SUBSCRIBE NOW
$1 for 3 months
SUBSCRIBE NOW
$1 for 3 months

Here's how we graded every SEC football team's 2021 recruiting class

Mike Wilson
Knoxville News Sentinel

Alabama football had the nation's top-ranked recruiting class, and perhaps the best incoming class of all time.

But the Crimson Tide wasn't alone in assembling a talented group of prospects as the 2021 recruiting cycle came to a close Wednesday on National Signing Day. The SEC had three of the top four classes in the 247Sports Composite team rankings, four of the top seven and nine of the top 25.

Here's a look at how each SEC team's class finished and graded out, according to the team that covers the conference for the USA TODAY Sports Network:

Pinson Valley's Ga'Quincy McKinstry (1), a University of Alabama commit, smiles as Pinson Valley takes possession of the ball. Spanish Fort and Pinson Valley squared off at the AHSAA Class 6A state championship game on Dec. 4, 2020 at Bryant-Denny Stadium. [Photo/Hannah Saad]

Alabama

247Sports Composite class rank: No. 1 overall, No. 1 SEC 

Top signees: OT JC Latham, No. 11 offensive tackle, No. 2 overall; OT Tommy Brockermeyer, No. 2 offensive tackle, No. 5 overall; CB Ga’Quincy McKinstry, No. 1 cornerback, No. 17 overall

Biggest miss: There wasn’t one. Alabama filled all of its team needs, even picking up a five-star at a position (running back) where it may not have needed a player in this class. 

Grade: A+ : It is the highest-ranked recruiting class in the history of the 247Sports Composite, and making matters more impressive, Alabama signed at least one player at every offensive and defensive position.

— Brett Hudson, The Tuscaloosa News

Arkansas

247Sports Composite class rank: No. 24 overall, No. 8 SEC 

Top signees: WR Ketron Jackson, No. 26 wide receiver, No. 163 overall; ATH AJ Green, No. 7 athlete, No. 185 overall; ATH Raheim Sanders, No. 14 athlete, No. 285 overall

Biggest miss: Arkansas pretty much wrapped up its class during the early signing period, so there wasn't much drama on Wednesday.

Grade: B+ : Arkansas' class doesn't quite crack the top 20 nationally, but it's the Razorbacks' highest SEC finish since 2008 and the first time in the top 10 since 2016. Sam Pittman capped off a surprisingly successful season with an equally impressive class. 

— Will Backus, The Knoxville News Sentinel

Alabama All-Stars' Lee Hunter (90) of Mattie T. Blount breaks through the offensive line at Cramton Bowl in Montgomery, Ala., on Saturday, Dec. 12, 2020. Alabama All-Stars defeated Mississippi All-Stars 19-7.

Auburn

247Sports Composite class rank: No. 30 overall, No. 11 SEC 

Top signees: DT Lee Hunter, No. 7 defensive tackle, No. 80 overall; S Ahmari Harvey, No. 14 safety, No. 211 overall; QB Dematrius Davis, No. 8 dual-threat quarterback, No. 219 overall

Biggest miss: Four-star linebacker Trevin Wallace. Auburn was the favorite in December, but a complete overhaul of the coaching staff opened the door for Kentucky to land him Wednesday.

Grade: C : It's not up to Auburn's usual standard, given that the program had signed a top-12 class every year since 2010. But considering the change at coach from Gus Malzahn to Bryan Harsin and the fact that the Tigers rose 18 spots in the rankings since Sunday, it's not a bad result.

— Josh Vitale, The Montgomery Advertiser

Florida

247Sports Composite class rank: No. 13 overall, No. 5 SEC 

Top signees: CB Jason Marshall, No. 2 cornerback, No. 28 overall; WDE Jeremiah Williams, No. 5 weakside defensive end, No. 73 overall; SDE Tyreak Sapp, No. 7 strongside defensive end, No. 100 overall

Biggest miss: Four-star linebacker Xavian Sorey chose Georgia over Alabama and Florida during the early signing period. He’s from the Sunshine State and visited UF for the LSU game.

Grade: A- : With a handful of recent transfers, the Gators didn’t add any new recruits to their early signee haul of 22. Since then they’ve added five players from the portal, including former five-stars Demarkcus Bowman and Arik Gilbert.

