College Football: 25 2013 Recruits Who Made a Mistake Passing on the SEC
With over 100 schools to choose from, picking just one is the simplest and most complicated decision of a recruit's young life.
While there are many reasons (it's complicated) to pick any one of the schools which are offering him a scholarship, there is only one criterion that truly matters: success on the field (it's that simple).
The SEC is on top of the football world from recruiting classes to the NFL draft, and the conference has established a supremacy unmatched in the history of college football with seven national titles in a row.
The playoff is coming, so there are a few schools outside of the SEC that are worth signing with. The recruits that signed with Florida State, Stanford, Oregon and Ohio State were left off the list. Those teams are the most likely (in theory) to take down the SEC over the next few seasons.
With that in mind, let's take a look at 25 recruits who made a mistake by passing on the SEC's offer to play football. Presented in order of smallest to biggest mistake, here are those 25 recruits.
*Recruiting information is from ESPN 150 unless otherwise linked.
25. Max Redfield, Notre Dame Fighting Irish
ESPN 150 Rank: No. 23
SEC Offers: LSU, Ole Miss and Vanderbilt
Max Redfield, the safety/wide receiver out of Mission Viejo, California, signed with the Notre Dame Fighting Irish.
Granted, the Irish made it to the national championship, but he had to see how grossly outmatched they were against the Crimson Tide during the 42-14 rout.
The Alabama vs. LSU game that took place in Death Valley earlier in the season had a much more entertaining ending. Alabama won with a 43-second touchdown drive that ended with just under a minute left in the game.
If Redfield wanted to be a part of a national championship team that took the Tide off their pedestal, signing with LSU would have been a better move than Notre Dame.
If he wanted to go to the NFL, LSU is putting 10 underclassmen in the 2013 NFL draft this April. Notre Dame's football resume over the past 10 years is nothing compared to LSU's.
24. Greg Bryant, Notre Dame Fighting Irish
ESPN 150 Rank: No. 22
SEC Offers: Alabama, Auburn, Florida, Georgia, LSU and South Carolina
Greg Bryant chose Notre Dame over no fewer than three national title contenders in the SEC. As a running back, he had to be fully aware that Florida, LSU and South Carolina were losing major pieces to the NFL from that position.
It's completely understandable that he wouldn't go to Alabama. After all, three of the Top 10 running backs of the class ended up signing with the Tide, and Alabama has nothing but split carries to offer their talented stable of tailbacks.
However, the offensive lines at Georgia, LSU, Florida and South Carolina are better than Notre Dame's. If he's looking for numbers, then he could have gone to any one of those schools to go higher in the draft than at Notre Dame.
Even if you exclude South Carolina due to the Marcus Lattimore situation and Florida due to its lack of passing attack, Georgia and LSU were both much closer to winning a national championship than Notre Dame was in 2012.
23. Mackensie Alexander, Clemson Tigers
ESPN 150 Rank: No. 4
SEC Offers: Texas A&M, Mississippi State, Auburn, Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina and Tennessee
In 2012, Florida State beat Clemson, Florida beat Florida State, Florida beat LSU, Georgia beat Florida, Alabama beat Georgia and Texas A&M beat Alabama. Clemson wasn't the worst choice a recruit could have made in this cycle, but it was certainly an inferior program to Georgia, Florida, South Carolina, Alabama and Texas A&M.
Any one of the nine SEC schools that offered him scholarships could have used a major player in the secondary, especially Alabama. The reigning national champion has a weakness in its secondary.
There are precious few positions at Alabama where a freshman can step in and make a great contribution. Amari Cooper and T.J. Yeldon took up two of those spots in 2012, and they were both impressive as true freshmen.
The secondary could use its version of Amari Cooper, and Mackensie Alexander could have been that man. Even if he didn't want to play for the Tide, Texas A&M could definitely have benefited from his presence on the field in 2013.
