How top-ranked 2018 signees from each SEC team are faring
As we are deep in the off season, recruiting is on our minds. Here’s a look back at the highest ranked 2018 recruit for each team and how they are panning out. Today, we look at the SEC.
Mark Pszonak contributed to this report.
MORE: How top-ranked 2018 signees from each Big Ten team are faring
CLASS OF 2021 RANKINGS: Rivals250 | Position | Team | State
CLASS OF 2022: Top 100
The skinny: Anoma took official visits to Alabama, Michigan and Maryland before committing to the Tide in late December. In limited action as a true freshman Anoma showed plenty of potential with nine tackles and two tackles for a loss. However, that was the end of his potential in Tuscaloosa. After impressing during spring practices in 2019, a summer suspension followed by university expulsion led to his transfer to Houston. He never played a game with the Cougars though, as after sitting out the 2019 season he was dismissed in February after violating team rules. Anoma is currently back in the transfer portal.
Farrell’s take: This obviously didn’t work out and it appears to be more off-field stuff than it is about sheer talent. Anoma was a freak coming out of high school and could be a big-time contributor for someone if he can get his head straight.
The skinny: With several family ties to the university, Pool committed to Arkansas during his junior season. As a true freshman, Pool showed promise after totaling 29 tackles, 2.5 tackles for a loss and one fumble recovery in only six games. He then took his game to the next level last fall with 94 tackles, 6.5 tackles for a loss and five pass breakups. New coach Sam Pittman is hoping that Pool can become one of the leaders of the defensive unit in 2020 while continuing to improve his production.
Farrell’s take: Pool was an instinctive tackling machine out of high school and we expected him to be the same in college. He’s a sure tackler and a leader and will be a huge part of the Arkansas defense this year.
The skinny: Gatewood avoided drama by committing to Auburn at the conclusion of his sophomore season. Despite adding offers from coast-to-coast, he stuck with the Tigers.
During two seasons at Auburn, Gatewood saw limited action in eight games, totaling 54 passing yards and 176 rushing yards while losing the 2019 starting job to Bo Nix. This eventually led to his decision to transfer, which led him to Kentucky. Gatewood is still waiting to hear about his immediate eligibility waiver, so he may have to wait until the 2021 season to compete for the starting job in Lexington.
Farrell’s take: Gatewood never panned out and will try to get a fresh start at Kentucky. He was a big kid with a strong arm and mobility coming out but the comparisons to Cam Newton were a bit much. Now he can deal with lower expectations.
The skinny: Gouraige committed to Florida during his junior season, but then also took official visits to Clemson, Ole Miss and Auburn before reconfirming with the Gators. Auburn was considered a serious flip candidate until he signed.
Gouraige redshirted in 2018 and then appeared in 12 games, making five starts, at left guard in 2019. His future is at tackle though, so a likely move to the left side is in order this fall, where his athleticism should help solidify that side of the line for the Gators.
Farrell’s take: Gouraige was a massive lineman with good feet but was a bit raw when it came to technique. He’s going to be a huge part of the Gators' offensive line this year and needs to step up. He has the potential.
The skinny: Fields initially committed to Penn State, but then re-opened his recruitment and committed to Georgia. He also considered Florida, Texas A&M and Florida State before committing to the Bulldogs.
Seeing minimal action in 12 games as a true freshman, and with the likelihood that he would once again backup Jake Fromm for at least one more season, he decided to transfer to Ohio State. In Columbus, he quickly became a star and team leader while passing for 3,273 yards, 41 touchdowns and only three interceptions. He is one of the top Heisman Trophy candidates in 2020.
Farrell’s take: Fields is doing just fine. The problem for UGA is that he’s doing it for Ohio State after losing out to Fromm. Now the Buckeyes are in the title hunt and Georgia is hoping transfer Jamie Newman can be the answer. This was a great recruiting job by Kirby Smart. It just didn’t pan out.
The skinny: McCall committed to Kentucky during the spring after his junior season, but then attended several summer camps, including one at Ohio State. Despite continued pressure, he stuck with the Wildcats.
While considered an offensive guard recruit, he made the move to the interior defensive line in Lexington. He saw minimal playing time as a true freshman but played in all 13 last season with 21 tackles, four tackles for a loss and a fumble recovery. He should be a key contributor in the Wildcats’ defensive line rotation this fall.
Farrell’s take: Justin Rogers is on his way and should team up with McCall to form a dynamic duo. McCall was always an aggressive prospect so the switch to defense isn’t a surprise and his potential is still sky high.
The skinny: Marshall took official visits to LSU, Florida State, Texas and Texas A&M before committing to the Tigers. The Aggies became the most serious threat, but Marshall seemed destined to end up at LSU for months.