— Zach Abolverdi, The Gainesville Sun

Georgia

247 Composite class rank: No. 3 overall, No. 2 SEC

Top signees: OT Amarius Mims, No. 3 offensive tackle, No. 7 overall; QB Brock Vandagriff, No. 2 dual-threat quarterback, No. 14 overall; LB Smael Mondon, No. 1 outside linebacker, No. 20 overall

Biggest miss: There were higher-rated prospects that UGA missed on, including Wednesday's final target when four-star safety Terrion Arnold chose Alabama, but this misfire is more geographical in nature. Four-star wide receiver Deion Colzie is headed north to Notre Dame. Colzie played high school football 10 minutes from Sanford Stadium at Athens Academy.

Grade: A- : UGA took care of the meat and potatoes this cycle as Kirby Smart landed another elite class of talented defensive players and offensive linemen. The Bulldogs lose another large crop of talent to the NFL and this class will have playmakers who will be key contributors to replace the departed.

— Jeremy Johnson, Athens Banner-Herald

Kentucky

247Sports Composite class rank: No. 32 overall, No. 12 SEC

Top signees: OL Jager Burton, No. 10 guard, No. 138 overall; LB Trevin Wallace, No. 9 inside linebacker, No. 140 overall; WR Dekel Crowdus, No. 49 receiver, No. 289 overall 

Biggest miss: Kentucky signed six of the eight top prospects in the Bluegrass State but could not keep four-star South Warren High School safety Jantzen Dunn from signing with Ohio State.

Grade: A- : The class does not quite match Kentucky’s 2020 haul, the best class in the Mark Stoops era, but it fills several positions of need. Closing on a high note with four-star linebacker Trevin Wallace bumps the class up a letter grade from December.

— Jon Hale, The Louisville Courier-Journal

LSU

247Sports Composite class rank: No. 4 overall, No. 3 SEC

Top signees: DT Maason Smith, No. 2 defensive tackle, No. 19 overall; S Sage Ryan, No. 2 safety, No. 29 overall; S Derrick Davis, Jr., No. 4 safety, No. 64 overall

Biggest miss: Cornerback Nathaniel Wiggins, the No. 118 prospect and longtime LSU commit, flipped to Clemson on Dec. 12. LSU signed only one other cornerback in No. 13 Damarius McGhee, the No. 187 overall prospect.

Grade: B : LSU has a high ranking, but it has an unbalanced class with a gaping hole. Coach Ed Orgeron’s offensive line in 2020 was bad to average, and he signed exactly two offensive linemen.

— Glenn Guilbeau, The Lafayette Daily Advertiser 

Ole Miss

247Sports Composite class rank: No. 18 overall, No. 7 SEC

Top signees: DT Tywone Malone, No. 6 defensive tackle, No. 62 overall; WR Bralon Brown, No. 29 wide receiver, 172 overall; QB Luke Altmyer, No. 13 pro-style quarterback, No. 187 overall

Biggest miss: Three-star wide receiver Adonai Mitchell was committed to Ole Miss from April through July but flipped to Georgia. Ole Miss recovered and signed four receivers in this class.

Grade: A- : This will go down as one of the best classes Ole Miss has ever signed, and an impressive feat in Lane Kiffin’s second year. It’s not the type of class that will catapult Ole Miss into the conversation with Alabama atop the SEC West, but it establishes the type of class Kiffin and his staff can put together. 

— Nick Suss, The Clarion-Ledger

Mississippi State

247Sports Composite class rank: No. 25 overall, No. 9 SEC

Top signees: QB Sawyer Robertson, No. 10 pro-style quarterback, No. 134 overall; WR Theodore Knox, No. 41 wide receiver, No. 251 overall; WR Antonio Harmon, No. 49 wide receiver, No. 297 overall

Biggest miss: Three-star defensive back MJ Daniels, who had been committed to Mississippi State since September, flipped to OIe Miss in the early signing period.

Grade: B+ : This is the highest-rated recruiting class for Mike Leach in his two decades as a head coach. Mississippi State addressed its needs and secured some of the top in-state prospects in the state.