Those two teams (not to mention some of the others) are definite national title contenders in 2013 and beyond. There are a full five squads that offered him scholarships out of the SEC that were each better than Clemson.
22. Chris Hawkins, USC Trojans
ESPN 150 Rank: No. 72
SEC Offers: Florida, Ole Miss, Texas A&M and Vanderbilt
Chris Hawkins is a 4-star cornerback who signed with the USC Trojans. Now, the Trojans absolutely need an improvement in the secondary, but he was offered by SEC schools that also need new members of the secondary.
Texas A&M and Florida are both good enough to expect a position in one of the first three playoffs. USC is a different story entirely. Lane Kiffin took over the USC program and took it to a 10-2 finish in 2011 despite being postseason ineligible.
In 2012, Kiffin led the Trojans to a 7-6 record after losing the Sun Bowl to the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets. If Hawkins wanted to make a huge impression on scouts, the Sun Bowl won't do it.
The Cotton Bowl or any BCS bowl would certainly do that. USC may take him to the Rose Bowl before he leaves the program, but a national championship is less likely each year the SEC dominates recruiting.
21. Hunter Bivin, Notre Dame Fighting Irish
ESPN 150 Rank: No. 82
SEC Offers: Auburn, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, LSU, Mississippi State, Ole Miss, Tennessee, Texas A&M and Vanderbilt
Hunter Bivin is another score for Brian Kelly and his recent trip to the national championship. If Kelly can keep pulling in these recruits, he may build the Irish into a force before anyone truly realizes how ill-prepared they are for Alabama.
Bivin was offered scholarships by 10 of the 14 SEC schools, and he could have started on half of those 10 teams. Had he gone to Texas A&M, he would have had a great opportunity to bolster the Aggies front line.
Texas A&M has already lost Luke Joeckel to the draft this coming April, and Bivin would have had a perfect opportunity to start on a legitimate title contender if he'd signed with them.
After all, A&M beat Alabama by almost a touchdown. That's something that nobody else in the country can claim from 2012.
20. Kylie Fitts, UCLA Bruins
ESPN 150 Rank: No. 85
SEC Offers: Arkansas, Georgia, Ole Miss, Tennessee and Vanderbilt
Georgia lost two games in 2012. UCLA lost two games to Stanford alone. Even Tennessee is just a defense short of a national championship. With the exception of Georgia, Fitts could have easily started on any one of those teams.
Every program that offered him a scholarship out of the SEC is on the way up, and UCLA is on the rise as well. The difference is that he could have made a national championship-caliber difference at no fewer than two of the SEC schools (Georgia and Tennessee).
UCLA might get him to the Rose Bowl, but beating Stanford in the conference title game would have only given the Bruins a 10-3 record at the time. That wouldn't have been good enough for a national championship berth, and it probably won't be good enough for a four-team playoff berth.
19. Kevin Olsen, Miami Hurricanes
ESPN 150 Rank: No. 87
SEC Offers: Auburn, Florida, Georgia and South Carolina
Kevin Olsen is the fifth-ranked quarterback of the 2013 recruiting class. He's a pocket-passer that could easily have been a great addition to any one of the SEC schools that courted him.
While it would have made sense to sign with an ACC school like Clemson or Florida State, he signed with Miami. This is bad for more than one reason. Miami is under investigation by the NCAA, and the NCAA actually had to conduct an investigation of the investigation.
Miami has already taken on two self-imposed postseason bans, and there isn't an end in sight. If the NCAA doesn't think that two self-imposed bans is enough, then Miami's absence from the ACC title game could continue.
For that matter, it's Miami. The Hurricanes could miss out on the title game anyway due to lack of ability. Florida, Georgia and South Carolina are all poised in great position to either win the SEC title or at least get into a BCS bowl anyway.
Connor Shaw and Aaron Murray need successors, and Jeff Driskel might have actually lost the starting job to Olsen if he had signed with the Gators.
