SEC East Recruiting Update
By Matt Smith
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DB Kameron Miles (Mesquite, Tex.) leads a stellar group of recruits heading to the SEC. Here’s a look at how the 2013 classes in the SEC East are shaping up.
With conference media days, also known as the unofficial start of football season, less than a week away, recruiting is about to take a backseat for most fans (for coaches, that’s another story). Even with National Signing Day not until Feb. 6, an unprecedented amount of prospects have already given verbal commitments to the school of their choice. 168 of Rivals.com’s Rivals 250 are currently committed. As we prepare to place the stars of the future on a temporary back burner to focus on the stars of today for the coming season, here’s a look at how the 2013 classes in the SEC East are shaping up.
FLORIDA Total Commitments: 18 Class Ranking: No. 7 (Rivals), No. 5 (24/7 Sports) Most Notable Players: DT Caleb Brantley (Crescent City, Fla.), LB Daniel McMillian (Jacksonville, Fla.), RB Kelvin Taylor (Belle Glade, Fla.)
Remaining Needs: Offensive Line, Defensive Line Outlook: Despite a 15-11 record the past two seasons, the Gators always get players. Brantley was one of the first players to commit, a good sign for a program that has thrived on dominant defensive fronts. There’s no elite quarterback committed, so the team could find itself scrambling if neither Jeff Driskel nor Jacoby Brissett pan out this season. Florida has no excuse for ever signing a class not ranked in the top 10, but there is still work to do here to ensure that happens in February.
GEORGIA Total Commitments: 19 Most Notable Players: OL Brandon Kublanow (Marietta, Ga.), QB Brice Ramsey (Kingsland, Ga.), WR Tramel Terry (Goose Creek, S.C.) Class Ranking: No. 8 (Rivals), No. 8 (24/7 Sports)
Remaining Needs: Running Back, Offensive Line Outlook: Even with adding two elite tailbacks in the 2012 class, with the way the Bulldogs go through running backs, the team needs to get at least one in this class. The best candidate is likely Peach State native Tyshawn Dye. Ramsey won’t be SEC-ready in 2013, but he has all the tools to be the next Aaron Murray. Outside of Kublanow, there’s not a ton of talent in the trenches yet. Terry is the best of a solid group of outside playmakers.
KENTUCKY Total Commitments: 10 Most Notable Players: DE Alvonte Bell (Miramar, Fla.), DB Blake McClain (Winter Park, Fla.), ATH Khalid Thomas (Tallahassee, Fla.) Class Ranking: No. 64 (Rivals), No. 57 (24/7 Sports)
Remaining Needs: Running Back, Wide Receiver, Linebacker Outlook: The Wildcats typically lag behind the rest of the SEC on the recruiting trail, and are doing so again with only 10 commitments, five coming from Florida. Kentucky landed Bluegrass State native Patrick Towles last year at quarterback, so that’s not a pressing need for this class. The ‘Cats are getting beat in their own backyard far too often, as Louisville could land four of the state’s five top prospects. Kentucky won with classes ranked below No. 50 under Rich Brooks, but the program is becoming stale and needs to make a splash, whether it’s on or off the field.
MISSOURI Total Commitments: 13 Most Notable Players: ATH Chase Abbington (St. Peters, Mo.), OL Jake Campos (West Des Moines, Iowa), LB Nick Ramirez (Lee’s Summit, Mo.) Class Ranking: No. 25 (Rivals), No. 25 (24/7 Sports)
Remaining Needs: Running Back, Wide Receiver, Defensive Back Outlook: It’s a new day in Missouri football recruiting, as the team’s focus has shifted east from Texas to Georgia and Florida with the jump to the SEC. There is never a ton of in-state talent, but as the only FBS team in Missouri, the Tigers have no excuse not to dominate the Show Me State.The offense can work without elite talent, but in the SEC, the Tigers can’t take too many risks on developmental projects defensively. Whether or not theTigers are able to land some top prospects in the southeast over the coming months will be very telling.
SOUTH CAROLINA Total Commitments: 18 Most Notable Players: LB Larenz Bryant (Charlotte, N.C.), QB Connor Mitch (Raleigh, N.C.), LB Gerald Turner (Goose Creek, S.C.) Class Ranking: No. 13 (Rivals), No. 13 (24/7 Sports)
Remaining Needs: Running Back, Defensive Back Outlook: Despite losing a pair of top recruiters over the past two years in Shane Beamer (Virginia Tech) and Jay Graham (Tennessee), the Gamecocks have not missed a beat. Even with the talent pool in the state increasing with each passing year, only three of the current commits are from South Carolina. Much of the class is made up of players from bordering states North Carolina and Georgia. Getting Mitch out of the Triangle region was crucial. The linebacker class could end up as the best in the country, already with seven commitments at the position.
TENNESSEE Total Commitments: 13 Most Notable Players: DE Jason Carr (Memphis, Tenn.), DB Kameron Miles (Mesquite, Tex.), OL Austin Sanders (Cleveland, Tenn.) Class Ranking: No. 26 (Rivals), No. 27 (24/7 Sports)
Remaining Needs: Running Back, Defensive Back Outlook: The class got off to a bit of a slow start with seven new assistants coming on board this past winter, but the Volunteers are starting to make some hay. Adding Graham from South Carolina and Sam Pittman from North Carolina gives Tennessee some key connections along the Atlantic coast. The potential for a coaching change will be a concern for many prospects, but this staff is full of elite recruiters who should be able to close strongly.
VANDERBILT Total Commitments: 15 Most Notable Players: LB Nigel Bowden (Macon, Ga.), WR Carlos Burse (Alpharetta, Ga.), QB Johnathan McCrary (Ellenwood, Ga.) Class Ranking: No. 17 (Rivals), No. 18 (24/7 Sports)
Remaining Needs: Offensive Line, Linebacker Outlook: While Tennessee has struggled to land Georgia prospects, the Commodores have dominated the neighboring Peach State. Six of the 15 commitments hail from Georgia, including McCrary, who as the first player to commit has helped do some recruiting of his own. Head coach James Franklin continues to make strides in Memphis as well, already with three commitments from the area after landing four-star running back Brian Kimbrow lasty ear. Barring a major drop-off on the field this fall, this should remain a top 25 class come February.