SEC football teams recruiting classes ranked, scored: Alabama has nation’s No. 1 class
National Signing Day 2017 has come and gone, and here are reviews from The Associated Press of each team’s class:
Top 25 Class: Yes.
Best in class: Najee Harris, RB, Antioch, California is the No. 3 overall prospect nationally according to the composite rankings. Coach Nick Saban said he’s a complete back who has size, speed, hands and runs solid routes.
Best of the rest: Tua Tagovailoa, QB, Honolulu, Hawaii; Alex Leatherwood, OT, Pensacola, Florida; Jerry Jeudy, WR, Deerfield Beach, Florida; Dylan Moses, OLB, Bradenton, Florida; LaBryan Ray, DE, Madison, Alabama. All play positions where Alabama at least needed to add depth for next season. Jeudy and Henry Ruggs III highlight a four-receiver group. “These explosive type players are guys that we felt like we needed to add to this class,” Saban said.
Late additions: Ray; Ruggs, Montgomery, Alabama; DL Phidarian Mathis, Monroe, Louisiana.
Ones that got away: DT Aubrey Solomon chose Michigan. S Todd Harris opted for LSU. Alabama didn’t sign a cornerback.
How they’ll fit in: Tagovailoa appears to have a shot at competing with Hurts for the job and certainly at least the No. 2 spot. Hurts was the Southeastern Conference offensive player of the year as a freshman but struggled in passing down the stretch. All three of Hurts’ backups transferred during or after the season, and Alabama also signed four-star QB Mac Jones, who’s expected to enroll in February. Harris joins a loaded backfield led by late-season star Bo Scarbrough and 1,000-yard rusher Damien Harris. There are certainly players who could challenge to replace early NFL departures receiver ArDarius Stewart and offensive tackle Cam Robinson.
Top 25 Class: On the bubble
Best in class: Montaric Brown, safety, Ashdown, Arkansas. The four-start safety was rated by 247Sports as the top rated player in Arkansas, and he decided to stay home despite offers from other school such as Alabama, Auburn, LSU and Oklahoma.
Best of the rest: Melvin Johnson, DT, Riverside (Calif.) Community College; Jeremy Patton, TE, Arizona Western College; Brandon Martin, WR, Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College.
Late addition: Chevin Calloway, CB, Dallas, Texas.
One that got away: CB Brad Stewart committed to Florida last weekend.
How they’ll fit in: Several freshmen on the defensive side of the ball will likely play next season, but it’s a pair of offensive standouts (Patton and Martin) who are likely to have the biggest impact in place of departed standouts Jeremy Sprinkle, Keon Hatcher and Drew Morgan.
Top 25 Class: Yes.
Best in class: QB Jarrett Stidham of Stephenville, Texas; Ashley of Washington, D.C. Malzahn said Calvin Ashley reminds him of former star left tackle Greg Robinson, a No. 2 overall NFL draft pick, at this stage in his career.
Best of the rest: LB T.D. Moultry, Birmingham, Alabama; RB Devan Barrett, Tampa, Florida. Malzahn said Barrett was the top running back on Auburn’s recruiting board from the outset. He joins Kamryn Pettway and Kerryon Johnson in the backfield. Moultry was one of 10 signees from in-state and brings another pass rusher into the fold.
Late addition: Markaviest Bryant, Cordele, Georgia; ATH JaTarvious Whitlow, LaFayette, Alabama. Bryant is the cousin of outgoing Auburn defensive tackle Adams and has been a longtime target for the Tigers. “He is a pass rushing machine,” Malzahn said. “He’s an Auburn-type kid with a great family and great support system.”
One that got away: DE Ryan Johnson chose Stanford.
How they’ll fit in: Stidham, a junior college transfer and former Baylor starter, is the biggest pickup. He should battle incumbent starter Sean White under new offensive coordinator Chip Lindsey. “I think he’s got a chance to be a very good football player,” Malzahn said. “He’s coming in to compete for the starting job.” Auburn also signed the heir apparent to All-America placekicker Daniel Carlson once he’s gone — little brother Anders Carlson.
Top 25 Class: Yes.
