The SEC may have fallen short in this year’s BCS title game, but no one is accusing the Southeastern Conference of being weak. Continuing to dominate on the recruiting trail, nine of the 14 SEC schools rank in Rivals’ top 15 recruiting classes of 2014. Fully loaded with talent across the board, these incoming commits set up a bright future for the SEC.
Headlining the SEC is the Crimson Tide’s top-ranked class, boasting the No. 1 overall prospect in the country - defensive end Da’Shawn Hand of Woodbridge High School in Virginia. The Tide offense gets a major boost of its own with the commitment of the nation’s top center, in-state product Joshua Casher of St. Paul’s Episcopal (Mobile). Rounding out another all-star class for Nick Saban is five-star athlete Bo Scarbrough, who will likely play running back for the Tide.
The Gators look to bounce back from a 4-8 season with a solid 2014 recruiting class. Perhaps the biggest catch for head coach Will Muschamp and crew is Jalen Tabor, one of the top corners in the country. Joining Tabor on the Gator defense is former Penn State commit Thomas Holley, a defensive tackle hailing from Brooklyn, N.Y.’s Lincoln High School.
The gem of Mark Richt’s class is running back Sony Michel from American Heritage High School in Plantation, Fla. Michel should add depth to the Bulldogs’ backfield, which already includes Keith Marshall, a returning starter seeking to make a comeback from his season-ending ACL injury. On the other side of the ball, the Dawgs pick up some big bodies in defensive end Keyon Brown and tackle Kendall Baker, an in-state product of Atlanta’s Marist High.
Kentucky may be known as a basketball school, but don’t count them out on the gridiron. Coach Mark Stoops is set to sign the best recruiting class in program history this week. Stoops and crew managed to land defensive tackle Matt Elam, who chose the home state Wildcats over conference foe Alabama. Kentucky stands to sign a talented corps of wide receivers as well, highlighted by four-star prospect Dorian Baker of Cleveland, Ohio.
The Tigers boast the commitment of running back Leonard Fournette (St. Augustine, New Orleans), who ranks as one of the top overall prospects in the Class of 2014. Fournette will have the opportunity to contribute right away, as would-be junior Jeremy Hill will forego his eligibility to enter the NFL Draft. The defense is getting some love, too. Les Miles adds depth to his secondary with defensive backs Jamal Adams and John Battle joining the Tigers this fall. Edward Paris is already on campus as an early enrollee.
With one full season under his belt, Butch Jones will sign his first complete recruiting class with the Vols this week. One of the largest (literally) commits in his class is 6-foot-8 Dontavius Blair, an offensive lineman who will seek to make an impact right out of junior college. Joining Blair on the Vols’ offense is in-state wide receiver Josh Malone of Station Camp High School in Gallatin, Tenn. Jones’ top-notch class also includes twins Elliot and Evan Berry, who will follow in the footsteps of their older brother, former Vol and current Kansas City Chief Eric Berry.
One of the best recruiting classes in the country belongs to the Aggies of Texas A&M. The crown of coach Kevin Sumlin’s 2014 class is quarterback Kyle Allen of Scottsdale, Ariz. (Desert Mountain). As the No. 1 pro-style QB in the nation, Allen will compete immediately to replace Johnny Manziel. Allen will have a promising target in five-star wide receiver Speedy Noil from Edna Karr High School in New Orleans. On defense, the Wrecking Crew picks up Myles Garrett, one of the best defensive ends in the country. Garrett will be joined on the D-line by end Qualen Cunningham (whose father Rick was also an Aggie), and tackle Zaycoven Henderson, who recently flip-flopped his commitment from former Big 12 conference foe Texas.