Monday, January 24, 2011

Nick Saban Has Alabama Atop SEC Recruiting Race Again

In the final push toward National Signing Day 2011 on Feb. 2, The Sports Zone will examine the recruiting efforts of a major conference in twice-weekly notebooks. As always, recruiting is an always-changing landscape -- and there are several high-profile players who remain uncommitted. Here is FanHouse's review of the Southeastern Conference.

The Best


Total commitments (as of Jan. 24): 21

Five- and four-star commitments: 15

The 411: Long story short ... The 2011 Crimson Tide recruiting class is as good as it gets. Alabama recently vaulted Texas for the top-rated recruiting class in the nation as rated by, and it is easy to see why -- with commitments from five-star high school teammates like DB Hasean Clinton-Dix (6-2, 190, Orlando, Fla., Dr. Phillips HS) and RB Demetrius Hart (5-8, 190, Orlando, Fla., Dr. Phillips HS). Although their class took a hit when RB/LB Brent Calloway switched his commitment to Auburn, Nick Saban and the Crimson Tide are still in line to bring in the nation's top recruit -- DE Jadeveon Clowney (6-5, 235, Rock Hill, S.C., South Pointe HS) as well as massive OT Cyrus Kouandjio (6-7, 295, Hyattsville, Md., Dematha Catholic HS).

Grade: A+


Total commitments (as of Jan. 24): 21            

Five- and four-star commitments: 11

The 411: As usual, LSU is a prime destination for top-flight talent across the Southeast, and coach Les Miles appears to be rebuilding the wall around Louisiana that was leaking some of the best out to the rest of the SEC. The Tigers have three five-star commitments -- OL La'El Collins (6-5, 285, Baton Rouge, La., Redemptionist HS), DT Anthony Johnson (6-4, 298, New Orleans, La., O. Perry Walker HS) and WR Jarvis Landry (5-11, 178, Lutcher, La., HS). If Alabama is No. 1 in the country, then LSU can be considered No. 1-A with room to grow in the homestretch.

Grade: A+

The Contenders


Total commitments (as of Jan. 24): 19

Five- and four-star commitments: 10

The 411: Auburn got a bit of a late start due to preparations for the BCS Championship Game, but Gene Chizik and the Tigers are closing fast on what could be the best overall recruiting class in school history. Five-star LB Kris Frost (6-3, 210, Matthews, N.C., Butler HS) AND OL Christian Westerman (6-5, 288, Chandler, Ariz., Hamilton HS) are studs in the making, and OL Reese Dismukes (6-4, 287, Spanish Fort, Ala., HS) leads a trio of Tigers already on campus for spring drills.

Grade: A


Total commitments (as of Jan. 24): 21

Five- and four-star commitments: 11

The 411: Coach Mark Richt has the Bulldogs in prime position to reload from a disappointing on-field performance in 2010. QB Christian LeMay (6-2, 200, Matthews, N.C., Butler HS) is already on campus, and DB Malcolm Mitchell (6-1, 187,Valdosta, Ga., HS) could be in line to play early and often as a freshman.

Grade: A-


Total commitments (as of Jan. 24): 22

Five- and four-star commitments: 7

The 411: Coach Derek Dooley's first full recruiting class in Knoxville appears to be a successful one, having pulled nationwide talent despite a lackluster on-field performance in 2010. WR DeAnthony Arnett (6-0, 167, Saginaw, Mich., HS) and OL Marcus Jackson (6-2, 315, Vero Beach, Fla., HS) are the highlights.

Grade: B+

Rest of the Pack


Total commitments (as of Jan. 24): 15

Five- and four-star commitments: 8

The 411: The sudden retirement of coach Urban Meyer threw a major kink in what was shaping up to be a standout Gators recruiting class, and new coach Will Muschamp has major work to do to finish the task in the closing days. Pro-style QB Jeff Driskel (6-3, 225, Oviedo, Fla., Hagerty HS) never wavered during the transition.

Grade: B


Total commitments (as of Jan. 24): 31

Five- and four-star commitments: 5

The 411: Coach Steve Spurrier and his staff appear to be almost done with recruiting, already landing commitments from a bumper crop of talent -- and still keeping an eye on Jadeveon Clowney down the stretch. OL Brandon Shell (6-7, 290, Charleston, S.C., Goose Creek HS) and DT Kelcy Quarles (6-4, 265, Fork Union, Va., Fork Union Military Academy) offer instant beef up front.

Grade: B


Total commitments (as of Jan. 24): 26

Five- and four-star commitments: 4

The 411: Coach Houston Nutt also appears to be finished recruiting for 2011, having landed five junior-college athletes for spring workouts and a full house of freshmen commitments. Among the best future Rebels are WR Donte Moncrief (6-2, 203, Raleigh, Miss., HS) and OL Aaron Morris (6-5, 310, Jackson, Miss., Calloway HS).