As it stands, he may be a part of bringing Miami to a conference championship but probably not a national title.
18. Ben Boulware, Clemson Tigers
ESPN 150 Rank: No. 78
SEC Offers: Georgia, Ole Miss, Tennessee and Texas A&M
Ben Boulware is an inside linebacker for the Clemson Tigers now. As far as mistakes go, this is on the lower end of the spectrum. Clemson was only two games shy of a potential national championship appearance against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish.
To further cement themselves as legitimate national contenders, the Tigers took down LSU in the Chick-fil-A Bowl during the 2012 postseason.
Of course, Texas A&M and Georgia got much closer to the national title than Clemson did. That definitely puts the Clemson choice into perspective.
Plus, the ACC got swept by the SEC on rivalry weekend at the end of 2012. Georgia beat Georgia Tech, Florida beat Florida State, South Carolina beat Clemson and Vanderbilt beat Wake Forest.
The other major reason to go with the SEC squads is that their starting quarterbacks are better than Clemson's. Georgia's Murray is more efficient and successful, and Johnny Manziel won the Heisman.
Sure, Boulware bight have a much easier job getting on the field in his first season, but the Tigers are unlikely to parlay that defense into a conference title with a brand-new signal-caller.
17. Artie Burns, Miami Hurricanes
ESPN 150 Rank: No. 70
SEC Offers: Alabama and LSU
Artie Burns is another cornerback who had the opportunity to sign with an Alabama squad that could really use some help in the secondary. Instead, he signed with the troubled Miami Hurricanes.
LSU was extremely close to beating Alabama last season, and they would have been another solid choice for Burns.
While he may make a bit of a name for himself in the ACC, he won't get the coaching available at Alabama or LSU.
In the 2013 draft, Miami's top cornerback is ranked 20th at his position. That's behind both Alabama and LSU's highest-ranked corners. Alabama's Dee Milliner is the best corner in the draft.
That doesn't just indicate the level of coaching available in Tuscaloosa, it also proves that there's a huge hole in the secondary that Burns could have filled.
Yes, he may have ended up standing in line for a year at either SEC school, but he would have been getting good enough to play on playoff-quality teams as opposed to the Hurricanes.
Even signing with Florida State or Clemson in the ACC would have been a much smaller mistake.
16. Tarean Folston, Notre Dame Fighting Irish
ESPN 150 Rank: No. 66
SEC Offers: Auburn, Alabama, Florida, Kentucky, South Carolina, Tennessee and Vanderbilt
Tarean Folston is an athlete according to ESPN, but he's tabbed as the No. 24 running back by Scout.com. Notre Dame is in need of running backs, but Greg Bryant (covered earlier) is already a part of this class.
If Folston is hoping to be the go-to tailback for the Irish, then he's going to have to work hard at it. If he gets switched to tight end or linebacker, though, he could make an instant impact.
Unfortunately, he'll still be at Notre Dame. The Irish just joined the ACC for everything but football and agreed to play no fewer than five ACC games each football season.
The problem there is that the ACC is still nowhere near the SEC in terms of skill level (see previous reference in Ben Boulware's slide).
Some of the top ACC teams are close, but Notre Dame isn't going to take on the elite teams from the ACC. The Irish already take on Michigan, Stanford and USC every season. That makes their strength of schedule tougher than the majority of the country without ACC opponents.
Florida, South Carolina and Vanderbilt have their major running backs in the upcoming NFL draft. Florida or South Carolina could have turned his signature into a conference championship appearance.
That's something he'll never get at Notre Dame.
15. Derrick Green, Michigan Wolverines
ESPN 150 Rank: No. 38
SEC Offers: Tennessee, Auburn, Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Mississippi State, Ole Miss, South Carolina and Vanderbilt
Derrick Green signed with the mighty Michigan Wolverines of the Big Ten. While he will be a valuable addition to the Wolverines, that's true of every recruit on this list with respect to the team they chose.
