Analyzing the SEC’s signing day classes

jheeter@macon.comFebruary 6, 2013 

Alabama

Signees: 26.

Georgia Ties: Alabama signed two players from Walton, quarterback Parker McLeod and running back Tyren Jones. A third Georgian -- linebacker Reuben Foster -- transferred from Troup to Auburn High School in Alabama as a senior, and the Crimson Tide landed Norcross running back Alvin Kamara on Wednesday.

Three to watch:

Reuben Foster, LB, 6-2, 240, Auburn, Ala.

The former Troup standout is a monster hitter at linebacker and could be a star on a defense coached by Nick Saban and Kirby Smart.

Derrick Henry, RB, 6-3, 245, Yulee, Fla.

The one-time Georgia commitment is an absolute physical monster, and he could be a nice replacement for Eddie Lacy.

Alvin Kamara, RB, 5-10, 190, Norcross

Kamara picked the Crimson Tide on National Signing Day over Georgia. The elite back gives this class a heck of a 1-2-3 backfield punch with Henry-Jones-Kamara.

Grade: A+, National titles usually result in pretty solid recruiting classes. This is one of the best Saban has pulled. You know things are rolling when you can land a player who has a giant Auburn tattoo on his forearm. Of Alabama’s 26 commitments, 14 were among ESPN’s top 150 players and four more were in the top 300.

Arkansas

Signees: 24.

Georgia Ties: The Razorbacks didn’t land any Georgia natives, but they did get a commitment from GMC JUCO safety Tiquention Coleman.

Three to watch:

Austin Allen, QB, 6-1, 200, Fayetteville, Ark.

Allen stayed at home despite offers from Auburn, Stanford and North Carolina, among others.

Hunter Henry, TE, 6-5, 240, Little Rock, Ark.

The second-ranked tight end in America, according to ESPN, stayed at home.

Denver Kirkland, OL, 6-4, 335, Miami

The Razorbacks grabbed the highly rated offensive tackle out of Miami.

Grade: C+, This would be a great class for an ACC team and a pretty good one for a SEC East team. But in the SEC West, Arkansas could do no better than the sixth best class. The class gets a ton better if running back Alex Collins decides on Arkansas.

Auburn

Signees: 24.

Georgia Ties: Auburn raided Georgia late in the process by getting Milton’s Carl Lawson and Peyton Barber (a Mississippi committment) and Dooly County’s Montravius Adams. But the Tigers’ new staff also nabbed three JUCO players with ties to Georgia, including former Wilcox County star Nick Marshall.

Three to watch:

Montravius Adams, DT, 6-3, 300, Vienna

Adams’ relationship with assistant Rodney Garner helped pave the way for Adams to sign with the Tigers.

Jeremy Johnson, QB, 6-5, 215, Montgomery, Ala.

Some think Johnson is the quarterback of the future, while others believe it’s Nick Marshall.

Carl Lawson, DL, 6-3, 250, Alpharetta

Lawson became one of the most sought after prospects in America as a senior, but he stuck with his commitment to Auburn.

Grade: A, It’s hard to imagine anyone closing stronger than Auburn or Ole Miss. The Tigers landed Adams on Wednesday and nabbed Avon, Ind., defensive end Elijah Daniel from Ole Miss. Running backs Johnathan Ford and Peyton Barber also switched to Auburn in the final weeks.

Florida

Signees: 28.

Georgia Ties: Muschamp used his Georgia roots to pull five players from Georgia, led by ESPN’s No. 7 receiver Demarcus Robinson, who is already enrolled. Camden County linebacker Jarrad Davis is a sleeper with a ton of potential.

Three to watch:

Vernon Hargreaves III, CB, 5-11, 185, Tampa, Fla.

Hargreaves is not just the best cover corner in this class, he’s probably one of the best lockdown corners to come out of high school in the past five years.

Demarcus Robinson, WR, 6-2, 200, Fort Valley

The Gators needed offensive firepower, and Muschamp added a ton of receivers in this class. Robinson is the standout of the group.

Kelvin Taylor, RB, 5-11, 215, Belle Glade, Fla.

Taylor could give the Gators their best running back since maybe his father Fred Taylor. This is an instant upgrade.

Grade: A+, You could probably make a good argument for either Alabama or Florida as the top class in the nation. Eleven of ESPN’s top 150 prospects signed with Florida, and 16 of the top 300 are headed to Gainesville.

