Sunday , February 25 2024

SEC Spotlight: Grading the 2024 class

The 2024 recruiting class is essentially wrapped up now as some programs did really well, others not as much. Here is the SEC Report Card looking at the entire high school recruiting class of each program after the Late Signing Period.

CONFERENCE REPORT CARDS: ACC | Pac-12 | Big Ten

POSITIONAL WINNERS: Quarterbacks

ALABAMA (No. 2 overall, No. 2 SEC)

FULL LIST: Alabama’s 2024 recruiting class

A certain icon stepping down in January shook up the sport, but Alabama‘s 2024 class mostly held strong for the Crimson Tide following Nick Saban‘s retirement. The two defections, quarterback Julian Sayin (transferred to Ohio State) and Jahmeer Grimsley (Florida) came from the group that was already enrolled on campus.

Conversely, new head coach Kalen DeBoer was able to regain the commitment of top priority recruit and No. 1 in-stater Ryan Williams in addition to holding onto others in the 2024 class, including fellow five-stars Jaylen Mbakwe and Zabien Brown.

The Tide also flipped blue-chip pass rusher Noah Carter from Washington last month.

Grade: B+

SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS WITH ALABAMA FANS AT TIDEILLUSTRATED.COM

*****  

ARKANSAS (No. 39 overall, No. 13 SEC)

FULL LIST: Arkansas’ 2024 recruiting class

After some hot seat talk surrounding Sam Pittman, there was indeed some coaching turnover in Fayetteville and the uncertainty left the program’s commit list poachable all cycle long. The story of the 2024 class may be the head-turning decommitments, a run settling at eight prospects after wide receiver Ashton Bethel-Roman was granted a release from his National Letter of Intent.

Making matters worse was half of the defections landing elsewhere in the SEC, resulting in a tie for the lowest number of signees (16) in the conference along with South Carolina.

The defensive class is promising and the geography was surprising, with a quarter of the class hailing from Alabama.

Grade: D

SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS WITH ARKANSAS FANS AT HAWGBEAT.COM

*****  

AUBURN (No. 8 overall, No. 3 SEC)

Cam Coleman

Cam Coleman (Karyna Aguilar)

FULL LIST: Auburn’s 2024 recruiting class

A top-10 haul was completed by Hugh Freeze and company thanks to a strong finish in the cycle, sparked by the flip of in-state priority recruit and five-star wide receiver Cam Coleman. He was one of four December additions for the Tigers, who also worked the flip game with pass rusher Amaris Williams and held off Alabama’s run for big offensive lineman Favour Edwin.

Led by Coleman, the wide receiver class is as good as there is nationally, with one-time Alabama commitment Perry Thompson, Malcolm Simmons and Bryce Cain making up the group for position coach Ryan Davis. The quartet each hail from within state lines, similar to the strengths in Auburn’s linebacker haul of Damarcus Riddick, Joseph Phillips and De’Angelo Barber.

Grade: A

SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS WITH AUBURN FANS AT AUBURNSPORTS.COM

*****  

FLORIDA (No. 15 overall, No. 6 SEC)

Jadan Baugh

Jadan Baugh (Rivals.com)

FULL LIST: Florida’s 2024 recruiting class

The Gators were gutted leading up to the Early Signing Period, losing a trio of recruits on signing day and two more earlier in December, allowing the class ranking to free-fall from a cycle-high of No. 3 down into the 20s.

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To Billy Napier‘s credit, however, Florida bounced back with blue-chip wins for running back Jadan Baugh and in-state safety Gregory Smith III before day’s end. Most importantly, though, it held on to the class headliner on offense in five-star quarterback DJ Lagway as well as its top get on defense with top-50 in-state star LJ McCray.