He passed on notable offers from Alabama, Georgia and South Carolina in order to sign with the Wolverines. As referenced earlier, Alabama signed three of the Top 10 running backs, so it's understandable that he didn't want to wait for starting time he may never get.
However, Georgia has two major tailbacks who played as freshmen in 2012. He could have been next in line on a title contender. South Carolina just beat Michigan, and Georgia just beat Nebraska in the 2012 postseason.
While national championships aren't everything, he signed with a team that just lost to Alabama in the 2012 season opener and to South Carolina in the bowl game.
He had offers from both the teams that beat Michigan. Granted, he may want to make a difference on a team that needs him for a national championship. However, that would have been better accomplished by signing with Georgia or South Carolina.
Ole Miss might even fall into that category, but fans will have to wait to see how far Hugh Freeze can really take the Rebels before including them in this conversation.
14. Leon McQuay III, USC Trojans
ESPN 150 Rank: No. 37
SEC Offers: Vanderbilt, Florida and Tennessee
Leon McQuay III signed with USC and instantly gave the Trojans one of their missing puzzle pieces. He's a 4-star safety, and USC desperately needs a defense to avoid more 7-6 seasons like 2012.
Tennessee, though, is in much worse shape defensively, and he could have been part of that impending turnaround as well. Tennessee had one of the worst scoring defenses in the country last season, and the offense just couldn't score enough to make up for it.
If he had simply signed with the Volunteers, Tennessee's return to glory could have been even faster. If he didn't want to wait around for years to earn a national title, he could have signed with the Florida Gators.
Florida needs to raise up the next-generation secondary. Instead, he signed with USC. The Trojans have gone from potential national champions to losing to Georgia Tech in one offseason under Lane Kiffin.
He will definitely play in the Rose Bowl with USC (they play some regular-season games there), but if he's looking for national championships, he can check the ticker for Florida over the next three seasons.
The Gators are likely to win one in that time span.
13. Keith Ford, Oklahoma Sooners
ESPN 150 Rank: No. 27
SEC Offers: Alabama and Texas A&M
Keith Ford is a running back. Signing with anyone other than Alabama makes perfect sense, and that fact has already been covered extensively.
Texas A&M, on the other hand, is much less wealthy in the tailback category. Furthermore, A&M just established its complete dominance over Oklahoma in the Cotton Bowl.
Bob Stoops has a thing for dropping at least one game per season that he shouldn't lose. The resulting "Choklahoma" nickname has become so well-known that it has made it to Urban Dictionary as a general term of complete failure. (As opposed to its previous football-only connotation.)
The 2012 season's version of that game was the 30-13 loss to Notre Dame. While Ford is busy carrying the major load for Oklahoma, he had better hope that Stoops can un-Stoops himself for at least one season.
If Oklahoma can put together even a one-loss season, the Sooners may make a statement on the national stage. if Stoops can stay good for that game as well, then this could turn out to be a better decision than it appears to be.
In the meantime, the SEC's streak of seven titles will stand, and Oklahoma will go down as one of the teams that couldn't take them down. (Oklahoma lost to Florida in the 2008 season's championship game.)
12. Eddie Vanderdoes, Notre Dame Fighting Irish
ESPN 150 Rank: No. 10
SEC Offers: Alabama, Arkansas, Auburn, Florida, Georgia, LSU, Mississippi State, Ole Miss, Tennessee, Texas A&M and Vanderbilt
Eddie Vanderdoes had offers from 11 of the 14 SEC schools, and he passed them all over to play on Notre Dame's defensive line. While that looks great on paper, Notre Dame didn't back his signature up with more linemen of his caliber.
Vanderdoes will go through his career at Notre Dame much like Manti Te'o did: He will be the greatest lineman on the field for four years, but he'll have no rings to show for being awesome.
He could have made a serious impact at any one of the SEC programs that asked him to sign, and he would have gotten at least a conference title ring with Alabama, Florida, Georgia or Texas A&M sometime over the next four years.