Best in class: Tadarrell Slaton, a 6-foot-4, 360-pound defensive lineman from Fort Lauderdale, is expected to play right away and possibly fill a void left from the early departure of Caleb Brantley.
Best of the rest: WR James Robinson was ranked the 14th best receiver in the country, and Florida needs more playmakers.
Late addition: DB Christopher Henderson initially committed to his hometown Miami Hurricanes last February. Now, he hopes to follow a growing list of successful defensive backs in Gainesville: Joe Haden, Janoris Jenkins, Vernon Hargreaves, Brian Poole, Keanu Neal, Marcus Maye, Jalen Tabor and Quincy Wilson.
One that got away: OT Alex Leatherwood, a five-star recruit and the No. 1 prospect from Florida, chose Alabama over Florida.
How they’ll fit in: Florida signed six defensive backs and four defensive linemen, amply filling its biggest holes.
Top 25 Class. Yes
Best in class: OT Isaiah Wilson and DB Richard LeCounte III were five-star recruits. LeCounte was a first-team All-America by USA Today and Parade magazine.
Best of the rest: There were 18 four-star signees, including Jake Fromm and running back D’Andre Swift, from Philadelphia. Swift could make an immediate impact as a return specialist while waiting for a chance behind Nick Chubb and Sony Michel.
Late additions: Three defensive backs signed who had been undecided: Eric Stokes, from Eastside High School in Covington, Georgia; Ameer Speed, from Jacksonville, Florida; and the 26th signee, Latavious Brini, from Miami Gardens, Florida. Stokes was a state track champion as a sprinter.
One that got away: Defensive tackle Aubrey Solomon, of Leesburg, Georgia, signed with Michigan.
How they’ll fit in: Georgia needs immediate help on the offensive line after losing tackles Greg Pyke and Tyler Catalina and center Brandon Kublanow. There also is room for defensive backs to play immediately.
Top 25 Class: No.
Best in class: Lynn Bowden, ATH, Youngstown, Ohio. The versatile four-star prospect has drawn comparisons to the Green Bay Packers’ Reggie Cobb (a former Kentucky standout) and is listed as one of the top 100 players by several scouting sites.
Best of the rest: OLB Josh Paschal and QB Danny Clark, both considered four-star prospects. Clark is a mid-year enrollee.
Late addition: DL Abule Abadi-Fitzgerald, who committed on Monday.
One that got away: OL Jedrick Wills, a five-star prospect from Lexington Lafayette who signed with national runner-up Alabama.
How they’ll fit in: Landing several QBs could help Kentucky build depth behind senior Stephen Jackson. The offensive line has several openings as well. Stoops might look to his defensive back recruits to contribute right away.
Top 25 Class: Yes.
Best in class: DB JaCoby Stevens of Murfreesboro, Tennessee, is considered one of the top safeties in the country. At 6-2, 200 pounds, Stevens demonstrated play-making ability on balls in the air and was a strong tackler against the run.
Best of the rest: Jacob Phillips, LB, Nashville, Tennessee; Tyler Shelvin, DT, Lafayette, Louisiana; Austin Deculus, OL, Cypress, Texas. Phillips was among the top rated middle linebackers in the nation.
Late addition: DE K’Lavon Chaisson of Houston, Texas, chose the Tigers over Texas.
One that got away: Marvin Wilson, DT, Houston, Texas. Given coach Ed Orgeron’s history as both a successful recruiter and a former defensive line coach, the Tigers saw themselves as the favorite to get the top-rated defensive tackle in the nation, but he chose Florida State.
How they’ll fit in: Linebackers will come in and play immediately, particularly Phillips because of a lack of depth. Chaisson gives them a successor to Arden Key, widely projected as a 2018 NFL first-round draft choice. Quarterbacks Lowell Narcisse of St. James, Louisiana, and Myles Brennan of Bay St. Louis, Mississippi, will give new offensive coordinator Matt Canada options to choose from and push returning starter Danny Etling.
Top 25 Class: No
Best in class: D.D. Bowie, DB, Morton, Mississippi. The 6-foot-1 speedster could help the Rebels quickly in the secondary.
