Recruiting by position: Defensive end
No matter what recruiting service at which you look, the SEC has as many as 10 programs in the top-25 and seven in the top-14 of the 2015 rankings.
While you may or may not put a lot of stock into rankings, there’s no question the SEC recruits better than any other conference in the country.
With National Signing Day less than a month away, Saturday Down South looks at the top 20 prospects at each position group and how many will or could play for SEC teams in 2015.
Editor’s Note: Below is a list of the consensus top 20 defensive ends across all three major recruiting services: 247Sports, Rivals and Scout.
Defensive ends: The 2015 class is loaded at defensive end, and while only 40 percent of the class is currently headed to SEC schools, that number could rise in the coming month.
Uncommitted Targets: Some of the top uncommitted prospects in the country are at defensive end, and each likely will end up at a SEC program.
Top 20 defensive ends
1. Josh Sweat, Florida State — Sweat did not participate in last week’s Under Armour festivities due to injury. However, he’s a huge pickup for the Seminoles, as defensive coordinator Charles Kelly was able to steal him from nearby Virginia Tech.
2. Byron Cowart, uncommitted — Cowart is arguably the nation’s most sought-after uncommitted prospects. While he weighs offers from a number of schools nationally, he’s said to be deliberating between Florida and Auburn.
3. CeCe Jefferson, uncommitted — Jefferson is a talented defensive end, a game changer for whatever program he chooses. His top five reportedly are Ole Miss, Alabama, Florida, Georgia and Florida State.
4. Terry Beckner, Jr., uncommitted — Beckner showcased his size and power last week at the Under Armour game. Beckner has visits lined up to Missouri, Auburn and Ohio State, among others.
5. Canton Kaumatule, Oregon — The Hawaii product is headed to Oregon where he’ll add a massive frame to the Ducks’ defensive exterior.
6. Natrez Patrick, Georgia — Patrick is the second-rated weak side defensive end in the country. He bolsters a great Georgia front seven.
7. Jonathan Ledbetter, Georgia — The Tucker, Ga., native will play opposite Patrick, forming an impressive duo for years to come in the SEC.
8. Rasheem Green, uncommitted — Green could move inside to tackle once he gets to college. He’ll likely suit up for Arizona State, Miami (FL), Oregon or USC.
9. Jalen Dalton, North Carolina — Dalton is an elite defensive end who adds talent to a Tar Heels defense that, well, wasn’t good this year.
10. Kyle Phillips, Tennessee — The Volunteers picked up a huge commitment over the weekend from Phillips, who joins a loaded Tennessee defensive line.
11. James Lockhart, Texas A&M — Lockhart is a powerful edge rusher who could be an impact player early opposite Myles Garrett.
12. Andrew Butcher, Tennessee — Butcher is a solid four-star prospect, but likely will sit for a year with the depth the Vols have up front.
13. Arden Key, uncommitted — Key decommitted from South Carolina this week, but says the Gamecocks still top his leaderboard. Auburn, LSU and Georgia are thought to be in the mix, however.
14. D’Andre Walker, Georgia — The Bulldogs picked up a solid prospect over the weekend. Walker could be an impact player early for Jeremy Pruitt.
15. Shameik Blackshear, South Carolina — Blackshear is part of a heavy dose of defensive ends in the Gamecocks’ 2015 class. He has huge upside, however.
16. Jashon Cornell, Ohio State — At 6-foot-4, 260-pounds, Cornell will fill out a bit in college but could be a star for the Buckeyes.
17. Darian Roseboro, North Carolina State — Roseboro ranks near the top of the strong side defensive ends, and is a very talented piece for the Wolfpack.
18. Kamonte Carter, Penn State — Carter is the top player in the state of Maryland and a talented prospect for defensive coordinator Bob Schoop.
19. Porter Gustin, uncommitted — The top prospect from the state of Utah has garnered interest from programs nationwide, but is reportedly interested in Arkansas and LSU.
20. Marques Ford, Tennessee — Ford is a versatile player who can play on both sides of the line for the Vols.