Browns acquire wide receiver in trade with Steelers

Published: Saturday, September 02, 2017 @ 12:42 PM

            PITTSBURGH, PA - AUGUST 26: Sammie Coates #14 of the Pittsburgh Steelers can’t pull in a pass against Tyson Graham #42 of the Indianapolis Colts during a preseason game on August 26, 2017 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
PITTSBURGH, PA - AUGUST 26: Sammie Coates #14 of the Pittsburgh Steelers can’t pull in a pass against Tyson Graham #42 of the Indianapolis Colts during a preseason game on August 26, 2017 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)

The Cleveland Browns have acquired wide receiver Sammie Coates in a trade with the Pittsburgh Steelers.

The Browns also will receive a 2019 seventh-round pick. The Steelers get a sixth-round pick in 2018 from the Browns.

Coates, a third-year player out of Auburn, has appeared in 20 games with five starts. He has 22 catches for 446 yards and two touchdowns..

The Browns and Steelers open the season against each other next Sunday.

What I’ve heard on Alabama’s official visitors after massive recruiting weekend

Published: Monday, January 22, 2018 @ 4:00 AM

Alabama-Alabama football-Patrick Surtain

Welcome to SEC Country’s daily Roll Tide-ings, a rundown of everything happening in Alabama Crimson Tide recruiting with Chris Kirschner. Today, we talk the latest with Alabama’s official visitors from this past weekend. 

Alabama picks up momentum with key targets

Alabama’s biggest recruiting weekend before National Signing Day happened to fall during the same weekend as the Crimson Tide’s celebration of their latest national championship. That wasn’t any coincidence.

The team made sure the majority of its top remaining targets were in town this past weekend because the coaching and recruiting staff knew that Tuscaloosa was going to be buzzing for the parade. The fans turned out in a big way as it was estimated that more than 40,000 Tide fans were in Tuscaloosa celebrating with the team. That kind of love doesn’t go unnoticed by recruits.

With that being said, here’s what I’ve heard regarding Alabama’s visitors.

  • The most-talked-about recruits visiting Alabama were 5-star American Heritage (Plantation, Fla.) cornerbacks Tyson Campbell and Patrick Surtain Jr. It’s been discussed countless times in this space for months now, but the Tide desperately need help in the secondary heading into next season as every starter from this past season has moved on from the program. SEC Country was told that Campbell and Surtain and their families had a fantastic time in Tuscaloosa this past weekend. One source close to the program believes Alabama now leads for both cornerbacks. That’s how confident the team is right now at landing the premier defensive backs. Once the source told me that, I followed it up by asking another person, who spent lots of time with both players this past weekend, how he felt about Alabama’s chances with the talented prospects. The second source told me that he, too, believes Alabama is the team to beat for both recruits, but he believes the cornerbacks don’t want to play together in college as they did in high school. He believes Campbell is ultimately going to do his own thing and end up signing with Georgia or Miami. But Alabama is in a good spot right now to land at least one of the two top targets at cornerback.
  • Alabama offered 4-star cornerback Taiyon Palmer on Sunday night after the official visits were completed. Lots of fans started to panic because they believed it meant the team didn’t feel confident in landing either Surtain or Campbell. This offer has nothing to do with where the team feels like it stands with the 5-star cornerbacks. Offensive line coach Brent Key offered Palmer. Palmer cannot commit to the Tide right now if he wanted to. Alabama and other programs around the country offer kids late in the process every year. Teams need backup options just in case their top targets sign elsewhere.
  • Something to also note with Surtain: His father interviewed for the defensive backs position vacated by Derrick Ansley’s departure to the Oakland Raiders. Surtain Sr. was passed over for Karl Scott. There still remains the possibility that Surtain Sr., who is the coach at American Heritage, could receive an opportunity down the road with the Tide as an on-field assistant. There is no ill will from Surtain Sr. on not getting the DBs job; in fact, the father of the nation’s No. 1 cornerback loves the program and is a big Nick Saban fan.

