At the start of Wednesday's National Signing Day, it appeared a new Southeastern Conference powerhouse was being built. But by the end of the day, the rich stayed rich in the SEC.
Alabama walked away with the highest ranked recruiting class of 2013, according to both ESPN, Rivals.com and every other recruiting Web site, despite Ole Miss snagging the nation’s top prospect in defensive end Robert Nkemdiche.
Crimson Tide head coach Nick Saban has himself in line for a fifth-career national title, thanks to defensive end Johnathan Allen and tight end O.J. Howard. At 6'3 and 264 pounds, Allen was the 2012 Gatorade Virginia Football Player of the Year, with 119 tackles and nine sacks, to go along with six fumble recoveries and six blocked kicks as a senior. Howard, who has a 6'6 frame, is considered the best tight end in the country, and recorded 854 total yards and 12 touchdowns at Autauga Academy in Prattville, Ala.
The Rebels also added the top-ranked offensive tackle in Laremy Tunsil, and wide receiver in Laquon Treadwell, while safety Antonio Connor was considered the best player in the state of Mississippi. All four could help a team that went 7-6 overall, and 3-5 in conference.
Ole Miss earned the No. 5 and No. 7 class rankings, from ESPN and Rivals, respectively. Some questioned the tactics the Rebels used to put together their best class in school history, accusations head coach Hugh Freeze faced head on by providing the email address for his school’s NCAA compliance office.
Overall, Ole Miss signed three five-star recruits, one less than Alabama and Notre Dame. USC led all Top 25 schools with five five-star recruits, but several de-commitments put a damper on what could have been a huge class for head coach Lane Kiffin.
With all those stars next to their players names, it would appear Ole Miss and Alabama were the big winners in the SEC. However, the number of stars tied to a player’s ranking can be taken with a grain of salt, considering Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel earned three-stars coming out of high school.
It’s important to look at how big a talent pool an incoming class can draw from, but teams must also address needs.
Florida was expected to grab the top recruiting class this year, but finished just behind the Crimson Tide. Still the Gators picked up several top receivers in local products Alvin Bailey, Chris Thompson, and Ahmad Fulwood. All three can aide a Florida passing game that was 118th in the country with 146.3 yards per game.
The Gators also strengthened their defense with two five-star players in linebacker Alex Anzalone and cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III. Florida was fifth in the nation in points and total yards allowed per game last season.
LSU also filled out their traditionally powerful defense and may have found their quarterback of the future. Offensive linemen Josh Boutte, Andy Dodd, and Ethan Pocic could provide excellent pass protection for quarterback Hayden Rettig. As a senior at Cathedral High School in Los Angeles, Retting passed for 3,424 yards and 40 touchdowns.
The Tigers also picked up a superior athlete in defensive back Tre’Davious White. Out of Shreveport, La., White played mostly quarterback at Green Oaks High School, tallying 899 total yards and 11 touchdowns as a senior, but also displayed tremendous coverage skills as a junior with 45 tackles and four interceptions. White is also reportedly a relative of former LSU standout and current Dallas Cowboy Morris Claiborne.