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SEC Footprint in Tar Heel State

Recruiting by Southeastern Conference teams in North Carolina has run hot and cold the past decade.

Chris Culliver played in this year's Super Bowl.

Of late, though, the league has mostly been hot.

In February, the top three North Carolina prospects in the 247Composite all signed with SEC programs. In 2012, four of the top five were SEC bound. A year earlier, three of the top five ended up there.

Today, we take a look back at 10 Tar Heel State signees by SEC programs that made big impacts after high school.

Chris Culliver, DB, Garner -- South Carolina (2007)
Culliver was a second-team All-SEC pick at safety in 2009, but then switched to cornerback a year later. He had his 2010 season cut short by an injury but nonetheless was taken in the third round of the NFL Draft by the San Francisco 49ers. Culliver played in this year's Super Bowl and has three interceptions in two NFL seasons.

Dannell Ellerbe, LB, Richmond County -- Georgia (2004)
Ellerbe won a Super Bowl with the Ravens earlier this year, and had an interception in the AFC Championship game against New England. He just finished his fourth NFL season. At Georgia, Ellerbe was a second-team All-SEC pick in 2007. Unfortunately, injuries in 2008 kept him from having similar success.

Todd Gurley, RB, Tarboro -- Georgia (2012)
Gurley, the North Carolina Associated Press Player of the Year for 2011, had an outstanding freshman season in Athens and was named a freshman All-American by several media outlets. Last year, he rushed for 1,385 yards, which ranks sixth in Bulldogs history. Gurley already has nine 100-yard games in red and black.

Montario Hardesty, RB, New Bern -- Tennessee (2005)
After a relatively slow start to his college career, Hardesty rushed for 1,345 yards and had 302 more receiving for the Vols in 2009 to earn second-team All-SEC honors. He was taken in the second round of the 2010 NFL Draft by Cleveland but missed the entire 2010 season with an injury. He had 271 rushing yards in 2012.

Melvin Ingram, LB/DE, Richmond County -- South Carolina (2007)
Following the 2011 season, Ingram was named first-team All-SEC by the Associated Press. That came after a season in which he recorded 10 sacks and 15 tackles for loss. Ingram was picked by the San Diego Chargers in the first round (18th overall) in the 2012 NFL Draft.

Chris Leak, QB, Charlotte Independence -- Florida (2003)
In high school, Leak led his team to three straight state championships (2000, 2001, 2002) and 46 straight wins. At Florida, he was a four-year starter and left Gainesville as the school's all-time leading passer with 11,213 yards. More importantly, he helped Florida win the 2006 SEC title and 2006 national championship.

Mohamed Massaquoi, WR, Charlotte Independence -- Georgia (2005)
Massaquoi just completed his fourth NFL season. He has 118 receptions for 1,745 yards. At Georgia, Massaquoi was a second-team All-SEC choice in 2008. He is fifth on Georgia's career catches list with 158.

Trinton Sturdivant, OL, Wadesboro Anson -- Georgia (2007)
Sturdivant was the first true freshman to start at left tackle for Georgia in two decades (her started every game in 2007), and was a freshman All-American according to some media outlets. But injuries cut his next three seasons short and effectively ended what could have been a very good career in college -- and possibly beyond.

Brandon Spikes, LB, Shelby Crest -- Florida (2006)
At Crest, Spikes was a five-star prospect. With the Gators, he twice earned All-American honors. While at Florida, he played for two national championship squads. In the 2010 NFL Draft, he was taken in the second round by the Patriots and now a major contributor for that team.

Ryan Succop, K/P, Hickory -- South Carolina (2005 )
A placekicker and punter, Succop earned second-team All-SEC honors following his sophomore season, and was one of the most versatile -- and valuable -- kickers in the country during his stint in Columbia. He was the final pick of the 2009 NFL Draft, and already has four years in the league. Succop has made 81.5 percent of his fields goals as a professional.

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