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Southeast Spotlight: Five teams that need a strong close to 2023

Bryan Harsin
Bryan Harsin (AP Images)

The Early Signing Period is approaching in a hurry with teams losing opportunities to close on targeted recruits. Here are five teams in the Southeast that need to close the 2023 recruiting class strong.

MORE IN THIS SERIES: Five East Coast teams that need a strong close to 2023 | Mid-South


CLASS OF 2023 RANKINGS: Rivals250 | Team | Position | State

CLASS OF 2024 RANKINGS: Rivals250 | Team | Position | State

CLASS OF 2025 RANKINGS: Rivals100

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Jaquavious Russaw
Jaquavious Russaw (Caleb Jones |

Is it Bryan Harsin’s proverbial hot seat, the 3-4 start to the season, the rumored lack of NIL support for the coaching staff or a combination of all three issues that is hindering the Tigers' recruiting success? Whatever woes are holding the Tigers back from landing top recruits, Harsin and company must find a way to circumvent the issues to work their way into the top 20 to save face.

From an early September ranking at No. 58, the staff has added three recruits over the last month in three-stars Jamarrion Harkless and Gernorris Wilson and flipped four-star offensive tackle Clay Wedin away from Michigan State to move up to No. 42. Work will be put in on top in-state players, but James Smith, Jaquavious Russaw and Karmello English are leaning in other directions.

The staff is working hard to flip several commits. They are going strong after Paul Mubenga, Stanquan Clark, Lamar Seymore, Bo Hughley, Joshua Horton and Jelani Thurman. If the Tigers can flip those prospects while adding some extra firepower to the class, their difficult task will have been accomplished.




Samuel M’Pemba
Samuel M’Pemba (

The first full recruiting cycle for the Hurricanes - by all accounts - has been a success. Coach Mario Cristobal and his staff have a top-15 class with two five-stars and nine four-star prospects. The rub comes by comparison to conference and an in-state rivals in Clemson and Florida. The Tigers have the top-rated class in the ACC (ranked No. 8 nationally), and the Gators are right behind Clemson at No. 9. Based on all the NIL talk associated with the Canes’ program, a top-10 finish would work but a top-five class would meet the hype.

Miami is in the hunt for several top 2023 prospects, including five-stars Samuel M’Pemba and Desmond Ricks out of IMG Academy. There is a big push to keep sack master defensive end Ruben Bain local. On Nov. 5, Bain will be at Hard Rock Stadium to watch the Canes take on FSU. Another local talent being targeted is Louisville linebacker commit Stanquan Clark. As Miami Central continues its run through the 2022 season as one of the best teams in the nation, the attention is helping Miami take notice of three-star receiver Lawayne McCoy.



Brent Key
Brent Key (AP Images)

The eight-game audition for interim head coach Brent Key to take over the Yellow Jackets program full time in 2023 would be bolstered by a solid recruiting class. Quick changes were noticeable as the whistle on the sideline went from Geoff Collins to Key with back-to-back wins against Pitt and Duke. No matter the differences seen under Key, it is hard to sell recruits on the future if the Yellow Jackets staff doesn't know that it will be there.

With 16 commits, the class has held inside the top 50 until Tuesday, when three-star safety Kamal Bonner decommitted. Adding players would be nice, but the tough part is retaining the prospects that are verbally committed. Yellow Jacket fans should expect more decommitments in the coming weeks.

Until Georgia Tech’s administration announces its new head coach, and a staff is pieced together, a strong finish may need to be rushed over a couple of weeks before the Early Signing Period and the month-plus time until National Signing Day.




Damon Wilson
Damon Wilson (Ryan Wright)

In and out of the top 10 throughout the 2022 calendar year, the Bulldogs recently made the jump from No. 7 nationally to No. 4 in the Rivals’ team recruiting rankings. October additions of four-star California running back Roderick Robinson II and three-star North Carolina DB Chris Peal have helped the Bulldogs climb the rankings ladder. Expect even more good news in the coming weeks.

Being inside the top five is where UGA fans expect to be, but there is now an opportunity for Georgia to challenge for the top spot. The heavy hitters that could take this class to that next level are Samuel M’Pemba, Florida four-star end Damon Wilson and Florida four-star defensive tackle Jordan Hall.

To stay in the top five and challenge for the top-rated overall class, Georgia will have to finish strong down the stretch with bluebloods all around pushing hard to the finish line.




Edwin Joseph
Edwin Joseph (

On Monday night, Florida flipped four-star offensive lineman Roderick Kearney away from Florida State, dropping the Seminoles' team ranking to No. 24. The three-game losing streak against AP-ranked teams may set FSU back slightly, but the schedule should lighten up somewhat with three home games to help end the season on a strong note.

Targets to watch for FSU include receiver Edwin Joseph and speedy tailback Christopher Johnson. Flip opportunities at quarterback could include K-State commit Avery Johnson and Miami commit Emory Williams. If Williams finds his fit in Tallahassee, might he bring four-star Georgia receiver commit Raymond Cottrell with him? Also at receiver, the Noles are after Pitt commit Lamar Seymore. With the uncertainty at Georgia Tech, watch for running back Javin Simpkins to have more contact with the FSU staff.

A big name to watch going into the weekend is Texas running back commit Cedric Baxter. Baxter is visiting the Seminoles, which is getting FSU fans excited about the idea of the in-state talent changing his commitment.