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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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LSU Lands 5-Star WR Dupre

PLAYER UPDATEFinally. One of the River Ridge, Louisiana four has actually decided to stay at home and play in the SEC.

Receiver Malachi Dupre — ranked as the #1 receiver in the country by ESPN; the #2 receiver by Rivals — elected to stay at home and play for LSU.  After three of his teammates elected to play West Coast football, Dupre drew the loudest cheers of the day from his classmates when he slipped on his purple and gold cap.

Great get for a Tiger offense that will have to be rebuilt this fall.

 

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Rivals, ESPN Already Adjusting Their Recruiting Rankings

rankingsThe gurus at Rivals.com and ESPN are adjusting their recruiting rankings on the fly today.  Currently, the two groups top 10 lists are as follows…

 

Rivals.com

1.  Alabama

2.  Ohio State

3.  Florida State

4.  Tennessee

5.  Texas A&M

6.  LSU

7.  Florida

8.  Notre Dame

9.  Auburn

10.  Miami

 

ESPN

1.  Alabama

2.  Texas A&M

3.  LSU

4.  Florida State

5.  Tennessee

6.  Ohio State

7.  Florida

8.  Miami

9.  Auburn

10.  Georgia

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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 Rivals.com.

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.

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Why Does SEC Basketball Stink? The Best Southern Athletes Choose Football

gfx-by-the-numbersFor a while now we’ve speculated as to why the Southeastern Conference — so dominant in football — has fallen on hard times in basketball.  A league that was once a top-three league in conference-wide RPI season after season is now kicking around as the #6, #7 or #8 league each year.  It used to be a given that the SEC would put five or six teams into the NCAA Tournament.  Now the league hovers around the three-bid mark each year.

We’ve pointed out previously that the SEC’s basketball troubles began right about the time the league’s recent run of unparalleled football success began… which was also about the time that Mike Slive inked two game-changing television contracts with ESPN and SEC.  In our view, the money trail was key.  SEC schools chose to re-invest the cash they made from TV back into the product that the networks were paying big bucks for — football.

Look around the SEC, the stadiums and facilities for football are flat-out bigger, pricier, and nicer than those for hoops.  The SEC’s roster of football coaches is unmatched.  The roster of basketball coaches features a couple of “names” and a whole lotta guys hired as up-and-comers.

But in addition to cash, there seems to be another issue at play here.  And it too has to do with the fact that the South in general is football territory.

Looking at Rivals.com’s recent recruiting rankings for football and basketball, you’ll find that the SEC produces twice as many top football prospects as it does blue-chip hoopsters.  Yes, there are more athletes in the South, but the data suggests most of those athletes choose to pursue football over basketball.

Below are the state-by-state numbers from Rivals’ top 100 football and basketball prospects lists between 2012 and 2014, three classes.  Football is listed first, then basketball:

 

  SEC State (Football)   Rivals Top 100 2014   Rivals Top 100 2013   Rivals Top 100 2012
  Alabama   7   6   5
  Arkansas   1   1   0
  Florida   12   16   18
  Georgia   7   8   8
  Kentucky   0   1   0
  Louisiana   9   3   1
  Mississippi   0   2   1
  Missouri   1   1   3
  S. Carolina   1   0   1
  Tennessee   4   2   0
  Texas   12   12   12
  Totals   54   52   49

 

  SEC State (Basketball)   Rivals Top 100 2014   Rivals Top 100 2013   Rivals Top 100 2012
  Alabama   2   1   1
  Arkansas   0   1   1
  Florida   7   8   2
  Georgia   3   2   7
  Kentucky   1   0   0
  Louisiana   1   2   2
  Mississippi   1   0   1
  Missouri   0   0   1
  S. Carolina   2   0   1
  Tennessee   2   6   1
  Texas   7   7   11
  Totals   26   27   28

 

Eye-opening, no?  Basically half of America’s most sought-after football players come from states within the SEC footprint.  Just a quarter of the nation’s top basketball stars come from Dixie. (Even if there’s a typo in there somewhere, the numbers are pretty dadgum clear.)

Further, take Florida and Texas out of the basketball equation and the other nine SEC states have produced an average of just 13 total top 100 hoops prospects combined per season since 2012.  Take out Tennessee — meaning Memphis — and the number drops to 30 overall basketball stars from eight states or just 10 per year.

As SEC football has soared and become a brand second only in strength to the NFL, it seems that high school athletes have made the decision to put football ahead of basketball.  In areas like the Midwest and Northeast where basketball rules, the numbers are skewed the other way.

So why is the SEC struggling in basketball?  Money, we believe, plays a role.  Less overall talent in basketball than in football — as demonstrated above — also factors in in a large way.  But the overall issue can be summed pretty easily: From university administrators to high school athletes, the South is football country.

With that in mind, new SEC basketball czar Mark Whitworth will need to work on more than just scheduling to fix what ails the league.  He’ll need to work on the overall SEC basketball brand, improving it to the point that some high schoolers will start selecting the hardwood over the gridiron.  The SEC Network could aid on that front.  So, too, could the growing number of injuries — and media coverage of injuries — suffered on high school, college and pro football fields.

