Commentary

SEC boasts six top-25 classes

Updated: February 8, 2008, 10:42 AM ET
By Tom Luginbill, Craig Haubert, Billy Tucker and Bill Conley | Scouts Inc.

• Complete SEC signing lists

Seven ESPN 150 prospects
One of the biggest movers on signing day, the addition of ESPN's No. 2 overall player, receiver Julio Jones (Foley, Ala.), gives Alabama perhaps its best class since the turn of the century. Jones, offensive tackle Tyler Love (Birmingham, Ala./Mountain Brook) and athlete Burton Scott (Prichard, Ala./Vigor) give the Tide three No. 1-rated prospects at their respective positions, but the Tide's 15 total prospects at need positions who have a Scouts Inc. grade of 80 or above make this class so impressive.

11 ESPN 150 prospects
Losing ESPN 150 guard Ricky Barnum (Lakeland, Fla./Lake Gibson) and Ramon Buchanan hurt the Gators' chance of retaining the No. 1 spot they held heading into signing day. Still, they added wide receiver T.J. Lawrence (Lakeland, Fla. / Kathleen) to the mix and have tremendous prospects heading to Gainesville, particularly at defensive back. Will Hill (West Orange, N.J./Saint Peter's Prep) and Dee Finley (Auburn, Ala.) are the top two safeties in the country and No. 4-rated cornerback Janoris Jenkins' (Pahokee, Fla.) stock has recently soared. ESPN's No. 2-rated defensive tackle Omar Hunter (Buford, Ga.) was a big catch down the stretch.

Seven ESPN 150 prospects
Despite losing tight end Dwayne Allen (Fayetteville, N.C./Sanford) on signing day, the Bulldogs still have a number of impact players, particularly at the offensive skill positions. Receiver A.J. Green (Ridgevile, S.C./Summerville) and running back Carlton Thomas (Frostproof, Fla.) could provide quarterback Matthew Stafford with some added weapons as true freshmen. On defense, top-50 overall prospect Deangelo Tyson (Statesboro, Ga.) and ESPN 150 end Toby Jackson (Griffin, Ga.) are explosive, potentially disruptive linemen. Richard Samuel (Cartersville, Ga./Cass), currently ranked as 35th overall player in the country, could develop into the next great Georgia back or play linebacker.

Five ESPN 150 prospects
LSU rode the wave of the BCS national title down the stretch and signed an impressive class. Wide receiver Chris Tolliver (Rayville, La.) and TE Tyler Edwards (Monroe, La./Ouachita Parish) are great in-state lands on offense. More importantly, the Tigers have explosive pass rushers in DE Chancey Aghayere (Garland, Texas) and DE/TE Chase Clement (Thibodaux, La./White Catholic) to replace departed upper classman in the front seven. Karnell Hatcher (Delray Beach, Fla./Atlantic Community) could be one of the better run-supporting safeties in this class.

Three ESPN 150 prospects
Love him or hate him, Bobby Petrino is back in college football, and from an offensive standpoint, particularly in the passing game, this is the best thing that could have happened for Arkansas fans -- hence QB Ryan Mallett's transfer to Fayetteville from Michigan. Running back De'Anthony Curtis (Camden, Ark./Fairview) and QB Tyler Wilson (Greenwood, Ark.) headline this class along with Jerico Nelson (Destrehan, La.), the nation's No. 21-rated athlete. Wide receiver depth is a need and Arkansas more than hit the mark in this area with Jarius Wright (Warren, Ark.), Greg Childs (Warren, Ark.) and Cruz Williams (Little Rock, Ark./Pulaski Academy). Top to bottom, the Hogs should consider Petrino's first class a big success. No. 2-rated athlete Joe Adams' (Little Rock, Ark./Central Arkansas Christian) commitment on signing day over USC was instrumental for the program and its in-state recruitment.

Two ESPN 150 prospects
Auburn failed to sign some quality prospects down the stretch but the class is still deep with underrated talent. It lost former signee RB Enrique Davis from the 2007 class, but replaced him with RB Eric Smith (Seffner, Fla./Armwood). Speedster Harry Adams (Fort Lauderdale, Fla./Dillard) is a much-needed deep threat, and receiver Darvin Adams (Kennesaw, Ga./Harrison) should help as well. Adding ESPN 150 corner Neiko Lipscomb (Tucker, Ga.) was a big pickup with his rare height and transitional quickness.