Notre Dame may get him to the NFL, but he won't be as well-coached or highly decorated when he leaves. He's going to be watching the January bowls from his living room, and he will question this move at least twice over the next four seasons.
11. Jaylon Smith, Notre Dame Fighting Irish
ESPN 150 Rank: No. 7
SEC Offers: Alabama, Florida, Mississippi State, Ole Miss, Tennessee and Texas A&M
Manti Te'o comparisons continue: Jaylon Smith is an outside linebacker for the Fighting Irish now, and he will also see the same style of career that Te'o did.
That's not a horrible thing, of course, as Te'o would have gone high in the first round if not for his performance in the Alabama game. Individually, Smith made an OK choice.
Smith could have made a championship difference at Florida or Texas A&M, and he simply could have been one of the many first-round picks from his position at Alabama if he'd signed with them.
Even Ole Miss looks to be putting a title team together under Hugh Freeze. Smith decided to go help Notre Dame continue its rise to high-class football, but he will be waiting for one or two more classes to join him before the Irish are ready to challenge the SEC again.
Smith could have started at Florida or Texas A&M as a true freshman and made no less than a BCS bowl in 2013. Notre Dame may or may not make the BCS, but it's unlikely that the Irish will return to the big game that soon.
10. Kent Perkins, Texas Longhorns
ESPN 150 Rank: No. 76
SEC Offers: LSU and Texas A&M
Kent Perkins is now a Longhorns offensive tackle. The 5-star beast had offers from LSU and Texas A&M. The Aggies actually had an early draftee leave the program from his position, which gave him a huge opportunity to join a championship-quality team.
Two of the teams that offered him scholarships are near the top of their conference, and the other was Texas. While Texas has been recruiting great talent to the program, Mack Brown has had issues turning that talent into wins.
Ever since Colt McCoy left, Texas has steadily slid downhill. During that same stretch, LSU and Texas A&M have done the complete opposite. LSU appeared in a national championship game as recently as 2011, and A&M played in the Cotton Bowl in 2012 with a Heisman winner under center.
To put the finishing touches on the contrast: Texas needed a miraculous comeback to take down Oregon State in the Alamo Bowl in 2012. Perkins may have complete faith in himself as a lineman, but the Longhorns need much more than just him to win a Big 12 title.
They need even more than that to win a national crown.
9. James Quick, Louisville Cardinals
ESPN 150 Rank: No. 79
SEC Offers: Alabama, Arkansas, Auburn, Kentucky, LSU, Ole Miss and Tennessee
The kids who signed for Notre Dame, Oklahoma and even Texas have a little logic to their choices. Those programs are just a few short years away from at least appearing in a national championship.
However, Louisville is sitting in a dying conference with no feasible route to a national championship game appearance. Yes, an undefeated Louisville might get to the game, but a one-loss SEC champion would most likely boot them from the discussion.
In fact, a one-loss Pac-12, Big 12 or Big Ten champion would have a solid argument against the Cardinals. Alabama and LSU would certainly jump over them, even with a loss.
Knowing all this, James Quick signed with Louisville over Alabama and LSU. Alabama's leading receiver from 2012 was true freshman Amari Cooper, so Quick is even aware that instant playing time is possible in the SEC.
Yes, he will get more guaranteed time at Louisville, but will he make it to anything beyond a Sugar Bowl? Not if things play out like they have over the last decade. One wide receiver isn't going to turn Louisville into a national champion.
Quick will regret his decision sooner or later, but he will need to channel that emotion into on-field production. His individual career doesn't need to die with the Big East.
8. Taquan Mizzell, Virginia Cavaliers
ESPN 150 Rank: No. 75
SEC Offer: Vanderbilt
Sure, Taquan Mizzell was passed over by the majority of SEC teams, but that doesn't mean he needed to sign all the way down the list with Virginia.
