get to the next level and that’s where I want to be.”

Lock plans to help Missouri put up those numbers. The Tigers’ recent quarterbacks, including Chase Daniel, James Franklin and Maty Mauk, have shown the ability to throw and run. Lock believes he can follow in that line.

“I would definitely say that my label is a pocket passer,” Lock said. “But I feel like I can bring so much more to the University of Missouri and the college level. I can get out and make plays if I need to, if the pocket breaks down. That’s something I take pride in.”

Lock has always taken pride in his family’s connection to Missouri. Andy Lock recalled a conversation he had with Drew about the future of the quarterback position at Missouri.

“Drew, would you be comfortable with somebody else quarterbacking the University of Missouri for three or four years, however long you get to play?” Andy remembered. “He goes, ‘Absolutely not.’ I said, ‘There you go. You just answered your own question.’

“That right there. He kind of went, ‘No, Dad, I’m not OK with that because I love that school and my family loves that school so, no, it would hurt me.’”

And Missouri is glad Lock will be there to help the Tigers.

 

Tennessee continues in-state run

Athlete Jauan Jennings gave Tennessee good news when he committed to the Vols on Monday.

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SEC Commitment Comparator – 4/9/13

blue_poker_chipsYou know what today is?  It’s exactly 44 weeks from National Signing Day 2015.  So why the heck not compare the league recruiting classes to date?

As usual, we’ve used Rivals.com’s star rankings as our foundation.  For each star they award a prospect, we assign one point.  We also give a point to the 0-star recruits who’ve yet to be graded by Rivals.  Toward the right of the table below you’ll see the total points amassed by each SEC program up until now.  On the far right you’ll also see the average points per commit for each school.

It’s early — obviously — but as the recruiting process begins earlier and earlier each year, it’s not too early to begin to draw a few conclusions.  Over the past few years we’ve seen that those programs that can lasso a large number of commitments early create a momentum that’s hard to stop.  In the age of social media, committed prospects serve as additional recruiters.  And those players who’ve already committed will have the opportunity to woo other prospects at various camps and combines this summer.

In most cases it pays to get the ball rolling early.  The table below will give you an idea of who’s done just that…

 

  School   Commits   5-stars   4-stars   3-stars   2-stars   1- & 0-stars   Total Points   Avg. Pts/Commit
  Alabama   9   0   8   1   0   0   35   3.88
  Texas A&M   9   0   8   1   0   0   35   3.88
  Tennessee   10   0   5   4   1   0   34   3.40
  LSU   9   2   1   5   1   0   31   3.44
  Miss. State   9   0   2   5   0   2   25   2.77
  S. Carolina   7   1   3   2   0   1   24   3.42
  Arkansas   7   0   4   2   0   1   23   3.28
  Georgia   5   0   4   0   0   1   17   3.40
  Kentucky   6   0   0   5   0   1   16   2.66
  Ole Miss   4   0   1   3   0   0   13   3.25
  Auburn   5   0   1   2   0   2   12   2.40
  Missouri   4   0   2   1   0   1   12   3.00
  Florida   5   0   0   3   0   2   11   2.20
  Vanderbilt   2   0   1   0   0   1   5   2.50

 

As you can see, Alabama, LSU and Texas A&M — as usual — are off to good starts.  Ditto Tennessee where Butch Jones is off to a hot start for the second year in a row.  Dan Mullen and Mississippi State are racking up commitments as well.  And while MSU’s point total isn’t quite as high as those mentioned ahead of them, there is reason for optimism in Starkville.

At the other end of the spectrum, Auburn, Georgia and Florida all have just five commitments to this point.  For Auburn and Georgia, there’s little reason to worry as those schools typically finish strong.  The same can typically be said for Florida, but the temperature of Will Muschamp’s seat leaves us wondering: Are the Gators just taking their time or are prospects leery of committing to a coach who might not be in Gainesville a year from now?  Time will tell.

