February 7, 2013

Signing Day Blitz: Ranking the SEC

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Rivals.com breaks down and ranks the classes in the SEC.

Alabama | Arkansas | Auburn | Florida | Georgia | Kentucky | LSU | Mississippi State
Missouri | Ole Miss | South Carolina | Tennessee | Texas A&M | Vanderbilt

Signing Day Blitz: Ranking the SEC
1. Alabama

Commit List
TideSports.com
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Headliner: Reuben Foster is the prototypical inside linebacker who can stop the run and drop into coverage in Alabama's versatile defensive schemes.
Sleeper: Eddie Jackson's athletic ability is through the roof and he should excel at either defensive back or wideout.
Overview: Where do you start? The Tide captured the BCS national title and Rivals.com recruiting championship for the second consecutive year. One of the forgotten gems of this class is five-star defender Jonathan Allen. Allen committed early in the cycle, but he will be an impact player because of his scheme versatility as a pass rusher and outside linebacker in the Buck position. A'Shawn Robinson is a huge pick up as Alabama continues to make in-roads in Texas. The running back position is ridiculous. Derrick Henry, Tyren Jones, Alvin Kamara and Altee Tenpenny are all special players, but each brings something different to the table. Henry is a jumbo back with great linear speed and one-cut ability; Jones has a low center of gravity; Kamara is a threat in the passing game;, and Tenpenny reminds us of a young Natrone Means. Tight end O.J. Howard is a red zone nightmare for defenses and should do plenty of damage on seam routes down the middle of the field. Jonathan Cook is ball-friendly and doesn't panic when the ball is in flight. Lastly, Grant Hill is going to special along the interior opening holes for the stable of backs in the run-first offensive attack.
2. Florida

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InsidetheGators.com
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Headliner: The Gators landed the No. 2 player overall in lock-down cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III out of Tampa (Fla.) Wharton.
Sleeper: Jarrad Davis is a sure tackler who swarms to the ball and is always driving the ball carrier backward.
Overview: Rivals.com National Analyst Mike Farrell likes to refer to coach Will Muschamp as Flipper, and it is meant as a compliment. This year Muschamp flipped five-star linebacker Alex Anzalone, Demarcus Robinson, Matt Rolin and the previously mentioned Davis. Not a bad haul. Florida also addressed wide receiver, which was a position of need. Rivals100 standout Alvin Bailey is a big-play threat on the outside, on jet sweeps and in the return game. Chris Thompson is a vertical threat who needs to add upper body strength to get off press coverage and deal with the physicality of the SEC. Joey Ivie and Caleb Brantley are rugged linemen who will add depth to the rotation. Marcell Harris, Keanu Neal, and Nick Washington are reliable and capable safeties who will battle for playing time. Hargreaves and company will make it tough for teams looking to pass against the stellar group of defensive backs.
3. LSU

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TigerBait.com
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Headliner: Five-star cornerback Tre'Davious White has the ability to jump right in at cornerback in the SEC and can be a huge factor on special teams.
Sleeper: Three-star linebacker Duke Riley is undersized, but he was highly productive in high school and plays with great instincts.
Overview: Les Miles has proven to be one of the best when it comes to securing the top talents in the country. Signing day 2013 was no different as the Tigers head man and his staff closed on five-star talents Frank Herron and White while pulling off a nice signing day shocker in four-star Tashawn Bower out of New Jersey. The Tigers finished with the nation's No. 6-ranked class and in addition to the top out-of-state talent they closed on the Louisiana prospects they had at the top of their board.
4. Ole Miss

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RebelGrove.com
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Headliner: Robert Nkemdiche gives the Rebels their first overall No. 1-rated prospect since the Rivals.com rankings inception.
Sleeper: Marcus Robinson has long arms and a frame to add weight without losing any of his speed and quickness.
Overview: When Nkemdiche committed to the Rebels, it showed the college football world and more importantly the ultra-competitive SEC that Ole Miss is a major player in the recruiting landscape. However, the rise started when five-star split end Laquon Treadwell committed to Hugh Freeze on Nov. 30. The nation's No. 1 rated offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil is a bookend tackle who combines a strong punch, nimble feet, and superb technique. Antonio Conner, who is rated as the No. 2 prospect in the state of Mississippi, could line up at either safety spot. Memphis native Mark Dodson Jr. is more of a darter than burner, but he has good hands and should be a great check-down receiver. Austin Golson was a nice addition. The Rebs also picked up a pair of signal-callers as Ryan Buchanan and Devante Kincade will look to take over after Bo Wallace departs. Ole Miss has signed five-star prospects in consecutive classes while also landing three five-stars for the first time in school history.
5. Auburn

