football

Can SEC schools pull top talent from California

Haydenrettig5n10200
MORE:Classof2013Rivals100-Rivals250
WheneverSECschoolswentaftertopWestCoasthighschoolprospectslastyear,itconstitutednothingmorethanCaliforniadreaming.
AlthoughSECprogramshavelandedplentyofrecruitsfromCaliforniajuniorcollegesinrecentyears,theyhaven'thadasmuchluckwithhighschoolplayersfromthatstate.
Theonly2012CaliforniarecruittosignwithanSECprogramdirectlyoutofhighschoolwasLongBeachPolydefensiveendAlonzoWilliams,whosignedwithfutureconferencememberTexasA&M.Andit'sworthnotingthatWilliamswasactuallylivinginLouisianawhenhecommittedtoTexasA&MsevenmonthsbeforetheAggiesannouncedtheywereleavingtheBig12.
Thelackofrecentsuccesshasn'tstoppedtheSECschoolsfromtrying.RatherthanshyingawayfromCaliforniaprospects,SECschoolsactuallyseemtobesteppinguptheirpursuit.
"ThethingthatI'venoticed[inthepast]isSECschoolstendtocomeinlatertoCaliforniakids-probablyafterthespring,maybeduringthesummerorevenintothefall,"Rivals.comWestrecruitinganalystAdamGorneysaid."ButtherehavebeenabunchofkidsthisyearthathaveearlySECoffers.Idon'tknowifthat'sjusttherecruitingprocessmovingupandbecomingfasterandearlier,orifthey'vejustlikedabunchofkidsontheWestCoastearlierthisyear.''
Itshouldn'tcomeasmuchofasurprisethatVistaMurrietasafetySu'aCravensandConcordDeLaSallelinebackerMichaelHutchingshavereceivedplentyofSECoffers.They'retop-20prospectssoughtbyjustabouteveryprograminthecountry.
ButplentyofotherCaliforniarecruitsalsohavegarneredattentionfrommultipleSECprograms.
Forexample,AlabamaandGeorgiahaveofferedPlacerHighdefensiveendEddieVanderdoes(thenation'sNo.21recruit).MissionViejoHighsafetyMaxRedfield(No.30)hasoffersfromOleMiss,TennesseeandVanderbilt.OleMiss,TennesseeandTexasA&MhaveofferedMissionHillsBishopAlemanyreceiverStevenMitchell(No.52).RedlandsEastValleydefensiveendKylieFitts(No.81)hasanofferlistthatincludesAuburn,Georgia,OleMissandVanderbilt.Missouri,TexasA&MandVanderbilthaveofferedUplandHighdefensiveendJoeMathis(No.93).
EvenArkansas-aschoolthathasn'tsignedaplayerdirectlyoutofaCaliforniahighschoolsince1998-recentlyofferedRivals250runningbackKhalfaniMuhammadandthree-starquarterbackKellyHilinski,bothofShermanOaksNotreDame.ArkansashassignedeightCaliforniajuniorcollegeprospectsoverthelastfouryears,butgettingacoupleofhighschoolkidsfromtherewouldrepresentamajorshift.
Inatleastsomeofthesecases,theinterestcouldbemutual.
WhenRivals250quarterbackHaydenRettigofLosAngelesCathedralvisitedAuburnlastmonth,hewasn'tmerelymakingthetripforthechancetoseeadifferentpartofthecountry.AuburnsignedCaliforniajuniorcollegeprospectsJoelBonomoloandRoszellGaydenin2010,buttheTigershaven'tlandedaplayerdirectlyfromaCaliforniahighschoolsinceSanDiegoMadisontightendCharlesMullenmadethemovein2004.
Rettig,whohasoffersfrombothAuburnandVanderbilt,saysthedistancefromhomewouldn'tnecessarilydeterhimfromsigningwithanSECschool.
CALI-TO-SEC
Here'salookatthelasttimeeachofthecurrentandfutureSECprogramshassignedaCaliforniarecruitdirectlyoutofhighschool:
ALABAMA
2011:LaMiradaHighCIsaacLuatua
ARKANSAS
1998:RanchoCucamongaDTJermaineBrooks
AUBURN
2004:SanDiegoMadisonTECharlesMullen
FLORIDA
2010:MorenoValleyRanchoVerdeDERonaldPowellandPalmdaleHighsafetyJoshuaShaw
GEORGIA
2006:OaklandMcClymondsTENaDerrisWard
KENTUCKY
2011:VanNuysBirminghamQBMaxwellSmith
LSU
2004:StocktonEdisonWRLavelleHawkins
OLEMISS
2006:LaPuenteBishopAmatLBJonathanCornellandValenciaHighQBMichaelHerrick
MISSISSIPPISTATE
2005:VeniceHighLBJimmyMiller
MISSOURI
2005:PowayHighTEJonGissinger
SOUTHCAROLINA
1984:LaPalmaJohnF.KennedyQBRonRabune
TENNESSEE
2010:KingsburgHighQBTylerBrayandBakersfieldFrontierPMattDarr
TEXASA&M
2012:LongBeachPolyDEAlonzoWilliams
VANDERBILT
2011:WestlakeVillageOaksChristianTEDillonvanderWal
"It'sagreatplacetobe,"RettigsaidoftheSEC."It'sascloseasyoucangettotheNFLprettymuch."
