SEC Football: Class of 2014 Recruiting All-Conference Team
Signing day is in the books, and schools around the SEC are loaded up with top-tier talent around the country in the hopes of reaching the Georgia Dome and the SEC Championship Game.
Seven of the top nine classes in the 247Sports team-recruiting rankings come from the SEC, with Alabama and LSU claiming the top two spots in the nation, respectively. Twenty-six of the top 50 recruits in the country signed with SEC programs, injecting even more talent into what's traditionally the nation's most powerful college football conference.
Who are some of the superstars headed to the SEC in 2014?
Our 2014 recruiting All-SEC team is in this slideshow.
QB: Kyle Allen
The only 5-star quarterback in the class and the fifth-best player in the country, Kyle Allen from Scottsdale, Ariz., graduated high school early and enrolled at Texas A&M this spring. He'll join Kenny Hill and Matt Joeckel in the battle this spring to replace former Aggie and 2012 Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel.
He threw for 2,535 yards, 29 touchdowns and 10 interceptions as a senior at Desert Mountain High School and has the deadly accuracy similar to Case Keenum, who starred at Houston for current Aggie head coach Kevin Sumlin.
But don't be fooled by Allen being a pro-style passer. He's mobile enough to extend plays behind the line of scrimmage and will have the weapons around him at Texas A&M to be a superstar.
Allen isn't just the best quarterback in this class in the SEC, he's headed into the best situation for him not only to shine but to also shine early.
RB: Leonard Fournette
Leonard Fournette is simply a monster.
The new LSU Tiger was the No. 2 overall player in the recruiting class. At 6'1", 226 pounds, he has the size to be a force between the tackles and the speed and wiggle to be dangerous in space. He's drawn comparisons to former Oklahoma running back Adrian Peterson for good reason—he can be an every-down back from the moment he moves into his dorm.
"[Fournette] possesses great power and speed and vision, and catches the ball well in the back field," head coach Les Miles said in quotes released by LSU. "Certainly a person with very high character."
Like Allen, Fournette is not only the most talented running back in this class, he's stepping into a situation that sets him up for immediate superstardom. Jeremy Hill is gone, and Alfred Blue opted to not pursue another year of eligibility, leaving the running back spot open in Baton Rouge.
Expect it to be filled by Fournette before the leaves change color this fall.
WR: Speedy Noil, Malachi Dupre and D'haquille Williams
The SEC is a run-first conference, but several superstar wide receivers will join the league in 2014—the top three of which are Texas A&M's Speedy Noil, LSU's Malachi Dupre and Auburn's D'haquille Williams.
Noil is an electric playmaker who can be a deep threat, but he is more dangerous with the ball in his hands near the line of scrimmage in space. The 5'10.5", 176-pounder from New Orleans boasts a 4.4 40-yard dash time, enrolled early and will work with the quarterbacks vying for the spot this spring.
Dupre waited until national signing day to announce his decision, and the New Orleans product will stay in state and join Les Miles' Tigers at LSU. The 6'2.5", 187-pounder only had 607 receiving yards as a senior, but he primarily played in a veer offense at John Curtis Christian High School.
"[He's] a tremendously capable athlete, very explosive, great speed for his size," Miles said in quotes released by LSU. "Great catching radius, has the ability to get to the ball. And just a tremendous play maker."
Williams is a junior-college transfer who, on top of being 6'3", 213 pounds with great top-end speed, is stepping into a system at Auburn where he should become a superstar. Malzahn adjusts his system to his weapons, and Williams will join Sammie Coates in Auburn's receiving corps and instantly give quarterback Nick Marshall options outside.
"He has unbelievable skills," head coach Gus Malzahn said in quotes released by Auburn. "I got a chance to get to know him back in his high school days. I really think he will have a chance to be an impact player right off the bat.”
TE: Jeb Blazevich
Georgia has become known for producing elite pass-catching tight ends under head coach Mark Richt, and the next in line is 6'4.5", 230-pound incoming freshman Jeb Blazevich.
