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Signing Day Headaches At LSU, Ole Miss

bush-huhWe’ll just cut to the chase with a pair of truly oddball stories involving SEC schools.

First, LSU lists 22 signees on its official website.  Rivals.com lists the Tigers with 23 players — 22 signees and one commit who’s yet to ink his LOI, Deondre Clark.  Clark has been an LSU commitment since last summer.  And in the afternoon it was reported that he’d faxed his letter of intent to Les Miles and crew.  End of story.  Only it wasn’t.

The mother and coach of Clark — a 4-star defensive end prospect from Oklahoma City — said, “Oh, no he didn’t.”  As it stands, Les Miles and the Tiger staff are expected to announce Clark as Member 23 of their signing class tomorrow.  Or maybe not.

Things are even more bizarre in Oxford.  Haines City, Florida prospect DJ Law faxed his letter of intent to the Rebels on Wednesday morning, yes.  So done and dusted, right?  Wrong.

It seems Law also faxed signed letters of intent to Utah and to East Mississippi Community College.  The first school to announce Law as a signee was Mississippi and that could be key in deciding where Law ultimately winds up.  Technically, the first conference to validate a letter of intent has dibs on the player.  That means Law — if Ole Miss and the SEC took care of business first — could be forced to go to Oxford even if he later changed his mind and tried to go to Utah.  Or to East Mississippi Community College.

Sounds to us like East Mississippi Community College might be a bit more in the kid’s wheelhouse.

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MrSEC.com Final Signing Day Thoughts

random-thoughts-1Just a few quick-hitters and random thoughts for you as we wrap up National Signing Day 2014…

 

1.  Since we’ll be putting together various comparisons of the SEC’s classes over the next couple of days, we sure wish everyone was working off the same page.  As of 6pm ET, for example, the University of Tennessee listed the names of 33 young men as being signees and/or early enrollees.  This after ESPN spent the entire day talking about the Vols’ 35-man class.  Ah, but ESPN.com listed the Vols with 36 commitments, not 35.  A quick check of Rivals.com listed the class as being just 31 members strong.  And The Knoxville News Sentinel claimed it was 32 large.  Unfortunately for us, it won’t just be the SEC’s biggest class that sends us digging through various lists this evening.  So for the record, we intend to use the numbers and names provided by the schools themselves.  Period.  When you read our comparisons tomorrow please remember that there will be no purposeful inflating or deflating of any school’s numbers due to our love/hatred for that school.  That is all.

2.  Speaking of Tennessee, the Volunteers are the latest great example of just how soft the SEC’s 25-man signing cap really is.  Since the day the league passed its oversigning, ahem, legislation, we’ve always referred to it as a “soft” cap.  Heck, even before it passed — when coaches were unanimously barking about the evils of the cap — we were calling it a soft cap.  Back-counting is still allowed.  Forward-counting is allowed for early enrollees.  Redshirting, grayshirting and something called blueshirting are all still legal.  There are a few hundred ways to juggle the numbers, especially if you’ve had attrition in your program.  (The kind caused by three coaching changes since 2008, eh, Vol fans?)  Former Ole Miss’ coach Houston Nutt once signed 30+ players and was so beaten up over it that he actually apologized for the size of his class at the SEC Meetings in Destin.  Then came the league’s 25-man cap as a result.  Since then, several SEC programs have gone right around the “rule” ever since.  In other words, don’t expect Butch Jones (or any other SEC coaches) to have to apologize for oversigning this spring in Destin.  The league has its faux oversigning rule in place and that’s good enough.  Or something like that.

