SEC schools once again dominate in recruiting rankings

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The SEC is home to seven of the top ten recruiting classes and all 14 SEC schools finished in the top 50 on the team rankings compiled by Rivals.com. Or, just another National Signing Day.

It is just silly how highly respected the SEC is viewed by the recruiting experts, and it does not appear there is much standing in the way any time soon. Worst yet for other conferences, the praise is deserved.

Alabama was once again crowned the recruiting national champions, their fourth straight such national title. The Crimson Tide highlighted their class with the signing of the top ranked player in the country according to Rivals, defensive end Da’Shawn Hand. Texas A&M signed the nation’s second-ranked player, defensive end Myles Garrett. LSU celebrated the signing of running back Leonard Fournette, the nation’s fourth ranked player. SEC schools thrived by keeping some of the top talent in its footprint close to home and capitalized by luring in some of the top players from outside the conference’s boundaries. Simply put, the nation’s best players are likely to be developed in SEC territory and those that are not are top candidates to move to the southeast.

In all, 45 players on the Rivals 100 signed with an SEC school. That leaves 55 players in the Rivals 100 for the ACC, Big 12, Big Ten and Pac 12 (and Notre Dame) to battle over. Defensing national champion Florida State signed four of those players. Clemson got three. Ohio State had an impressive class with eight players from the Rivals 100, but the rest of the Big Ten was left in the dust. Urban Meyer’s SEC approach to coaching is having an effect with the Buckeyes, and it is little surprise why Ohio State is running away from the rest of the Big Ten. Meyer’s SEC flair is a difference.

The Pac 12 may have had a successful day across the country, including picking out some of the top recruits from under the SEC’s nose, but even with the kind of talent put together across the west coast conference it is clear the SEC is still the dominant force from top to bottom.

As far as surprises go there were not a whole lot to see in the SEC. Alabama getting linebacker Rashaun Evans right out of Auburn’s back yard raised some eyebrows but most of the day went according to plan. Tennessee made a bit of a statement in Butch Jones’ first full recruiting year with the Vols. Tennessee signed 31 players and finished with the third best recruiting class in the SEC despite having a losing record in 2012. The Vols added plenty of depth on the roster and should start to benefit from some of the new additions quickly. Among the signees at Tennessee are five-star wide receiver Josh Malone and five-star running back Jalen Hurd. Not one recruit added by Tennessee on signing day is below three stars according to Rivals. Just about every school succeeded in filling some needs, including Florida with the addition of dual-threat quarterback Treon Harris out of Miami. Harris had previously been committed to Florida State, so the Gators fill a need by benefiting from the Seminoles having a young Heisman Trophy quarterback.

Even despite looking like a mess of a recruiting class after James Franklin left for Penn State, Vanderbilt managed to keep the program above water on signing day. The Commodores may have fallen significantly in the team recruiting rankings over the last month, but ended the day with 12 four-star players and one five-star recruit, defensive back Jalen Tabor. Considering the circumstances, Vanderbilt more than survived a tough situation.

National Team Recruiting Rankings by Rivals.com

1. Alabama
2. LSU
5. Tennessee
6. Texas A&M
7. Florida
8. Georgia
9. Auburn
16. South Carolina
17. Kentucky
19. Ole Miss
29. Arkansas
35. Missouri
41. Mississippi State
50. Vanderbilt

USC confirms JT Daniels is still Trojans’ starting QB

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The drama in the Land of Troy, such as it was, is officially over.

For most, there was a three-man battle for USC’s starting quarterback job throughout this offseason — incumbent JT Daniels, Matt Fink and Jack Sears.  Tuesday, the Trojans ended the competition charade by confirming that Daniels will indeed be the team’s starter when they open the 2019 season later this month.

Most intriguing, though, is the fact that true freshman Kedon Slovis, who has been mostly an afterthought in the competition, has been chosen as the true sophomore Daniels’ backup over Fink, a redshirt junior, and Sears, a redshirt sophomore.

Daniels started 11 games as a true freshman for the Trojans this past season, with Sears starting the other.  Fink seriously contemplated a transfer this offseason before opting to remain at USC.  Slovis, meanwhile, was a three-star 2019 signee who was rated as the No. 26 pro-style quarterback in the country.

In his first season as a starter, Daniels completed almost 60 percent of his 363 passes for 2,672 yards, 14 touchdowns and 10 interceptions.

