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SEC Recruiting: The Stars And Sleepers

RECAPWednesday brought another star-studded signing day in the SEC.

Schools in the SEC are held to a higher standard in recruiting because of how much talent arrives in the league each year. The SEC landed seven of the top nine classes, according to the Rivals.com Team Rankings.

Here’s a look at the top star and sleeper from each school’s class…

 

Alabama

Top Star – OT Cameron Robinson - This is the toughest list to choose from because of Alabama’s loaded class. Robinson has a chance to be a dominant left tackle for the Crimson Tide. That’s good news for Alabama’s future line of standout running backs.

Top Sleeper – WR Derek Kief - Alabama stole Kief from the Midwest early in the recruiting process. Kief’s size (6-5, 197) will be a nice addition to Alabama’s offense.

Final Thoughts – Alabama did what it usually does – dominate on the recruiting trail. The class is filled with star potential across the board. The depth on the offensive line and talent at cornerback stands out.

 

Arkansas

Top Star – OT Brian Wallace - Arkansas went and landed the top prospect in the state of Missouri, according to Rivals. Wallace (6-6, 304) looks like he could be able to help Arkansas right away. Razorbacks coach Bret Bielema has already hinted at that idea.

Top Sleeper – WR Jared Cornelius - He’s a terrific athlete. Cornelius enrolled at Arkansas last month and will have a chance to play immediately.

Final Thoughts – There are nice pieces in Arkansas’ class. Quarterback Rafe Peavey will be a key. If he develops into a solid starter, this class will become more valuable.

 

Auburn

Top Star – RB Roc Thomas - He looks like a perfect fit in Gus Malzahn’s offense. Malzahn called Thomas the “top running back” on Auburn’s board, which makes sense. Rivals ranks him the nation’s No. 2 running back and the second-best player in Alabama.

Top Sleeper – TE Jekyll Mitchell - Mitchell (6-4, 217) needs to add weight, but he should fit in nicely to Malzahn’s offense. It’s a system similar to what Mitchell has run in high school, which should help his transition.

Final Thoughts – Losing linebacker Rashaan Evans to Alabama ended up being Auburn’s signing day storyline, but the Tigers landed a terrific class. An impressive defensive line group will play a huge role in Auburn championship hopes.

 

Florida

Top Star – CB Jalen Tabor – Florida stole Tabor’s commitment from Arizona shortly before he enrolled at Florida last month. Tabor will have a chance to team up with standout corner Vernon Hargreaves III in the fall.

Top Sleeper – OL Kavaris Harkless – Like Tabor, Harkless enrolled at Florida last month. Harkless (6-5, 275) needs to add weight, which he will have a chance to do this spring.

Final Thoughts – Coach Will Muschamp put together an impressive class. The defensive talent stands out. Landing quarterback Treon Harris on signing day was a big get and will create competition with early enrollee Will Grier.

 

Georgia 

Top Star – DE Lorenzo Carter – It was a nice signing day close for Georgia thanks to Carter, who’s ranked the nation’s No. 3 weakside defensive end by Rivals. He has a chance to be an elite pass rusher in Jeremy Pruitt’s defense.

Top Sleeper – WR Rico Johnson – He spent a year at Georgia Prep Sports Academy after failing to qualify at Georgia last fall. Johnson is a quick athlete who will have a chance to play right away.

Final Thoughts – It’s not a huge class with only 20 signees, but Georgia came away with an impressive group. Running backs Nick Chubb and Sony Michel should allow the Bulldogs to keep running the football successfully for years to come.

 

Kentucky 

Top Star – QB Drew Barker – Barker’s decision to stay in state offered Kentucky’s class some legitimacy. Landing Barker also means the Wildcats won’t have to face him at South Carolina or Tennessee.

Top Sleeper – DE Tymere Dubose – He began playing football his junior year in high school and quickly showed he could play at an SEC level. Experience and guidance from coach Mark Stoops could turn Dubose into a solid starter for the Wildcats.

Final Thoughts – Stoops and his staff did an incredible job considering they had nothing positive to sell on the field. Landing Barker and defensive tackle Matt Elam shows Kentucky can keep its top in-state prospects at home.

 

LSU

Top Star – RB Leonard Fournette – He’s already talked about winning the Heisman Trophy and national championship in his first year at LSU. Fournette is ranked the nation’s No. 1 running back by Rivals. He’ll play a key role immediately.

Top Sleeper – LB Donnie Alexander – He has exactly what LSU defensive coordinator John Chavis covets – speed. Alexander’s final position is to be determined, but he has the athleticism to become a starter down the line.

Final Thoughts – Landing wide receiver Malachi Dupre on signing day was a must. LSU landed several playmakers to help quarterback Brandon Harris, who enrolled in school last month. It’s another stellar class for coach Les Miles.

