As the college football season reaches its conclusion here in the coming weeks, recruiting has picked up significantly as coaches all across the country were making last minute visits before the NCAA mandatory dead period, which started as of last week and lasts until mid-January.
To go along with the season of giving, I have decided to look at the top ten ranked recruiting classes, according to the 247 Sports composite rankings, and give them each one recruit that they have on their Christmas wish list and hope to land on signing day. Now, we will assume that each team’s current commits will stay committed, so the players on the team’s wish list are currently uncommitted recruits.
10. Florida Gators – CB Adoree’ Jackson
After the season the Florida Gators had, they need plenty of help and depth to get themselves back in the SEC East title hunt in 2014. They have a solid class with five-stars Ermon Lane, Will Grier and Dalvin Cook, but they would like to add one more on the defensive side with Adoree’ Jackson. Jackson is the No. 2 cornerback in the nation and has the Gators as one of his top schools along with USC and LSU. The 5-9, 182 pound California native may be undersized, but he makes up for it with his speed and quickness and would fit perfectly beside current Gator freshman cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III.
9. Georgia Bulldogs – DE Lorenzo Carter
Carter is one of the most talented and coveted prospects in this class. The five-star Georgia native and No. 1 weak-side defensive end in the country currently has Alabama, Florida and Georgia among his leaders, but FSU and LSU are also in the mix and are making a strong push. Carter is right in Georgia’s backyard at nearby Norcross High School in Gwinnett County, and would use his great 6-5, 235 pound frame to play outside linebacker in their 3-4 defensive scheme. Carter has said that he will announce on signing day, and if it were today, he would be signing with the Dawgs. However, this is college recruiting and nothing is guaranteed. If Mark Richt and company cannot land a home-state talent like Carter and lose him to another SEC power, there will be a lot of upset people in Athens come early February.
8. Notre Dame Fighting Irish - ATH John Smith
Notre Dame has quietly put together a solid top ten recruiting class coming in currently at No. 8 in the country, but it would get a huge boost if they would be able to land the dynamic athlete John Smith. A California native, Smith has listed the Fighting Irish along with the Trojans of USC as the two teams at the top. The 6-1, 200 pounder could play safety or wide receiver at the next level and has the size and ball skills to do each very well. The N0. 2 athlete in the nation had over 50 tackles and six interceptions as well as over 700 yards receiving with nine touchdowns as a junior in 2012.
7. Auburn Tigers – LB Rashaan Evans
Auburn’s class has really come together in the past few weeks as they signed four JUCO targets including D’haquille Williams and DaVonte Lambert. The class is headlined by five-star running back Racean Thomas, but one of the biggest prospects they could land is on the defensive side of the ball in Rashaan Evans. I mentioned earlier how Lorenzo Carter was in Georgia’s back yard, but Evans is basically at Auburn already as he attends Auburn High School in Alabama. The 6-3, 220 pound four-star outside linebacker is listed as the third best at his position in the country for 2014, and Auburn is the strong favorite for his services over Georgia and Alabama. Evans has the size and speed (4.5 forty-yard dash) to play inside or outside linebacker, in my opinion, and has the athleticism that a defense needs to be successful in the SEC.
6. Florida State Seminoles - CB Marlon Humphrey
It is no surprise that the Seminoles are climbing their way up the recruiting rankings as they have had a great season and are playing for the national championship, which recruits obviously like. Marlon Humphrey is the No. 1 corner back in the country, and the Alabama native would be a tough pull for the Seminoles. The 6-1, 175 pound five-star defensive back has Alabama as the team to beat, but do not count out the Seminoles and Jimbo Fisher in recruiting. What will be key in this battle, is whether or not Jimbo Fisher, who is a candidate for the Texas head coaching job, takes that position in Austin. This could create, according to sources, a trickle effect that could move Alabama defensive coordinator Kirby Smart to Florida State as the possible head coach. A lot of variables are still in place for Humphrey, so whether or not Jimbo Fisher is at FSU or not, they are never out of the hunt.
