The news coming out of the SEC as we start the 2018 recruiting cycle is slow.

As a matter of fact you would have to scan all the way down to No. 7 to see the first SEC program, Texas A&M, followed by LSU at No. 8. Alabama is at No. 12 and Auburn checks in at No. 15 in’s composite.

So we know there is plenty to be determined and the start of the recruiting cycle really begins around the designated “junior days” each program sets up. This is an opportunity for a program to secure early commits who have been heavy leans and targets while introducing the program and coaching staff to prospects and parents that are seeing the campuses for the first time.

One prospect who could dominate the headlines for the next several months is 5-star defensive end Xavier Thomas, as many programs are expected to challenge in-state leaders Clemson and South Carolina for the rush end out of Florence, S.C.

He is considered a top-priority recruit for Alabama, Florida, Georgia and Florida State so his travels in the spring should be monitored. He’s taken in games at Alabama, Florida, South Carolina and Clemson.

The 2018 class is shaping up to be a very strong year for prospects in Georgia, which means we’ll see at least a few very fierce battles between old friends Kirby Smart and Nick Saban.

The biggest battle, literally and figuratively, could be for 5-star offensive lineman Jamaree Sayler out of Atlanta. Sayler (6-3, 320) has already run into Alabama coaches and taken an unofficial visit to Clemson in the past two weeks, so this is another prospect who should be watched over the spring as an early commitment is possible.

With only 13 of the top 50 prospects verbally committed right now, there’s a long way to go but the next two months could give us a good idea of what will be in store for the next year.

Currently the highest-rated prospect committed to an SEC school is 5-star offensive tackle Cade Mays, who gave his verbal to Tennessee in July 2015.

Here’s an early snap-shot of each class:

Alabama: No. 12, 0 5-stars, 2 4-stars.

Arkansas: No. 27, 0 5-stars, 2 4-stars.

Auburn: No. 15, 0 5-stars, 2 4-stars.

Florida: No. 31, 0 5-stars, 0 4-stars.

Georgia: No. 16, 0 5-stars, 2 4-stars.

Kentucky: No. 43, 0 5-stars, 0 4-stars.

LSU: No. 8, 1 5-star, 3 4-stars.

Mississippi State: No. 18, 0 5-stars, 1 4-star.

Missouri: No. 50, 0 5-stars, 0 4-stars.

Ole Miss: No commits.

South Carolina: No commits.

Tennessee: No. 23, 1 5-star, 1 4-star.

Texas A&M: No. 7, 0 5-stars, 3 4-stars.

Vanderbilt: No. 40, 0 5-stars, 1 4-star.


If there is any question how much power Randy Shannon is gaining within the Florida program it should have been answered over the weekend.

With the hiring of Corey Bell and Jajuan Seider, the Florida Gators’ recruiting shift is trending toward the fertile tri-county area of South Florida. Both hires have the fingerprints of Florida’s defensive coordinator over them.

Bell is Shannon’s protégé. He became the head coach at Miami Edison High School at age 25 and after 10 years on that job he joined Shannon as the director of football operations at Miami.

He will replace Torrian Gray as the team’s defensive backs coach. Gray, a highly-regarded coach who was thought to be a less-than-dynamic recruiter, is going to the Washington Redskins.

Bell, who went from lame-duck coach at Florida Atlantic to recruiting coordinator at South Florida to the position at Florida in less than two months, will be Shannon’s eyes and ears in recruiting around Miami-Dade County and he’ll execute Shannon’s game plan on the recruiting front in that area.

Seider is potential game-changer. He’s a well-liked coach with a lot of success recruiting Florida for Marshall and West Virginia. He has roots in Palm Beach County and is a personable guy who prospects relate to. He’ll likely handle Palm Beach and Broward County and probably chip in on the Tampa Bay area as well.

Shannon, Bell and Seider are now the new face of Florida’s recruiting direction.

For a program that has traditionally struggled to reach past Palm Beach County until recently these coaching moves show a continuing shift in the way the Gators will look for prospects.