Holiday wish lists
A look at recruits teams in the ACC and SEC would love to get this holiday season
Not sure if Santa Claus can actually deliver a recruit to a school (is that an NCAA violation?), but just in case, here are some wish lists from programs in the SEC and the ACC with a player or two they'd like to land between now and national signing day.
Alabama Crimson Tide
The Crimson Tide are after their share of blue-chippers to try and close out the 2011 recruiting class. Do they really have any must gets to fill roster deficiencies? Nick Saban's roster has gotten to the point where it's just about loaded everywhere. Certainly the Tide would love to close with offensive tackle Cyrus Kouandjio (Hyattsville, Md./DeMatha Catholic), defensive end Jadeveon Clowney (Rock Hill, S.C./South Pointe) and/or running back Isaiah Crowell (Columbus, Ga./Carver). All three are five-star players and in the top 10 in the ESPNU 150. They have gone back and forth with Georgia on Crowell and seem to be the favorite for tackle Kouandjio. Meanwhile, Alabama will battle South Carolina for Clowney, the nation's No. 1 overall recruit.
There is still plenty on the Auburn wish list as the Tigers hope to capture some recruiting momentum off their undefeated season. Atop the Tigers' wish list is a big-time running back, and they would love to pull a great one from the pool of Crowell, Marlin Lane (Daytona Beach, Fla./Mainland), Savon Huggins (Jersey City, N.J./St. Peters Prep), Demetrius Hart (Orlando, Fla./Dr. Phillips) or Jeremy Hill (Baton Rouge, La./Redemptorist). They are also on guys like Andrew Buie (Jacksonville, Fla./University Christian) and Tre Mason (Lake Worth, Fla./Park Vista).
The Razorbacks are in a BCS bowl and that begs the question: Can Bobby Petrino and Arkansas capitalize over the next six weeks? They should close well and are on a number of elite blue-chippers like defensive tackle Lonnie Gosha (Lake Butler, Fla./Union County). The Hogs would love to close with the outstanding and athletic defensive prospect, who visited Arkansas back in October.
You can bet that new Gators coach Will Muschamp has a huge wish list, from building a staff to keeping the committed recruits committed and then closing with some big names that fill needs in Gainesville. Inside linebacker Curtis Grant (Richmond, Va./Hermitage) is one of many prospects high on Florida's radar.
The Dawgs should close exceptionally well, but the most important player on their board is Crowell. Georgia needs a go-to back in Athens and he's the guy. He could mean to UGA what Marcus Lattimore meant to South Carolina this past season. Yes, Crowell is that important to Mark Richt's program next season.
Linebacker Lamar Dawson (Danville, Ky./Boyle County) heads the Wildcats' wish list. He's the state's top prospect and a dynamic, athletic prospect who Kentucky needs. Wildcats coach Joker Phillips just has to fend off out-of-state teams like Tennessee, Michigan, Oregon and USC. Of course, that's much easier said than done.
It's a big year in Louisiana when it comes to recruiting and while the Tigers have landed their share of top players, they have also lost out on a few top in-state kids like offensive lineman Gregory Robinson (Thibodaux, La./Thibodaux) and running back Jeremy Hill (Baton Rouge, La./Redemptorist), so it's a priority that Les Miles & Co. land defensive end Jermauria Rasco (Shreveport, La./Evangel Christian Academy). It won't be easy because they are battling Texas, Florida State, Alabama and others for his signature.
More times than not over the past few years, stars from Batesville (Miss.) South Panola sign with Ole Miss. However, there was an exception this season when Nickalos Brassell committed to Mississippi State, but the Rebels will continue to battle until national signing day for the three-star athlete.
Mississippi State Bulldogs
Dan Mullen and the Bulldogs have been a surprise team both on and off the field this season. Mississippi State has a solid class, but life in the SEC means it gets overshadowed by LSU, Alabama, Auburn, Georgia and Florida, which all have elite classes. At the very top of the Bulldogs' wish list is Tobias Singleton (Madison, Miss./Central), a four-star wide receiver. Mississippi State is fighting Ole Miss and UCLA and would love to cap its class with this key prospect.
