SEC Football Recruiting: 10 Observations of This Week's National Signing Day
College football's national signing day is this Wednesday and every SEC program is battling to bring in the very best class possible.
The recruiting season has taken on a life of its own with passionate fans following every rumor and commitment, coaches taking out all the stops to impress elite talent and administrations funding the expensive process.
The reason for all the hoopla is the fact they all know that at the end of the day elite players win championships and you get elite players through solid recruiting.
In preparation for this week's big signing day, the following slideshow features observations and thoughts on recruiting in the SEC in 2012.
Missouri vs. Texas A&M
There is no doubt that both Missouri and Texas A&M will be forever linked as the two teams the SEC added in 2012.
There will be a fight each season and recruiting season for supremacy among the "new guys."
For Missouri the fight has not gotten off to a very good start.
The Rivals.com recruiting rankings currently have Texas A&M with the No. 10 recruiting class in the country and has Missouri ranked as just the 49th-best recruiting class in the nation.
Texas A&M has been able to compile significantly more elite recruits. The Aggies have seven 4- or 5-star players, according to the Rivals.com recruit database, and the Tigers have just one.
Texas A&M went through a coaching change, hiring Houston's Kevin Sumlin after firing Mike Sherman, and still have been able to outpace Missouri in gaining commitments from top players.
Mizzou had coach Gary Pinkel's seat was already warm, with a class like this it may be even more toasty this offseason.
First-year head coach James Franklin, building on a winning season in 2011, is putting together one of the very best recruiting hauls in Vanderbilt history.
With 22 commitments already on board, including an impressive four 4-star commits (according to Rivals.com), Franklin is bringing in significant talent to the program.
Vanderbilt, before the arrival of Franklin, rarely ever had a recruiting class finish in the top 50 in the nation, much less the top 25, and right now, the Commodores sit at No. 24.
Players like 4-star defensive end Josh Dawson and 4-star running back Brian Kimbrow have a chance to make immediate impacts for Vanderbilt.
Franklin is working on building a winner in Nashville, Tenn.
Auburn and Georgia's Late Push?
In a bit of a surprise, Georgia and Auburn sit outside the top 20 in most current recruiting rankings.
However, do not expect them to stay there. Both programs are expected to move up the list before national signing day is all said and done.
The reason for the low ranking for both teams is the low number of commitments they have both received to date, as Georgia has just 16 and Auburn only 15 commits.
The good news for both classes is there is room for more commitments in the coming days.
Georgia is in the running for 5-star linebacker Josh Harvey Clemens, 4-star cornerback Sheldon Dawson, 4-star defensive lineman Dalvin Tomlinson and will battle Auburn for star wideout JaQuay Williams. Georgia may land as many as eight other 4- and 5-star players.
Auburn is still up for as many as 10 4- and 5-star recruits.
Eddie Goldman is the top uncommitted defensive prospect in the country and has Auburn in his final three. He is the No. 7 overall ranked player in the nation in the Rivals.com recruit database, and 6'4", 307 pounds is a big load that can dominate at the line of scrimmage.
Auburn is also up for a slew of top receivers (discussed later in this article), two 5-star offensive linemen and 4-star linebacker Ben Brown.
Look for these two schools to move up the rankings boards this week.
Dorial Green-Beckham's Decision?
Dorial Green-Beckham is a consensus No. 1 recruit in the country.
At 6'6" and 220 pounds with 4.4 speed, the prep stud could make an immediate and significant impact wherever he lands.
The question is, will he sign with Arkansas or Missouri? There is a battle for the big-time athlete between these two bordering neighbors.
Barring a surprise choice of an outside school like Texas or Ohio State, Green-Beckham will be playing in the SEC.
It seems to me that Arkansas would have the edge because of its wide-open passing offense and need for wide receivers. However, staying at home can be important for some guys.
This one will come down to the wire.
Disappointment at Ole Miss
It is never good for a new head coach to have his first recruiting class at the school finish dead last in the conference.
However, that is exactly what is about to happen to Hugh Freeze and Ole Miss.
With just 16 commitments in the class so far and zero 5-star and just two 4-star recruits, this class is small and low on elite talent.
To his credit, Freeze hasn't had much time to assemble a staff and gain recruiting momentum, but expect the fans in Oxford to be disgruntled nonetheless.
The Rebel class is currently ranked 41st in the country on Rivals.com and 59th in the nation on Scout.com. Not a good sign for a team that failed to make a bowl season last year and is in dire need of a talent infusion.
Will Muschamp and the Gators
Will Muschamp is proving he can recruit with the big boys.
After a frustrating six-win season in Gainesville, Fla., Muschamp needed a good recruiting showing to help settle the natives.
He has done just that and more. The Gators class is ranked in the top five in the nation on every recruiting website, as 13 of Florida's 21 commits are 4- or 5-star players. The good news for the Gators is that they are still in the running for several other top recruits.
This will be a truly significant influx of talent for Muschamp's squad.
Receivers to Auburn?
For Auburn it could be either boom or bust based on the decisions of three talented receivers.
Right now, the Tigers are in the running for Rivals.com 5-star Stefon Diggs, 5-star JaQuay Williams—both rankled as top 100 recruits in the country—and 4-star Ricardo Louis.
Auburn is up for other elite talent at other positions, but these three wideouts could obviously be big pickups for the Tigers and skyrocket their class ranking.
Auburn needs some depth at the position and a solid secondary target to assist in opening things up for star receiver Emory Blake next season.
The speedy Louis was an Auburn commit before decommitting and choosing Florida State. He has since decommitted from Florida State and looks to be headed back to Auburn.
All three have been Auburn leans at one point in time. It will be up to the Auburn staff to get their signatures this Wednesday.
Alabama on Top
Once again, Nick Saban has put together another top recruiting class.
Alabama is coming off its second national title in the past three years and continues to dominate the recruiting trail.
The Tide have a big 27 commitments, and 15 of them are elite 4- and 5-star recruits in the Rivals.com recruit database.
Fifteen elite commitments dwarf that of most other commitment lists in the nation, much less in the SEC.
However, now the question is how will Saban manage the list and stay within the new restrictions of 25-player class limit?
What About LSU?
A story that is slowing brewing is the slightly underwhelming class LSU is putting together. Of course, everything is relative—most schools would love to have LSU's current class.
However, strong recruiting has been a mainstay at LSU and it is used to being ranked near the top of the rankings in both the SEC and the nation.
Right now, that isn't the case.
Rivals.com has the Tigers ranked outside the top 15 in the country and they have fallen to sixth in the SEC.
The Tigers are still up for some quality athletes, but still do not have a commitment from a rivals.com 5-star recruit.
It didn't help LSU's cause when stud quarterback Gunner Kiel shunned the Tigers in favor of Notre Dame.
Did losing the national title hurt this class? Or will it be a late push by Les Miles and staff to slide up the rankings?
Where Will Avery Young Sign?
One of the very top offensive linemen in the country, Avery Young has yet to make a decision on where he will play college football.
At 6'6" and 275 pounds, Young is an athletic and steady lineman that will continue to grow and be able to handle the pressure of SEC defensive lines.
At this point, he is likely to chose an SEC program. His final five are Alabama, Auburn, Florida, Georgia and Miami. The Hurricanes are on the outside looking in.
All four Southeastern Conference teams could use another offensive line talent, but Florida may have the biggest need of the bunch and could add a nice piece to its already impressive class.
However, this one won't be done until he signs on the dotted line. Stay tuned.