One ESPN 150 prospect
DT Templeton Hardy (Como, Miss./South Panola) likely will end up being an offensive lineman, in our opinion, and a pretty darn good one, too, once he matures. OLB Bo Walters (Birmingham, Ala./Briarwood Christian) is not very big, but he can run and fits the mold here. Late qualifier WR O'Neal Wilder (Carthage, Miss.) is a needed playmaker on offense for the Bulldogs. Another year of winning could gain the attention of a top-flight quarterback from the high school ranks, which is what the Bulldogs are missing. Adding ESPN No. 10 athlete Charles Mitchell (Clarksdale, Miss.) down the stretch solidifies a solid class for Croom.

One ESPN 150 prospect
The disappointing 2007 season might have deflated the great recruiting buzz we saw last year surrounding the Gamecocks' No. 4-ranked class. South Carolina signed just one ESPN 150 member compared to eight from a year ago. Projected corner Charles Whitlock (Chester, S.C.) is one of the better athletes in the nation; Steve Spurrier probably will utilize him creatively on both sides of the ball and in the return game. Outside linebacker Shaq Wilson (Jacksonville, Fla./First Coast) is one of the more underrated linebackers, and Reggie Bowens (Garner, N.C.) is another potential sleeper at outside 'backer with a good blend of size, speed and upside.

One ESPN 150 prospect
Tennessee's class looks more like 2006 (non-top-25) than 2007, when it claimed the No. 5 spot in our final class rankings. There is good skill on offense with wide receiver Rod Wilks (Smyrna, Tenn.) -- a physically gifted athlete with Larry Fitzgerald (Arizona Cardinals) qualities -- and powerful running back Tauren Poole (Toccoa, Ga./Stephens). Aaron Douglas (Maryville, Tenn.) is ESPN's No. 18-rated tight end prospect and is well-balanced in the run and pass. Dual-sport quarterback Casey Kelly (Sarasota, Fla.) has the size, arm strength and poise to be a good one in Knoxville (he's also a shortstop prospect). A bright spot on signing day was landing No. 26 outside 'backer E.J. Abrams-Ward (Thomasville, N.C), a potential disruptive perimeter player.

No ESPN 150 prospects
Despite back-to-back winning seasons and consecutive bowl victories, there is not a lot of talent in this Kentucky class. The Wildcats failed to sign an ESPN 150 prospect for the first time in three years, but receiver Aaron Boyd (Lexington, Ky/Henry Clay) was a major land on signing day. Defensive end Donte Rumph (Saint Matthews, S.C./Calhoun) is a versatile prospect with a good blend of size, strength and quickness. The Wildcats landed a good corner who is well-versed in man coverage in Cartier Rice (Duncan, S.C./James Byrnes). On offense, Deaunte Mason (Nashville, Tenn./Pearl-Cohn) is a legit dual-threat quarterback who could blossom in this spread system with his playmaking, Andre Woodson-type qualities.

No ESPN 150 prospects
Vanderbilt boasts two prospects ranked in the top 50 at their respective positions and one just outside, but after that the talent starts to tail off like in recent years. Linebacker was an area of need due to the graduation of standout Jonathan Goff, and Vandy filled it with a potential steal in DeAndre Jones (Memphis, Tenn.). Athlete Micah Powell (Tarpon Springs, Fla./East Lake) is another under-the-radar, well-rounded player with the physical tools to develop on both sides of the ball. Al Owens (Springtown, Texas) is a great-looking safety prospect with good range and solid skills against both the run and pass.

No ESPN 150 prospects
Ole Miss lost some key prospects down the stretch and signed a disappointing 2008 class. Outside linebacker Lekenwic Haynes (Rosenburg, Texas/Terry) is a quality pickup on defense and Enrique Davis (Lynn Haven, Fla./Hargrave Military Academy) could develop into a productive ball carrier on offense with his physical running style.