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National Signing Day 2017 SEC preview

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Highlighting the key storylines going into the eventful day today.

NCAA Football: SEC Championship-Alabama vs Florida Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

Alabama and Georgia: Kings of the Castle

(by Chris Novak)

It should come as no surprise that heading into National Signing Day on Wednesday, the Alabama Crimson Tide currently hold the #1 spot in the 2017 247Sports Composite rankings.

As Bud Elliott entailed recently, ‘Bama is looking to have the top recruiting class in the country for the seventh year in a row, a rather ridiculous streak that goes hand-in-hand with their dominance both in the SEC and nationwide since Nick Saban rolled into town.

It could get even better as well as Aubrey Solomon and LaBryan Ray are within reach, though the former in Solomon could be bound for Ann Arbor if his Crystal Ball is any indication.

Trailing the Tide are the Georgia Bulldogs, who are putting together an outstanding class that ranks second in the SEC and third in the entire country behind aforementioned Alabama and the Ohio State Buckeyes as well. It could get even better if a few things fall their way and by night’s end, Kirby Smart could have ‘Dawgs fans downright giddy.

Ed Orgeron quietly putting together a strong class at LSU

(by Bryan Manning)

With so much focus on Alabama and the historic class Nick Saban is putting together, people are forgetting the work Ed Orgeron is doing at LSU.

Currently, per the the 247Sports Team Composite rankings, LSU ranks sixth in the nation. The Tigers have 21 commitments, including 12 4-stars and one 5-star recruit. Don’t expect the Tigers to have any decommitments tomorrow, but they could still add a flip or two.

Players like Tyler Taylor and Todd Harris announce in the morning and there are good vibes around them and LSU. Markaviest Bryant and K’Lavon Chaisson are also in the mix for LSU. Marvin Wilson is the biggest one tomorrow. Will he pick the Tigers? Most people around him expect Wilson to go with FSU, but there is positive momentum on the side of the Tigers in this battle.

Both Taylor and Harris have LSU among their finalists. No one is catching Alabama or Ohio State and Georgia seems locked in with the third-ranked class. But if all four players—or perhaps three of them—sign with the Tigers, LSU could potentially have a class that ranks in the top five in the country.

Regardless of what happens tomorrow, LSU has put together an outstanding class in Orgeron’s first official recruiting class.

Can the ‘17 Aggie Class Save Sumlin?

(by Jonathan Waldrop)

The last three Texas A&M classes under Kevin Sumlin have regressed slightly, but according to the 247Sports composite rankings, they’re back in the Top 10.

Right now, they stand to follow in the footsteps of the 2016 Crimson Tide by potentially starting a true freshman who’s already on campus for spring practice. Kellen Mond is yet another blue chip dual-threat quarterback heading to College Station. Unlike Kyler Murray, Sumlin is hoping he can mold and hang on to this one. On top of Mond, the Aggies were able to acquire three players from FBS’ unofficial farm league IMG Academy in Brandenton, FL.

With 26 players already committed, there’s very little room for A&M to add, but most coaches will tell you that a drama-free Signing Day is a good thing. What Sumlin needs is for this class to immediately gel with the last three, because the hour glass seems to be running out on his tenure.

Will defense continue to be the key for Florida?

(by Niesha Middlebrooks)

The Gators and head coach Jim McElwain seem to continue to focus on defense more so than offense, which gave them more losses than they deserve and also hurt them in the SEC Championship against Alabama. With 8 out of 17 commits being on defense, UF is No. 19 in the 247Sports Composite rankings and ninth in the SEC.

Out of the 17, 12 players are four-stars including the most recent commit, DSE Elijah Conliffe who committed earlier Wednesday evening, and five are three-stars. Five have signed, are enrolled and ready to participate in spring practice with the team.

Florida will be no doubt a team to beat defensively but how will they fare on the offensive side of the ball? Maybe with four-star recruits OL Kadeem Telfort and OT T.J. Moore, this could be a boost to keep QB Luke Del Rio upright and able to make some sound decisions when throwing the football. However, there’s still a little worry behind the offense. Defense can't win games all the time... That is, unless you're Alabama.

Ole Miss: The Dark Knight Trilogy of SEC Recruiting

(by Alex Dusza and Jonathan Waldrop)

I don’t know how Hugh Freeze manages to do it, but in his five seasons in Oxford, his recruiting classes achieve legendary status about once every 3-4 years.

It’s quite remarkable when you consider that Ole Miss rarely ranked inside the Top 25 in recruiting before Freeze’s arrival. Still, with the momentum that the Rebels had in 2013 and 2016, you would figure that the drop-off would be minimal at best, but here we are.

This is Freeze’s fifth full recruiting class and right now they sit at 53rd according to the 2017 247Sports Composite rankings. Last year, they had a stellar cycle finishing 5th (5TH!!!!) in the final rankings. The same could be said in 2013 when they finished 8th. While they did finish in the Top 20 in 2014 and 2015, there was a dearth of blue chips that the 2013 class had.

Of course, the special stigma attached to Ole Miss over the last year concerning an NCAA investigation probably did the most damage to its 2017 class. As of today, the Rebels have 14 commitments, their two biggest being D.D. Bowie and Breon Dixon. Dixon is already on campus for spring practice and given Freeze’s resumé of producing freshmen sensations, Bowie should be in a good position to make himself known to the conference. Given the forthcoming NCAA sanctions, signing a small class and taking some of the scholarships as a penalty is likely.

Whiffing on in-state phenom Cam Akers was probably Freeze’s biggest miss since he’s been in Oxford. Seldom does the state of Mississippi produce Akers’ level of talent and many are postulating that the ongoing investigation aided in his decision to commit to Florida State.

The hope, here, is for a strong finish, which Freeze has pulled off before, but considering their current place in the rankings it would have to be a helluva Signing Day for the Rebels to find their way back in the Top 25. Here’s looking forward to 2019!

Show Me Something, Mizzou

(by Robert O’Neill)

As Barry Odom continues to try and put something substantial together in Columbia, Missouri, the Tigers were hit with two more blows early this week as two in-state recruits decommitted. Every season they’ve been in the SEC so far, Missouri has had a bottom three recruiting class in the conference per 247Sports. This is an alarming trend that will look to continue this year, as the Tigers check in at 12th of 14 teams going into Signing Day.

If you’re of the opinion that recruiting stars and rankings don’t matter, that’s perfectly fine, but it’s indisputable that Mizzou needs to put together a quality class at some point if they ever want to truly be an upper echelon team in the SEC, as opposed to a team that benefitted from a weak division, as they were their first two seasons in the conference.