The 4-star prospect is rated as the No. 10 tight end in the country, has great hands and is stepping into an offense that knows how to utilize his skills.
"I feel like the biggest asset I have is my route running," he said. "Just my hands. I started out playing wide receiver, so my routes are a little more crisp than some guys, and my hands are a little better than some guys."
He has to work on his blocking a bit, but that's something that will come with extended work in a strength and conditioning program and with time in Georgia's offense. In short-yardage and third-down situations, watch out for Blazevich in 2014. He will get the ball early and often.
OT: Cameron Robinson and Brian Wallace
Alabama has become a pipeline to the NFL under head coach Nick Saban, and one of the primary positions of power for the Crimson Tide has been at offensive tackle.
Cameron Robinson is the "next man up."
The 6'7", 335-pound, 5-star prospect from West Monroe, La., enrolled early to get a full offseason to prepare for the battle to replace Cyrus Kouandjio. He's big enough to play right away, has tremendous hands and fires off the ball while run blocking.
Joining Robinson on the recruiting All-SEC team is Arkansas' Brian Wallace. The 6'6", 305-pound, 4-star prospect from St. Louis is solid in running and passing situations and will step into a situation at Arkansas where he'll be expected to fire off the ball and get to the second level in running situations.
"One of the more gifted players at the offensive tackle that I have seen," head coach Bret Bielema said in quotes released by Arkansas. "Really excited to get him in. He’s got the potential to possibly help us right away.”
It all starts up front, and Robinson and Wallace are going to be two of the best.
OG: Roderick Taylor and Braden Smith
Ole Miss turned heads last season with the signing of highly touted offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil and added another piece to that offensive line this year with 6'3.5", 305-pound guard Roderick Taylor from Jackson, Miss.
He's absolutely punishing off the snap and can control the line of scrimmage in the Hugh Freeze-led offense. That offense requires versatile and athletic offensive guards who can open holes for those running backs inside but also pull and get to the second level on linebackers.
"Rod Taylor is as good as I’ve ever seen in drill tape," Freeze said in quotes released by Ole Miss. "I don’t know that I’ve ever seen a guy any better than his feet in those things."
Joining Taylor on our recruiting All-SEC team is Auburn's Braden Smith. The 6'6", 290-pounder from Olathe, Kan., committed to the Tigers over TCU and Texas A&M on national signing day and is a perfect fit for head coach Gus Malzahn's offense.
"He’s stronger than train smoke. And then you put the tape on and watch him run. Then you watch him bend. He plays with really, really low pad level," offensive line coach J.B. Grimes said in quotes released by Auburn. "My first thought is let’s find out if he can play tackle. Since we lost a good tackle, it’d be nice to get an athletic guy and find out.”
He was rated as a guard and the fact that he could play either guard or tackle in an offense that's so dependent on versatile offensive linemen tells you everything you need to know about Smith.
C: JC Hassenauer
Alabama actually nabbed two of the top three centers in the country during this cycle—JC Hassenauer and Joshua Casher. Both could wind up starting for a long time at the Capstone, but for the sake of this team, Hassenauer gets the nod as the top center headed to the SEC in this class.
The 6'2.5", 292-pounder from St. Paul, Minn., is a 4-star prospect and rated as the nation's top center, according to 247Sports. He has good size and feet and will evolve into a solid center once he gets into Alabama's strength and conditioning program.
Hassenauer has the versatility to play center or guard, but he will likely get the first crack at center over Casher. Either way, the middle of Alabama's offensive line is in good hands for the foreseeable future.
DT: Thomas Holley and Matt Elam
Penn State seemed like the likely destination for Thomas Holley for a long time, but when Bill O'Brien left for the NFL, Holley bolted to the SEC to join Will Muschamp at Florida.
The 6'4", 285-pounder from Brooklyn, N.Y., was a 5-star prospect coming out of Abraham Lincoln High School and the second-best defensive tackle prospect in the country. He's big and ultra-athletic which should present problems to the middle of opposing offensive lines.
He hasn't played a lot of football; it's actually his basketball skills that really impressed Muschamp.
