Now that we can fully digest national signing day, it's time to look at how this year's haul in the SEC compared to the past decade of recruiting for these schools. When you look at how teams finished in the rankings this year, they pretty much hit their average mark from the past 10 years. Of course, there were a couple of outliers, but that's gonna happen from year to year.
First, here's where all 14 SEC teams ranked within the conference:
1. Alabama (No. 2 nationally)
2. LSU (No. 3 nationally)
3. Ole Miss (No. 4 nationally)
4. Georgia (No. 7 nationally)
5. Auburn (No. 9 nationally)
6. Florida (No. 12 nationally)
7. Tennessee (No. 14 nationally)
8. Texas A&M (No. 20 nationally)
9. Arkansas (No. 24 nationally)
10. South Carolina (No. 27 nationally)
11. Mississippi State (No. 33 nationally)
12. Kentucky (No. 35 nationally)
13. Vanderbilt (No. 48 nationally)
14. Missouri (No. 51 nationally)
Here's what the conference looks like when you average the finishes in the past 10 recruiting cycles (2006 to 2015, because that's how long ESPN has ranked classes), according to a compilation from ESPN Stats & Information. Newbies Missouri and Texas A&M only had their past four classes averaged because they both officially joined the league in 2012.
1. Alabama (2.3 average finish over 10 years)
2. Florida (3.2)
3. LSU (3.5)
4. Georgia (4.4)
5. Texas A&M (4.6)
6. Auburn (5.3)
7. Tennessee (6.1)
8. South Carolina (7.4)
9. Ole Miss (8.2)
10. Arkansas (9.1)
11. Mississippi State (9.6)
12. Missouri (11)
13. Kentucky (11.2)
14. Vanderbilt (11.7)
It's clear why Alabama has won four of the past seven national championships. Alabama not only owned the SEC's top class for the past six years, it had a string of signing the nation's No. 1 class four straight times before Florida State dethroned the Crimson Tide this year. Yes, Nick Saban is an excellent coach, but he understands that he needs elite talent in order to stay at the top. This is almost too easy for him. Since Saban arrived in 2007, he's signed nine top-three classes nationally, 123 ESPN 300 members and 20 top position recruits, which all rank first nationally.
When it comes to development, you can't help but applaud Missouri. In the four prior SEC classes, Missouri's highest in-conference ranking was eighth (2015) and it was 14th in 2013. Well, before this past season, the Tigers went to back-to-back SEC title games. Stars have meant nothing, it's been all development and coaching in Columbia. Former coach Gary Pinkel got some of that talent while still in the Big 12, but neither of his previous two classes ranked inside ESPN's top 25.
Outside of ranking 10th in the SEC in recruiting last year and ranking sixth in this year's cycle, Florida never slipped below fifth from 2006 to 2014. In fact, the Gators had three No. 1 and No. 2 classes in the SEC. However, those robust hauls didn't exactly translate to wins on the field. Before this past season, Florida hadn't been to the SEC championship game since 2009, and won double-digit games just once in that span (11 in 2012). Landing top-rated talent hasn't been an issue, but developing and getting the most out of it has.
The Hugh Freeze effect has really transformed this Ole Miss program. The Rebels have ranked inside the top nine of the SEC in recruiting in every year since Freeze's first class in 2012. They've been third twice and had two top-five national finishes (2016, 2013). Freeze has signed 36 ESPN 300 members during his time at Ole Miss. The Rebels have also won 34 games in that span. In the six years prior to Freeze's arrival, the Rebels had four top-25 classes, but only the 2006 class ranked in the top five of the SEC. In those years, Ole Miss averaged just five wins per season.
Ten schools have fallen into the double-digit rankings inside the SEC since 2006. The only schools that haven't are Alabama, Georgia, LSU and Texas A&M (only five classes in the SEC). LSU's lowest finish since 2006 is fifth (2015), both Alabama and Georgia's lowest ranking is seventh (2007 and 2014, respectively), and A&M's is eighth (2016).
Alabama and Florida are the only schools with multiple No. 1 rankings inside the SEC and nationally in the past decade. Alabama has been first in the SEC seven times, while Florida has been first three times. Alabama has had four No. 1 classes nationally since 2006, Florida has had two. Every school has ranked inside the top nine in the SEC, even Vanderbilt, which had back-to-back No. 9 classes in 2012 and 2013.