Power Ranking Every SEC Team's 2014 Recruiting Class

Jake MartinCorrespondent IIIFebruary 5, 2014

Power Ranking Every SEC Team's 2014 Recruiting Class

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    Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

    The SEC West slugged it out for the SEC's top signing class on national signing day. The result of another recruiting battle down south offered little surprise.

    "Annnnd still..."

    If signing day were a heavyweight bout (which let's face it, that's what it's become), you would hear the UFC's Bruce Buffer announce Alabama retaining its recruiting title.

    Was it a unanimous victory, though? Did any SEC team challenge Alabama's recruiting throne with surprise commits on the final day of recruiting?

    Get a glimpse and breakdown of every recruiting class as we rank each SEC team according to star recruits, filling needs and unforgivable misses on this national holiday in the South.

     

    *All national rankings and stats via 247Sports.

14. Vanderbilt

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    National Ranking: 46

    Total Commits: 22

    No. of 5-stars: 0

    No. of 4-stars: 2

    No. of 3-stars: 16

    Star recruit of the class: Nifae Lealao, Defensive End (4-star by 247Sports Composite Rankings)

     

    Once upon a time, Vanderbilt had an impressive recruiting class. A Top 25 ranking filled with 20-plus commitments was on the horizon.

    Then, James Franklin took his talents to Penn State (yes, anytime someone leaves, you have to vocalize it that way; after all, it's what the recruits are doing nowadays). The Commodores hemorrhaged as a result.

    The class dropped to as many as nine recruits one week prior to national signing day. Lloyd Tubman, K.J. Carta-Samuels and Kameron Uter highlight the group that abandoned ship. So much for anchoring down.

    Well, to new head coach Derek Mason's credit, he's put in the work to salvage this recruiting class. In fact, over the weekend, Mason added six commits to his class.

    He couldn't swerve Andrew Mike or Solomon Thomas down the stretch, but still, Mason did a fantastic job working with what limited time he had.

13. Missouri

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    National Ranking: 39

    Total Commits: 28

    No. of 5-stars: 0

    No. of 4-stars: 3

    No. of 3-stars: 24

    Star recruit of the class: Andy Bauer, Offensive Tackle (4-star by 247Sports Composite Rankings)

     

    Maty Mauk, Russell Hansbrough, Dorial Green-Beckham and Bud Sasser will help Missouri contend in the SEC again next season. To go along with those offensive returners, Gary Pinkel added some beef on his offensive line with 4-star lineman Andy Bauer.

    Defensively? Try adjusting your eyes to a defense without Michael Sam, Kony Ealy, Andrew Wilson and E.J. Gaines. Suddenly, that Mizzou Tiger logo looks less fierce.

    How did Pinkel go about replacing those roles? Let's just say 4-star linebacker Brandon Lee and 3-star cornerback Raymond Wingo are the cream of the crop.

    It could be a possibility that many are undervaluing this Missouri class, and to Pinkel's credit, Bauer and Lee look to be phenoms at the collegiate level.

    Having said that, Pinkel needed to make a huge splash defensively with this class, and he failed to bring in prospects like Poona Ford who could help provide depth. For that, Missouri finds itself just above Vanderbilt in this year's class rankings.

12. Mississippi State

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    National Ranking: 38

    Total Commits: 23

    No. of 5-stars: 0

    No. of 4-stars: 3

    No. of 3-stars: 19

    Star recruit of the class: Jamoral Graham, Athlete (4-star by 247Sports Composite Rankings)

     

    Mississippi State hurdled Missouri down the stretch.

    Like Mason did with Vanderbilt, Dan Mullen scored late over the weekend with new recruits added to his roster.

    Mullen nearly saved his class from being at the very bottom of the SEC with 4-star cornerback Tee Shepard, but Shepard picked archrival Ole Miss at the last second.

    Losing another prospect to the Rebels, Jordan Sims, definitely took some momentum away at the finish line.

    With that said though, 4-star athlete Jamoral Graham and 4-star running back Aeris Williams are great pledges for Mullen to continue building Mississippi State from the ground up. Don't expect an SEC title to emerge soon as a result, though.

11. Arkansas

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    National Ranking: 30

    Total Commits: 24

    No. of 5-stars: 0

    No. of 4-stars: 4

    No. of 3-stars: 18

    Star recruit of the class: Bijhon Jackson, Defensive Tackle (4-star by 247Sports Composite Rankings)

     

    Well, Bret Bielema's recruiting philosophy hasn't changed a whole lot, now has it?

