SEC schools still leading the way on the recruiting trail

67 Comments

The SEC may have been served a little dose of reality this past college football bowl season with some bad losses in spotlight bowl games and Alabama being topped by Ohio State in the College Football Playoff, but the demise of the SEC has greatly been exaggerated. In college football, recruiting is the lifeblood of a program, and schools in the SEC are doing just fine in this department with National Signing Day looming.

This goes much deeper than the annually impressive haul Alabama is piecing together. SEC schools are scattered throughout the recruiting rankings, a suggestion the conference is managing to lure plenty of good, quality talent as this recruiting cycle comes to a close.

According to the latest Rivals team recruiting rankings, 10 of the top 25 schools hail from the Southeastern Conference. That number includes all seven from the SEC West, with Alabama leading the way as the top-ranked team in the Rivals rankings. At No. 28, Missouri is a tad shy of the top 25. Kentucky (No. 33) is even ranked higher than programs like Michigan State (No. 35) and Arizona (No. 36) and Nebraska (No. 42).

One program from the SEC that has a much lower ranking than you might expect is Florida. At No. 100, the Gators have a long way to go to climb back atop the recruiting rankings, although odds are that can change in a hurry with Jim McElwain hoping to revive the Gators as a football power. While Florida is struggling, in-state rivals are not.

Florida State has consistently been one of the top destinations for high school talent, and this season is no exception to that rule. The Seminoles are ranked fourth in the Rivals rankings, just one spot behind another ACC program, Clemson. USC, from the Pac-12, is currently sitting in second place and likely to make a late surge over the next week and a half. Miami, the other power conference school in the state of Florida, has a top 25 class being put together by Al Golden as well (No. 22).

The reigning national champions from Ohio State should have a tremendous amount of depth next season. The Buckeyes did not see one underclassman declare early for the NFL Draft and Braxton Miller has now hinted at a possible return to Columbus. Throw that on top of what Rivals ranks the No. 7 recruiting class and Urban Meyer looks to have the Buckeyes situated in a very good position in the Big Ten for years to come. Only one other Big Ten program ranks in the top 25, according to Rivals.

Penn State, at No. 10, is now working with a full set of scholarships and is moving forward with a slightly more focus on quantity over quality. Penn State is without five-star talent but James Franklin is filling many roster spots with four and three-star talent that can have potential. No other Big Ten program cracks the top 25, although Wisconsin (No. 26) is right there and recently added a couple of solid players to the mix for 2015. Michigan has some work to do and will likely be a more solid threat in 2016, but Jim Harbaugh has managed to flip a four-star quarterback from Texas to Michigan, and there is plenty of hype surrounding the Wolverines moving forward.

You might be wondering about the Pac-12, especially given the rise of the conference as a whole on the playing field the last few seasons. Yes, the Pac-12 is doing just fine. USC has been a traditional force among Pac-12 schools and continues to bring in plenty of talent. But right now the Trojans are playing on a different playing field compared to the rest of the Pac-12. Oregon is the next highest-ranked team in the Rivals recruiting rankings, at No. 17. UCLA follows at No. 18, and Arizona State (No. 24) and Washington (No. 25) round out the top 25.

Everybody has a different philosophy when it comes to evaluating recruiting. Whether you believe in star rankings or not, the bottom line is coaches that tap the full potential of their players will be the ones that are successful and winning games. You do not necessarily need five-star players to win big. Just ask the Seattle Seahawks and New England Patriots. Neither team playing in next week’s Super Bowl has a player that was rated five stars coming out of high school, according to this study from SB Nation.

2019 finalist Justin Fields highlights preseason Davey O’Brien watch list

O'Brien Award watch list
Getty Images
Leave a comment

The Davey O’Brien Award is next up as watch list season is in fall swing.

The Bednarik Award opened the proceedings Monday.  A day later, the Davey O’Brien Award released a preseason watch list that includes 30 of the top quarterbacks in the country.  And, according to the award’s press release, “new transfers were eligible to be included for the first time in the award’s history.”

