It’s been nearly a month since our last check of the MrSEC.com Big Board and there’s been plenty of shifting. With less than 13 weeks until National Signing Day — yes, it’s that close — five SEC commitment classes are ranked in the top eight nationally by Rivals.com. The usual leaders like Alabama and Georgia are enjoying success once more. Programs like Tennessee and Kentucky continue to surprise. While strong finishes will be needed to propel big-time schools like Florida and South Carolina to their usual high-brow status.
Below, we break things down in our own usual method. We use Rivals.com’s star rankings because we’ve found them to be a bit more accurate in terms of predicting future team success. We start by assigning a point for every Rivals’ star. We’re generous so we go ahead and give 0-star commits a point, too.
Then we break down the SEC’s commitment classes into three categories considering quantity (total points), quality (average points per commit), and high-caliber recruits (the total number of 4- and 5-star difference-makers). Finally, we assign points for each program’s finish in each of those three categories. We tally them up. And then we give you our own MrSEC.com recruiting rankings (the lower the point total the better).
Let’s get started by looking at quantity — the total number of points currently committed to join SEC programs next fall. (In the far left column we show you how many points each schools has gained or lost since our last look back on October 10th.)
|School||Commits||5-stars||4-stars||3-stars||2-stars||1- & 0-stars||Total Points||Pts +/1|
As you can see, Tennessee continues to load up under new coach Butch Jones. Texas A&M and Auburn are warming up as well. But we suspect that Alabama, Georgia, LSU, South Carolina and probably Florida will all close very, very fast.
Now let’s look at quality — the types of prospects SEC schools are coaxing into commitments.
More what you’d expect to see, right? Georgia, Alabama, A&M and Florida all up top. Auburn closing in fast. Interestingly, LSU is a bit lower than normal, but we believe that will change by February. Tennessee’s class is tops in quantity, sixth in quality. But the Vols still have a 3.55 per-player average which — considering the class has already ballooned to 29 commits — is really kind of amazing. The more commits you grab, the more your average per-player number should drop.
Take Kentucky’s class for example. Mark Stoops needs all the bodies he can get and he’s doing a phenomenal job of selling kids on a vision, but the Cats’ 25-man class comes in with a 3.28 score in average points per player. The same goes for Missouri. The Tigers are stockpiling commits — good — but their average per player is quite low. Of course, Gary Pinkel is proving this year that his system might put lower-rated players in a position to succeed.
Now we turn our attention to the high-caliber recruits — the 4- and 5-star blue-chippers most likely to develop into SEC stars.
|School||Commits||4- & 5-stars|
Tennessee, Alabama, Georgia and Texas A&M are already into double-digits with high-caliber recruits. That doesn’t mean all will turn into great football players, but the more high-star guys you get the better your odds of finding a diamond.
Arkansas, Mississippi State and Missouri are bringing up the rear. We’ve already mentioned Pinkel’s system in terms of its ability to get maximum production from average players (not unlike Bobby Petrino’s success at Arkansas with low-star guys). Mizzou’s recruiting classes were ranked 46th, 39th, 47th, and 33rd between 2004 and 2007. Yet Pinkel’s ’07 team was ranked #1 in the nation and ticketed for the BCS title game before dropping the Big 12 Championship Game. Pinkel is one of the few coaches — like Petrino — who can say, “We don’t worry about star rankings” and mean it.
But for Arkansas and MSU, it’s a different story. Dan Mullen hasn’t necessarily done more with less since arriving in Starkville. And Bret Bielema runs about as traditional system as you’ll see. When it comes to our high-caliber players chart, we think Razorback and Bulldog fans have more reason to worry than Tiger fans.
Finally, let’s look at the official MrSEC.com recruiting rankings for November 7th. Again, we give each program a point related to its finish in each of the three previous categories. First place gets a point, second place gets two, etc. The lower the overall tally the better.