    Bielema is going to have to do a lot of coaching up in order to make up for his latest efforts. Despite losing great outside threats in Javontee Herndon and Julian Horton, Bielema has failed to reel in more than two wide receivers with a star rating greater than a 3-grade.

    To his credit though, he's beefed up his lines on offense and defense with recruits like 4-star offensive tackle Brian Wallace, 4-star defensive tackle Bijhon Jackson and newly acquired 4-star offensive tackle Frank Ragnow.

    Out-Alabama-ing Alabama is easier said than done, but Bielema certainly looks like he's building his team to at least compete in physical encounters next season.

    The game is won in the trenches, right? Despite failing to elevate the outside presence in this year's class, Bielema stuck with his agenda by upgrading the hogmollies up front. That's respectable, but it won't wow any spectators looking for 4-star skill-position recruits.

10. Kentucky

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    National Ranking: 22

    Total Commits: 29

    No. of 5-stars: 0

    No. of 4-stars: 6

    No. of 3-stars: 23

    Star recruit of the class: Matt Elam, Defensive Tackle/Offensive Tackle (4-star by 247Sports Composite Rankings)

     

    Say hello to Kentucky's best recruiting class in school history.

    For the most part, Mark Stoops and his staff attracted every serious target they set out for. And it was the recruitment of one particular prospect that sent a shock throughout the recruiting universe.

    Yes, the rumors are in fact true. The 4-star defensive tackle Matt Elam chose Kentucky over the Alabama Crimson Tide. No, hell did not freeze over afterward.

    To go along with Elam, Stoops added an instant contender for next season's starting quarterback position in Drew Barker and two 4-star recruits for the defense (Denzel Ware and Darius West). Add Lloyd Tubman to the mix, and this recruiting class is something truly special.

    This is obviously new ground for Kentucky football. Usually, signing-day parties are reserved for John Calipari and the basketball team.

9. South Carolina

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    National Ranking: 15

    Total Commits: 21

    No. of 5-stars: 0

    No. of 4-stars: 10

    No. of 3-stars: 11

    Star recruit of the class: Bryson Allen-Williams, Linebacker (4-star by 247Sports Composite Rankings)

     

    Steve Spurrier has had better recruiting classes in his day, but that doesn't mean he didn't have a great signing day.

    The positives of this class are as such: Spurrier kept 4-star linebacker Bryson Allen-Williams from flipping, and despite a moderately small group of commits, he still has some nice pledges.

    Here's the deal, though—Spurrier is going to have to replace Jadeveon Clowney, Chaz Sutton and Kelcy Quarles on the defensive line. Yeah, that's the top three players who recorded the most tackles for loss last season for the Gamecocks (combined for 33.5 tackles for loss).

    Spurrier needed a game-changing defensive lineman in this year's signing class. Did he get one? I'm not completely sold 4-star Abu Lamin and 4-star Dante Sawyer will be the next wave of great defensive line talent. But that remains to be seen, and it's unfair to judge at this stage.

    Then Spurrier turned on the charm late. Spurrier threw a Hail Mary with South Carolina native and 4-star defensive lineman Dexter Wideman to score late in the game against Florida State. Landing Chris Lammons and Wesley Green on signing day helped the Ol' Ball Coach out in the rankings as well, per Willie T. Smith III of The Greenville News.

8. Ole Miss

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    National Ranking: 16

    Total Commits: 26

    No. of 5-stars: 0

    No. of 4-stars: 6

    No. of 3-stars: 20

    Star recruit of the class: Roderick Taylor, Offensive Guard (4-star by 247Sports Composite Rankings)

     

    No, Hugh Freeze did not repeat his recruiting success from a year ago.

    With the help of last year's signing class, the Rebels will pose nine returning starters on defense and six on offense.

    The problem is Jeff Scott, Donte Moncrief and Ja-Mes Logan—all standouts—will be missed on the offensive side of the ball. I'Tavius Mathers and Jaylen Walton sort of took the reins from Scott last season, but Moncreif and Logan were Nos. 1 and 3, respectively, in receiving yards last season. Laquon Treadwell is a stud, as we all know, but he will need an equal threat to keep this offense chugging along.

    Ole Miss' class was without one until Freeze found a way to flip 4-star wide receiver Markell Pack and lure him away from Florida State.

    Combine that flip with securing defensive tackle Breeland Speaks at the university, and that gives Freeze and Ole Miss the edge over Kentucky in the rankings.