The Cavaliers just finished up a four-win season, and no amount of skilled running will turn that into an ACC championship. At least, no amount of skilled running from one person.
Mizzell missed a great opportunity to campaign for the starting role at Vanderbilt. The Commodores just lost record-breaking tailback Zac Stacy to graduation, and they will be looking for a go-to 'back in 2013.
Sure, Vanderbilt isn't currently the sexiest SEC team, but the Commodores are certainly a better choice than the Virginia Cavaliers.
7. Priest Willis, UCLA Bruins
ESPN 150 Rank: No. 59
SEC Offers: LSU, Arkansas, Florida, Missouri, Tennessee and Texas A&M
Priest Willis has chosen to take his talent at the safety position to UCLA. While UCLA clearly needs defense, as the bowl game against Baylor proved, so do Florida, LSU and Texas A&M.
Willis knew this because those schools offered him scholarships. The other three schools from the SEC also need great defenders, but they aren't expected to be championship contenders as soon as 2013.
UCLA isn't either, but it wouldn't necessarily be a better move to sign with Missouri over UCLA. UCLA would probably win a game against Missouri this coming season.
However, passing up an opportunity to play as a true freshman at LSU, Florida or Texas A&M falls into the "D'oh!" category with authority.
Those three teams are better than UCLA, and at least two of them could have used him as a freshman. Remember, Texas A&M hasn't had the SEC bargaining chip on the recruiting trail for long.
The Aggies, Tigers or Gators would have made a star out of Willis. He will have to wait to find out if UCLA will extend him the same courtesy.
6. Al-Quadin Muhammad, Miami Hurricanes
ESPN 150 Rank: No. 58
SEC Offers: Alabama, Auburn, Florida, LSU, South Carolina and Tennessee
Al-Quadin Muhammad is a defensive end that bolsters the 2013 Miami recruiting class. He could have gone to South Carolina and been part of the Muhammad/Jadeveon Clowney tandem, but he passed that up.
He could have gone to Alabama and been part of yet another wave of Kirby Smart-raised first-round draft picks. In fact, any one of the SEC programs that wanted him could have started him in year one or two.
Tennessee has been called out repeatedly in this piece as needing a defense. The Volunteers don't need just a secondary, a defensive line or a linebacking corps, they need all of the above.
He could have helped turn Tennessee back into a contender, or he could have pushed Florida, LSU or South Carolina over the edge. If he didn't want to do that, he could have just gone ring shopping with the Tide every season or two.
Instead, Muhammad went to Miami. If he looks back on this day from the NFL, then he probably won't care. If he looks back from the pool of free agents after his draft weekend, this will be the moment he regrets the most.
5. Stacy Coley, Miami Hurricanes
ESPN 150 Rank: No. 47
SEC Offers: Florida, Georgia, Ole Miss, Tennessee and Texas A&M
Stacy Coley is a good wide receiver who could be great or even exceptional with the right coaching staff. Florida's coaches have proved that they are great, although the quarterback and offensive line situations need to change as soon as possible.
Georgia's Mark Richt has proven himself year after year, and he just went to his second straight conference championship game in 2012. (He almost won that one.)
Texas A&M and Georgia have great quarterbacks who would give Coley any number of drills and trials that would improve his game every practice and every game.
He could have left the SEC as a first-round draft pick, but he went to Miami. There's nothing wrong with what the Hurricanes are doing down there, it's just a fact that they aren't able to produce the kind of talent that the SEC heavy hitters can churn out.
Though this class is good for Miami, the recruits will leave the school disappointed with everything but the local night life.
4. Darius James, Texas Longhorns
ESPN 150 Rank: No. 17
SEC Offers: Florida, LSU, Mississippi State and Texas A&M
Darius James plays one of the most overlooked positions on the field. Most of the time, people only notice the center if there is a bad snap. (Scouts are always excluded from those types of statements; scouts notice everything.)
