SEC Recruiting Notebook – May 6, 2013

SEC Recruiting Notebook – May 6, 2013

[dropcap]M[/dropcap]ilan Richard, the nephew of former Georgia legend Herschel and one of the nation’s top tight end prospects, has narrowed his list of college choices to four, and it doesn’t include the Bulldogs.

Milan Richard, the nephew of former Georgia legend Herschel Walker, is one of the nation's top tight end prospects.

Milan Richard, the nephew of former Georgia legend Herschel Walker, is one of the nation’s top tight end prospects.

Richard (6-2, 233) tells Michael Carvell of the AJC that he will choose between Clemson, South Carolina, Vanderbilt and Ole Miss. He will announce his college choice on June 4.

Georgia was considered one of the early favorites to land Richard, but that changed recently when UGA landed a commitment from Jeb Blazevich. Bulldog coaches informed Richard early on that they would to take just one tight end in the 2014 class, and when Blazevich pulled the trigger, Richard was forced to look elsewhere.

“They (Georgia) are only going to take one guy,” Richard told the AJC Sunday night. “Me and Jeb are very close. And I think a lot of people forget the fact that even though we were both recruited by the same schools at the same position, we’re still good (friends). I have nothing against Jeb. We’re really close. (Georgia) got a great guy with Jeb.

“It’s nothing bad against Georgia but they’re only taking one kid (at tight end). So that door has closed.”

Clemson is thought to be the front-runner because Richard is good friends with Deshaun Watson, the Gainesville (Ga.) High School quarterback and Tigers commit, but Richard insists that he is undecided and is keeping an open mind.

Coaches from Clemson, Vanderbilt and Louisville have visited Richard’s high school this spring, and both Vanderbilt and Ole Miss are expected to be there on today. He has made unofficial visits to Clemson, South Carolina and Vanderbilt, and will go to Ole Miss before his decision date.

Richard is rated a 4-star by Rivals.com and the nation’s No. 10 tight end in the 2014 class.

Blazevich (6-5, 240), the Georgia commit is from Charlotte (N.C.) Christian. He’s also a 4-star recruit and the nation’s No. 4 tight end.

Nation’s No. 1 recruit: Auburn visit exceeds expectations

Da’Shawn Hand, the nation’s No. 1 prospect for 2014, made an unofficial visit to Auburn this weekend. It looked like Hand, a 6-foot-4, 248-pound defensive end from Woodbridge (Va.) High School, was simply tagging along with his high school coach Karibi Dede, a former Auburn player and graduate assistant who was received his Phd. during Auburn’s graduation ceremony this weekend.

But Hand told AuburnSports.com that the visit exceeded his expectations by a long shot, and that he’ll be back in Auburn for another visit as well as to see the Iron Bowl in November. Hand didn’t comment on whether the Auburn cracked his top five, which has previously included Alabama, Florida, Michigan, South Carolina and Virginia Tech.

In addition to Auburn, Hand has made recent visits to Michigan, South Carolina and Virginia Tech, but not Alabama or Florida. Alabama is  generally thought to be in great shape to land him.

It will be interesting to see if anything develops with Auburn. Hand will no doubt hear plenty about the school in coming months, with Dede and another former AU teammate Travis Williams both serving on the Woodbridge coaching staff.

Speaking of Auburn…

After a visit to Auburn this weekend, defensive end Justin Thornton (6-6, 220) has moved his decision up to May 12 and moved the Tigers into his top three. Thornton, a 4-star prospect from Vigor High School outside Mobile, Ala., had previously said his top three schools were LSU, Texas A&M and Florida. Thornton now says that top three consists of LSU, Texas A&M and Auburn.

AU assistant Dameyune Craig, who was lead recruiter for three of Auburn’s four verbal commits, has to feel good about that development, but don’t count LSU. Assistant Brick Haley has the out-of-state Tigers in great shape and Thornton said following a visit to Baton Rouge in late April that LSU was No. 1 on his list.

Thornton also enjoyed a recent visit to Texas A&M, where he is being recruited by former Auburn assistant Terry Price.

Texas A&M offers 2015 New Orleans trio

Texas A&M offered three 2015 prospects from New Orleans’ Warren Easton High last week. Linebacker Arthur McGinnis, wide receiver Tyron Billy-Johnson and athlete Deshawn Capers-Smith.

McGinnis (6-2, 210) is an interesting prospect, as he didn’t even play football last year. He went through spring drills last year as a defensive end, but decided not to play during the season. With his size, speed, quick feet and ability to move laterally, he’s been a standout performer on the camp and combine circuit recently and college coaches have taken notice.

McGinnis is back practicing with the team this spring — now as a linebacker — and all reports indicate that he’s been as impressive in pads as he’s been in camps. If he keeps it up, the Texas A&M offer should be the first of many.

Billy-Johnson is one of the best in a strong crop of Louisiana wide receivers in the ’15 class. At 6-0, 185, he’s not the biggest, or is he the fastest, but he’s a dynamic playmaker with the ball in his hands. Clemson, Texas Tech and San Diego State have also offered, and Alabama is rumored to be hot on his trail. His 10+ minute highlight video which has recently made its way around the net is impressive.

