Now that we are one commitment away (Rock Hill, S.C., South Pointe defensive end Jadeveon Clowney) from being officially done with the 2011 recruiting class, it’s time to see how each SEC team did. As is the case most years, as a whole the SEC did very well as far as bringing in the country’s top talent.
It’s almost unfair.
I’m no teacher, so what do I really know about grading? Well, I know enough that I think I can just plop them down after each school. I based my grades on needs met and not met by each school and pure talent brought in.
Take a look at how all 12 teams did.
Top prospects: OT Cyrus Kouandjio, S Ha’Sean Clinton-Dix, RB Dee Hart, LB Brent Calloway
411: Alabama coach Nick Saban showed yet again that he’s one of the best in the game when it comes to recruiting. In fact, with Urban Meyer gone, he is arguably the best recruiter in the SEC, if not the country. Clinton-Dix was one of the top defensive backs in the country this season, and Hart was the Army Player of the Year. Kouandjio, the nation’s top offensive lineman, first committed to Auburn, but decided after signing day that he would join his brother at Bama. The Tide also reloaded on the defensive line with ends Jeoffrey Pagan and LaMichael Fanning. This class definitely challenges Florida State for the nation’s top class.
Top prospects: QB Brandon Allen, CB Tevin Mitchell, OT Brey Cook, S Kelvin Fisher
411: The Hogs loaded up at the skill positions, headlined by five wide receivers. The star of this group could be Quinta Funderbruk, who possess solid speed at 6-foot-5, 204 pounds. Coach Bobby Petrino got another toy to play with at quarterback in Allen, who should flourish in Arkansas’ offense. Arkansas added a few junior college players, and while the class doesn’t have that one superstar, Arkansas did a good job of controlling its recruiting area. The loss of tight end Chris Barnett late was a hit to this class.
Top prospects: OT Christian Westerman, S Erique Florence, QB Kiehl Frazier, DT Gabe Wright
411: Talk about the national championship recruiting bump. The Tigers were already creating a strong class, but got some great late pickups. Wright and Florence picked AU on signing day to go along with six others who committed after the Tigers’ national championship victory. Westerman’s January switch from Texas was the biggest, but AU also snagged top tight end Brandon Fulse and linebacker Kris Frost. Losing Koundjio to rival Alabama puts them just below the Tide as the SEC’s top class.
Top prospects: QB Jeff Driskel, CB Marcus Roberson, TE A.C. Leonard, S Jabari Gorman
411: This was Will Muschamp’s first class, and not only was he taking over for an icon in Meyer, but he had to do it in such a short amount of time. Muschamp did a great job of keeping the core guys together, especially keeping the nation’s top quarterback in Driskel. The late addition of quarterback Jacoby Brissett adds much-needed depth and will provide an exciting quarterback battle in a year. Running back Mike Blakely should provide a spark when he returns from his shoulder surgery, and Florida brought in arguably the top secondary class. However, Muschamp didn’t fill holes at offensive line, linebacker or defensive line.
Top prospects: RB Isaiah Crowell, DE Ray Drew, QB Christian LeMay, DB Malcolm Mitchell
411: Even with coach Mark Richt on the hot seat, the Dawgs were able to pull most of what they considered the “Dream Team” out of the state of Georgia. Crowell is a guy who could battle for the starting spot from day one, while it won’t take Drew long to get on the field and start harassing opposing backfields. LeMay is certainly rusty after missing his senior season, but he has a big-time arm. Georgia missed on a few top in-state players, but ended on a high note with the addition of JuCo defensive tackle John Jenkins, who should be the perfect nose guard in Georgia’s 3-4.
Top prospects: OT Darrian Miller, S Glen Faulkner, WR Daryl Collins, DE Christian Coleman
411: Coach Joker Phillips showed once again that he’s a fine recruiter and is now challenging the big boys of the conference for players. Collins was committed to Alabama, is from Alabama and ended up in Kentucky’s class. USC linebacker signee Lamar Dawson was seriously considering the Wildcats, but spurned them late. With quarterback an issues, the Wildcats grabbed two in this class. Faulkner could contribute early, as well. The ‘Cats did suffer a hit to this class when tight end Jon Davis, a one-time commit, signed with Illinois.