Grade: C

SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS WITH FLORIDA FANS AT 1ST AND TEN FLORIDA

*****  

GEORGIA (No. 1 overall, No. 1 SEC)

FULL LIST: Georgia’s 2024 recruiting class

The Bulldogs jumped back to the top spot for the first time since the 2020 cycle and did it with – to the surprise of nobody – defense. The program was able to earn a five-star commitment from every level of a traditional defense by cycle’s end, led by No. 1 cornerback Ellis Robinson IV and top-ranked safety KJ Bolden.

Linebacker Justin Williams and defensive lineman Joseph Jonah-Ajonye round out the nation’s top five-star haul. The offense wasn’t overlooked, either, as Georgia reloaded with the biggest offensive line class (in mass) and a trio of running backs to reinforce how classic of a Kirby Smart haul the group really was.

The group is pure quality, also checking in with the nation’s highest average star rating (3.96) despite it being one of the largest classes in America (28 commits).

Grade: A

SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS WITH GEORGIA FANS AT UGASPORTS.COM

*****  

KENTUCKY (No. 25 overall, No. 10 SEC)

Cutter Boley

Cutter Boley (Rivals.com)

FULL LIST: Kentucky’s 2024 recruiting class

Mark Stoops‘ theoretical flirtation with the Texas A&M job didn’t throw too big of a wrench into the late stages of the haul, as Kentucky lost a trio of recruits but rebounded in gaining two into the New Year, both on defense.

The program secured its third-straight top-30 recruiting class by winning close to home, too, as Kentucky signed each of the top five prospects in the state led by longtime quarterback priority Cutter Boley.

Each of the other five blue-chip recruits were also on brand for the Wildcats, residing on defense save for wide receiver Hardley Gilmore.

Grade: B

SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS WITH KENTUCKY FANS AT CATSILLUSTRATED.COM

*****  

LSU (No. 11 overall, No. 4 SEC)

Dominick McKinley

Dominick McKinley (Karyna Aguilar/Rivals.com)

FULL LIST: LSU’s 2024 recruiting class

The Tigers have always been able to shop close to home for elite classes and Brian Kelly‘s bunch was at it again in 2024 as LSU inked nine of the top 10 prospects in Louisiana, including five-star defensive lineman Dominick McKinley. The New Year’s addition of McKinley felt like validation for the program’s class, one with a lot of moving parts as one of the largest classes in the country and biggest in the league at 30 commitments.

Beyond the Bayou, LSU also did well in the pipeline state of Texas, securing a half-dozen blue-chip recruits from the expanded SEC territory. The commitment list turnover, as the program lost seven one-time pledges by cycle’s end, is likely what caused the finish to slip outside the top 10 overall.

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Grade: B –

SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS WITH LSU FANS AT DEATHVALLEYINSIDER.COM

*****  

MISSISSIPPI STATE (No. 26 overall, No. 11 SEC)

Michael Van Buren

Michael Van Buren (Rivals.com)

FULL LIST: Mississippi State’s 2024 recruiting class

Jeff Lebby is the new head man in Starkville and his first haul is reflective of his offensive reputation. Mississippi State won and re-won late battles for skill position prospects on that side of the ball, adding quarterback Michael Van Buren and wide receivers Braylon Burnside and Mario Craver late in the game.

It wasn’t all good, as just three of the Magnolia State’s top 11 prospects signed with the Bulldogs. They also lost out on four pledges following Lebby’s hire, though at least half came from the new staff’s evaluations.

Grade: B+

SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS WITH MISSISSIPPI STATE FANS AT BULLDOGBLITZ.COM

*****  

MISSOURI (No. 22 overall, No. 9 SEC)

Williams Nwaneri

Williams Nwaneri

FULL LIST: Missouri’s 2024 recruiting class

On one hand, the top of Missouri‘s class is laden with elite talent led by the state’s top prospect and five-star Williams Nwaneri and a trio of Floridians. On the other, the class perhaps underachieved based on the program’s strong on-field product and stability to sell under Eli Drinkwitz as Nwaneri was the only recruit ranked within the top-11 in the Show Me State to sign with the program.

