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February 3, 2011

Signing Day Blitz: Ranking the SEC

More Conferences: ACC | Big East | Big Ten | Big 12 | Pac-12

The SEC has nine of its 12 teams ranked in the Rivals.com top 25 after National Signing Day. Check out the breakdown of the conference in a special edition of the SEC Blitz.

Alabama | Arkansas | Auburn | Florida | Georgia | Kentucky
LSU | Mississippi State | Ole Miss | South Carolina | Tennessee | Vanderbilt

Signing Day Blitz: Ranking the SEC
1. Alabama

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BamaOnLine.com
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Headliner: The Tide went down to Florida to grab the country's top safety prospect, Hasean Clinton-Dix.
Sleeper: Three-star quarterback Phillip Ely wasn't a flashy signing, but he comes from a winning program and fits Alabama's offensive style.
Overview: This class not only has star power, but is incredibly balanced. Clinton-Dix and running back Demetrius Hart, his high school teammate, are five-star prospects and each has the ability to contribute early in their careers. As usual, the Tide did exceptionally well on the defensive line. On Wednesday, Alabama landed four-star defensive end Jeoffrey Pagan at the last minute. He joins fellow four-star linemen Quinton Dial, Xzavier Dickson, LaMichael Fanning, D.J. Pettway and Jesse Williams. At linebacker, Rivals100 recruit Trey DePriest is the headliner with four-star prospect Brent Calloway being a wild card. A last minute-flip from Auburn, Calloway would prefer to play running back, but it wouldn't be a shock to see him end up on defense at some point. Marvin Shinn headlines a strong crop of receivers. All told, the Tide landed seven members of the Rivals100.
2. Georgia

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UGASports.com
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Headliner: Five-star defensive end Ray Drew, the country's No. 9 overall prospect.
Sleeper: Receiver Chris Conley, a three-star recruit who enrolled early after a stellar showing at the Offense-Defense Bowl.
Overview: The Bulldogs put the finishing touches on an outstanding class by landing five-star tailback Isaiah Crowell on Wednesday. That gave Georgia's "Dream Team" two five-star players and six Rivals100 recruits. Some of the Bulldogs' best work came at linebacker, where they landed Amarlo Herrera, Kent Turene (a one-time Southern California commit) and Ramik Wilson. Georgia also did well on the offensive line, where it signed six players, most notably Zach DeBell, who has a prototypical tackle frame. On the other side up front, the Bulldogs not only gained Drew but signed four-star players Sterling Bailey, an end, and Chris Mayes, a tackle. Four-star quarterback Christian LeMay was another good get, as were receiver/defensive back Malcolm Mitchell and tight end Jay Rome.
3. LSU

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TigerBait.com
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Headliner: Five-star offensive tackle La'El Collins is a versatile player who has the strength to excel in the running game and footwork to be a standout pass blocker.
Sleeper: Outside linebacker Trevon Randle, a three-star recruit, doesn't have great size, but he moves well and has a knack for being around the ball.
Overview: Without much fanfare, the Tigers quietly put together another top-10 class. Only one team (Clemson) landed more five-star recruits than LSU, which signed three. The Tigers, as they often do, picked up several solid players up front. Besides Collins, the offensive line will get a boost from four-star recruits Trai Turner and Corey White. On the defensive line, five-star pickup Anthony Johnson, a tackle, was the attention grabber, but the Tigers also landed four-star players Mickey Johnson and Jermauria Rasco. At quarterback, LSU has added Zach Mettenberger, a one-time Georgia Bulldog, and Stephen Rivers, younger brother of NFL QB Philip Rivers. Both of those quarterbacks should be thrilled about having the opportunity to throw the ball to five-star receiver Jarvis Landry.
4. Auburn

