2014 Recruits from Big Ten Country Who Will Commit to SEC Programs
Illinois prospect Clifton Garrett is likely to sign with an SEC team. (247Sports)
The Big Ten Conference boasts several of the nation's premier college football programs. Storied traditions, historic rivalries and a lineage of outstanding players highlight a conference that continues to increase its national reach.
Rutgers and Maryland make the leap to Big Ten competition in 2014, vastly enhancing the conference's East Coast exposure. The American heartland and Great Lakes area currently comprise the majority of "Big Ten country."
Big Ten coaches perennially aim to pluck elite prospects from this region, but they are hardly alone in their recruiting efforts. The SEC is among a group of rival BCS conferences seeking talent in the area, and no other collegiate football body can presently deliver a better sales pitch.
SEC squads have claimed seven consecutive national championships and churn out NFL prospects at an alarming rate. Here's a look at several uncommitted recruits from Big Ten territory who appear destined to join the SEC fray.
4-Star CB Marshon Lattimore (Cleveland, Ohio)
Marshon Lattimore is an electric cornerback prospect who projects as an immediate impact player in college. The 6'0", 175-pound Glenville High School standout is listed as Ohio's No. 1 senior player in 247Sports' composite rankings.
Lattimore spent much of his summer surveying the college football landscape with several campus visits. According to 247Sports, SEC stops included Alabama, Tennessee and Kentucky.
Ohio State and Michigan remain in the picture, but those programs face uphill battles in fending off members of the SEC elite. Lattimore is planning to spend an official visit weekend in Tuscaloosa this November, per 247Sports.
Nick Saban is sure to press hard for a commitment from Lattimore, who has the two-time national champions under heavy consideration. Urban Meyer will fight to keep the kid home, but give a slight lean to Alabama based on the timing of his visit with the Crimson Tide.
5-Star Outside Linebacker Clifton Garrett (Plainfield, Ill.)
Plainfield South star Clifton Garrett is an elite defensive prospect in Northeast Illinois. The 6'2", 230-pound playmaker is the No. 1 outside linebacker recruit in 247Sports' composite rankings and appears primed for a move south.
Garrett, who compiled 117 tackles in nine games as a junior, per The Herald-News, holds scholarship offers from SEC teams Tennessee, Florida, Ole Miss, Alabama, Arkansas, Missouri and Texas A&M. 247Sports lists USC as the only non-SEC squad among his six favorites.
Despite offers from nearby Illinois, Indiana and Ohio State, Garrett doesn't disguise the fact that he favors a future in the SEC.
“Nothing against the Big Ten, but I’ve always liked the SEC,” he told Herald-News reporter Dick Goss. “I feel it’s a different brand of football they play there.”
That should clear up any doubt about his intentions.
4-Star OT Alex Bookser (Pittsburgh, Pa.)
Polished offensive tackle Alex Bookser is tailor-made for a role as front line bookend at the next level. The Mount Lebanon senior is a monstrous blocker with few holes in his approach.
The 6'6", 295-pound prospect is looking at a wide variety of schools in the Big Ten and SEC. Tennessee, Virginia and Alabama have extended offers, while Ohio State, Penn State and Michigan State are also in the mix, according to 247Sports.
Alabama has a strong history of producing professional offensive linemen and already reeled in No. 1 tackle prospect Cam Robinson. The Crimson Tide are heavily targeting Bookser.
He visited the Volunteers in Knoxville this summer, per 247Sports. Bookser has yet to unveil where he'll travel for official visits this winter, but expect SEC squads to be featured on the tour.
4-Star CB Parrker Westphal (Bolingbrook, Ill.)
Rangy secondary prospect Parrker Westphal has his pick of several college teams. The versatile defensive back is capable of filling a variety of roles depending on the scheme, and he's currently listed as the No. 11 cornerback in the country in 247Sports' composite rankings.
SEC squads are in hot pursuit of the 6'0", 185-pound playmaker. Florida welcomed Westphal to campus in May, and his offer list includes Tennessee, Mississippi State and Vanderbilt, according to 247Sports.
Nebraska and Michigan are among his prominent Big Ten offers.
Westphal possesses the size and style of play—especially his knack for providing quality run coverage—often found in SEC defensive backfields. Last autumn, he attended a matchup in Evanston between Northwestern and Vanderbilt.
Those two teams are considered his favorite choices at the moment, per 247Sports.
4-Star DE Malik McDowell (Detroit, Mich.)
Michigan State and Michigan are trying mightily to keep Malik McDowell in his home state. It's a tough task for either team, as the 6'7", 290-pound defensive end is being courted by some of the SEC's elite squads.
LSU, Florida, Tennessee and Alabama have each entered his recruiting process by extending offers. McDowell, a beastly defensive disruptor out of Southfield High School, is well suited to serve as an anchor in Saban's three- and two-man fronts.
Although he would fill a need on any team in America, it may be impossible for him to ignore the long reach of the SEC. Unless he is absolutely intent on staying close to Detroit, expect McDowell to make official visits to at least two SEC campuses.