5. Miami Hurricanes - OT Damian Prince
Miami is another team that has quietly moved up the recruiting rankings with the No. 5 class in the country and the top class in the ACC after a solid 9-3 regular season. Winning starts in the trenches, and the Hurricanes need to bolster their offensive line for the future by landing coveted five-star offensive tackle Damian Prince out of Maryland. Currently, the home-state Terrapins are battling Florida State for the 6-5, 295 pounder’s services, but he has scheduled an official visit with the Hurricanes for January 31, a week before signing day, and we all know that final official visits before signing day can always change an 18-year-olds mind as Miami will make a strong push to bring Prince down to South Beach.
4. Texas A&M Aggies - WR Speedy Noil
With a name like Speedy you have to be good right? The five-star Louisiana native is the No. 1 wide receiver in the nation, and it seems to be a two-team race between the home-state LSU Tigers and the Aggies. While LSU is the favorite, which is not surprising considering Les Miles doesn’t let talent leave the state, do not be surprised if the high-powered, up-tempo offense of the Aggies appeals to Noil. Noil took his official visit to A&M on September 13 and to LSU on December 6, but was visited in his home by Aggies head coach Kevin Sumlin on December 11 just before the dead period began. Noil is a priority for the Aggies, but it will take a strong push from Sumlin to outduel Miles.
3. Tennessee Volunteers - DE Andrew Williams
Head Coach Butch Jones has transformed the Volunteers in the recruiting circle as he has one of the best and biggest recruiting classes in the country with 33 verbal commits for 2014. They have commits from nearly every position, and in a rare year of good talent in the state of Tennessee, they have been able to own to the state and keep the top recruits to stay at home. There are not many spots left to fill for Tennessee as far as top prospects are concerned, and landing four-star defensive end Andrew Williams would be a tough, but solid addition. The 6-4, 247 pound Georgia native is currently favoring Auburn over Clemson, but he has taken two unofficial visits to Knoxville within the past five months. Williams would be a tough pull for the Vols, but there is still plenty of time if Butch Jones wants to make a push for the No. 12 defensive end in the nation.
2. Ohio State Buckeyes - CB Marshon Lattimore
The Buckeyes recently signed one of their top targets, five-star linebacker Raekwon McMillan, and are also leading for another top defensive player, corner back Marshon Lattimore. The four-star corner is rated as the fifth best at his position in the country for 2014 and has the home-state Buckeyes as his leaders over Alabama, Oregon and USC. The 6-0, 175 pounder has the size and length to go along with solid tackling to come in and continue the tradition of strong defensive backs in Columbus. Lattimore recently took his official visit to Ohio State on December 13, and I would be surprised if he did not sign with the Buckeyes in February.
1. Alabama Crimson Tide - RB Leonard Fournette
Alabama has the most impressive class by far in 2014, hence the No. 1 overall ranking. The class is headlined by the No. 1 offensive tackle and defensive end in the nation, Cameron Robinson and Da’Shawn Hand. The Tide have a recent tradition of producing great running backs, and their top target is undoubtedly running back Leonard Fournette. Fournette is the not only the No. 1 running back in the country, but the No. 1 player in the country regardless of position. The 6-1, 226 pound Louisiana native is probably the best running back prospect to come out of high school since Marcus Lattimore and has every quality it takes to be an elite talent at the next level: size, speed, quickness and the ability to break tackles. The Tide do not miss out on many top prospects, but right now it seems that they trail the LSU Tigers for the top player in the land. Fournette recently took his official visit to the Tigers on December 6 and to Alabama on December 14. Once again, this one will come down to the wire and be a heated battle between SEC West rivals.
* All player and team rankings courtesy of 247 Sports
Be sure to follow me on Twitter @EvanWilliamson_
Tags: Adoree' Jackson Alabama Crimson Tide Andrew Williams Auburn Tigers Damian Prince Florida Gators Florida State Seminoles Georgia Bulldogs John Smith Leonard Fournette Lorenzo Carter Marlon Humphrey Marshon Lattimore Miami Hurricanes Notre Dame Fighting Irish Ohio State Buckeyes Rashaan Evans Speedy Noil Tennessee Volunteers Texas A&M Aggies