National Signing Day 2016 is fast approaching, so that means it's time to see where the SEC teams stack up in recruiting. Here is where everyone is at as of this morning, as per the 247Sports Composite:
The near coup against Les Miles didn't affect his class ranking, certainly a good thing for the future of the Tigers. Only one of the 20 players committed after the season ended, so these are mostly players who stuck with Miles through the turmoil, and one of the 5-stars and three of the 4-stars are already enrolled. With only 25% of the players committed thus far bearing less than a 4-star rank—and two of the 3-stars being, respectively, an offensive lineman and a kicker, which are positions where quality is often found at the 3-star level—the composition of the class has the makings of a truly outstanding haul.
Hugh Freeze may be losing many of the stars off of his great 2014-15 teams, but more are on the way. OT Gregory Little and QB Shea Patterson headline the class as the pair of 5-stars, but Freeze has lined up at least one 4-star at every position grouping except QB (which Patterson has covered) and kicker/punter. Maybe this isn't yet the legendary 2013 class again, but it might lead to further New Year's Six appearances.
Florida's class is distinctive for having 12 players already in the fold between early enrollees and JUCOs. These include a couple of arrivals in critical places of need in 4-star QB Feleipe Franks and the country's top rated JUCO kicker Eddy Pineiro. UF is nearing its cap, so it won't be able to bring in much beyond these 26 players. Jim McElwain's second class is largely done.
If Kirby Smart can close well, Georgia has a good chance to move up in the rankings. Getting to a No. 7 rank with ten fewer players than No. 6 has is no easy task, but Mark Richt left behind a stellar group of commits. QB Jacob Eason is a 5-star with measurables that will make NFL scouts drool sooner than later, and he, the crown jewel of the class, is already enrolled in Athens. Transitional classes tend to be weaker ones, and we're a long way from knowing how all of this turns out, but Smart's might prove an exception to the rule.
Alabama's streak of having the top ranked class for five years running looks to be in jeopardy. It's far from a finished product with only 16 players, but Georgia and Clemson (No. 9, 15 commits) are already ahead of the Tide with the same or fewer players and higher average player ranks. No. 3 Ohio State and No. 4 Florida State have only 18 commits apiece and are well ahead with higher average player ranks as well. And then No. 1 LSU has the second highest average rank of anyone (0.04 behind UGA). I wouldn't bet against a top five finish for the Tide just yet, but this may be the year that the
dynasty streak ends.
There is a fair amount of variability with the rest of the conference's teams other than Kentucky and to a lesser extent South Carolina just simply due to the numbers of commits. I don't have maximum class sizes for every team, so I'm not sure who can and who can't take a full sized class. I know that Tennessee has a lot coming back after (again) having a young team in 2015, so Butch Jones probably doesn't have too many more spaces left open.
Among the new head coaches, Will Muschamp has accumulated the most new commits. With recruits holding off from pledging to South Carolina long before Steve Spurrier retired over questions about his longevity, he also had plenty of work to do.
Barry Odom and his new Mizzou staff have the most work still left to do, though. They're sitting on the smallest class at the moment, and according to the commit dates that 247Sports has, only one of the 12 guys lined up committed after Gary Pinkel announced his retirement. The Tigers' back-to-back SEC East titles didn't come from top ten recruiting classes or anything, but a class this far down the rankings isn't going to get the job done.