SEC Spotlight: Five big late signing period questions
While the early signing period dominates the late signing period from an action and drama standpoint now, there are still plenty of questions that need to be answered heading into the late signing period, which kicks off Feb. 6. Here are five big questions to answer out of the SEC.
1. WHICH SEC PROGRAM LANDS FIVE-STAR WR GEORGE PICKENS?
Although George Pickens does very little talking about his recruitment, his name is talked about daily around the south. The five-star wide receiver out of Hoover (Ala.) is committed to Auburn, and he has been committed to the Tigers since July 2017, so why is he a hot topic? There are two big reasons — he did not sign early and he is taking visits to other programs.
Georgia had him on campus for an official visit over the weekend and the Bulldogs have become a real threat to Auburn. Tennessee is another school viewed as a contender in this race, and the Vols are expected to host Pickens one of the final two weekends. LSU has been in this too, so there is another SEC program to keep an eye on. Pickens took his official visit to LSU on Nov. 30. If there is another school to know about in this race, it is Florida. Dan Mullen and his staff have made Pickens a priority and there is chatter that the Gators could receive an official visit.
This is an SEC battle. Some feel Pickens will not end up at Auburn while some think he could stay with the school he committed to a year and a half ago, so this is a daily topic. Pickens is keeping everyone guessing, and he likely doesn’t know what he is going to do himself yet either. We are just over two weeks from Signing Day and this is an SEC battle that will go to Feb. 6.
2. IS DARNELL WRIGHT A DONE DEAL?
One of the highest-ranked unsigned players in the country is West Virginia offensive tackle Darnell Wright and at this point in the process he’s considered Tennessee’s to lose. West Virginia is his home-state and new head coach Neal Brown has tried to come in and change the momentum, but still stand a distant second to the Vols with not much time to make up ground. Landing Wright would be one of the biggest recruiting wins in Jeremy Pruitt’s short tenure as head coach and would be a nice way for the Vols to put a bow on the 2019 class.
In the final rankings, in the Rivals100, only seven remain uncommitted. All are considering SEC schools, and all but one is considered to be a strong lean to sign with an SEC program.
3. CAN GEORGIA FINISH STRONG ENOUGH TO OVERTAKE ALABAMA?
It’s highly unlikely but the race for the SEC conference rankings crown hasn’t been decided and with several big names still on the board for Georgia and Alabama close to finished. Pickens is obviously one big fish the Dawgs would like to reel in but Georgia is also heavily involved with four-star Kaiir Elam and Mark-Antony Richards. The trifecta would be quite the finish and depending on what happens with the Tide, put the school in shouting distance for both the conference crown and the recruiting national championship.
4. WILL SOPSHER REALLY LEAVE THE SEC?
Louisiana defensive tackle Ishmael Sopsher is one most have penciled in as part of the Alabama or LSU class this cycle. Oregon is a program outside the SEC to keep on now that the Ducks have offered Rodney Sopsher, the older brother of Ishmael that is coming out of junior college. Is the package deal enough for the Ducks to steal him away from the in-state Tigers? Or will Alabama be the ones to lure him out of the Bayou? The Ducks have made it interesting over the last month but it still looks like another classic battle down to the line between the Tide and the Tigers for an elite Louisiana prospect.
5. WHAT ABOUT THE REST OF THE UNCOMMITTED RIVALS100 SEC BATTLES?
The buzz around Charles Moore was that he was on the verge of committing to Florida last week. He recently backed off his pledge to Mississippi State and is now expected to end up at Auburn or Florida. We do not expect him to end up in Starkville.
Henry To’oto’to is a linebacker out of California and he has programs like Oregon and Washington on his list, but Tennessee has become the team to beat. Alabama still has an official visit this weekend, but the Vols have emerged as the favorite two weeks out.
Could Miami keep south Florida athlete Mark Antony-Richards home? Sure, but it looks like this has turned into an Auburn vs. Georgia battle late. The Bulldogs have kind of come out of nowhere in this race, Auburn may be in a better spot, but after his official visit to Athens this weekend, Georgia looks to be a contender.
The lone uncommitted prospect in the Rivals100 that may not be currently leaning towards an SEC school right now is running back Jerrion Ealy. Clemson is considered the front-runner for the talent out of Mississippi, but he visits Ole Miss (where he was once committed) this weekend and Mississippi State is very much involved too.