National Signing Day: SEC
For most schools National Signing Day is an important day. For Southeastern Conference schools, it’s a celebration. New talent arrives from around the United States as the NFL pipeline is once again revitalized with talent. Many of these players will play in important games over the next three-to-five years, some will play for Conference championships, and some will even play for the national championship.
National Signing Day is where it all begins. And for so long, Alabama has dominated this day. However, entering NSD, there is a clear picture of how ‘Bama can lose the top spot this season. They are currently sixth in 247 Sports rankings, with not only one, but two SEC teams above them in Louisianna State and Ole Miss. Alabama will ultimately bounce around the rankings and is sure to land a few big name prospects as the day progresses, but for now, they aren’t number one.
My conference rankings as of 3 P.M. 2/3 * Stick here for the latest updates to SEC rankings periodically throughout the day.
1- Alabama 5* – 2, 4* – 13, 3* – 6 Total – 19
Much like UGA above them, the lack of overall depth in this class is what’s hurting it. The two top teams have over 20 recruits committed while the last two have only 16. That’s not necessarily a terrible thing, though. Georgia and Alabama should gain numerous recruits today with the live announcements. The pair of teams are listed in dozens of final threes, many times against each other.
Alabama has two big offensive tackles in Tuscaloosa already; including five-star, Jonah Williams. Many are interested to see what will come of dual-threat quarterback, Jalen Hurts. Hurts is listed as the No. 3 dual-threat QB in the class. How does that fit at Alabama, a school usually reliant on a dual-threat? We’ll see in the coming years. Hurts has a ton of talent and is expected to be a leader for the Tide in coming years. Several other offensive players, including three at skill positions, have already arrived at the school.
The Tide, as usual, will be represented on the crowns of quite a few hats today. They always figure into a wealth of NSD announcements. This year the biggest players to watch are Rashan Gary, the number one overall recruit, and the aforementioned Georgia-talent, Ben Davis. The Tide should land several big-time recruits to bolster a weak (in Alabama terms) class.
Ben Davis announced that he will be playing for the Tide. Davis, the No. 1 inside LB is a huge get. Davis, among a number of new signings today, helps boost Alabama to the top of the SEC crop currently.
Remember when I said that there were conditions for Alabama to fall from grace in recruiting? Well, they didn’t. I told you all that they would have a big NSD. Alabama did and with three five-star recruits, amongst a class of 24, they take home the SEC’s number one spot.
2- Ole Miss 5* – 3, 4* – 12, 3* – 9 Total – 24
The Rebels have had another great offseason when it comes to recruiting, as has been par for the course under head coach, Hugh Freeze. This season is extra important because they landed their top recruit, Shea Patterson. Patterson is the number one pro-style quarterback in 247 Sports’ rankings this season and is the number four player overall. He gives this class an immediate burst as he’s already on-campus and learning the ropes.
Other key recruits who have enrolled early include defensive tackle, Benito Jones. Jones is the number six player overall and will come into one of the brightest defensive situations in the country. He already has the making of a future All-American DT. They already have a pair of four-stars enrolled (to go with the prior two five-stars) in defensive end, Charles Wiley, and tight end, Gabe Angel. The team has a solid group on campus already and is looking to add to it on NSD.
Gregory Little is a huge offensive lineman that the Rebels should be able to get. He’s a hard commit for Ole Miss and there isn’t even the slightest doubts that he would go elsewhere. He would be the third five-star to make his trip to Ole Miss this season.
The Rebels have a solid class with 13 four stars or better already committed. The day could get better if they are able to reel in some surprise prospects. The Rebels are on a host of final lists.
The Rebels class was another great one. This time it’s good enough for number two in the SEC. The biggest reason? They got 247’s number one quarterback. That’s a huge land in an already filled class.
3- Georgia 5* – 3 , 4* – 10, 3* – 7 Total – 20
The Bulldogs have their coach in Kirby Smart, the former Alabama defensive coordinator. He was announced before the final open period for coaches and hit the trails hard. Pulling in recruits after a long-time head coach, and a great recruiter, is fired is difficult. But Smart was able to handle the transition with grace. The biggest recruiting question marks came after No. 2 pro-style quarterback Jacob Eason decommitted from UGA after the Richt announcement. Smart was able to persuade the young gunslinger to recommit. Eason has since enrolled early. Alongside
Alongside Eason on the early enrollee, chart is a five-star tight end, Issac Nauta. Nauta is the unquestioned number one tight end in the recruiting class and was a huge land for Smart. He has the makings to be an All-American in Smart’s system, which likely will resemble Alabama’s. A trio of four-star recruits are in Athens already, one on each of the lines and a wide receiver. The early enrollee crop blossomed well for Smart.
The Dawgs need to pack on some depth when the clock strikes midnight. A class that hit turmoil in the back nine has caused some problems. Smart hopes to clean things up with some stunning commitments today. The Bulldogs are in the final three for four five-star recruits and among the finalists for a host of others. The biggest hopes revolve around in-state products, Mecole Hardman Jr., and Ben Davis. Hardman is the top athlete in the class and Davis is the top inside linebacker. Those two would be incredibly huge additions for Smart’s class and would likely boost UGA into a top-five ranking.
The Dawgs and Kirby Smart were able to lure the nation’s No. 1 athlete to Georgia, Mecole Hardman Jr. decided to join on with the team. That is a huge hit for Georgia and if they can play themselves into the winners column for their final targets, Georgia will jump all the way into the overall top-five.
