The buzz on the SEC East's high school early enrollees
Every year, when colleges’ spring semesters roll around, a group of high school seniors make a mature decision. They decided to skip out on things like senior prom, graduation and, everyone’s favorite, senior cut days, and instead get their high school diplomas early in order to join their new football programs a semester early.
The SEC East has its share of early enrollees get to campus this spring. Who is making practice headlines, and how are they doing? We’ll take a spin through the division to check in on the true freshman already on campus, leaving the junior college transfers out.
The Gators have just two early enrollees, and they’ve been stuck down on the depth chart since spring practice started. Kalif Jackson has been getting reps at wide receiver, but he’s had some drops and has struggled along with the rest of the offense as it goes through growing pains in Jim McElwain’s first spring practice.
A few of the Dawgs early enrollees have found themselves earning major repetitions, some with the first team. Natrez Patrick has gotten a chance to work with the starters at linebacker, while Jonathan Ledbetter has earned praise from the coaches at defensive end. Tight end Jackson Harris has shown some receiving prowess, while safeties Jarvis Wilson and Johnathan Abram have earned praise from their older teammates.
Tight end is expected to be a position of strength for the Wildcats this fall, and C.J. Conrad is a big part of that. The 6-foot-5, 245-pound Conrad has been on of the favorite targets for quarterbacks Patrick Towles and Drew Barker this spring, catching a touchdown in Kentucky’s scrimmage last week, and he’s working to improve his blocking as well.
George Asafo-Adjel could be the first freshman to earn significant playing on the offensive line under Mark Stoops. At 6-foot-5 and 315 pounds, he’s already heavier than all but one Kentucky offensive lineman, and he has the length and strength to go along with his size. Asafo-Adjel has been working at right guard, rotating between first and second team reps.
Tanner Owen, a three-star offensive tackle, is the only high schooler to enroll early for the Tigers. He’s working with the backups, behind a veteran offensive line group.
Linebacker Sherrod Pittman has been held out of some practices with a leg injury, while wide receivers Christian Owens and Jerad Washington are fighting for reps in a depleted receiving corps. The Gamecocks’ two most important early enrollees, defensive linemen Dexter Wideman and Marquavius Lewis, are both JUCO transfers.
Injuries have wreaked havoc on the Volunteers depth chart, and the early enrollees haven’t been immune. Both Kyle Phillips and Darrin Kirkland are out for the spring, Phillips with a shoulder injury and Kirkland with a torn pectoral muscle. On top of that, offensive guard Chance Hall has been limited at times.
Hall has still gotten some reps at guard alongside fellow freshman OT Jack Jones on the second team. Defensive tackle Shy Tuttle has worked with the starters at defensive tackle as Tennessee deals with a depleted defensive line that’s without two starters.
The two early enrollees at quarterback, Jauan Jennings and Quinten Dormady, have both impressed coaches, and Butch Jones has been encouraged by their progress so far this spring. The two are expected to compete for the backup spot behind Joshua Dobbs, and bring different skill sets to the table; Jennings is fleeter of foot, while Dormady is more comfortable in the pocket so far.
The Commodores do not have any early enrollees from high school.