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Espn Grades The Sec In Recruiting.


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A team-by-team look at the recruiting classes in the SEC.

Alabama Crimson Tide - A

Top prospect: Much to his mom's dismay, five-star safety Landon Collins (Geisman, La./Dutchtown) spurned in-state LSU to play for the Tide. He is a punishing safety with linebacker-type physicality. Could play in a variety of roles and is an impact player.

Breakdown: Four-star athlete Cyrus Jones (Baltimore/Gillman School), who has great speed and loads of upside, joins Collins in the secondary along with Geno Smith (Atlanta/St. Pius X Catholic), the nation's No. 2 cornerback and No. 31 overall prospect. Jones also could be a receiver candidate. The Tide needed to get big-play receivers, and did just that by landing five-star athlete Eddie Williams (Panama City, Fla./Arnold) and receiver Chris Black (Jacksonville, Fla./First Coast). Williams shows acceleration you don't normally see in players his size, while Black, No. 22 in the ESPNU 150 and the nation's No. 2 wideout, can play outside or in the slot and will make an impact on special teams. The offense also gets a boost with offensive tackle Brandon Greene (Ellenwood, Ga./Cedar Grove) and running back T.J. Yeldon (Daphne, Ala./Daphne). Greene, the nation's No. 6 offensive tackle and No. 30 overall, features great measurables and a solid skill set. There's a reason the Tide finished at No. 1 -- they met virtually every need.

Florida Gators - A

Top prospect: Five-star offensive tackle D.J. Humphries (Charlotte, N.C./First Coast) is the top tackle in the country and the No. 7 overall prospect. He is a great blend of size and athleticism, and with added strength and bulk, could develop into a premier left tackle over time.

Breakdown: Will Muschamp has the Gators rolling on the recruiting trail. Humphries joins ESPNU 150 offensive tackles Jessamen Dunker (Boynton Beach, Fla./Boynton Beach) and Dante Phillips (Venice, Fla./Venice). Both have great size, length and upside to develop into very good college tackles. The offensive trenches were an area of need that Florida addressed well. The Gators added needed weapons for the passing game with a pair of Under Armour All-Americans in Colin Thompson (Warminster, Pa./Archbishop), the nation's No. 2 tight end, and LaTroy Pittman (Citra, Fla./North Marion), a four-star wideout who is a physically impressive receiver with some playmaking ability. The Gators added a much needed running back with four-star Matt Jones (Seffner, Fla./Armwood). The defense also gets a boost, highlighted by the addition of ESPNU 150 defensive ends Jonathan Bullard (Shelby, N.C./Crest) and Dante Fowler Jr. (St. Petersburg, Fla./Lakewood Senior). Cornerback Brian Poole (Bradenton, Fla./Southeast) was also a big get.

Georgia Bulldogs - A-

Top prospect: Five-star running back Keith Marshall (Raleigh, N.C./Millbrook), who is No. 5 in the ESPNU 150 and has game-breaking speed, headlines a position of need for the Dawgs. Marshall is one of the more explosive players in the 2012 class.

Breakdown: Mark Richt and the Dawgs landed the majority of Georgia's class in-state, led by a trio of ESPNU 150 D-linemen in defensive tackles Jonathan Taylor (Millen, Ga./Jenkins County) and John Atkins (Thomson, Ga./Thomson) and defensive end Jordan Jenkins (Hamilton, Ga./Harris County). Outside linebacker Josh Harvey-Clemons -- who has committed but the Dawgs are waiting on his LOI -- was a great pickup on signing day, as he's a system-fitting hybrid type for Todd Grantham's 3-4 defense. He should develop into a disruptive edge presence for Georgia. Taylor is raw but displays some exciting upside, while Atkins, who is 6-foot-3 and 305 pounds, is an intriguing prospect with a hulking frame and the ability to run. He could develop into a potentially tough nose tackle. Jenkins is a ball of energy with loads of upside. Offensive tackle John Theus (Jacksonville, Fla./The Bolles), who is 6-6 and 295 pounds, has excellent size along with improved bulk and playing strength. He helps Georgia reload up front. The Dawgs landed four-star tight end Ty Smith (Moultrie, Ga./Colquitt County), who is a productive receiver who can help move the chains and potentially supply a big play or two.

LSU Tigers B+

Top prospect: Vadal Alexander (Buford, Ga./Buford), No. 75 in the ESPNU 150 and the nation's No. 5 offensive guard, is the Tigers' top prospect and shows signs of being able to play tackle as well. He is big and strong, and has good feet.

