College football recruiting, and especially SEC recruiting, can be fickle. Young men are trying to make life-changing choices while under a lot of scrutiny.
In that environment, players backing off a verbal commitment (and possibly going back to it) should be expected. It’s part of what makes the recruiting cycle so fascinating to watch. But when one of a team’s top prospects de-commits, it still leaves a significant sting.
The SEC has had a number of high-profile de-commitments for 2017, with many players flipping between conference rivals. And it wouldn’t be recruiting if Alabama’s moves didn’t affect everyone else significantly.
Let’s take a look at each SEC program’s top de-commitment and where those players are likely to end up:
5-star RB Cam Akers (March 3, 2016)
The Crimson Tide once had both of the top two running backs in the 2017 class: Najee Harris and Cam Akers. But with Alabama’s backfield depth, Akers’ de-commitment in March didn’t hurt much. Akers committed to Florida State over Ole Miss in December. He enrolled in classes in Tallahassee this week.
3-star OT Dwayne Fisher (May 14, 2016)
Unlike some other schools, Arkansas hasn’t suffered many de-commitments this cycle. Only two players have backed off their pledges to the Razorbacks. One of them was 3-star OT Dwayne Fisher, who has yet to make his final choice. He holds offers from Colorado, Mississippi State and Virginia Tech.
4-star CB Tray Bishop (Dec. 12, 2016)
Auburn lost a major piece of its recruiting class in December when 4-star CB Tray Bishop of Dawson, Ga., de-committed. He later elected to remain in-state, committing to Georgia at the start of the new year.
Auburn also had a high-profile de-commitment from 4-star QB Lowell Narcisse, who pulled back from his pledge in January 2016 before committing to LSU in May. He flirted with the idea of rejoining Auburn’s class after de-committing from LSU in December, but he quickly re-established his verbal.
4-star DT Fred Hansard (Nov. 27, 2016)
Fred Hansard disappointed Florida when he flipped his commitment to Penn State in November. He would have been the highest-rated defensive tackle in the class for the Gators. And that’s a position where Florida could have used some more depth and talent after Caleb Brantley declared for the NFL draft.
4-star WR Devonta Smith (Jan. 14, 2016)
While he’s had plenty of recruiting successes, Kirby Smart wasn’t able to hold on to 4-star WR Devonta Smith when he succeeded Mark Richt as head coach at Georgia. Alabama now looks like the favorite to land the No. 9 receiver in the country.
4-star QB Mac Jones (June 7, 2016)
Kentucky, like so many other schools, has been a victim of the Alabama recruiting machine. Mac Jones flipped his commitment from Kentucky to the Crimson Tide in June, and he may not ever see the field in Tuscaloosa. However, Kentucky seems content with current quarterback pledge Danny Clark, who de-committed from Ohio State before committing to play for the Wildcats.
5-star LB Dylan Moses (Aug. 3, 2015)
Dylan Moses is a top-10 player and the No. 1 outside linebacker in the 2017 class. So it was tough for the Tigers when he de-committed in 2015. It was even tougher when he ultimately chose division rival Alabama, where he enrolled this week. The Tigers still are hoping to grab a linebacker in this class, and they may get one in former Ole Miss commit Willie Gay.
4-star LB Willie Gay (Oct. 24, 2016)
The last few months haven’t been great for Ole Miss recruiting. An NCAA investigation has been hanging over the Rebels on the recruiting trail, and the Rebels missed on in-state star Akers, who chose Florida State. And before that, they lost the commitment of 4-star linebacker Willie Gay. He made an official visit to Ole Miss in December, but LSU is still the favorite. The good news for the Rebels is that they still were able to land a suitable replacement for him in 4-star LB Breon Dixon.
4-star LB Anthony Hines (Nov. 21, 2014)
Coveted linebacker prospect Anthony Hines committed to Mississippi State as a freshman in high school. But, as the offers kept rolling in, he gravitated toward other options. Hines committed to division foe Texas A&M in December after an absolutely absurd senior season.
3-star WR Roderick Ford (Dec. 14, 2016)
The Tigers have only dealt with two de-commitments in the 2017 class, including 3-star wideout Roderick Ford from Fort Worth, Texas. He reopened his recruitment in December, but it’s not clear where he’s likely to commit. His other offers include Bowling Green, North Texas and Tulane.
4-star WR Stephen Guidry (April 29, 2016)
South Carolina has had some big de-commitments, but the biggest was probably 4-star JUCO receiver Stephen Guidry. He’s waffled with LSU for a few months, but it looks like the Tigers will get him on National Signing Day.
5-star WR Tee Higgins (Feb. 4, 2016)
The Vols lost Tee Higgins, their No. 1 commit in the 2017 class, last February. He is the second-highest-ranked receiver nationally and the No. 14 prospect overall. The loss hurt a little more because Tennessee couldn’t keep the Oak Ridge prospect in-state. He committed to Clemson in July.
5-star QB Tate Martell (May 4, 2016)
Tate Martell’s recruitment took some interesting turns. The nation’s No. 2 dual-threat quarterback committed to Washington in 2012 before ever playing a down of high school football. Almost three years later, he de-committed before going with the Aggies. Then he de-committed again before finally settling on Ohio State. Texas A&M ultimately got another quarterback it liked in 4-star Kellen Mond.
3-star CB Adam Sparks (Dec. 12, 2016)
Vanderbilt has dealt with one de-commitment during this cycle. Talented DB Adam Sparks reopened his recruitment in December after a visit to division rival Missouri earlier in the month. He committed to play for the Tigers on Christmas.
All ratings and rankings come from the 247Sports Composite unless otherwise noted.