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SEC Continues to Rule the Recruiting World

Posted: Feb 05, 2010

National Signing Day has passed, and once again the teams of the SEC were dominant in the rankings. The conference that has won the last four National Championships (with three different schools) continually pulls in the top classes, and that's what it takes to compete in America's toughest league.

How big has SEC football become? They are starting to write about the league’s stranglehold on the college football world in Big Ten areas like Chicago:

‘‘Without a doubt, the SEC is the premier football conference in the country,’’ said recruiting analyst Tom Lemming of CBS College Sports. ‘‘It is no coincidence that SEC teams have won four national titles in the last five years. Quite simply, they have the best recruiters and they recruit the best players. It is a continuing theme.’’

That recruiting prowess is expected in states like Florida, Georgia and Alabama, but SEC schools are increasingly able to cherry-pick top prospects from places like California, New Jersey, New York and Illinois. Recent league stars like Mark Ingram (Michigan), Knowshon Moreno (New Jersey), Percy Harvin (Virginia), Aaron Hernandez (Connecticut), Ben Tate (Maryland), and Matt Stafford (Texas) have all traveled a long way to compete in the SEC. Expect that trend to continue, especially with the conference's new mega-TV deal.

The Florida Gators had the top class in the country, with awesome mixture of Sunshine State kids as well as top players from California, New York, and Pennsylvania. Urban Meyer may take a break this Spring, but he was recruiting in full force over last month. Alabama and Auburn were right behind the Gators, both pulling in Top 5 classes. While the Tide's class was no surprise, the Auburn haul was quite impressive. Gene Chizik has proven he belongs in the league, and that his many critics were very short-sighted a year ago.

LSU had another stellar class with a strong finish, and they were joined by the Tennessee Volunteers in the Top 10. Derek Dooley did a masterful job under trying circumstances of keeping most of the Vols' commitments and adding others. Getting a late signature from '5-star' receiver Da'Rick Rogers, the #1 prospect in Georgia, was a huge coup for the new boss in Knoxville.

Georgia fell out of the Top 10 with a couple of late defections, including Rogers. Some Dawg fans are starting to worry about Mark Richt's ability to keep top talent in the Peach State. With only four of the state's Top 15 prospects heading to Athens, it will be an issue to watch going forward. As expected, Ole Miss and South Carolina were next up in the conference, with Mississippi State a little behind the Rebels and Gamecocks. To compete for league crowns, those three schools will need to get in the upper echelon of SEC classes on Signing Day.

Arkansas, Kentucky and Vanderbilt finished at the bottom of the league, although there were positives in each of their classes. The Commodores and Wildcats were not expected to be in the Top 30-40, but many thought the Razorbacks would recruit a little higher. Bobby Petrino will have a to do a big-time development job with his talent if he wants to compete with the league's big boys on a year-in, year-out basis.

We referenced the correlation between success on Signing Day and on-field success in our "Southern Holiday" preview.  Here are the recruiting statistics for the last four National Champions:

 "No. 1 in 2006, Florida’s recruiting classes were 4, 8, 11, and 2 from ‘03-’06. The next year, LSU’s national championship team came from recruiting classes ranked 2, 19, 7, and 5. Florida’s 2008 No. 1 team was rooted in classes rated 11, 2, 1, and 12.

The most recent No. 1, Alabama, started with classes ranked 18th and 22nd, but the 2008 class was No. 1 and the ‘09 group was No. 2.”

Those facts just repeat our message about the importance of recruiting. There is just no way to compete consistently in the SEC if you are not winning enough battles on Signing Day.



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