Michigan transfer Brandon Peters wins starting QB job at Illinois

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Michigan transfer Brandon Peters has won the quarterback derby at Illinois, Lovie Smith announced Tuesday.

“We loved Brandon when we got a chance to know him during the recruiting process,” Smith said. “Now that we’ve seen him on the field, he has been everything we though he would be. He has really thrown the ball well and is a better runner than he’s given credit for. Most importantly, he has moved into a leadership role for us. We’re pumped up about Brandon leading us heading into the season.”

A former 4-star recruit, the Avon, Ind., native is a graduate transfer who still has two years of eligibility remaining.

At Michigan he appeared in 10 games with four starts, completing 53 percent of his 110 throws for 680 yards and four touchdowns.

Illinois opens its season Aug. 31 at home versus Akron.

Trevor Lawrence headlines Preseason AP All-American team

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Everyone and their blog now has an All-American team; so many are out there, in fact, that if we wrote about all of them we’d never write about anything else.

But there’s something different about being a Preseason AP All-American, and as such we’d be remiss if we didn’t add to our historical record here at CFT.

Most notably, Trevor Lawrence nudged out Tua Tagovailoa for the First Team quarterback job, where he’s joined by running back Travis Etienne and linebacker Isaiah Simmons on the First Team. Alabama also had three First Teamers — wide receiver Jerry Jeudy, defensive tackle Raekwon Davis and linebacker Dylan Moses.

The SEC led all conferences with eight First Team selections, followed by the Big Ten’s seven.

Without further ado, behold the 2019 Preseason AP All-America First Team:

OFFENSE
QB: Trevor Lawrence, Clemson
RB: Travis Etienne, Clemson; Jonathan Taylor, Wisconsin
WR: Jerry Jeudy, Alabama; Tylan Wallace, Oklahoma State
TE: Albert Okwuegbunam, Missouri
C: Tyler Biadasz, Wisconsin
OG: Ben Bredeson, Michigan; Shane Lemieux, Oregon
OT: Walker Little, Stanford; Andrew Thomas, Georgia
AP: Rondale Moore, Purdue
K: Andre Szmyt, Syracuse

DEFENSE
LB: Joe Bachie, Michigan State; Dylan Moses, Alabama; Isaiah Simmons, Clemson
S: Andre Cisco, Syracuse; Grant Delpit, LSU
CB: Paulson Abedo, Stanford; Bryce Hall, Virginia
DE: AJ Epenesa, Iowa; Chase Young, Ohio State
DT: Derrick Brown, Auburn; Raekwon Davis, Alabama
P: Braden Mann, Texas A&M

It’s grrrrreat! Tony the Tiger claims title sponsorship of Sun Bowl

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The Sun Bowl has a new title sponsor and it’s, well, it’s great. The El Paso-based postseason college football game will now be sponsored by Tony the Tiger. Don’t be mistaken, it’s not sponsored by Kellogg’s brand or even Frosted Flakes cereal, but Tony the Tiger himself.

“For the last few months we’ve worked closely and collectively with the Sun Bowl association and it’s become clear how well the association understands the strength and resilience of this community and we are honored to be part of it,” Kellogg’s marketing director Bryant Wheaton told the El Paso Times.

The change has already been reflected on the Sun Bowl’s Twitter account — sort of. The name and avatar have been changed, but the handle, as of press time, still reflected the bowl’s previous sponsor, Hyundai.

The Sun Bowl, first played on Jan. 1, 1935 between the El Paso All-Stars and Ranger (Texas) High School, has now welcomed nine title sponsors. The game takes credit for bringing title sponsorship to the college football postseason.

“We were the very first bowl ever to have a title sponsor, back in 1986 when John Hancock saved the Sun Bowl from going extinct,” executive director Bernie Olivas told the El Paso Times. “We have had some great sponsors since then. Our past sponsor, who had been with us nine years, is the longest sponsor we’ve ever had.

“When we got the title sponsor in 1986, there were only 16 bowls. We were the first ones to have a title sponsor. The rest of the bowls shunned us, they said, ‘You sold out.’ Well how do you like us now?”

The 85th annual Sun Bowl will once again pit the ACC against the Pac-12 on Tuesday, Dec. 31 (2 p.m. ET, CBS). Stanford won the 2018 edition, topping Pitt, 14-13.