The SEC brought home yet another national title in 2009, with Alabama defeating Texas, and on National Signing Day 2010, it was very clear where the nation's best players wanted to play.
According to Rivals.com, the SEC scored six of the top 10 recruiting classes overall. The conference would have made a clean sweep on ESPN, Rivals.com, and Scout.com for the "recruiting national title" if not for a late push from former Tennessee head coach Lane Kiffin, who is making headlines at Southern Cal.
The Southeastern Conference also managed to sign 11 out of 26 five-star players, making a statement to the college football world.
Ranked from first to 12th, find out who finished strong, who missed out on players, the biggest pickup and loss in each class, and what to expect from each SEC school's respective group of signees.
(Player's star rankings came from Rivals.com)
Good gracious, this class is plain scary!
ESPN stated earlier they have 10 players already enrolled, and scored 15 of the top ESPN 150 recruits. They landed FOUR five-star commits and 17 four-stars.
These recruits are being heralded as the best class in Florida recruiting history, at least since recruits were being ranked and scrutinized. Even with the Urban Meyer 12-hour retirement debacle, it seems he has put together his best class yet.
Biggest pickup: DE Ronald Powell, the top player in the country, and an absolute monster pass rusher, who will draw immediate comparisons to former Gator Carlos Dunlap.
Though Powell isn’t quite as big, he should make an immediate impact in Gainesville. Urban Meyer has showed many times that regardless of how young you may be, if you have the talent you’ll play, .
Biggest loss: With a class like this, there were no big losses.
They almost lost five-star DB Matt Elam to FSU, but managed to hold on to him when Meyer promised stability.
Landing top OL prospect Seantrel Henderson would have been nice as well, but the Gators didn’t expect to sign him. He would have made this class more than legendary.
What it means for UF: While 2009 did not close as well as Gator fans had hoped, the future looks very bright. With the loss of Tim Tebow, as well as some other key components on both sides of the ball, 2010 could be a “down” year for UF.
“Down” usually means don’t expect a National Championship, but with the Gators, you never know. They still have a very good chance at winning the SEC East, and with a class like this, they’ll be back at the top very soon.
Grade: A+ (or A++, if you will)
After arriving on the Plains and throwing together a Top-20 class in 2009, Gene Chizik promised to go after the top recruits in the country.
He did not disappoint.
After carefully assembling a class full of some of the nation’s top recruiters, as well as using several unconventional recruiting tactics that drew some snickers, Chizik is getting the last laugh.
Finishing in the Top 10 would have been a big score for the Tigers, but finishing in the Top Five is unbelievable, even finishing ahead of Alabama.
The future is bright on the Plains, and if Chizik can keep bringing in this level of talent, the SEC West could eventually turn into an Alabama-Auburn showdown.
Biggest pickup: RB Michael Dyer, the No. 2 back in the country and the top recruit from the state of Arkansas. Auburn had a huge chance to land the No. 1 back, Marcus Lattimore who committed to South Carolina, but not to fear, Dyer is no consolation prize.
He’s a big time recruit and the Auburn coaches are very excited about watching him develop in Gus Malzahn’s offense possibly as soon as next year.
Biggest loss: Losing out on RB Marcus Lattimore hurt, but it wasn’t something to dwell on, especially since the Tigers already had Dyer in the bag.
The two headed monster of Dyer/Lattimore would have drawn comparisons to Carnell Williams/Ronnie Brown in 2004, but the Auburn offense will have plenty of tools to use in 2010.
Picking up Arkansas DT Byran Jones as well might have vaulted this class past Texas to No. 3 overall.
What it means for AU: It means Gene Chizik’s job just got a lot harder.
For Auburn fans, that’s a good thing.
He showed what he could do with Tuberville’s players, and now he’ll have a chance to develop his own. Many of these athletes are some of the top players in the country.
He brought in the only five-star JUCO player in QB Cameron Newton (the JUCO players in AU’s class pushed them ahead of Alabama in these rankings), a big back in Dyer, a five-star OL in Shon Coleman, and filled the defensive needs the Tigers desperately needed. He also picked up DE Craig Sanders, stealing him from Alabama.
No one saw that coming.
They should be exciting to watch in 2010, but could be a year away from achieving their full potential. This 2010 class has the Auburn nation extremely excited.
No doubt an excellent class, but some Alabama fans may be a little disappointed with the way Alabama closed.
They signed the three top players in the state of Alabama, and one of the top prep quarterbacks in the country in Philip Sims, but there were no surprises.
Many expected Saban’s late run at Auburn signee OL Shon Coleman to pay out in the form of a late Bama switch, but it was not to be. Also, losing out on five-star ATH Keenan Allen, who was Alabama’s top commit, definitely hurt.