Capers-Smith (5-11, 180) is a versatile prospect who’s played quarterback up to now, but is getting work at cornerback, wide receiver and safety this spring. He’s a smooth, fluid athlete who’s future may be at cornerback, but his ability to make plays on offense will get him consideration at receiver or possibly even quarterback.

Last week’s verbal commitments
  • Zach Whitley (6-2, 220), a 4-star middle linebacker and Rivals100 member from Galena Park, Texas- North Shore, chose Alabama over Texas A&M, Texas and Oklahoma.
  • Massive offensive lineman Orlando Brown (6-7, 340) of Peachtree Ridge High School in Suwanee, Ga. committed to Tennessee over Arkansas and Oklahoma. You can read our feature on Brown HERE.
  • Tight end Kalan Ritchie from Goose Creek (S.C.) High committed to South Carolina. Ritchie (6-5, 215) is a 4-star recruit who also had offers from Clemson, N.C. State and Virginia Tech.
  • Missouri landed 2-star wide receiver Thomas Richard of Christ Presbyterian Academy in Nashville, Tenn. Missouri was his first offer, but interest had been growing of late from schools like Vanderbilt, Tennessee, Duke and Kentucky.
  • Four-star running back Mikale Wilbon (5-8, 190) from the De La Salle Institute in Chicago picked Vanderbilt over Arizona State, Iowa, Cincinnati and Missouri.
  • Darryl Long (6-5, 234) a 3-star tight end from Westerville, Ohio- Westerville South committed to Kentucky. He also considered Louisville, Pittsburgh and Purdue among others.
  • Kentucky also landed 3-star defensive end Tymere Dubose from Youngstown Christian in Youngstown, Ohio. Dubose also had offers from Michigan State, Arkansas, West Virginia and Maryland.
  • Wide receiver Kameel Jackson from Blinn (Texas) C.C. committed to Tennessee. Jackson, 6-1, 208, caught 12 passes for 165 yards as a true freshman at Oklahoma, but ran into academic trouble and wound up at Louisiana-Monroe before ultimately landing at Blinn.
SEC Commitment Comparison

With Signing Day more than five months away, it’s difficult to draw many meaningful conclusions from recruiting class rankings, but you can see some trends beginning to emerge.

Below is a look at the SEC verbal commitments to date, and we’ve sorted them by Average Quality Points. (See the note below for how we calculated that.)

Team Tot 5* 4* 3* 2* NR Pts Avg
Georgia 5 1 3 1 0 0 20 4.00
Alabama 5 0 4 1 0 0 19 3.80
Florida 9 0 6 3 0 0 33 3.67
LSU 9 0 6 3 0 0 33 3.67
South Carolina 3 0 2 1 0 0 11 3.67
Texas A&M 10 0 6 4 0 0 36 3.60
Arkansas 4 0 2 2 0 0 14 3.50
Kentucky 5 0 2 3 0 0 17 3.40
Tennessee 12 0 5 5 1 1 38 3.17
Ole Miss 9 0 4 3 1 1 28 3.11
Auburn 4 0 0 4 0 0 12 3.00
Mississippi State 1 0 0 1 0 0 3 3.00
Vanderbilt 8 0 2 3 0 3 20 2.50
Missouri 6 0 0 2 2 2 12 2.00

Notes: Our Total Quality Points award 1 point for each star of each verbal commitment. Prospects that have not yet been rated are given 1 point. The rankings are from Rivals.com.

  • Alabama, Georgia, Florida and LSU are once again poised to be the class of the league, going both by the prospects they have committed and looking ahead at ones they’re likely to land.
  • Was there ever any doubt that Texas A&M’s ability to recruit the state of Texas with the SEC calling card would create a juggernaut in College Station? Kevin Sumlin and staff have taken full advantage with 10 strong commitments, and with another big season on the field, could challenge Bama, Georgia, Florida and LSU for the league’s top spot.
  • Butch Jones and Mark Stoops are doing a nice job building excitement and momentum at their respective schools. Jones’ hard-working and creative approach has really resonated with recruits. Tennessee is definitely one of the early surprises this recruiting season, and how the team does on the field — and how that ultimately effects recruiting — will be one of the most intriguing things to watch this fall. All five of Kentucky’s verbal commitments are from Ohio, an area Stoops has said would be a priority. Assistant coach Vince Marrow has done an incredible job.
  • Auburn has a staff full of strong recruiters and is likely to move up the rankings by the time Signing Day rolls around, but prospects seem to be taking a wait-and-see approach after last year’s 3-9 record. Auburn has missed on some prospects who liked the Tigers a lot but wanted to make early decisions and didn’t want to hold off to see how Gus Malzahn’s teams perform on Saturdays. If the team exceeds expectations this fall, expect AU to put together a great class, and possibly even get back in on some of those committed prospects before Signing Day. Another difficult season will make that an uphill battle, obviously.
  • Don’t judge Vanderbilt’s effort by their place on the list above — they’re really hurt by having three recruits not yet rated by Rivals. James Franklin’s staff is position to put together another very strong effort.

Photo credit: Richard Burkhart / Savannah Morning News

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