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AuburnSports.com
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Headliner: Five-star outside linebacker Kris Frost is the second-rated player nationally at his position.
Sleeper: Outside linebacker Justin Garrett has the type of speed that should serve him well in the SEC.
Overview: The Tigers inked one five-star recruit, 13 four-star prospects and six members of the Rivals100. Auburn did particularly well on the offense line, where one could argue no program in the country fared better Wednesday. Christian Westerman, the country's No. 3 offensive tackle, was the Tigers' most notable signing, but Reese Dismukes, another Auburn recruit, is the top-rated center. Auburn also landed a third Rivals100 player on the offensive line, Greg Robinson. Elsewhere on offense, the Tigers are bringing in several talented players, most notably Rivals100 quarterback Kiehl Frazier, a dual-threat signal caller who could challenge for immediate playing time, and four-star running backs Quan Bray and Tre Mason. Aside from Frost, Auburn's top defensive pickups are safeties Erique Florence and Jonathan Rose. Florence is in the Rivals100; Rose just missed the cut.
5. Tennessee

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VolQuest.com
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Headliner: The Vols landed four-star offensive tackle Antonio Richardson, the top prospect in Tennessee.
Sleeper: Defensive tackle Trevarris Saulsberry and defensive end Jordan Williams, three-star recruits who were high school teammates in Florida, have SEC frames and high upsides.
Overview: The Volunteers' class may have lacked big names, but this is a solid, well-balanced group that filled many of Tennessee's needs. While there are no five-star players in the group, the Vols landed 12 four-star kids - third most in the SEC. Richardson and receiver DeAnthony Arnett are both Rivals100 members while impressive linebacker A.J. Johnson, tight end Cameron Clear, linebacker/defensive end Curt Maggitt and cornerback Justin Coleman each made the final Rivals250. Clear, the second-rated player from Tennessee, has the type of frame where he could eventually become an offensive tackle. Landing Maggitt, a four-star prospect with a high ceiling, from the Sunshine State and away from archrival Florida, was impressive. So was the pickup of four-star safety Byron Moore, a junior college standout from California.
6. Florida

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GatorBait.net
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Headliner: Quarterback Jeff Driskelis the top player in the country at his position.
Sleeper: Defensive end Clay Burton has the speed off the edge to potentially be an early factor on a team looking for playmakers at that spot.
Overview: New coach Will Muschamp said Wednesday his first class in Gainesville might be low on quantity, but was high on quality. The numbers back that up. While Florida signed only 18 players, the Gators class has an average star rating per player of 3.56, which is quite good. The secondary is the strength of Florida's haul. There, No. 37 overall prospect Marcus Roberson, a four-star cornerback who chose the Gators at the last minute after previously being committed to both Auburn and Texas Tech, was an excellent pickup. Four-star cornerback Louchiez Purifoy is among the fastest players in the class. In addition to Driskel, the Gators offense, which will have a new pro-style look in 2011, also landed Hunter Joyer, the country's No. 1 fullback, and A.C. Leonard, the No. 5 tight end.
7. Ole Miss

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RebelGrove.com
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Headliner: The Rebels landed five-star linebacker C.J. Johnson, a one-time Mississippi State commit.
Sleeper: Three-star cornerback Senquez Golson doesn't wow you with his frame, but he sticks with opposing receivers very well.
Overview: Coming off a disappointing season, the Rebels rebounded nicely on the recruiting trail and put together one of the country's most surprising classes. Johnson, without question, is the jewel. The country's No. 2 inside linebacker, he covers a ton of ground and is a playmaking machine. One also has to be impressed with what the Rebels did at receiver, where few, if any, programs nationally had as much success. At that spot, Ole Miss landed four-star players Nickolas Brassell, Donte Moncrief and Tobias Singleton. All three are Rivals250 prospects; Brassell checks in at No. 51. Four-star offensive tackle Aaron Morris, another Rivals250 recruit, is the other headliner on offense. On defense, the Rebels complemented the signing of Johnson by landing linebacker Keith Lewis and Marcus Mayers.
8. South Carolina

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GamecockCentral.com
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Headliner: Offensive tackle Brandon Shell, a Rivals100 member, is the country's No. 4 offensive tackle.
Sleeper: Three-star offensive tackle Mike Matulis, is a tough, physical athlete who could also play guard.
Overview: South Carolina remains in the hunt for No. 1 overall prospect Jadeveon Clowney, but even if it loses that battle the Gamecocks have themselves a relatively solid class. Shell is the only Rivals100 prospect in the group, but defensive tackle Phillip Dukes is the country's No. 101 recruit and four-star safety Sheldon Royster also is in the Rivals250. Dukes' signing shouldn't be underestimated. In the ultra-competitive SEC, where games are won and lost up front, Dukes is an incredibly strong player who also is exceptionally explosive at the snap. South Carolina also grabbed another four-star defensive tackle in Kelcy Quarles. The Gamecocks offense did well by landing 6-foot-5 tight end Jerell Adams and receiver Shamier Jeffery, both of whom have terrific upsides.
9. Arkansas