Best of the rest: DL Markel Winters, LB Mohamed Sanogo. Winters is an early enrollee while Sanogo signed on Wednesday. Both players have a chance to contribute early for an Ole Miss defense that struggled last season.
Late addition: WR Braylon Sanders. The Rebels pulled the 6-foot, 172-pound receiver out of Hogansville, Georgia, to add to an already deep position.
One that got away: RB Cordarrian Richardson. The Rebels hoped to land the four-star player out of Memphis, but he chose Maryland instead.
How they’ll fit in: The Rebels are already pretty good on the offensive of the ball thanks to the return of young potential stars like QB Shea Patterson and OT Greg Little. But several of the defensive players — especially the linebackers — could see some early playing time.
Top 25 Class: Yes
Best in class: Willie Gay, LB, Starkville, Mississippi. The Bulldogs really wanted to land the hometown four-star prospect and got it done on Wednesday. He’s rated as the No. 3 outside linebacker prospect according to the 247Sports Composite.
Best of the rest: Hill, QB Keytaon Thompson. The Bulldogs hope they landed some of their playmakers of the future in the 5-foot-11, 210-pound Hill and 6-foot-4, 220-pound Thompson.
Late addition: Gay. Mississippi State had to fight off several other schools to land the linebacker, including LSU and Ole Miss. DL Aaron Odom, who is from Jackson, Mississippi, was also coveted by several other schools, including Louisville.
One that got away: DL Tae-kion Reed. Mississippi State lost the defensive player to in-state rival Ole Miss.
How they’ll fit in: The Bulldogs signed nine junior college players who have enrolled early and many of them could come in and contribute quickly. Others like Hill and Thompson have the luxury of learning from experienced starters if they’re not ready from day one.
Top 25 Class: No
Best in class: Da’Ron Davis, WR, Lee’s Summit (Mo.) North. The 6-foot-2, 190-pound Davis was Missouri’s first unofficial commitment for this class, and he turned down interest from Arkansas, Florida State, Michigan and Notre Dame, among others, to stay with the Tigers.
Best of the rest: Case Cook, OL, Carrollton (Ga.); Aubrey Miller, LB, Memphis (Tenn.); Hyrin White, OL, Desoto (Texas).
Late addition: Terry Petry, CB, Missouri City (Texas).
One that got away: WR Jafar Armstrong, who signed with Notre Dame after having been committed to the Tigers since June.
How they’ll fit in: Missouri’s five offensive line signees weighed an average of 305 pounds, a factor Odom said would help them early on in the Southeastern Conference. “It’s a big-person league,” Odom said. “We feel like with their athletic ability and size walking in the door … These guys will be in position to be ready to go in August.”
Top 25 Class: Yes.
Best in class: Jamyest Williams, is rated the country’s eighth best cornerback and should bring a fiery spirit to a position of need.
Best of the rest: WRs OrTre Smith and Shi Smith are young, tall standouts who should add to South Carolina’s offense, which already featured prominent freshmen this past season in quarterback Jake Bentley and tailback Rico Dowdle.
Late addition: Aaron Sterling, a one-time Alabama defensive end commitment, picked South Carolina over Tennessee.
One that got away: Robert Beal, a linebacker from Suwanee, Georgia, ultimately selected his home state Bulldogs over South Carolina.
How they’ll fit in: Everywhere. The Gamecocks found made some strides on offense the second half of the season while the defense faded. That should open lots of areas where the newest Gamecocks can have an impact. Defensive end Javon Kinlaw is a 6-6, 340-pounder who Muschamp hopes to plug in early. In the secondary, Kaleb Chalmers and Williams should see playing time. The two receiving Smiths — OrTre and Shi — can also quickly add to the depth at that spot.
Top 25 Class: Yes.
Best in class: OL Trey Smith, who comes from University School of Jackson, Tennessee, is the nation’s No. 14 overall prospect according to a composite ranking of recruiting websites compiled by 247Sports.
Best of the rest: Running back Ty Chandler and safety Maleik Gray are both rated as top-100 prospects by the 247Sports Composite.
