When mining through the fields of recruits from this past Signing Day or any Signing Day, it’s always easier to see the gems. They make you wince with their shine, with their headlines, with the potential their talent carries for whatever program they make lucky, for however many years they bother to stay.

But what about the possible hidden jewels? You know they’re there, in every class, but sometimes they’re hard to detect because their names carried little buzz at the beginning. For now, picking one diamond in the rough from each 2016 SEC class is largely a guessing game, but in February you can have some fun and give it a try:


Aaron Robinson, three-star CB

A sleeper from Bama’s top-ranked, star-studded class (read: the rich get richer) might be Robinson, a guy the Crimson Tide weren’t even counting on. Robinson fell into their lap after flipping from SEC rival Florida.

According to SB Nation’s rollbamaroll.com, Alabama’s coaching staff loves Robinson’s talent and believes the 6-1, 178-pounder from Deerfield Beach High in talent-rich South Florida could be a steal like corner Eddie Jackson was three years ago.

Interestingly, Jackson came from Boyd Anderson High, right down the road from Deerfield Beach. Even if Robinson redshirts, as al.com projects he will, he could very well make it worth the wait for Nick Saban.


Dee Walker, three-star OLB

The Razorbacks had depth issues at linebacker, so they loaded up at the position, nailing down four of them. One was Walker, a 6-3, 210-pounder whom they plucked from the state of Georgia. Walker was the Hogs’ 18th commitment, but he could be one of their biggest 2016 signees a few years down the road — or maybe even this season.

Snatching Walker wasn’t easy either, as the Razorbacks won out over a list of suitors that included SEC rivals Tennessee and Kentucky.


Tre Threat, three-star OLB

Threat already has some built-in advantages, at least on paper. The 6-2, 235-pounder from powerhouse Spanish Fort in southern Alabama was the only linebacker in Auburn’s class. Throw in that the Tigers lost three seniors from last season’s linebacking corps and you have some possibilities for immediate playing time.

According to Bleacher Report, the Under Armour All-American has an “edge to his game” and is “the type of linebacker who can get a team fired up with a big hit.”

“He’s got the unique ability where he can play inside or out, so he’s going to give [us] some flexibility,” Auburn coach Gus Malzahn told Bleacher Report. “He’s a talented young man.”


Stone Forsythe, three-star OT

He’s only a three-star guy, but Forsythe is massive at 6-8, 325 pounds, and he’s got a jump on things as an early enrollee. His long reach in pass-blocking and ability to block downhill are attributes for the raw but talented Forsythe, who could end up redshirting with the Gators having depth up front.

“First and foremost, when you think about the size and then you couple that with the athleticism…,” UF coach Jim McElwain told InsideTheGators.com. “(Forsythe) will fit in there.”


David Marshall, three-star DE

In a class with three five-star gems, including quarterback Jacob Eason, and a plethora of four-star guys, landing Marshall could prove to be good karma for the Bulldogs.

Marshall flipped to Georgia at the last minute after being committed to Auburn since November. According to al.com, Georgia only became a factor in the recruitment of the Thomaston, Ga., product when the Bulldogs hired Kirby Smart as coach.


Kordell Looney, three-star DT

The Wildcats went up into Ohio to grab the 6-4, 285-pound Looney. The Lexington Herald-Leader describes Looney as “under the radar but highly regarded by UK’s coaching staff.”

Looney, who has major upside but is raw after not playing much until his junior year of high school, stuck with his commitment to the Wildcats after rival Louisville made a late run at him.


Lindsey Scott, three-star DUAL

Scott could end up being one of the most surprising players in a star-studded class, according to Bleacher Report. With LSU deep at quarterback, Scott can be developed. He’s on the short side, at 5-11, but he led his high school in Zachary, La., to a state title in December.

“We think he’ll be a guy that can throw it, run it and extend plays, and yet really give you a very bright leader on the field,” LSU coach Les Miles told the Times-Picayune of New Orleans.


Cameron Dantzler, three-star ATH

Dantzler is just a three-star guy, but Bulldogs fans should be reminded that Dak Prescott was a three-star recruit, too. Coach Dan Mullen dipped into Louisiana to grab Dantzler.

“Cam Dantzler is a guy we targeted very, very early as the top corner for us,” Mullen told Inside Mississippi State Sports, highlighting Dantzler’s size (6-2, 170) and length.


Jerod Alton, three-star ATH

The 5-10, 179-pound Alton is an in-state guy from Kirkwood whom the Tigers hope can contribute on both sides of the ball. According to Missouri’s rockmnation.com, although he’s listed as a cornerback, Tigers fans shouldn’t be surprised to see “the dynamic” Alton running back kicks or catching passes out of the backfield.


Royce Newman, three-star OT

The Rebels didn’t nail down the 6-7, 255-pounder until Jan. 25, when Newman flipped from Missouri after an official visit to Oxford. He could ended up redshirting this year in order to add weight for 2017, but 247Sports director of scouting Barton Simmons glowed about Newman:

“He has some of the best upside in this entire class,” Simmons wrote. “Just a guy that needs to get stronger and bigger. Probably won’t play right away, but he’s got tight end athleticism, a great frame and the ability, I think, to become an elite edge blocker at Ole Miss.”


C.J. Freeman, three-star RB

The Greensboro, N.C., product rushed for more than 2,000 yards as a high school senior despite battling injuries, averaging 265 yards over his final three games. The (Columbia) State put the 5-11, 200-pound Freeman atop its sleeper list for the Gamecocks’ 2016 class.


Austin Pope, three-star TE

The numbers aren’t gaudy for the 6-4, 219-pounder, who is the 654th-ranked player and 35th-ranked tight end, according to 247Sports. Pope could be the classic hometown overachiever though, having played his high school ball in Knoxville.

According to Scout.com’s Cory Gunkel, Volunteers tight ends coach Larry Scott said of Pope: “I instantly fell in love with his play on the field.”


Moses Reynolds, three-star ATH

A 6-2, 185-pounder from San Antonio, he’s the younger brother of Aggies star receiver Josh Reynolds. Moses Reynolds can contribute on both sides of the ball, but coach Kevin Sumlin prefers him on defense, according to the Houston Chronicle, which put Reynolds squarely in the class’ sleeper category.


Kenny Hebert, two-star OLB

The New Orleans product who previously committed to nearby Tulane instead opted for Vandy just before Signing Day, a nice grab in a class ranked last in the SEC and 54th in the country. Hebert is an underdog at an underdog SEC school (on the football field, at least). The 6-3, 215-pounder was rated as Louisiana’s 94th-best prospect, according to 247Sports.