7. Florida

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    National Ranking: 9

    Total Commits: 24

    No. of 5-stars: 1

    No. of 4-stars: 8

    No. of 3-stars: 15

    Star recruit of the class: Jalen Tabor, Cornerback (5-star by 247Sports Composite Rankings)

     

    Say what you will about Will Muschamp, but none can deny this man's recruiting abilities. That dog will downright hunt.

    It's a good thing too. As great as Vernon Hargreaves III is, he can't hold down the secondary alone. With Marcus Roberson, Loucheiz Purifoy and Jaylen Watkins taking their talents to the NFL, Muschamp had to reload quickly, especially on that sizzling hot seat of his.

    He should be proud to say he did just that with two of the top 30 defensive backs coming out of high school, per 247Sports. Jalen Tabor tore Arizona's heart out at the Under Armour All-America Game and stomped on it repeatedly by flipping to Florida.

    As for dealing with Dominique Easley's and Ronald Powell's absences in the front seven, he surprised all by grabbing Gerald Willis and Thomas Holley. This looks to be another great Muschamp defense, built on the foundation of Muschamp's recruiting ability.

    The catches on defense certainly soften the blow of 5-star running back Dalvin Cook flipping to Florida State. The Gators got revenge with 4-star dual threat quarterback Treon Harris flipping from FSU to the Gators, per Matt Porter of The Palm Beach Post.

6. Georgia

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    National Ranking: 8

    Total Commits: 21

    No. of 5-stars: 3

    No. of 4-stars: 10

    No. of 3-stars: 8

    Star recruit of the class: Sony Michel, Running Back (5-star by 247Sports Composite Rankings)

     

    Always with the running backs, this team.

    One thing you can't knock Mark Richt for is his ability to recruit tailbacks. I forget, is Richt on or off the hot seat this year? His on-and-off rotation throws me sometimes.

    He might be let off (or remain off) with the recruitment of not one but two 5-star running backs in Nick Chubb and Sony Michel. Can you spell RBU? Don't answer that, Early Cuyler.

    The darling of this signing class is reserved for another 5-star prospect, though.

    Defensive end Lorenzo Carter flirted with schools around the country, but he stayed in his home state to play for the Bulldogs, per ESPN. Jeremy Pruitt should definitely enjoy scheming around his athleticism. Carter's signing allowed Georgia to jump Florida in the rankings. Carter, Michel, Chubb and 4-star quarterback Jacob Park should all be future NFL draft picks.

5. Tennessee

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    National Ranking: 7

    Total Commits: 33

    No. of 5-stars: 0

    No. of 4-stars: 16

    No. of 3-stars: 17

    Star recruit of the class: Josh Malone, Wide Receiver (4-star by 247Sports Composite Rankings)

     

    Well, welcome back to the world of college football, Knoxville. We thought for sure you dropped off the face of the earth.

    In fact, Tennessee hasn't generated this much talk since he who shall not be named (ahem, Alabama's new offensive coordinator) left. Out with old and in with the new, right Tennessee fans?

    Give Butch Jones all of the credit in the world for winning the SEC East. Landing 16 4-star recruits, despite an absence of 5-star recruits, is reason enough to place Tennessee in the upper quadrant of SEC recruiting classes. Talents like 4-star defensive end Dewayne Hendrix and 4-star wide receiver Josh Malone will surely make noise in their careers as Volunteers.

    However, the Vols' biggest question mark—you know, that whole behind-the-center thing—won't be solved with this class.

    The question—will Josh Dobbs evolve or will Justin Worley improve from last season's stumble (10 touchdowns, eight interceptions)?—remains the centerpiece of this team heading into the 2014 season. Despite a slight concern at recruiting a pro-style quarterback (none committed), Jones outdid himself with this sensational class.

4. Auburn

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    National Ranking: 6

    Total Commits: 23

    No. of 5-stars: 2

    No. of 4-stars: 11

    No. of 3-stars: 10

    Star recruit of the class: Roc Thomas, Running Back (5-star by 247Sports Composite Rankings)

     

    What's that? Tre Mason is leaving? Well, why hasn't the panic button been hit?

    Silly me, I forgot Gus Malzahn was over there handling it. Handle it he did by picking up one of the best tailback prospects in the nation, Mr. Racean "Roc" Thomas. If yaaa smelllllll what The Roc—sorry, I got caught up in the hype of WrestleMania season

    Thomas, the 5-star running back, will live the dream of all running backs by playing in Malzahn's running back paradise. The Tigers should benefit from it as well, adding another attraction in the backfield alongside Nick Marshall. Add in Under Armour All-America MVP quarterback Sean White and 5-star linebacker Tre' Williams, and it's easy to see why Auburn's been able to put a successful product on the field.

