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Aberration or trend? SEC schools signing fewer 5-star prospects than before

The SEC has signed the vast number of 5-star prospects in the past five signing classes – almost 50 percent in fact – but the numbers from last year and this year show that other leagues are closing the gap.

In the past five recruiting classes (2013-17), there have been 164 5-star prospects, and SEC schools have signed 81 of them (49.4 percent). But SEC schools saw that percentage drop to 36 last year (12 of 33), and going into Wednesday’s National Signing Day, that figure has dropped again, to 27.6 this year.

Obviously, SEC schools still are signing the bulk of the five stars. Nevertheless, prospects – at least in the past two classes – are signing elsewhere more often.

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There is a caveat with his year’s numbers. There are 29 5-star prospects, and 25 have signed, including eight with SEC schools. Three of the unsigned 5-star recruits seem likely to sign with an SEC member, meaning 38 percent of the five-star prospects likely will end up at SEC schools. Nevertheless, it will be the second year in a row that the percentage is less than 40. That’s on the heels of two classes (2014 and ’15) where an astounding 56 percent of 5-star prospects ended up in the SEC.

Here’s a look at the past five classes, with this year thrown in:

Some other recruiting facts and figures going into NSD:

* FBS schools sign about 3,000 football players each season and there generally are about 30 five-star prospects annually, meaning about 1 percent of the players signed are five-star recruits. This year, there are 374 consensus four- and five-star recruits – about 13 percent of the prospects.

* An SEC school signed the nation’s top-ranked prospect each year from 2010-15, but for the third year in a row, the nation’s top prospect is going elsewhere. This year, the top prospect is quarterback Trevor Lawrence, who has signed with Clemson. Lawrence is from Cartersville (Ga.) High, which is about 45 miles northwest of Atlanta. Last year, the No. 1 recruit was defensive end Jaelan Phillips of Redlands (Calif.) East Valley in the L.A. suburbs, who signed with UCLA. In 2016, the top recruit was defensive tackle Rashan Gary of Paramus (N.J.) Paramus Catholic, who signed with Michigan.

* The 2015 recruiting class had 37 five-star prospects but just 13 will be in the 2018 NFL draft, including six of the top 10. The consensus top recruit in the class was defensive tackle Trenton Thompson, who signed with Georgia and has turned pro.

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(You can follow Mike Huguenin on Twitter @MikeHuguenin)

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