Southeast spotlight: Top 2019 storylines
This week marks the first release of the class of 2019 Rivals100, so we take a look around the country at the top storylines for the current sophomore class. Today we focus on the Southeast region.
1. Can Georgia get all three?
Jadon Haselwood is already committed. Jashawn Sheffield was in Athens hanging out with Kirby Smart while wearing a Bulldogs jersey March 17. Dominic Blaylock quietly visited Georgia in January, and he recently helped Smart offer a close friend of his, linebacker JD Bertrand. Could three of the top skill guys in Georgia end up playing together between the hedges? Odds are in the Dawgs' favor right now to land this elite trio, and this is something we will watch closely the next 18-plus months.
There is talk questioning if all would commit at wide receiver, wondering how often they would get the ball, but at this time it looks like Georgia would love to have Haselwood on the outside at receiver, Blaylock in the slot and Sheffield on defense at safety, giving all an opportunity to make plays. There is still a long way to go, but these three are top-10 prospects in Georgia and Rivals100 talents, and all three are trending toward Georgia at this time.
2. Who will emerge in Tennessee?
When the initial rankings came out for the Class of 2019, the state of Tennessee had two of the class' top 15 players. While we’re still a few months away from releasing the numerical Rivals250, there are several candidates from the Volunteer State in the mix to be the state’s No. 1 player.
Defensive back Wesley Walker is the next elite player to come out of state powerhouse Ensworth in Nashville, and he’s joined by other 5.9 four-stars defensive tackle Trevis Hopper, wide receiver Lance Wilhoite, LSU athlete commit Maurice Hampton and lengthy defensive end Joseph Anderson. It’s a versatile group of talent in a state that continues to produce more players on a yearly basis, so the race for the top spot will be fun to watch as the cycle moves along.
3. Can LSU lock down Louisiana?
The Bayou State starts the 2019 rankings cycle with one five-star in defensive tackle Ishmael Sopsher, giving it a leg up on the 2018 class, which is still waiting on its first five-star to emerge. Sospher is just the latest impressive defensive lineman to come out of the state and is already high on LSU and Alabama. The Tigers and Tide are regularly dueling over the state’s top prospects and LSU has a stated goal to lock down the state’s borders.
Other 2019 four-stars from “The Boot” include offensive lineman Kardell Thomas, who is already committed to the Tigers, wide receiver Devonta Lee, LSU defensive back commit Derek Stingley and athlete Trey Palmer. All the players have spoken highly of LSU in the past and will likely be top targets for the school, so if they can truly lock down the state, it would be a huge achievement and likely part of a great 2019 haul.
4. Is Bo Nix an Auburn lock?
Patrick Nix played quarterback at Auburn from 1992-1995. Will his son, Bo Nix, end up on the Plains in 2019? Many think it is already a done deal even though the quarterback is adding offers, keeping his options open and visiting other schools.
The younger Nix grew up an Auburn fan -- his first two words may have been War Eagle -- he has visited Auburn much more than he has any other school and many of those looking at his recruitment feel he may already see his name on Gus Malzahn's commitment list for 2019.
The biggest question is, could Nix go anywhere other than Auburn? He has offers from Alabama, Florida State, Miami and Ohio State, among others, so the options are there, but can he let go of that love for Auburn enough to sign those papers to attend another school? Nix is planning to take the recruiting process slow, but down deep he has that Auburn blood in him, so the Tigers will be considered the team to beat until Nix puts the pen to the paper to sign with some other school.
5. Who will be the next five-star?
The Southeast always produces at least a handful of five-star players, and despite already having three in the 2019 class, the number is surely to grow as the cycle moves along. Right now the early candidates include linebacker Owen Pappoe, the phenom who started receiving scholarship offers from SEC teams before ever playing a varsity game, as well as wide receivers like Blaylock, Sheffield and Lee.
The smart money would be on one of the region’s talented wideouts, as the trio above is joined by Arkansas prospect Treylon Burks and Florida wide receiver Maurice Goolsby as players starting out with a 6.0 Rivals Rating, just one step down from 6.1 and five-star status. Other wildcards to watch include Georgia defensive end commitment Nolan Smith, Loganville (Ga.) Grayson offensive tackle Wanya Morris and Louisville (Ky.) Trinity defensive end Stephen Herron.