Breakdown: This is a class littered with prospects at just about every position including linebacker, which was a big need. ESPNU 150 OLB Ronnie Feist (Edgard, La./West Saint John) has been underrated by some, but the more you watch him, the more you like him. Fellow outside linebacker Kwon Alexander (Oxford, Ala./Oxford) was a major land on signing day, as the top-three rated linebacker has the size, speed and pass-rush ability to make a difference in Baton Rouge. Athlete Lamar Louis (Breaux Bridge, La./Breaux Bridge) has a combination of size, speed, strength and quickness that belongs on defense. Four-star receiver Avery Johnson (Pompano Beach, Fla./Ely) is big, can run and could develop into a big-play threat. He highlights a good receiver trio, but LSU needed to add more weapons here. Athlete Jeremy Liggins (Oxford, Miss./Lafayette) was a very good land down the stretch, and the explosive jumbo athlete has a lot of ability to develop behind center or elsewhere. The Tigers, as usual, cleaned up in-state once again with under-the-radar prospects such as cornerback Dwayne Thomas (New Orleans/O. Perry Walker).

Texas A&M Aggies - B+

Top prospect: Thomas Johnson (Dallas, Texas/Skyline). This was a major land for A&M and the new coaching regime, as they beat out the Longhorns and a host of national programs for one of the country's premier pass-catchers.

Breakdown: Texas A&M got out of the gate fast and, despite a coaching change, held on strong down the stretch and even made some significant pickups. Outside linebacker Jordan Richmond (Denton, Texas/Billy Ryan) leads the charge on defense. The ESPNU 150 prospect is rangy and athletic, and should have plenty in front of him to keep blockers occupied in the future with five defensive linemen also on board. That group includes four-star defensive end Michael Richardson (DeSoto, Texas/DeSoto). Late-rising ESPNU 150 CB De'Vante Harris (Mesquite, Texas/Horn) is a speedy cover corner with the savvy and intangibles that can't be measured. Quarterback Matt Davis (Houston/Klein Forest), No. 107 in the ESPNU 150, is a legit dual-threat quarterback who is scary good and already on campus. Four-star running back Trey Williams (Houston/Andy Dekaney) is undersized but a water bug of a runner who is tough to keep up with. He is the ideal "space" player and should fit perfectly in Kevin Sumlin's offense. He fills a need at the position.

South Carolina Gamecocks - B+

Top prospect: ESPNU 150 receiver Shaq Roland (Lexington, S.C./ Lexington) is a dynamic prospect and a great competitor who should add immediate versatility and athleticism. He is a huge need for the Gamecocks on offense.

Breakdown: South Carolina continues to do well keeping the best players from the state at home. However, the state of Georgia also has been fruitful. ESPNU 150 safety Chaz Elder (College Park, Ga./Banneker), the nation's No. 5 safety, can run, close and hit. He fills a void at the position. Running back Mike Davis (Stone Mountain, Ga./Stephenson) is a huge piece of the puzzle and could be a difference-maker. The class also features four-star offensive tackle prospect Brock Stadnik (Greensboro, N.C./Western Guilford), who is a dominant run-blocker with size and athleticism. A pair of four-star wide receivers will help Steve Spurrier's offense. Jody Fuller (Monroe, S.C./Sun Valley) is a physical wideout who shows the toughness to go over the middle and catch in traffic, and Kwinton Smith (Dillon, S.C./Dillon) has a blend of size, strength and speed you do not see often. Defensively, four-star outside linebacker Kaiwan Lewis (Hammonton, N.J./St. Joseph) displays the playing strength and quickness necessary to dominate blockers from either a two- or three-point stance.

Auburn Tigers - B

Top prospect: In the end, athlete Ricardo Louis (Miami Beach, Fla./Miami Beach) lands back at Auburn, and the Tigers are getting a great athlete with a lot of natural skill to develop at receiver.

Breakdown: The Tigers are recruiting well, and their relatively small class features four ESPNU 150 commits who fill needs on both sides of the ball. While some of their top prospects might not get the publicity of other prospects, they will bring a lot to the Tigers. ESPNU 150 cornerback Joshua Holsey (Fairburn, Ga./Creekside) can flat-out run and close on the football. He also should give the Tigers some versatility in the secondary with his ability to play safety. Cornerback T.J. Davis (Tallahassee, Fla./Godby) adds even more depth to a young secondary. Four-star receiver Ja'Quay Williams (Tyrone, Ga./Sandy Creek) has playmaking skills but might be more of a possession guy at the next level. Quarterback Zeke Pike (Fort Mitchell, Ky./Dixie Heights) might be heralded, but we feel the big-bodied quarterback is going to take some time to iron out his mechanics and accuracy. ESPNU 150 athlete Ricky Parks (Hogansville, Ga./Callaway) has some rare athletic traits given his ideal measurables (6-4, 230 pounds). He is big and physical, and given time to settle in at one position, he could be dangerous as an H-back/WR hybrid. Offensive tackle Avery Young (Palm Beach Gardens, Fla./Palm Beach Gardens) has great athletic tools to mold up front and was a major get on signing day.

