The SEC was full of huge surprises and big finishes on National Signing Day, and here’s a recap of everything that went down:
The Big Winner: Hugh Freeze
Hugh Freeze was National Signing Day’s big winner. ESPNU was like a massive Ole Miss commercial, and Freeze was featured multiple times talking about his star-studded class. Although it’s not the best class in the SEC, Freeze was the bigger winner because he was in front of the country and being talked about the entire day…starting with the one announcement this morning at 7:35 AM for Robert Nkemdiche. Hats off to you, Hugh Freeze.
Best Class: Alabama
While you could make an argument that Ole Miss had the best class, I’ll take Alabama’s and run with it. The Tide’s class is just silly. Everyone just expects the Tide to dominate recruiting, hence why no one outside of Tuscaloosa is really talking about them. Bama filled every single need they had entering 2013, and they landed four running backs to boot. Nick Saban basically cherry-picked top recruits from around the country from Utah, Pennsylvania, Florida, Virginia, New York, Georgia, Louisiana and New Jersey. The Tide signed six five-stars and 11 four-stars, and they are waiting on another in five-star DT Eddie Vanderdoes tonight. That just doesn’t happen unless you’re playing PlayStation on ultimate dynasty mode. The Tide signed three QBs, four RBs, two WRs, four OL, one TE, four DL, four LB, three DBs and two ATH. There is star power and tremendous depth, and it’s just the perfect class to continue building a dynasty around.
Top-Heavy Class: Ole Miss
As previously mentioned, the Rebels had a sexy signing day, and they landed a star-studded class. The Rebels finished with five five-star players in Robert Nkemdiche, Laremy Tunsil, Lavon Hooks, Tony Conner and Laquon Treadwell. However, they have only seven four-stars and 15 three-stars, according to 247Sports. While it’s a very strong class with star power, it is considered top heavy. And that’s not a bad thing at all. I look forward to watching this class develop under Hugh Freeze at Ole Miss. Can Ole Miss be the team to knock out Bama in the future?
Worst Closer: Georgia
The one team I was most disappointed with was Georgia. The Bulldogs failed to close on nearly all big-time in-state prospects today and only signed two in the top ten. And while stars mean close to nothing, most are warranted to some extent regarding the impact they’ll have at the next level. Georgia failed to land in-state star Robert Nkemdiche, former in-state prospect Reuben Foster and in-state stud Montravius Adams. UGA has always recruited well, but this year was supposed to Georgia’s year with the huge haul of talented in-state prospects. Do you think the Todd Grantham rumors had anything to do with it?
Biggest Surprise: Auburn
One of the strongest closes of the day belonged to Auburn and Gus Malzahn. Right off the bat, we got word that Auburn flipped five-star defensive end Elijah Daniel from Ole Miss. Later, we saw top defensive tackle Montravius Adams pick Auburn over Georgia and Clemson. And with Auburn locking down five-star defensive end Carl Lawson last weekend, it gave Gus Malzhan three five-star players on the defensive line to build a championship team in the future. Auburn flipping Daniel and landing Adams was a huge surprise on The Plains and one of the biggest closes.
Biggest Drama: Tashawn Bower and Alex Collins
Just after 7:30 AM this morning, Auburn commit and four-star defensive end Tashawn Bower was said to have sent his LOI to Florida. However, Bower refuted reports and later flipped to LSU from Auburn. He never signed with Florida, and Les Miles got the last laugh here. No one is really sure how the Bower-to-Florida buzz got started. Another drama-filled non-announcement was five-star running back Alex Collins. The South Florida star committed to Arkansas Monday night, but he never showed up to his signing ceremony at school today. His family said, “they need some more time”. However, after further investigation, Collins’ mother took his LOI and would not let him sign today. Could Collins flip back to Miami, where he was committed last year just to please his mother? This could get hairy.
Most Underrated Recruit: Jonathan Wiggins, S, Texas A&M
Jonathan Wiggins is a three-star safety you need to know about from Houston, Texas. Wiggins is a 6-3, 200-pound stud who is ranked as the 926th best prospect, according to 247Sports’ Composite Player Rankings. He’s a downhill attacking tackler who can fill a need for the Aggies in the secondary starting next season. He possesses strong closing speed and should be a star on special teams to start. Remember Jonathan Wiggins’ name, because he’s underrated.
Best Offensive Player: Laquon Treadwell, WR, Ole Miss
Laquon Treadwell is going to be a star for Ole Miss. The Rebels have a quarterback in Bo Wallace who can get him the football, and much like Donte Moncrief, I think Treadwell is going to be a breakout player for the Rebels. He has hands, speed and perfect size to be a premier receiver in the SEC.
Best Defensive Player: Vernon Hargreaves, CB, Florida
Yeah – I’m taking Vernon Hargreaves as the best defensive player over Robert Nkemdiche. Nkemdiche seems too obvious to pick as the ‘best’, and I think Hargreaves is going to be a premier lockdown corner at Florida for the next three years. I think of Janoris Jenkins, minus the baggage, when I think of Hargreaves. Will Muschamp won’t have to worry about one half of the field in the short future at UF because of “Hargreaves’ Island”.
- The SEC finished with five of the top ten classes in the country
- The SEC finished with 11 of the top 25 classes in the country
- Of the top 20 players in the country, the SEC got signatures from 10 of them.
- Of the top 100 players in the country, SEC school signed 41 of them.
Photo Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports