Southeast Spotlight: Ten biggest 2020 commits since NSD
With more than a month since National Signing Day passed, schools from around the Southeast are already hard at work at building their 2020 class. Several schools have landed verbal commitments over the last month and today we take a look at 10 that caught our eye.
MORE: Questions on 2020 class
Just about a week before committing to Arkansas, Capers was strongly considering a commitment to South Carolina. Razorbacks wide receivers coach Justin Stepp has done an excellent recruiting Capers, and that is what it came down to. Stepp was in Georgia as much as he could be in January and the Razorbacks' consistency pushed them to the top. Capers is a big wide receiver with the frame to add good weight. Some think he stays at receiver while others feel he could grow into a hybrid and flex out as a tight end down the road and create mismatches. He runs good routes, he has consistent hands and he is still growing.
This one ended earlier than most expected. Joshua Downs, an NC State legacy, committed to the in-state rival, North Carolina. Once Mack Brown was hired and put his staff together, the Tar Heels instantly shot up his list.
The two key hires here were offensive coordinator Phil Longo and defensive backs coach Dre Bly. Longo makes sense, with his offense being wide open and fast-paced, which is what Downs was looking to play in. Bly though, is family. He is Downs' uncle, so this one played a huge part as well.
Downs is an exciting slot receiver with quickness, hands and the ability to make plays in space. He now has family in Chapel Hill, UNC runs the perfect offense for his style of play and he is a leader of this class.
J.J. Evans to Auburn came as no surprise. The Tigers offered early, they had him on campus numerous times and a day after visiting the Plains once again in February, he committed to Gus Malzahn.
Alabama, Clemson, Florida and Georgia, had offered Evans, but he got close to the AU staff, especially Kodi Burns and the four-star wide receiver chose to stay home.
Evans is a receiver who bursted onto the scene last fall with over 1,500 yards receiving. He has a great frame, he will fight for the ball and he will be a red zone weapon early in his career at Auburn.
After four visits to Auburn, Jernigan knew he wanted to be a Tiger. South Carolina made a run for him, but Jernigan loved the fit on the Plains and he is now a leader of their 2020 recruiting class.
There is a big need for offensive linemen in this class for Auburn and Jernigan brings versatility. He has played all across the offensive line, but will end up on the inside. He can project at guard or center, but center is likely his home. He is an intense competitor and he is strong at the point of attack. He is a better run blocker now, but has taken positive steps in pass protection over the last year.
The recruiting energy in Atlanta has changed — in a big way. Geoff Collins and his staff have created a real buzz at Georgia Tech and they have added numerous pieces already that never would have committed to the Yellow Jackets under Paul Johnson.
King is the latest one to commit. He is a big receiver who wants to play in a spread offense, so the offense Georgia Tech plans to install, combined with the academics, location and chance to play early pushed the in-state school to the top.
King will give Collins a big-bodied receiver that will be ready to compete for early playing time. He is a great red zone receiver, he wins jump-balls and he has shown the ability to block on the perimeter. This is a big get for Collins.
When you think about Peach State prospects that the Georgia Bulldogs land, you think about Alabama-Georgia, Auburn-Georgia or Clemson-Georgia battles, but for Justin Robinson, he chose Georgia over Notre Dame.
The interesting twist to this one was, Georgia wanted Robinson to play offense and the Irish liked him for defense. He had to consider that amongst many other things, and after one last visit to Athens, he committed to the Bulldogs.
Kirby Smart and Cortez Hankton made Robinson feel like a priority before most other schools and that played a role in this as well. Robinson is a great athlete with size, speed and toughness. He looks like the receiver Georgia wants with his size and strength.
With a new coaching staff in place, the Mountaineers are starting to spread their wings and look to new areas to recruit, with one of those spots being head coach Neal Brown’s home state of Kentucky. Reese Smith was one of the first recruits targeted by the new staff once they arrived in Morgantown and he quickly made his way to campus before becoming the school’s first pledge in the Class of 2020 shortly thereafter.
A super-productive receiver at the high school level, Smith will be counted on to step in and make plays early in his career. Shortly after he committed, the Mountaineers added a quarterback commit as well and it looks like his pledge may have gotten the ball rolling for the school.
Coming off one of the best recruiting classes in school history, Arkansas is looking to put together another top class as Chad Morris and his staff work to rebuild the program. One of the in-state prospects that was made a priority in the early going, Jashaud Stewart made his commitment official during a visit to campus over the weekend.
A versatile defensive end/outside linebacker hybrid player, Stewart’s versatility is a big reason why he was targeted by the Razorbacks staff. Considering there aren’t many Power Five level plays in the state, landing Stewart was key and now he can help serve as a recruiter alongside the school’s coaches the rest of the way.
The Tigers have made offensive line recruiting a major priority in the Class of 2020 and Tucker was the final piece of puzzle, as his recent commitment gives Clemson five offensive linemen already on board. The Rivals250 product has been on the national recruiting radar since early in his career, nabbing offers from programs all over the country. But Clemson came in and offered Tucker in January, and the school's unconventional approach to offers continues to pay dividends. A versatile lineman that started his career at tackle but probably projects to guard at the next level, Tucker will have plenty of opportunities to make an impact for the Tigers in the future.
The Jackets are need of new talent in the passing game and much like the addition of King, Ward is a nice early grab. A tight end who has seen his offer list explode in recent months, Ward surprised many when he ended his recruitment early and committed to the in-state school last month. Had he hit the camp circuit hard a number of other offers would likely have come his way, so the Jackets staff did a nice job locking Ward up early. The commitment to recruiting the Atlanta area by Collins and the new staff continues to pay dividends and Ward is just the latest local prospect to stay home.