VanderdoesadmittedtherecentofferfromAlabamacaughthisattention.AlthoughVanderdoeshasn'tstartedtonarrowdownhischoicesyet,heplanstolistentowhatthereigningnationalchampionshavetosay.
"It'sdefinitelyaplaceI'mheavilyconsidering,"Vanderdoessaid."It'sagreatprogram.They'veputalotofguysintheleague-inthefirstroundandsecondround.Thedistancefactorisnotaproblemforme.Iwanttogowhereit'sbestforme.Idon'twanttostayclosetohomeifI'vegotabetteroptionsomewhereelse."
Butjusthowinterestedaremostoftheseprospects?And,insomecases,howbadlydotheschoolsactuallywanttheseguys?
Rivals.comnationalrecruitinganalystMikeFarrellnotedthelargernumberofSECofferstoCaliforniaprospectsmayreflecttherecentNCAArulechangesasmuchasanyincreasedinterestinWestCoastplayers.
TheNCAApassedlegislationtwoyearsagopreventingcollegesfrommakingwrittenofferstoprospectsbeforeAug.1priortotheirsenioryears.ThepreviousstartingdatehadbeenSept.1oftheirjunioryears.
Thathasledtoanincreaseinthenumberofverbaloffersschoolshavemadetojuniors.Insomecases,justbecauseaplayerhasreceivedaverbaloffer,itdoesn'tnecessarilymeantheschoolisreadytoacceptacommitmentfromhim.
"There'snothingtolosewithaverbalofferbecausethere'snothingbindingaboutit,"Farrellsaid."SoIthinkyou'restartingtoseemoreverbaloffersanywherefromanyoneinanyregion.Therearekidsouttherewith25offerswhobackinthewritten-offerdays[whenjuniorscouldreceivewrittenoffers],wouldn'thaveanywhereclosetothat."
EvenincaseswheretheSECschoolhaslegitimateinterestinaCaliforniaprospect,gettinghimtoleavethestateoftenisalongshot.
FloridafaredsurprisinglywellwithCaliforniaplayersin2010.Itsignedthenation'sNo.1prospect(MorenoValleyRanchoVerdedefensiveendRonaldPowell)andthenation'sNo.28recruit(PalmdaleHighcornerbackJoshuaShaw)outofCaliforniathatyear,thoughonlyPowellremainswiththeGators.ShawtransferredbacktoUSC,citinganeedtobeclosertohomeforfamilyreasons.
Tennessee,perhapstheSECschoolwhichhasdonebestinCalifornia,signedKingsburgHigh'sTylerBrayin2010.HenowistheVolunteers'startingquarterback,continuingaCalifornia-to-TennesseepipelinethatalsohasincludedArianFoster,CaseyClausen,KevinBurnettandDonteStallworthamongothers.
TheconferencelandedthreemoreCaliforniaprepplayersin2011,butTexasA&M'sWilliamsmarkedtheonly2012CaliforniahighschoolertosignwiththeSEC.
"MyimpressionisthatkidsfromCalifornia-almostallofthem-willflirtwithSECschoolsandBigTenschoolsandtakevisits,butthey'llgenerallystayinthePac-12,"Gorneysaid.
Farrellagreeswiththatnotion.Hesaidit'softeneasierforaPac-12schooltosignaguyfromtheEastCoastthanforaWestCoastkidtoleaveforSECcountry.
"TheSECforthemostpartisthreetimezonesaway,"Farrellsaid."It'sthousandsofmilesawayfromhome.IttakesalotofefforttoconvinceakidtocomefromtheWestCoast,eventhoughyou'reintheSECandeventhoughyou'reinthebestconferenceinthecountry.
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"TheoneadvantageWestCoastschoolshaveinrecruitingkidsistheweather.WiththesekidsfromNewJersey,MarylandandPennsylvania,[theWestCoastweather]isalmostlikeanattraction.TheSoutheastissohumid.Therearejustalotoffactorsthatgointoit.Ittakesatremendousamountofeffort,andI'mnotsurealotofschoolswanttowastetheirresourcesonthat."
Butatleastforthetimebeing,2013Californiaprospectsarekeepingtheiroptionsopen.
RedfieldlistsOregon,USCandNotreDameashisslightleadersatthispoint,butheisn'tclosingthedooronanySECprograms.RedfieldlivedinConnecticutbeforemovingtoCaliforniaasafourth-grader,soleavingtheWestCoastwouldn'trepresentthatmuchofacultureshock.
"MymomwouldprobablypreferIstaycloserjustsoshecouldgotoallthegames,"Redfieldsaid."Butmydad'sstillinConnecticut.Theydon'treallyhavethatmuchofaninputaboutlocation.Theyjustwantmetogotothebestschoolforme."
ThefamilyhistoryofRettigindicateshemightbewillingtoplayawayfromhome.He'stheyoungerbrotherofChaseRettig,whomadeacoast-to-coastmovebyleavingLosAngelestosignwithBostonCollege.
Heinsistsaprogram'slocationdoesn'tmatterasmuchasitsattitude.
"IwanttobeataplacewherethepeoplewanttowinjustasmuchasIdo,"Rettigsaid.
Hestillhasmanymoremonthstodeterminewhetherhe'sfoundthatplaceinPac-12territoryorintheSouth.
SteveMegargeeisthenationalcollegecolumnistforRivals.com.Hecanbereachedatsmegargee@rivals.com,andyoucanclickheretofollowhimonTwitter.
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