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National Signing Day: SEC Domination

Nick Saban explains how the SEC has mastered the art of recruiting; Photo: USA Today Sports

The SEC dominated college football from 2006 through 2012, winning seven straight BCS National Championships. This past season, FSU knocked the SEC off it's perch by beating Auburn. The SEC coaches must have taken this personally as they pulled out all the stops on the recruiting trail. Per the 247 Sports Composite team rankings, the SEC finished with 7 of the top 9 best recruiting classes.

Here is how the SEC classes ranked…

School SEC Rank Overall Rank
Alabama Crimson Tide #1 #1
LSU Tigers #2 #2
Texas A&M Aggies #3 #5
Auburn Tigers #4 #6
Tennessee Volunteers #5 #7
Georgia Bulldogs #6 #8
Florida Gators #7 #9
South Carolina Gamecocks #8 #15
Ole Miss Rebels #9 #16
Kentucky Wildcats #10 #17
Arkansas Razorbacks #11 #30
Mississippi State Bulldogs #12 #38
Missouri Tigers #13 #39
Vanderbilt Commodores #14 #46

The Surprises

Matt Elam picks Kentucky

Way before the hubub of National Signing Day, four-star DT Matt Elam shocked the world by committing to Kentucky over Alabama. This is a great get for Mark Stoops.

Auburn High's Rashaan Evans picks Bama

Following in the footsteps of Reuben Foster, for the second straight season the War Eagles lost a recruit from Auburn High School to Alabama. That's not going to sit well with the locals.

Isaiah McKenzie goes with Georgia

McKenzie didn't have Georgia's hat on the table when he made his announcement but that didn't stop him from picking the Dawgs as high school teammate, and Georgia signee, Sony Michel helped lure him to Athens.

Florida flips four-star QB Treon Harris from FSU

Getting another QB on campus, especially a highly touted one, in Gainesville is huge for Will Muschamp. And plucking him from your rival that just won a National Championship is nothing to sneeze at.

 

The Biggest Gets

Cam Cameron successfully woo's Malachi Dupre

With the loss of Jarvis Landry and Odell Beckham Jr, Dupre could see immediate playing time. Landing the #2 WR to pair with the #1 RB (Leonard Fournette) bodes well for the Tigers offense.

Georgia lands the top in-state recruit

Mark Richt has taken a lot of flack for not closing on the state's top recruits in the recent past but this season his all-star group of recruiters landed the big fish as DE/LB prospect Lorenzo Carter, 18th prospect Nationally, is headed to Athens.

Bama lands top corner

When we did our list of undecided recruits in the middle of January, CB Marlon Humphrey was right near the top (at #2). While he committed prior to NSD, anytime you get a top guy it's a huge get. 

 

How did they do versus the trend?

One interesting way to look at recruiting is looking at how each school did versus their previous four-year trend. On Tuesday, I took a look at "recruiting vs results" and I took that data and plugged it in here using this years data and here's a breakdown of how teams performed versus their trend (from most improved to least improved)…

School 2010-2013 Avg Rank 2014 Rank Difference
Kentucky Wildcats #42 #17 +25
Texas A&M Aggies #17 #5 +12
Ole Miss Rebels #27 #16 +11
Tennessee Volunteers #14 #7 +7
LSU Tigers #7 #2 +5
South Carolina Gamecocks #20 #15 +5
Auburn Tigers #9 #6 +3
Vanderbilt Commodores #48 #46 +2
Alabama Crimson Tide #1 #1 same
Georgia Bulldogs #8 #8 same
Missouri Tigers #36 #39 -3
Arkansas Razorbacks #24 #30 -6
Florida Gators #2 #9 -7
Mississippi State #25 #38 -13

Some observations…

Ten teams either kept their status quo of recruiting or improved this season. That's scary. 

Mark Stoops looks like he's doing the right thing at Kentucky but it's going to take a few of these classes to turn that program around. Ditto: Butch Jones and Tennessee.

What a difference having a recruiting dynamo like Kevin Sumlin at Texas A&M makes….and it doesn't hurt that Texas is down.

For as much kudos as James Franklin got as a recruiter, Derek Mason got pretty much the same results despite Franklin raiding his class and it falling apart and then Mason having to pick up the pieces. I'm interested to see what Mason can do at Vandy.

Mississippi State is the one team on this list that should be worried. Dan Mullen has shown no signs of improvement recently at State and it looks like he's in for more of that in the near future.

 

Conclusion

At 6 pm on NSD, ESPN posted a graphic on twitter showing that 121 out of the ESPN's top 300 recruits signed with SEC teams (and 50 of the top 100). The closest conference to the SEC? The ACC, with 49. Out of the top 300 recruits, Alabama had 19, LSU had 16, Tennessee had 11 and Texas A&M had 10. ESPN also had the SEC with 9 of the top 25 classes (the Pac-12 was next with 5). 

Up until 2013, the SEC dominated the National Championship. Even though it's just part of the equation, recruiting matters and it's clear that the SEC has figured it out. The SEC coaches are off to a fantastic start to 2014 and they are well on their way to bringing the trophy back to the Conference.

Kevin Causey

About Kevin Causey

dry humorist, beer snob, occasionally unbiased SEC fan, UGA alumni, writer for Crystal Ball Run and founder of College Football Zealots

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