Harbach Blog...SEC Recruiting Recap

Give yourself a hand Urban

National Signing Day is over...but that doesn't mean we are done talking about the SEC Recruiting Classes. Let's recap the players that matter and which teams should be happy or not with how their coaches did.

By Brian Harbach

Recruiting is over, Spring Practice is right around the corner but now seems like a good time to recap the new young men who will be suiting up for your SEC team this fall. This is why college football is the greatest sport in our country right now, there is no down time for fans and with the recruiting season fresh in our minds lets take a look at the classes the SEC teams brought in, how they stack up compared to the rest of the conference, the impact players and whether or not your team should be happy with the job the coaches did.

Alabama
Number of Signees: 29
Scout SEC Ranking: 2
Overall Thoughts
Another great recruiting class for Nick Saban and the Crimson Tide, there are skill players throughout the 29 signees and Alabama added depth in the key areas where they had some losses to graduation and early entry into the NFL. Alabama will be replacing 3 starters in the secondary this fall and while there are a number of talented players already on the roster, the additions of players like Deion Belue Jonavon Fulton, Dequan Menzie, Demarcus Milliner and Jarrick Williams were needed. The Tide got some offensive weapons as well with QB Phillip Sims, RB Corey Grant and underrated TE Brian Vogler.
Instant Impact Player
Dequan Menzie, DB (JUCO)
Should Fans be Happy
Tide fans should be thrilled with their third straight top 5 class and the fact that Alabama really went after their needs. They stocked up on some good linemen on offense and defense, the secondary was mentioned above and they grabbed two very tall and athletic defensive ends (Alfy Hill and Adrian Hubbard). This is a great class and the only reason these players might not make an instant impact is because the two classes before it were even better. Playing time is going to be earned in Tuscaloosa the next couple years.

Arkansas
Number of Signees: 26
Scout SEC Ranking: 9
Overall Thoughts
One central theme throughout all teams recruiting classes is filling their needs and Arkansas had a big time need at Defensive Tackle and got a couple good ones. Calvin Barnett is the star of this class, the Army All-American has the size and strength to come in and play as a true freshmen. Byran Jones is an underrated player at D-tackle who could make an early impact for the Razorbacks but the rest of the class is very boring. Nothing really stands out as players who are going to set the school on fire; it is just full of good players. Petrino was successful at Louisville using this kind of talent and coaching them up, but the SEC and the Big East are not the same.
Instant Impact Player
Calvin Barnett, DT (High School)
Should Fans be Happy
Fans should never be upset with the young men that choose to pledge four or five years of their lives to your alma mater, but this class is not what Razorback fans could have expected in Petrino's third year. It is obviously the weakest of his first three classes and he did lose out on some very good in state players like Michael Dyer and Dakota Mosely which upset some fans. Recruiting classes are obviously judged down the road so there is no reason to panic, but expectations were higher for Arkansas and Petrino did not meet them this year in recruiting.

Auburn
Number of Signees: 32
Scout SEC Ranking: 3
Overall Thoughts
The instant reaction in seeing what Auburn did this year was shock…where did that come from? Auburn fans and Auburn rivals were equally surprised at how well Gene Chizik's staff was able to bring in elite talent, but if you look at his staff it is full of great recruiters. The Tigers upgraded nearly every position on offense with QB Cameron Newton, RB Michael Dyer, WR Trovon Reed and O-lineman Shon Coleman and Eric Mack. Defense was no different as the Tigers desperately needed linebackers and they signed a very good class highlighted by Ladarius Owens. Auburn also added two good defensive tackles, Ken Carter and Jeff Whittaker, who should be able to contribute early in their careers.
Instant Impact Player
Cameron Newton, QB (JUCO)
Should Fans be Happy
Auburn fans should be thrilled with their class after 10 years with a staff that "would not recruit out of magazines." This class is a very good foundation and a good sign with what Gene Chizik and company can do with a full season to recruit. Auburn pulled in the number one player from Arkansas, Louisiana and Mississippi while focusing heavily on Alabama and Georgia.

Florida
Number of Signees: 28
Scout SEC Ranking: 1
Overall Thoughts
For anyone who thought that the drama with Urban Meyer was going to cause issues with Gator recruiting, you were mistaken. Every coach in the country tried to put that seed of doubt into players thinking about Florida or already committed to the Gators and this class still finished first in the SEC and first in the country. The defensive talent in this class is amazing with players like Dominique Easley, Matt Elam, Ronald Powell and Shariff Floyd. The offensive players are not slouches either and guys like Mack Brown, Gerald Christian and Chris Dunkley could make early appearances in their Gator careers.
Instant Impact Player
Matt Elam, S (High School)
Should Fans be Happy
It is impossible to imagine any Florida fan being upset with this class, every team misses on some prospects, but this class hits every need and adds serious depth to a team that arguably has the most depth in the SEC. There are impact players all through the class and a lot of these players will become household names within the next two years in Gainesville.