Grade: B-


Total commitments (as of Jan. 24): 28

Five- and four-star commitments: 5

The 411: Coach Bobby Petrino already has a stable of committed talent ready to sign onto a team that many are predicting could win the SEC West Division in 2011. QB Brandon Allen (6-2, 214, Fayetteville, Ark., HS) is in the mix to replace Ryan Mallett under center, and OL Brey Cook (6-7, 314, Springdale, Ark., Har-Ber HS) is in line to block for him.

Grade: B-


Total commitments (as of Jan. 24): 24

Five- and four-star commitments: 2

The 411: Coach Dan Mullen might still have one or two more slots to fill to help the Bulldogs' overall ranking. The best future Mississippi State players -- DT P.J. Jones (6-3, 252, Tupelo, Miss., HS) and DB Jermaine Whitehead (6-0, 183, Greenwood, Miss., Amanda Elzy HS).

Grade: C+


Total commitments (as of Jan. 24): 20

Five- and four-star commitments: 1

The 411: As with Mississippi State, coach Joker Phillips has a few more offers out there that could help the Wildcats' ranking. DB Glenn Faulkner (6-2, 194, East St. Louis, Ill., HS) is the best future Wildcat.

Grade: C


Total commitments (as of Jan. 24): 13

Five- and four-star commitments: 0

The 411: Keeping with the school's academics-first standards, judging Vandy against the rest of the SEC is tough sledding for the Commodores. RB J.J. Keels (5-10, 193, Melbourne, Fla., Florida Air Academy) has breakaway speed and could play early.

Grade: D+

Commitment Ticker

As National Signing Day approaches, more and more athletes are making their commitments. Since Thursday, two four-star athletes are among the 27 public pledges -- which are non-binding and are always subject to change before Feb. 2.

Four-star OT Josue Matias (6-5, 290, Union, N.J., Union Senior HS) committed to Rutgers. Four-star LB Denzel Perryman (5-11, 220, Coral Gables, Fla., HS) is staying home to play at Miami (Fla.).
CB Marcus Peters (5-11, 195, Oakland, Calif., McClymonds Senior HS) committed to Washington. CB Eric Robinson-Berry (6-0, 170, Indianapolis, Ind., Warren Central HS) pledged to Western Kentucky), TE Rakim Reed (6-4,205, Canton, Ohio, Timken HS) committed to Marshall, CB Bruce Dukes (5-10, 185, Tyrone, Ga., Sandy Creek HS) pledged to Central Florida, and DE Hunter Davis (6-3, 240, Choctaw, Okla.,HS) is headed to Kansas State.

DE Darrius Caldwell (6-5, 210, Atlanta, Ga., Mays HS) is going to Illinois, WR Darius Patton (5-9, 170, Poland, Ohio, Poland Seminary HS) committed to Pitt, OT Jalen Schlachter (6-6, 300, Corunna, Mich., HS) is bound for Ball State, QB Derrick Brown (6-3, 215, Murietta, Calif., Vista Murrieta HS) committed to Washington, and WR Hakeem Flowers (6-2, 180, Greenville, S.C., Wade Hampton HS) pledged to North Carolina State.

RB Andrew Blue (5-10, 192, Jacksonville, Fla., Trinity Christian Academy) and CB Terrell Chestnut (5-10, 178, Pottstown, Pa., Pottsgrove SHS) are bound for West Virginia, DT Brandon Clemons (6-4, 265, Milford, Pa., Delaware Valley HS) committed to Michigan State, WR B.J. Kelley (6-2, 175, Fresno, Calif., Central High East Campus) pledged to Oregon, and FB Alonzo Harris (6-1, 207, Gadsden, Ala., Gadsden City HS) is going to Louisiana.

CB Ahmad Christian (5-10, 190, Jacksonville, Fla., Trinity Christian Academy) is headed to South Carolina, CB Jacquese Kirk (6-0, 160, Jasper, Ala., Walker HS) committed to Vanderbilt, DE Michael Reynolds (6-4, 225, Wichita, Kan., Kapaun Mt. Carmel HS) is headed to Kansas, DT Uriah Grant (6-1, 185, Jacksonville, Fla., William M. Raines HS) pledged to North Carolina State, and WR Frankie Williams (5-10, 170, Tampa, Fla., Robinson Senior HS) committed to Purdue.

LB Nick Menocal (6-2, 225, Miami, Fla., Belen Jesuit Prep) committed to Georgia Tech, OG Derrick Thorpe (6-4, 260, Neptune Beach, Fla., Duncan U. Fletcher HS) pledged to Florida International, RB Corey Davis (5-11, 180, Gladewater, Texas, HS) committed to Pitt, S Geraldo Orta (6-0, 166, Valdosta, Ga., Lowndes HS) is headed to Tennessee, and RB Jordan Perkins (6-0, 180, Lodi, Calif., HS) committed to Northwestern.

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