"I think the basketball a lot of times is your best evaluation, to see a guy run up‑and‑down the court, change direction, sync his hips, explode off—you see him come quick off the floor, have a lot of hand‑eye coordination to be able to use their hands in the pass rush and things," Muschamp said in quotes released by Florida.
It's not often that Kentucky wins a recruiting battle over Alabama, but that's exactly what happened with Elizabethtown, Ky. At 6'5", 372 pounds, Elam will be able to step right in and take up multiple blocks along that Wildcat defensive line and allow those defensive ends to battle in one-on-one matchups.
He's not going to light up the stat sheet nor does he have to. His impact on the entire Kentucky front seven will be noticeable from day one.
DE: Myles Garrett and Da'Shawn Hand
Texas A&M needs a lot of help on defense, and Myles Garrett is being counted on to provide that help for head coach Kevin Sumlin and defensive coordinator Mark Snyder.
The No. 1 overall prospect in the class of 2014 is quick off the ball and, at 6'4", 240 pounds, he can develop into a three-down defensive end once he gets to work in College Station. He'll likely start out as speed-rusher off the edge as a true freshman, but he'll be a superstar once he gets acquainted with life in the SEC.
Like Garrett, Alabama's Da'Shawn Hand is also a 5-star prospect who will make an immediate impact. Not since Marcell Dareus has Alabama had a major pass-rushing threat out of a defensive end in its 3-4 defense. Hand changes that.
At 6'4", 265 pounds, he's great with his hands, quick off the ball and is solid in both running and passing situations. Alabama is loaded with talent up front, thanks to some tremendous recruiting over the last few years, and Hand will push those guys for playing time right away.
ILB: Tre' Williams
A lot of focus on national signing day was on Auburn losing local outside linebacker Rashaan Evans to Alabama, but the top inside linebacker in this class did sign with Auburn on Wednesday—Mobile, Ala., product Tre' Williams. At 6'3", 237 pounds, Williams is stepping into a situation at Auburn where the program is looking for consistency at linebacker.
Kris Frost looked great in the BCS National Championship Game, and Cassanova McKinzy led the team in tackles with 75 in 2013. The duo will enter the offseason as the favorites for the two linebacker spots in defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson's 4-2-5 scheme. But if Williams proves he can be consistent at either spot, don't be surprised if he jumps into the starting lineup.
“He's one I'm excited about," Johnson said in quotes released by Auburn. "He played DB as a sophomore, linebacker as a junior and senior. I think he's got great physical skills. Smart. Coming out of a good program. Tough. I believe he has a chance to play early.”
He's versatile and fundamentally sound, which is good news for a Tigers team that's struggled with tackling over the last few seasons.
OLB: Rashaan Evans and Clifton Garrett
Alabama head coach Nick Saban went into Auburn and pulled a star linebacker out of Auburn High School for the second straight season.
Rashaan Evans is a 6'3", 220-pounder with lightning-quick reaction time and 5-star status attached to his name. He gets after the quarterback and is a perfect fit off the edge in Saban's 3-4 scheme. He had 77 tackles and 17.5 sacks during his senior year in high school, including 43 tackles for loss and five pass breakups.
While he won't necessarily play right away, he will push veterans for playing time and could evolve into a contributor as the season progresses.
LSU went into Illinois and signed the nation's fourth-best outside linebacker prospect in Plainfield's Clifton Garrett. The 5-star, 6'2", 228-pounder is a perfect fit for defensive coordinator John Chavis' scheme, which relies heavily on athletes being athletes. Garrett is fast, has great football instincts and is fundamentally sound.
He's versatile enough to play either inside our outside, and Miles is excited about what he will bring to Baton Rouge.
"[He's] a big, physical, fast, forced fumbles, sacks," Miles said in quotes released by LSU. "[He's] Going to give us a tremendous presence inside."
CB: Marlon Humphrey and Jalen Tabor
Alabama needed help at cornerback, and it got it in the form of 6'1", 175-pound 5-star prospect Marlon Humphrey from Hoover, Ala.