Georgia
Number of Signees: 19
Scout SEC Ranking: 7
Overall Thoughts
This is not a typical UGA class, it is not ranked in the top 10 nationally, it is not ranked in the top half of the SEC and the state of Georgia was pillaged from outside states which is a rarity. Looking past the rankings and the last minute defections, this is a pretty good group of defensive players and offensive linemen which is what Georgia needed badly. The Defensive line got some big time players with Jalen Fields, Dexter Morant, Garrison Smith, T.J. Stripling and Michael Thornton. There is not much to talk about on the offensive side outside of linemen Brent Benedict and Kolton Houston. The lack of offensive fire power in this class is not typical from what we usually see fin Richt's classes, but again that can partially be attributed to some unforeseen de-commitments.
Instant Impact Player
Michael Thornton, DT (High School)
Should Fans be Happy
Georgia fans should feel a little worried about how UGA closed. Specifically the players that left last minute, they also missed out on a couple players they felt very good about days before National Signing Day. By no means is this an indictment of Richt and where the UGA program is headed, it was just an off year recruiting in Athens. Considering they were down three coaches from the week after the regular season and did not hire a defensive coordinator until a couple weeks before signing day, this should have been expected. Relationships that were built over the years were gone and sometimes they cannot be repaired. Some of the late defections hurt, especially losing players to rivals, but Georgia upgraded what they needed in the end.

Kentucky
Number of Signees: 26
Scout SEC Ranking: 11
Overall Thoughts
It is hard to judge a Kentucky recruiting class because there is usually not a lot of star power, but as we have seen from Kentucky teams over the last few years, they are getting good players. The best prospect looks like Tight End Alex Smith from Cincinnati but the rest are filled with good players who can hopefully fill in some spots in the future. The Wildcats went heavy on defensive ends bringing in six with Michael Douglas being the best of the bunch but none of them are physically read to play in the SEC next season (the biggest defensive end is Farrington Huguenin at 230 lbs). There were three under the radar running back prospects that should fit in well with how Kentucky runs the ball, Miles Simpson being the most likely to play in 2010.
Instant Impact Player
Alex Smith TE (High School)
Should Fans be Happy
This is the typical class that Kentucky brings in and while fans expect to do better, this class is what Kentucky does to succeed. It is no better and no worse than any other class the Rich Brooks has brought in and Joker Phillips has continued that success by focusing on needs and bringing in some under the radar guys from other states.

LSU
Number of Signees: 29
Scout SEC Ranking: 4
Overall Thoughts
It is pretty amazing how well programs go after their needs and how recruits flock to potential playing time. Les Miles needed safeties in this class after losing Chad Jones and Harry Coleman to the NFL and he got a bunch. Eric Reid, Tharold Simon and Ronnie Vinson were all rated four star safeties by Scout and they all look like players that can contribute immediately. Another huge get was Spencer Ware from Ohio, LSU lost three running backs to graduation this year and with Richard Murphy coming back from an injury the RB position was crucial to this class. Ware is a special player who is already physical enough to play as a true freshman and could keep growing in his 220 lb frame but Miles got two other running backs, speedster Jakhari Gore and a traditional back in Alfred Blue.
Instant Impact Player
Spencer Ware, RB (High School)
Should Fans be Happy
This looks like another great class for Les Miles, if you want to nit-pick you could complain that the best player in Louisiana did not sign with the Fighting Tigers and Trovon Reed plays a position (WR) that LSU really needed in this class. Outside of that they filled needs, added All-American players and kept most of the talent in their state at home. Based on the players they lost it looks like they took care of those positions and kept overall talent level in Baton Rouge very high.

Mississippi State
Number of Signees: 26
Scout SEC Ranking: 10
Overall Thoughts
This might be the most underrated class in the SEC and while they were in the bottom third in terms of SEC rank, there are some good players in this class that are going to help the Bulldogs. What there is to like is the star players Dan Mullen brought in will add depth this year and then fill a need in 2011. Guys like Kaleb Eulls who will play behind two senior defensive ends this year and probably get enough reps so he is ready to start in two seasons. Running back Matthew Wells should get some carries behind Robert Elliot this fall and Damien Robinson should get a season with the strength and conditioning program before he is needed to step in for Derek Sherrod. This class may not have as many four and five star players as the rest of the SEC classes, but it is sneaky good.
Instant Impact Player
Matthew Wells, RB (High School)
Should Fans be Happy
Mississippi State fans should be pretty happy with this class because it is a good building block for Mullen's first full year on the recruiting trail. They will still need to use the junior college ranks to fill some holes until they can build better depth with high school players, but most importantly they have done a great job recruiting the state of Mississippi. MSU took seven of the top fifteen players from the state of Mississippi while their in state rival took five. Winning the state is extremely important for any school and Dan Mullen seems to have made that a priority which is a very good sign for MSU fans.

