Alabama’s No. 1, but several SEC teams have big signing day
OXFORD, Miss. (AP) — The Southeastern Conference — at least compared to its recent history — struggled some on the football field this season.
But many of the league’s 14 teams were among the best in the country on national signing day, with six of the nation’s top 12 classes coming from the SEC, according to the 247Sports composite rankings posted on Wednesday night.
Alabama finished at No. 1 in the recruiting rankings for the seventh straight season, pulling in six five-star recruits and an impressive 18 four-star recruits. Georgia, LSU, Auburn, Florida and Texas A&M couldn’t quite match the Crimson Tide, but weren’t far behind.
Alabama coach Nick Saban isn’t concerned about where his class or particular players are slotted in the national rankings.
“I don’t know anything about that,” Saban said. “We kind of evaluate the players like we’re going to draft them and take the guys that meet the criteria, the critical factors that we want at positions.”
Alabama’s six five-star players included prized running back Najee Harris, who Saban called “very complete.”
It’s probably not surprising that second-year Georgia coach Kirby Smart pulled in a big class. After all, he learned under Saban for several years while he was the Crimson Tide’s defensive coordinator.
Some of the Bulldogs’ top recruits include safety Richard LeCounte III, who is an early enrollee, and offensive tackle Isaiah Wilson.
“We think we attacked a lot of areas of concern for us,” Smart said. “I think it’s a good group.”
Here are more highlights from around the SEC:
ORGERON DOING WORK: It didn’t take long for new LSU coach Ed Orgeron to make his recruiting presence felt. The veteran coach has been regarded as an excellent recruiter everywhere he’s been, from his time as an assistant coach at Southern Cal to his days as a head coach at Mississippi. His first LSU class was among the best in the SEC and includes highly regarded prospects like safety JaCoby Stevens, offensive lineman Austin Deculus and defensive end K’Lavon Chaisson. “We feel like we have an excellent start, an excellent foundation with this recruiting class,” the coach said.
QUIET DAY AT OLE MISS: The Rebels have been one of the nation’s hot programs the past few years, but this year’s signing class was among the lowest-ranked in the SEC. The Rebels ranked just 33rd nationally and 12th out of 14 SEC teams according to 247Sports composite rankings. Ole Miss has been hurt by an ongoing NCAA investigation that continues to hang over the program.
ROUGH, TOUGH SEC: Even a really good recruiting class can sometimes be nothing special in the SEC. Tennessee, for instance, has the nation’s 17th ranked class, but that’s good for just seventh in the SEC. South Carolina is 21th in the country, but comes in at eighth in the league.
AUBURN, FLORIDA IN TOP 10: Auburn (No. 9) and Florida (No. 10) round out the top 10 in this year’s recruiting rankings. The Tigers’ big addition on Wednesday was five-star offensive tackle Calvin Ashley. “It’s a very well-rounded class,” Auburn coach Gus Malzahn said. “There wasn’t a whole lot of drama (Wednesday). I think that says a lot about the signees’ loyalty. Everything went pretty much as planned, which is a blessing.” Florida’s class includes 11 four-star players.
MISSISSIPPI STATE HOMER: Mississippi State’s signing day was bolstered when four-star linebacker Willie Gay committed to the Bulldogs. The 6-foot-2, 223-pound Gay made his decision at Starkville High School, which is just a few miles from Mississippi State’s campus.
AP Sports Writers John Zenor, Brett Martel and Charles Odum contributed to this story.