 

Ole Miss

Top Star – DB C.J. Hampton – Ole Miss had to fight off Alabama to land its in-state star, but the Rebels were able to do it. Hampton, who’s ranked the nation’s No. 15 safety by Rivals, was a must-get for Ole Miss.

Top Sleeper – CB Kendarius Webster – He had so many scholarship offers that calling him a sleeper seems like a stretch. Ole Miss held off a late push from Georgia and Florida State. Expect Webster to play a key role in Ole Miss’ defense.

Final Thoughts – Ole Miss won’t receive the amount of attention it did last year. But the Rebels put together another impressive class. If both groups pan out, Ole Miss will continue to compete at a high level in the SEC.

 

Mississippi State

Top Star – WR Jamoral Graham – Graham (5-10, 165) isn’t big, but he’s explosive. He should fit in nicely to coach Dan Mullen’s offense. The Bulldogs will make it a priority to get him the football.

Top Sleeper – LB Deshon Cooper – Mississippi State went to Decatur, Ga., to land Cooper, who should be versatile enough to help Mississippi State as a push rusher and in coverage.

Final Thoughts – Mississippi State hung in there with rival Ole Miss recruiting in-state prospects. Each school landed five of the Rivals’ top 11 prospects from Mississippi (LSU landed the other). Graham and linebacker Gerri Green stand out for Mississippi State.

 

Missouri 

Top Star – OL Andy Bauer – Holding onto this St. Louis standout was a must for Missouri. Bauer committed to Ole Miss last spring before switching back to Missouri. The Tigers’ success last season played a huge role.

Top Sleeper – WR Darnell Green-Beckham – He will be unfairly compared to his brother, Missouri receiver Dorial Green-Beckham. But the younger of the two will have a chance to help Missouri’s offense in the future.

Final Thoughts – Missouri’s recruiting improved this year after a much-improved 2013 season. The Tigers aren’t recruiting with the elite teams in the SEC yet, but they’ll have a chance to do that as they become more established in the league.

 

South Carolina

Top Star – LB Bryson Allen-Williams – South Carolina’s staff had to breathe a sigh of relief when his letter arrived on Wednesday. Allen-Williams is the No. 6 outside linebacker in the country, according to Rivals, and could become a big playmaker at South Carolina.

Top Sleeper – DE Kalan Ritchie – When in doubt, bet on a prospect from Goose Creek (S.C.) High School. Ritchie is a great athlete with the ability to play on either side of the ball.

Final Thoughts – South Carolina hit its needs by signing several defensive backs and defensive linemen. It won’t rank highly in the SEC, but the Gamecocks’ class will be just fine under coach Steve Spurrier.

 

Tennessee

Top Star – RB Jalen Hurd – Tennessee landed the top running back on its board. Hurd, who enrolled in school last month, will have a chance to play immediately in Tennessee’s offense.

Top Sleeper – LB Jakob Johnson – The German-born linebacker stood out to Tennessee’s coaches when they saw him play in Florida. Like Hurd, Johnson enrolled in school last month and should help the Vols in the fall.

Final Thoughts – Coach Butch Jones put together a stellar class despite very little to sell on the field. Tennessee hit all its needs and landed potential stars at several positions.

 

Texas A&M

Top Star – DE Myles Garrett – He could turn into a dominant defensive end. Beating out rival Texas for Garrett, an Arlington, Texas, native, could turn into Texas A&M’s most impressive win in the 2014 class.

Top Sleeper - WR Jamal Jeffery – He was one of Texas A&M’s first commitments in the 2014 class. Jeffery, who’s coming off a back injury he suffered in the fall, will certainly be able to help the Aggies’ offense if he returns to form.

Final Thoughts – Coach Kevin Sumlin continues to show signs he’s turning Texas A&M into an elite program. Prospects like Garrett, quarterback Kyle Allen and receiver Speedy Noil can play anywhere in the country. The Aggies are adding to the SEC’s power.

 

Vanderbilt

Top Star – DB Trent Sherfield – He hardly wavered even after coach James Franklin left for Vanderbilt. Sherfield should fit in nicely at safety for new coach Derek Mason, who sold Sherfield’s family on his defense and background at Stanford.

Top Sleeper – WR Rashad Canty – He committed to Vanderbilt after previously pledging to Appalachian State. Canty offers plenty of upside and with his size (6-4, 210) could help Vanderbilt right away.

Final Thoughts – Mason had to put Vanderbilt’s class back together after he replaced Franklin. The Commodores’ class took a huge hit with so many commitments going elsewhere. The biggest strength of the class is in the defensive backfield.

 


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