Road to NSD: SEC predictions
Related: Big Ten predictions
FIVE BIGGEST DECISIONS
LB Ben Davis, Gordo, Ala
Georgia skyrocketed up Davis’ list when the Bulldogs hired Kirby Smart away from Alabama. There’s also still an Auburn visit on his schedule. That said, the five-star linebacker’s ties to Tuscaloosa remain strong. Davis, whose father played for the Tide, visited Alabama over the weekend and the Bama seems to have cemented themselves as the team to beat in recent weeks. Davis recruitment isn’t over, and Alabama fans shouldn’t take his commitment for granted, but things are looking good in T-Town when it come to the blue chip legacy. Georgia seems most likely to push the Tide for Davis’ letter of intent.
DE Jeffery Simmons, Macon (Miss.) Noxubee County
Simmons recently announced plans to visit Southern Miss on Jan. 27. And while Simmons’ younger brother plays for the Eagles, the fact that the program is currently without a head coach makes a commitment seem less likely than ever. Ole Miss, Mississippi State and Alabama all seem like more likely landing spots for the five-star. Alabama is certainly a player when it comes to landing Simmons, but pulling him out of Mississippi may prove difficult.
Prediction: Ole Miss
LB Lyndell Wilson, Montgomory (Ala.) Carver
Wilson’s recent visit to Alabama featured a laundry list of Twitter photos featuring personal attention from Nick Saban, who seems to have made the five-star linebacker a top priority. Wilson’s final visit will be to Florida, and the Gators will need to work in an effort to unseat the Crimson Tide at the top of Wilson’s recruitment. Georgia is also involved with the Alabama-based prospect, but the Bulldogs are also thought to be chasing Saban and company.
DT Derrick Brown, Sugar Hill (Ga.) Lanier
Brown has been a busy man since the dead period ended, having already taken official visits to Auburn and Georgia. Brown has long been rumored to be a lean to the Dawgs, but an official visit to Tennessee this weekend looms large. Add in the fact that Alabama and Mississippi State both headed into the dead period feeling very confident about their chances and you have a full-fledged recruiting mystery. The safe money remains on Georgia, but it's clear that Brown is going to weigh all his options before making a decision. With that in mind, the Vols getting the last visit could seal the deal.
ATH Mecole Hardman Jr., Bowman (Ga.) Elbert County
Hardman has done his best to keep people guessing when it comes to his recruitment, including taking a surprise official visit to Ohio State and naming Alabama his leader during the dead period. But after skipping an official visit to Alabama last weekend and instead showing up on campus at Georgia it's pretty clear that he's headed to Athens to play his college ball.
TEAM THAT WILL SURPRISE: Ole Miss
Ole Miss remains involved with a number of top-flight prospects and could close strong. The Rebels have already done some impressive work on the recruiting trail, and a strong finish could net them a class that ranks among the elite on Signing Day. Head coach Hugh Freeze and company remain involved with five-stars Rashan Gary (DT), Jeffery Simmons (DE) and Mique Juarez (LB). Four-star defensive back Nigel Knott is also in play for the Rebels. Ole Miss, which already has two of America’s top five prospects in the fold, won’t land all of the elite talent left on its board, but if the Rebs can get even two, it will be seen as a hyper-successful stretch run.
TEAM THAT WILL DISAPPOINT: Vanderbilt
The Commodores aren't having a terrible year in terms of recruiting, but when it comes to the SEC, you're judged much differently. Vanderbilt currently sits last in the Rivals.com Team Rankings in the conference, a position that is expected to hold through Signing Day. A good Signing Day would see additions from prospects like Kelvin Lucky and Andre Mintz, but even so, it's unlikely to see Vandy passing Missouri to get out of last place in the conference standings.
LEAGUE RECRUITING CHAMPION: LSU
The Tigers currently sit at No. 2 nationally in the Rivals.com Team Rankings and there's a strong possibility the school overtakes Ohio State for the No. 1 spot by the time National Signing Day is over. Among the four-stars still strongly considering the Tigers are defensive back Deontay Anderson, defensive tackle D'Andre Christmas-Giles, offensive linemen Jauan Williams and E.J. Price, as well as several others. Even if the school only lands half the prospects that will have hats on the table on Signing Day, a new recruiting national champion will be crowned.