February 7, 2007

Signing Day Blitz: SEC

The SEC made the most of the talent-heavy Southeast on National Signing Day placing seven teams in the top ten team rankings, including the top overall class brought in by Urban Meyer at Florida. LSU let in-state target Joe McKnight get away but still managed to put together a class highlighted by five-star difference makers Terrance Tolliver and Chad Jones. Nick Saban also used quick work to put his first Alabama class into the national top ten led by linebacker Rolando McClain.

Check out the breakdown of National Signing Day in the SEC in a special edition of the SEC Breakdown.

Alabama | Arkansas | Auburn | Florida | Georgia | Kentucky

LSU | Mississippi State | Ole Miss | South Carolina | Tennessee | Vanderbilt

No. 1 Florida

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Headliner: The state of Florida's top overall prospect, Torrey Davis, should see the field early in his career.

Sleeper: Punter Chas Henry is considered one of the nation's best at what he does.

Overview: The nation's top class features one of the nation's best groups of defensive ends (Carlos Dunlap, Jerrry Howard, Justin Trattou and Duke Lemmens) and one of the best group of quarterbacks in the history of recruiting (Cameron Newton, John Brantley and Bryan Waggener).
No. 2 Tennessee

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Headliner: Cornerback Eric Berry is the top defensive back prospect in the country.

Sleeper: Maryville, Tenn., wide receiver Tyler Maples is a hard-nosed receiver with good hands and speed.

Overview: The Vols signed a resurgent class this year, getting commits from Berry, Donald, the nation's top inside linebacker and running back Lenon Creer, one of the top prospects at his position in the country. Running backs coach and ace recruiter Trooper Taylor had perhaps his best year on the recruiting trail. He was instrumental in landing Creer, Berry and a number of other high-profile prospects.

No. 3 LSU

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Headliner: Rivals100 wide receiver Terence Toliver is a rare weapon in the passing game.

Sleeper: Concord, N.C., kicker Andrew Crutchfield has a powerful leg and could end up being a factor early.

Overview: Even without the state of Louisiana's top prospect, Joe McKnight, this is a special class full of difference makers. Stefoin Francois and Chad Jones both are plus-sized safeties that are big hitters and who could end up at outside linebacker if a need should arise. Getting Joseph Barksdale out of Detroit showed that LSU's recruiting reach has improved drastically in recent years.
No. 4 South Carolina

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Headliner: Defensive end Cliff Matthews is the type of elite pass rusher that the Gamecocks have lacked over the years.

Sleeper: Another defensive end, Byron McKnight, has the frame and athleticism to develop once he is coached up.

Overview: This is the best class that the Gamecocks have signed since joining the SEC in 1992. South Carolina raided North Carolina for five of the state's top 11 prospects and also did well in Florida. South Carolina also signed a handful of junior college and prep school players, including wide receiver Larry Freeman, who is expected to help fill the void left by the departure of Sidney Rice.
No. 5 Auburn

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Headliner: With great balance, speed, vision and size, running back Enrique Davis was the state of Florida's top running back prospect.

Sleeper: The Tigers found defensive end A.J. Greene at the same school that produced offensive lineman Mike Berry last year. He has the size and athleticism to develop.

Overview: This is one of the best classes that Tommy Tuberville has signed at Auburn. Most of the prospects that the Tigers signed are not only high in talent, but high in character, which makes them all easily coached. That's the type of prospect that this staff has used to build one of the SEC's most successful programs during the last five seasons.
No. 6 Georgia

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Headliner: Defensive end Jarius Wynn, one of the top junior college prospects in the country, will make an immediate impact on the Bulldogs defensive line.

Sleeper: Wide receiver Walter Hill originally was a UGA basketball commit, but at 6-4, 212 can present tough matchup problems in the secondary.

Overview: While it was strange to see the Bulldogs not clean up in state (losing Antwane Greenlee on Signing Day to Florida State meant only two of the state's top 10 prospects were Dawgs), they filled needs across the board, particularly along both lines of scrimmage. Enrolling seven total linemen in January gives the program instant help.
No. 7 Alabama

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Headliner: Rolando McClain, ILB, Decatur, Ala. The state of Alabama's top overall prospect should see the field early in his Tide career.

Sleeper: Marquis Maze, ATH, Birmingham (Ala.) Tarrant. Though he's not very big, the former Michigan commit is quick and can make big plays.

Overview: The first effort for new Crimson Tide head coach Nick Saban ended with several solid pick-ups down the stretch and finished No. 10 nationally. McClain and defensive tackle Kerry Murphy are the state's top two overall prospects. Wide receiver Brandon Gibson gives Alabama three of the state's top five. Four-star junior college safety Michael Ricks was a late addition.
No. 8 Ole Miss

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Headliner: Defensive end prospect Chris Strong was the third straight top-ranked Mississippi prospect the Rebels have signed.

Sleeper: Safety Fonterrian Ingram isn't terribly big, but he can run, hit and is athletic.

Overview: Another solid class for the Rebels that contains several impact players at wide receiver. Junior college wide receiver A.J. Jackson gives the Ole Miss offense a big target to throw to. Roderick Davis also will help the passing game when he gets to campus because of his elite speed. Lionel Breaux can also fly and has good hands.
No. 9 Arkansas

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Headliner: Tight end David Williams of Little Rock (Ark.) Central Arkansas Christian has the best hands in the Natural State and should contribute early in his career.

Sleeper: Dunnellon, Fla., running back Juwan Franklin flew under the radar for most of the process, but he's an explosive big-play threat that the Razorbacks coaches loved.

Overview: It's never a successful recruiting cycle when you are Arkansas and you lose the top three prospects from your state, which happened this year despite a run to the SEC West title behind the nation's best player, Darren McFadden. Still, the Razorbacks have several nice prospects heading to Fayetteville and Houston Nutt and company are some of the best in the country at talent identification and development.
No. 10 Mississippi State

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Headliner: Running back Robert Elliott is the top running back prospect from the state of Mississippi.

Sleeper: Florida lineman Dakoda Merrit is a prospect that was gaining a lot of steam in recruiting circles before pulling the trigger on a commitment to the Dogs.

Overview: This the best class Sylvester Croom has signed. It was telling of progress in the in-state recruiting wars when Mississippi State took Elliott and Bastrop, La., defensive tackle LaMarcus Williams from the Rebels on National Signing Day.
No. 11 Kentucky

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Headliner: There is no question that defensive lineman D.J. Stafford is one of the more talented prospects at his position in the Southeast.

Sleeper: Quarterback Matt Lentz doesn't always throw the prettiest ball, but he put up gaudy statistics for his high school and makes plays.

Overview: The Wildcats will continue to build depth with this class. Signing seven offensive lineman, including in-state standouts Stuart Hines and Billy Joe Murphy, will help Kentucky in the future. Wide receiver Kyrus Lanxter from Alcoa, Tenn., was committed to West Virginia and was a nice Signing Day grab.
No. 12 Vanderbilt

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Headliner: Defensive end/linebacker John Stokes picked the Commodores over Alabama, Michigan and a number of other high-profile programs.

Sleeper: Many are high on incoming linebacker Chris Marve.

Overview: This class isn't very large, but players like Stokes, Nashville, Tenn., athlete Jamie Graham and Alabama quarterback Larry Smith will be contributors during their time at Vandy. Stokes can play a number of defensive positions and Graham also was an outstanding high school basketball player. Smith led his team to a state championship.

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