RELATED2018 Alabama recruiting big board

  • LSU has been the longtime favorite for Surtain because of his family’s ties to Louisiana, but Alabama has slowly chipped away at the Tigers’ lead for several months and Surtain himself believes he has a legitimate opportunity to see the field right away in Tuscaloosa and compete for several championships. Now, it appears that Alabama has the momentum for one of the top 10 players in the country.
  • One source told me that Justyn Ross, a 4-star wide receiver from Central High School (Phenix City, Ala.), had a blast on his visit. The word is that he was fully engaged with the staff and players. The source went on to say that he has never seen Ross “act like he has” this past weekend. The Tide hit a home run with Ross.
  • I exchanged some messages with 4-star Alabama linebacker commit Quay Walker, who has been very shaky with his pledge to the Tide. Walker spent lots of 1-on-1 time with Saban on Sunday. The coach gave Walker the standard ride around in his luxury car. Walker also got to talk to former Tide linebacker Reggie Ragland, which made Walker very happy. “He told me that Alabama is the school that’ll get me to where I’m trying to go and he talked to me about his career,” Walker said. The longtime commit also admitted that he didn’t feel comfortable at first when he arrived in Tuscaloosa because Jeremy Pruitt and Ansley, the two coaches he was closest to, are gone. That changed as the weekend progressed. “I actually told [Tennessee linebacker commit] JJ [Peterson] that it didn’t feel right at first, but things went well after meeting with the new coaches.” It also helped Alabama by pairing Walker with Mack Wilson, who was his host. Wilson has turned into arguably the team’s top peer recruiter.
  • Two sources feel like Alabama is the team to beat for 5-star offensive tackle Nicholas Petit-Frere after he visited the Tide with his mother this past week. He still has visits to Florida and Ohio State before he makes his decision, but the Tide feel good about where they stand with him.
  • Alabama leads for 4-star defensive end Malik Langham. It would be a surprise if Langham didn’t end up choosing the Tide.
  • I haven’t heard anything about Alabama commits Bobby Brown and Vernon Jackson. Last I heard on Brown was that he is essentially locked in with the Tide at this point, even though Texas A&M is trying to change his mind. I’m not sure where Jackson’s head is.
  • All in all, it was an excellent weekend for the Tide. They rolled out the red carpet for these recruits in town and the recruiting staff worked overtime to make sure the players and their families had a good time. We’ll see how good of a weekend it truly was in a few weeks when National Signing Day rolls around on Feb. 7.

Miss a previous edition? Find every post of SEC Country’s daily Roll Tide-ings recruiting notebook right here.

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Where things stand between Tennessee and RB commit Anthony Grant after official visit

Published: Monday, January 22, 2018 @ 4:00 AM

Anthony Grant-Tennessee recruiting-Tennessee-running back

Tennessee is looking to recapture its glory from the 1990s. Join us daily at SEC Country for the latest Tennessee recruiting news and notes on the next crop of Volunteers. Check out previous editions here. In this edition, we discuss Tennessee’s big recruiting weekend and review some of the bigger names on campus.

Latest with Anthony Grant

Tennessee didn’t host a lot of big names on official visits over the weekend. There were a number of important prospects on campus, though, no one more important to the Class of 2018 than Anthony Grant.

This weekend was meant to serve as a time for the longtime Tennessee commit to get better acquainted with the new coaching staff.

The visit came at a good time for Grant, according to a story from Rival’s Chad Simmons.

“I had to look around some because you just never know, but a big reason I have stayed committed is because of coach [Robert Gillespie], the running backs coach. We just have a great relationship. They want me at running back,” Grant said. “They talked to me about that during the visit. They said I am versatile and that could use me in many different ways at running back.”

RELATED: 2018 Tennessee recruiting big board

This answers a number of different questions for the team, and clears up some uncertainty surrounding Grant and his level of commitment.

It seems like Grant is going to stick with the Vols despite looking at a few other schools. He will still take an official visit to Florida State, though.

