Who will Auburn get at running back and defensive tackle?
How will Tennessee do this recruiting season?
How high in recruiting will LSU finish?
These questions and more are addressed by National Recruiting Analyst Mike Farrell in this week's mailbag.
Auburn will find its RB
Who will Auburn get at running back and defensive tackle?
- Mike from Birmingham, Ala.
The defensive tackle question is a little easier to answer than the running back situation. Columbus (Ga.) Carver stud defensive tackle Gabriel Wright has been a lean to Auburn for a long time and I think it would be a big surprise if he ended up elsewhere.
Tennessee is very much in the mix and Alabama is in there as well, but he's a Tiger in my book unless something happens.
As far as running back, that's a little tougher. Losing Demetrius Hart hurt and now it appears the Tigers trail slightly for Mike Blakely, so look for them to make a serious run at Tre Mason, who they offered after Hart eliminated them. No matter what, I expect Auburn to land a top running back in this class.
Rough one in Knoxville
How do you think Tennessee will do this recruiting season?
- Majaz from Knoxville, Tenn.
Tennessee has 19 commitments already and it's not a great class overall, currently ranked 10th in the SEC just ahead of only Kentucky and Vanderbilt. Only two of the Vols' 19 commitments are ranked as four-stars and the remaining top targets, guys such as Gabriel Wright, Antonio Richardson, Maurice Couch, Allan Wasonga, Cameron Clear and others have many other big-time suitors. Tennessee can only claim to be the leader for one, Couch, while the others will be a battle down the stretch. I don't see Tennessee finishing strong as it did last year. It could end up outside the top half of the SEC and outside the top 25.
If the Tigers finish the way I expect, I think LSU will have a top 10 class with a shot at being in the top 5. If they land Greg Robinson, Zach Mettenberger, Jermauria Rasco, Odell Beckham Jr. and others, they will finish with a great class. And if they add a few surprises in there that's where the top five push will come from. They are currently in the top five but there are plenty of schools behind them that will make a push.
Give Driskel time
When Jeff Driskel comes into Gainesville next year, do you think Urban Meyer would consider putting John Brantley on the bench and start a freshman with his ability to throw and run?
- Greg from Atlanta
As rough as things have been on offense for the Gators, I can't see Driskel coming in and starting from day one. He has all the tools and athletic ability but he is still very raw and the rise in level of competition will be staggering. However, I can see him having a role similar to Tim Tebow in his freshman year where he comes in at times in different packages while he gets his feet wet and possibly near the goal line.
Driskel has all the makings of a great quarterback, but he will need time to develop. He's more raw than Tebow was at the same stage and not quite as special.
Who is the "must get" defensive recruit on the Michigan list?
- Dave from Grand Rapids, Mich.
Curtis Grant, Doran Grant, Kris Frost, Ray Drew, Timmy Jernigan and others are showing more interest than ever lately and are considering taking visits (or have taken them). But, to me, it's Anthony Zettel. The funny thing is that Zettel, listed as a defensive end in our database, could end up on offense because he's so good on both sides of the ball, but he's a must-get either way. Michigan seems to prefer him as a defensive lineman and as an in-state kid, he's a must.
Virginia Tech has struggled more than expected this year with only two four-star commitments and losing out on Kiaro Holts, Landon Turner and a few others it hoped to get. I agree with you that Virginia Tech leads for Thourougood and I think it has a slight edge for Terrell, but it could still land Stephone Anthony, Demetrious Nicholson, Travis Hughes and others.
It's not laziness. It's just that some of the situations didn't play out well for the Hokies and they had a really rough start to the season that they are still trying to overcome. And when the state's top player, five-star Curtis Grant, decides to leave, there's not much you can do.
Texas looks solid in top five
The way it looks now, Texas will finish no lower than No. 5 in the recruiting race come February. Now that it picked up Malcolm Brown and is nearing its limit, who else is Texas in on?
- Clint from Dallas
Basically only one name on the board left that the Longhorns have a good shot at and that's Jermauria Rasco. It looks like it will come down to Texas, LSU, Florida State and others, with the Longhorns in the lead. Texas would take Aaron Green if he wanted to come but that's not going to happen. With 23 commitments, there is really only room for a couple more. It looks as if it's Rasco or bust and I agree, I can't see Texas dropping outside the top five.
Penn State looks to steal
What players do you expect to see Penn State sign in February?
- Alfred from Philadelphia
I can't predict the entire class, even if it will be a small one, but I think the Nittany Lions end up with defensive end Deion Barnes, and offensive lineman Donovan Smith, Allan Wasonga and a few others. The big thing to follow will be whether PSU can steal a few commitments from other schools as it did in recent years. The Lions lost a lot of their top targets early on and will certainly continue to recruit a few of those players down the stretch. Unless they pull a few major surprises or steal a few top players, this will be a weak year for PSU recruiting.
The Gamecocks are currently in the top 25 but outside the top half of the SEC so they need to finish strong. They don't have a ton of room left with 21 commitments already, but I expect them to sign the full 28. This class will be similar to last year in that, if the Gamecocks land the top player in state, then it will be considered a success.
Last year it was Marcus Lattimore they needed to sign down the stretch and we all see what kind of impact he's already made. This year it's Jadeveon Clowney. If they get Clowney, the nation's No. 1 player and the best player from the state in ages, then all is good. If they lose him to Alabama, LSU, Auburn, Miami or someone else, watch out.
Brandon Shell is another one they really need to land. I predict a class similar to last year's but possibly ranked a bit higher, closer to inside the top 20 if they get Clowney.