Which states have the most 5-star and 4-star recruits in 2017 class?
The days are dwindling toward that curious, frenzied first Wednesday in February, when new names with exciting portfolios cause passionate SEC football fans to ponder future touchdowns, sacks and pick-sixes.
National Signing Day is that annual intense, inexact science that attaches ratings and rankings and rants from experts and fans alike who think their school did better than yours because they grabbed the hidden gems, the proverbial diamonds in the rough.
But what about the 5-star and 4-star headliners who sparkle and spark the real bragging?
We’ve taken a peek at those highly glossed over 247Sports Composite Ratings that tell the story, on paper at least, going into Signing Day to see which states are sending out the most 5-star and 4-star young men and how the SEC has done in grabbing them.
Four of the top five and six of the top 10 states in our countdown are home to SEC schools, who just yearn to keep that top-notch prep talent a little closer to home:
1. Texas (43)
5-stars: 4 | 4-stars: 39
Skinny: None of the four 5-star gems from Texas are slated for SEC schools but 11 of the 4-star Lone Star gems are SEC-bound, with the highest-rated commitment being LSU-bound offensive tackle Austin Deculus of Cypress at No. 48. The second-highest SEC catch out of Texas comes in at No. 63, with inside linebacker Anthony Hines of Plano committed to Texas A&M.
2. Florida (42)
5-stars: 6 | 4-stars: 36
Skinny: The Sunshine State will once again pack a mighty punch in early February, although the 42-player total is slightly skewed because 10 of these 42 elite players are from powerhouse IMG Academy in Bradenton, meaning not all of the Florida crop actually grew up in the state. Still, it says “Florida” under their name, and four of the state’s six 5-star talents are committed to the SEC, with all of them headed to the state of Alabama — three (offensive tackle Alex Leatherwood of Pensacola, IMG outside linebacker Dylan Moses and Deerfield Beach wide receiver Jerry Jeudy) are ticketed to Tuscaloosa and one (offensive tackle Calvin Ashley of Orlando) is committed to Auburn.
3. California (35)
5-stars: 6 | 4-stars: 29
Skinny: The rich are about to get richer, as Alabama got a commitment from 5-star running back Najee Harris of Antioch way back in April of 2015, and Harris has since ascended to be the No. 3 overall prospect. The highest-rated 4-star SEC commitment from California is Florida-bound cornerback Elijah Blades out of Pasadena, who is ranked 138th.
4. Georgia (34)
5-stars: 3 | 4-stars: 31
Skinny: The SEC got its hands on one of Georgia’s three 5-star players, and he’s staying close to home, as safety Richard LeCounte III of Riceboro is heading to Athens to play for Kirby Smart. Of the 31 4-star players from the talent-rich state, an impressive 19 are SEC-bound.
5. Alabama (14)
5-stars: 1 | 4-stars: 13
Skinny: The state’s only 5-star prospect, 26th-rated defensive end LaBryan Ryan of Madison, is still undecided but leaning toward staying near home and attending Alabama — with Florida and Tennessee also in the mix. Meanwhile, Auburn has a commitment from Birmingham 4-star inside linebacker Tadarian Moultry, who is rated 103rd.
5. Virginia (14)
5-stars: 1 | 4-stars: 13
Skinny: The only SEC-bound recruit from Virginia is 218th-rated Eric Crosby of Virginia Beach, a 4-star defensive tackle who committed to Tennessee last April. Crosby is a bull at 6-1, 330 pounds, and could be an immediate help for Butch Jones, who is losing Derek Barnett on his defensive line.
7. Ohio (13)
5-stars: 0 | 4-stars: 13
Skinny: The highest-rated SEC recruit from this always-fertile Midwestern state is heading to Kentucky, which just had a breakthrough season and has a commitment from 158th-ranked Lynn Bowden, a 6-1, 185-pound 4-star athlete from Youngstown. The Wildcats just got the commitment from Bowden in mid-January and also struck gold in Ohio with 4-star wide receiver JaVonte Richardson of Maple Heights, who is rated 225th.
8. Michigan (10)
5-stars: 1 | 4-stars: 9
Skinny: Michigan is one of the epicenters of Big Ten country, although it wouldn’t be unheard of for the SEC to reach up and grab an elite player from Jim Harbaugh’s state. But that Michigan-bred gem doesn’t exist for the SEC, at least leading into the stretch drive toward Signing Day.
8. Tennessee (10)
5-stars: 3 | 4-stars: 7
Skinny: Two of the three 5-star gems from the Volunteer State are SEC-bound, including offensive tackle Trey Smith of Jackson, the 14th-rated overall prospect who is staying close and heading down the road to Knoxville. Four spots down the list at No. 18 is safety JaCoby Stevens of Murfreesboro, who has committed to Ed Orgeron at LSU.
10. Louisiana (9)
5-stars: 0 | 4-stars: 9
Skinny: LSU has its hands on the top-rated player from Louisiana in four-star defensive tackle Tyler Shelvin of Lafayette, who is ranked 52nd overall. Keytaon Thompson, a 6-4 dual-threat quarterback from New Orleans who is rated 167th, has been snatched by Dan Mullen at Mississippi State and is already enrolled in Starkville.
How the other states with SEC schools are looking
5-stars: 1 | 4-stars: 6
South Carolina (4)
5-stars: 0 | 4-stars: 4
5-stars: 0 | 4-stars: 3
5-stars: 0 | 4-stars: 2
5-stars: 0 | 4-stars: 1