Southeast Spotlight: Programs that should make noise
Recruiting is starting to heat up as the college football regular season is coming to an end and the Early Signing Period looms large on the horizon. In the Southeast, schools are jockeying for position with the top remaining targets in the region. Here are five programs we expect to make the most noise in the Southeast over the coming weeks.
Just how good will the 2019 Alabama recruiting class be? That is the question asked the most right now. We know it will be good, but how good? The Crimson Tide sit atop the Rivals.com Team Recruiting Rankings with 21 commits, but they are far from done. They have some elite targets still out there, such as five-star offensive tackle Darnell Wright, five-star center Clay Webb, five-star running back Trey Sanders, five-star defensive tackle Ishmael Sopsher and five-star defensive end Kayvon Thibodeaux. Another five-star, wide receiver George Pickens, is an Auburn commit that Alabama is working hard to flip.
For the first time in a while, Clemson has the opportunity to sign a full class this cycle. We have seen the Tigers sign 25 players in one class just once since 2012. They signed as few as 14 and 17 in different cycles, so they now have 24 commitments and will add to that list. Who are going to be the final pieces to the puzzle for Dabo Swinney in 2019?
It all starts with five-star athlete Quavaris Crouch. The Tigers have some momentum here and could be in line to sign the No. 1 player in North Carolina. Clemson has a big need this cycle on the offensive line and Clay Webb, Will Putnam and Trevor Keegan are three to watch here. The Tigers want to add more to the defensive line as well. Georgia commit Travon Walker will be on campus for an official visit this weekend, but the name linked to Clemson the most is Tyler Davis out of Florida.
Clemson is going to sign the No. 1 class in the ACC – it is not even going to be close – but could the Tigers push for the top class in the country? Stay tuned.
Kirby Smart signed the top recruiting class in the country in 2018 and he could challenge for that spot again in 2019 before all is said and done. As we inch closer to the Early Signing Period, all eyes will be on Jadon Haselwood. The one-time Georgia commit is an in-state five-star receiver who most feel is leaning towards the Miami Hurricanes. He will sign early and announce his decision at the All-American Bowl in San Antonio.
Georgia had some big visitors on campus this past weekend, like linebacker Nakobe Dean, offensive tackle Trevor Keegan and center Clay Webb. All are top targets for Georgia and have the Dawgs high on their list. Georgia also has a need at running back and defensive back. The program hosted defensive backs Kaiir Elam and Tyrique Stevenson and running back Kenny McIntosh in Athens Saturday, and all are big targets.
Georgia is No. 8 in the Rivals.com Team Recruiting Rankings with 16 commitments, so there is still a lot of movement to come with this class.
The Tigers have had a better-than-expected season and as usual are among the top 10 on the recruiting trail. Now the focus is on closing strong, with several elite targets still on the board. The Tigers are hoping to land five-star defensive tackle Ishmael Sophser along with his friend and high school teammate, Devonta Lee.
LSU is also focused hard on former Georgia running back commit John Emery and is also high on the list of elite running back Noah Cain. With so many big names still in play and several spots waiting to be filled in the class, it’s possible LSU finishes higher than its current No. 7 ranking in the Rivals.com Team Recruiting Rankings.
It seems like every day the Vols are mentioned with a new elite recruit and buzz has been growing surrounding the program, with Saturday’s win over Kentucky only furthering the excitement among the fans in Knoxville. This past weekend five-star athlete Quavaris Crouch was on campus at Tennessee and afterward listed the Vols in his top three. That came on the heels of a visit from five-star Auburn linebacker commit Owen Pappoe. The Vols have also long been a player for five-star offensive tackle Darnell Wright and will be locked in a head-to-head battle with Alabama to land his signature leading into National Signing Day.
Tennessee is also trying to get into the picture with a pair of former Georgia commits in five-star wide receiver Jadon Haselwood and four-star running back John Emery. Landing all the names above would be quite the home run, as far-fetched as that may seem, but even if the Vols can land a few on National Signing Day it would be quite the noisy finish to the cycle.