SEC supremacy in college football is essentially an accepted doctrine at this point. Seven straight BCS titles provide quite a convincing argument. The battle between conference powers extends beyond the playing field, evidenced by the envelopes received daily by top recruits.
The southeast United States is brimming with big-time high school talent, from the swampy Everglades of Florida to the urban districts of New Orleans. SEC schools annually stockpile talent from this region and, with the recent addition of Texas A&M, the conference's reach extends into the Lone Star State.
The 2014 recruiting class features several recruits whose options appear to come down to a tough (and enviable) decision between SEC foes. Here we identify prospects who are likely to land in the SEC, though their choice remains unclear.
David Sharpe is a prototypical offensive tackle who appears capable of taking on a starting role for multiple seasons at the college level. The 6'6", 290-pound Providence High School senior spent his summer touring SEC campuses.
He visited Georgia, Florida and South Carolina in May and June, according to 247Sports. He returned to Athens again in September.
He also holds SEC offers from Vanderbilt and Alabama.
He's one of several uncommitted playmakers in the Bayou who are coveted by college programs across the country. The race for his letter of intent certainly seems to come down to a cluster of SEC contenders.
247Sports lists LSU, Texas A&M and Florida as favorites to land Noil. He made an official visit to College Station in September, when he watched the Aggies host Alabama.
Noil visited LSU twice in April. Although he currently stars at quarterback, where he accumulated more than 3,500 total yards and 44 touchdowns as a junior, the 5'11", 175-pound prospect projects as a top-tier receiver at the next level.
Clifton Garrett may be from America's heartland, but the linebacker has made it clear he plans to head south for his college football experience. Despite holding offers from Ohio State, Nebraska and Michigan State, the South Plainfield star intends on pursuing a career in the SEC.
“Nothing against the Big Ten, but I’ve always liked the SEC,” he told Herald-News reporter Dick Goss. “I feel it’s a different brand of football they play there.”
The 6'2", 230-pound senior is listed as the nation's No. 1 outside linebacker recruit in 247Sports' composite rankings. He racked up 117 tackles in nine contests as a junior.
Garrett is currently focused on offers from Florida, Tennessee, Ole Miss and LSU, according to 247Sports. His extensive offer list also features fellow SEC squads Alabama and Arkansas.
He currently holds offers from Florida State, Ohio State, Duke, Oregon and others. However, it seems two SEC squads are rising to the forefront for his services.
Scott spent his first official visit in Knoxville. He visited the Tennessee Volunteers last weekend, according to 247Sports.
The running back was in attendance for the team's thrilling matchup with Georgia just one day after rushing for 174 yards and four touchdowns in a Havelock victory, per 247Sports.
However, another SEC squad looms large in his recruiting process.
Scott has listed South Carolina as his favorite for about a year, according to 247Sports. The Gamecocks remain front and center in his recruitment and won't be deterred by his visit to Tennessee.
Station Camp wide receiver Josh Malone remains a slightly raw prospect, but he has a dominant skill set. He runs a sub-4.5 40-yard-dash. He's 6'3" and 190 pounds, per 247Sports, and displays excellent mid-air adjustment skills.
While he is still heavily considering Florida State, 247Sports lists Tennessee, Georgia and Vanderbilt among his favorites. The Volunteers and Commodores clearly have an edge when it comes to proximity.
Malone spent an official visit at Georgia in late September. He was in Knoxville for an official visit last weekend.
Both the Bulldogs and Volunteers have established a track record in recent years of getting the ball to receivers and producing NFL prospects at the position. Malone has big-play ability and the size to compete for early playing time.
His senior season has been a display of dominance. Through six games, Malone has 33 receptions for 738 yards and 12 total touchdowns, according to 247Sports.
Although strong flirtations with Florida State continue, national No. 1 cornerback prospect Marlon Humphrey remains engaged in longstanding recruiting processes with Alabama and Mississippi State. The Hoover High School star has been considered a Crimson Tide lean for a while. 247Sports' Crystal Ball gives Nick Saban a 96 percent chance to land a commitment from Humphrey.
He spent an unofficial visit in Tuscaloosa last weekend to see Alabama roll all over Georgia State. He visited Mississippi State in July.
You can eliminate another SEC team from contention, based on his recent comments to 247Sports reporter Kipp Adams.
“South Carolina is out,” Humphrey told Adams. “They kind of stopped talking to me, so since they dropped me, I dropped them."
He doesn't expect to end his recruitment until near national signing day, he told Adams.
“I think I am going to wait until after the All-American games to commit, because when I commit I want it to be completely over with,” Humphrey said. “I don't want to have to talk to anyone else.”
In the meantime, expect Nick Saban and Dan Mullen to continue the dialogue.