Justin Fields of Ohio State, a finalist for the Davey O’Brien Award in 2019, is among the players on the watch list. Fields is joined by seven semifinalists from last year: Baylor’s Charlie Brewer, Shane Buechele of SMU, Texas’ Sam Ehlinger, Trevor Lawrence of Clemson, Minnesota’s Tanner Morgan, Brock Purdy of Iowa State and Memphis’ Brady White.

The Big 12 and SEC both landed five watch listers, the most of any single conference.  Both the ACC and Big Ten placed four apiece in the group, while the Pac-12 has two.  With three, the AAC leads all Group of Five leagues.

Fourteen seniors, eight juniors and eight sophomores combine to make up the list.

Below are all 30 members of this year’s watch list.

Hank Bachmeier, Boise State, So., 6-1, 200, Murrieta, Calif.
Ian Book, Notre Dame, Sr., 6-0, 206, El Dorado Hills, Calif.
Alan Bowman, Texas Tech, So., 6-3, 210, Grapevine, Texas
Charlie Brewer, Baylor, Sr., 6-1, 206, Austin, Texas
Shane Buechele, SMU, Sr., 6-1, 207, Arlington, Texas
Jack Coan, Wisconsin, Sr., 6-3, 221, Sayville, N.Y.
Sean Clifford, Penn State, Jr., 6-2, 219, Cincinnati, Ohio
Dustin Crum, Kent State, Sr., 6-3, 201, Grafton, Ohio
Micale Cunningham, Louisville, Jr., 6-1, 200, Montgomery, Ala.
Jayden Daniels, Arizona State, So., 6-3, 175, San Bernardino, Calif.
Sam Ehlinger, Texas, Sr., 6-3, 230, Austin, Texas
Justin Fields, Ohio State, Jr., 6-3, 228, Kennesaw, Ga.
Dillon Gabriel, UCF, So., 6-0, 186, Mililani, Hawai
Donald Hammond III, Air Force, Sr., 6-2, 220, Hampton, Ga.
Sam Howell, North Carolina, So., 6-1 1/4, 225, Indian Trail, N.C.
Mac Jones, Alabama, Jr., 6-2, 205, Jacksonville, Fla.
D’Eriq King, Miami, Sr., 5-11, 195, Manvel, Texas
Trevor Lawrence, Clemson, Jr., 6-6, 220, Cartersville, Ga.
Levi Lewis, Louisiana, Sr., 5-10, 190, Baton Rouge, La.
Kellen Mond, Texas A&M, Sr., 6-3, 217, San Antonio, Texas
Tanner Morgan, Minnesota, Jr., 6-2, 215, Union, Ky.
Jamie Newman, Georgia, Sr., 6-4, 230, Graham, N.C.
Bo Nix, Auburn, So., 6-2, 207, Pinson, Ala.
Brock Purdy, Iowa State, Jr., 6-1, 212, Gilbert, Ariz.
Chris Robison, Florida Atlantic, Jr., 6-1, 200, Mesquite, Texas
Spencer Sanders, Oklahoma State, So., 6-1, 199, Denton, Texas
Kedon Slovis, USC, So., 6-2, 200, Scottsdale, Ariz.
Zac Thomas, Appalachian State, Sr., 6-1, 210, Trussville, Ala.
Kyle Trask, Florida, Sr., 6-5, 239, Manvel, Texas
Brady White, Memphis, Sr., 6-3, 215, Santa Clarita, Calif.

Tommy Tuberville defeats Jeff Sessions, is the Republican nominee from Alabama for a seat in the United States Senate

Tommy Tuberville
Getty Images
2 Comments

For the first time in a while, Tommy Tuberville is front and center in the headlines in the great state of Alabama.  This time, though, it’s for a different sport.

In April of 2019, Tommy Tuberville announced that he would be running for one of the Alabama seats in the United States Senate.  The seat Tuberville was running for is currently held by Democrat Doug Jones, who won an extremely close (and contentious) special election back in 2017.

Before facing Jones, however, Tuberville would need to win the Republican runoff.  Against Jeff Sessions, the former U.S. Senator from the state of Alabama with deep ties to the Yellowhammer State.  Sessions, though, had his issues, you could say, with President Donald Trump, who, even amidst some football gaffes, wholeheartedly endorsed Tuberville.

