One thing that stuck out from National Signing Day — well, other than Alabama’s continued dominance — was the class put together by Georgia.
Smart was announced as Georgia’s new coach on December 6, and less than two months later, he and his staff had signed the No. 7 class in the nation. That’s impressive work by he and his staff, especially considering that he spent about four weeks of his time right after being hired having to serve two masters, as he famously remained Alabama’s defensive coordinator as the Tide marched to another national title.
It was the most impressive first-year class since Urban Meyer’s at Ohio State in 2012, when that Buckeyes staff reeled in the No. 4 class in the nation despite being on NCAA probation and coming off a losing record.
By now, everyone who remotely follows college football knows Alabama had the best class for the sixth year in a row, as per 247Sports’ composite rankings, which basically is a consensus rating and thus the most fair. The only other school nationally who has had a top-five recruiting ranking even three years in a row is Florida State.
Alabama has finished in the recruiting top 10 nine years in a row. FSU has finished in the top 10 in seven consecutive years; Ohio State has finished in the top 10 in six consecutive years. LSU has finished in the top 10 four years in a row, while Auburn, Georgia and USC have finished in the top 10 three years in a row.
Some other noteworthy takeaways from NSD:
* Five SEC schools finished in the top 10 of the team recruiting rankings, and eight league schools finished in the top 20 (the top 18, actually). The ACC and Big Ten each had two schools finish in the top 10, while the Pac-12 had one. The Big Ten, Big 12 and Pac-12 each had three schools finish in the top 20. The ACC had two, and the independent ranks had one (Notre Dame).
* Tennessee was 14th in the nation in recruiting — but that was good for just seventh in the SEC, smack dab in the middle. Consider this, though: That No. 14 finish puts put the Vols third in the ACC, Big Ten and Pac-12 and second in the Big 12.
* There have been 162 five-star recruits combined in the past five classes. Almost half — 80 (or 49.4 percent) — have signed with SEC schools. The other 81 five-star prospects have signed as follows: 27 with Pac-12 schools, 26 with ACC schools, 15 with Big Ten schools, nine with Big 12 schools, three with independents (all with Notre Dame) and one with an AAC school. There is one five-star recruit in this cycle who remains undecided, and if Demetris Robertson — who is from Savannah, Ga. — signs with an SEC school, it will mean that half of the five-star prospects in the past five years will have chosen SEC schools. Half. Unreal.
* Alabama alone has signed 24 five-star recruits in the past five years — which is as many as Big Ten and Big 12 schools combined in that span. To put it another way, Nick Saban has signed as many five-star recruits by himself as all the coaches in the Big Ten and Big 12 combined in that span.
* Of the top 100 players in the nation in the 2016 recruiting class, 42 signed with SEC schools and 11 of the 14 league schools (all but Missouri, South Carolina and Vanderbilt) signed at least one such player. Big Ten schools signed 21 of the top 100, with ACC schools signing 15, Pac-12 schools signing 12, Big 12 schools signing six, independents signing two (both to Notre Dame) and AAC schools signing one. One player in the top 100 — the aforementioned Robertson — has not signed.
* This was the first time in seven years that the nation’s top prospect did not sign with an SEC school; defensive tackle Rashan Gary signed with Michigan, the first time a Big Ten school has signed the consensus No. 1 recruit this century.
When it comes to a position-by-position breakdown, the SEC truly ruled on the recruiting trail.
* SEC schools signed the top two pro-style quarterback prospects and three of the top five.
* SEC schools signed each of the top three dual-threat quarterback prospects, along with four of the top six.
* SEC schools signed four of the top six and six of the top 14 running backs. And league schools signed two of the top eight all-purpose backs.
* Robertson is the top wide receiver and he has yet to sign. As it is, SEC schools signed three of the top six, four of the top nine, five of the top 18 and six of the top 20 receivers.
* SEC schools signed the top tight end, along with four of the top nine and eight of the top 17 at the position.
* SEC schools signed three of the top four safeties.
* SEC schools signed three of the top five cornerbacks, as well as six of the top 10 and 11 of the top 20 at the position.
* SEC schools signed the top inside linebacker, as well as six of the top 15.
* SEC schools signed two of the top five outside linebackers.
* You’ll notice we skipped over the linemen. That’s because as well as SEC schools did at the other positions, they absolutely dominated in the trenches. SEC schools signed the top two offensive tackles, along with three of the top six, five of the top 10 and seven of the top 18. SEC schools signed three of the top 10 guards. SEC schools signed five of the top eight centers. Finally, SEC schools reeled in a boatload of top defensive linemen. League teams signed eight of the top 12 and 11 of the top 17 defensive tackles, along with four of the top six, five of the top 10 and six of the top 11 defensive ends.
(You can follow Mike Huguenin on Twitter @MikeHuguenin)
(Feature photo COURTESY UNIVERSITY OF GEORGIA)
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