From 2003 to 2012, the SEC inked some great recruiting classes with major star power, but no classes were greater than the five below. Multiple national championships and multiple Heismans are included, and many of these players are excelling on Sundays. As we approach National Signing Day, here are the top five SEC recruiting classes of the last 10 years:
1. Florida Gators 2006
Five-Stars: Percy Harvin (WR), Carl Johnson (OL), Brandon Spikes (LB) and Tim Tebow (QB)
Four-Stars: Riley Cooper (WR), Jermaine Cunningham (DE), Marcus Gilbert (OL) and LB Dustin Doe
Three-Stars: Maurice Hurt (OL) and Brandon James (KR/PR)
Biggest Bust: ATH Jamar Hornsby
Class Buzz: Urban Meyer’s 2006 recruiting class haul headlined by Tim Tebow and Percy Harvin was epic, but he also signed other stars like Riley Cooper, Brandon Spikes and unsung hero Brandon James. This group was part of two SEC Championships and two national championships. Tebow won the Heisman as a sophomore as the headliner of the class, but Percy Harvin still remains the most electrifying player I’ve ever seen with the ball in his hands. Eight NFL players are from this class alone, and this group finished their career with a 48-7 record overall. This class remains one of the best in the history of college football.
2. Alabama Crimson Tide 2008
Five-stars: Julio Jones (WR), Tyler Love (OL) and Burton Scott (ATH)
Four-stars: Mark Barron (Safety), Dont’a Hightower (LB), Mark Ingram (RB), Barrett Jones (OL), Robert Lester (DB), Courtney Upshaw (LB) and Michael Williams (TE)
Three-stars: Marcel Dareus (DT), Terrence Cody (DT) and Brad Smelley (TE)
Biggest Bust: Tyler Love
Class Buzz: Ironically, two of the three five-stars in Burton Scott and Tyler Love didn’t pan out and were complete busts, but Julio Jones sure wasn’t. Between Hightower, Lester, Upshaw, Dareus and Cody, this was one epic defensive class. Adding in Heisman winner Mark Ingram just puts it over the top, along with Barrett Jones as arguably the most decorated linemen in SEC history. This group was a part of two national championships in 2009 and 2011, as Dareus, Ingram and Cody were absent for the latter championship. At least 10 of these guys will suit up on Sundays next year.
3. Florida Gators 2007
Five-Stars: Carlos Dunlap (DE), Torrey Davis (DT), James Wilson (OL) and Cam Newton (QB)
Four-Stars: Ahmad Black (DB), Joe Haden (DB), Aaron Hernandez (TE), Jay Howard (DT), Maurkice Pouncey (OL), Mike Pouncey (OL), Chris Rainey (RB), Deonte Thompson (WR) and Major Wright (S)
Three-Stars: Chas Henry (P)
Biggest Bust: John Brown (DT)
Class Buzz: Little did Florida know, they had another Heisman-winning quarterback on their roster in Cam Newton. Even though he transferred, how did Urban Meyer convince Newton to compete with Tim Tebow? Tebow hadn’t put up his stupid sophomore numbers yet. This group was a part of one SEC Championship and national championship. Meyer hauling in the Pouncey twins helped solidify an unbelievable offensive line. There were 11 different players on NFL rosters in 2012 from this class alone. The 2006 haul was unbelievable with Tebow and Harvin, and when combined with this class, it’s easy to see why Urban Meyer had so much success.
4. Alabama Crimson Tide 2009
Five-Stars: DJ Fluker (OL), Nico Johnson (LB), Dre Kirkpatrick (CB), Trent Richardson (RB)
Four-Stars: Kenny Bell (WR), Quinton Dial (DE), Eddie Lacy (RB), AJ McCarron (QB) and Kevin Norwood (WR)
Three-Stars: Anthony Steen (OG) and Chance Warmack (OL)
Biggest Bust: DT Darrington Sentimore
Class Buzz: Signing two premier running backs like Trent Richardson and Eddie Lacy alone makes this class great. Add in the fact that the bulk of this class, absent Dre Kirkpatrick and Trent Richardson, were the backbone of three national championships in four years. DJ Fluker, Chance Warmack and Anthony Steen were three primary reasons Alabama won another championship in 2012, making the Bama offensive line go down in history as one of the all-time greats. There could be as many as five first-round picks in this class alone. And AJ McCarron, Kenny Bell, Kevin Norwood and Anthony Steen all return for their senior season.
5. LSU Tigers 2004
Five-Stars: Early Doucet (WR), Xavier Carter (WR) and Claude Wroten (DT)
Four-Stars: Charles Alexander (DE), Glenn Dorsey (DT), Marlon Favorite (DT) and Craig Stetlz (DB)
Three-Stars: Tyson Jackson (DE), WR Chevis Jackson and OL Bret Helms
Two-Stars: Jacob Hester (FB)
Biggest Bust: Xavier Carter (WR)
Class Buzz: LSU’s defensive line haul in 2004 was downright nasty. LSU inked two future top-five picks in Glenn Dorsey and Tyson Jackson, a stud JUCO DT in Claude Wroten, and two reliable starters in Charles Alexander and Marlon Favorite. Early Doucet became a third-round pick at wide receiver, but who could forget the complete unsung two-star Jacob Hester? Hester still suits up in the NFL. The 2004 class accounted for nearly half of the 2007 BCS National Championship team alone. What a haul.
Photo Credit: Brian Spurlock-US PRESSWIRE