As a true freshman, he saw action in nine games, but was slowed by a leg injury that still lingered from his senior season in high school. Fully healthy in 2019 he responded with 46 receptions for 671 yards and 13 touchdowns. Now with Justin Jefferson making his move to the NFL, he should form one of the top wide receiver duos in the country with Ja’Marr Chase.
Farrell’s take: Marshall is starting to live up to the hype and has become a touchdown machine for LSU with his big frame. This could be a monster season for him and he could start to get consideration for the first or second round in the 2021 NFL Draft.
The skinny: Jason initially was an early commit to LSU, before re-opening his recruitment and surprising many with a commitment to Kansas. However, he again decommitted in December before committing to Mississippi State less than two weeks later.
After totaling only three receptions in 2018 and playing in only two games at the start of 2019, Jason entered his name in the transfer portal in late October. He has found a new home at FCS Nicholls State, where he will play for the Colonels this fall.
Farrell’s take: This is disappointing. Jason was always a bit flaky but he had tremendous talent and ball skills. Now he will shine at a lower level but imagine him in Mike Leach’s offense? Ouch.
The skinny: Bailey committed to Missouri in August, soon after a successful unofficial visit to Columbia. Since his arrival on campus he has been crippled by injuries. Dealing with both a broken thumb and then a torn ACL, it wasn’t until the second half of the 2019 season that he began to make an impact on special teams. The speed and athleticism seems to have returned, so there is optimism that Bailey will be able to make a serious impact on the field this fall.
Farrell’s take: This has been a shame because I loved Bailey as a prospect and thought he’d make an important and early contribution. Here’s hoping he can bounce back and become the tackling machine we expected.
The skinny: Corral initially committed to Florida during the summer leading up to his senior season, but then took official visits to Ole Miss and Alabama. A few days after his visit to Oxford he flipped to the Rebels.
After getting his feet wet with minimal playing time in 2018, Corral shared quarterback duties with John Rhys Plumlee last fall. He finished with 1,362 yards and six touchdowns through the air, proving to be the more reliable passer of the two. With both quarterbacks returning, and with new coach Lane Kiffin now in charge, it will be interesting to see which direction the Rebels decide to go in 2020.
Farrell’s take: Corral was a USC commit but they dropped him for off-field issues but none of that has surfaced at Ole Miss and he’s showing the potential we saw. He has some serious competition this season, but has the talent to take charge.
The skinny: Sandidge took January official visits to South Carolina, Georgia and North Carolina before committing to the Gamecocks on National Signing Day. While he took other official visits, South Carolina was considered the heavy favorite for months.
Sandidge showed potential as a true freshman, finishing with 19 tackles and 2.5 tackles for a loss. However, after a very promising spring, he only totaled six tackles in 12 games last fall. While he is a valuable part of the defensive line rotation, there is hope that he becomes more dominant this fall.
Farrell’s take: Sandidge was a big commitment for South Carolina but has regressed a bit and has yet to make his mark. The way the Gamecocks are recruiting along the defensive line he better step it up this season.
The skinny: Emerson committed to Tennessee a couple of days after injuring his leg at The Opening. Clemson, Ohio State, Alabama, Ole Miss and Georgia were some of the other programs that were considered.
Emerson redshirted in 2018 before showcasing his potential last fall with 30 tackles, four tackles for a loss and two sacks. Possessing a unique combination of quickness and strength for his size, there is plenty of hope around Knoxville that this could be a breakout season for Emerson.
Farrell’s take: Emerson was always talented but raw, so a slower start isn’t a big surprise. He showed signs of potential last year and I think he takes the next step. He was always a big kid who could move and showed excellent athleticism.
The skinny: Preston trimmed his list of top schools down to Texas A&M, LSU, Ole Miss, Oklahoma and Oregon before committing to the Aggies in the days leading up to his senior season. Texas made a late push, but he stuck with A&M.
Having totaled only four receptions for 50 yards and one touchdown to this point, he has had difficulty adjusting to the speed and toughness of the SEC. With the Aggies looking for help from outside receivers this fall, this may be a make-or-break season for Preston in College Station.
Farrell’s take: This is puzzling because Preston had a ton of skills coming out of high school and should be a standout by now. This season will tell us whether he’s wasted his talent or not.
The skinny: With offers from Georgia, Oklahoma, Notre Dame, Texas and Texas A&M, Orji surprised many with a commitment to Vanderbilt in May. A spring visit to Nashville put the Commodores over the top.
To this point Orji has made minimal impact with the Commodores, totaling only seven tackles during his first two seasons. Will this be the season that he performs like a four-star recruit?
Farrell’s take: Orji was a huge commitment for Vanderbilt and it’s a bit of a surprise he hasn’t made a bigger impact. He has the power and speed to be a difference-maker on defense. This is a big year for him.