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

Jerry Jeudy, AJ Dillon, Eno Benjamin and more set for State Farm All-Star Football Challenge

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It may fly under the radar for most, but the 22nd annual State Farm All-Star Football Challenge is set to take place on Jan. 31 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. The skills competition will pit 24 college football stars in a team event. Among those participating in this year’s challenge will be Boston College running back AJ Dillon, Penn State defensive end Yetur Gross-Matos, Oklahoma linebacker Kenneth Murray, and Alabama wide receiver Jerry Jeudy.

Five teams representing each of the power five conferences will consist of players from those respective conferences: ACC, Big 12, Big Ten, Pac-12, and SEC. A sixth team of “wild card” players will be comprised of players from the Group of Five or below. This year’s wild card players will come from the Mountain West Conference (Utah State QB Jordan Love, Boise State DE Curtis Weaver), Conference USA (FAU TE Harrison Bryant) and the South Atlantic Conference of Division 2 (Lenoir-Rhyne S Kyle Dugger).

The individual events included in the competition are a quarterback accuracy contest, obstacle course, strength challenge, and a hands competition. A team event will complete the overall event.

TEAM ACC
Cam Akers, RB, Florida State
AJ Dillon, RB, Boston College
Bryce Perkins, QB, Virginia
Jason Strowbridge, DL, North Carolina

TEAM BIG TEN
Zack Baun, LB, Wisconsin
Yetur Gross-Matos, DE, Penn State
KJ Hamler, WR, Penn State
Nate Stanley, QB, Iowa

TEAM BIG 12
Ross Blacklock, DT, TCU
Kenneth Murray, LB, Oklahoma
Jalen Reagor, WR, TCU
Carter Stanley, QB, Kansas

TEAM PAC-12
Salvon Ahmed, RB, Washington
Bradlee Anae, DE, Utah
Eno Benjamin, RB, Arizona State
Anthony Gordon, QB, Washington State

TEAM SEC
Nick Coe, DE, Auburn
Jerry Jeudy, WR, Alabama
Terrell Lewis, LB, Alabama
Riley Neal, QB, Vanderbilt

TEAM WILD CARD
Harrison Bryant, TE, Florida Atlantic
Kyle Dugger, S, Lenoir-Rhyne
Jordan Love, QB, Utah State
Curtis Weaver, DE, Boise State

TE Jordan Wilson to transfer from UCLA

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UCLA redshirt junior Jordan Wilson has announced he is leaving the Bruins. In a post on his Twitter account on Friday afternoon, Wilson announced he is entering the transfer portal with the intent of finishing up his collegiate career with some other program.

“[I’d] like to announce that I will be entering the transfer portal, graduating at the end of the Spring quarter, and playing my final year of eligibility somewhere else,” Wilson announced in a statement on his Twitter account.

The decision of Wilson to leave UCLA comes at an unfortunate time for the Bruins. Wilson was likely to be a starter at tight end for UCLA in the fall. Wilson is the third tight end to leave UCLA this offseason. Devin Asiasi previously made the decision to declare for the NFL draft a year early. Matt Lynch also stepped into the transfer portal. Now, UCLA has a wide-open competition for playing time at the tight end spot beginning this spring.

Wilson caught seven passes for 72 yards for UCLA in 2019. He will leave UCLA having caught 25 passes for 244 yards and two touchdowns in the past three seasons. As a graduate transfer, Wilson will be eligible to play his final year of eligibility anywhere he ends up this fall.

USC nabs Todd Orlando from Texas Tech

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USC has a new defensive coordinator. The Trojans announced on Friday the school has officially hired Todd Orlando to fill the role of defensive coordinator. Orlando joins USC after coaching the past three seasons at Texas.

Orlando actually joined the Texas Tech program after being let go by Texas following staff changes with the Longhorns. Despite landing a job with the Red Raiders, Orlando remained a top target for USC head coach Clay Helton.

“We are excited to have Todd join our Trojan football program,” Helton said in a released statement. “He is an experienced and successful defensive coordinator who has made an impact everywhere he has coached. He brings a passion, energy, toughness and discipline to his coaching and those characteristics were evident in our discussions. His defensive system poses an extreme challenge to offenses.”

Orlando replaces Clancy Pendergast, who was let go by Helton amid USC’s own staff changes after a down 2019 season. As previously mentioned (HERE), Orlando actually had worse defensive numbers compared to what Pendergast coached with USC last season. However, a contrast of playing styles and offensive outputs between the schedule Texas faced in 2019 (including games against LSU and Oklahoma) and what USC faced could lead to some skewed figures.

Orlando’s first test as a defensive coordinator will be a monster. USC opens the 2020 season in Arlington, Texas against Alabama.

Cal loses assistant Gerald Alexander to NFL job

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Cal assistant coach Gerald Alexander is leaving to coach with the Miami Dolphins. Alexander confirmed in a message posted on his Twitter account he is heading to the NFL for a coaching opportunity. Multiple reports have confirmed it will be with the Miami Dolphins.

Alexander thanked Cal head coach Justin Wilcox for the opportunity to be a part of Wilcox’s first coaching staff at Cal.

Alexander joined the Cal program in 2017 and spent the past three seasons as a defensive backs coach for the program. He has played a role in helping to coach one of the better defensive teams in the Pac-12. He previously coached at Montana State, Indiana State and with Chris Peterssen at Washington. Alexander played for Petersen at Boise State.

This will mark a return to the NFL for Alexander. He previously played in the league for five seasons with the Detroit Lions, Jacksonville Jaguars, Carolina Panthers, and, appropriately enough, the Miami Dolphins. Alexander was a second-round draft pick of Detroit in 2007.