He was the No. 1-ranked cornerback in the country in the class of 2014, and not only will he get elite coaching at Alabama, but he'll also be stepping into a situation to compete for early playing time.
Humphrey—the son of Alabama legend Bobby Humphrey—is tall and has elite cover skills and fantastic recovery ability. Head coach Nick Saban should be able to put him on an island and let him go to work sooner rather than later.
Joining Humphrey on our recruiting All-SEC team is Florida's Jalen Tabor. Also a 5-star prospect, Tabor enrolled early at Florida to participate in spring practice in the hopes of earning some playing time opposite Vernon Hargreaves III. Tabor flipped from Arizona last month, and head coach Will Muschamp is excited about what the 6'1", 182-pounder brings to the table.
"He's got really good movement skills, and a guy that watching him move around has been exciting," Muschamp said in quotes released by Florida.
The farther away from the snap you get, the better chance young players have at making an immediate impact. These two star cornerbacks will do just that.
S: Todd Kelly and Edward Paris
In a class loaded with safeties, Todd Kelly and Edward Paris rise to the top as the best incoming SEC safeties.
Kelly has been committed to Tennessee since March 2013 and was a centerpiece of Tennessee's remarkable 2014 class that finished No. 7 in the country. At 5'11", 188 pounds, Kelly is a true ball-hawking safety who has great football instincts and can be a force right away for the Vols.
Paris was a centerpiece of his own class at LSU and has a lot to live up to with the Tigers having produced several elite safeties over the last few years. At 6'1", 190 pounds, he has the height and leaping ability to go up and get the football and the toughness to stick his nose in and help out against the run.
He was a safety coming out of high school, but according to Barton Simmons of 247Sports, he wants to play corner at the next level. Wherever he ends up, he's a stud and will be a star for Miles and the Tigers.
ATH: Bo Scarbrough
If you're looking for an ultra-versatile athlete who can do just about anything on the football field, Alabama's Bo Scarbrough is your guy.
Running back, safety, wide receiver, linebacker...you name it, Scarbrough can probably do it. In fact, he'd probably be able to hit you 20 home runs, score 40 points in hoops and shoot 63 at Pebble Beach if you ask him to.
He's just that versatile.
At 6'2", 225 pounds, he primarily played running back in high school. Thanks to T.J. Yeldon, Derrick Henry and the rest of the small village Alabama has a running back, he might not want to participate in that position battle if playing early is his priority.
He might have some difficulty figuring out just where he's the best fit at Alabama. But one thing is certain, he'll find a home somewhere.
K/P: Cole Hedlund and Logan Cooke
Kickers are overlooked until you really need them, and Arkansas got a good one when it signed 3-star prospect Cole Hedlund.
The Argyle, Texas, native hit 24 of 26 field goals as a senior in high school and connected on all 101 of his extra-point attempts.
“Cole looks like he’s 12, but I guarantee you he’s actually graduating from high school," head coach Bret Bielema said in quotes released by Arkansas. "He’s an extremely powerful, gifted young man. He came up for our camp during the summer and he just blew us away. He was accurate. He’s got a little charisma to him, a little energy."
Our top SEC punter in this class is Mississippi State's Logan Cooke. The 6'5", 200-pound, 3-star prospect from Columbia, Miss., averaged 44.2 yards per punt in 2013 in high school, with a long of 61 yards.
“You go watch him play basketball and see him dunking and high flying around the gym dunking on people," head coach Dan Mullen said in quotes released by Mississippi State. "Doing that as a punter, it’s pretty exciting. We first noticed him a couple of years ago. We watched the kid kick and watched the ball explode off of his foot."
The offensive explosion in the SEC doesn't change the fact that it's still a field-position league, and Cooke has the ability to get the Bulldogs into good situations with his ability to flip the field.
*Barrett Sallee is the lead SEC college football writer for Bleacher Report. All quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted, all high school stats and recruiting information courtesy of 247Sports and all college statistics courtesy of CFBStats.com.
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