Regardless, the Crimson Tide had seven players enroll early, brought in four Parade All-Americans and finished with another nationally ranked Top five class.
That’s nothing to be unhappy about.
Biggest pickup: DB DeMarcus Milliner is not only a five-star signee, but the No. 2 ranked cornerback in the country. Enrolling early will pay huge dividends for Milliner and Alabama down the road as the Crimson Tide look to replace some departed members from the 2009 secondary.
Signing two of the top DB’s in the country in back to back years (Dre Kirkpatick, 2009) is huge for Kirby Smart’s already potent defense.
Biggest loss: No doubt five-star Keenan Allen, who de-committed from Alabama when his half-brother Zach Maynard decided to transfer from Buffalo; the decision was made that they wanted to play together.
Alabama had other needs they wanted to address, and it appears giving a scholarship to Maynard was not at the top of their list. Allen is listed as the top Safety recruit in the country, but it appeared Alabama wanted him to play receiver. With Allen and UT commit James Stone, 'Bama’s class could have been much better.
What it means for Alabama: After following up a 2009 Recruiting National Title with a BCS National Title, another one was not in the cards for the 2010 class.
Even with Allen, Florida and USC were too far ahead in the recruiting rankings to bring in another February NC. This is a very good class, and addressed Bama’s needs very well. They will continue to be a force.
Les Miles brought in another good class, but it could have been much better. ESPNU talked all day about how coaching has been a problem with this group, and may have been a turnoff to some of the recruits they had thought they would sign.
There is still a talented group of players coming in for the Bengal Tigers, but they will have some youth and inexperience when many of these players may be asked to contribute very early. Four DE recruits bring in a four-star ranking, which is typical for the always forceful LSU defense.
While this class could have been much better, it appears LSU has gotten out to a huge jumpstart on the 2011 class and it should be much better than the 2010 class, which means it will be an excellent class.
Biggest pickup: Do it all ATH Spencer Ware was LSU’s only five-star pickup, but DE JR Ferguson may have been the biggest addition.
Coming out of college mill Hargave Military Academy in Virginia, Ferguson is a sizable DE who can rush the passer and stop the run with his great athleticism. Expect him to play early and to make an impact for LSU in 2010.
Biggest loss: What could have vaulted this class to a different level was a talented group of WR’s. LSU lost out on four-star WR Justin Hunter, and losing him to another SEC school in UT doesn’t make it any easier to swallow.
However, WR Mike Davis, the No. 4 receiver in the country also decommitted from LSU for Texas. Many blame this on coaching and the lack of WR development, but that is pure speculation at this point.
However, seeing the LSU offense at the tail end of a few 2009 games may have been cause for concern. Losing out on the top Louisiana recruit in WR Trovon Reed to Auburn stung a little bit as well.
What this means for LSU: A good class that missed out on some weapons on offense, but brought in some good speed and several very good TE’s who could prove valuable for the Bengal Tigers.
With Jordan Jefferson still young, as well as playmaker Russell Sheppard, last year’s top LSU pickup, Miles has the tools for LSU to compete in the SEC West, and it’s up to him on how successful they will be.
Derek Dooley, welcome to the SEC, the land of big-time recruits and cutthroat recruiting. You have passed your first test. In-state OL James Stone was a big pickup, and most pundits had him as a near Alabama lock.
Dooley was also able to pry away another big receiver in Justin Hunter from LSU. Signing five four-star defenders was also big, and will pay dividends down the road.
Biggest pickup: Replacing departed WR Markeith Ambles with five-star Da’rick Rogers,who was a UGA Bulldog commit as of last night. He may prove to be more valuable than Ambles and has drawn comparisons to Calvin Johnson.
Biggest loss: Five-star WR Markeith Ambles who left with Lane Kiffin, as well as an earlier decommitment from five-star safety Ahmad Dixon. These players definitely would have been huge for the Vols, but they still closed very nicely.
Ambles will join Kiffin at USC, but in the end, Rocky Top may be more excited about picking up Rogers from UGA.
What it means for UT: All in all, Derek Dooley exceeded expectations and UT fans should be very happy with the turnover from Kiffin to Dooley. Some of the talent may be a few years away, but it will eventually pay dividends under the methodical and confident Dooley.
UT appeared down and out after Kiffin dropped them on their face, but after today, the excitement in Knoxville is steadily increasing.
UGA was looking at finishing with a Top 10 class, and all roads pointed to that on Tuesday.
Unfortunately, NSD was on Wednesday. Mark Richt, who brought in a new DC in former Dallas Cowboys coach Todd Grantham, lost several recruits when UGA fired three defensive coaches, though it was evident a change at DC needed to be made.