UGA didn’t land OT E.J. Price, it brings the class to only three offensive linemen and is a big hit as he was previously suspected of being a UGA lock. This definitely hurts UGA’s NSD. As if losing Price wasn’t hard enough, five-star DT Derrick Brown has picked Auburn. The Dawgs finished the day off on a down swing that hurts the overall quality of the class. Losing a four and a five-star in the final minutes of NSD is a big blow to Kirby Smart’s first class. However, they still land three five-star recruits. It’s not the deepest class, but it has a ton of top-end talent.
The Dawgs are good enough for third, mainly because it was Smart’s first crack at recruiting and he was able to bring in a top QB and the top athlete. A good day for Georgia has them safely in the SEC top five, and in the nation’s top 10.
4- LSU 5* – 1, 4* – 16, 3* – 5 Total – 22
It seems like everyone is high on the Tigers recruiting class. My biggest concern is the lack of a quarterback so far. That’s what separates them and the Rebels at one and two. However, the lack of a quarterback aside, they have a host of talented recruits coming in.
As is expected of LSU, they have another wave of top defensive backs coming in. DBU is always littered with talent in the defensive backfield, 2016’s class will be no different. They already have the number five corner, Saivion Smith, enrolled. Three other four-star recruits are hard commits. The icing on the cake? Kristian Fulton, the number two corner in the country, appears to be committing; Fulton will announce his commitment at 12:45 p.m.
With a team like LSU you simply cannot rule out surprising results on NSD. Could they pull off some last minute surprises? Most likely.
The Tigers 2016 class is another great one and will keep them in the top 10 across the rankings, most should have them in the top five. The only reason they drop below Georgia? The lack of a top-tier quarterback.
5- Auburn 5* – 1, 4* – 11 , 3* – 9 Total – 21
Auburn entered the day low on SEC rankings. However a late commit from Georgia product, Derrick Brown, the No. 9 prospect in the nation, they were able to surge. They were able to pack on good depth at the four-star spot and added good down depth chart depth. Ultimately they leap frog Florida because they didn’t lose recruits and picked up a surprise recruit.
Auburn was able to secure a great NSD and get itself into the SEC top five. A great day for Auburn thanks to some late day heroics.
6- Florida 5* – 0, 4* – 9, 3* – 15 Total -24
The Gators class lacks those big boomers you want at the top. It is filled with depth, something that teams sometimes struggles with. If they can find a few spots to fill with big recruits, this becomes a really attractive class for Florida.
The Gators have 12 (yes, 12) early enrollees. Almost have of the class is already in Gainesville awaiting spring camp. Among the 12, Feleipe Franks. Franks is considered the No. 5 pro-style quarterback this year and has one of the best arms in the country. They see him becoming a down-field threat, something the SEC has been missing the past few seasons. Franks brought five other four-stars with him when he arrived. The nation’s top running back, Mark Thompson, is also coming with Franks. With this combo prepared to bring Florida back to the top of the crop in the south, they didn’t stop there. Florida has a host of great defensive players coming, including, Chauncey Gardner, the No. 4 corner.
Florida has a great class established but is looking to make some big plays. Nate Craig-Myers, their top wide receiver prospect, is in hard decision mode. He will be selecting from a few schools, but is reportedly leaning towards Auburn. Should the Gators land Craig-Myers, this class will look a lot better for Florida fans.
The Gators have lost recruits, not gained. This is hurting the class for the Gators and they could fall as the day continues.
The Gators simply couldn’t close the deal on a great class. Despite this, they still have a really good class. Sixth in the SEC is first or second in most other conferences.
7- Tennessee 5* – 0, 4* – 9, 3* – 11 Total – 20
Tennessee has always seemed like a team that’s one year away. Well, this could finally be their year. A strong team that improved with each game last season looked great in their bowl game. A big recruiting season would further the belief that they’re ready to compete within the SEC. However, it has been a rough season for them. No big stars have yet to commit, and it’s doubtful that any will. Still, they have a solid class that could add depth. All hope is not lost.
Two defensive four-star early enrollees highlight the class so far. Marquill Osborne is the No. 17 corner, and Alexis Johnson is the No. 2 defensive tackle. With those two freshmen in Knoxville already, the class has a good base.
Still to come are the biggest factors. A dual-threat quarterback, Jarrett Guarantano, is considered the top dual-threat in the class. That is what gives this class the most hope. Finding an elite quarterback would give this squad some serious legs, Guarantano appears to be that. If he pans out, this class already has some great markings. Coupled with No. 3 athlete Marquez Callaway, they have some solid players.
Nigel Warrior, a four-star safety, and five-star defensive tackle, Derrick Brown area couple of players to watch. If they can secure a recruitment from either one of those stars it turns NSD into a very big day for UT.
UT had a pretty good close out to recruiting season and will finish in the top 10. Without the top level players, they fall short of sniffing the top five.
8- Arkansas 5* – 1, 4* – 5, 3* – 16 Total – 22
Arkansas has great depth in this class and was even able to secure a top defensive end. An elite pass rusher is a huge get for the Hogs.
9- Texas A&M 5* – 0, 4* – 7, 3* – 13 Total – 20
A pretty good class from A&M will have the Aggies looking to pump up over the course of the next few years. They’ll be top 25 nationally, but are at the bottom of the barrel in the SEC.
10- Kentucky 5* – 0, 4* – 3, 3* – 22 Total – 25
11- South Carolina 5* – 0, 4* – 5, 3* – 20 Total – 26
12- Mississippi State 5* – 1, 4* – 2, 3* – 15 Total – 18
13- Missouri 5* – 0, 4* – 1, 3* – 17 Total – 18
14- Vanderbilt 5* – 0, 4* – 1, 3* – 17 Total – 18