South Carolina Gamecocks
The Gamecocks had a breakout season by winning the SEC East. Along the way, in-state standouts Alshon Jeffery, Stephon Gilmore and Lattimore were some of the team leaders for Steve Spurrier. That has to help with defensive end Clowney because he saw in-state recruits that he has known for a while win in Columbia. South Carolina is in a titanic battle for Clowney with Alabama and it will likely go down until the bitter end for the nation's No. 1 prospect.
The Vols spent this season and last rebuilding both sides of their line of scrimmage. So Tennessee coach Derek Dooley would love nothing better than to finish it off with an offensive lineman and a defensive lineman -- in particular in-state star offensive tackle Antonio Richardson (Nashville, Tenn./Pearl-Cohn) and Peach State standout defensive lineman Gabe Wright (Columbus, Ga./Carver).
Going through a coaching transition is tough for anyone, especially a school like Vanderbilt which is competing in the SEC, a league that usually places more than half of its schools in the top 25 in the class rankings. An underrated prospect the Commodores would love to land is running back Ameer Abdullah (Homewood, Ala..Homewood), who officially visited the Commodores earlier this fall.
Boston College Eagles
The Eagles are hoping they can land in-state standout Albert Louis-Jean (Brockton, Mass./Brockton), who was originally committed to Miami but following the firing of Randy Shannon is now considering BC and Penn State as well as Miami. Another prospect they'd like to sign is offensive guard Brandon Clemons (Milford, Pa./Delaware Valley), who visited Boston College earlier this month.
The Tigers are putting together an impressive class, especially with what they have done out of state. Continuing on that trend Clemson hopes to close with linebacker Stephone Anthony (Wadesboro, N.C./Anson), the nation's top outside linebacker. The Tigers, Gators and Hokies have been the front-runners for some time and Anthony will visit Clemson in mid-January.
Duke Blue Devils
One of the best big athletes in the nation is Cameron Clear (Memphis, Tenn./Central). Clear, 6-foot-6, 265 pounds, played tight end in high school but projects as an offensive tackle. His only official visit to date has been to see David Cutcliffe and the Blue Devils, so January will be a busy month for Clear as he makes his other visits. Still, Duke has a real shot at this unique talent.
Florida State Seminoles
The Seminoles should close as well as anyone in the country and could challenge for the nation's top class. Linebacker Tony Steward (St. Augustine, Fla./Menendez), wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin (Belle Glade, Fla./Central) and defensive tackle Tim Jernigan (Lake City, Fla./Columbia) would all be wish list guys who could very well end up in Tallahassee. But on the top of the Seminoles' wish list is likely Nick O'Leary (West Palm Beach, Fla./Dwyer), the nation's top tight end. This four-star throwback would be an ideal fit for Jimbo Fisher's offense.
Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets
Paul Johnson and Georgia Tech have quietly put together another solid class. Earlier this season, the Yellow Jackets lost defensive end Stephon Tuitt (Monroe, Ga./Monroe Area) to Notre Dame. But while he remains committed to the Fighting Irish, there are some who believe he could flip to Georgia Tech or possibly someplace else. He did visit Auburn this past weekend and Georgia Tech is still trying to bring him back.
The wish list may ultimately change at Maryland, as the Terps will soon name a replacement for the departing Ralph Friedgen. Right now, though, the Terrapins would love nothing better than to land athlete Darius Jennings (Baltimore, Md./Gilman), but they trail Virginia Tech, Virginia and UCLA for this dynamic athlete.
At this point, the Miami football program is in a transition so it's important that the Hurricanes keep Anthony Chickillo committed and close out on some South Florida players like defensive back Jabari Gorman (Miami, Fla/Pace). Chickillo would be a third-generation Hurricane, while Gorman is a key prospect in the Hurricanes' backyard that new coach Al Golden has an excellent shot of landing.