The coaching staff still plans to keep Grant as a running back, which is why he is probably remaining firm in his commitment. The 5-foot-11, 200-pound Buford, Ga., native played safety as well this past season. He has potential as a safety, but clearly has a desire to play running back.

Tennessee has openly pursued other running back options the past few weeks. It seems the staff has decided Grant will be a take.

The 3-star prospect looks like he’ll remain in the fold for the Vols with National Signing Day a little more than two weeks away on Feb. 7. He joins signee Jeremy Banks as the other running back in the class for Tennessee.

Tennessee impresses defensive lineman

The Vols hosted 3-star defensive end John Mincey over the weekend. The visit appeared to have gone really well.

Mincey changed his Twitter profile to a picture of him in a Vols uniform.

The coaching staff is trying to improve the quality of play along the line of scrimmage, and adding Mincey would be a step in that direction.

Tennessee has commitments on the defensive line from Greg Emerson, Brant Lawless, Kingston Harris and D’Andre Litaker.

Tennessee is switching to a 3-4 system, causing a shift in what the Vols are looking for in defensive linemen. The defensive ends will have to be more pass-rushing prototypes.

The 6-foot-4, 255-pound prospect could potentially be pursued as an outside linebacker as well.

Mincey will visit South Carolina and Florida State the next two weeks, but it still looks like the Vols are in a solid position on this one.

Tennessee eyeing QB graduate transfer

Not soon after Stanford quarterback Keller Chryst announced his intentions to graduate and transfer, he was linked to the Vols.

This move would make a lot of sense for Tennessee. The Vols are going into the spring with Jarrett Guarantano and Will McBride as the only quarterbacks on the roster. Recruit JT Shrout will join the team in June.

Adding some depth at the position would be wise, and a graduate transfer is a smart move. Other QBs could be convinced to blue shirt, which means their scholarship is delayed until they are on campus and the number counts against the next year.

Miss a previous edition? Find all your SEC Country Tennessee Vols recruiting news here.

The post Where things stand between Tennessee and RB commit Anthony Grant after official visit appeared first on SEC Country.

Which 2019 Louisiana prospects could add LSU offers next?

Published: Monday, January 22, 2018 @ 4:00 AM

Welcome to SEC Country’s daily Eye on the Tigers, a rundown of everything happening in LSU Tigers recruiting , with Sam Spiegelman. Today, we discuss the next wave of offers that could be dished out by LSU as junior day events begin to pop up.

Which new 2019 offers being dished out? 

There are merely three spots remaining in LSU’s 2018 recruiting class, so as Ed Orgeron and Co. look to close out the current class strong, they are also beginning to turn the page onto the much-anticipated 2019 class in Louisiana.

LSU already holds commitments from four of the top-20 2019 in-state prospects and offers have been made to nine of the top-10.

Could more be dished out in the next few days?

RELATED: 2018 LSU recruiting big board

As LSU’s elite junior day events rapidly approach, new overtures are expected to be distributed. Keep in mind that last year at this time, Orgeron offered a wealth of the Class of 2018 prospects leading up to the annual “Boys From The Boot” recruiting function. That includes Nelson Jenkins, who pounced on the offer and flipped from Kansas right away.

Who could be next?

Quinton Torbor, 4-star WR, uncommitted (Destrehan, La.)

LSU is putting the finishing touches on an impressive four-receiver haul in 2018, which will likely be sealed with 4-star wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase on National Signing Day on Feb. 7. The team already has offers out to the top two in-state wideouts in 2019, including 4-stars Devonta Lee and Trey Palmer, not to mention a handful of out-of-state targets.

Once the attention is officially on the 2019 group, expect Mickey Joseph and Jerry Sullivan to take a hard look into Quinton Torbor at Destrehan. One of the best prospects in the state, Torbor is a yards-after-catch specialist with a big frame. He has visited a handful of times and remains in contact with Joseph. The timing of the offer is critical, too, as Torbor may look to shut things down early.