Commit List
AuburnSports.com
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Headliner: Carl Lawson created headlines when he reaffirmed his pledge to Auburn, helping the Tigers finish with a top-10 class.
Sleeper: Peyton Barber hails from the same high school as headliner Lawson and is a quality player who could emerge as the feature back.
Overview: The Tigers closed well with Montravius Adams, Elijah Daniel, Deon Mix and Johnathan Ford. Adams is the lone five-star of the bunch, but the Tigers flipped the other three four-star prospects very late. Ford possesses good speed and above-average burst. Barber can run through or around you. Ford and Barber will draw comparisons to Cadillac Williams and Ronnie Brown when they arrive on The Plains. Rodney Garner and Dameyune Craig proved to be excellent hires for head coach Gus Malzahn. Garner was instrumental in Adams coming to Auburn. Craig was able to get Rivals100 flanker Tony Stevens to switch from Texas A&M. Jason Smith has a chance to be a star as the go-to receiver. Jeremy Johnson is an ideal dual-threat quarterback to run Malzahn's spread attack. Kamryn Melton is an athletic corner that can help in run support.
6. Texas A&M

Commit List
AggieYell.com
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Headliner: Four-star athlete Ricky Seals-Jones has the ability to stretch the field and the size and athleticism to get above anyone for the ball.
Sleeper: Three-star defensive end Jay Arnold plays with great leverage and has a high football intelligence that could allow him to be an early contributor.
Overview: The excitement level is through the roof in College Station. Everything coach Kevin Sumlin touches seems to be turning to gold. The Aggies finished sixth in the SEC, but they have the No. 10 class in the country. The Aggies filled needs along the offensive and defensive fronts and one of the top wide receiver groups in the country. During a season that saw the Aggies post an 11-2 record and upset Alabama, while Johnny Manziel was winning the Heisman Trophy, Texas A&M became the hot team in Texas and a national recruiting presence. The Aggies definitely announced their presence in the SEC in a big way.
7. Georgia

Commit List
UGASports.com
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Headliner: Tray Matthews is not only the highest-ranked player in the Bulldogs class, but he fills a need at safety. Sleeper: Davin Bellamy was a late addition to the class but has a chance to develop into a good college defensive end.
Overview: While they finished with a top 15 team nationally, the Bulldogs entered the final week of the cycle with their sights on the top five. Instead, they missed on big-time targets Laremy Tunsil and Montravius Adams and finished the 2013 cycle without a five-star recruit. While their large overall class is nothing to be ashamed of, it has to be tough for Bulldogs fans to see guys from their own backyard such as Reuben Foster, Carl Lawson and Robert Nkemdiche end up at other schools in the SEC. Matthews highlighted the class, along with fellow four-stars Leonard Floyd and Tim Kimbrough. There's no doubt the strength of the class is on the defensive side of the ball, but the Bulldogs also hope they've found Aaron Murray's successor in in-state prospect Brice Ramsey.
8. South Carolina

Commit List
GamecockCentral.com
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Headliner: Larenz Bryant has been a fixture in the Rivals250 and should have an immediate impact on the Gamecocks defense.
Sleeper: J.P. Vonashek struggled with injuries during his senior season, but at 6-foot-6 he has the frame to add weight and become an excellent college tackle.
Overview: The Gamecocks built a solid class early and held onto nearly the whole lot through signing day. Even though they missed on a few late targets, including four-star Yannick Ngakoue, by doing their due diligence in scouting, the South Carolina coaches landed a lot of players who should fit nicely into their system. Before the last round of rankings, one of the biggest sleepers in this class would have been versatile athlete Pharoh Cooper. However, Cooper was one of the best players at the Shrine Bowl, earning a four-star ranking. When he arrives in Columbia, Cooper could do a little bit of everything, whether it be at running back, wide receiver or even some wildcat quarterback. Speaking of the quarterback position, Steve Spurrier hopes he has his next great one in four-star prospect Connor Mitch.
9. Vanderbilt

Commit List
VandySports.com
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Headliner: Nigel Bowden is a tough-nosed linebacker who would have probably been bound for Georgia in years past, but the Vanderbilt coaches did an excellent job of landing him.
Sleeper: Darrius Sims is a physical defensive back who played both ways for his high school team. If the Commodores are going to move up in the SEC standings, they'll need players like Sims to go toe-to-toe with the best receivers in the conference.
Overview: No school's class was under fire more than the Commodores' over the past two weeks, and even though they lost Malik Foreman and Johnathan Ford to SEC foes Tennessee and Auburn, they still finished signing day well. A pair of four-star Cunninghams -- wide receiver Jordan and linebacker Zach -- helped Vanderbilt close with a flurry and finish inside the overall top 25. Players like Jordan Cunningham signal just how far Vanderbilt has come in recruiting over the past few years. To steal him out of Miami's backyard is a perfect example of how interested players are in what coach James Franklin is selling. If all goes according to plan, Cunningham will be catching the ball from Army All-American quarterback Johnathon McCrary by the time both players are sophomores.
10. Tennessee