Tennessee Volunteers - B-

Top prospect: Receiver Drae Bowles (Jackson, Tenn./Christian School) is a very good receiver prospect who is physically ready to make the jump and help the Vols. He reminds us of Dez Bryant.

Breakdown: The coaching turnover appears to have hurt the Vols down the stretch but they still hung on to sign a top-25 class. It's not the flashiest of classes, but it is solid with six four-star prospects, including three from the ESPNU 150. Juco receiver Cordarrelle Patterson (Rock Hill, S.C./Hutchinson CC) is a guy to keep your eye on. He's a game-changer. The Vols also landed a pair of ESPNU 150 receivers in Bowles and Alton Howard (Orlando, Fla./Edgewater). Bowles is thickly built, explosive, fast, and sudden in his stop and start ability as a route-runner and open-field ball carrier. Howard is a human spark plug who is a tough guy and plays big and physical. Four-star tight end Justin Meredith (Anderson, S.C./T.L. Hanna) gives the offense another receiving weapon. Four-star safety LaDarrell McNeil (Dallas/Wilmer Hutchins) is a big and physical strong safety who could grow into a hybrid or even outside linebacker in time. He should be a force on special teams as well. Four-star defensive end LaTroy Lewis (Akron, Ohio/Archbishop Hoban) has good size and upside, and speaking of size, the Vols added 6-6, 375-pound defensive tackle Daniel McCullers (Raleigh, N.C./Georgia Military Academy).

Vanderbilt Commodores - B-

Top prospect: The class is highlighted by four-star athlete Brian Kimbrow (Memphis, Tenn./East), an explosive running back with the speed to take it the distance on any given carry. He is diminutive in stature but big in terms of playmaking ability. He should contribute as a returner and might get a look at corner during his career.

Breakdown: James Franklin and his staff have done a great job on the recruiting trail in his first full recruiting cycle. Four-star defensive end Stephen Weatherly (Atlanta/North) displays good quickness off the ball and can fire up field but needs to add some size. Four-star outside linebacker Darreon Herring (Stone Mountain, Ga./Stephenson) possesses very good flexibility, balance and agility, and demonstrates the ability to play in space when in coverage. Four-star inside linebacker Jacob Sealand is very productive against the run, and shows the playing strength to dominate both inside and off the edge. Vandy is getting players who fill needs and will make the Commodores better. The question will be whether they can continue to improve on the field to aid in their recruiting efforts.

Missouri Tigers - B-

Top prospect: Dorial Green-Beckham (Springfield, Mo./Hillcrest), the No. 1 receiver in the country with Julio Jones and A.J. Green comparisons, was a major in-state land for the Tigers. His size and speed combination are rare, and he should step in right away and produce as an SEC receiver.

Breakdown: The Tigers have taken advantage of a great crop of in-state talent, along with being active in Texas. The majority of the top prospects in this class hail from either the Show Me State or the Lone Star State. While Green-Beckham is a major signing, ESPNU 150 offensive guard Evan Boehm (Lee's Summit, Mo./Lee's Summit) is an instrumental prospect in this class as well. The No. 2 guard in the country helps reload up front and should help improve the Tigers' rushing attack. Four-star quarterback Maty Mauk (Kenton, Ohio/ Kenton) might not have ideal overall measurables, but he has some real intangibles. Four-star inside linebacker Donavin Newsom (St. Louis/Parkway North) marks another key in-state get for Missouri. It is a linebacker-heavy class for the Tigers as they head into the SEC, but a class that has some skill talent as well.

Arkansas Razorbacks - C+

Top prospect: Receiver D'Arthur Cowan (Olive Branch, Miss./Olive Branch) is fast, sleek, flexible and tall. He might not time like an elite guy but is as fast as he needs to be when the pads come on.

Breakdown: The assembling of a strong group of wide receivers and running backs has helped the Razorbacks fill needs in 2012. Led by a pair of four-star prospects in Cowan and Keon Hatcher (Owasso, Okla./Owasso), Arkansas has landed some talent at this position for its high-powered passing attack. Hatcher is a competitive, tough receiver with solid open-field running skills to boot. The class also features some talent in the trenches led by four-star Jeremy Ward (Pottsville, Ark./Pottsville), the No. 15-ranked guard, and high three-star defensive end Brandon Lewis (Memphis/Ridgeway). Ward has the athleticism necessary to provide help out of the center/guard box in pass protection, while Lewis has some work that needs to be done but shows some flashes and presents some intriguing upside.

