SEC Football Summer Days Anything But Lazy Amid July Commitment Craze – LSU Especially

It has been Christmas in July for most of Southeastern Conference football recruiting.

Since July 1, no less than 11 of the 14 member programs have gained commitments from 42 prospects for the Class of 2023, including seven of those with at least three commitments since June ended.

Things have been particularly hot on the bayou – other than above-100 heat indexes – as first-year LSU coach Brian Kelly collected commitments like crawfish in the spring with a league-high nine pledges.

Maybe that home purchase within view of Tiger Stadium is working as several of those were at Kelly’s house party following the Tigers’ spring game on April 23.

“It has been fantastic at LSU,” said Michael Scarborough, editor of the TigerBait.com recruiting site based in Baton Rouge. “And it may get better soon. I think the players know of Kelly’s competency, and he has assembled a young, intelligent staff of guys who work hard and work smart.”

Kelly has rallied in a short window like perhaps no other LSU football coach in history. On June 30, LSU’s 2023 class of six commitments was ranked No. 45 in the nation and eighth in the SEC behind No. 44 Vanderbilt by Rivals.com.

Today, LSU is ranked No. 10 in the nation by Rivals.com with 15 commitments – a jump of 35 spots. And LSU is No. 8 in 247 Sports.

“A month ago, LSU fans were full of anxiety as the class was barely in the top 50,” Scarborough said. “Now, they’ve catapulted into the top 10.”

The July jump was highlighted by the most recent commitment on Tuesday of No. 5-ranked tailback Kaleb Jackson of Liberty High in Baton Rouge. He is the No. 10 prospect in Louisiana and No. 117 nationally. He chose LSU after visiting Alabama on June 24 and Ole Miss on June 16. Jackson was the fifth four-star prospect of the nine commitments this month.

Another major four-star commitment to LSU was No. 6 wide receiver Jalen Brown of Gulliver Prep in Miami. He is the No. 10 prospect in Florida and is No. 44 nationally. Brown chose LSU after visits to Florida, Florida State, Miami, Central Florida, Notre Dame, Texas and Auburn.

Other four-star players who picked LSU were No. 22 strong side defensive end Dashawn Womack of St. Frances High in Baltimore, No. 22 weak side defensive end Joshua Mickens of Lawrence Central High in Indianapolis and No. 5 tight end Jaxon Howard of Robbinsdale Cooper High in New Hope, Minnesota.

Womack is the No. 3 prospect in Maryland and No. 218 nationally. Mickens is No. 5 in Indiana. Howard is No. 1 in Minnesota and No. 96 in the nation.

Of the nine, Kelly, who had to recruit nationally at Notre Dame, went out of state for seven.

Notre Dame, by the way, is No. 2 in the nation by Rivals.com under first-year coach Marcus Freeman with 15 commitments. Ohio State is No. 1 with 14. The top-ranked SEC team is No. 5 Tennessee with 18 commitments.

The Volunteers under second-year coach Josh Heupel jumped nine spots in July from No. 14 with six commitments, including a quartet of four-star prospects.

Last Sunday, Tennessee raked in No. 4 weak side defensive end Chandavian Bradley of Platte County, Missouri, and No. 19 outside linebacker Jalen Smith of Grayson, Georgia. Bradley is No. 1 in Missouri and No. 32 nationally. He chose the Vols after visiting Ohio State, Notre Dame, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Texas A&M and Arkansas.

On July 3, Tennessee gained a commitment from No. 15 athlete Christian Conyer and the No. 1 prospect in Kentucky out of Warren High in Bowling Green after he visited Kentucky last month.

Tennessee’s class also boasts five-star quarterback Nico Iamaleava, the No. 3 pro style signal caller in the nation from Poly High in Long Beach, California. He committed on March 21 after visits to Alabama, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Ole Miss and Oregon. No other SEC school has a better quarterback commitment for 2023.