Missouri, Ole Miss and Vanderbilt all have four or fewer commitments.  Derek Mason is just getting his feet beneath him at Vandy.  Hugh Freeze has shown that he can recruit, though his most successful class — a top five class two years ago — benefited from a hot start.  Missouri fans — as one pointed out via email today — can be pleased with the fact that Missouri has two four-star prospects out of its four-person class.  Last year the Tigers signed just two four-star prospects in their 28-man haul.

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SEC Recruiting Notebook: Lineman Harris Chooses Missouri

sec-recruiting-notebook-gfxMissouri received a commitment Tuesday from offensive lineman A.J. Harris from Blue Valley High School in Stilwell, Kan.

Harris gave the commitment to Missouri coach Gary Pinkel and his staff during a trip to Columbia.

“There are a lot of good things about Mizzou, but some of them are that I have a former teammates that played there, Clay Rhodes,” Harris told PowerMizzou.com.  ”When I talked to him about it he told me it would be the best decision I ever made.

“Also, none of the coaches BS about the recruiting process. Coach Pinkel got the extension to 2020, so that added a lot of stability to the decision, too. Plus, all the faculties and my dorm are all within a square mile.”

Harris’ home is less than three hours away from Missouri’s campus. That proximity and Harris’ familiarity with the program helped the Tigers stand out early in the recruiting process.

“I’ve known it would be Missouri for about a month, but me and my dad wanted to wait to make sure the feeling stuck and to make sure nothing would change my mind on such a big decision,” Harris said. “I also wanted to do it in person, so we waited until I came (Tuesday) and I told the coaches in person.”

Harris, who considered offers from Arkansas, Illinois, Nebraska, Ohio State and Oklahoma State, is the third prospect and first offensive lineman to commit to Missouri’s 2015 class. The other two commitments are from running backs Chase Abbington and Ryan Williams.

Missouri’s coaching staff will likely pitch the early offensive commitments to quarterback Drew Lock. The Lee’s Summit (Mo.) High School standout is a high priority for Missouri’s 2015 class.

Lock told 247Sports last month he’s torn between the options of playing for the in-state school or leaving the state to experience something new.

“Missouri is up there for me as far as being the hometown school and my dad went there,” Lock said. “Then again there is a side of me that wants to get away and a side of me that wants to stay home. It is 50/50 and how anyone would feel.”

 

Harris releases top 10

Running back Damien Harris from Madison Southern High School in Berea, Ky., recently released a list of the top 10 schools he’s considering.

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SEC Recruiting Notebook: Amadi Chooses Ole Miss

Ole Miss received good news this week when defensive back Ugo Amadi from John Overton High School in Nashville, Tenn., announced his commitment to Ole Miss.

 

The University of Ole Miss is starting to become one of the more prominent schools in recruiting – right up there with “the University of LSU.”

Amadi, who’s ranked the nation’s No. 20 cornerback by Rivals, chose Ole Miss over offers from Kentucky, Mississippi State, Tennessee, Cincinnati and Purdue, among others.

“I chose Ole Miss just because I felt like it was a good fit,” he told Rivals. “Not just because of the coaches but because it’s close to home and I felt like I wanted to get out of Tennessee for a better situation. Now it’s a relief and I can just go out there and play ball keep my focus on getting better and getting ready for the next level.”

Amadi said Ole Miss has plans for him to help the Rebels immediately. He could make an impact on defense and specials teams.

“They said they’re going to let me play early,” Amadi said. “They want to give me a shot to earn the job as a punt returner and if I work for it I’ll be playing defense early, too. They told me they’re going to be playing five defensive backs and they’re only taking two in my class so that makes me feel comfortable knowing that they believe in me.”

Amadi is the fourth prospect and first defensive back to commit to Ole Miss’ 2015 class. He told Rivals he doesn’t anticipate any change with his decision.

“Right now my mind is made up about where I want to play the next four years,” Amadi said. “I don’t see that changing.”

 

Sheffield sticks with Vandy

Defensive back Donovan Sheffield from Ensworth High School in Nashville decided last weekend he wants to remain committed to Vanderbilt.

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SEC Commitment Comparator – 3/25/14

blue_poker_chipsIt’s roughly 10 months until National Signing Day; do you know how your favorite football program stacks up?

