Top recruiters in SEC

Here’s a look at 12 outstanding recruiters from each team in the Southeastern Conference.

By JC Shurburtt


Lance Thompson, outside linebackers coach

Thompson has tireless work ethic and could be the best recruiter in the entire conference. He has led a resurgence of the Crimson Tide in the talent-rich Mobile, Ala., area.

For the Class of 2008, Nick Saban’s first full cycle as the Tide’s head coach, Thompson signed receivers Julio Jones and B.J. Scott, along with linebacker Mark Barron, defensive lineman Glenn Harbin and safety Robert Lester, among others out of the area.

This cycle looks great as well. Thompson is responsible for Bama landing the nation’s No. 2 running back, Trent Richardson (Pensacola, Fla./Escambia), lineman D.J. Fluker (Foley, Ala.), linebacker Nico Johnson (Andalusia, Ala.) and quarterback A.J. McCarron (Mobile, Ala./Saint Paul’s), among others.


Lorenzo Ward, secondary coach

Ward knows how to flat-out get it done in recruiting. When he was an assistant coach at Virginia Tech, he was responsible for the Hokies signing Kevin Jones out of Pennsylvania; many rated Jones the nation’s No. 1 overall prospect in the Class of 2000.

More recently, he helped the Razorbacks land dynamic ESPNU 150 defensive back Darius Winston (West Helena, Ark./Central).


Eddie Gran, running backs coach

The Tigers have gotten their share of players out of talent-rich South Florida and Gran is personally responsible for most of it.

During this recruiting cycle, Gran has picked up sleeper offensive lineman Steven Jacques (Hollywood, Fla./South Broward) from the area. Last recruiting cycle, the California native signed five players with South Florida ties.


Billy Gonzales, wide receivers coach/recruiting coordinator

During Urban Meyer and staff’s first full recruiting cycle (Class of 2006), Gonzales was the lead recruiter for the Gators on wide receiver Percy Harvin.

Young and dynamic, Gonzales does an excellent job of building personal relationships with prospects. He Recruits South Florida for the Gators now (it used to be current West Virginia assistant Doc Holliday) and was responsible for landing NuKeese Richardson (Pahokee, Fla./Pahokee) in this year’s class.


Rodney Garner, assistant head coach/defensive line coach/recruiting coordinator

Garner has long been one of the top recruiters in the SEC and coordinates an effort that annually brings some of the nation’s top talent to Athens.

This recruiting cycle, he is personally responsible for landing ESPNU 150 offensive lineman Chris Burnette (LaGrange. Ga./Troup). In the last recruiting cycle, he brought in offensive lineman Cordy Glenn (Riverdale, Ga.), who has seen significant playing time this year.


Joker Phillips, assistant head coach/offensive coordinator

The program’s head coach in-waiting, Phillips has been behind the Wildcats’ surge in talent and improvement on the field during recent seasons. LSU

D.J. McCarthy, wide receivers coach

One of the top recruiters in the entire country, McCarthy has mined Louisiana, Florida and Texas for the Bayou Bengals since joining Les Miles’ staff prior to the 2007 season.

In this year’s class, McCarthy has received in-state pledges from ESPNU 150 defensive tackle Chris Davenport (Mansfield, La./Mansfield) and running back Michael Ford (Leesville, La./Leesville). In the 2008 class, he nabbed defensive end Chancey Aghayere from Texas and safety Karnell Hatcher from Florida.

Ole Miss

Derrick Nix, running backs coach

Nix has a reputation as an up-and-comer on the recruiting trail and currently has three of the Rebels’ verbal commitments for the 2009 class. He’s spent a large part of his coaching career in the state of Mississippi, having played and coached at Southern Miss before spending last season with the Atlanta Falcons in the NFL.

Mississippi State

Charlie Harbison, defensive coordinator

Harbison is highly-respected throughout the Southeast and has helped with this year’s class that figures to be one of the best head coach Sylvester Croom has signed during his time in Starkville.

Harbison is the recruiter of record for Under Armour All-American running back Montrell Connor (Monroe, La./Ouachita) and talented defensive end Fletcher Cox (Yazoo City, Miss.).

South Carolina

Shane Beamer, cornerbacks coach

The son of Virginia Tech head coach Frank Beamer has done an excellent job recruiting during his first two years in Columbia.

Beamer is good at building relationships with prospects, and that paid off earlier this recruiting cycle when he earned commitments from linebackers Matt Coffee (Fort Walton Beach, Fla.) and Chaun Gresham (Winder, Ga./Apalachee)—he turned Gresham from Georgia Tech.


Stan Drayton, running backs coach

Drayton was one of the top recruiters on Florida’s staff before heading to Tennessee after last season, and the move paid off almost immediately for Phillip Fulmer and the Vols when Drayton landed a commitment from Under Armour All-American running back Jarvis Giles (Tampa, Fla./Gaither).

Drayton ruled the Tampa area when he was recruiting for the Gators and made a statement with the Giles commitment.


Warren Belin, recruiting coordinator/linebackers coach

Belin has coordinated an assembling of talent that has the Commodores competing in the nation’s toughest conference.

He has roots in Texas and landed linebacker Patrick Benoist out of Southlake Carroll in the Class of 2006 and has a commitment from sleeper receiver Brady Brown of Argyle in this year’s class.