Saying recruiting is important for success in the SEC is one of the biggest understatements known to mankind. If you want to be a lead dog in this league, then you as a program need to hit the bricks on the recruiting trail hard.
That's exactly why the teams that compete for SEC championships each year are also among the best recruiting programs year in and year out. With recruiting being very competitive in this conference, the trick is to lock up a recruit as early as you can.
Recruits are making decisions earlier and earlier these days, so programs are rounding up commitments early in the recruiting cycle. This read will look at the top commitment right now for each program in the SEC.
Sure, classes are still pretty small at the moment, but each program has to be feeling pretty good about one of its early commitments.
Top 2014 Commitment: K.J. Carta-Samuels, QB
Carta-Samuels is a 6'4", 207-pound field general from the San Jose area in California. Right off the bat, you notice Carta-Samuels' size.
Then you see him throw and you are impressed immediately. Carta-Samuels has a very quick release and his arm strength is very good. He can fit balls in tight windows and attack a defense effortlessly outside the numbers and downfield.
Top 2014 Commitment: Hoza Scott, OLB
Scott likely is the best OLB prospect in the country this year and he's a good one. He's 6'3", 225 pounds and has great speed, range and chase ability.
Scott is a big-time hitter who can intimidate running backs as they begin to look for him as the game wears on. He's got enough athleticism to work in pass coverage or as a solid blitzer.
Top 2014 Commitment: Vic Wharton, WR
Wharton reminds many people of Wes Welker as he's 5'11", weighs 170 pounds and works best in the slot. From Tennessee, Wharton has solid release quickness, good hands and his speed is his biggest asset.
Look for Wharton to also return some punts and kickoffs too in Knoxville.
Top 2014 Commitment: Joe Blue, LB
Blue hails from the Palmetto State and is a thick 6'0", 230-pound 'backer who can plug holes from the Mike/ILB position. He doesn't back down from blockers, has good strength at the point of attack and flashes good build up speed in pursuit.
Top 2014 Commitment: Markel Smith, RB
Gary Pinkel went out and got himself a good running back in Smith, who stands 5'11" and weighs 210 pounds. A thickly built runner, Smith can run with solid strength at times and his above average speed makes him a threat to defenses.
With Mizzou running a lot of spread principles in its offense, getting a solid power back like Smith will only another dimension in the Tigers' offensive attack.
Top 2014 Commitment: Nikia Cathey, WR
Cathey is a 5'9", 170-pounder from Memphis who'll bring explosiveness and speed to the Bulldogs' roster. He launches off the line and can get in and out of his breaks easily and quickly.
I also wouldn't be shocked to see Dan Mullen use him on some running plays and as a returner.
Top 2014 Commitment: D.K. Buford, RB/ATH
Buford is the top pledge for Hugh Freeze right now. The 5'10", 190-pounder is from Mississippi and has sprinter speed. He's a space player who can operate as a running back or wide receiver and just slashes up defenses.
It's hard to get a clean hit on Buford due to his elusiveness and if he gets in the open field, he's probably gone.
Top 2014 Commitment: Edward Paris, DB
Paris is going to LSU and should be another great Tiger's DB. From Texas, he stands 6'1" and weighs 190 pounds, showing good size and range.
He can play both cornerback spots on the field or boundary, yet he may also be best at safety. Wherever he plays at, Paris should be a difference maker for Les Miles' defense in a few seasons.
Top 2014 Commitment: Denzel Ware, OLB/DE
Ware probably would not have committed to Kentucky under the old regime, but Mark Stoops and D.J. Eliot flipped him from Florida State.
At 6'2", Ware weighs just 215 pounds right now but has excellent snap quickness and speed. He can play OLB and move to DE in sub-packages. Think of Matthew Thomas as a player to compare Ware to.
Top 2014 Commitment: Stanley Williams, RB
Georgia's going to have to work pretty hard to keep Williams committed. If they do, then the 'Dawgs are getting an outstanding weapon on offense.
At 5'8" and 190 pounds, Williams has elite speed and quickness. He's best on the edges and also has the ball skills needed to be a true threat in the passing game.
Top 2014 Commitment: Will Grier, QB
Grier's got several state and regional passing records to his name already and could be Florida's QB of the future. From North Carolina, he's 6'3" and weighs 185 pounds.
Grier has solid arm strength, sees the field well and is in total command of his offense right now. Not just limited to the confines of the pocket, Grier can escape the rush and make plays with his legs too.
Top 2014 Commitment: Jimmy Hutchinson, P
Hutchinson likely has been the best punter in the country for the past two cycles. From Georgia, he's 6'2", 175 pounds and has a strong leg.
Hutchinson has soft hands, is quick with his touch-to-toe transition and can boom balls downfield with excellent hang time for a high school punter.
Top 2014 Commitment: Rafe Peavey, QB
Bret Bielema is going to really dig Peavey as the 6'2", 212-pound quarterback has a great skill set. Peavey has nice quickness in his drops, can climb the pocket and sees all areas of the field.
He's got solid arm strength and can pitch with good control. From Missouri, Peavey also has solid speed and is dangerous as a runner.
Top 2014 Commitment: Bo Scarbrough, RB
Scarbrough, as he himself spells it, is a 6'2" running back who weighs over 220 pounds. What's interesting about Scarbrough is that he can also play a little wide receiver and is effective on the perimeter.
As a running back, Scarbrough is a tough and powerful runner whose size and strength makes it hard for tacklers. He's got solid straight line speed and has the makings of another star running back for 'Bama.
Edwin Weathersby is the College Football Recruiting Analyst for Bleacher Report. He has worked in scouting/player personnel departments for three professional football teams, including the New York Giants, Cleveland Browns and the Las Vegas Gladiators of the Arena League. He spent a year evaluating prep prospects and writing specific recruiting and scouting content articles for Student Sports Football (formerly ESPN Rise-HS). A syndicated scout and writer, he's also contributed to WeAreSC.com, GatorBait.net and Diamonds in the Rough Inc., a College Football and NFL Draft magazine.