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KNOXVILLE, Tennessee — Now that National Signing Day is in the books, let’s take a step back and look at recruiting in the SEC over the last four years.
These are the players — if they’re still around — who will have the greatest impact on a team’s success in 2014.
The numbers don’t lie: Alabama has dominated the recruiting game just as it has on the field.
That’s not a surprise. But Tennessee’s ranking relative to the league average might be better than many expected.
We used the 247Sports Composite rankings in order to get a broad perspective from all the major recruiting services. We also wanted to go beyond a simple ranking to see the relative strength of each class as it compared to the rest of the league.
A few takeaways:
1. Tennessee’s recruiting ratings are above the league average over the last four years both collectively and individually. The Vols have been above the league average in three of the last four years.
2. On the negative side, the Vols suffered serious attrition in the 2012 class. Some of it was natural (Cordarrelle Patterson) but there were also plenty of washouts. Also, some of the higher rated players from 2011 and 2012 simply haven’t lived up to expectations.
3. Florida, despite last year’s debacle, still has plenty of talent. If they can fix a few issues from 2013, they could be right back in the title race.
4. Auburn can still lean on several solid classes and has every reason to expect to be in the mix for the SEC championship again.
5. Texas A&M has put together three consecutive solid classes that should help mitigate the departure of Johnny Manziel.
6. The bottom of the conference is largely what you would expect. Despite recent improvements in recruiting from Kentucky and Vanderbilt, relative to the rest of the league, their ratings are still low.
7. Missouri’s recruiting may not be impressive on paper, but it’s worth remember that the Tigers won the SEC East in 2013 using classes that were ranked near the bottom of the league.
Mizzou’s case, of course, is why factors like retention and development and coaching still matter.
But if we were to judge the 2014 season solely by its inputs, here’s what the standings would look like. Just for fun, we’ll use the four-year relative score (with 100 being average) and give 10 points to the home team in each game.
1. Florida, 7-1
2. Georgia, 7-1
3. South Carolina, 5-3
4. Tennessee, 3-5
5. Missouri, 2-6
6. Kentucky, 2-6
7. Vanderbilt, 0-8
1. Alabama, 8-0
2. Auburn, 6-2
3. LSU, 5-3
4. Texas A&M, 4-4
5. Ole Miss, 3-5
6. Mississippi State, 2-6
7. Arkansas, 2-6
It would be hard to imagine Missouri and Vanderbilt plummeting so quickly, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see Florida make a dramatic rebound.
Before you prepare your hate mail, remember this is just a “fun” excercise that does not necessarily reflect my actual opinion, nor does it have any effect on the real world.