Recruiting Q&A: A look at the Southeast with Kynon Codrington
With National Signing Day less than a month away, SI exchanged emails with the seven Rivals.com regional recruiting analysts to get their perspectives on the major storylines between now and February. Southeast analyst Kynon Codrington breaks down his loaded and popular regional recruiting landscape:
SI: Name your top three "sleepers," either committed or uncommitted, and explain why you think they will impact the next level.
Kynon Codrington: My top sleeper is Chris Jones, followed by Matt Dayes and Jason Smith. I've had the opportunity to see Jones, a defensive end, in person at the Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Classic and the Under Armour All-America Game, and each time he proved he is among the country's best. At 6-foot-6, 250 pounds, Jones has tremendous size, speed and physical ability. He has a quick first step and plays with good leverage. The Mississippi State commit uses his hands well and disrupts throwing lanes with his wide wingspan.
Dayes led Broward County, Fla., in rushing with 1,878 yards and 28 touchdowns on 266 carries. The three-star prospect is very good between the tackles, and he has excellent lateral quickness. He is always falling forward and has the speed to bounce it to the outside for a long run. The Weston (Fla.) Cypress Bay standout runs with good pad level and displays reliable hands out of the backfield.
It's hard to call a four-star a "sleeper," but Smith, an Auburn pledge, may turn out to have a better career than some of the higher-rated athletes in this class. Smith has exceptional start-and-stop agility. He is a smooth, natural route runner who runs precise routes. The Yellowhammer State star lined up at quarterback this year, but he has a bright future at receiver at the next level. His game-breaking ability should allow him to contribute as a freshman.
SI: Which recent coaching departure (or new hire) will have the most influence on your region's recruiting landscape?
KC: I feel the additions of assistant coaches Jeremy Pruitt and Sal Sunseri will be huge for Florida State. Both guys have instant credibility after having served on Nick Saban's 2011 championship team at Alabama. Pruitt and Sunseri flipped Rivals100 member DeMarcus Walker upon their hiring in Tallahassee. Look for them to maintain a presence in Alabama following the loss of Dameyune Craig to Auburn.
SI: Name three teams whose stock is rising and three others whose is falling.
KC: Three teams to buy right now are Florida, Miami and Ole Miss. The Gators flipped linebackers Matt Rolin, Jarrad Davis and Alex Anzalone, who will all add depth to the position. The Hurricanes picked up commitments from Rivals100 star Al-Quadin Muhammad and widely regarded junior college tight end Beau Sandland. The 'Canes' Rivals Team Ranking may not indicate they are on the rise, but they have a chance to close with Stacy Coley, Matthew Thomas and Jermaine Grace. The Rebels could close with a top-10 class if they land the nation's No. 1 prospect, Robert Nkemdiche, who is expected to go with Ole Miss on Signing Day. In addition, they have a shot with five-star Laquon Treadwell and four-star Elijah Daniel.
Auburn, Mississippi State and South Florida aren't really falling, but they aren't exactly trending up. The Tigers are trying to re-recruit five-star linebacker Reuben Foster, while Jeremy Johnson and Dee Liner are committed but will take official visits to other schools. The Bulldogs picked up a commitment from Ashton Shumpert, but they haven't closed anyone else. New Bulls head coach Willie Taggart lost his highest-rated prospect when quarterback Asiantii Woulard de-committed.
SI: Who is the best remaining uncommitted player in the region?
KC: Foster is the best prospect left on the board. He has looked great at recent all-star showings and appears to be back to the form that made him a national recruit following a solid senior year.
Which player in your region will have the best opportunity to contribute immediately?
It wouldn't surprise me to see cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III contribute early and potentially start when he arrives in Gainesville. His technique is so flawless and his instincts are so superb that he will earn the coaches' trust right away. Hargreaves is a special player who should be an All-SEC performer at Florida.
SI: Which player in your region impresses you so much that you'd be willing to guarantee success on the next level?
Laremy Tunsil impresses me so much that I think he will have success at the next level and beyond. Tunsil has the footwork, agility and lateral ability to be a premier left tackle. He moves like a tight end and has prototypical size to anchor the blind side. If he continues to progress, I feel he will be an All-America player and NFL starter.