No. 1 prospects from each Southeastern Conference state


Every top state school wants to keep its talent home. Nothing burns up a coaching staff–and the program’s fans–more than a top in-state product leaving home to go play for a rival. Here’s a look at the SEC’s 11 home states (Alabama, Mississippi and Tennessee of course have 2 SEC schools a piece) and the top prospect in each state. We’ll break down how they’re ranked nationally and whether they’ll stay home or not.

RELATED–Top Alabama/Auburn target to announce school choice on Tuesday afternoon


  • TOP PLAYER:: Daron Payne, DT, Birmingham
  • NAT. RANK:: No. 11 overall
  • TOP SCHOOLS:: Alabama, Auburn.
  • STAYS IN STATE?:: Absolute lock to stay home.
  • THE SKINNY:: Payne’s nearly a definite to go to play for the Crimson Tide. He’s a huge target and leads what is a nice crop of talent in the state of Alabama.


  • TOP PLAYER:: Ty Storey, QB, Charleston
  • NAT. RANK:: No. 142 overall
  • TOP SCHOOLS:: Committed to Arkansas.
  • STAYS IN STATE?:: He’s committed to Razorbacks already.
  • THE SKINNY:: He’s a leader and has been on board with Arkansas for nearly a year. Storey is working on all of the other top 10 guys from the state, hoping to build a wall around Arkansas.


  • TOP PLAYER:: Kevin Toliver, DB, Jacksonville
  • NAT. RANK:: No. 2 overall
  • TOP SCHOOLS:: Committed to LSU.
  • STAYS IN STATE?:: Not looking real good.
  • THE SKINNY:: Toliver had connections in Louisiana, thus the super-early commitment to the Tigers. Don’t worry though, the in-state schools would still love to wrestle him away from LSU. They won’t stop trying.


  • TOP PLAYER:: Trent Thompson, DT, Albany
  • NAT. RANK:: No. 1 overall
  • TOP SCHOOLS:: Georgia, FSU, Auburn, Alabama, Clemson.
  • STAYS IN STATE?:: We’ll say 90-95 percent change he goes to Georgia.
  • THE SKINNY:: Everybody in the SEC would love to land Trent, but it looks pretty good so far for the Georgia Bulldogs. Thompson told SDS last month he’d have no problem at all playing in Athens.


  • TOP PLAYER:: Damien Harris, RB, Berea
  • NAT. RANK:: No. 21 overall
  • TOP SCHOOLS:: Ohio State, Kentucky, Michigan.
  • STAYS IN STATE?:: We’ll give Kentucky a 25 percent chance of snagging him.
  • THE SKINNY:: Harris was once committed to Michigan, and the five-star back seems to like the Big Ten as Ohio State looks to be a frontrunner now. But Kentucky did a good job of keeping its in-state talent home in last year’s class, so who knows?


  • TOP PLAYER:: Tyron Johnson, WR, New Orleans
  • NAT. RANK:: No. 41 overall
  • TOP SCHOOLS:: LSU, Oklahoma State, Texas Tech, Texas A&M.
  • STAYS IN STATE?:: Let’s go with a 3 out of 4 chance he picks LSU.
  • THE SKINNY:: There’s no question Johnson is intrigued by the passing attacks in the Big Ten, where he would probably be a superstar. Speedy Noil did the same thing and left his backyard to go to where the passes are numerous.


  • TOP PLAYER:: Alex Ofodile, WR, Columbia
  • NAT. RANK:: No. 95 overall
  • TOP SCHOOLS:: Mizzou
  • STAYS IN STATE?: We’ll say a lock to stay home.
  • THE SKINNY:: Ofodile is a Mizzou legacy, and the Tigers are doing a great job this year of keeping the local talent close to home, so maybe it’s just a matter of time before this decision is in?


  • TOP PLAYER:: Jamal Peters, DB, Bassfield
  • NAT. RANK:: No. 47 overall
  • TOP SCHOOLS:: Mississippi State, Alabama, Ole Miss.
  • STAYS IN STATE?:: Let’s go with a 2 out of 3 chance he goes with the Bulldogs or Rebels.
  • THE SKINNY:: The best talent in Mississippi always gets hounded by Alabama and LSU, and the two SEC schools in state spend a lot of time fending off those attacks by their SEC West rivals. This will be a tough battle.


  • TOP PLAYER:: Shameik Blackshear, DE, Bluffton
  • NAT. RANK:: No. 23 overall
  • TOP SCHOOLS:: Committed to South Carolina.
  • STAYS IN STATE?:: Lead pipe lock, baby.
  • THE SKINNY:: Blackshear’s been on board with the Gamecocks for nearly a year, and we don’t see that changing any time soon. Let’s face it, D-line recruits love South Carolina, in-state or out-of-state.


  • TOP PLAYER:: Drew Richmond, OL, Memphis
  • NAT. RANK:: No. 66 overall
  • TOP SCHOOLS:: Tennessee, Ohio State, Ole Miss.
  • STAYS IN STATE?:: We’ll go with 50/50.
  • THE SKINNY:: Ohio State has made quite an impression on Richmond, so he’s not a dead lock to play for the Volunteers–but let’s face it, Tennessee’s been hot lately, and has protected the state borders well.


  • TOP PLAYER:: Kendall Sheffield, DB, Missouri City
  • NAT. RANK:: No. 8 overall
  • TOP SCHOOLS:: Texas A&M, Texas.
  • STAYS IN STATE?:: Absolute lock.
  • THE SKINNY:: Texas A&M looks to be in very good shape to land the the state’s No. 1 player, and the Aggies already have the No. 2 player in Daylon Mack and could very well land the No. 3 in Malik Jefferson. Boy, have things changed in Texas.

Editor’s note: Saturday Down South’s references to ratings follow the composite rankings.

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