College Football 2011 Preseason Rankings: Best Incoming Recruits in SEC East
Who are the best incoming recruits for each SEC East team in 2011?
Many tailgates have debated this answer for many decades outside the sanctuaries that non-SEC fans call college football stadiums on Saturday afternoons.
College football is a different kind of animal since players only get at most four years to play, so identifying the next star for your team is both fun and important.
Less than two months!
Jeff Driskel and Jacoby Brissett, Florida Gators
The last thing former coach Urban Meyer did before bolting for his couch at home was leave the Florida Gators with yet another solid recruiting class.
The Gators are, however, in a transition state. It's not only with the new coaching staff either. They have been stable at the quarterback position dating back to national champion Chris Leak, but that is no longer the case.
John Brantley was very underwhelming taking over for Tim Tebow last year, garnering a lowly 116.4 QB rating and a 9:10 TD-to-INT ratio.
This leads to me naming Rivals 4-stars Jeff Driskel and Jacoby Brissett as dual-best recruits for the Gators.
Driskel is the top-rated pro-style quarterback of the 2011 recruiting class, while Brissett is the third-rated dual-threat quarterback.
Along with Trey Burton, the quarterback situation at Florida is going to be very exciting and very tumultuous with these two stud recruits.
Isaiah Crowell, Georgia Bulldogs
There is maybe no incoming recruit that is more important than Isaiah Crowell of the Georgia Bulldogs.
After Washaun Ealey transferred and Caleb King was ruled academically ineligible for the season, Crowell will be expected to shoulder the bulk of the carries from the get-go.
According to Rivals, Crowell is a 5-star back with tremendous speed and power. He was ranked as the fourth-best running back in the country and the 23rd-best player at any position.
He rushed for 1,915 and 1,721 yards is his last two years of high school, racking up 42 touchdowns over that period. He was named to a slew of All-Star teams, including playing the Under Armour All-American Game.
Could he be this year's Marcus Lattimore?
Glenn Faulkner, Kentucky Wildcats
The Kentucky Wildcats' lone Rivals 4-star recruit from 2011 is none other than defensive back Glenn Faulkner.
He was the top player in the state of Illinois and the eighth-ranked safety in the nation. Even with these facts, Faulkner was lightly recruited and ended up going with Big Blue.
He is a prototypical safety at 6'2", 200 pounds but even more so due to his leadership skills and football intelligence.
Faulkner should come in, contribute immediately—if not start—and eventually become a defensive stalwart in the Wildcat defensive backfield.
Jadeveon Clowney, South Carolina Gamecocks
This one was easy. Jadeveon Clowney was Rivals' top player in the country in the 2011 recruiting class, a distinction that many other "experts" gave him, too.
Clowney is 6'6", 250 terrifying pounds and will probably get even a little bigger. You can throw around all of the overused adjectives for him—fast, strong, smart, relentless—and they all are true. He's the total package at defensive end.
Clowney flirted with going out of state to virtually any school he wanted but decided to stay home and try to help the South Carolina Gamecocks fulfill my wild prediction.
You will see Clowney on the field as a blitzer early on, but as the season progresses, he'll be out there to do other things than just pass rush.
Maurice Couch, Tennessee Volunteers
While I think the Tennessee Volunteers are on the right track back to relevance, they still have major holes that haven't been filled in years.
Perhaps the biggest of those is on the defensive line.
Sure, there have been individuals like Justin Harrell and Dan Williams who have come through and excelled in the past few years, but try to think of a time when the Vols defensive line was a true strength of the team.
JUCO transfer and Rivals 4-star recruit Maurice Couch comes in and should get a ton of playing time in his first year on Rocky Top. A defensive tackle, Couch really should start alongside Malik Jackson due to his experience and skill.
Joshua Grady, Vanderbilt Commodores
New head coach James Franklin is being praised from Memphis to Knoxville, Tennessee for his righting of the Vanderbilt Commodores ship.
His 0-0 record is just too good to pass up. Can you tell I'm a little bitter?
In any event, his players won't arrive until the fall of 2012. That leaves Rivals 4-star athlete Joshua Grady as the incoming freshman recruit to watch. He was a do-all quarterback in high school.
Grady is built to play defensive back and perhaps return punts and/or kicks, but his skills are applicable to either side of the ball. He received offers from Northwestern, Iowa and South Carolina as well as Vandy.
The best-case scenario for Grady is for him to turn out like former versatile Commodore, D.J. Moore. He has the ability to do so.