Former under-the-radar prospects who became excellent SEC players
It happens every year: under-the-radar prospects surpass expectations.
Here’s a look at one under-the-radar prospect during the last five seasons that has emerged as an excellent “player” in the Southeastern Conference:
Alabama: Jeoffrey Pagan, DE
It was hard to find one of these for the Crimson Tide, and Pagan was a four-star, highly-recruited prospect out of Asheville, N.C. But he surpassed expectations with loaded competition for snaps and is now in the NFL.
Arkansas: Chris Smith, OLB
The Razorbacks went all the way to the state of North Carolina in the 2010 class to find Smith, who ended up being one of their best defensive linemen during his career. He is now in the NFL with the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Auburn: Dee Ford, DE
A three-star prospect out of St. Clair County (Ala.) high in the 2009 class, Ford developed into an All-SEC defensive end and was a first-round draft pick of the Kansas City Chiefs.
Florida: Jordan Reed, TE
Reed was a four-star quarterback prospect out of the state of Connecticut who came to Florida and developed, and even thrived, as a tight end. He started nine games for the Washington Redskins this past season.
Georgia: Ramik Wilson, LB
Wilson was a three-star linebacker prospect out of Tampa (Fla.) Jefferson in the Class of 2011. He led the SEC in tackles in 2013 and was an All-SEC performer. He was drafted by the Kansas City Chiefs.
LSU: Barkeviovs Mingo, DE
Mingo was a low four-star prospect out of West Monroe (La.) in the 2009 class, and while he was somewhat highly-regarded, he outplayed more highly-touted prospects during his time with the Tigers and was the sixth overall pick in the 2013 NFL Draft by the Cleveland Browns.
Kentucky: Alvin “Bud” Dupree, DE
Dupree was ranked as a three-star tight end out of the state of Georgia in the 2011 class, and he went on to be an All-SEC player for the Wildcats. Dupree was drafted and started as a rookie for the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Mississippi State: Dak Prescott, QB
Prescott was a three-star prospect in the 2011 cycle out of Haughton (La.) High and proceeded to become one of the best quarterbacks in the SEC and perhaps the best quarterback in Mississippi State history. He is likely to be drafted this spring.
Ole Miss: Marquis Haynes, DE
The current rising junior is one of the Rebels leading pass rushers and was a three-star prospect coming out of high school. He was a freshman All-American in 2014.
Missouri: Shane Ray, DE
Ray was a three-star prospect out of the state of Kansas, who like many Tigers defensive linemen, developed into one of the top players in the country. Ray was the 2014 SEC Defensive Player of the Year and was a first-round pick of the Super Bowl Champion Denver Broncos.
South Carolina: Connor Shaw, QB
A three-star prospect in the Class of 2010, Shaw was a three-year starter for the Gamecocks and graduated as the program’s all-time wins leader at that position.
Tennessee: Cameron Sutton, CB
Sutton was a three-star prospect out of the Atlanta area, earned a starting job for the Vols as a true freshman (and made plays) and has been one of the best corners in the SEC during his career. He has an NFL future.
Texas A&M: Mike Evans, WR
Evans was a mid three-star prospect out of Ball High in the border town of Brownsville, Texas, in the 2011 cycle. He went on to be an All-SEC performer with the Aggies and was the No. 7 overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Vanderbilt: Jordan Matthews, WR
Matthews was a low three-star prospect in the 2010 class out of Madison, Ala., for the Commodores and proceeded to become one of the top receivers in the SEC. He now plays for the Philadelphia Eagles (he was a second round pick of the franchise) and had 997 receiving yards this past season.