How did the class of 2011 shake-out in the SEC?
The rich get richer. It is a cliché to end all clichés, but it applies to the SEC in recruiting these days (otherwise, someone needs to investigate who butters the recruiting service bread – but that is a story for another day).
Nine teams landed at least one Athlon Consensus 100 member. Of the 269 “nationally rated” recruits, the SEC landed 79. The SEC also landed 37 AC100 talents. Both of which equate to roughly one of every three elite prospects signing with an SEC school. With five straight BCS National Championships under its belt, the SEC has a right to stake claim as the most talented conference in the nation.
As a point of reference, the ACC had five teams sign 15 AC100 prospects. Two Big East schools signed one each. Three Big 12 schools signed 11 AC100 recruits. Five Big Ten teams signed 11 AC100 players. And the Pac-12 came the closest, as six schools signed 17 AC100 athletes.
Editor's Note: A nationally rated recruit is a anyone who received at least one Athlon Consensus 100 vote. There were 269 in 2011.
2011 SEC Recruiting Team Rankings:
1. Alabama Crimson Tide (22 signees – 8 AC100)
Nick Saban’s reach on the recruiting trail is no more evident than with this Bama class. The State of Alabama is one of the most territorial states in the nation – meaning it can be impossible to pull players from the Yellowhammer State if Bama (or Auburn) wants him. And Saban still pulled five (two AC100’s) talented in-states, but of his 14 nationally rated recruits only three come from Alabama. Saban went into Maryland for the nation's No. 1 offensive lineman in the nation. He went into Florida for the nation's No. 1 defensive back (Hasean Clinton-Dix). He went into Ohio for the No. 5 linebacker in the nation. He landed the No. 2 player in the state of North Carolina. The list goes on and on.
Overall, Saban used 11 states from coast-to-coast to put together what many believe is the best class in the nation. No team landed more AC100 talents than Bama, including four nationally-rated defensive ends and three nationally rated wideouts.
Nationally Rated Recruits:
No. 2 Cyrus Kouandjio, OL (Hyattsville, Md.)
No. 10 Hasean Clinton-Dix, S (Orlando, Fla.)
No. 32 Trey DePriest, LB (Springfield, Ohio)
No. 42 Dee Hart, RB (Orlando, Fla.)
No. 46 Jeoffrey Pagan, DE (Asheville, N.C.)
No. 53 Brent Calloway, LB (Russellville, Ala.)
No. 63 Xzavier Dickson, DE (Griffin, Ga.)
No. 79 Marvin Shinn, WR (Prichard, Ala.)
No. 118 Bradley Sylve, WR (Port Sulphur, La.)
No. 144 Malcolm Faciane, TE (Picayune, Miss.)
No. 159 LaMichael Fanning, DE (Hamilton, Ga.)
No. 175 Danny Woodson, WR (Mobile, Ala.)
No. 189 D.J. Pettway, DE, Bama (Pensacola, Fla.)
No. 205 Jabriel Washington, DB (Jackson, Tenn.)
2. Auburn Tigers (24 signees – 8 AC100)
Yes, winning a national championship will help recruiting. Of the eight AC100 signees, five committed post-National Championship. No team in the nation closed stronger over the final months of the recruiting calendar than the Tigers. The offensive line class is astounding. Three of the four are AC100 (four of the top 15 nationally) prospects, including what could be the nation’s No. 1 center (Reese Dismukes). Toss in a game-changing running back in Quan Bray and a superstar quarterback who is a physical running presence (sound familiar?) in Kiehl Frazier, and the Auburn power rushing attack should be in good shape for years.
On the defensive side of the ball, defensive back and linebacker got plenty of attention after the loss of many seniors. Nine players signed to play in the back seven of the defense.
Excelling inside the state in head-to-head battles with rival Bama will always be key for Auburn. Despite missing on some battles (Brent Calloway, for example), Gene Chizik’s 10 in-state signees doubled the five Saban landed – a good sign for War Eagles everywhere.
No. 7 Christian Westerman, OL (Chandler, Ariz.)
No. 50 Kiehl Frazier, QB (Springdale, Ark.)
No. 62 Erique Florence, S (Valley, Ala.)
No. 74 Quan Bray, RB (Lagrange, Ga.)
No. 78 Kris Frost, ATH (Matthews, N.C.)
No. 82 Gabe Wright, DT (Columbus, Ga.)
No. 86 Gregory Robinson, OL (Thibodaux, La.)
No. 95 Reese Dismukes, OL (Spanish Fort, Ala.)
