Twitter Tuesday: Milton to Michigan, SEC East, Clemson's 2018 class
We’re starting something new on the football side of things this week with the #TwitterTuesday mailbag, where Rivals.com readers ask National Recruiting Director Mike Farrell questions via social media.
Here are four questions for our first edition, including how important quarterback Joe Milton’s commitment to Michigan is for Jim Harbaugh…
This question obviously comes on the heels of the commitment of Florida quarterback Joe Milton. I can’t stress how important it is for Michigan, and almost every other program, to have success recruiting the Southeast.
Years ago when the SEC was winning national title after national title, I was asked which team could break the streak. (From 2006-2012, SEC teams took home the title.) My answer was immediate – Ohio State. Of course, Florida State and Jameis Winston broke the streak for the ACC in 2013, but as a Southeast program, that wasn’t as much of a surprise as Ohio State’s title in 2014 – at least to most.
But I wasn’t surprised when Urban Meyer won it all for one reason – recruiting. Meyer immediately began flipping commitments upon his arrival in the Big Ten and, most importantly, landing big-time players from the Southeast.
Now, with Jim Harbaugh doing much of the same, watch out for Michigan in a couple of years as they make a push toward the national title. If it breaks through, it will be because of commitments like Milton and Aubrey Solomon from the Southeast, and the more it gets, the easier it will become to continue to recruit the area. Milton could be a star and a top-10 pick in the NFL Draft in a few years or he could be a bust - he’s that raw but with that much potential. But his commitment is a big deal and sends a message to other Southeast recruits. And that’s huge.
This is a tough question because rarely do five-star prospects flop in college but have success in the NFL. But the guy who comes to mind is Cincinnati Bengals controversial linebacker Vontaze Burfict.
It’s not that Burfict was a flop in college, as he put up some solid numbers and earned some serious awards, but he never amassed more than 100 tackles in a college football season, never had more than 10 tackles for a loss in one year and got worse between his sophomore and junior year. Overall, he didn’t impact as much as expected.
His 5.09-second 40-yard dash and word of his temperament dropped him from the No. 3 inside linebacker before the NFL Combine to an undrafted free agent when the draft finally came. Now he’s an established, albeit controversial, starter in the NFL, and when he’s not suspended, he’s one of the best linebackers in the league.
I could say a guy like Bryce Brown, who essentially had no college career yet somehow carved out a short time in the NFL, or Dorial Green-Beckham, who had one good year at Missouri before being dismissed, but to me Burfict’s fall from five-star to undrafted and his rise to one of the league’s most intimidating linebackers is more interesting.
Clemson’s class could be historic.
But regardless of whether they set or tie the record for most top-10 recruits in a single class, (which is three, held by FSU, Florida and USC), this class is going to be special regardless. The Tigers have two top-10 commitments already (Trevor Lawrence and Xavier Thomas) and a shot at a few more (Patrick Surtain, Jackson Carman, Zamir White and Jamaree Salyer).
Clemson is now recruiting on par with Alabama, Ohio State and Florida State, with Michigan approaching the level of those teams as well. I fully expect Clemson to finish with one of the highest average star rankings in the 2018 class, just as they did last year, and to push for a top-10 finish even with limited numbers to give this year.
I mention Urban Meyer and Nick Saban constantly as my top two college football head coaching recruiters, but Dabo Swinney is right in that next group and rising.
Ahhh, the SEC East.
I was just in a bit of a dispute on one SEC East message board explaining why the division has been considered “down” for the last many seasons. Some SEC East fans will admit as much, but others insist the division is still better than divisions like the Pac-12 North or the ACC Atlantic.
But no matter what you think of the conference, I think the division comes down to Georgia and Florida. Tennessee fans won’t want to hear this, but they lost a lot of talent from last season when they were expected to win the division, and the Dawgs and Gators should take a step up this season.
Georgia builds around quarterback Jacob Eason on offense while improving the defense, and Florida hopes quarterback Feleipe Franks is the answer on offense. I predict Georgia takes the East with Florida second and Tennessee third, but keep in mind it’s very early for predictions like this.
As for the West, Alabama lost a ton of talent, but they simply re-load. Auburn and LSU are the leading candidates to unseat them, but they have more questions to answer at key positions.