Below is our much too early commitment comparator for the class of 2015.  Only, it really isn’t much too early.  As the recruiting process speeds up and prospects commit earlier and earlier, those schools that get out to an early jump on the competition typically gain momentum throughout the process.  Using social media, committed players often work as recruiting agents for their schools of choice, luring in friends and contacts from camps and all-star teams.

As always, we’ve used the star ratings provided by Rivals.com to put together our own quickie update.  For now, we’ll look only at quantity (total points) and quality (average points per commit).  For each star Rivals has assigned, we’ve awarded a point.  Where Rivals hasn’t provided a star grade (because they haven’t viewed tape of a prospect yet), we have awarded a lone point anyway because we’re softies.

So where does your team rank in comparison with its SEC foes?  Here’s your answer…

 

  School   Commits   5-stars   4-stars   3-stars   2-stars   1- & 0-stars   Total Points   Avg. Pts/Commit
  Texas A&M   9   0   8   1   0   0   35   3.88
  Alabama   8   0   7   1   0   0   31   3.88
  LSU   9   2   1   5   1   0   31   3.44
  Tennessee   9   0   4   4   1   0   30   3.33
  Miss. State   9   0   2   5   0   2   25   2.77
  S. Carolina   7   1   3   2   0   1   24   3.42
  Arkansas   7   0   4   2   0   1   23   3.28
  Georgia   5   0   4   0   0   1   17   3.40
  Ole Miss   4   0   1   3   0   0   13   3.25
  Auburn   5   0   1   2   0   2   12   2.40
  Florida   5   0   0   3   0   2   11   2.20
  Kentucky   2   0   0   2   0   0   6   3.00
  Vanderbilt   2   0   1   0   0   1   5   2.50
  Missouri   2   0   0   1   0   1   4   2.00

 

As a reminder, Alabama and Tennessee finished among the top four in the SEC in total points last signing day.  Alabama, LSU, Tennessee and Texas A&M also finished among the top five in the league in average points per commit.  The takeaway?  The top schools in the 2013/14 recruiting field are off to hot starts for 2014/15 as well.

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SEC Recruiting Notebook: A Roundup of Commitments

sec-recruiting-notebook-gfxStephen Griffin couldn’t wait any longer to choose a school.

The defensive back from South Mecklenburg High School in Charlotte, N.C., committed to Tennessee on Thursday. He made the decision more quickly than he anticipated.

“I had talked about it earlier and I knew I was going to commit there,” Griffin told Volquest.com. “I planned on waiting until after the spring game but I guess I just couldn’t wait.”

Griffin, who once lived in Knoxville, is already looking forward to joining 2014 defensive back signees Todd Kelly Jr. and Emmanuel Moseley, who enrolled at Tennessee in January.

The Vols coaching staff convinced Griffin he will be able to fit in with Tennessee’s young secondary.

“They treated me like a priority and that they really wanted me there and I could see myself playing there because my friend Todd Kelly and I used to go to preschool together and I used to live in Knoxville,” Griffin said. “Then, I made a connection with Emmanuel Moseley, too. It just felt like home there and that it was the place for me. They seemed the most interested, too.”

Clemson’s another school that has shown interest in Griffin, whose father, Steve Griffin, played running back for the Tigers from 1982-86. But Griffin said he had limited contact with Clemson until word traveled that he had committed to Tennessee.

“I got a message from one of (Clemson’s) coaches (Thursday) and they said to call them,” Griffin told Volquest. “But, over the last several months I haven’t really been receiving much interest from them.

“I feel like I’m pretty solid as of now because if they heat up it would feel weird because I don’t understand why they weren’t doing it earlier.”

Griffin is the ninth prospect and first defensive back to commit to Tennessee’s class of 2015.

 

South Carolina gets one Bowman brother, loses another

Wide receiver Michael Bowman from Havelock (N.C.) High School gave South Carolina good news when he committed to the Gamecocks’ 2015 class on Thursday.

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SEC Recruiting Notebook: Five-Star Jefferson ‘Giving Everyone A Chance’

sec-recruiting-notebook-gfxCeCe Jefferson has more college options than he can count.