North Carolina Tar Heels
While other teams in the ACC have higher-rated recruiting classes, no one in the league has done a better job than Butch Davis and his staff in Chapel Hill, considering their circumstances with the NCAA investigation. They have to consider this season a very successful recruiting campaign and would love to close out with a guy like defensive end Ricardo Williams (Homestead, Fla.). This speedy edge-rusher could be a huge steal from the Sunshine State. He visits UNC next month. Of course, they would also love to land Curtis Grant (Richmond, Va./Hermitage), one of the nation's finest linebacker prospects.
NC State Wolfpack
The Wolfpack get the last official visit from in-state star Stephone Anthony (Wadesboro, N.C./Anson) on Jan. 28th. The wish and hope is that getting the last official from the nation's No. 1 outside linebacker prospect will pay off on national signing day. It appears, however, that Clemson and Virginia Tech have the inside track.
The Cavs just landed one in-state standout in defensive back Demetrious Nicholson (Virginia Beach, Va./Bayside) and they would love nothing better than to land another in four-star athlete Dominique Terrell (Manassas, Va./Osbourn). The ESPNU 150 member is someone that will likely land on offense at the receiver/Wildcat position. He would be a welcomed addition in Charlottesville. The Cavaliers get an official visit on Jan. 21.
Virginia Tech Hokies
Frank Beamer and Virginia Tech would love to close with some in-state stars like Demetrious Nicholson (Virginia Beach, Va./Bayside) and Curtis Grant (Richmond, Va./Hermitage), but they are playing catch-up with them. One big-time prospect that they have a real good chance of landing is Darius Jennings (Baltimore, Md/Gilman).
Wake Forest Demon Deacons
The Demon Deacons are just about finished with their 2011 recruiting class, although they would love to close with one more prospect in linebacker Ryan Simmons (Cibolo,Texas/Steele). Simmons visited Wake Forest back in October and would be an ideal fit in their defense.
Louisville continues success at Miami Northwestern
Who would have thought that Charlie Strong's first commitment as the Louisville coach would still be paying huge dividends from Strong and the Cardinals' program. Running back Corvin Lamb out of Miami (Fla.) Northwestern committed to Strong a week after he officially became the coach at Louisville. Less than two weeks after Lamb's decision, wide receiver teammate Michaelee Harris committed to the Cardinals, as well.
Landing these two prospects helped the Cardinals go back to Miami Northwestern and get former Miami commits quarterback Teddy Bridgewater and wide receiver Eli Rogers on Monday. They are all very good friends.
This is significant, especially with Bridgewater, who's a big-name recruit both nationally and in South Florida, where Louisville hopes to make its mark now and in the future. On the field Bridgewater has a very high ceiling at quarterback. If it doesn't work out there, Bridgewater would have a great chance to excel on offense or defense as a receiver or safety. Any way you slice it, landing Bridgewater was huge for Strong and Louisville in more ways than one.
Musical chairs in recruiting
If you are keeping track at home, the University of Florida has now lost two commitments from their 2011 class through the coaching change from Urban Meyer to Will Muschamp. Outside linebacker Ryan Shazier (Plantation, Fla./Plantation) and cornerback Nick Waisome (Groveland, Fla./South Lake), two ESPNU 150 members and Under Armour All-Americans, are now committed to Ohio State and Florida State, respectively.
This is big for FSU, as it continues its assault in-state and takes advantage of the coaching change in Gainesville and could help them in the race to land the No. 1 class in the country.
Another commitment change was to the University of Miami, where new Hurricanes coach Al Golden landed his first commitment in Fort Union Military Academy DE Olsen Pierre. He had previously been committed to Golden and Temple and is originally from Rahway, N.J.
Arkansas picked up a defensive back and lost one within a few days of each other this past week. Cornerback Tevin Mitchel (Mansfield, Texas/Legacy) decommitted from Nebraska to join the Razorbacks. Then the Hogs lost safety Roderick Ryles (Orlando, Fla./Dr. Phillips).
Then there's cornerback Devin Gaulden (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla./University School), who committed to his third school. First he committed to Auburn, then it was to Wake Forest. Now this three-star prospect is headed to Wisconsin.
Jamie Newberg has been covering recruiting both in the Southeast and nationally for 19 years. He can be reached at email@example.com.