Tuesday night, that endorsement likely paid off as the 65-year-old Tuberville claimed the Republican nomination in a resounding win.  Tuberville will now face Jones in the November general election.  Given the fact that the state of Alabama skews heavily toward the right, a Tuberville win is expected.

Not surprisingly, the current POTUS basked in the glow of Tuberville’s win.

Tuberville spent 10 seasons as the head coach at Auburn, famously guiding the Tigers to a six-game winning streak over the rival Alabama Crimson Tide during his tenure. “If it wasn’t for me, you wouldn’t have Nick Saban,” Tuberville said in a radio interview when asked why Alabama football fans should vote for him.

A head coach most of the past two decades, Tuberville had a 159-99 record in stops that included Ole Miss (1995-98), Texas Tech (2010-12) and Cincinnati (2013-16) in addition to his time on The Plains.

UTSA confirms signing of highest-rated signee in Houston’s 2018 recruiting class

UTSA football
Getty Images
Leave a comment

UTSA has officially bolstered its football roster via the transfer portal.  Again.

In late June, Julon Williams committed to the UTSA football program.  The Houston wide receiver had entered the NCAA transfer database earlier that same month. Monday, the Roadrunners confirmed Williams’ addition to the football team.

Williams won’t be coming to UT-San Antonio football as a graduate transfer.  As a result, he’ll have to sit out the 2020 season for the Roadrunners.  Barring an unlikely waiver, of course.  That will leave the receiver two years of eligibility starting in 2021.

Williams was a three-star member of the Houston football Class of 2018.  He was also the highest-rated signee for the Cougars that cycle.

The production on the field, however, failed to match that recruiting pedigree.  In two seasons, the Converse, Texas, native played in just two games.  Both of those appearances came as a true freshman.

In that limited action, Williams caught three passes for 61 yards.

As noted in its release, Williams is the younger brother of Jarveon Williams, UTSA’s career rushing leader who played in 2013-16.  The elder Williams brother is also currently a graduate assistant at UTSA.

UTSA is coming off a 4-8 2019 football campaign.  That led to Frank Wilson being fired in December and Jeff Traylor being hired a week later.

Texas football will officially play at Campbell-Williams Field at Darrell K. Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium

Texas football
Getty Images
1 Comment

It’s a Lone Star State-sized mouthful, but Texas football will officially step onto a newly-named field if/when the 2020 season kicks off.

Myriad Texas student-athletes, including football players, requested last month that several issues be addressed.  Monday, UT confirmed that it had initiated several changes on the athletic and academic side of the university, many of which addressed the concerns of the student-athletes.  One that didn’t?  The “Eyes of Texas” will remain the school song.

The school did note, though, that, “[a]t the suggestion of the Jamail family, [the university would] rename Joe Jamail Field at the stadium in honor of Texas’ two great Heisman Trophy winners, Earl Campbell and Ricky Williams, two Longhorn legends with a record of commitment to the university.”

Tuesday, the university confirmed that, moving forward, the home for Texas football will officially be known as Campbell-Williams Field at Darrell K. Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium.

In 1977, Campbell became the first-ever Texas football player to win the Heisman Trophy.  Two decades later, Williams became the second in 1998.  Those two running backs remain the only Longhorns to ever claim the most prestigious individual trophy in the sport.

“This is such a great tribute and so well deserved,” former Texas and current North Carolina head coach Mack Brown told the Austin American-Statesman via email. “And what an awesome tribute it is to Joe Jamail, and an amazing gesture by his family that they wanted to do this for Ricky and Earl. But that’s who the Jamail family is. Joe loved Ricky, Earl and all of the players.

“This is such a fitting way for the family to honor Joe and to say thank you to all of the players and the university they care for so deeply.”

Joe Jamail, a renowned attorney, passed away in 2015.  His name has been on the field since 1997, shortly after he gave yet another multi-million gift to the football program.  The first game played on Joe Jamail Field, Texas lost to UCLA 66-3.  Jamail’s response?

“How much f***ing money does it take to get my name off the field?”