Kentucky

Signees: 22.

Georgia Ties: None, Former head coach Joker Phillips always did a solid job recruiting Georgia, but new head coach Mark Stoops’ first class is devoid of Peach State players.

Three to watch:

Jason Hatcher, DE, 6-2, 240, Louisville, Ky.

Hatcher signed with Kentucky over USC and Louisville.

Marcus McWilson, DB, 6-0, 195, Youngstown, Ohio

McWilson committed to Kentucky in late January over Nebraska.

Za’Darius Smith, DE, 6-5, 250, East Mississippi C.C.

Smith signed with Kentucky after visiting Mississippi State, Texas, Texas A&M and West Virginia.

Grade: C-, This is not a great class for Stoops, although he did close well with Hatcher. The Wildcats lost a coach in Phillips who was considered one of the best recruiters in the country. The loss was evident in the class.

LSU

Signees: 27.

Georgia Ties: Les Miles landed dual threat quarterback Anthony Jennings from Marietta and Pepperell offensive lineman Andy Dodd, but he missed on Grayson’s Robert Nkemdiche and Norcross running back Alvin Kamara.

Three to watch:

Kendell Beckwith, ATH, 6-3, 225, Jackson, La.

The Tigers received a big boost from Beckwith when he picked LSU over Alabama.

Jeryl Brazil, CB, 5-10, 185, Loranger, La.

Brazil remained committed to LSU for more than a year.

Ethan Pocic, OT, 6-6, 285, Lemont, Ill.

Pocic is listed as one of Rivals’ top 50 players in the country.

Grade: A-, The Tigers were in the middle of that SEC West war. They might not have closed with the flash of Auburn or Ole Miss, but the Tigers’ class is very solid top to bottom.

Mississippi

Signees: 28.

Georgia Ties: Ole Miss lost Milton running back Peyton Barber to Auburn, but the Rebels won’t cry too much after landing the top player in America, Grayson defensive lineman Robert Nkemdiche. The Rebels also got Hillgrove tight end Evan Engram and Colquitt County receiver Bobby Hill.

Three to watch:

Robert Nkemdiche, DL, 6-5, 265, Loganville

The nation’s No. 1 recruit decided to join his brother in Oxford and becomes the school’s most high profile recruit since Eli Manning.

Laquon Treadwell, WR, 6-3, 195, Crete, Ill.

Treadwell was the first of the huge fish to bite, with Nkemdiche and Tunsil following.

Laremy Tunsil, OT, 6-6, 295, Lake City, Fla.

Tunsil was considered a Georgia lean throughout the recruiting process, but he flipped to Ole Miss and helps headline a dynamite class.

Grade: A, This is without question the best class in Ole Miss history. Hugh Freeze nabbed the nation’s No. 1 overall player and added ESPN’s top receiver and top offensive tackle. Throw in another three of ESPN’s top 150 players to that stack.

Mississippi State

Signees: 22.

Georgia Ties: Mississippi State pulled Hillgrove cornerback Tolando Cleveland away from Georgia Tech the week before signing day. Former Carver-Columbus receiver Artimas Samuel is also headed to Starkville after a year at Hargrave Military.

Three to watch:

Chris Jones, DL, 6-6, 260, Houston, Miss.

Jones didn’t get swept up in the tidal wave of Ole Miss’ recruiting efforts and stuck with the Bulldogs.

Fred Ross, WR, 6-1, 185, Tyler, Texas

Ross is one of the top 25 recruits in Texas, according to ESPN.

Cord Sandberg, QB, 6-2, 200, Bradenton, Fla.

Sandberg decided to learn from head coach Dan Mullen rather than picking Clemson, North Carolina or Auburn.

Grade: C, Mullen has routinely bested the Bulldogs’ rival Ole Miss in recruiting. Not this year. Mullen will have to step up his game in the future if Ole Miss truly is a rising power in recruiting.

Missouri

Signees: 20.

Georgia Ties: Missouri erected billboards in Georgia to beef up its recruiting efforts, but the Tigers only came away with Lassiter quarterback Eddie Printz after Dutchtown athlete Donovahn Jones flipped to Minnesota.

Three to watch:

Chase Abbington, ATH, 6-4, 210, St. Peters, Mo.

Abbington is probably the top playmaker in the class, and he could project on either side of the ball.