Top prospects: OT La’El Collins, DT Anthony Johnson, WR Jarvis Landry, DE Jermauria Rasco
411: LSU’s defensive haul is just scary. Johnson is a true man-child and Rasco could be a beast off the edge. Even with coach Les Miles expressing interest in Michigan, he was still able to pull in a solid class. Former Georgia quarterback Zach Mettenberger is a part of this class and will battle Jordan Jefferson for playing time this fall. Besides the top-ranked Collins, the Tigers signed three other linemen and should get early use of running back Kenny Hillard. The only dark spot is the fact that running back Jeremy Hill didn’t sign after he was arrested on sexual battery charge.
Top prospects: LB C.J. Johnson, WR Nickolas Brassell, LB Serderius Bryant, WR Tobias Singleton
411: Ole Miss got a major lift to its class when it plucked Johnson after he decommitted from Mississippi State. Brassell was also a one-time State commitment. Coach Houston Nutt also did a good job of recruiting the home state, grabbing the majority of the top prospects from the Magnolia State. The Rebels helped their front seven depth issues by signing eight linebackers/defensive linemen. Nutt put an emphasis on recruiting south Florida at the beginning, but ended up losing his commitments from there, including safety Gerod Holliman, who signed with Louisville.
Top prospects: S Darion Arrington, WR Joe Morrow, DT P.J. Jones, QB Dak Prescott
411: Coach Dan Mullen brought in another solid class to Starkville, Miss. The Bulldogs needed linemen, and Mullen brought in eight (four on offense and four on defense). Jones was a big get and could clog the middle on defense, but JuCo offensive lineman Joey Trapp might make the most immediate impact. Though MSU won nine games, the Bulldogs were beat on a lot of guys in-state, and Ole Miss snatched linebacker C.J. Johnson and receiver Nickolas Brassell from them late.
Top prospects: OT Brandon Shell, DT Kelcy Quarles, WR Damiere Byrd, DT Phillip Dukes
411: Offensive and defensive line were covered by South Carolina in this class. Both were areas that needed to get filled, and Coach Steve Spurrier did a great job of that. Shell could play early, while Quarles and Dukes should get chances to get into the rotation up front. Things could get even better for the Gamecocks if the nation’s No. 1 recruit, defensive end Jadeveon Clowney, signs on Feb. 14. Most think he will. Byrd is a speedster, but will need to gain weight. Ahmad Christian could be a special player, no matter if he plays offense or defense.
Top prospects: WR DeAnthony Arnett, LB A.J. Johnson, RB Marlin Lane, DE/LB Curt Maggitt
411: Coach Derek Dooley showed this year that he could become a big-time recruiter in the SEC. The Vols benefited from some late-season success on the football field. Grabbing Maggitt, who was considered a Gator lock for some time, was a big steal, and keeping Johnson, who had major interest in the Gators, was another win for UT. Lane’s switch from Clemson gives the Vols a dynamic, home run-hitting running back in this class. There were some misses along the way for Dooley, but snagging a bunch of defensive backs and a solid quarterback in Justin Worley should heal that sting.
Top prospects: TE Dillon van der Wal, DE Barron Dixon, QB Lafonte Thourogood, CB Derek King
411: There was little time for new coach James Franklin to hit the recruiting trail, but he grabbed 14 commitments after getting hired in mid-December. Vandy isn’t known for its recruiting success, but Franklin signed some talent this year, including Dixon, who was originally committed to MSU. Running back Mitchell Hester might not be a well-known name, but he’s a dynamic playmaker. The Commodores needed help on the offensive line and signed four. Vandy surprised a few by stealing Thourogood away from Virginia Tech on signing day.