SEC recruiting review


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.
Grade: A+

Signees: 30
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.
Grade: B-

Signees: 24
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.
Grade: A

Signees: 19
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.
Grade: B-

Signees: 26
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.
Grade: A

Signees: 26
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.
Grade: B-

Signees: 22
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.
Grade: A-

Signees: 27
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.
Grade: B-

Mississippi State
Signees: 22
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.
Grade: C+

South Carolina
Signees: 31
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.
Grade: B

Signees: 27
Top prospects: WR DeAnthony Arnett, LB A.J. Johnson, RB Marlin Lane, DE/LB Curt Maggitt
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.
Grade: B

Signees: 21
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.
Grade: C


  1. I would have to disagree with you about UF and Kentucky being the same at B-. Maybe a B- for us being judged against our standards, but with Driskell, Blakely and others, if KY is a B- then we should be at least an A-. My guess is KY should be more a C.

  2. Please have Gator scouts go to N. GA and look at Lambert High’s QB Chandler Register as he would fit right into the Gator program. A rising junior and a Gator at heart, it would be an easy commit and pick up for Florida.

  3. Talk about grading on a negative curve… I believe you graded the Gators on their history and expectations. It’s hard to believe that Miss St and Vandy are the only two teams in the SEC to recruit worse than the Gators. SC (graded better than UF), Ark (tied), KY (tied) and Ole Miss (tied) combined had less top 150 prospects than the Gators. Three of those failed to make at least one services top 25 classes and KY didn’t make any. Did the Gators lose some recruits they usually get? Yes. Was it one of the best years for UF recruiting? No. Were they one of the recruiting doormats of the SEC? Definitely Not!!!

  4. “However, Muschamp didn’t fill holes at offensive line, linebacker or defensive line.”

    What holes? We are absolutely STACKED on both lines. I think we will be fine for 1 year with the group we got.

  5. Let’s see what happens in 2 years with all of these guys. A lot of them will turn out to be knuckleheads regardless of their school. Coach Muschamp already has a cadre of sound talent. He will bring in more next year. To bad Urban burned out, but that chapter is over. After sitting through last season’s follies, we all needed change.
    Go Gators!

  6. Florida coach Will Muschamp did an outstanding job in such a short time. Gators had the #1 recruiting class last season with a stud D-line coming in to full affect this year and offensive weapons as well. The Gators coaching staff was smart not to was scholarships on players they weren’t familiar with. The Gators with have a class of 30 or more recruits next year since they didn’t fill up with this class. Smart move if you ask me. The SEC East will be much stronger this season with the classes that Florida, Georgia and S.Carolina brought in over the last 2 seasons. Bring on FOOTBALL SEASON.

  7. Whogator…if you read the begining of the article the grades are not based on who was recruited but on what needs were met…and we didnt get any line help and barely got a line backer. Goes to say the class is decent but not what was necessary.

  8. As a Gator I do think the class was better than many others in the SEC and does not measure up to the last two years, but this was a great haul for the Gators with top players at all positions recruited. I agree with the B- if the criteria is “did they fill most of their most pressing needs?” And no, we did not, at LB, OL and Dl. But the gators will be fine with 52 years of NFL coaching expertise at the helm.

  9. I think most of you didn’t read my grading scale. Florida didn’t meet its needs at OL, DL or LB. While they brought in a solid class, I had to take off for not filling those needs. There is no way you can look past it. Also, other teams did meet their needs, but their talent level wasn’t has high as a team like Florida, so they still deserved a B- like Florida because of the fact that they were able to take care of key positions. Remember, in grade school an 80 and an 81 are both B- grades, but one is obviously higher than the other. Besides, this is all in fun.

  10. Nick Collins of the Green Bay Packers was a life time Gator. Never even got a look from the state schools.
    The old Ball coach did not show for the look see he was supposed to get from Florida.
    Played for Dixie Co. High, 45 minutes down the road….Point being talent is the most wasted substance on earth. If you don’t get noticed, not from the right school,it matters not how good you are. He went to B.C. and is now one of the premier DB’s in the NFL. Sometimes you just miss the best.

  11. I think the assessment of the Gators is very fair. Like Ed said, we had some huge holes unfilled by this class. The average quality of athlete was as good as anyone, but it leaves us with some major voids. You don’t get an A on a test when you leave 20% of the questions blank.

  12. Ed, I totally agree with your grading method and the B- for Florida. We missed at some key positions. That said, I think coach Muschamp and staff did a great job with the little time they had. I am excited to see how we do next year (and the years to come) with the new coaching staff having having more time to work on it. I love our column and am somewhat of a recruiting junkie so please keep us informed on all the info you can about 2012!