Ole Miss Rebels - C+

Top prospect: Defensive tackle Issac Gross (Batesville, Miss./South Panola) and defensive end Channing Ward (Aberdeen, Miss.) essentially share the same grade and top this class. They are two players on equal footing with any DLs being signed by the SEC this year.

Breakdown: The Rebels have a small but very fruitful class with needs being met in the defensive line, as well as at running back with the likes of Kenno Loyal (Decatur, Ga./Columbia), I'tavius Mathers (Murfreesboro, TN/Blackman) and Jaylen Walton (Memphis, TN./Ridgeway). Four offensive linemen also litter this class including tackle Robert Conyers (Miami, Fla./G. Holmes Braddock). Safety Trae Elston (Oxford, Ala./Oxford) has talent to play receiver, but he was a significant land on signing day, as he also could fill a void in a thin secondary.

Mississippi State Bulldogs C+

Top prospect: Defensive tackle Nick James (Long Beach, Miss.) is a monster and isn't sloppy. He is a load to handle, can anchor and should provide much needed stoutness at the point of attack for the Bulldogs.

Breakdown: Mississippi State has placed an emphasis on the offensive and defensive fronts, both needs, particularly on defense. Five of their top six prospects in the class are on the line, including 300-pound defensive tackles Quay Evans (Morton, Miss.) and James. There are defensive linemen littered throughout the class from top to bottom, which was a need. Safety Quadry Antoine (Belle Chasse, La./Belle Chasse) has size and is a physical defender to help on run support. The Bulldogs also added multiple athletes who could play on either side of the ball and become playmakers. Brandon Holloway (Tampa, Fla./Alonso) has plenty of explosiveness and speed. The Bulldogs hit the junior college ranks hard to fulfill needs in the offensive line.

Kentucky Wildcats - C+

Top prospect: Khalid Henderson (Austell, Ga./Pebblebrook) is a four-star outside linebacker and a good athlete who makes plays sideline to sideline.

Breakdown: Kentucky has done a strong job of enhancing its numbers in the offensive and defensive front with a large amount of signees being lineman. Defensive tackle Thomas Chapman (Louisville, KY./DuPont Manual) adds beef in the middle, and defensive end Langston Newton (Carmel, Ind.), brother of QB Morgan Newton, bring some explosiveness off the edge. Offensive weapons were another area of need, and receiver DeMarcus Sweat (Stone Mountain, Ga./Stephenson) as well as athlete Fred Tiller (Homerville, Ga./Clinch County) add speed and big-play ability. Athlete Patrick Towles (Fort Thomas, Ky./Highlands) is a gritty winner with some real athletic prowess to remain at quarterback if he can clean up mechanically. He is a true dual threat and has big upside. Corner Jonathan Reed (Indianapolis, Ind./Pike) has flown under the radar.

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Does anyone else think LSu underachieved a bit this year in recruiting?

Sac-- man I've never asked you for anything in the 3-4 years I've been on this board, but c'mon dude, your signature may prevent me from ever having kids. PLEASE save the Dawgy lineage..

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how is bama not an A+.......

Ark: didn't even mention a 4 star Lber from LA we flipped from Tenn. and Lber / D is a much greater need than more WRs. We are stacked at WR. Oh, yeah and the 4 star DT/De we got b/c bama screwed him.

ESPN is steadily getting better, but they have a ways to go before they're on top of recruiting and class evaluations.

I'm still scratching my head at how drastically different the class rankings are from site to site.

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ESPN is steadily getting better, but they have a ways to go before they're on top of recruiting and class evaluations.

I'm still scratching my head at how drastically different the class rankings are from site to site.

This is true. ESPN was so bad when they first got into the recruit ranking a few years ago. They're definitely better now though and they've finally got a lot of guys that are really good at their jobs working for them.

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For me, 247 Sports has the most consistent rankings. Scout has fallen drastically behind and I am afraid Rivals is headed in that direction. ESPN has made monumental strides from where they were a few years ago -- within the next few years, I think it will be 247, ESPN, and then everybody else.

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For me, 247 Sports has the most consistent rankings. Scout has fallen drastically behind and I am afraid Rivals is headed in that direction. ESPN has made monumental strides from where they were a few years ago -- within the next few years, I think it will be 247, ESPN, and then everybody else.

espn is really improving and part of is they are hiring away some great talent from rivals. we all know who started 247 and he has done the same. scout and rivals are both imo heading in the wrong direction (scout's drop has been much faster).

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