As always, much of National Signing Day's attention was focused on late-breaking commitments, surprise movements by schools, and insane news developments. When the dust settled, the team on top was a familiar one.
Alabama finished No. 1 in three of the four major recruiting service team rankings, missing out only on Scout (third). Its top prospects were, of course, mostly on defense, with longtime commit DE Jonathan Allen and a pair of very recent additions in DT A'Shawn Robinson and LB Rueben Foster.
Here is how all of the SEC teams did in the rankings:
These numbers can still shift around as there are a few more prospects still out there due to either indecision or uncertainty surrounding grades, but no one is going to move dramatically. These are basically what the 2013 SEC class rankings are going to be.
Alabama closed well, picking up some recruits in the past couple days in order to surge ahead to the top. Florida, which had been the leader pretty consistently in the weekly leaderboard posts, was pretty much done already. The Gators only had two additions on signing day, neither bearing an elite level grade, so they largely stayed still as the likes of Bama, Ohio State, and Notre Dame edged ahead. Ole Miss was a huge winner on the day, landing the nation's top recruit Robert Nkemdiche along with a few others like top flight safety Antonio Conner.
The largest gainers were actually the teams at the bottom of the table.
Arkansas rose a remarkable 21.33 spots in the average ranking since last week's check in, and that's even without including Alex Collins and his crazy story. I mentioned in that post last week that the Hogs were right on target historically, just low on numbers. Sure enough, their class rank and average star rating is basically right down the middle of their historic places. They even managed to pull highly rated OL Denver Kirkland out of Miami (the city) away from Miami (the university).
The next-biggest riser was Kentucky, which rose 13.67 in the average rank. This year's is perhaps the Wildcats' best class ever, a testament to the aggressiveness and effectiveness of new coach Mark Stoops' recruiting abilities. The team is a long way from being an East contender or anything, but we could end up seeing a bunch of these guys on the field next fall.
The third-biggest riser was Tennessee, which missed out on some high end guys like Vonn Bell but still gained 13.5 in the average ranking. UT wasn't able to close on a lot of its top targets, and it ended up with a smallish class of 21.
It's always a tough deal for coaches to put together top classes on short notice, so the real test of Butch Jones as a recruiter is probably next year. It's true that Gus Malzahn landed a borderline top 10 class in his first year, but he had been at Auburn for years before. Jones and his staff are brand new. Bret Bielema's initial Arkansas class is not really different from the school's norms, so we'll see in a year if that's all he's going to get there. Stoops at Kentucky was the real first year recruiting revelation, but with his pedigree and the, um, slack that existed there, it shouldn't be a total shock at his high-for-UK ranks.
Finally, if SEC membership helped out Texas A&M with recruiting, it's hard to say the same for Missouri. True, the Tigers only signed 20 guys, but finishing dead last in the league is not a formula for rising up the standings.