Chester Kimbrough, 4-star CB, uncommitted (New Orleans)

Four-star New Orleans CB Chester Kimbrough camped at LSU last June. (Sam Spiegelman/SEC Country)

Much like the circumstances with Torbor, LSU has already put its horse in the race for top in-state corners Derek Stingley Jr. and Devin Bush. Chester Kimbrough is a long, athletic man-to-man specialist that defensive backs coach Corey Raymond is a huge fan of, but may be waiting before extending an offer.

Kimbrough camped out at LSU last June and was by far one of the top performers. No offer was extended, though.

Kimbrough has seen his recruitment take off in recent months and has solidified himself as one of the best lockdown corners in the state. However, with an early commitment from 4-star corner Maurice Hampton Jr., and being in the lead spot for both Stingley and Bush, that may prevent LSU from offering Kimbrough this early in the process.

It will be interesting to see what Raymond has in store for Kimbrough this spring. Too late of an offer would certainly hurt the Tigers’ chances of keeping the Warren Easton standout in-state. However, with offers out to out-of-state targets such as Bobby Wolfe, Erick Young and Marcus Banks, among others, it could get interesting.

Jordan Clark, 4-star DB, uncommitted (Baton Rouge, La.)

Jordan Clark put together an impressive junior campaign for state champion University High School. The versatile defensive back sees action at corner, safety and in the nickel, and the latter may be where Raymond targets the 4-star prospect if and when he extends an offer.

Clark has been a regular inside Tiger Stadium and Raymond has been courting him for months. LSU seems resolute on taking only one safety in 2018 in Kelvin Joseph, but will lose John Battle and Ed Paris Jr. after the season. Clark is fully capable of being the nickel safety that the Tigers did not bring in for this current class.

Charvis Thornton, 4-star ATH, uncommitted (Baton Rouge, La.)

Four-star ATH Charvis Thornton has remained in contact with LSU coach Ed Orgeron and Tommie Robinson for months. (Sam Spiegelman/SEC Country)

It remains unclear what position best suits electric 4-star athlete Charvis Thornton, but his ability to play both sides of the ball and return both kicks and punts has garnered the attention of both Orgeron and running backs coach Tommie Robinson early on.

Thornton remains one of the more under-the-radar prospects in The Boot for 2019, but the 6-foot, 180-pound athlete is squarely on LSU’s radar. He can work in the slot and out of the backfield, not to mention to secondary. He may garner an offer early, but will certainly be a prospect that will camp at LSU in the summertime to find his best spot on the field.

Two of Thornton’s teammates at Southern Lab — 5-star offensive guard Kardell Thomas and 4-star running back Tyrion Davis — are already committed to the Tigers. Thornton is one of the top uncommitted prospects in the state and one of several Southern Lab players sitting on LSU’s watch list along with athlete Tyler Guidry and defensive backs Anthony Shaffer and Kendarius Moses.

Billy Sonnier, 3-star DE, uncommitted (Lafayette, La.)

Billy Sonnier drew a visit from Orgeron during the December contact period and has expressed a desire to shut down his recruitment sooner rather than later. The 6-foot-6, 225-pound athlete is a pure pass-rusher, but is still raw. LSU would prefer for him to camp there to get a better gauge of his abilities, much like Dantrieze Scott did a year ago before committing.

Sonnier has already been open about his interest in staying in-state and will certainly be among the notable visitors for junior day functions in the weeks to come.

Christian Harris, 3-star ATH, uncommitted (Baton Rouge, La.)

One of the best pure athletes in the state, Christian Harris can play a multitude of different roles at the next level. That includes wide receiver, tight end, H-back or linebacker. At 6-foot-2 and 230 pounds, it will be up to a prospective coaching staff to decide where he best fits.

Harris has worked out at LSU for several summers in a row, but has drawn the attention of Joseph in recent months. With his speed, strength and incredible natural athleticism, Harris could be taken as the athlete in the Tigers’ 2019 class with a position to be determined down the line.

