Photo via 247Sports
Most recruiting battles are over for the 2013 season, but there are a few that remain for some of the country’s most elite prospects. Carl Lawson is one of the guys still trying to decide where to spend his next four years.
Just when it seemed like Lawson had settled on a top three, Georgia Tech has now entered the picture, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Recruiting never sleeps.
His new list of finalists include Auburn, Clemson, Georgia Tech and Tennessee. Looking at all four schools, it’s clear that Lawson’s best fit is Auburn.
Lawson is ranked as the No. 1 weakside defensive end and the No. 21 overall player in the country according to the 247Sports Composite Rankings.
The star defensive end has been committed to the Tigers since May of 2012, but the recent coaching change led him to open up his recruitment. There have been a number of programs that have earned face time with the star defensive end, but only four teams remain.
Interestingly enough, two of the three have new coaching staffs.
Looking at the options Lawson has laid out, he will sign with Auburn on February 6.
Georgia Tech has jumped into the picture late, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Lawson and his father took a visit to the campus on January 30, and Lawson’s father had great things to say about the visit.
He told the AJC that “We had a real good visit with the new Georgia Tech defensive line coach, Mike Pelton, over at Georgia Tech today…Georgia Tech is being considered (because of the) great relationship with Pelton.”
Mike Pelton was the Auburn defensive line coach under Gene Chizik—the staff that Lawson first committed to.
It also doesn’t hurt that Georgia Tech is his father’s former school. There is a lot going on heading into the last few days of Lawson's recruitment, but this late push by Georgia Tech looks to be window dressing.
Don’t count out the Yellow Jackets, but Auburn’s ACC rival appears to be a long shot at best.
Clemson has the highest paid assistants in the country for a reason. The Tigers have put together an excellent staff, and Bren Venables is leading the defense back to the top of the ACC.
Bringing in a player like Lawson would help shore up an already solid defensive end position for the Tigers. There is no shortage of talent on the Clemson sideline at defensive end, but Lawson should be able to work his way into the playing rotation early.
The Tigers can sell the pros to Lawson as well. There have been five defensive linemen drafted from the Clemson program since 2010.
Lawson would be a pro prospect and have the chance to play early in a reserve role for the Tigers. He would play alongside a host of rising juniors, giving him solid leadership to learn the college game from.
His first official visit came went to Clemson, making this team the apparent darkhorse. The distance from home is also a disadvantage. Of all three schools, these Tigers are the longshot.
Tennessee brought in a new coaching staff after the disaster that was the Derek Dooley years, and the hope is that Butch Jones can get things moving in the right direction for the Vols.
Jones brought over John Jancek from Cincinnati to be his defensive coordinator. Jancek will take the Vols away from the 3-4, and back to the 4-3 defense—a scheme that favors Lawson’s play.
The Tennessee program is looking for playmakers that can bring the winning tradition back to Knoxville. Jones can look at Lawson and honestly say that he can build a defense around his electric play.
Also keep in mind that former Auburn coaches Tommy Thigpen and Willie Martinez are on the Tennessee staff. Familiarity helps, but it shouldn’t make a major difference.
A lot of things are favorable to Tennessee, but the Vols are still on the outside looking in. They are the strongest opposition to Auburn, but with Lawson’s visit coming a few weeks before Auburn’s the Vols lose any edge they may have gained with the visit.
The Auburn Tigers have held Lawson’s commitment since before last summer. Lawson wasn’t a huge name on the recruiting circuit, but after summer camps and a senior season he is rated as the top weakside defensive end in the country.
Where will Lawson sign?
The Tigers changed coaches after last season, and immediately Lawson began to look around. He has been tied to a number of programs, but Auburn has held his commitment.
One positive for the Tigers is the defensive coordinator hire. Ellis Johnson has put together some of the best defensive fronts in recent memory inside the SEC. Johnson had the nastiest defensive line in the country his last three years at South Carolina.
Lawson will be walking into a program that is coached by some of the best minds in the college game. He would have the chance to play immediately, and will be a the cornerstone of the Tigers' recruiting class.
Auburn needs a playmaker to step up along the defensive line. Lawson is that player. Despite the recent ebb and flow that has occurred in his recruitment, the Tigers are his best fit, and they will land this star defender on signing day.