The Memphis Tigers dipped into the recruiting hotbed that is Middle Tennessee, landing commitments from Riverdale defensive end Javon Nelson and Brentwood linebacker Spencer Rich on Tuesday and Wednesday, respectively.
Nelson, a three-star prospect and the No. 14-ranked recruit in Tennessee according to 247Sports composite rankings, was named the Region 3-6A Defensive MVP this year after racking up 61 tackles, 15 tackles for loss and three sacks as Riverdale went 10-3 and reached the state quarterfinals.
Nelson chose Memphis over offers from Arkansas, N.C. State, Vanderbilt, Virginia and Virginia Tech, and plans to sign with the Tigers on early signing day Dec. 16. He finished his Riverdale career with 17 sacks in three seasons.
"It's a good fit for me," Nelson told Cecil Joyce of the Daily New Journal. "It's not too far from home, so I don't have to be far away from everybody. They're a really good program.
"…I had a great time talking to coach (Ryan) Silverfield and (defensive line) coach (Kyle) Pope. They made me feel really good. It felt like the right place at the right time."
Rich, a 6-foot-2 linebacker, set the Brentwood single-season sack record (7) this year and was named Region 6-6A Defensive MVP as the Bruins went 10-4 before losing to No. 1 Oakland in the 6A state championship game.
He finished the season with 122 tackles, four interceptions, two forced fumbles, a blocked punt and a blocked extra point.
“Next Chapter,” Rich tweeted on Wednesday morning, announcing his commitment. “#Committed #AllIn #GTG.”
The duo joins a Memphis recruiting class that already features several commits from Tennessee including safety Gregory Rubin (White Station), cornerback Jawon Odoms (Henry County), defensive end James Stewart (Brentwood Academy), safety Brandon Warner (Ridgeway HS) and linebacker Bryce Edmondson (Ensworth) — all three-star recruits.
Memphis currently has the No. 45-ranked recruiting class in the country and the second-best recruiting class in the American Athletic Conference, which is home to Cincinnati, Houston, Navy and UCF among others.
Follow Michael Gallagher on Twitter @MGsports_