Either way, the SEC needs to start its basketball revolution at the grass roots level.

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SEC Recruiting Notebook: Race Heats Up For Carter

sec-recruiting-notebook-gfxLorenzo Carter’s recruitment is close to being wide open.

The defensive end from Norcross (Ga.) High School said so during an interview with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution this week following his official visit to LSU.

“With the changes going on right now and the visits I’m taking, I’ve just got to sit back and just let it all happen,” Carter said.

A lot will happen for Carter in the next week and a half leading up to signing day on Feb. 5. He’ll hear from coaches at Florida, Georgia, LSU and Florida State. He maintains all four schools still have a shot at landing him.

LSU improved its standing with Carter during his visit to Baton Rouge.

“Going into the visit they were a little behind,” Carter said. “That was just because how late they came in but I think they did a pretty good job.”

Carter, who’s ranked the nation’s No. 4 weakside defensive end by Rivals.com, will take an official visit to Florida State on Sunday. The Seminoles have plenty to offer.

“Like LSU, they send defensive linemen to the NFL,” Carter said. “And they’re national champs.”

Georgia was fortunate to hire defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt away from the national champs. Pruitt, who joined Georgia’s staff on Jan. 14, has made Carter a priority for Georgia’s 2014 class.

“He reassured that I’m still the No. 1 guy on his board,” Carter said.

Georgia will receive Carter’s final official visit before signing day. He told the AJC people still tell him to “stay in state and represent Georgia.” It’s difficult to tell if that pressure will influence Carter’s decision.

“I’ve still got to look at other options,” he said.

A report from 247Sports cited multiple sources calling Georgia a slight leader ahead of Florida with LSU and Florida State both trying to make up ground in Carter’s recruitment. His father, Leo Carter, was asked by the website if those sources were correct.

“To be honest, the way you stated it, I would say it is probably exactly accurate at this point,” Carter said.

 

Kentucky lands defensive back Randolph

Defensive back Kendall Randolph from Lincoln High School in Tallahassee, Fla., committed to Kentucky on Tuesday.

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Hard To Argue With Mason, But It Would Have Been Fun To See Vandy Chase A Proven Head Coach

derek-masonJust as everyone from the Florida Keys to the Puget Sound questioned Vanderbilt’s hire of James Franklin — “Who’s he?” — folks from one coast to the other are proclaiming new hire Derek Mason to be the perfect man for the job.  His resume certainly checks all the right boxes:

 

*  At Stanford, he was part of a program that won big

*  He’s recruited students that fit Vanderbilt’s academic profile

*  He’s recruited the South, as he pointed out at his introductory presser

*  He’s served as defensive coordinator at a program that plays an SEC style of ball

*  He’s young, a former player and he’s coached in the NFL — which should help him communicate with his players and recruits

*  And he’s not short on confidence, saying “SEC East title, here we come,” during that aforementioned press conference

 

On the surface, he’s a near carbon copy of Franklin.  That’s a good thing.  Franklin may now be trying to tear down what he built up by chasing VU commits, but he did erect the Commodore program in the first place.  You can’t blame AD David Williams for trying to find someone with a resume akin to his last coach’s.

However — and mind you, this however is not a knock on Mason in any way — it would have been nice to see Vanderbilt take its newfound status as an honest-to-God football program with back-to-back top 25 finishes and see what kind of proven head coach the school could have landed.

There’s a scene in the film, “The American President” in which Micheal J. Fox’s character suggests the White House use the president’s high approval rating and “take it out for a spin.”  Well, it would have been nice to see VU use its current status to try and woo some proven guys.  Reports suggest the top two candidates aside from Mason were Clemson assistant Chad Morris and Indianapolis assistant Pep Hamilton.  Maybe Williams likes to hire guys while they’re still hungry.  Or maybe he did put out some early feelers to sitting head coaches only to be rebuffed.  (But if that had happened, it’s likely someone would have been given a raise at his current school.)

There are zero guarantees when it comes to hiring coaches, of course.  Franklin and Hugh Freeze were yawn hires outside of their new campuses.  They turned out to be terrific hires.  Last year, Bret Bielema was the “big name” hire that every fan craves.  He inherited a mess and has a long rebuild ahead of him, but a nine-game losing streak in Year One and the 11th best recruiting class in the SEC (as currently rated by Rivals.com) certainly can’t be classified as “hot start” material.

So there’s nothing to say that a guy who’s already served as a head coach somewhere would have arrived in Nashville and led Vanderbilt to greater heights than Mason might lead them to.  Again, it’s hard to argue with his resume.  And grabbing the D-coordinator from a team that won the Pac-12 last season does indeed indicate the amount of progress Vanderbilt has made under Williams, Bobby Johnson (who recruited a lot of the guys his replacement won with) and Franklin.

It just would have been fun to see if the Commodores could have been able to lure in a successful coach from the MAC, MWC or AAC with its newfound status as bowl-goin’ ballgame-winnin’ program.

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