Commit List
VolQuest.com
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Headliner: Marquez North was one of the latest additions to the class, but he has the potential to have the biggest impact in Knoxville as a big-play threat at wide receiver.
Sleeper: Malik Foreman was identified by the staff at Vanderbilt, but then flipped late to Tennessee. He's a versatile athlete with elite speed who could be used on either side of the ball.
Overview: The new staff as Tennessee made a sprint to the finish line but ultimately missed on big targets Carl Lawson, Johnathan Ford and Vonn Bell. Not all was lost as North committed in the week leading up to signing day and three-stars Joshua Dobbs, Malik Brown and Jaylen Miller committed on Wednesday. The Vols stole Dobbs from Arizona State, and they believe he's the perfect fit for new coach Butch Jones' offensive attack. On the defensive side, Tennessee held onto four-star defensive end Jason Carr, despite Ole Miss making a strong push late. Rivals250 offensive tackle Austin Sanders is a nice addition on the offensive line, and Jalen Reeves-Maybin could be used at multiple positions on either side.
11. Mississippi State

Commit List
BulldogBlitz.com
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Headliner: Chris Jones made a meteoric rise to five-star status following a productive senior year and a dominant showing at the Under Armour All-American game.
Sleeper: De'Runnya Wilson is a 6-foot-6, 220 pound receiver who is a star basketball player
Overview: Give Dan Mullen and his staff credit for identifying Jones early and offering him when no one else did. Jones' loyalty paid off as Ole Miss made a hard charge to flip him leading up to Signing Day. Ashton Shumpert is a versatile athlete who plays RB, DB, and LB and was the Gatorade Player of the Year in the Magnolia State. Quarterback Cord Sandberg can help make or break the class depending on what he chooses to do with his baseball career. Sandberg is expected to be selected in the early rounds of the June MLB Draft. Fred Ross is a big-time steal from the Lone Star State and should be ready to contribute as a freshman. Kent Flowers and Jake Thomas are solid offensive line prospects who should develop as they improve the technique and footwork.
12. Kentucky

Commit List
CatsIllustrated.com
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Headliner: Jason Hatcher was a last-minute flip from USC and is the crown jewel of the class. He gives the Wildcats immediate help on the defensive side.
Sleeper: Reese Phillips is a talented quarterback who put up huge numbers and committed to the Wildcats early. He could flourish in the new system.
Overview: After having one of the worst classes in the major BCS conferences, the Wildcats rebounded with a flurry. Three four-star prospects committed during the last six weeks of the cycle, including Hatcher and defensive back Marcus McWilson. After earning the job for his performance as a defensive coordinator, it's not a surprise new coach Mark Stoops has built his first recruiting class around the defense. The top five Kentucky commits are on defense, and they come from four states. If the Wildcats are going to build a winner, they're going to have to do it by pulling talent from out of state, and a priority on Ohio yielded strong results in this year's class. On the offensive side, the Wildcats missed on Asiantii Woulard but landed Florida prospect JoJo Kemp, who should contribute immediately at the running back position.
13. Arkansas

Commit List
HawgSports.com
Message Board
Headliner: If running back Alex Collins had sent his LOI he would be here. Right now, the spot goes to offensive lineman Reeve Koehler, who has the ability to find a spot in the Razorbacks offensive line rotation early on in his days in Fayetteville.
Sleeper: Three-star Dan Skipper is one to keep an eye on. He plays with great strength, and as he develops and fills out his frame he has the potential to be a special presence at offensive tackle.
Overview: The story of the day in Fayetteville and around the country was Collins not being able to send in his letter of intent on Wednesday. There is no doubt his presence in the Arkansas recruiting class takes the class to another level, but it should be said that new head coach Bret Bielema and his coaching staff strung together a solid class in a short period. Upon Bielema's arrival in Fayetteville, he turned loose a few recruits and from there the staff went to work. The offensive line group led by four-stars Koehler and Denver Kirkland headline a group that saw the Razorbacks keep six of the top seven prospects in-state.
14. Missouri

Commit List
PowerMizzou.com
Message Board
Headliner: Chase Abbington is a versatile athlete from inside the state who has the chance to be an impact player.
Sleeper: Eddie Printz put up video game numbers in high school, and the Mizzou staff is hoping he's the next Chase Daniel.
Overview: There's no doubt that this year's class is a disappointment for Tigers fans. Missouri took 20 players, but the class average is below a three-star average. The staff did a nice job by keeping an in-state talent like Abbington close to home, but finishing outside of the top 40 nationally isn't going to cut the mustard in the SEC. One positive was the addition of three-stars Printz, Nate Crawford and Shaun Rupert, who come from Georgia, Florida and Alabama, respectively. If the Tigers are going to compete with the big dogs in the SEC, they're going to have to dip into the Southeast and pull out talent. While Printz is an intriguing prospect, many believe that Trent Hosick, the No. 19-rated dual-threat quarterback in the country, could be the future at the position.




 

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