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SEC Football: Current State of Recruiting in the Western Division

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At the peak of summer, let's take a look at the current recruiting leaderboard in the SEC West. Is there a team that can surpass Alabama?

Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

The month of July typically sees a lot of football recruiting news breaking in the Southeastern Conference. This is towards the end of camp season, and the prep talent wishing to end their recruitment prior to their senior high school seasons are on the cusp of making their decisions. A flurry of late summer commits can also provide momentum heading into the football season, and have a cumulative effect on similar or better recruits. As Bud Elliot has thoroughly pointed out, it takes a certain percentage of blue-chip recruits to compete for national championships. Recruiting is the programmatic lifeblood of successful programs. At the end of the day, athletic talent makes up for missed assignments, inevitable attrition, bad play-calling, and half-ass motivations.

Now, a lot can happen between July and National Signing Day that will alter recruiting rankings (assuming you put stock into them in the first place). There could be: decommitments, an individual's ranking increases, an individual's ranking decreases, academic causalities, and several other possibilities. A school's intended signing class also affects the final rankings, and that can vary dramatically over the rest of the year depending on attrition, early jumps to the NFL, or something else entirely. With that giant disclaimer out of the way, let's take a look at the current state of recruiting rankings in the SEC West.

Rivals: July 19, 2014
Team 2015 Signing Class Size (est.) Number of Commitments Number of Four- or Five-Stars % Blue Chips Overall Ranking SEC Ranking
Alabama 24-25 19 15 79 1 1
Texas A&M 21-23 18 10 56 3 3
Auburn 21-25 17 11 65 8 6
Miss. St. 25 25 4 16 7 5
LSU 21-25 13 5 38 12 7
Arkansas 20-23 10 4 40 32 11
Ole Miss 17-20 9 2 22 39 12

Impressions:

  • Alabama is putting on a recruiting clinic and we all must bear witness. I don't see any team catching Alabama, and for the fifth year in the row they'll claim the top spot in the recruiting rankings. They are even outpacing their historical rate of an already ridiculously high 73% blue-chip rate.
  • Mississippi State has quietly assembled a heralded class by capitalizing on a strong in-state crop of recruits. If a few of the three-star recruits get bumped to four stars in the next evaluation periods they will likely cement a Top 15 rating; otherwise, with their class seemingly full, they will fall as other teams fill out their classes. The Bulldogs have a solid story to tell: "we've played in four straight bowl games, and have won four out of the last five Egg Bowls." Go ahead and give recruiting coordinator Tony Hughes a bonus ASAP.
  • I think Auburn catches up and surpasses MSU and Texas A&M in the final rankings. My feeling is A&M will be hamstrung by roster space, and with more Auburn players going pro early, they could very well sign a full 25-man class. Their signees' individual rankings will be near equal, and probably cancel each other out by February.
  • LSU will close strong. They have around ten more spots to dole out, and there are still several highly-rated in-state recruits who remain uncommitted. It's nearly impossible to beat LSU among Louisiana kids historically and LSU sells playing early.
  • Ole Miss also has the chance to dramatically improve its ranking to an overall Top 20-30. They have a lot of spots left, and they should also benefit from this year's strong in-state class. 247's crystal ball shows Ole Miss is still in the hunt for a few elite prospects.

It's still a long way to National Signing Day, but the SEC West recruiting race already seems won by Alabama. The rest of the pack appears to be fighting over second place. A few of these teams' final recruiting rankings may be subject to higher variance depending on the outcomes of their seasons, but the top shelf schools usually remain immune. They are a brand to many recruits, and one season won't change that either way.

What say you? What are your impressions of current state of recruiting in the SEC West?