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February 10, 2011
Ranking the SEC by position
Rivals.com analyst Keith Niebuhr ranks the SEC 2011 recruiting classes by position.
Several SEC programs signed excellent QBs, but Florida separated itself from the pack by getting two. One of them, Jeff Driskel is the country's top-rated quarterback. The other, Jacoby Brissett, is No. 3 among dual-threat prospects and a Rivals100 member. LSU also inked two nice recruits - Zach Mettenberger, a former Georgia signee, and Stephen Rivers, brother of NFL standout Philip Rivers.
With two four-star signings, Auburn gets the slight nod over Alabama, with Florida and Georgia not far behind. The Tide (Demetrius Hart) and Bulldogs (Isaiah Crowell) each brought in five-star prospects, but Auburn inked both Quan Bray and Tre Mason, a pair of Rivals250 members. In addition to landing Rivals100 tailback Mike Blakely, the Gators also picked up Hunter Joyer, the country's No. 1 fullback.
To say Ole Miss did well at this position would be a gross understatement. The Rebels cleaned up. Of the five receivers Ole Miss signed, three of them are four-star prospects. Nickolas Brassell, a Rivals100 member and a player the Rebels beat out Alabama for, is the headliner. Five-star receiver Jarvis Landry, an LSU recruit, is the highest-rated player at this position headed to the SEC. A dynamic playmaker, he's rated as the country's No. 18 overall prospect.
With three signatures from tight ends, South Carolina not only has the best tight end class in the SEC, but in the entire country. To say the least, it's a group with great size. Jerell Adams, perhaps the most athletic of the trio, is 6-foot-5, 220 pounds. All three are rated among the 26 best tight ends nationally. Auburn's class is strong, too, with its top signee being Rivals250 member Brandon Fulse. Georgia (Jay Rome) and Florida (A.C. Leonard) also did well, with each signing Rivals100 players.
The SEC truly had a terrific cycle with offensive linemen. Five league programs rank among the top 10 in the country at this position group. In the SEC, The Tide get an ever-so-slight advantage for the lead spot, largely because it landed five-star player Cyrus Kouandjio, the nation's top-ranked lineman. Four-star junior college tackle Aaron Douglas was Alabama's other top pickup. Auburn landed three four-star players, most notably No. 27 overall prospect Christian Westerman. And, of course, LSU signed five-star stud La'El Collins.
In a league where play on the interior of the defensive line is so crucial, LSU once again had fantastic success. The Tigers signed two tackles, and one of them, Anthony Johnson, is a five-star prospect whose combination of size, strength and quickness should serve him well at the next level. Not to be overlooked is four-star signee Mickey Johnson. South Carolina wasn't far behind, gaining four tackles, two of whom have four stars. Alabama and Georgia didn't do poorly here either. Each signed two four-star prospects, with the Bulldogs' pickup of junior college standout Johnathan Jenkins arguably being the most significant signing because it's likely he'll play immediately.
At defensive end, only Notre Dame landed a more impressive class nationally than Alabama. In the SEC, nobody even approached the Tide's group. All told, Alabama signed four ends, and each is a four-star prospect. Xzavier Dickson and Jeoffrey Pagan are Rivals100 members. D.J. Pettway made the Rivals250. Georgia's prize is five-star talent Ray Drew, the country's No. 9 overall prospect.
Ole Miss takes top honors here behind the signing of five-star inside linebacker C.J. Johnson, the country's No. 21 overall prospect and No. 2 inside 'backer. The Rebels inked three other linebackers, all of whom are three-star prospects. Auburn was the only other SEC program to sign a five-star linebacker, getting Kris Frost out of North Carolina. Alabama also has a nice group with two Rivals100 pickups - Brent Calloway and Trey DePriest.
Under first-year coach Will Muschamp, a former DB, the Gators signed the nation's best class of defensive backs. Of the six signees, three are four-star recruits, including Rivals100 member Marcus Roberson, a cornerback, and Rivals250 players Jabari Gorman and Louchiez Purifoy, who play safety and corner, respectively. Auburn landed four four-star prospects, including Rivals100 safety Erique Florence, the third-rated player at his position.
Georgia's crop in this group was the SEC's best, and is highlighted by the signing of four-star talent Nick Marshall,who is expected to play cornerback in Athens. Tennessee also landed an excellent four-star athlete in junior college transfer Izauea Lanier. Lanier was the 16th-best junior college player in the country and has three years of eligibility at Tennessee. He, too, could start out at defensive back.