3.  With the SEC’s soft cap in place, we wonder if new Vanderbilt coach Derek Mason might have been better off holding on to four or five scholarships until next season.  The new Commodore coach basically doubled Vanderbilt’s class — after James Franklin’s departure had halved it — in a two-week window.  For that matter, Vandy had just 10 commitments one week ago today.  But today the Dores wound up with 22 signatures.  That’s some impressive work by the first-year head coach.  However — and, yes, we know that 2-star players can become stars, too — eight of Mason’s signees were of the 2-star variety.  And while they can turn into All-Americans, the odds of a 3- or 4-star becoming a big-time player are better than those stacked against the 2-star guys.  Here’s what we’re getting at: If Mason could ink so many players in so short a time, would he have been better off holding onto a few of those scholarships and then using them to back-count next February when he’s had a full year to build relationships and recruit?  There’s no right or wrong answer to that one, we just think the question is a legitimate one.

4.  How about the job Mark Stoops did at Kentucky?  He signed 27 or 28 players depending on the list you look at (someone sound the oversigning alarm) and the Cats’ class included 10 4-star prospects.  That’s some John Calipari-style recruiting right there.  UK even went into Stoops’ home state of Ohio and made off with 11 signees.  For decades folks like yours truly have said the Wildcats would have to start yanking kids from their neighbor to the north if they were to really build a competitive program.  Stoops appears to be all over that one.

5.  Speaking of Calipari, Les Miles has started a conveyor belt of his own down on the Bayou.  Each January a chunk of his team turns pro early.  Each February he replaces those early departees with a fresh batch of blue-chippers.  The Tigers jumped all the way to #2 in all of the major national rankings today.  Conveyor belt, folks.  Out go young stars, in come younger stars.  The circle of life.  Hakuna matata.

6.  Alabama signed six 5-star recruits.  Six.  That according to Rivals’ rankings, but we feel theirs have proven to be the most accurate over time.  As good as Nick Saban’s recruiting has been over the years, six 5-star recruits is almost obscene.  Among those mega-stars are the #1 player in the state of Virginia, the #2 player in state of Texas and the #3 player in the state of Louisiana.  The other three 5-star fellows ranked first, third and fourth in the state of Alabama, including top linebacker prospect Rashaan Evans of Auburn High School.  Te Tigers beat the Tide last season, won the SEC and came within a minute of winning the BCS title.  Yet Saban and crew were still able to march deep into WDE! country and make off with a kid most everyone had penciled in as a Tiger.  Just a tremendous show of force for Bama today.

7.  Missouri was coming off an SEC East title today, yet the Tigers wound up with what’s on paper a rather disappointing class.  Gary Pinkel, however — much like Bobby Petrino did during his Arkansas stay — has proven that he’s one of the very few coaches who can say “we don’t worry about star rankings” and actually mean it.  The Tigers have never battled for top 10 signing classes yet they’ve managed to reach the actual top 10 on numerous occasions, including last season in the “you folks will never win here” SEC.  Rankings, schmankings.

 

Finally, here are the national rankings from several recruiting services as of 8:15 pm ET:

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4-Star CB Green Leaves The Peach State For The Palmetto State

PLAYER UPDATELithonia, Georgia cornerback Wesley Green has decided to play his college football at South Carolina.  Green — a 4-star prospect — picked the Gamecocks over dozens of other programs offering scholarships, including many from the SEC.  It’s believed Georgia was Green’s second choice.

Green said he wants to be part of a new “Legion of Boom” at Carolina, swiping the nickname of the Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks’ secondary.

Oh, and a big thanks to FOX Sports for dragging out his announcement until well after 5 o’clock.

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DE Carter Stays Close To Home, Picks Georgia

PLAYER UPDATEThe fourth best player in the state of Georgia will stay home and wear the silver britches.  Lorenzo Carter — a 4-star defensive end from Norcross — was also considering Florida, LSU, Florida State and Notre Dame.

Carter’s LOI should lock the Dawgs onto most recruiting services’ top 10 lists.

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Top CB Jackson Showboats His Way To Southern Cal

PLAYER UPDATEAdoree Jackson — the top cornerback in the nation and the top player in the state of California — will be playing his college ball for Steve Sarkisian and Southern Cal.

Good riddance.

