Patrick Ochs

There’s lots of sizzle — and some fizzle — in the SEC’s signing classes

Antioch (Calif.) High School running back Najee Harris is one of Alabama’s top commitments. The 6-foot-3, 226-pound Harris is the nation’s No. 1 running back prospect.
Antioch (Calif.) High School running back Najee Harris is one of Alabama’s top commitments. The 6-foot-3, 226-pound Harris is the nation’s No. 1 running back prospect. AP

With just over a month to go until national signing day on Feb. 1, most of the SEC schools look like their classes are mostly full. Still, there’s plenty of jockeying left to do as teams work to fill needs heading into the 2017 season.

Here’s how the SEC is shaping up heading into the new year, with recruiting rankings courtesy of 247Sports’ composite list.

1. Alabama

Breakdown: Some things never change. Under Nick Saban, Alabama has reloaded year after year with five-star recruits and his 2017 class will be no different.

Class gem: LB Dylan Moses (IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida)

Dark horse: QB Mac Jones (Jacksonville, Florida)

2. Georgia

Breakdown: I’ve always maintained UGA should never struggle to recruit when you look at the number of high-end (and depth) players who come out of Georgia. Perfect example: The Dawgs lost a running back commit Monday due to Nick Chubb and Sony Michel announcing they’ll be back. Still, UGA won’t take much of a hit in Year 2 under Kirby Smart.

Class gem: S Richard LeCounte III (Hinesville, Georgia)

Dark horse: OT D’Marcus Hayes (Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College)

3. LSU

Breakdown: For a while, it looked like coach Ed Orgeron’s rep as a slam-dunk recruiter was going to take a hit. While the Tigers have lost a number of commits, several have come back to Tigerland, including QBs Myles Brennan of St. Stanislaus and Lowell Narcisse of St. James, Louisiana.

Class gem: S JaCoby Stevens (Murfreesboro, Tennessee)

Dark horse: LB Justin Thomas (Spanish Fort, Alabama)

4. Texas A&M

Breakdown: Kellen Mond of IMG Academy isn’t the gem of the class, but with the turnover the Aggies have had at quarterback, he was probably about as close to a must-have as there is in College Station.

Class gem: LB Anthony Hines (Plano, Texas)

Dark horse: DE Michael Clemons (Cisco, Texas)

5. Auburn

Breakdown: Things seemed to be trending that way for a while, but when former Baylor QB Jarrett Stidham signed with Auburn, that was a HUGE addition for Gus Malzahn. Expect Stidham to rack up the stats at Auburn.

Class gem: QB Jarrett Stidham (Baylor; McLennan Community College )

Dark horse: RB Octavius Matthews (Itawamba Community College)

6. Tennessee

Breakdown: Butch Jones’ Tennessee class has also taken a bit of a hit recently. Jones has built a reputation as a good recruiter. He’ll need to showcase those chops down the stretch if the Vols are to climb back into the Top 10 nationally.

Class gem: OT Trey Smith (Jackson, Tennessee)

Dark horse: WR Jordan Murphy (Hattiesburg)

7. South Carolina

Breakdown: There’s not exactly a ton of high-end star power, but Will Muschamp has done a good job of building a well-rounded class for the Gamecocks.

Class gem: CB Jamyest Williams (Loganville, Georgia)

Dark horse: RB Kyshaun Bryan (Fort Lauderdale, Florida)

8. Mississippi State

Breakdown: Mississippi State already has four high school players who are early enrollees (including Ocean Springs’ Austin Williams and Pascagoula’s James Jackson) plus another nine junior college signees, making spring ball incredibly interesting. Also of note: If there was an award for top JUCO signing class, MSU would have won it.

Class gem: S Johnathan Abram (Jones County Junior College)

Dark horse: CB Tyler Williams (Oxford)

9. Florida

Breakdown: Next to Ole Miss (13) and Vanderbilt (13), Florida has the smallest commitment list with 14 current pledges. Expect the Gators to jump up quite a bit in the next month as UF should land a handful of impact players before signing day.

Class gem: DE Zachary Carter (Tampa)

Dark horse: TE Kenmore Gamble (Miami)

10. Arkansas

Breakdown: After watching receiver Brandon Martin play at Gulf Coast this season, I’m convinced he could be a difference maker at the next level. He has the height, speed and ball skills that should help the Hogs stretch the field.

Class gem: RB Chase Hayden (Collierville, Tennessee)

Dark horse: WR Brandon Martin (MGCCC)

11. Kentucky

Breakdown: UK lost out on Mac Jones to Alabama, but hometown player Walker Wood is an intriguing prospect to keep an eye on for Big Blue. The early enrollee just won the Paul Hornung Award, which goes to Kentucky’s top prep player, after throwing for 30 touchdowns and rushing for 31 this season. Wood was injured for Lafayette in the state championship game, however, and could miss a couple months due to rehab. Although determined to play QB, he said when he committed in October that UK offered him as an “athlete.” The Cats also landed Ohio QB Danny Clark, who holds a Buckeyes offer, but who doesn’t like the “hometown hero” storyline?

Class gem: DE Joshua Paschal (Olney, Maryland)

Dark horse: QB Walker Wood (Lexington, Kentucky)

12. Missouri

Breakdown: Like many in the bottom quarter of this ranking, Mizzou’s class looks pretty bland across the board.

Class gem: ATH DaRon Davis (Kansas City, Mo.)

Dark horse: OL Pompey Coleman (Indianapolis)

13. Ole Miss

Breakdown: Rebel faithful are hoping the addition of former coach Wesley McGriff will help boost the team’s recruiting class. He certainly has his work cut out for him. With the cloud from the NCAA investigation still hovering over Oxford, don’t expect another top class out of Hugh Freeze.

Class gem: WR D.D. Bowie (Morton)

Dark horse: DE Markel Winters (Jones County Junior College)

14. Vanderbilt

Breakdown: For Vanderbilt to reach bowl eligibility, it consistently needs to find some hidden gems and coach up some overlooked players. The Commodores will have to do plenty of that with its 2017 class, which includes plenty of long-term projects.

Class gem: QB Jacob Free (Brantley, Alabama)

Dark horse: S Nico Bolden (St. Paul, Minnesota)

Patrick Ochs: 228-896-2321, @PatrickOchs

247Sports Composite Team Rankings

School

Commitments

1. Alabama

25

2. Georgia

19

3. LSU

20

4. Texas A&M

26

5. Auburn

18

6. Tennessee

25

7. South Carolina

22

8. Mississippi State

22

9. Florida

14

10. Arkansas

21

11. Kentucky

20

12. Missouri

19

13. Ole Miss

13

14. Vanderbilt

13

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