Thoughts from Mike Calabrese as the letters of intent start rolling in.
Signs with Alabama
Saban has become a major advocate of RBBC and it's paid off with three national titles in four years and two running backs hearing their names called in the first round of the NFL draft. Kamara will get his opportunities in due time and won't have to worry about wearing the tread off his tires.
Signs with UCLA
This kid can flat out make plays and he is getting better with every rep. He was a late bloomer
, but proved at the Elite 11 camp that he can elevate his game with the best of them. He has the ability to make plays if the pocket breaks down, break off big gains on designed runs and execute the read option. For all those reasons, he's a perfect fit in LA with the Bruins. Best of all, they don't have to rush his development with Brett Hundley established as the starter. A redshirt year will do him well.
Dee Liner (DT)
Signs with Alabama
The Crimson Tide have dominated on defense the last two years despite the lack of an All-SEC defensive lineman. Marcell Dareus and Terrance Cody were the last dominate interior linemen in Tuscaloosa and Liner has the potential to excel within Saban's scheme. Kirby Smart can confuse offenses with different looks and pressures if he has a NT that can collapse the pocket. Liner could be his agent of chaos in the middle if he bulks up closer to 300 pounds by 2014.
Mackensie Alexander (CB)
Signs with Clemson
It wasn't clear who Alexander was going to go with but according to the top cover corner in the 2013 class, it was Dabo Swinney who won him over. Will he get involved in specials teams with a stud like Sammy Watkins already a game changer in that department? He'll definitely get on the field as a nickle corner from day one. Great get for the Tigers.
Stacy Coley (WR)
Signs with The U
Coley, like Duke Johnson last season, is headed to Miami despite the negatives that surround the program. The passing game was electric at times last season and Coley could get in on the fun right away. He's such a smooth route runner, I like him to work into a slot role early on. Al Golden is doing a great job keeping this program moving.
Antonio Conner (S)
Signs with Ole Miss
It's not shocking that Hugh Freeze kept Conner in state, but it is shocking that he pried a defensive back away from Nick Saban. Freeze now has himself a legitimate top-5 class, which completes the greatest turnaround in recruiting history. The question quickly becomes how soon will these kids see the field? Baptism by fire or wait and see in the face of mounting expectations?
Jordan Cunningham (WR)
Signs with Vandy
Jordan Matthews set the stage for Jordan Cunningham. He proved you can be a productive WR at Vandy and get on the NFL radar. Now that the team is competitive all the positives about Vandy can help Franklin's staff close on kids like this. It doesn't matter how great the academics are if you're 2-10. Franklin could sell a ketchup popsicle to a woman in white gloves. Cunningham could contribute right away.
Von Bell (S)
Signs with Ohio State
It took an SEC coach to get the B1G Ten on the board. Urban Meyer stole Bell away from Tennessee and Alabama. Ohio State needed a player of his caliber to take their defense to the next level. Last year the Buckeyes addressed their defensive front but if they want to slow down elite offenses they need versatile safeties that can play the run and the pass. Safety is becoming more and more important in the college game.
Montravius Adams (DT)
Signs with Auburn
Gus Malzahn brings in four elite defensive lineman (Adams, Lawson, Daniel, Bower) which is surprising for a number of reasons. For starters, Malzahn is an offensive coach who has focused on that side of the ball his entire career. Auburn is also coming off a disasterous season and yet they were able recruit outside of their pipeline up north, grabbing Bower and Daniel, while stealing Adams and Lawson from the state of Georgia. UGA was coming off an excellent season that saw them miss the national title game by just a few yards. Richt wanted Adams to anchor his 3-4 scheme and for Auburn to swoop in and nab him is shocking.
Laremy Tunsil (OT)
Signs with Ole Miss
Dual threat QBs are all the rage, but don't forget that Johnny Football was playing behind two NFL caliber tackles during his record setting campaign. Ole Miss has an excellent DT-QB in this class in DeVante Kincade from Skyline High School in Dallas and now they have a special tackle to protect him. The pieces are coming together for a truly remarkable class for a program like Ole Miss. Tunsil is the first OT ranked in the top-5 to sign with a school other than Alabama in the last seven years.
Denver Kirkland (OT)
Signs with Arkansas
Bret Bielema needed a road grader like Kirkland to pave the way for his brand of football. Alex Collins will have a shot to thrive thanks to Kirkland's physical run blocking. In the last six seasons in Madison, Bielema's offenses have ranked 13th in rushing. This is what it takes to keep that going.
Matthew Thomas (OLB)
Signs with Florida State
Despite six coaching changes in the off-season Jimbo Fisher brings in the #1 OLB thanks to Jeremy Pruitt their new defensive coordinator. Only time will tell if the former defensive backs coach at Alabama can lead an entire defense but his recruiting prowess has been validated by a landing a whale like Thomas.
Robert Nkemdiche (DE)
Signs with Ole Miss
Championship teams are built up front. Want proof? The SEC has won nine BCS national titles since 1998 and six of those nine teams featured a first-team All-SEC defensive lineman.
Darwin Walker (DT)
Chad Lavalais (DT)
Ray McDonald (DE)
Glen Dorsey (DT)
Terrance Cody (DT)
Nick Fairley (DT)
The last time Ole Miss enjoyed great success on the field was 2008 when they went 9-4 (5-3) with a win over the eventual national champion at The Swamp
. That team featured a first-team All-SEC defensive tackle, Peria Jerry, and a second-team All-SEC defensive end, Greg Hardy.