Commit List
HawgSports.com
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Headliner: Four-star offensive tackle Brey Cook has as good of a frame as just about any player in the country at his position.
Sleeper: Three-star recruit Mitch Smothers has the ability to be a solid guard in the SEC.
Overview: In just about any other league, the Arkansas class would have gotten more attention. The Razorbacks, it would appear, did their best work on offense. Cook and quarterback Brandon Allen, who recorded eye-catching statistics in high school, are both Rivals250 prospects. Allen ranks as the country's fifth-best pro-style signal caller, and is among the most accurate passers in the class of 2011. Four-star receiver Marquel Wade is the other most notable offensive signing. On defense, speedy four-star cornerback Tevin Mitchel also is a Rivals250 member. Defensive tackle Lonnie Gosha might be the Razorbacks' most intriguing prospect. If he can step up his intensity, Gosha might go down as being one of the biggest steals of this entire cycle.
10. Mississippi State

Commit List
BulldogBlitz.com
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Headliner: Defensive tackle P.J. Jones is the only four-star player in the Bulldogs class.
Sleeper: Receiver Joseph Morrow, at 6 feet 5, 200 pounds, has the frame that should make him a difficult matchup at the next level.
Overview: After a 9-4 season, one of the best in recent memory in Starkville, more was expected of the Bulldogs. Down the stretch, Mississippi State lost key battles to Ole Miss and Auburn and the exit of defensive coordinator Manny Diaz to Texas certainly didn't help. Nonetheless, the Bulldogs did land their fare share of talent, starting with Jones, a 6-foot-2, 252-pounder and Rivals250 prospect. Getting him wasn't easy, as Mississippi State had to hold off the Rebels. Big-hitting safety Darion Arrington, the 11th-rated player from Mississippi, should be a nice addition to the Bulldogs' already stout defense. Back on offense, Morrow isn't the only good receiver coming in. He'll be joined by, among others, three-star recruit Devin Fosselman, one of the faster Mississippi State signees. Safety Zachary Jackson is among the most versatile athletes in the class.
11. Kentucky

Commit List
CatsPause.com
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Headliner: The Wildcats went to Illinois to fetch four-star safety Glenn Faulkner.
Sleeper: Three-star running back Marcus Caffey is a good one from Atlanta who also had offers from Arkansas and South Carolina.
Overview: Losing out on four-star linebacker Lamar Dawson, an in-state product who stunned many by signing with Southern California, wasn't an easy pill to swallow, but the news isn't all bad in Lexington. Of Kentucky's 24 signees, 21 are thee-star players and Faulkner earned four stars. Faulkner, who competed in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl, far and away is the top recruit in the class. He is ranked 128th overall, and eighth among safeties. Three-star athlete Bubba Tandy is another recruit of note. A versatile athlete, the Wildcats are hoping he can step into the role vacated by receiver Randall Cobb, who left early for the NFL. Additionally, Kentucky landed the top two offensive linemen in the state, Darrian Miller and Zach West.
12. Vanderbilt

Commit List
VandySports.com
Message Board
Headliner: Tight end Dillon van der Wal was among the top-50 prospects in California.
Sleeper: At 6-4, 220 pounds, linebacker Jimmy Stewart has the ideal frame to play either outside linebacker or defensive end.
Overview: Vanderbilt and first-year coach James Franklin started the week with only 14 commitments, but ended up signing 21 players Wednesday. Most importantly, the Commodores addressed a serious need at quarterback. At that spot, Vanderbilt signed Joshua Grady, Kris Kentera and Lafonte Thourogood. Grady not only was among the top playmakers in Florida in 2010, but he is used to winning. He also is athletic enough to move to the secondary if things don't work out at quarterback. Van der Wal was a particularly exiting pickup for Vanderbilt because the Commodores flipped him from Arizona State. Defensive back Derek King is another solid prospect, and is rated as the 18th best player from Tennessee.



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