Ole Miss
Number of Signees: 25
Scout SEC Ranking: 5
Overall Thoughts
Houston Nutt closed very well this recruiting season, similar to what he did a year ago and pulled in some good last minute players even though he fell short on a few others. The last week of the recruiting season he pulled in stud defensive ends Delvin Jones and Carlos Thompson to go along with another tall receiver to go opposite Patrick Patterson with 6' 3'' Vincent Sanders. The defensive end position was key for the Rebels and Wayne Dorsey is a junior college transfer that might be able to come in and take over Greg Hardy's spot from day one. The rest of the class is solid with guys that will be able to add depth over the next couple years; the only big miss was in-state offensive linemen Shon Coleman.
Instant Impact Player
Wayne Dorsey, DE (JUCO)
Should Fans be Happy
This year would make it two straight solid classes for Houston Nutt and while last year seemed to focus more on offensive needs, this year clearly fills what Ole Miss wanted on the defensive side. Tyrone Nix has the players he needs to continue to be successful in Oxford and fans should be thrilled with how a likely mediocre class turned into something much better in the final week. If coffee is for closers, Houston Nutt definitely deserves some.

South Carolina
Number of Signees: 24
Scout SEC Ranking: 8
Overall Thoughts
This class is very odd, one player either made it or saved it and that player is Marcus Lattimore. Without Lattimore this is a very weak class, with him Steve Spurrier fills his biggest need with the player he wanted the most. The running game has to be upgraded in Columbia and South Carolina brought in six offensive linemen headlined by center A.J. Cann. Victor Hampton is a very good defensive back, hopefully he comes to Carolina focused and ready to play and he has put high school behind him. Kelcy Quarles looks like he has the talent to be a very good defensive tackle in the SEC but he probably needs a redshirt year to add some more weight before he becomes the player South Carolina coaches expect him to be.
Instant Impact Player
Marcus Lattimore, RB (High School)
Should Fans be Happy
Fans should be cautious about this class because there is not a lot of star power, but the Gamecocks were able to fill the class with needs. They needed to have a big time running back and they got him, they needed offensive linemen and they got players but are those players good enough to improve the running game? Is this the kind of class that is going to allow Steve Spurrier to compete for the SEC East or is it going to keep the status quo in Columbia. It is definitely not a homerun and not what most would have expected in Spurrier's sixth recruiting class in Columbia.

Tennessee
Number of Signees: 25
Scout SEC Ranking: 6
Overall Thoughts
Where did this class come from? Derek Dooley did a fantastic job keeping together the kids that were already committed to Tennessee and pulled out some shockers at the same time. Da'rick Rogers was an absolute steal from UGA and getting offensive tackle James Stone to pick the Vols over Alabama was an upset as well. There were obvious losses with Lane Kiffin's departure, but Dooley was able to hold it together and keep most of the players from leaving. The offensive line coming in looks very strong with previously mentioned Stone and Juwuan James and the receivers got a huge upgrade with Rogers, Justin Hunter and Matt Milton. Add in a very deep defensive line group including ends Corey Miller and Jacques Smith along with defensive tackle John Brown who might be able to take the place of Dan Williams.
Instant Impact Player
John Brown, DT (JUCO)
Should Fans be Happy
Tennessee fans biggest fear when Lane Kiffin left in January was their recruiting class, this could have been an extremely ugly situation from a player standpoint. Obviously it wasn't great to lose your coach three weeks before signing day but Derek Dooley did a fantastic job. He kept a good class that was put together by Kiffin together and managed to persuade some very good players to come be a part of his program in Knoxville. The class he brought in was a very good sign for Tennessee fans and it will be interesting to see what his staff does with a full 12 months to recruit.

Vanderbilt
Number of Signees: 24
Scout SEC Ranking: 12
Overall Thoughts
What can you say about this class when compared to the rest of the SEC? You can't do it; Vanderbilt recruits different student athletes than the rest of the SEC with an emphasis more on student than athlete. That is not disparaging the rest of the Southeastern Conference, it is just a different program at Vanderbilt and they did bring in some good players that other teams will wish they had offered. Starting at running back there is a lot to like about Rajaan Bennett, he has good size at 205 lbs, decent speed and his ability to catch the ball out of the backfield is underrated. Even with a young player like Warren Norman, there is still room for Bennett to make plays. Looking through the rest of the class defensive end Thomas Ryan looks like he has the size to play early along with defensive back Karl Butler and linebacker Fitz Lassing. If you are looking for a sleeper, 6' 5'' wide receiver Chris Boyd could end up being a red zone threat for Larry Smith this season.
Instant Impact Player
Rajaan Bennett, RB (High School)
Should Fans be Happy
This is a solid class that Vanderbilt fans should be happy with, there are a number of players would might be able to contribute this season but for the most part it will be players that will redshirt, work hard in the offseason and contribute later on down the road. There is a lot of potential with some of the undersized offensive linemen and defensive tackles; they just aren't ready to play yet.

There isn't space to hit on every player on every team, but which players do you expect to make an impact this year and are you happy with your teams class? E-mail me Brian Harbach

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