Florida, LSU and Texas A&M could all use more talent on the offensive line, and the SEC doesn't care where you're supposed to play. Alabama's Barrett Jones is a great example of a player who played where he was needed in order to maximize team success.
Even if James does stick to playing center, doing it for Texas isn't going to do him any favors. He's going to snap the ball to someone who isn't Colt McCoy, and Mack Brown is going to continue to coach in cruise control until he finds his next Colt McCoy.
If Brown doesn't find his "real McCoy" before James leaves, then the 2013 class will be yet another class that leaves Texas disappointed and undercoached.
Mack Brown looked enthusiastic and motivated when McCoy was winning football games in orange. Since his departure, Brown looks less than interested in his job. James is going to regret letting this staff coach him unless the school sees fit to hire a new man in charge.
In the meantime, Florida, LSU and Texas A&M will make BCS bowls and playoffs to their hearts' content, while Texas wallows in mediocrity. Hey, maybe Brown will retire and fix this whole mess.
3. Damore'ea Stringfellow, Washington Huskies
ESPN 150 Rank: No. 51
SEC Offers: Florida and Ole Miss
Damore'ea Stringfellow will be a wide receiver for the Washington Huskies next season, and he is easily a potential true-freshman starter.
Washington, at best, is behind Oregon and Stanford in the Pac-12 North. At their worst, the Huskies proved in 2012 that they can lose to the Washington State Cougars.
Stringfellow is a good wide receiver, but he passed up on two great opportunities. Behind door No. 1, Florida waited for him to help them build a formidable passing attack.
Behind door No. 2, Ole Miss waited for him to assist them into conference-title contention. Ole Miss signed a ridiculous class this year, and Stringfellow could have been part of that trend-breaking class of beasts.
Behind door No. 3, Washington wanted him to be the headliner of the class. Clearly, that was a tempting offer, and Stringfellow took the bait. Now all he can do is hope that other recruiting classes follow his lead.
Otherwise, he is going to be one greatly disappointed fellow when he leaves the gorgeous Pacific Northwest.
2. Kendall Fuller, Virginia Tech Hokies
ESPN 150 Rank: No. 18
SEC Offer: Florida
Kendall Fuller made one of the worst decisions of the class when he picked Virginia Tech. Virginia Tech is on its way down the ACC, and Florida State, Clemson and (to a lesser degree) Miami are on their way up.
Not only did this cornerback not pick the SEC, he passed on Florida State, Clemson, Notre Dame and Michigan to name just a few. Say what you want about how "not ready" Notre Dame is for a national title, the Irish are closer than Virginia Tech by a large margin.
On top of passing on all those non-SEC teams that are better than Virginia Tech, Fuller passed on Florida. The same Florida that beat all but two of the teams on its schedule last season. Florida is an inch away from an SEC title, and Fuller could have been that inch.
Instead, he'll be a man among boys at Virginia Tech. That will help get his name thrown around, but there will be one major question when he's heading into the NFL: How will he do against elite competition?
He won't have a lot of that in the ACC, especially if the Hokies don't pull out of the nosedive immediately.
1. Dorian Johnson, Pittsburgh Panthers
ESPN 150 Rank: No. 29
SEC Offers: Alabama, Ole Miss and Tennessee
Dorian Johnson's decision to play offensive tackle for Pittsburgh is clearly the worst of the class. Not only did he pass up SEC offers, he passed them up from major programs that are all better than Pitt is right now.
Alabama needs offensive linemen now. Three of the Tide's five starters are in the NFL draft. Ole Miss just beat Pittsburgh in the Compass Bowl at the end of 2012.
At Alabama, Johnson could expect at least one national championship during his few years there. At Ole Miss, he could expect to be on a team that put itself on the map in a big way during his tenure. At Tennessee, he could have anchored an offensive line that was actually supported by a defense that could win games.
Johnson chose Pittsburgh over Alabama, and that makes him the headliner of this article. Don't say he never won anything.