EDITOR’S NOTE: Introducing O-line week at Saturday Down South. This week we’ll talk to some of the biggest offensive line recruits and commitments in the SEC, get their take on things … and we’ll rank ‘em.
They’re big, they’re mobile … they protect the golden boy QB. They have to know the call and know what’s around them … and they have to be able to react. Here are the SEC’s top realistic O-line targets in the class of 2016 coming out of high school.
Editor’s note: Saturday Down South’s references to ratings follow the 247Sports.com composite rankings. Also, for more in-depth SDS written stories about these top prospects, click on the blue links.
- National rank: No. 1 tackle in the country, No. 1 overall prospect
- SEC schools: Texas A&M, Georgia, LSU, Tennessee, Auburn, Arkansas
- The skinny: Little had nice things to say about Texas A&M in a recent interview with Saturday Down South. The other SEC schools are on the outside looking in when battling the Aggies for this talented prospect.
2. Ben Cleveland, Toccoa (Ga.), 6-7/325
- National rank: No. 2 tackle in the country, No. 6 overall prospect
- SEC schools: Georgia, Auburn, Alabama, Florida
- The skinny: The Georgia Bulldogs will be tough to beat for Cleveland’s service, but trust us–everybody is going to try. This kid is enormous, and coaches are salivating.
3. Patrick Hudson, Silsbee (Texas), 6-6/325
- National rank: No. 4 tackle in the country, No. 9 overall prospect
- SEC schools: Committed to Texas A&M
- The skinny: Can you imagine Hudson and Greg Little (see above) on the same offensive line? Defensive coordinators around the league are already shuddering when thinking about it.
1. Drake Jackson, Versailles (Ky.), 6-3/260
- National rank: No. 2 guard in country, No. 50 overall prospect
- SEC schools: Kentucky, Vanderbilt
- The skinny: It’s obviously early, but this is a huge target–and one can be sure that regional powers like Ohio State will try to get him eventually–not to mention other SEC powers. This is one kid Mark Stoops has got to keep home in Kentucky.
2. Chandler Tuitt, Tyrone (Ga.), 6-3/260
- National rank: No. 3 guard in country, No. 69 overall prospect
- SEC schools: Ole Miss, South Carolina
- The skinny: When it comes to in-state targets, the Georgia Bulldogs know they don’t have to act as quickly as out-of-state competition to get the attention of a player like Tuitt. We’ll watch as this unfolds.
3. Darius Whitfield, Mobile (Ala.), 6-1/255
- National rank: No. 4 guard in country, No. 76 overall prospect
- SEC schools: Alabama, Auburn
- The skinny: Florida State was the first to offer Whitfield, but he’s really waiting for that Alabama offer, as well as Auburn. He has been to a Tigers’ junior day in the past and he was on Alabama’s campus last month.
1. Eli Johnson, Oxford (Miss.), 6-3/295
- National rank: No. 1 center, No. 248 overall prospect
- SEC schools: Committed to Ole Miss
- The skinny: Johnson has been on board since December, and it would be tough to see anybody talk him out of playing for his hometown school.