— Tyler Horka, The Clarion-Ledger

Missouri

247Sports Composite class rank: No. 27 overall, No. 10 SEC

Top signees: DE Travion Ford, 4-star, No. 15 weakside defensive end, No. 209 overall; QB Tyler Macon, 3-star, No. 15 dual-threat quarterback, No. 388 overall; WR Dominic Lovett, 3-star, No. 65 wide receiver, No. 344 overall

Biggest miss: Jakailin Johnson, a 4-star cornerback from St. Louis and teammate of two long-standing Mizzou signees, committed to Ohio State in March and stayed true to the Buckeyes. Johnson was the top-rated player in Missouri. 

Grade: B+ : In the middle of a pandemic and with a mostly new coaching staff, Eli Drinkwitz has done more to lock down the state of Missouri and the coveted St. Louis-area more for the 2021 class than in several recent years. While the top-tier talent isn't necessarily there, depth at a handful of key positions of need are, which will prove to be more valuable.  

— Eric Blum, Columbia Daily Tribune

South Carolina

247Sports Composite class rank:  No. 76 overall, No. 14 SEC

Top signees: OLB Tavareon Martin-Scott, No. 2 JUCO outside linebacker, No. 7 JUCO overall; QB Colten Gauthier, No. 23 pro-style quarterback, No. 618 overall; CB Marcellas Dial, No. 7 JUCO cornerback, No. 51 JUCO overall

Biggest miss: Three-star safety Juwon Gaston, ranked 49th among safeties in the 247Sports Composite, signed Wednesday with Auburn after the Gamecocks were a finalist. 

Grade: C : With new coach Shane Beamer hired Dec. 6 and with several decommitments after the firing of Will Muschamp, not much was expected of this class, but USC brought in several from the transfer portal and junior college to help fill some major holes.

— Eric Boynton, The Spartanburg Herald-Journal

Tennessee

247Sports Composite class rank: No. 16 overall, No. 6 SEC 

Top signees: DE Dylan Brooks, No. 6 weakside defensive end, No. 76 overall; LB Aaron Willis, No. 8 outside linebacker, No. 137 overall; QB Kaidon Salter, No. 6 dual-threat quarterback, No. 154 overall

Biggest miss: Tennessee signed one prospect Wednesday after completing most of its recruiting in the December signing period. The top downside? Brooks has asked to be released from his national letter of intent after Jeremy Pruitt was fired on Jan. 18.

Grade: C : Once ranked as high as No. 2 nationally, this class faded. And if Brooks doesn’t enroll, it will strip the class of its top prospect. The judgment on new coach Josh Heupel’s recruiting ability won’t begin until the 2022 class.

— Blake Toppmeyer, The Knoxville News Sentinel

Texas A&M

247Sports Composite class rank: No. 7 overall, No. 4 SEC 

Top signees: DT Shemar Turner, No.  3 defensive tackle, No. 21 overall; SDE Tunmise Adeleye, No. 5 strongside defensive end, No. 38 overall; RB LJ Johnson, No. 4 running back, No. 42 overall. 

Biggest miss: Brian Thomas Jr., the Aggies' top wide receiver target, did not sign on Wednesday despite being viewed as a Texas A&M lean.

Grade: A- : It's hard to knock a top-10 class, especially one that could be considered among the nation's best along the defensive line. Still, two SEC West foes finished ahead of Texas A&M in the rankings. 

— Will Backus, The Knoxville News Sentinel

Vanderbilt

247Sports Composite class rank: No. 49 overall, No. 13 SEC 

Top signees: DT Marcus Bradley, No. 15 defensive tackle, No. 190 overall; WR Quincy Skinner, No. 80 wide receiver, No. 522 overall; DB John Howse, No. 65 cornerback, No. 797 overall. 

Biggest miss: Calvin Johnson II, a three-star athlete from Mississippi, signed with Northwestern. Vanderbilt had an outside shot. .

Grade: C : Vanderbilt’s class isn’t highly rated, per usual. But it did a good job of mostly keeping the class intact between Derek Mason’s firing and Clark Lea’s hiring. 

— Adam Sparks, The Tennessean