    Auburn did an exceptional job of adding speed on the perimeter, but in terms of bringing in Rashaan Evans out of its backyard, the Tigers lost him to bitter rival Alabama, per ESPN.com.

    Malzahn brought some sizzle with this class, but he also missed out on some prime bacon in Auburn. Still, the Tigers continue to roll, elevating themselves on and off the field.

3. Texas A&M

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    National Ranking: 5

    Total Commits: 21

    No. of 5-stars: 3

    No. of 4-stars: 11

    No. of 3-stars: 7

    Star recruit of the class: Speedy Noil, Wide Receiver (5-star by 247Sports Composite Rankings)

     

    Love him or hate him, Johnny Manziel was the lifeline of Texas A&M football these past two years. With him and his favorite target, Mike Evans, going to the NFL draft, will the Aggies sink to the bottom of the SEC West?

    Luckily for Texas A&M fans, Kevin Sumlin and David Beaty brought a raft. On that raft is 5-star quarterback Kyle Allen and 5-star athlete Speedy Noil. The high-flying Texas A&M offense shouldn't lose much altitude with Allen and Noil being added to the mix.

    As glamorous as a 5-star quarterback and 5-star wide receiver may look, let's not escape the fact that Texas A&M needed big-time defensive recruits added to a defense that gave up 476 yards per game last season.

    Oh yeah, that defense needs help, even with nine starters returning. Chances are 5-star defensive end Myles Garrett (the second-rated player nationally) and 4-star cornerback Nick Harvey help bring pride back to that side of the ball.

    Filling needs and making it look pretty while doing it—now that's a type of recruiting style I can appreciate.

2. LSU

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    National Ranking: 2

    Total Commits: 23

    No. of 5-stars: 4

    No. of 4-stars: 12

    No. of 3-stars: 7

    Star recruit of the class: Leonard Fournette, Running Back (5-star by 247Sports Composite Rankings)

     

    National signing day was supposed to make or break LSU's recruiting class.

    LSU was behind Texas A&M entering the day, and with the Tigers grabbing Malachi Dupre, Travonte Valentine and Trey Lealaimatafao—per Martin Rickman of Sports Illustrated—they passed the Aggies' stellar bunch.

    The Tigers now possess, according 247Sports' composite rankings, the overall best prospect (Leonard Fournette), the No. 2 wide receiver (Dupre), the No. 2 outside linebacker (Clifton Garrett), the No. 2 safety (Jamal Adams), the No. 3 defensive tackle (Valentine) and the No. 3 dual-threat quarterback (Brandon Harris).

    Yeah, Les Miles and Frank Wilson are "feeling some type of way" right now.

    The Tigers filled the defensive tackle and wide receiver needs, while adding some of the best players in the nation. You really couldn't ask for more from Miles, even with certain in-state talent (Speedy Noil, Cameron Robinson, Hootie Jones, Gerald Willis) going elsewhere.

1. Alabama

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    National Ranking: 1

    Total Commits: 26

    No. of 5-stars: 6

    No. of 4-stars: 15

    No. of 3-stars: 5

    Star recruit of the class: Da'Shawn Hand, Defensive End (5-star by 247Sports Composite Rankings)

     

    Come on, you knew Alabama would be No. 1 again sooner rather than later.

    While back-to-back losses have sent Alabama fans for daily therapy sessions on Paul Finebaum's radio show, fans can rest assured knowing the recruiting title remains in Tuscaloosa.

    The Crimson Tide had their throne established a week ago when Alabama kept 5-star cornerback Marlon Humphrey in the state. With the commitment, Alabama solidified itself as the best recruiting class in the nation, with six prospects in the top 16 of 247Sports' player rankings.

    That's good enough reason to give 'Bama yet another recruiting title, but that's not the full reason why the Tide won the decision. As pretty as all of those 5-star athletes look on paper, it's the way Nick Saban aggressively attacked his secondary that gave the Tide the title.

    Meanwhile, stealing Tony Brown, Cam Robinson and Laurence "Hootie" Jones right under LSU's nose was the icing on the cake. Add in 5-star Da'Shawn Hand and 5-star Rashaan Evans, and no team is touching this class.

Recruit Heating Map

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    Here's a visual of where recruits have landed around the country.