The 10 best recruits SEC schools are stealing from ACC states
Keeping players from crossing state lines is often considered the No. 1 commandment of recruiting. But being successful on the national stage often requires luring some top prospects to leave their home turf.
Look no farther than Georgia securing a pair of recent star running backs from North Carolina, and previously getting Knowshon Moreno from New Jersey. Alabama landed Da’Shawn Hand and Jonathan Allen from Virginia, and Cyrus Kouandjio from Maryland.
Here are our top 10 recruits (with 247Sports national composite ranking) that SEC teams are stealing out from under the noses of ACC programs. (Note: Because Georgia and Florida have a strong SEC presence, for the purposes of this article, we are looking at the geographic area from the Carolinas northward as ACC territory.)
1. (No. 6 overall), Zamir White, RB, Laurinburg, N.C., GEORGIA: Georgia is making a habit of reaching into North Carolina for running backs, and the Bulldogs have done it again with a commitment from White, the No. 1 recruit in the state.
As you might remember, Keith Marshall (Raleigh) and Todd Gurley (Tarboro) most recently starred for Georgia as backfield mates from the Tar Heel State.
Among White’s highlights this season are six touchdowns in one half. But three weeks ago, he suffered a torn ACL, and his immediate future at Georgia is uncertain, such as when he’ll first see the practice field.
2. (No. 70 overall) Stephon Wynn Jr., DE, Anderson, S.C. (IMG Academy), ALABAMA: The son of a former Clemson tight end, Wynn reportedly committed to Alabama over Georgia and South Carolina after deciding he wanted to play in the SEC. While he plays at IMG Academy in Florida, Wynn grew up less than 30 minutes from Clemson. The strong-side defensive end can also play on the interior.
3. (No. 147 overall) Kyle Pitts, TE, Warminster, Pa., FLORIDA: Pitts has four SEC offers among his 20 overall and is considered the sixth-ranked tight end in the country. He’s 6-5, 235 and has remained committed to the Gators through the coaching change. He made his pledge in July.
Georgia and Virginia Tech have made strong pushes, but Pitts hasn’t wavered and recently hosted new Florida coach Dan Mullen for an in-home visit.
He’s considered the highest-rated tight end to commit to Florida since Kent Taylor in 2012, according to Rivals.
4. (No. 282 overall) Iverson Clement, ATH, Mount Holly, N.J., FLORIDA: Four of Clement’s 18 offers come from ACC schools, and he’s in a state where five of the top 20 prospects are already committed to ACC schools.
The Florida commit is expected to be a speedy running back. He committed to the Gators in April and has stuck with them through the coaching change. Philly.com quoted him as saying he’s visited the campus 10 times.
Clement, a state long jump champion, said he plans to play running back in college, but he could also contribute at slot corner and as a return man on special teams.
5. (No. 403 overall) Jordan Davis, DT, Charlotte, N.C., GEORGIA: The main adjectives to describe this Georgia commit are “massive” and “huge,” which refer to both his physical appearance and his potential. He’s 6-foot-6, 330 pounds, but the main reason he is appealing to recruiters is his quick first step.
Although Davis is one of the most sought-after defensive tackles in the country, he is very raw, according to 247Sports. “He must continue to refine his technique, become more consistent and develop some moves.”
6. (No. 440 overall) Chris Bleich, OT, Plymouth, Pa., FLORIDA: A popular recruit nationally, Bleich has 17 offers from across the SEC, ACC and Big Ten. The 6-6, 305-pound prospect committed to Florida late last month. Bleich was Mullen’s first commitment as Florida coach, and it was a flip from UCLA.
Bleich had a relationship with the coaching staff from its time at Mississippi State, most notably offensive line coach John Hevesy, that led to his decision to commit to Florida, the Orlando Sentinel reported. Bleich is considered a top-notch blocker with above average agility that helps him get to the second level and pick up linebackers.
7. (No. 484 overall) Demarcus Gregory, WR, Duncan, S.C., OLE MISS: Gregory is 6-3, 204 pounds, and chose the Rebels over North Carolina and South Carolina, among 23 offers.
Gregory comes from the same high school as former South Carolina star Marcus Lattimore. Gregory has drawn comparisons to current and former Ole Miss receivers Donte Moncrief, Laquon Treadwell, Damore’ea Stringfellow, A.J. Brown and D.K. Metcalf.
Gregory was a big get for Ole Miss receivers coach Jacob Peeler, who once lured Demetris Robertson to Cal — all the way from Savannah, Ga.
8. (No. 615 overall) Dashaun Jerkins, S, Woodbridge, Va., VANDERBILT: Jerkins picked Vanderbilt over the likes of North Carolina after the Commodores reportedly made him their No. 1 defensive back recruit, according to InsideNova.com.
Vandy was the first SEC school to offer Jerkins. He’s listed at 5-11 1/2 and 195 pounds. His 12 offers are primarily from ACC and Big Ten schools. At the time of his commitment in June, Jerkins’ pledge pushed Vanderbilt’s class to 30th overall in the 247Sports team recruiting rankings and fifth in the SEC.
9. (No. 901 overall) Jesus Gibbs, OT, Dumfries, Va., SOUTH CAROLINA: Another recruit with mostly ACC schools among his 18 offers, Gibbs is 6-4, 265 pounds. Gibbs’ commitment showed a concerted effort by South Carolina to build offensive line depth, as he was the fifth at that position to commit to the Gamecocks in this class.
A converted basketball player, Gibbs made the varsity team in high school as a sophomore and carries a 4.0 GPA, according to InsideNova.com.
10. (No. 964 overall) Jaevon Becton, WDE, Virginia Beach, Va., TENNESSEE: The one-time Georgia commit recently picked up an offer from the new Tennessee staff. He decommitted from Georgia earlier this week.
When Becton first committed six months ago (to Georgia), Rivals.com Mid-Atlantic analyst Adam Friedman, who’s seen Becton play live several times, told 11 Alive: “He’s a solid player and someone who will need to develop once he gets into the program. He’s a nice pickup from a talent-rich area that I know Georgia wants to do better in.”
Apparently, Tennessee wants to do well there, too.