published Sunday, January 15th, 2012

SEC football recruiting rankings

  1. ALABAMA -- The Crimson Tide have assembled the nation's No. 1 class, headed by seven Rivals.com top 100 players -- DB Landon Collins (No. 15), ATH Eddie Williams (No. 23), RB T.J. Yeldon (No. 24), WR Chris Black (No. 37), DB Geno Smith (No. 61), WR Amari Cooper (No. 62) and LB Reggie Ragland (No. 83). All of those are from out of state except Yeldon and Ragland. Alabama signed eight top-100 prospects last winter, which was the Tide's third No. 1 class in four years.

  2. FLORIDA -- The Gators have two of the nation's top 20 prospects committed, and each is from North Carolina. D.J. Humphries of Charlotte is the nation's No. 1 tackle and No. 3 overall prospect, while Shelby defensive end Jonathan Bullard is the No. 20 overall prospect. Florida has feasted in the Tar Heel State before, landing linebacker Brandon Spikes and offensive linemen Carl Johnson and Xavier Nixon. The Gators have an early enrollee, junior college defensive tackle Damien Jacobs, two years after inking the nation's top defensive line crop.

  3. LSU -- Gunner Kiel is the headliner of LSU's class and starts courses in Baton Rouge this week. The No. 1 pro-style quarterback nationally out of Indiana threw for 2,517 yards and 28 touchdowns his senior season but is looking to atone for last week's U.S. Army All-American Bowl, where he went 3-of-6 for 71 yards and an interception, and he also lost a fumble. Patrick Miller, an offensive tackle from West Palm Beach, had been committed to the Tigers since September but was told last week there was no room, so he enrolled at Auburn.

  4. SOUTH CAROLINA -- Fresh off their first 11-win season in program history, the Gamecocks are placing a priority on offensive linemen and defensive backs, as they have five commitments in each area. The offensive line commitments are headed by Joe Harris, the nation's No. 8 guard, and Brock Stadnik, the No. 21 tackle. Leading the commitments in the secondary are two of the nation's top 15 safeties, Jordan Diggs (No. 11) and Chaz Elder (No. 15).

  5. AUBURN -- Losing Yeldon to Alabama on top of Michael Dyer's transfer to Arkansas State was a double blow, but the Tigers are better at tailback than most realize. Onterio McCalebb and Tre Mason return after stellar Chick-fil-A Bowl showings. Mike Blakely, the No. 6 tailback in last year's class, is eligible after transferring from Florida, and Jovon Robinson rushed for more than 5,000 yards in three seasons at Wooddale High in Memphis and is the No. 9 tailback in this year's class.

  6. GEORGIA -- The Bulldogs are low on quantity but very high on quality. Keith Marshall is the No. 1 all-purpose tailback nationally, according to Rivals.com, and John Theus is the nation's No. 2 tackle prospect. Georgia also has three coveted commitments on the defensive front -- Jonathan Taylor (No. 6 defensive tackle), Jordan Jenkins (No. 6 weakside defensive end) and Leonard Floyd (No. 13 weakside defensive end). Jenkins picked the Bulldogs last Monday over Alabama and Florida.

  7. ARKANSAS -- Does anyone make a mockery of these recruiting rankings more than Razorbacks coach Bobby Petrino? The Hogs ranked ninth among SEC schools in recruiting last year, 10th in 2010, seventh in '09 and ninth in '08, yet Arkansas has won 21 games the past two seasons and finished in the top five this past season for the first time since 1977. Running back Jonathan Williams and junior college receiver Courtney Gardner are the four-star commitments in a class that has watched Hogs assistants coming and going.

  8. TENNESSEE -- The Volunteers always seem to land receivers of note, and this year is no different. Drae Bowles (No. 21), Alton Howard (No. 46) and Jason Croom (No. 48) are three of the nation's top 50 receivers, and they will be met in Knoxville by quarterback Nathan Peterman. One of six early enrollees, Peterman is rated the No. 10 pro-style quarterback by Rivals.com. The last Vols quarterback signee to be ranked 10th was B.J. Coleman, who signed in 2007 and transferred to UTC in '09.

  9. VANDERBILT -- Memphis running back Brian Kimbrow is Rivals.com's No. 99 overall prospect, so he would be the recruiting service's first top-100 prospect to sign with the Commodores. Of course, Vandy is setting all sorts of standards in James Franklin's first full recruiting class. The Commodores were shut out of the state's top 15 prospects last season but have five committed so far this year, including Baylor School offensive tackle Barrett Gouger, who checks in at No. 15.

  10. MISSISSIPPI STATE -- The Bulldogs were whipped by Ole Miss for the top Magnolia State prospects a year ago, but they have five of the top 12 committed this time around. Two of their top commitments are Quay Evans, the nation's No. 15 defensive tackle, and defensive end Denico Autry, the No. 2 junior college prospect out of East Mississippi Community College. Autry had scholarship offers from every major school in the South, as well as Texas, Texas A&M and Southern California.

  11. OLE MISS -- New coach Hugh Freeze took over a program with zero momentum following this past season's 2-10 collapse, but he managed to snag the state's top player, Aberdeen defensive end Channing Ward. The Rebels certainly have one of the best names committed, Murfreesboro running back I'Tavius Mathers, who is ranked 16th nationally at his position, but Auburn should win the name game this winter with linebacker Cassanova McKinzy and defensive end Gimel President.

  12. KENTUCKY -- The Wildcats will finish last among SEC teams but aren't doing that poorly, having received commitments from two of the state's top three players. Quarterback Zeke Pike, the state's top prospect, has enrolled at Auburn, but Kentucky has landed Louisville defensive tackle Thomas Chapman and Fort Thomas quarterback Patrick Towles. The Wildcats have commitments from five players from Kentucky, one short of their six from Georgia.

about David Paschall...

David Paschall is a sports writer for the Times Free Press. He started at the Chattanooga Free Press in 1990 and was part of the Times Free Press when the paper started in 1999. David covers University of Georgia football, as well as SEC football recruiting, SEC basketball, Chattanooga Lookouts baseball and other sports stories. He is a Chattanooga native and graduate of the Baylor School and Auburn University. David has received numerous honors for ...

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