Thursday, January 30, 2014
Ultimate 300: SEC's top classes
By Derek Tyson
The SEC has dominated the recruiting world over the past several years. Since 2008, the SEC has had at least three schools finish in the top 10 of the ESPN recruiting class rankings each year. Last year, the conference had an impressive six schools ranked among the top 10 recruiting classes in the country. This year is much of the same, as seven SEC schools are ranked in the top 10.
Here’s a closer look at the five best recruiting SEC schools in the Ultimate ESPN 300.
1. Alabama Crimson Tide
There really isn’t a debate here. The Crimson Tide have signed six straight top-three recruiting classes and are on pace for a seventh. Alabama recruiting has produced Heisman Trophy winner Mark Ingram, as well as a host of All-American and All-SEC players such as Julio Jones, Trent Richardson, AJ McCarron, Dre Kirkpatrick and Marcell Dareus. Alabama coach Nick Saban has set the bar for recruiting in the SEC.
2. Florida Gators
Urban Meyer put Florida recruiting on a whole different level, and Will Muschamp has been able to continue that success. Over the past eight years, the Gators have landed seven top-five classes. Quarterback Tim Tebow, arguably one of the top college players of all time, was part of Florida’s 2006 class, as were Percy Harvin and Brandon Spikes. Mike and Maurkice Pouncey were part of Florida’s 2007 class. The Gators were also able to land Sharrif Floyd, Dominique Easley and Matt Elam.
3. LSU Tigers
Like Alabama and Florida, LSU has been a staple in the top 10 of the recruiting rankings. The Tigers have signed four top-10 classes over the past five years, including the No. 1 class in 2009. Defensively, LSU has signed several top playmakers, such as Morris Claiborne, Tyrann Mathieu, Patrick Peterson, Kevin Minter and Sam Montgomery, all of whom are now in the NFL. LSU also has a commitment from the No. 1 player in the country for its 2014 class in Leonard Fournette.
4. Georgia Bulldogs
The Bulldogs have finished in the top 10 of the recruiting rankings in five of the past six seasons. Georgia has done a tremendous job at the offensive skill positions. The Bulldogs landed quarterbacks Matthew Stafford (2006) and Aaron Murray (2009), as well as one of the best wide receivers to ever play in Athens in A.J. Green. Georgia’s pro-style offense has also attracted top running backs such as Knowshon Moreno, Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall.
5. Auburn Tigers
The Tigers might not have finished as well as some of the other schools listed above, but they certainly have produced some big-time talent. The Tigers landed junior college transfers Cam Newton and Nick Marshall, both of whom played for national titles during their time at Auburn. They were also able to land future NFL defensive linemen Nick Fairley and Corey Lemonier. Running back Tre Mason had a breakout senior season and looks destined to play in the NFL.