Miss a previous edition? Find every post of SEC Country’s daily Eye on the Tigers recruiting notebook right here .

Justin Ferguson: Where I voted Auburn basketball in my AP Top 25 ballot

Published: Monday, January 22, 2018 @ 4:00 AM

Auburn basketball-Auburn Tigers-Auburn-Georgia-Jared Harper-rankings-AP
            Top 25

AUBURN, Ala. — Auburn basketball looked destined for back-to-back losses to unranked teams and a one-way ticket out of the Associated Press Top 25 through the first three halves of its past week.

However, the Tigers rallied from behind and crushed Georgia in the second half on Saturday. Bruce Pearl’s team is now 17-2 and 5-1 in the SEC after its latest come-from-behind victory, and it still holds a sparkling top-10 spot in the RPI.

While their tough loss to Alabama and recent slow starts should hurt them in the polls this week, the Tigers should stay firmly in the AP Top 25 poll when it’s released at noon ET on Monday.

MORE: Auburn basketball stifles Georgia in another second-half comeback win

I dropped Auburn a couple of spots for its past week, but some losses elsewhere in the Top 25 kept it from falling too far. Here’s my ballot:

  1. Villanova
  2. Virginia
  3. Purdue
  4. Duke
  5. Kansas
  6. West Virginia
  7. Michigan State
  8. Xavier
  9. Cincinnati
  10. Arizona
  11. North Carolina
  12. Saint Mary’s
  13. Oklahoma
  14. Gonzaga
  15. Ohio State
  16. Clemson
  17. Texas Tech
  18. Auburn
  19. Tennessee
  20. Florida
  21. Arizona State
  22. Nevada
  23. Rhode Island
  24. Wichita State
  25. Michigan

Auburn drops two spots this week in my ballot after losing to Alabama and beating Georgia in comeback fashion. The Tigers still have one of the best records in college basketball, but they haven’t faced many top-tier opponents like others ahead of them have — namely Clemson, Texas Tech and Gonzaga. The SEC is deep and challenging, no doubt, but this isn’t quite the murderers’ row of the Big 12 or ACC.

It’s hard to dock Auburn too much, though, with a record like 17-2 in a season in which teams with three losses are in contention for top-5 spots. If Auburn splits its matchups again this week, it should still be fine. There’s a lot of turnover happening below the Tigers these days.

Other notes from my ballot:

  • Slowly but surely, here comes Duke. The Blue Devils have won four straight since that N.C. State loss, and it has a strong 17-2 record with five KenPom top-50 wins. That matchup Saturday against Virginia will be a true clash of styles — the nation’s best defense against an elite team that hasn’t been consistent on that side all season.
  • West Virginia lost a pair of close ones and then cracked a 35-point beatdown over the heads of a Texas team that had recently beaten TCU and Texas Tech. That’s life in the Big 12 these days. The Mountaineers are still a ferocious matchup on both ends of the floor, and it should be in line to reel off a solid winning streak after an extremely tough stretch in conference play.
  • It’s time to start talking seriously about Saint Mary’s. Jock Landale is a player of the year-caliber machine, and the Gaels beat Gonzaga on the road last week. Their last four games have been away from home, which is a tough streak to accomplish in any conference. Don’t forget about them.
  • Hello again, Florida. That strange loss to Ole Miss aside, it’s impressive to see what Mike White is doing with the Gators, even when they aren’t playing at their best. They’ve won eight of their last nine games and ended Kentucky’s unbeaten start at Rupp Arena. That’s top-20 worthy in my book.
  • Keep an eye on Nevada as we get deeper into conference play. The Wolfpack are a lot of fun to watch on offense, and they are fresh off defeating a tough Boise State team at home. Their losses are fine, as they dropped ones to Texas Tech and TCU by a combined 10 points, along with a weird one to San Francisco. Eric Musselman’s team has what it takes to go on a nice tear here in the Mountain West.

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