GETTING AN EARLY START
Half the SEC schools already have commitments for their 2010 signing class:
ALABAMA — WR Keiwone Malone (6-1, 165) of Memphis.
ARKANSAS — OL Cam Feldt (6-5, 290) of Pilot Point, Texas.
AUBURN — K Cody Parkey (6-0, 200) of Jupiter, Fla.
FLORIDA — QB Trey Burton (6-2, 203) of Venice, Fla.; DB Demar Dorsey (6-1, 175) of Lauderdale Lakes, Fla.; ATH Matt Elam (6-0, 205) of West Palm Beach, Fla.; and OL Ian Silberman (6-4, 257) of Fleming Island, Fla.
SOUTH CAROLINA — DT Kelcy Charles (6-5, 270) of Greenwood, S.C.; WR Sean Tapley (6-0, 170) of Jacksonville; and OL Elliot Williams (6-6, 285) of Georgia Military College.
TENNESSEE — DE Jacques Smith (6-3, 225) of Ooltewah.
Florida football coach Urban Meyer now has two national championships to sell recruits and an offensive system that remains appealing to speedy playmakers.
What was a challenge the past few months was luring defensive prospects to an already stocked unit. In the BCS championship game, Florida held Oklahoma to 14 points after the Sooners had reeled off 316 in their previous five contests.
“We had a little bit of a tough deal because we had 22 players coming back on defense — 22, not 11, not nine, not four,” Meyer said. “We’ve got our top 22 players coming back, and I have to really take my hat off to some of those young guys who stepped up.”
The Gators signed only six defensive players Wednesday, but among those were Jelani Jenkins, the nation’s No. 1 outside linebacker according to Rivals.com; Gary Brown, the No. 3 defensive tackle; and Jon Bostic, the No. 4 inside linebacker. Jenkins, who lives in Maryland, picked the Gators over Penn State.
“He didn’t ask how many linebackers we had,” Meyer said. “He just said, ‘I want to play.’ It was sort of like when Tim Tebow was recruited. I don’t remember him saying, ‘How many quarterbacks do you have?’”
Florida’s 16 overall signees were the fewest of any team ranked in the top 25. However, Florida’s 3.94 average rating per player by Rivals.com was tops nationally, followed by Southern Cal (3.89), Texas (3.85), LSU (3.84), Georgia (3.83) and Alabama (3.81).
The Gators were hoping for up to 20 signees, but two of their commitments signed Wednesday with Tennessee. They also went 0-for-Georgia for the first time since 1999 after Valdosta cornerback Greg Reid decommitted and signed with Florida State.
Lots of Rebels
Ole Miss signed 38 players, more than Florida and Georgia combined, but no more than 25 of them can report for preseason camp in August.
“I know it seems like a high number, but the thing that it does for us is it helps Mississippi,” Rebels coach Houston Nutt said. “It helps our junior colleges, and I’ve never been in a state where you’ve had this many junior colleges. Our staff really doesn’t believe in taking 10 to 11 junior college players a year, but you do want to give back.
“I’ve got some guys that want to be a part of our family that probably will not make it academically. They have a chance to go (to junior college) and still feel a part of our family, and I think it’s important to build those relationships.”
The Rebels rolled to nine victories and a Cotton Bowl whipping of Texas Tech last season with a roster containing 16 junior college transfers and nine others who started out at Hargrave Military in Chatham, Va.
New Tennessee coach Lane Kiffin is being portrayed throughout much of the South as a baby seal on a shark hunt after verbal jabs last week at Meyer and Alabama coach Nick Saban. The Vols have lost the past two seasons by a combined 89-26 to the Gators and a combined 70-26 to the Crimson Tide, and they play both on the road later this year.
Kiffin provided an abundance of excitement this winter, and Rivals.com national editor Jamie Newberg believes it’s only the beginning.
“Tennessee has all-star recruiters,” Newberg said. “They are going to be a super power in terms of recruiting post ’09 and beyond. You can mark my word.”
The desire of Kiffin and Vols linebackers coach Lance Thompson to “own Memphis” continues to be a challenge, however, following last week’s commitment by Mitchell High receiver Keiwone Malone to Alabama’s 2010 class.
Now that Kiffin has accused Meyer of cheating, does this mean Georgia’s Mark Richt is officially off the hook for the 2007 end-zone celebration in Jacksonville?
David Paschall is a sports writer for the Times Free Press. He started at the Chattanooga Free Press in 1990 and was part of the Times Free Press when the paper started in 1999. David covers University of Georgia football, as well as SEC football recruiting, SEC basketball, Chattanooga Lookouts baseball and other sports stories. He is a Chattanooga native and graduate of the Baylor School and Auburn University. David has received numerous honors for ...