Even though signing day for 2010 recruits is still about 10 months away, in the world of big-time college football recruiting is a year-round commitment. If you're the coach at one of the SEC schools you better not ignore it for one second, because even in these early stages top-notch recruits are already making their verbal commitments.
Since getting elite players is one of the key ingredients to building a powerhouse program, we thought we'd do an early version of SEC Team Rankings to see which teams have gotten off to a fast start in recruiting this year.
Here's the breakdown:
Trey Burton - QB - 6'2", 203 lbs
Demar Dorsey - DB - 6'1", 175 lbs
Jonathan Dowling - DB - 6'3", 178 lbs
Matt Elam - ATH - 6'0", 205 lbs
Victor Hampton - DB - 5'11", 170 lbs
Michael McFarland - TE - 6'6", 230 lbs
Leon Orr - OL - 6'6", 300 lbs
Ian Silberman - OL - 6'4", 257 lbs
Key Player - Matt Elam - The Gators certainly haven't slowed down since winning the national championship, hitting the ground running in recruiting with a slew of elite players verballing to Urban Meyer. The best of the bunch appears to be Matt Elam, an all-everything player out of West Palm Beach, FL. Matt's brother, Abram, played for Meyer at Notre Dame and now plays cornerback in the NFL. Elam has the skills necessary to follow his big brother to the pros, and in Meyer's high-octane system will have the opportunity to showcase these skills, whether on offense or defense.
Mike Davis - WR - 6'1", 185 lbs
Nick Jacobs - TE - 6'5", 245 lbs
Eric Reid - DB - 6'3" 175 lbs
Tharold Simon - ATH - 6'4", 185 lbs
D.J. Welter - LB - 6'0", 214 lbs
Brandon Worle - RB - 6'1", 240 lbs
Key Player - Eric Reid - LSU has traditionally gotten many of their best players from the talent-rich areas in Louisiana and the surrounding states, and this year is no different. Four of the six player currently committed to the Tigers are from Louisiana, and the best of that group is Eric Reid, a talented safety from Geismar Dutchtown. Reid was a force to be reckoned with in his junior year, making 78 tackles, nine sacks, and four interceptions. Reid also has the smarts to boot, boasting an offer from Stanford, so he should have no difficulty picking up Les Mile's defensive schemes.
3. South Carolina
Kelcy Quarles - DT - 6'4", 250 lbs
Sean Tapley - WR - 6'0", 170 lbs
Elliot Williams - OL - 6'6", 285 lbs
Key Player - Kelcy Quarles - Quarles committed to the Gamecocks back in November, and ever since South Carolina fans have been on pins and needles hoping he doesn't change his mind, as many of the South's best programs are still in hot pursuit of the young man. If Quarles does remain with Steve Spurrier's squad he should wreak havoc in opponent's backfields, given that he had an outstanding 21 tackles for loss and 17 sacks as a high school junior.
Jalston Fowler - RB - 6'0", 240 lbs
Keiwone Malone - WR - 6'1", 165 lbs
Nick Perry - DB - 6'2", 195 lbs
Austin Shepard - OL - 6'4", 316 lbs
Key player - Keiwone Malone - Even though he still has a lot of weight to put on his frame, Malone may be the top recruit coming out of the state of Tennessee this year and as a Junior snagged 73 balls for 1,407 yards and 19 TD's.
Jacques Smith - DE - 6'3", 225 lbs
Key Player - Jacques Smith - Like Auburn, Tennessee's head coaching change caused the new staff to get off to a slow start in recruiting. Even though Lane Kiffin only has one commit to date, he picked up a very good one in Jacques Smith. Smith was offered by Nick Saban of Alabama, and given Saban's history it's readily apparent he has an eye for outstanding defensive players. Jacques can back up that statement with impressive stats as well—compiling 29 tackles for loss and 13 sacks last year.
6. Mississippi State
Michael Carr - ATH - 6'1", 190 lbs
Cordell Giles - DE - 6'3", 235 lbs
Brandon Hill - ATH - 6'2", 208 lbs
Key Player - Michael Carr - Although Carr is unsure what position he will play on the college level, it's apparent there will be a need to get his 4.4 speed on the field somewhere. in 2007 as a high school sophomore, Carr had 12 receptions for 463 yards, a ridiculous 38.5 average that included four touchdowns. He also had both a kickoff and a punt return for a touchdown, so at the very least look for him to be a special teams threat early on in his Bulldogs career.
Jake Holland - LB - 6'1", 228 lbs *JUST COMMITTED*
Cody Parkey - K - 6'2", 195 lbs
Key player - Cody Parker - The turmoil surrounding Tommy Tuberville's departure has certainly hindered new coach Gene Chizik's ability to get off to a fast start in recruiting. Coach Chizik still needs to develop relationships with many players and high school programs so its reasonable to expect the many potential Tiger recruits to commit later rather than sooner. First on board though is kicker Cody Parker, the nation's number one ranked kicker, and although not a glamorous position, everyone knows that often a game comes down to who has the better field goal kicker, so this could turn out to be a big recruit if Parker, from Jupiter, FL, can withstand the heat of SEC football as well he withstands the heat of Florida sunshine.
Jalen Fields - DE - 6'5", 250 lbs
Key Player - Jalen Fields - Georgia's only commitment to date is certainly no slouch. Fields has the potential to be a terror off the edge, with offers from big time programs like Ole Miss, Tennessee, West Virginia, Alabama, and Florida State showing the big-time programs from around the South all wanted Jalen's services in the coming years.
9. Ole Miss
Randall Mackey - ATH - 6'0", 190 lbs
Key Player - Randall Mackey - Despite the Rebels' fantastic year, Houston Nutt has gotten off to a bit of a slow start in recruiting as recruits may be waiting to see if Ole Miss can replicate their success from a year ago. Mackey should be a good addition, however, as he has seasoned himself at a Junior College, and at a weight of 190 pounds, already has a good frame for the pounding players take in the SEC.
Cam Feldt - OL - 6'5", 290 lbs
Key player - Cam Feldt - The lone recruit for the Razorbacks so far, Feldt has been committed since last June. In the tradition of Texas lineman he's got a big frame with the capability to anchor one side of the offensive line. Even though he's remained a commitment for so long, watch out for Texas Tech here as Mike Leach has been working Feldt to possibly switch schools.
Thomas Ryan - DE - 6'4", 240 lbs
Key Player - Thomas Ryan - Vanderbilt had one of the best seasons in school history last year, but to date hasn't been able to translate that success into recruiting. It's been said before, but results on the field often lead to results in recruiting, so if Vandy can somehow repeat their magic from a year ago they likely will find some more recruits suddenly taking an interest in them. Thomas Ryan, while not an elite recruit, should be a high-motor player who will give the Commodores maximum effort on every play. As a junior he was able to record 80 tackles, 15 tackles for loss, and 12 sacks playing in the state of Florida, which traditionally has some of the best high school talent in the country.
No commitments to date - Kentucky has historically been much better at basketball than football, but in recent years the football program has made some strides and shown signs of improving. If the Wildcats can string together some early wins, they should be in play for some of the nation's better recruits. Certainly the buzz around Kentucky concerning John Calipari can only help to get UK into the minds of many young high school players.
Recruiting information from Rivals.com