Alabama finished on top in the national rankings [again], but what other things stood out on National Signing Day in the Southeastern Conference? 247Sports gives our take in this breakdown of SEC Superlatives.
Ole Miss scored big with Laremy Tunsil.
Best class at filling needs
Florida. The Gators had major needs at linebacker, receiver and running back, and Will Muschamp's program came up big in all three areas. Tailback addition Kelvin Taylor is a five-star back and could see immediate playing time. At receiver, where the Gators really struggled in 2012, they inked five prospects with the headliner being Demarcus Robinson, a late flip from Clemson. At linebacker, Florida is bringing aboard four solid players, notably five-star Alex Anzalone, who flipped from Notre Dame.
Biggest surprise class
Obviously, it's Ole Miss. In Hugh Freeze's first full recruiting cycle as head coach in Oxford, his Rebels, coming off a 7-6 season, are the single biggest story in recruiting. Ole Miss landed a handful of five-star players, including the biggest catch of all -- No. 1 prospect Robert Nkemdiche, a defensive end from the Atlanta area. The Rebels also picked up, among others, elite offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil, who only recently seemed bound for Georgia. Ole Miss will earn itself a Top-10 class and finish ahead of many heavyweight programs.
Best recruiting battle won
There were several great ones from which to choose, but let's go with Mississippi State holding off Ole Miss to keep five-star defensive end Chris Jones. The 6-feet-5, 250-pound Jones, an Under Armour All-American, committed to the Bulldogs last June when he was virtually unknown outside the Magnolia State. Late in the process Ole Miss made a major move and Jones visited the Rebels several times down the stretch. But in the end, he stuck with his pledge, and he should fit in nicely at a program that has had some good defensive linemen in recent years. If Arkansas holds onto No. 1 running back Alex Collins, that's right up there, too.
Best down the stretch
Ole Miss. The Rebels grabbed three elite players Wednesday in Nkemdiche, Tunsil and five-star safety Tony Conner. Ole Miss was so successful on signing day, the fact the Rebels couldn't flip Jones from Mississippi State probably isn't anything they'll lose any sleep over. Also worth mentioning are Alabama and Auburn. Down the stretch, the Tide reeled in five-star linebacker Reuben Foster, five-star lineman A'Shawn Robinson, four-star running back Alvin Kamara and four-star defensive lineman Dee Liner. Auburn struck gold late, holding off Clemson for five-star linemen Montravius Adams and Carl Lawson, and getting five-star defensive end Elijah Daniel to flip from Ole Miss.
Most significant flip
Since he's the top player in the entire country, it has to be Nkemdiche. At one time, he was committed to Clemson. His brother [Denzel] already being a member of the Rebels certainly helped. Auburn getting Daniel was huge. Foster, the one-time Auburn commit, also comes to mind.
Biggest obstacle overcome
Auburn. The Tigers had two obstacles ... 1. Themselves. During the past few months, the Tigers went 3-9 on the field [and winless in the SEC], fired head coach Gene Chizik and got rid of ace recruiter Trooper Taylor. 2. Alabama. The Tide is on such a run right now, it's tough to overcome. So what happened? New coach Gus Malzahn and his staff, with little time and not much positive buzz for the program, finished with a bang to land an excellent class that includes three five-star defensive linemen. If this group can do this well under those circumstances, that might be a good sign.
Top impact recruit
Nkemdiche. He has difference-maker potential though it remains to be seen whether he'll be an end or a tackle in college. The bottom line, though, is that you can expect him to play a lot next season in Oxford. Already as physically mature as most college upperclassmen, Nkemdiche is extremely coachable and has a high football IQ. In the rugged SEC, good defensive line play is vital, and Nkemdiche is someone that can help elevate that group in Oxford.
Top impact sleeper
Reginald Carter, ILB, Georgia. Carter underwent major knee surgery and missed most of his junior year, which caused him to fall somewhat off the radar. But knowing they had a gem pretty much in their own backyard, the Georgia Bulldogs never lost touch and eventually got him to commit. Carter is solidly built, packs a powerful punch and is a nice sideline-to-sideline backer that has great explosiveness. Another guy to watch: Texas A&M tight end signee Cameron Clear. The former Tennessee Vol has a lot of ability.
Connor Mitch has the potential to be an impact player at South Carolina.
This is an extremely tough call, since every SEC team currently is in the top 40 nationally. That said, we'll go with Missouri -- not because the Tigers have a bad class [they don't] but because we expected there to be a little more sizzle now that they've had a full season in the SEC. Also, Missouri is behind Kentucky, which has a new coaching staff. This Tigers class lacks the "wow" factor, but it does include some very good prospects -- such as quarterbacks Trent Hosick and Eddie Printz.
Class that could surprise
Arguments could be made for Arkansas, Mississippi State, Tennessee, Vanderbilt and maybe even Kentucky, but South Carolina is the pick. The Gamecocks did very well for themselves on the offensive and defensive lines, and are bringing in a quarterback [Connor Mitch] that has the skills -- and swagger -- South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier likes. Also, they addressed a major need at linebacker and are bringing in a top-level running back in David Williams.
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