Late addition: All of Tennessee’s signees had already made their college decisions well before Wednesday. “Probably the least drama we’ve had on Signing Day,” Jones said. Running back Tim Jordan and wide receiver Josh Palmer selected Tennessee within the last 10 days.
Ones that got away: The Knoxville area had two heralded receiving prospects this year in Tee Higgins of Oak Ridge and Amari Rodgers of Knoxville Catholic. Both signed with Clemson. Rodgers is the son of Southern California offensive coordinator Tee Martin, the quarterback of Tennessee’s 1998 national championship team. The Vols signed just one of the 247Sports Composite’s top four prospects in Tennessee, with Higgins going to Clemson while safety JaCoby Stephens and linebacker Jacob Phillips opted for LSU.
How they’ll fit in: This class includes three running backs in Chandler, Trey Coleman and Jordan. One of them could play immediately as Tennessee attempts to find someone to complement John Kelly and replace Alvin Kamara, who entered the NFL draft. Chandler has the highest rating of the running backs. Tennessee also added three wideouts (Jacquez Jones, Jordan Murphy and Palmer) to boost a receiving corps that lost Josh Malone to the draft.
Top 25 Class: Yes.
Best in class: Anthony Hines, LB, Plano, Texas. The Parade and Under Armour All-American had 220 tackles, including 133 solo stops. He also had five sacks and 38 tackles for loss — all in 11 games. He had about 90 scholarship offers.
Best of the rest: Kellen Mond, dual-threat QB, was in San Antonio before going to IMG Academy, where he accounted for 36 touchdowns in 10 games last season.
Late addition: Joshua Rogers, OT/DT, Houston. Rogers had 11 offers, and visited Ole Miss last weekend a week after his official visit to Texas A&M the previous weekend. Rogers was the only of the 27 players in this class that hadn’t been committed to the Aggies for an extended period.
One that got away: Really, none. “To have 26 guys who were really committed last year, and to hold them through that amount of time, says something about the relationships that were built a long time ago,” coach Kevin Sumlin said.
How they’ll fit in: Hines could make an immediate impact at inside linebacker after the departure of leading tackler Shaan Washington. Mond and Connor Blumrick, like Mond an early enrollee, could compete with senior Jake Hubenak and redshirt freshman Nick Starkel for the quarterback job after Trevor Knight was the primary starter last season as a graduate transfer from Oklahoma.
Top 25 Class: No.
Best in class: Vanderbilt didn’t sign a single player rated as a four-star or five-star prospect in the 247Sports Composite, but the Commodores may have landed a quarterback of the future in Jacob Free of Brantley, Alabama. Free, who is 6-foot-4, threw for 2,712 yards and 31 touchdowns and ran for nine more scores last fall at Brantley High School. The Commodores’ highest-profile addition Wednesday wasn’t a recruit at all. They also used this day to formally announce the arrival of Illinois transfer Ke’Shawn Vaughn, who rushed for 1,024 yards over the last two seasons.
Best of the rest: Barton Simmons, the director of scouting for 247Sports, mentioned offensive lineman Jonathan Stewart and defensive lineman Stone Edwards as two signees with plenty of potential. Stewart, who is 6-8, has played only two years of football after originally concentrating on basketball. Simmons mentioned Edwards’ impressive performance in the Shrine Bowl of the Carolinas, a high school all-star game.
Late additions: Linebackers Michael Owusu and Brayden DeVault-Smith both selected Vanderbilt on Signing Day. DeVault-Smith is from Nashville, making him the only Tennessee high school player in Vanderbilt’s class. Vaughn, the Illinois transfer, also is from Nashville.
One that got away: Defensive lineman Myron Tagovailoa-Amosa opted for Notre Dame over Vanderbilt but didn’t announce his decision until Wednesday.
How they’ll fit in: Vanderbilt has relied heavily on its defense the last couple of seasons, and this class should help the Commodores remain strong on that side of the ball. The class features five linebackers (Feleti Afemui, Colin Anderson, Dimitri Moore, DeVault-Smith and Owusu) as well as four defensive linemen (Jonah Buchanan, Dayo Odeyingbo, Jalen Pinkney and Edwards). Pinkney is the brother of Vanderbilt tight end Jared Pinkney.
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