Best Available: Ten defensive tackles still on the board
Nearly 75 percent of the Rivals250 in the class of 2019 were committed to college programs entering their senior year. That leaves a very small pool of potential prospects as programs gear up for the Early Signing Period, which starts on Dec. 19. This week we take a position-by-position look at the top prospects still on the board.
The No. 1 ranked prospect at the position remains on the board and he is not planning to come off any time soon because Sopsher wants to take this recruitment all the way down to the February signing period. This is thought to be an Alabama-LSU battle, but when Sopsher wanted to release a top five in late July he could not do it and instead named seven schools that also included Florida State, Ole Miss, Oregon, Texas and Texas A&M.
The top-end depth at defensive tackle is down from previous years, but there is a good collection of talent at the position out West, led by Honolulu’s Tuitele. He made his way to the mainland for several spring visits, after which Tuitele released a top five of Alabama, Clemson, Ohio State, Texas and Washington. Whether intentional or not, Tuitele’s top five includes one school from each of the Power Five conferences.
Another top talent at the position from the western half of the United States, Ika is a massive zero-technique nose guard prospect with strength and quickness. He spent more than a year and a half committed to BYU, but decommitted last February and the Cougars are no longer in the running. A final eight of Alabama, LSU, Ole Miss, Ohio State, Oregon, USC, Utah and Washington was just released a couple weeks back and official visits are starting to be scheduled.
A player with plenty of talent, but little in actual game footage, Pola-Mao is not set to start his senior season until late September, after transferring to Chandler High this off-season. The lack of on-field production has caused several schools to slow their pursuit of Pola-Mao, but Arizona State, Oregon and USC continue to keep up contact. Assuming Pola-Mao can play out the remainder of his senior season, the interest should pick up and new teams may get involved.
Currently listed as an offensive guard, Johnson is headed for the defensive line in college after a strong start to his senior season playing that position. He released a final six in early August and each of those schools are recruiting the Columbus native for defensive tackle. His first official visit was taken to Wisconsin back in June, and he will decide among Duke, Michigan, Oklahoma, Penn State and Texas for his final four official visit spots.
The finish line is in-sight for Davis, but a few more hurdles must be cleared before the Florida-based prospect declares his college intentions. Davis has zeroed in on a final four of Clemson, Florida State, Miami and Ohio State and is aiming for a mid-season decision. Official visits to at least a few of those schools will precede that decision, however, with one already scheduled to Clemson for the weekend of Sept. 14.
A unique prospect among this group because of his height, Smiley could end up as a three-technique defensive tackle or a five-technique defensive end depending on which school he chooses. Smiley named a top 10 back in May, although several additional schools offered after that list was released. His first official visit went to Virginia in June, and he was at Penn State’s Lasch Bash BBQ in July. We now await word on the destinations of his remaining official visits.
When Ellies announced he was trimming his list to a top four of Ohio State, Rutgers, Virginia Tech and West Virginia in mid-July, he did so with the caveat that his recruitment was still open. That came into play almost immediately as Florida and Penn State came through with offers for the four-star prospect just days later. Ellies has not officially re-ordered his list but Penn State is now definitely a player and North Carolina could be working its way into his top group as well.
Sorrells was not expected to be on this list just a few weeks ago. A late August commitment date had been discussed, but that timeframe came and went without any decision from the Florida four-star. Would that decision had gone for South Carolina? That was the prevailing wisdom, but it now looks like official visits will be taken with Alabama, Florida State and Oregon as the three prominent schools contending with the Gamecocks for Sorrells’ services.
The highest-ranked three-star prospect at the defensive tackle position, Williams does not have an offer list as extensive as the others here, which could make him a possible target for teams needing a defensive tackle late. He cut his list of offers about in half on Aug. 4, keeping Indiana, LSU, Memphis, Minnesota, Missouri and Tennessee but remains open to new overtures. Official visits are expected next, with Indiana, LSU and Tennessee top priorities to see this fall.