However, the repercussions were not good for the Bulldogs. With a change in the defensive scheme, the Bulldogs will look for a year of change in 2010, but it may not come immediately, and time is not on Richt’s side.
However, seven of UGA’s nine top recruits were four-star defensive players, and should help bolster the UGA defense.
Biggest loss: Without a doubt, five-star receiver Da’Rick Rogers, who signed with Tennessee. He has drawn Calvin Johnson comparisons, and would have been a huge weapon for the Bulldogs. Unfortunately, this week was absolutely killer to the Bulldogs in a very bad way.
Along with Rogers, they lost two defensive players to Louisville and watched DB Nickell Robey decommit and sign with Lane Kiffin and Southern Cal.
Biggest Pickup: DE T.J. Stripling is a huge signee for the Bulldogs. He’s an in-state player who had an offer from virtually every top program in the country and will be a big player in Grantham’s 3-4 defense. Standing at 6’6", 215 lbs., Stripling will be a force on the Bulldog defensive line and Bulldog fans should be fired up to have this kid headed to Athens.
What this means for UGA: Mark Richt needs to produce, and he’s needs to do it a quick. This class should have been much better, and it will be remembered for how they faltered down the stretch.
UGA was the 2008 preseason number one and was absolutely stocked with talent, but finishing with three losses and zero championships did not sit well with fans. 2009 was worse, going 8-5 and experiencing quarterback and defensive troubles despite late season wins over Auburn, Georgia Tech, and Texas A&M in the Independence Bowl.
This isn’t the type of success UGA fans want, and if Richt can’t get UGA back to the top of the SEC East soon, this year’s class may be under new leadership before their time at UGA is out.
Steve Spurrier ended up closing this 2010 class extremely well, good enough to push the Gamecocks into the Top 25. He brought in four huge in-state recruits, and managed to win the battle down the stretch.
The Gamecock staff also managed to recruit the state of Florida very well, as Spurrier is extremely familiar with the Sunshine State.
Biggest pickup: Without a doubt, hands down five-star running back Marcus Lattimore. It came down to USC and Auburn, and in the end, family being able to watch him and Steve Spurrier doing the Cha Cha with Lattimore’s mom sealed the deal for the in-state Gamecocks.
Marcus will have a chance to be the premier ball carrier in the Gamecock offense, whereas he would have shared carries with Michael Dyer at Auburn.
Biggest loss: Four-star offensive lineman Eric Mack was once a USC commit, and a day after saying he was coming to USC, he switched his commitment to Gene Chizik and the Auburn Tigers. He was photographed wearing an Auburn visor at the Under Armour All-American game, and that was huge hint that he may have been wavering on his commitment to USC.
However, USC brought in another big OL in AJ Cann, another South Carolina prep product.
What this means for USC: It’s without a doubt a major stand for Steve Spurrier. Getting Lattimore was huge, and he will be a major player for USC as soon as he steps on the field. That addition alone was this year’s claim to fame for the Gamecocks, and adding DB Victor Hampton and JUCO LB Toquavius Gilchrist was simply icing on the cake for the Gamecocks.
Taking four of the top 10 prospects in SC was big as well, especially with in-state Clemson recruiting many of the same players and only taking two of the top 10.
Another program who failed to meet expectations in 2009 is looking to reload immediately for 2010, and Ole Miss signed some good talent. They’ve brought in some JUCO talent that should be SEC ready, as well as several top guys on defense.
However, they only brought in three of the Top 10 prep players in the state of Mississippi as they watched the other seven sign with other SEC schools. To make things even tougher, MSU and Dan Mullen are no pushover, scoring five of the top 10 in-state.
They clearly recruited well out of state though. This class still has some good talent, and Houston Nutt will again attempt to piece together a Rebel squad that can shock the SEC.
Biggest pickup: WR Vincent Sanders will be a big playmaker for the Ole Miss Rebels with a great blend of size and speed. Two JUCO signees, ATH Randall Mackey and DE Wayne Dorsey, who both hail from MS, will look to come in and contribute immediately and give the Rebels two solid seasons.
Biggest loss: Losing 6’8" OL Damien Robinson to MSU proved once again that the Bulldogs will take some big recruits. He would have been a big pickup for the Rebels as well, though he never officially visited Oxford.
What this means for Ole Miss: It’s a good class, not quite great, but there are some positives to take away from this Top 20 class. Expect the JUCO players to make an immediate impact, as well as WR Vincent Sanders.
Houston Nutt will have his hand's full only returning 11 total starters, so a big 2011 class is a must to remain in contention for the SEC West.
Dan Mullen promised to change the face of the Bulldogs, and he appears to be well on his way to starting that process. As many would say, Mullen overachieved in 2009 with an underachieving set of quarterbacks.
