Aaron M. Sprecher
Here's how the state of SEC recruiting stands a few weeks before National Signing Day.
SEC Recruiting Leaderboard
Note: Figures accurate to 9:00 am on date of posting. ESPN's public rankings only go to No. 40. Kentucky and Arkansas aren't in the top 40.
We're about three weeks away from National Signing Day, so it's time to commence our hopefully non-creepy coverage of recruiting. The order of SEC teams in the recruiting rankings had been stable for a while there, but it's getting shaken up.
That Florida and Alabama are right near the top should come as no surprise. They're the flagship programs of two of the most talent-rich states, and it's my understanding that the Crimson Tide have won a lot of games of late. Coming in third are the upstart Aggies of Texas A&M. With Mack Brown's Texas still in a bit of a malaise, A&M is threatening to take over as the marquee program of the one of the Big Three recruiting states (neophytes: Florida and California are the other two). Kevin Sumlin energized the place, owns one of only two wins over Alabama in the past two seasons, and now has a monster class coming in.
LSU and Georgia are also in the top 10, as they should be as the top programs in Louisiana and Georgia. South Carolina is in its general range for the Spurrier era, and Ole Miss is doing quite well. But just look what's happening on the other side of the Rebels.
Yes, Vanderbilt is hanging out tied for eighth in the league. Three of the four services have the Commodores in the top 20. No matter how you slice it and regardless of the caveats that are coming, that's incredibly impressive. James Franklin is on a roll.
Here's where those caveats come in though. This being a few weeks out, the sizes of classes are pretty variable within the league. Vandy is ahead of Auburn, but it also has six more players on its commit list. AU's average ranking on Rivals, for instance, is 3.6 stars versus Vandy's 3.1 stars. By contrast, Texas A&M up there in the top 10 has 34 players committed. It's able to go well over the SEC's limit of 25 players per year by counting some early enrollees towards last year.
Auburn also has a new coach, as do Tennessee, Kentucky, and Arkansas. UK is about where it always is, and its count of 19 players is not terribly low for this stage in the game. Auburn is still low at 15, and Arkansas has either 12 or 13. The various services can't agree on whether WR Jerevenski Johnson is committed to the Hogs; Rivals and ESPN say yes, Scout and 247 say no. Those teams being low is nothing unusual for schools with new staffs.
The program that should be worried is Tennessee. UT has 18 players committed, a few more than AU and Arkansas. Unfortunately for the Vols, their average team rating here is much closer to Kentucky's than it is to Georgia's. And before you ask, no, UT doesn't have punter or kicker recruits dragging down its ratings. Only one player who has committed since Butch Jones took over has a rating above three stars, that being WR Ryan Jenkins with a four-star rank from ESPN and 247. He's listed at three stars by Rivals and Scout. Barring some kind of big, late surge, this is shaping up to be a weak class for Tennessee by its own standards, and that's just not something the program needs right now.
Anyway, this is where things stand now. It goes without saying that all circumstances are fluid with recruiting, especially this being an age where players announce they're committed to a school shortly before taking a bunch of visits.