  13. Ed is spot on. We missed big at both lines and with Linebackers. It should not affect us next year but 2 and 3 years down the road we will be hurting at these positions. Will is unfortunately going to have to try to find some JuCo talent as a stopgap to fill in until next year’s crop of linemen mature. I think with these holes a B- is generous.

  14. Hey gator fans. With the class of players you have in store now, a B- rateing will not hurt much for one year. When classes are this close we all know it’s how the coach grooms each position on the team. The Gator’s will be back to form in the next year or so. In the words of the Great One “Bear Byant”; “As soon as Fla. gets a good coach down there, They will be hard to beat.” Im guessing they will be in Atlanta for 2011 vs. Uh; LSU, Ala., Ark or maybe Miss. St. The West will beat itself to death getting to Atlanta.

  15. A solid analysis as it relates to our position of need deficiencies. Next year, those positions will be filled by high calibur players that Muschamp will undoubtedly target as his top priority. A little B- is good once in a LONG while to keep the fan base humble:) Keep up the great work, Ed!

  16. Great article, Ed. I always enjoy your perspective. I thought Muschamp did a great job, considering the obvious difficulties. Here’s a sleeper for everyone. Vanderbilt signed a defensive end out of Michigan, Conor Hart. This kid is a freak. Depending on the listing, he’s about 6’4″ and 252, with a 4.5 40 (reminds me of Jevon Kearse!). He ran anchor leg on the 4 x 100 and 4 x 200 at his high school – and he loves to hit. His grandfather won the Heisman trophy at Notre Dame, and was all pro on both sides of the ball, at the next level. Conor’s older brother played for Urban Meyer at Notre Dame. His work ethic is off the charts and he’s a great student. Genetics/Disposition/Work ethic… I’m excited to see how he develops in the SEC.

  17. yeah but, if vandy or kentuky signed driskell that would make there class at least an b+[without anyother big names] but we expect more than they do. we did good for what time tables we were woking with. i give us a soild b[we did miss on some key guys at key positions]but theres always next yr! were in a talent rich state and should do great next yr as long as we dont lose coaches!

  18. Not so sure about the Gator’s grade, Ed. I personally think Muschamp did an utterly phenomenal job under the circumstances. And one further note: We brought in three five-stars on the defensive line last year; I just don’t see how we were going to get more four- and five-star D linemen given the level of competition they would face coming in.

    Offensive line is a big concern. I can’t believe we didn’t have more commits in place from the previous staff, given the performance there, the depth, and the replacement needs. Can’t hardly blame the new staff when Muschamp arrived three (?) days before the dead period.

  19. Yeah, Ed, thanks for all your good work during recruiting season. As an old J-school grad, I appreciate your tenacity. Grading of either college recruiting classes or NFL draft classes is entirely superfluous – doesn’t mean diddly. There are too many variables!Take for example, Will Hill. Will decided to head for the NFL early. To do what? Become a free agent? Those of you Gators burning midnight oil speculating on this draft class – don’t! Wait till kickoffs in 2011, ’12 & ’13.

  20. it doesn’t rally matter. fsu stunk for years and look what happens, the world is coming to an end.

    bunch of spoiled espn broadcast news bs teenagers that we are all slobbering over.

    football is football and espn is ruining it

  21. I agree with david.

    question i have is / can we be the top recruiting school in florida ?

    this year we were no better than tied for 4th (FSU/BAMA/CLEM WERE CLEARLY TOP 3)(WE WERE EVAN WITH OHIO ST)

    in a year when players could see playing time UF if they came to UF they still when to FSU BAMA CLEM OHIO ST

    next year looks like another 8 win season, so how many top recruits will pass on UF because it is a team that could only win 8 games two years in a row.

  22. I think I should point out that FSU had a 3 loss regular season, and another ACC Championship LOSS and yet they still recruited the Top Ranked class in the country. Recruits know that we are a team in transition and we have a new EXCITING head coach in Muschamp. Not to mention there are also a lot of needs at key positions in the next coming years. I predict a Top 3 recruiting class next season! maybe some bias here, but I really do believe it. Ready for next season with this pro style offense and Muschamp’s enthusiasm. GO GATORS!

  23. I think some of us need to go back and read the criteria Ed set from the start on how he graded the recruiting class. Sure we got a solid class and some (hopefully) great players, but we missed badly with the needs of this class. If we would have gotten two each of the needed position players we would have made the mark with the rest of the class being as solid as it is, but we did not get either side of the line and missed out on 4 great linebackers. We will bite the bullet on this on and hope that there is enough sideline talent to carry us through for two years. Go GATORS!!!

  24. man! yall dont jump ship just yet. we arnt loseing much and if we get ANY production from the QB position this year we should be an improved team and if we have a REAL running game….with like a HB and FB mabye 2 TE sets… PLUS that sicknasty class we just signed last yr! now we get to see what there all about! lets get these guys on the field[easly,powell,martin,shaw]