No. 115 Jonathan Rose, DB (Leeds, Ala.)
No. 193 Brandon Fulse, ATH (Fort Meade, Fla.)
No. 222 Robenson Therezie, DB (Miami, Fla.)
No. 260 Thomas O’Reilly, OL (Marietta, Ga.)
3. Georgia Bulldogs (26 signees – 6 AC100)
Of the eight nationally rated recruits to sign with Georgia, seven of them are from the Peach State. Mark Richt capitalized on a fantastic year for talent in the state of Georgia by winning recruiting battles for local stars like Isaiah Crowell, Ray Drew and Jay Rome. In fact, 19 of the 26 signees hail from in-state, and Richt landed five of the top six within his borders. Only one player in this class does not come from a neighboring state (Jonathan Jenkins, from Connecticut via a Mississippi community college).
This class is versatile and balanced. Six linemen restock the front line on offense, while AC100 talents Rome, Crowell and quarterback Christian LeMay offer a future star at three key skill positions. The secondary got the most attention – and talent – on the defensive side of the ball. Star power in the form of Malcolm Mitchell and Damian Swann, create a great foundation at the back end of Todd Grantham’s unit. Drew headlines a solid seven man front-seven haul.
No. 9 Isaiah Crowell, RB (Columbus, Ga.)
No. 14 Ray Drew, DE (Thomasville, Ga.)
No. 31 Jay Rome, TE (Valdosta, Ga.)
No. 55 Damian Swann, DB (Atlanta, Ga.)
No. 60 Christian LeMay, QB (Matthews, N.C.)
No. 61 Malcolm Mitchell, CB (Valdosta, Ga.)
No. 146 Sterling Bailey, DE (Gainesville, Ga.)
No. 161 Corey Moore, DB (Griffin, Ga.)
4. LSU Tigers (22 signees – 5 AC100)
This might have been the most talented senior class in the history of Pelican State football. Much like Richt in Georgia, Les Miles capitalized on a rich in-state collection by landing six of the top seven Louisiana prospects. Sixteen of the 22 Tiger signees hail from in-state – including the nation’s No. 2 offensive lineman (La’El Collins), No. 1 defensive tackle (Anthony Johnson) and No. 2 wide receiver (Jarvis Landry).
The skill positions are well represented with four nationally rated receivers and backs (depending on what happens with Jeremy Hill). The Johnson tandem at defensive tackle provides plenty of bulk up the middle as a four-man secondary class – which could grow to six – replenishes the defensive backfield. Keep an eye on former elite Georgia recruit Zach Mettenberger at quarterback. The struggles at this position over the last few years might have been the only thing holding this team back – well, other than terrible end-game management.
No. 3 La’El Collins, OL (Baton Rouge, La.)
No. 8 Anthony Johnson, DT (New Orleans, La.)
No. 19 Jarvis Landry, WR (Lutcher, La.)
No. 81 Jermauria Rasco, DE (Shreveport, La.)
No. 89 Kenny Hilliard, RB (Patterson, La.)
No. 114 Odell Backham, Jr., ATH (New Orleans, La.)
No. 171 David Jenkins, CB (Carrollton, Texas)
No. 180 Jeremy Hill, RB (Baton Rouge, La.)*
No. 197 Trevon Randle, LB (League City, Texas)
No. 236 Mickey Johnson, DT (Covington, La.)
* - Hill is still committed to LSU and could still sign pending the resolution of an arrest/charge stemming from a “serious crime” back on Jan. 12.
5. Florida Gators (19 signees – 3 AC100)
This Gator class does not have the star power of the last Florida hauls, but bleeding hearts do not need to be shipped to Gainesville just yet. The nation’s No. 1 quarterback, Jeff Driskel, steps onto campus with a chance to push the incumbents (all three of them) for playing time.
As usual, Urba – uh, Will Muschamp – focused inward on the Sunshine State and locked up 12 (of his 17) signees from in-state. It was a great year in the state, even more so than normal, and names like Driskel, Blakely, Leonard, Roberson, Story and Saunders make that clear in 2011.
Defensive back was a huge area of concern and the Gators landed one of the best DB classes in the nation. Led by Marcus Roberson and Louchiez Purifoy, the secondary class is six deep with plenty of versatility for the new Gator staff.
No. 17 Jeff Driskel, QB (Oviedo, Fla.)
No. 67 Mike Blakely, RB (Bradenton, Fla.)
No. 73 A.C. Leonard, ATH (Jacksonville, Fla.)
