When you look at the SEC's run of six straight national championships, you have to look directly at the conference's foundation: recruiting.
Since 2006 (when the SEC's championship run started), the SEC has had at least five teams finish the recruiting season ranked within the top 15 of ESPN.com's class rankings. In 2008, the SEC had four teams ranked within the top 15.
During that span (including the 2013 class), an SEC team has finished with the top class five times. There's no question that elite coaching has helped the SEC's dominance, but teams have needed elite players as well.
The 2013 class is barely in the books, but attention is squarely on the class of 2014, and Thursday we got out first look at the 2014 class rankings brought to you by RecruitingNation.
Shocker, the SEC is top yet again.
While Texas holds the top spot in the team rankings with its 15 verbal commitments, including two ESPN 150 members, the SEC has seven teams ranked within the top 15. Five of them are in the top 10.
Florida currently owns the top recruiting class in the SEC with its nine verbal commits, including four ESPN 150 members. The headliners of Florida's 2014 class are running back Dalvin Cook (Miami/Central) and quarterback Will Grier (Davidson, N.C./Davidson Day School). Both are four-star prospects. Cook, who rushed for more than 1,500 yards and had 23 touchdowns as a junior, ranks as the No. 4 running back and the No. 20 prospect overall.
Grier passed for more than 5,700 yards and threw 69 touchdowns as a junior. He also rushed for more than 800 yards and eight more scores. He ranks as the No. 3 quarterback and the No. 45 prospect overall.
Texas A&M checks in at No. 3 in the class rankings with 10 commitments and two ESPN 150 members. Linebacker Hoza Scott (La Porte, Texas/ La Porte) ranks as the No. 1 outside linebacker in the 2014 class and is the No. 28 prospect overall. Safety Dylan Sumner-Gardner (Mesquite, Texas/West Mesquite) checks in as the No. 86 overall player in the ESPN 150.
LSU is fourth in the class rankings with eight commitments and three ESPN 150 members, including No. 53 overall prospect safety Edward Paris Jr. (Arlington, Texas/Timberview).
Tennessee and Ole Miss round out the top 10. Tennessee comes in at No. 7, while the Rebels sit at ninth.
You have to be really impressed with the job Butch Jones has done at Tennessee on the recruiting trail. He struck real gold with ESPN 150 running back Jalen Hurd (Hendersonville, Tenn./Beech Senior). He's the top player in Jones' nine-player class and will definitely be a recruit to keep an eye on this fall.
Alabama comes in at No. 13 in the class rankings, but Bama has only four verbal commitments. Athlete Shaun Dion Hamilton (Montgomery, Ala./Carver) is the only Alabama commit inside the ESPN 150. I'm sure that number will change pretty soon, so no need to fret, Alabama fans.
Vanderbilt ranks 15th with its seven verbals, including Dallas Rivers (Stone Mountain, Ga./Stephenson), ranked 23rd among running backs.