Next Up: Ten up-and-coming recruiters in the SEC
This week, Rivals.com will be releasing its Next Up series looking across Power Five football at 10 coaches or recruiting department staffers who could emerge as the next big-time names in the sport. We move to the SEC.
THIS SERIES: Ten up-and-coming recruiters in the Big Ten
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CLASS OF 2023 RANKINGS: Rivals250 | Team | Position | State
CLASS OF 2024 RANKINGS: Rivals250 | Team | Position | State
CLASS OF 2025 RANKINGS: Rivals100
Jake Breske - Tennessee
Title: Director of Player Personnel
Overview: Whether it was at Missouri where Breske helped sign five four-stars in its 2021 class or now at Tennessee, good players follow him and he has an incredible talent to help put recruiting classes together. The Volunteers are quickly becoming a big problem for opponents in the SEC and yes it’s because of coach Josh Heupel and his staff but behind the scenes, Breske is an incredible asset.
At lower levels, Breske also has coaching experience which makes him even more valuable as Tennessee looks to become a title contender.
Matt Brock - Mississippi State
Title: Defensive Coordinator/Linebackers
Overview: At 34, Brock is on the fast track to a head coaching job especially if he can continue to build Mississippi State’s defense into an SEC powerhouse. After Zach Arnett was promoted to coach following Mike Leach’s death, Brock looks up to the challenge. His defense stifled Illinois in the bowl game and his resume is outstanding heading into the 2023 class. At just 25, Brock was an assistant at Texas Tech and he also has stops at Bowling Green and Washington State.
Jamar Chaney - Florida
Title: Defensive Analyst
Overview: The next stop for Chaney probably won’t be a head coaching job – not yet – but the former Mississippi State linebacker who played in the NFL is doing everything possible to move up the coaching ranks. The 36-year-old not only has pro playing experience but he coached in high school. He now has stops at his alma mater in Starkville and now in Florida under coach Billy Napier. From recruiting to coaching analysis, Chaney is a rising star.
CJ Conrad - Kentucky
Title: Quality Control - Offense
Overview: A four-star tight end in the 2015 recruiting class, Conrad is only 26, but already well on his way to making an important mark again with the Kentucky football team. First, as a player and now as quality control on offense, Conrad is helping assistant coach Vince Marrow with the tight ends and there might be no better coach to learn from on the Wildcats’ staff.
Zac Etheridge - Auburn
Title: Secondary Coach / Safeties
Overview: Numerous prospects have noted Auburn as high on their list because of Etheridge and not only how well he recruits them but how well he connects with them once on campus. The recruiting prowess is unquestioned and it’s one reason why Etheridge is so vital to Auburn’s new coaching staff.
But he’s also building an impressive resume as a defensive backs coach with GA stops at Penn State and Georgia Tech and then jobs at Western Carolina, Louisiana and Houston before coming back to Auburn, where he was a team captain on the national title team.
Kenny Guiton - Arkansas
Title: Wide Receivers Coach
Overview: The playing and coaching resume for Guiton is impressive as the 31-year-old was a quarterback at Ohio State and then started his coaching career from the ground up as a GA at Houston. He has found his niche coaching wide receivers whether with the Cougars, at Louisiana Tech, at Colorado State and now in the SEC.
What Guiton also brings that could be highly coveted if he gets a promotion to running his own program is great knowledge of the transfer portal and how to win there in recruiting.
Sterling Lucas - South Carolina
Title: Defensive Ends/Outside Linebackers Coach
Overview: If there was one question about Lucas when he joined the South Carolina coaching staff it was whether he could recruit at the highest level after spending most of his early career in the NFL. Lucas proved he could do that and more this past recruiting cycle as the 32-year-old was a key recruiter for five-star Nyckoles Harbor along with Desmond Umeozulu, Grayson Howard, Monteque Rhames and LaNorris Sellers.
With that NFL experience and now that recruiting acumen, that makes Lucas an even bigger priority.
Jon Randall Belton - LSU
Title: Director of Recruiting
Overview: There are a number of highly-qualified and talented people on LSU’s recruiting staff and Belton, the director of recruiting, is definitely one of them. There might not be many better jobs than what he has, but Belton is going to be a wanted man. LSU continues to recruit well under coach Brian Kelly. The Tigers finished fifth nationally in his first full recruiting class in 2023 and the big fish was five-star offensive lineman Zalance Heard, who was one of Belton’s top priorities since they’re from the same hometown.
Tommy Rees - Alabama
Title: Offensive Coordinator/Quarterbacks
Overview: The Alabama offensive coordinator job is one of the best in the business manned by former NFL coach and executive Bill O’Brien, Texas coach Steve Sarkisian, New York Giants coach Brian Daboll and many others. Rees is only 30 and had a big-time job as Notre Dame’s offensive coordinator, but this is the highest it gets. He's learning under Nick Saban, calling the shots and then it’s a virtual guarantee a head coaching job will come if done well.
Chidera Uzo-Diribe - Georgia
Title: Outside Linebackers Coach
Overview: Being in the Kirby Smart coaching tree is not bad for business and Uzo-Diribe is excelling on the field and in recruiting. The 30-year-old did an excellent job closing on five-star defensive ends Samuel M’Pemba and especially Damon Wilson, where there was a heated battle with Ohio State, Alabama and others until the end. Then he also got high four-star defensive end Gabriel Harris in the 2023 class as well.
Uzo-Diribe has stops at TCU, SMU, Kansas and Colorado as he fills out his resume and could be looking for even bigger things shortly.