On the eve of National Signing Day, the SEC is once again proving that it is just as strong in college football recruiting as it is on the field. Alabama currently has the No. 1 class in the country, according to 247Sports's composite rankings, but several other schools are making a push to finish in the top 10 or top 5.
Head coach Nick Saban and the Crimson Tide are coming off their third national title in four seasons, which certainly doesn't hurt on the recruiting trail. Whether on-field success has led to attracting top talent or attracting top talent has led to on-field success doesn't matter. Right now, 'Bama is doing just fine in both categories. The Crimson Tide are trying to haul in the No. 1-ranked class for the second straight year and finish in the top 5 for the fifth year in a row.
Perhaps the team to watch on Signing Day is Ole Miss. The Rebels are currently lurking at No. 13, but with a big finish Wednesday, they could vault into the top 5. Head coach Hugh Freeze already has commitments from five-star players such as DT Lavon Hooks, WR Laquon Treadwell and DE Elijah Daniel, and Ole Miss has a good chance at landing DE Robert Nkemdiche, the best player in the class of 2013. The Rebels are also in the running for OT Laremy Tunsil and DE Chris Jones, both five-stars, so Freeze's Rebels could finish with a flourish.
Three new head coaches are trying to begin their tenures on the right note: Arkansas's Bret Belima, Auburn's Gus Malzahn and Tennessee's Butch Jones. Malzahn's Tigers are currently in the best shape, ranked No. 17, and in the running for top prospects like CB MacKensie Alexander and RB Johnathan Ford and locking up DL Carl Lawson. The Volunteers check in at No. 26, and the Razorbacks are ranked 41st.
Top three classes: Alabama, Florida, LSU (But keep an eye on Ole Miss).
Top three players to know: Nkemdiche, Florida CB Vernon Hargreaves III, Alabama ILB Reuben Foster.
National Signing Day drama to watch: Ole Miss is closing in on one of the biggest surprise classes in recent memory, and the Rebels seem to be the favorites to land Nkemdiche. However, LSU managed to get his final visit, so it wouldn't be the biggest shock ever to see the 6'4, 285-pound defensive end find his way to the bayou. Keep an eye on this announcement.
In the early signing period, the Rebels signed five players: Juco CB Nick Brassell, RB Mark Dodson Jr., Juco DT Lavon Hooks, TE Christian Morgan, and Juco HB/WR Quadarias Mireles. Each signee has a chance to have a quick impact, which is great to see from players arriving in January.
Alabama has been a defensive juggernaut during the Saban era, and the Tide's talent in this class should help continue that trend. The folks over at Roll 'Bama Roll introduce fans to Alabama's defensive commits, including five-star Jason Allen:
Allen is pretty much unanimously regarded as a disruptive pass rusher and is one of the top edge rushers in this class. He will likely settle in at the Jack linebacker position when he gets to the Capstone. Bama is pretty much set at the Jack position this season with Hubbard, but if Allen lives up to his billing, there is a good chance he could beat out Atchison to assume the second string position by the end of the year.
While LSU is putting together a solid class, the Tigers don't seem to have a ton of buzz going into Signing Day. That's OK, because as And the Valley Shook ranked the players out of Louisiana and the Tigers have commitments from nine of the top 10:
Tre White's star exploded as the year wore on, culminating in achieving 5-star status during AA Bowl Week. Well deserved for a guy who is both stellar on and off the field (4.0 student). He's maybe a shade shorter than the type of CBs LSU typically features, but he's the same type of smooth athlete we saw from Mo Claiborne, with similar return skills to boot. White should play a lot, as soon as next season.
Florida's done with much of its recruiting for the 2013 class. Sure, there may be a Jalen Ramsey here or a Tanner McEvoy there - and we'll have more on both tomorrow - but the Gators have filled most of their needs and secured most of their commitments, and there shouldn't be much drama at all next Wednesday.
Georgia has a tradition of getting the best out of versatile high school recruits and this class looks to contain a special few young men who will carry the torch and provide us fans with future highlight reels.
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