I realize that these are just kids, but the showboating some do on signing day shows — at least in this writer’s eyes — displays a me-first attitude that already takes up way too much space in today’s game.  Jackson pulled different objects out of a box and said with each pull, “Nope, that’s not where I’m going,” and “No, that’s not it.”  A Gatorade bottle represented Florida, for example.  The Gators and LSU were among the finalists for his services.

Finally he lifted a Southern Cal hat and broke into a smile.  Ha, ha.  Oh, so funny.

If Jackson let all the coaches who’d recruited him know ahead of his announcement that he was USC-bound, fine.  But here’s guessing he didn’t.  As a result, grown men who’d chased him as a prospect were left to hang on his every word and twist in the wind while he toyed with them (and the fans of all those other schools).

Who knows if Jackson is really a good kid or a showboat, but his performance today leads me to think… showboat.

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Mason Closes Fast At Vandy (And He Needed To)

derek-mason-portrait-vandyOne week ago today, Vanderbilt had just 10 commitments.  James Franklin’s departure had basically sliced the Commodore class in half.

Ah, but today, new coach Derek Mason has 19 signed letters of intent in hand and commitments for two more.  On the job for just two weeks, Vandy’s new coach deserves credit for quickly re-stocking his team’s cupboard.

However.

It’s clear that Mason’s race against the clock led to a drop in overall talent level (at least according to the recruiting service).

Vanderbilt has signed LOI from two 4-star players, 11 3-star players, and six 2-stars.  It’s entirely possible that Mason will get the absolute most out of the kids he’s signed.  But on paper, it looks as though he made the decision to add bodies… any bodies he could find.

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Updated Recruiting Rankings From 3 Different Sources

As faxes continue to fly and ball caps continue to be placed on prospects’ heads, the folks who make their living grading recruits continue to shuffle their national rankings.

Below are the most recent rankings from Rivals, Scout and 247sports…

 

  Rank   Rivals   Scout   247
  1   Alabama   Alabama   Alabama
  2   LSU   Florida State   LSU
  3   Ohio State   LSU   Ohio State
  4   Florida State   Tennessee   Florida State
  5   Tennessee   Ohio State   Texas A&M
  6   Texas A&M   Notre Dame   Tennessee
  7   Florida   Texas A&M   Auburn
  8   Georgia   Auburn   Florida
  9   Notre Dame   Florida   Georgia
  10   Auburn   Miami (FL)   Notre Dame

 

Outside the top 10, Rivals ranks Kentucky #14, Ole Miss #20 and South Carolina #25.  Scout lists Georgia #15, Ole Miss #17 and Kentucky #20.  Finally, 247sports ranks Ole Miss #14, Kentucky #21 and South Carolina #24.

 

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5-Star LB Evans Takes His Time, Picks Alabama

PLAYER UPDATEIn a bit of a surprise, Auburn, Alabama native Rashaan Evans has decided to play for Nick Saban, not Gus Malzahn.  Ranked by Rivals as the best linebacker in the country, the 5-star player took his time in making his announcement (which we think is sorta/kinda weak).

Evans recently saw coaches from both Auburn and Alabama show up at a birthday party for this grandfather.  Apparently the Bama folks made the better impression.

For Alabama it’s a case of the uber-rich getting uber-richer.

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Rivals.com Updates Its Recruiting Rankings

rankingsThe folks at Rivals.com continue to update their recruiting rankings.  Their latest top 10 is as follows:

 

1.  Alabama

2.  Ohio State

3.  Tennessee

4.  Texas A&M

5.  LSU

6.  Florida State

7.  Florida

8.  Georgia

9.  Notre Dame

10.  Auburn

 

That’s seven SEC schools in the top 10.  Two other league members — Kentucky (#14) and Ole Miss (#16) — are currently in Rivals’ top 20.

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Auburn Snares OG Smith

PLAYER UPDATEAuburn has landed big-time offensive lineman Braden Smith from the state of Kansas.  He was the #1 high school player in his home state and the 4-star guard ranks #3 at his position nationally, according to Rivals.com.

Texas A&M and TCU were also hot on Smith’s trail, but Gus Malzahn and the Tigers bagged him.

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