No. 106 Marcus Roberson, DB (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.)
No. 132 Ja’Juan Story, WR (Brooksville, Fla.)
No. 138 De’Ante Saunders, ATH (Deland, Fla.)
No. 142 Jacoby Brissett, QB (West Palm Beach, Fla.)
No. 182 Javares McRoy, WR (Lakeland, Fla.)
No. 187 Jabari Gorman, LB (Miami, Fla.)
No. 257 Trip Thurman, OL (Dover, Del.)
No. 264 Louchiez Purifoy, DB (Pensacola, Fla.)
6. South Carolina Gamecocks (31 signees – 2 AC100)
It only took half of a decade, but Steve Spurrier is starting to flex his muscle on the recruiting trail. After keeping Marcus Lattimore at home, Spurrier landed the nation’s No. 1 in Jadeveon Clowney. This was a huge recruiting coup and further speaks to the Gamecocks ability to recruit against the traditional powers of the SEC.
In terms of size, this is one of the biggest classes in the nation. And with a class of this size, comes tremendous balance and depth. Every level of the defense will be getting at least five players – five DBs, two DEs, four DT and five LBs. The six-man offensive line group (hopefully) solves the blocking issues the other USC has had for decades.
Other than Damiere Byrd, the offensive skill guys lacked star power but have plenty of potential. With elite playmakers already featured on this offense, the new faces will have plenty of time to develop.
No. 1 Jadeveon Clowney, DE (Rock Hill, S.C.)
No. 65 Brandon Shell, OL (Charleston, S.C.)
No. 188 Phillip Dukes, DT (Manning, S.C.)
No. 224 Sheldon Royster, S (Jersey City, N.J.)
No. 250 Damiere Byrd, WR (Sicklerville, N.J.)
7. Tennessee Volunteers (27 signees – 2 AC100)
Derek Dooley and the Vols staff closed well, building upon the late recruiting momentum from the 2010 class (reports indicate that Tennessee could be in a for a huge 2012 class). The states of Georgia and Florida were very kind to the Big Orange, supplying 13 of the 27 signees. All told, Dooley used nine states.
With recent news about one particular starting defensive back, finding depth in the secondary was key. This five man DB class could easily grow to as many as eight if the “athletes” end up on defense. Three defensive tackles and running backs each also add depth to two major positions of need. Six offensive lineman, headlined by Nashville AC100 talent Antonio Richardson, help what was an already very young group. In very similar fashion, the linebackers (who will be very young in 2011) get plenty of help from nationally rated tackles Curt Maggitt and A.J. Johnson.
No. 56 DeAnthony Arnett, WR (Saginaw, Mich.)
No. 68 Antonio Richardson, OL (Nashville, Tenn.)
No. 112 Marlin Lane, RB (Daytona Beach, Fla.)
No. 151 Marcus Jackson, OL (Vero Beach, Fla.)
No. 153 Curt Maggitt, LB (West Palm Beach, Fla.)
No. 166 A.J. Johnson, LB (Gainesville, Fla.)
No. 186 Cameron Clear, OL/TE (Memphis, Tenn.)
8. Ole Miss Rebels (27 signees – 2 AC100)
A nasty five-man wide receiver class leads another large haul for the Rebels.
No. 66 Nickolas Brassell, WR (Batesville, Miss.)
No. 92 C.J. Johnson, LB (Philadelphia, Miss.)
No. 158 Donte Moncrief, WR (Raleigh, Miss.)
No. 192 Tobias Singleton, WR (Madison, Miss.)
No. 263 Aaron Morris, OL (Jackson, Miss.)
9. Arkansas Razorbacks (30 signees – 1 AC100)
Deep, balanced class headlined by stellar offensive line haul.
No. 52 Brey Cook, OL (Springdale, Ark.)
No. 120 Mitch Smothers, OL (Springdale, Ark.)
No. 238 Tevin Mitchell, DB (Mansfield, Texas)
No. 253 Lonnie Gosha, DE (Lake Butler, Fla.)
10. Mississippi State Bulldogs (22 signees)
Solid, balanced class which could have been better without Facebook.
No. 216 Darion Arrington, DT (Wiggins, Miss.)
11. Kentucky Wildcats (24 signees)
Excellent haul offers tremendous balance at all positions.
No. 167 Darrian Miller, OL (Lexington, Ky.)
No. 219 Glen Faulkner, DB (East St. Louis, Mo.)
12. Vanderbilt Commodores (21 signees)
Great offensive line of scrimmage class featuring four OL and three TE.