With a year of experience, and some talent gaining a year of experience from last year’s class, MSU will definitely be an improved team after two back to back classes with several four-star players and addressing the places the Bulldogs needed help with. Mullen was extremely happy with his 2010 class.
Biggest pickup: Offensive lineman Damien Robinson is the second SEC OL signee from Olive Branch, MS in 2010. Standing at 6’8", 330 lbs., Robinson spurned virtually every SEC school to stay at home with the Bulldogs.
Biggest loss: JUCO QB Cameron Newton was a former player under Dan Mullen at Florida, and would have been a nice addition into the offense that he once ran, but the Bulldogs missed on bringing him to Starkville.
They did, however, pickup Brett Favre’s nephew, who may be the most underrated two-star player n the country after putting up record breaking numbers at St. Stanislaus in MS.
What this class means for MSU: Back to back solid classes mean the Bulldogs should start making their way out of the SEC West cellar. They looked like a completely different team than 2008, and it’s not unrealistic to expect the same in 2010 and 2011 with Mullen at the helm.
However, with Alabama, LSU and Auburn in the West, it’s going to be tough to crack those three unless the Bulldogs start bringing in more four and five-stars and less two-stars.
Possibly the biggest disappointment in the SEC was Bobby Petrino and the Razorbacks. Finishing 48th overall and expecting to compete in the SEC West? Fayetteville has been abuzz all day talking about this class addressing what Arkansas needed, but anytime you finish below 40th, there’s cause for concern.
Petrino is a good coach, but this class makes you wonder what will happen down the road for his team.
Biggest pickup: Defensive tackle Calvin Barnett was the number one player in the state of Oklahoma, and Petrino managed to snag him from the in-state Sooners and OSU Cowboys. He’s thick and strong, and may have a chance at some playing time his freshman year.
Biggest loss: Watching the top recruit in Arkansas in Michael Dyer commit in November was tough, especially since he never even paid an official visit to Petrino and Co. However, stealing another DT in Byran Jones, who was the second best prospect in Hog Country, helped bolster this questionable class.
What this class means for ARK: That’s tough to say right now, as many are still scratching their heads at how this class ranked so far down the list. Petrino will no doubt field a competitive team, and Byran Jones and Kelvin Barnett should be stars on the Razorback D-line, but after that, some may wonder what Petrino has been doing on the recruiting trail?
It’s a good thing ARK returns 18 starters, but it’s never a bad idea to reload, and this class did the opposite of that.
Under new head coach Joker Phillips, the Kentucky Wildcats once again took their place towards the bottom of SEC recruiting classes for the fourth straight year. Phillips brought in 25 players in his first go round, and he managed to bring in some decent talent on the defensive side of the ball.
Biggest pickup: Their only four-star, TE Alex Smith, who will make a nice target for Wildcat quarterbacks. He chose UK the day before signing day over Wisconsin and North Carolina.
Biggest loss: Big offensive tackle Tate Nichols was a Bluegrass State product, and while UK offered, he said thanks but no thanks and signed with Notre Dame and first year coach Brian Kelly. Nichols would have made a nice addition to Wildcat line, but never seriously considered UK, despite his roots being in Kentucky.
What this means for UK: Joker Phillips is obviously unproven as a head coach at UK, and did a decent job with his first class. He brought in a play making tight end, as well as three running backs who have a good upside.
It remains to be seen if UK can consistently compete in the East, despite upsetting a few SEC teams last year on the road. The good news: It’s still basketball season in the Bluegrass State, and Calipari’s crew is downright dominant.
Bobby Johnson is accustomed to finishing with lowly ranked recruiting classes, and he is more known for developing talent that no one else thought could be done. Vanderbilt’s program is unique, with the academics being the toughest in the SEC, so bringing in top players is extremely tough for the ‘Dores.
Biggest pickup: Running back Rajaan Bennett from Powder Springs, GA was a huge steal for Vandy. He is a four-star prospect who should have no problem developing into a star down the road for the Commodores, much like Georgia prep product Warren Norman did in 2009 for Vandy as a true freshman.
Biggest loss: After Bobby Johnson’s in-home visit with pro-style QB Nash Nance, the two-star QB from Calhoun, GA had to break the news he would be signing with the in-state Tennessee Vols. This hurt to lose a recruit to a rival, and Nance would have had a great chance to thrive in Nashville.
What this means for Vandy: Vandy had a rough 2009, and doesn't have many players in this class who will make a huge impact in 2010, though there is room for several of these signees to see the field in their freshman season. Warren Norman and Bennett could however form a formidable duo in Bobby Johnson's backfield in the future.