The defensive tackle from Baker County High School in Glen St. Mary, Fla., holds offer from schools such as Alabama, Auburn, Florida, LSU, Tennessee, Florida State, Ohio State and Southern California. That’s just the start of it.

The amount of interest Jefferson is receiving is the reason he plans to keep his options open and wait until national signing day to announce his decision.

“I am still fairly even and that is why I decided to make my commitment on national signing day and don’t have a top five or anything,” Jefferson told Rivals.com. “I am just giving everyone a chance to prove to me why I should go to their school. The more visits I take the better I will know what I like and don’t like.”

Jefferson, who’s ranked the nation’s No. 2 defensive tackle by Rivals, has already begun taking unofficial visits. He has recently taken trips to Florida, Florida State and Georgia.

Jefferson’s visit to Florida last weekend came with a similar message from the Gators’ staff: he is a top priority in the 2015 class.

“They made it real sure they let me know that Florida is going to be coming at me hardest,” Jefferson said. “They said to keep a lookout for them because they are going to come to one or two of my football games and I better get used to them because they are going to recruit me to the end.”

So will Georgia. New Bulldogs defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt has developed a strong relationship with Jefferson dating back to Pruitt’s previous stop at Florida State. Jefferson visited Georgia’s campus for the first time earlier this month.

“It was my first time up there and they set the bar real high,” Jefferson said. “I talked with coach Pruitt about his change from Florida State to Georgia and obviously he saw something in their program that made him want to go.

“They showed me a real good time and a lot of great facilities and Coach (Mark) Richt is a real good guy. I wouldn’t mind playing for Georgia.”

Other schools are just hoping to remain in the mix as they try to improve their standing with Jefferson, who doesn’t claim a ranking of any of the schools he’s considering.

Jefferson told Rivals he plans to visit Alabama, Auburn, LSU and North Carolina during the spring. That will only be the start of it.

 

Livington likes the Wildcats

Kentucky continues to make a favorable impression on offensive/defensive lineman Levon Livingston from Ballou High School in Washington, D.C.

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Top Five Offensive Line Signees For 2014

RECAPThe SEC is known across the country for its physical style of play.

That’s made the tackle position a critical one in recruiting for SEC coaches. Players like Luke Joeckel, Cyrus Kouandjio and Greg Robinson have played key roles in teams’ SEC success in recent years.

Here are the top five offensive tackle signees in the SEC in the 2014 class

1. Cam Robinson – Alabama

Robinson might be the top overall prospect in the country considering he plays such an important position. He looked dominant at times at The Opening in Beaverton, Ore., last summer. Robinson (6-6, 325) enrolled early at Alabama and will have a chance to play immediately this fall. He should become the next great tackle for the Crimson Tide.

2. Brian Wallace – Arkansas

It was a huge get for Arkansas when it went to St. Louis and landed Wallace, who’s ranked the top prospect in the state of Missouri by Rivals. Arkansas is hopeful Wallace (6-6, 305) will be able to help right away, possibly at right tackle this fall. He has “nothing but upside in front of him,” Arkansas coach Bret Bielema said on signing day.

3. Avery Gennesy – Texas A&M 

Gennesy arrives at Texas A&M at a good time. The Aggies have to replace left tackle Jake Matthews, who’s expected to be selected early in the NFL draft. Gennesy (6-5, 310) should team up with Cedric Ogbuehi to form a nice tackle duo on Texas A&M’s offensive line.

4. Coleman Thomas – Tennessee

Thomas is learning the offensive tackle position at Tennessee after playing center in high school. The good news is Thomas (6-6, 311) enrolled early at Tennessee, which should help him be more comfortable by fall camp. The Vols have to replace all five starting offensive linemen. That will give Thomas a chance to see the field this fall.

5. Dominick Jackson – Alabama

Jackson was signed by Alabama coach Nick Saban to help the Crimson Tide immediately. Jackson (6-7, 304) has experience playing tackle and guard, which will give him a greater opportunity to help this fall. It also will give Saban options as he tries to settle on five starting offensive linemen.

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