Alabama did get No. 10 pro style quarterback Dylan Lonergan of Brookwood High in Snellville, Georgia, on Monday for its third July commitment. With three July commitments, the Tide is up seven spots to No. 19 in Rivals.com from No. 26 at the end of June – still a far cry from its No. 2 recruiting finish in 2022. But it’s still very early.

Lonergan is No. 142 nationally and No. 11 in Georgia. The Tide, which lost the Arch Manning sweepstakes to Texas in June, previously gained a commitment from No. 8 pro style quarterback Eli Holstein from Kelly’s backyard in Zachary, Louisiana, on May 24. Holstein is the No. 4 prospect in Louisiana. Alabama has two quarterbacks in the same class for the first time since 2017 when Tua Tagovailoa and Mac Jones each signed.

Arkansas’s class of 2023 continued to flex its muscle in July with six commitments and is No. 6 in the nation and No. 2 in the SEC. Its 22 commitments ties it with No. 7 Baylor for most in the nation. The Razorbacks were No. 10 entering July with 16 commitments. Arkansas plucked the No. 10 guard in the nation in Paris Patterson from East St. Louis, Illinois, on the Fourth of July. He picked the Hogs after visits to Tennessee, Missouri, Iowa State and Northern Illinois.

Georgia, which saw its recruiting class finish No. 3 in 2022, has dropped from No. 11 at the end of June to No. 13 at the moment with just two commitments in July for 13 overall.

Florida is up to No. 25 from No. 31 entering June as first-year coach Billy Napier has four July commitments and now has a total of 12. Kentucky also gained four commitments in July to move from No. 57 to No. 49 with 11 commitments.

Amazingly, Texas A&M, coming off a blockbuster No. 1 class in 2022 (just ask Alabama coach Nick Saban), is currently ranked No. 60 by Rivals.com. It was No. 46 entering July and has exactly zero commitments this month. Coach Jimbo Fisher has not gained a commitment since June 27 and has only that one since April.

Other SEC schools who are 0-for-July are Ole Miss and Mississippi State, which check in at No. 65 and No. 61, respectively, in the Rivals.com class rankings.

Auburn actually moved up 22 spots in July with two commitments, but it only has a meager four in all and is ranked No. 66 after a No. 88 last month. Missouri with seven commitments and one this month is last in the SEC in recruiting and No. 68 nationally.

Here is a comparison of the 14 SEC teams’ recruiting rankings in alphabetical order at the end of June and so far in July by Rivals.com with total commitments in parentheses:

ALABAMA (11) – Ranked No. 26 on June 30, No. 19 on July 13 … 3 Commitments in July.

ARKANSAS (22) – No. 10 on June 30, No. 6 on July 13 … 6 Commitments in July.

AUBURN (4) – No. 88 on June 30, No. 66 on July 13 … 2 Commitments in July.

FLORIDA (12) – No. 31 on June 30, No. 25 on July 13 … 4 Commitments in July.

GEORGIA (13) – No. 11 on June 30, No. 13 on July 13 … 2 Commitments in July.

KENTUCKY (11) – No. 57 on June 30, No. 49 on July 13 … 4 Commitments in July.

LOUISIANA STATE (15) – No. 45 on June 30, No. 10 on July 13 … 9 Commitments in July.

MISSISSIPPI STATE (8) – No. 50 on June 30, No. 61 on July 13 … 0 Commitments in July.

MISSOURI (7) – No. 63 on June 30, No. 68 on July 13 … 0 Commitments in July.

OLE MISS (6) – No. 53 on June 30, No. 65 on July 13 … 0 Commitments in July.

SOUTH CAROLINA (13) – No. 35 on June 30, No. 36 on July 13 … 2 Commitments in July.

TENNESSEE (18) – No. 14 on June 30, No. 5 on July 13 … 6 Commitments in July.

TEXAS A&M (5) – No. 46 on June 30, No. 60 on July 13 … 0 Commitments in July.

VANDERBILT (11) – No. 44 on June 30, No. 47 on July 13 … 3 Commitments in July.

 

 

 

Written by Glenn Guilbeau

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