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Southeast Spotlight: Programs off to surprising start in 2025 class

Darrell Johnson
Darrell Johnson (John Garcia Jr./

The closer we get to the summer, the faster commitments are rolling in. Some national powers on the recruiting trail have yet to really make their move with top targets but other programs have begun to reel in some important additions for their 2025 recruiting class.

Here are five programs in the Southeast region that are off to a surprisingly strong start to the 2025 recruiting cycle.

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Kalen DeBoer
Kalen DeBoer

The surprise isn't that Alabama is again recruiting at the highest level in college football – that's been the case for nearly two decades. But it's that Alabama is still a recruiting machine despite a surprisingly sudden coaching change and the retirement of Nick Saban.

So the Crimson Tide being hot on the trail of late is rarely a recruiting surprise in general, but the wins have come nationally under new coach Kalen DeBoer. If most of the early commitments were in-state, lifelong Alabama leans, perhaps it would be closer to expectation, but the new head man in Tuscaloosa has the program splashing for elite recruits from five different states within the 10-man group. Only LSU has more prospects on board in the SEC (12).

The linebacker haul alone features a maintenance pledge from Myles Johnson, one of the few holdovers from the Nick Saban classes, as well as SEC heavy wins for Georgia natives Jaedon Harmon, Darrell Johnson and Luke Metz. National power Mater Dei High School in California is also on the commitment list in another ‘backer commitment Abduall Sanders. Eight of the 10 commitments have come since March, so who's to say the Tide will slow down in the summer months?




Carde Smith
Carde Smith (

While the perception and expectation of Hugh Freeze is success on the recruiting trail, Auburn went through considerable coaching changes in the offseason, yet it still maintains a class in the top 10 nationally. It becomes more impressive considering the trio of decommitments the Tigers have already suffered in the cycle. Nine of the 10 verbal commitments on the board for the Tigers come from the pipeline state of Alabama and Georgia, too.

The offensive line haul leads the way for the foundation of the class, with four blockers already on board led by latest commitment in Carde Smith and lengthy Peach State star Tavaris Dice.

On defense, the job is being done closer to home with legacy Jakaleb Faulk on the commitment list in addition to the top-ranked defensive line recruit in the state of Alabama in Malik Autry.

Of course, plenty of in-state elites remain high on AU’s board like Micah DeBose, Jared Smith, Anquon Fegans, Eric Winters and many more.




Andre Fuller
Andre Fuller (John Garcia Jr./

Not so much in quantity, with just three verbal commitments to date, but the quality of Georgia Tech’s early commitments is noteworthy. Only three programs in the ACC currently hold a higher average star rating per commitment compared to Brent Key’s program – Florida State, Miami and Clemson. While it’s little surprise that trio is bringing in star power, Tech being slotted just behind brings a surprise to the perception of the class built thus far.

Tech has two key in-state wins in the trenches in pass rusher Andre Fuller and offensive lineman Justin Hasenhuetl. Perhaps more importantly at this stage, it also has its quarterback of the class on board in Grady Adamson of Oklahoma. He’ll help build on the foundation, especially with offensive targets, as the Yellow Jackets roll into the summer months and official visit season. A complementary on-field product can keep GT in the top half of the ACC rankings for the long haul, which has been far from a guarantee on the trail.




Taevion Swint
Taevion Swint

UCF's class is currently ranked No. 16 overall, ahead of in-state rivals Florida and Florida State, and Gus Malzahn’s program is thriving on quality as much as quantity early in the cycle. Eight pledges are on board to date, with half registering as four-stars on Rivals at the skill positions. It includes the longest standing pledge on the list in local running back Taevion Swint, who continues to hear from programs trying to make the flip. UCF splashed with a flip of their own in Peach State safety Kendarius Reddick, who was once an Auburn pledge.

The Knights are leading the Big 12 on the trail all together, another somewhat surprising development. It finished fourth in the league last cycle, just behind Texas Tech. The Red Raiders have much more volume than UCF in 2025, yet it’s the Knights ranked higher with four fewer pledges on board. It means quality remains present for the program, which currently has the same average star rating per commitment as national power Georgia.




Locklan Hewlett
Locklan Hewlett

The Bulls, fresh off of flipping top quarterback target Locklan Hewlett from Wake Forest, have been busy keeping local talent home. Seven of the eight verbal commitments are from the Sunshine State to date. The program has seemingly up-ticked each of the last couple of cycles, finishing in the top 50 in 2024. It currently sits at 44 in the 2025 cycle, despite a few pledges still yet to hold star ratings (so it will likely soon rise in ranking).

Hewlett could be a spark for the class going forward in more ways than one. Of course quarterbacks often become the voice and leader of commitment classes and the effort to add to them, not to mention attracting wide receiver and offensive line prospects because of their notoriety. Hewlett is also well known in the state considering his father, William, is a high-level quarterback trainer with ties to the NFL on down. It won’t hurt on the trail going forward.