In just six days, a slew of 2017 SEC recruiting targets will make possibly the biggest decision of their lives during National Signing Day. And even if a player is committed somewhere right now, there’s no guarantee he faxes a letter of intent to that program on Feb. 1.
Recent years alone produced plenty of top SEC prospects who flip to another school late in the recruiting process. Dante Fowler switched from Florida State to Florida in 2012. LSU lost Pat White to West Virginia in 2004. And Cyrus Kouandjio, after announcing his commitment to Auburn live on ESPN back in 2011, sent his signed letter of intent to Alabama 3 days later.
Who could deliver a last-minute shocker in 2017? SEC Country’s resident recruiting experts offer their thoughts on that very subject in this week’s roundtable.
Sam Spiegelman (@samspiegs) — Neil Farrell, LSU to Florida State
LSU’s longtime defensive line commit is coming off a positive visit to LSU, but has high hopes heading into a visit at Florida State this weekend. If everything goes according to plan, Florida State coaches could push Farrell for a late flip ahead of National Signing Day. This flip could well carry even more weight for both recruiting classes heading into what should be a dramatic Feb. 1.
Both the ‘Noles and LSU are coming for 5-star defensive tackle Marvin Wilson. Both schools remain confident in their chances. But if Florida State makes a strong play for Farrell, then it could signal its recruiters are feeling less sure of their ability to land Wilson.
LSU would love to take both defensive tackles, but Wilson is a higher priority. Taking Wilson, but losing Farrell could open the door to add an edge-rusher, defensive lineman, linebacker, defensive back or wide receiver.
**Update: Elijah Blades dropped his commitment to Florida on Thursday.
Zach Abolverdi (@ZachAbolverdi) — Elijah Blades, Florida to Nebraska
Florida isn’t at risk of losing multiple members from its 2017 class, but Blades appears headed elsewhere. A 4-star prospect, Blades committed to the Gators last summer. But the Cornhuskers kept recruiting Blades and convinced him to take an official visit to Nebraska last weekend. He also visited Florida on Jan. 13 and plans to make a final decision on National Signing Day.
Benjamin Wolk (@benjaminwolk) — Jamyest Williams, South Carolina to Georgia
Forgive me for stating the obvious, but both programs are in a desperate sprint to the finish for the No. 8 cornerback in the nation. Williams was the first-in-the-boat, vocal presence in South Carolina’s 2017 class. Williams is from Georgia, and in-state pull is starting to wear on his commitment.
DeAngelo Gibbs, one of Williams’ close friends, chose Georgia on New Year’s Day, and that complicated the decision. There’s one team that could steer Williams away from the Gamecocks, and that’s the Bulldogs.
Jesse Simonton (@JesseReSimonton) — Jamyest Williams, South Carolina to Georgia
A 4-star corner from Grayson (Ga.),Williams committed to South Carolina over the summer, but the Top 100 prospect has never stopped flirting with Georgia. Williams grew up just outside Athens, and his high school teammate and close friend DeAngelo Gibbs is already a Bulldogs mid-year enrollee.
Georgia is selling Williams on the opportunity to play immediately as a returner, taking the Isaiah McKenzie role on special teams. Williams is South Carolina’s highest-rated commit, so losing him a week after 4-star safety Hamsah Nasirildeen flipped to Florida State would be a big blow to the Gamecocks’ class.
Jeff Sentell (@JeffSentell) — Jamyest Williams, South Carolina to Georgia
Williams has always wanted to surround himself with great players so his talents can be used chasing championships.
When he exerts every ounce of his energy and will to win a football game, he’d rather see it take place within a 1-possession game in the fourth quarter or a big victory, as opposed to an outmanned 31-20 defeat. The chances of that seem greater playing for Georgia over the next 3-to-4 years. The Bulldogs are stacking up more elite players than South Carolina.
Athens has also been his home. He’s told me in the past he’s always known he was going to deeply consider playing for the Bulldogs because of that connection.
**Update: Jacob Phillips has indeed flipped from Oklahoma to LSU. Both reporters submitted their responses before the announcement was made. We promise.
Trent Shadid (@Shadid13) — Jacob Phillips, Oklahoma to LSU
Phillips officially visited LSU last week and came away impressed, according to our Sam Spieigelman. Since it was an unofficial visit, this 4-star linebacker and his family made the trip from Nashville, Tenn., on their own dime. That says a lot, especially so close to National Signing Day.
Though Phillips has long been committed to Oklahoma, the numbers make a lot more sense for him to end up at LSU. The Sooners have 3 or 4 players in the class projected to play linebacker. LSU has none. Also consider how linebackers are typically deployed more in the SEC than the Big 12 and all signs points toward Phillips signing with the Tigers.
Chris Kirschner (@ChrisKirschner) — Jacob Phillips, Oklahoma to LSU
There’s a good chance that LSU can flip Phillips. This Army All-American remains torn in his decision on sticking with the Sooners or flipping to the Tigers. Phillips was in Baton Rouge last weekend on an unofficial visit, meaning his family paid its way to the school.
To take an unofficial visit this late in the process shows legitimate interest in a school. Oklahoma is supposed to have an in-home visit with Phillips and his family on Friday, so the Sooners should have a better idea of what he’s going to do at that point. There is a lot of open space on LSU’s LB depth chart and the school is closer to his home in Tennessee. Both teams eagerly and anxiously await his decision.