It's been said by various coaches and other football personnel that the difference between recruiting at the college level and the NFL draft is that in the NFL a coach only has one first-round pick whereas a coach can sign 25 first-round picks in recruiting. This is pretty much a true saying, as teams who sign a wealth of 5-star and highly rated 4-star players are essentially bringing in first-round "recruiting picks."
However, what if recruiting was boiled down to just a coach bringing in the only one recruit? The coach could only bring in the recruit he covets the very most out of a sea of good prospects. Well, for this read, we're going to look at the 14 coaches in the SEC and quickly tell you which one recruit they'd choose to go after and bring in.
Here's the top recruit each SEC coach covets the most in 2014 recruiting.
Top Prospect: Derek Barnett, DE
James Franklin has done a very good job on the recruiting trail since arriving in Nashville. He's signed two top 25 classes and is looking to keep his streak going.
The top layer recruit Vandy has a solid shot at landing is Barnett, a 6'3", 265-pound DE from inside the state of Tennessee. Barnett's size, strength and ability stack up blocks would be a big boost for the Commodores' defense.
Top Prospect: Tony Brown, CB
The Aggies are led by Kevin Sumlin, who made a good amount of noise in his first year at the helm. It was also Texas A&M's initial season in the SEC and the Aggies proved to be major players.
Recruiting went very well for Sumlin last year and he's gotten off to a good start in 2014. His most coveted prospect is the 6'0", 185-pound Brown. A big and physical CB, Brown is rated by many as the best at his spot in the country.
Top Prospect: Jalen Hurd, RB (committed)
Give Butch Jones and his staff a ton of credit here, as they not only have landed their most coveted prospect but got him to commit early in the process.
Jones is trying to certainly change the culture in Knoxville and getting the 6'3", 225-pound Hurd to pledge will help. With his size, power and speed, Hurd probably will make an immediate impact. I would believe Josh Malone now becomes Jones' top uncommitted target.
Top Prospect: Da'Shawn Hand, DE
Steve Spurrier is probably going to be retire in a few seasons, but I'd imagine he'd likely stay on an additional three or four years if Hand comes to Columbia.
The nation's No. 1 player, hand stand 6'5", weighs 247 pounds and has rare abilities. He's quick at the snap, powerful, uses his hands well and is one of the best pure playmakers we've seen at the DE position since, well, Jadeveon Clowney.
Top Prospect: Roderick Johnson, OT
Two cycles ago, Gary Pinkel celebrated a solid recruiting class that featured WR Dorial Green-Beckham. Last year, however, was probably a step back recruiting-wise.
I'd imagine Pinkel is out to attack the trail very hard this year, as he's got a year of SEC recruiting under his belt. I'd also imagine that he covets the 6'7", 210-pound Missouri native Johnson as his top target.
Johnson looks great on the hoof, but also has good movement skills for a big man. He can play LT or RT in Pinkel's offense.
Top Prospect: Roderick Taylor, OG
Dan Mullen had a pretty good class last year, with DE Chris Jones being his headliner. The Bulldogs have a serious recruiting rival in Hugh Freeze now, since Ole Miss had a top-five class in 2013.
Mullen may covet a ton of big-name prospects, but MSU doesn't land many 5-star kids. So I'll say that the 6'3", 305-pound Taylor is its top target due to his size, high ceiling and ability to stabilize the Bulldog OL unit in a few seasons.
Top Prospect: Nyles Morgan, LB
The Rebels enjoyed one of the biggest recruiting turnarounds in history last year when they signed a top-five class. The 2013 class that is coming to Oxford will go down as the greatest in school history, on paper.
One of the top players in the class is WR Laquon Treadwell, who comes from Illinois. His teammate there is the 6'2", 228-pound Morgan, who's one of the best LBs in the country.
Top Prospect: Leonard Fournette, RB
This was perhaps the easiest decision to make in regards to this list. It's no secret that Les Miles covets Fournette, indicated by Miles opting not to sign a RB last year..
The 6'1", 215-pound Fournette is from Louisiana and has a special blend of size, strength, speed, instincts and hands. He's a franchise back and would be an immediate contributor in Baton Rouge.
Top Prospect: Drew Barker, QB
Mark Stoops quickly tabbed Neal Brown as a his offensive coordinator when he got the Kentucky job. Brown runs a wide-open spread offense, with Run 'N' Shoot principles.
Whenever a new coach is hired, one of his first things to do in recruiting is to land a stud QB. Getting Barker, with his 6'4", 205-pound frame, solid arm strength and good passing skills would be a good fit for what Brown wants to do in Lexington.
Top Prospect: Sony Michel, RB
I believe Michel has a lot of interest in UGA, even though he's from Florida. I grade him out as a potentially special RB prospect who doesn't have many glaring weaknesses.
The 5'11", 205-pounder has great speed, quickness, vision, strength and hands. He's elusive with the ball, can be powerful and makes an impact in the passing game.
Top Prospect: Lorenzo Carter, DE
Carter is from Georgia and would give Will Mushcamp a ton of flexibility at the DE/OLB position. At 6'5" and 232 pounds, Carter had 45 tackles for loss alone as a junior.
He has explosiveness at the snap, great length to stay clean from blocks and is an athletic and hard-hitting edge defender. One of the top 10 players in the country, look for Florida to go full tilt to land Carter this year.
Top Prospect: Tre Williams, LB
I thought of going with RB Racean Thomas here, but I'll stick with Williams. The LB is a solid athlete who can track ball-carriers with good vision and has the quickness to get to spots in a flash in the box. Williams stands 6'2" and will likely weigh in the 230-pound range as a freshman in college.
Top Prospect: Josh Frazier, DT
With Bret Bielema taking over as Arkansas' new head coach, it's a foregone conclusion that he's going to build the Razorbacks into a physical and tough team. Bielema will definitely invest heavily in both the OL and DL units.
Frazier likely is top target Bielema has the best chance at landing due to him being from inside the state. Frazier is a 6'3", 324-pound run-plugging and space-eating DT who can be a physical load in the trenches.
Top Prospect: Marlon Humphrey, CB
The Crimson Tide program has a realistic shot to land several 5-star prospects this year yet again. So a number of players could be at this spot.
But with 'Bama having a need for CBs and Humphrey being both a 5-star CB and from the state, plus his father being a former RB for the Tide, it's a no-brainer.
The 6'1", 175-pound Humphrey is Nick Saban's most coveted prospect for 2014.
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.