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National Signing Day: SEC at it again, has 10 teams with Top 25 classes

by John Helsley Published: February 5, 2014
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Uh oh, the SEC is at it again.

Don't look for the national theme to drift from the SEC anytime soon, with Alabama and LSU leading a strong conference charge on the recruiting trails, according to the websites specializing in ranking classes.

National champion Florida State – more bad news, Oklahoma State – and Big Ten power Ohio State also earned high praise.

But the overall storyline, again, tells an SEC stronghold, with as many as 10 league teams in the various Top 25s.

TOP 5 RECRUITS

1. Leonard Fournette, RB, 6-1, 226, New Orleans (Saint Augustine), 5 stars: Signed with LSU

2. Myles Garrett, DE, 6-4, 245, Arlington, Texas (Martin), 5 stars: Signed with Texas A&M

3. Jabrill Peppers, DB, 6-1, 210, Paramus, N.J. (Paramus Catholic), 5 stars: Signed with Michigan

4. Cameron Robinson, OT, 6-5, 330, West Monroe, La. (West Monroe), 5 stars: Signed with Alabama

5. Da'Shawn Hand, DE, 6-4, 260, Woodbridge, Va. (Woodbridge Senior), 5 stars: Signed with Alabama

TOP 5 CLASSES

1. Alabama: According to Rivals.com, the Crimson Tide had as many five-star signees (6) as the next most – Florida State and Texas A&M – combined. They also count seven Parade All-Americans. Counting in 13 four-star prospects, Bama boasts the unanimous No. 1 class in the country. Bama dotted elite recruits across the board, too, with offensive tackle Cameron Robinson, defensive end Da'Shawn Hand, cornerback Tony Brown, athlete Bo Scarbrough, linebacker Rashaan Evans and cornerback Marlon Humphrey all earning Rivals five-star status. The Tide came to Oklahoma to get its quarterback in Norman North's David Cornwell.

2. LSU: Say what you will about Les Miles, players love him. LSU grabbed two of the nation's premium playmakers in running back Leonard Fournette and wide receiver Malachi Dupre, ranked No. 1 and 2 at their respective positions, by Scout.com. The Tigers got a top quarterback in Brandon Harris and added depth across the board, cleaning up in-state, dipping into Texas and cherry picking from Florida, Illinois and Mississippi.

3. Florida State: What are the Seminoles doing for an encore? The reigning national champions added a nationally touted recruiting class to an already young roster, putting them in play for a possible dynasty. FSU loaded up on playmakers and linemen for both sides of the ball. Running back Dalvin Cook and wideout Ermon Lane are five-star prospects considered among the elite at their positions. Linebacker Kain Daub is a five-star middle linebacker.

4. Ohio State: The Buckeyes dominated its Big Ten rivals, according to the rankings. Urban Meyer appears focused on upgrading the offense, picking up five four-star receivers, including Brooklyn standout Curtis Samuel, as well as four-star running back Parris Campbell. The class is loaded with four-star prospects.

5. Tennessee: Maybe the Vols are finally ready to return to relevancy. Mostly, this is a balanced and deep class – which Tennessee needs in transforming its program overall. There's something for everywhere on the roster, wit the exception of quarterback. Interestingly, the Vols signed two of the nation's top tight end recruits in four-star prospects Daniel Helm and Ethan Wolf.

IRISH RELOAD UP FRONT

Notre Dame added depth on national signing day where it was most needed: along the defensive front seven and the offensive line.

“You're winning up front, and building that depth in the front seven and the offensive line really stands out in this class, and then having some really good players across the board for us,” coach Brian Kelly said Wednesday.

The Irish have holes to fill along the defensive front. Linemen Louis Nix III and Stephon Tuitt decided to leave with a year of eligibility left to enter the NFL draft and defensive line recruit Matt Dickerson decided last month to sign with UCLA instead of Notre Dame to stay closer to his ailing father.

Defensive lineman Daniel Cage of Cincinnati announced Wednesday he was signing with the Irish after visiting the school just last weekend, and Peter Mokwuah of Staten Island, N.Y., committed to the Irish late last month before even visiting the school.

Kelly said the Irish coaching staff decided late it needed more defensive line depth.

“We didn't cast a large enough net, and we just needed to be out there larger in terms of our number of candidates, and so that's why we went back in that way,” he said.

The highest-rated recruits signed by the Irish were linebacker Nyles Morgan of Crete, Ill., offensive lineman Quenton Nelson of Holmdel, N.J. and tight end Tyler Luatua of Paramount, Calif.

MEYER TAKES RECRUITING SERIOUS

It's not the same as a victory on the field. Yet having a nationally ranked recruiting class is almost as important to Ohio State coach Urban Meyer.

“I hear people say it's not important,” Meyer said Wednesday on the first day athletes could sign up to play major-college football. “I disagree. As long as you're keeping score we're going to try to win. I'm disappointed we weren't the No. 1 recruiting class in the country.”

The Buckeyes had to settle for a top-five finish in the rankings, according to most of the experts.

Meyer and his staff were seeking reinforcements at several thin spots – particularly linebacker and offensive line – and were pleased with what they got.

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by John Helsley
OSU Reporter Sr.
John Helsley grew up in Del City, reading all the newspapers and sports magazines he could get his hands on. And Saturday afternoons, when the Major League Game of the Week was on, he'd keep a scorecard for the game. So the sports appeal was was...
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