Josh Augusta, DL, 6-4, 275, Peoria, Ill.

ESPN ranks Augusta as the No. 16 best defensive tackle in the country.

Eric Beisel, LB, 6-4, 235, Fenton, Mo.

Beisel is a big, physical middle linebacker who could anchor a defense.

Grade: D, Missouri’s 2012 class really was headlined by the nation’s top receiver Dorial Green-Beckham. There is no such player in this class, which may be the weakest in the SEC.

South Carolina

Signees: 22.

Georgia Ties: The Gamecocks signed six players from Georgia, which is actually less than they have in recent years. The headliner is Mill Creek defensive tackle Kelsey Griffin, who tried to commit to Georgia but was rebuffed.

Three to watch:

Kelsey Griffin, DT, 6-1, 285, Hoschton

Griffin is one of the top 10 players in Georgia, according to Rivals.

Connor Mitch, QB, 6-4, 215, Raleigh, N.C.

Mitch is the kind of quarterback Alabama has operated with the past few years, so it was a coup to land him over an offer from Alabama.

David Williams, RB, 6-1, 190, Philadelphia

With Marcus Lattimore headed to the NFL, there is playing time available for a talented running back.

Grade: B, Steve Spurrier joked Wednesday that he was glad he wasn’t in the SEC West. This class doesn’t measure up to some on the other side of the conference, but it stands behind just Georgia in the SEC East.

Tennessee

Signees: 22.

Georgia Ties: The Volunteers nabbed four Peach State players, led by Lassiter receiver Ryan Jenkins, who flipped from Clemson.

Three to watch:

Joshua Dobbs, QB, 6-3, 190, Alpharetta

Dobbs had been committed to Arizona State for quite some time, but the Alpharetta dual threat quarterback switched on signing day.

Jaylen Miller, DL, 6-2, 260, Gaffney, S.C.

Miller has the potential to be a solid lineman in the SEC and picked the Volunteers over a trio of ACC schools.

Marquez North, WR, 6-3, 225, Charlotte, N.C.

North is the kind of big, physical receiver that Tennessee has had through the years.

Grade: C+, As is the case with any new coach, Butch Jones had to rally late to close with a strong class. After being at Cincinnati, Jones didn’t have a relationship with a ton of players he would recruit. But he did a solid job over the final few weeks.

Texas A&M

Signees: 34.

Georgia Ties: Kevin Sumlin spent much of his newfound capital on players in Texas, but he did sign two former Georgia athletes in Fork Union (Va.) receiver Ja’Quay Williams (Sandy Creek) and Butler C.C. linebacker Tommy Sanders (Crisp County).

Three to watch:

Derrick Griffin, TE, 6-6, 230, Rosenberg, Texas

ESPN’s top tight end stayed committed to the Aggies for more than a year, and Sumlin fought off Auburn late.

Sebastian LaRue, WR, 5-11, 185, Santa Monica, Calif.

With Johnny Manziel under center, the Aggies probably won’t have much trouble recruiting receivers. LaRue is ESPN’s ninth best receiver.

Ricky Seals-Jones, WR, 6-5, 230, Sealy, Texas

Seals-Jones is ESPN’s eighth best receiver, and he gives the Aggies a monster target on the outside.

Grade: A, So what does beating Alabama and having the Heisman Trophy winner do for recruiting? A lot. Sumlin signed a class that has 19 ESPN four-star recruits, and one that should be considered among the 10 best in America.

Vanderbilt

Signees: 27.

Georgia Ties: James Franklin continues to do a solid job in Georgia, landing seven signees led by Jackson defensive tackle Jay Woods and Cedar Grove quarterback Johnathon McCrary.

Three to watch:

Jordan Cunningham, WR, 6-1, 175, Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

Cunningham picked the Commodores on Wednesday over Florida State, Oklahoma State and Stanford.

Johnathon McCrary, QB, 6-3, 190, Ellenwood

The athletic McCrary may give the Commodores a different kind of option at quarterback.

DeAndre Woods, WR, 6-3, 210, Pinson, Ala.

Woods, a top 200 players nationally by ESPN, headlined a solid receiving corps that got a ton better on Signing Day.

Grade: B+, James Franklin is doing a whale of job on the recruiting trail. Players like Macon’s Nigel Bowden love him, and they are drawn to his firey attitude. Since when has Vanderbilt beat Florida State head to head for players on signing day?

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