- Edward Aschoff, ESPN Staff Writer
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The mailbag is back up and running here on the SEC blog. Remember, you can send all of your questions here, whenever you want. Don't be shy. The more questions we get, the more mailbags we can do.
National signing day was Wednesday and spring practice is just around the corner, so let's get to your questions:
Jamey in Lower Alabama writes: Ed, in your opinion, which '13 offensive recruit (I think most would probably agree on the defensive impact player) will have the biggest impact in the SEC, and all of college football next fall?
Edward Aschoff: I honestly think SEC teams did a very good job overall of getting guys who can contribute right away. I think Alex Collins has the talent to be a big part of Bret Bielema's offense at Arkansas. Bielema wants to run the ball a lot and Collins might have the most upside in Arkansas' backfield. He can hit the home run and smash through the line. Vernon Hargreaves III could start at corner for the Gators. If he does that, Florida will be able to move Loucheiz Purifoy to offense, where the Gators need a lot of help. Derrick Henry and O.J. Howard could contribute right away in Alabama's offense. Obviously, No. 1 recruit Robert Nkemdiche should make an immediate impact on Ole Miss' defense. He'll have competition up front, but he's too special of an athlete not to help that defense out starting on day one. I think Nkemdiche has a lot of pressure on him during his first year, so I'm going to go with Collins making the biggest impact in 2013. I think he could legitimately start for the Hogs at running back for the majority of the season.
Mark in Mississippi writes: Do you think Freeze will continue on a recruiting roll, now that he's netted a top ten class? I'd think it'd be easier next year. Maybe not top ten, but top 20 for sure.
Edward Aschoff: Like Hugh Freeze said, it was the perfect storm for Ole Miss in this class. I think players now want to see what the Rebels do with all of that talent. This was a historic class, but let's not act like recruiting at Ole Miss is easy. Before this class, Ole Miss had just five total ESPN 150 members combined from 2008-12. Freeze is changing the culture there and he's making Ole Miss a much more popular school among high school players, but now he has to win more with these guys. We've seen "great" classes turn into duds in the past. It'll only be easier when he starts winning more, but I think he can consistently have a top 20 class at Ole Miss. He's too good at closing.
Jon in Atlanta writes: With Muschamp hitting the recruiting trail like a monster, do you think that the Gator offense will be able to produce more consistently in 2013?
Edward Aschoff: I think the defense is going to be fine because a lot of young guys rotated in last year, so they will come in with pretty good experience. Plus, Will Muschamp knows his defenses. Offensively, if those receivers the Gators brought in can produce and step up, then the offense will be better as a whole. Demarcus Robinson is a guy to watch. He's on campus now, and the coaches need him to be as explosive as he was in high school. Ahmad Fulwood will be in Gainesville over the summer, and he could be a big-play weapon at receiver too. But it's tough for freshmen to be instant stars, so the older guys have to step up. With all those running backs, Florida should be able to run the ball just fine. Passing is the question.
Kyle in Big Blue Nation writes: How impressed were you with the job Stoops and his staff did with this class and do you see UK getting back to a bowl next season?
Edward Aschoff: Very. I talked to Mark Stoops earlier today, and he told me he was surprised at how well they closed, considering the limited amount of time he and his staff had with guys. To keep juco defensive end Za'Darius Smith, who is already enrolled, and to flip defensive end Jason Hatcher from USC were huge. Add wide receiver Ryan Timmons, who turned down Florida and Ohio State, and Stoops has three players who could make immediate impacts at positions of need. This was a very, very balanced class, and Stoops seems very happy with his first haul in Lexington.
King in DC writes: Looking at UGA's September schedule, I can easily see them starting out 1-3 with LSU, Clemson, and USC on the schedule. I then see their defense developing, winning out, and thereby winning the East again due to beating Florida and winning at tie breaker against USC. Am I crazy?
Edward Aschoff: It isn't the easiest of starts to a season, so, no, you aren't crazy. Young defenses can get exposed early in the season, and having to play a good Clemson offense during the first week of the year will be tough. Now, there are some talented bodies on that side of the ball for the Bulldogs, but I think you'll see some appropriate growing pains early in the season. As for the second half, this could be a team that no one wants to face in November. It'll grow through SEC play; it's too talented not to. That Florida game will be interesting because something tells me Muschamp isn't happy about being 0-2 against his alma mater.
Rhett in Oregon writes: There are a lot of posts on the Web about how the playoff will "end" the SEC's run of championships. Do you think the SEC will be more or less likely to win the championship in the new format? And why?
Edward Aschoff: I don't need to go into too much detail with this one. The SEC will be more likely because I think it will have more chances to get two teams in the title game. When this was first announced I didn't think the SEC would have multiple teams in that often, and then this season happened. In a playoff, Alabama and Florida would have been in. Now, are they playing each other in the first round? Maybe. Depends on the selection committee, but having two teams in means the SEC is guaranteed a spot in the national championship. I also think that the SEC champion will always be guaranteed a spot in a four-team playoff.
Bobby in Texas writes: Is it just my imagination or is South Carolina not having a great recruiting season. It would seem like coming off back to back 11 win years and an SEC East title before that and sending guys to the NFL - the Gamecocks should be in a position to have a top 10 recruiting class and make new inroads into recruiting. Since there are new staffs at Tenn, Auburn, UK and Arkansas - I thought the Gamecocks would move closer to LSU, BAMA, Florida this recruiting season. Hw do you rate the Gamecocks' class and why are they missing out on 5 star recruits this year?
Edward Aschoff: I thought Steve Spurrier and his coaches did a fine job. They needed linebackers and signed six, including ESPN 300 inside linebacker Larenz Bryant, who could contribute very early. He also got four defensive linemen, including three ends, and ESPN 150 defensive tackle Kelsey Griffin who should be fun to watch. The Gamecocks signed two running backs, including ESPN 150 member David Williams, who could compete with Mike Davis and Brandon Wilds this fall, as they try to fill Marcus Lattimore's void. This is a solid class and it was wrapped up before signing day, so there wasn't much excitement.
John in Indiana writes: We already know that the country is tired of seeing the SEC win a national title every year, but is the SEC starting to get tired of seeing Alabama win it every year?
Edward Aschoff: Ha! Yes, and no. I think that conference officials are just happy to see the SEC win titles. Now, are fans overjoyed by seeing Alabama in the title game every year? Probably not, but they like seeing that crystal ball retuning to the conference each year. It's probably really tough on Auburn fans. When I asked SEC fans if they were rooting for Alabama or Notre Dame this year, the majority said Alabama -- like 95 percent. So league pride is high, but I'm sure a majority of the league is ready to see someone not named "Alabama" take home the crystal ball for the SEC sooner rather than later. Plus, they are tired of hearing about how many "official" titles Alabama claims it has ...