Three-Point Stance: SEC check-in, five-star leans, freshmen to watch

Mike Farrell, Recruiting Director
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CLASS OF 2020 RANKINGS: Rivals250 | State | Position | Team

MORE: Checking in on Big Ten's 2020 recruiting

Rivals.com National Recruiting Director Mike Farrell’s Three-Point Stance is here with an SEC recruiting look, some five-star leanings and some true freshmen to watch that are getting their start this spring.

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1. CHECKING IN ON SEC RECRUITING

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Nick Lucero/Rivals.com

It’s the start of spring (sort of), so it’s time to break down the 2020 recruiting so far in each conference. We continue with the SEC.

Biggest Commitment: WR Demond Demas, Texas A&M – There are higher ranked commitments in the SEC so far, but Demas is a home run for Jimbo Fisher. He has five-star potential and has some of the best ball skills in this class.

Best Out-Of-State Grab: QB Harrison Bailey, Tennessee – Quarterbacks will go anywhere to play so landing one out-of-state isn’t usually that big a deal. However, the Vols need someone for the future and beating out Michigan and others for Bailey, who has been on the radar forever, is a big deal.

In-State Keep: OL Broderick Jones, Georgia – I love Jones’ upside and think he can be special if he keeps developing. Programs will continue to come at him but Georgia’s recruiting prowess is shown in this early commitment.

Positional Fit: DL Gervon Dexter, Florida – Dexter is very raw but very talented and I like the fact he can play as a big defensive end or move to defensive tackle as he progresses in college. Florida does well with guys like Dexter.

Top Class: Alabama – Led by linebacker Chris Braswell, Alabama has the top class not only in the SEC but in the country after finishing No. 2 overall last year. It is tougher than ever to win the recruiting title these days but ‘Bama is off to another great start.

Underrated Class: Florida – How can a top-10 class be underrated? In the SEC it can be and I like the way Dan Mullen is recruiting for the Gators. They are becoming more of a hot name than ever as Miami and Florida State struggle.

Long Haul Commit: Elias Ricks, LSU – Getting one of the top-five prospects in the country from California is a big deal for LSU and shows the power of being DBU in the minds of many recruits.

Sleeper To Watch: Da’Qon Stewart, South Carolina – Stewart has size and can high point the ball and could be a steal for the South Carolina offense.

Must Keep: ATH Arik Gilbert – Gilbert is one of the most impressive jumbo athletes we’ve seen in the last few years and the SEC needs to keep him in the fold whether it’s as a tight end or a defensive end.

Under Pressure: Auburn – Auburn is off to a solid start in recruiting for 2020, but it needs to take the next step and lure some additional elite talent especially on offense to take the pressure off Gus Malzahn. Even though he signed an extension, he’s still under scrutiny.

Getting Into The Groove: LSU – It’s easy to recruit in-state kids at LSU but they are also doing well in branching out and starting to recruit the way we expected under Ed Orgeron.

2. EARLY FIVE-STAR LEANINGS

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It’s still early for 2020 recruiting and there are many five-stars that remain uncommitted. Here are my best guesses at which schools they are leaning towards…

QB D.J. UiagaleleiClemson has to be considered the leader for the nation’s No. 1 player, as he could be the heir apparent to Trevor Lawrence.

RB Zachary Evans – Evans is hard to read and probably a long way away from a decision but I’m going to go with Texas as the team to beat here.

LB Justin Flowe – Flowe likes many schools and is also far from a decision but Georgia has the early edge here with a great recent visit.

DE Bryan Bresee – Clemson has a strong lead for the talented defensive end from Maryland, but this is far from over.

DE Sav’ell Smalls – I think Smalls stays home and has Washington on his mind the most right now.

CB Kelee Ringo – The Arizona product will almost certainly leave the state and Texas has his attention the most right now.

OL Justin Rogers – This is a tough call but I’m leaning towards Sam Pittman and Georgia right now.

DE Myles Murphy – Many schools are involved here but I’ll go with Clemson as the team with a very slight edge here.

WR Julian Fleming – He’s going to take his time I’m sure but Penn State has the best comfort level with him right now.

LB Reggie Grimes – You have to go with Alabama for the talented legacy recruit.

LB Antoine Sampah – Penn State is my pick as his leader after Clemson held an early edge.

CB Fred Davis – Davis could stay in state but right now Clemson is the early team to beat.

RB Marshawn Lloyd – Georgia likes Lloyd a lot and their running back tradition has him interested early.

DT McKinnley Jackson LSU lost out on Ishmael Sopsher last year and it leads for this Mississippi product to try to make up for it.

WR Johnny Wilson – The in-state powers will make a push and UCLA seems to have the edge over everyone else.

DE Jordan Burch – Clemson has the edge for many reasons here for Burch and it doesn’t hurt that they are the lead in-state program.

RB Kendall Milton – If he stays out west, USC has the edge but a lot depends on how their season goes.

WR Rakim Jarrett Ohio State is the lead dog here and could get an early commitment.

RB DeMarkcus Bowman Florida has the edge but the Gators will have to hold off some stiff competition.

TE Darnell Washington – Georgia has a great tight end tradition and a recent visit might have the Bulldogs in the lead.

LB Mekhail Sherman – It’s early for Sherman as it is for all of these recruits but Georgia has his early attention.

3. FRESHMEN TO WATCH THIS SPRING

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Nick Lucero/Rivals.com

Freshmen are making a bigger impact than ever in college football so here are a few guys to keep an eye on who are already showing their stuff in spring practice..

CB Derek Stingley Jr., LSU – Stingley Jr. was our No. 1 player in the country last year for a reason and he makes an immediate impact at LSU. Early reports are impressive and Grant Delpit, one of the best in the game, said Stingley Jr. is way ahead of his progress at the same stage.

WR Trejan Bridges, Oklahoma Jadon Haselwood gets a lot of the attention as does Theo Wease and both are five-star talents, but Bridges has come in bigger and stronger than expected and has better ball skills. Could he end up being the best of the trio?

QB Graham Mertz, Wisconsin – The quarterback situation at Wisconsin is wide open and Mertz is the best they’ve recruited in ages. It wouldn’t shock me at all to see him as the day one starter.

DT Antonio Alfano, Alabama – Word out of Tuscaloosa is that the elite defensive tackle has already packed on pounds of muscle and will be ready to not only play early but make a big impact.

DT Tyler Davis, Clemson – The defensive tackle position is a position of need for Clemson with Christian Wilkins, Dexter Lawrence and others already gone and Davis has impressed early. He will be in the rotation at the very least and could be a starter right away.

DE Zach Harrison, Ohio State Garrett Wilson, the talented wide receiver out of Texas, is the easy choice here but Harrison goes from raw to impact player early because he’s just so physically talented.

DT Mazi Smith, Michigan – Smith is physically ready to make an impact and plays a position of need so I expect Don Brown to develop the interior lineman quickly.

RB Jordan Whittington, Texas – Whittington is a physical beast and will get his first look at running back, a position of need. He hits the ground running, no pun intended.

CB Chris Steele, Florida – The defensive back tradition at Florida is a great one in recent years and Steele could be special. He’ll get plenty of chances to make an early impact.

QB Bo Nix, Auburn – The quarterback situation is wide open at Auburn and Nix is smart and talented enough to win the job.

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