Whether it took advantage of the program’s progress or not, a top-25 haul has become the norm in Columbia, as Drinkwitz’s staff has only missed that mark once in the last four recruiting cycles.

Grade: B-

SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS WITH MISSOURI FANS AT POWERMIZZOU.COM

*****  

OLE MISS (No. 21 overall, No. 8 SEC)

Kamarion Franklin

Kamarion Franklin

FULL LIST: Ole Miss’ 2024 recruiting class

Sure, the transfer portal will always be an important tool for the ‘Portal King’ but Lane Kiffin‘s program took a strong step forward on the trail following the winningest season in Ole Miss history. The class includes star power and volume, led by five-star defensive lineman and top prospect in the state, Kamarion Franklin.

The headliner was one of five top-10 recruits in the state to ink with the Rebels in a class that may go down as more of a defense-first haul. Eight of its one dozen blue-chip recruits are projected to play in Pete Golding‘s defense, including four up front on the line.

Grade: B+

SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS WITH OLE MISS FANS AT REBELGROVE.COM

*****  

SOUTH CAROLINA (No. 30 overall, No. 12 SEC)

Josiah Thompson

Josiah Thompson (Nick Lucero/Rivals.com)

FULL LIST: South Carolina’s 2024 recruiting class

The Gamecocks disappointed on the field and it slowed down some of the recruiting momentum the program built up in the 2022 and 2023 classes. The 2024 class is tied with Arkansas for the fewest signees in the SEC (16) despite signing five of the top seven players in South Carolina, including blue-chip offensive tackle Josiah Thompson.

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The Gamecocks also splashed in the DMV for the second-straight cycle, winning a long-winded battle for five-star pass rusher Dylan Stewart. There just wasn’t much depth built beyond the well-known names in the haul.

Grade: C

SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS WITH SOUTH CAROLINA FANS AT GAMECOCKSCOOP.COM

*****  

TENNESSEE (No. 14 overall, No. 5 SEC)

Mike Matthews

Mike Matthews (Rivals.com)

FULL LIST: Tennessee’s 2024 recruiting class

Another balanced class is headed to Knoxville under Josh Heupel, with plenty of big guns on the offensive side of the ball leading the way. Four of the top highest-ranked signees come from that side of the ball, including five-star wide receiver Mike Matthews, which spurred a lot of out-of-state success in the class.

A head-turning 11 states are represented in the Volunteer group, with key wins in Alabama for elite pass rusher Jordan Ross, Georgia with quarterback Jake Merklinger in addition to Matthews.

Tennessee pulled in a four-star from double-digit states while winning for three of the top nine within state lines. A third-straight top-15 class deserves its due.

Grade: A-

SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS WITH TENNESSEE FANS AT VOLREPORT.COM

*****  

TEXAS A&M (No. 20 overall, No. 7 SEC)

Terry Bussey

Terry Bussey (Matt Moreno/Rivals.com)

FULL LIST: Texas A&M’s 2024 recruiting class

Losing the type of talent the program did following the coaching change speaks for itself, but so does the rebound effort under Mike Elko. The 17-man class isn’t the largest, but the quality is tremendous thus far, with the Aggies sitting behind only Georgia and Ohio State with the highest average star rating per recruit (3.94) nationally.

Perception-wise it hit high marks relative to expectation, too, just last week with five-star Terry Bussey sticking with the program despite a heavy push from both Georgia and LSU.

Texas A&M added five new prospects following the hire, including winning a national battle for pass rusher Solomon Williams and flipping a pair of four-star wideouts in Izaiah Williams (Florida) and Ashton Bethel-Roman (Arkansas).

Grade: B

SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS WITH TEXAS A&M FANS AT AGGIEYELL.COM

*****

VANDERBILT (No. 40 overall, No. 14 SEC)

Whit Muschamp

Whit Muschamp (Rivals.com)

FULL LIST: Vanderbilt’s 2024 recruiting class

The expectation for Clark Lea‘s program may be decreasing with the new-look SEC forming in 2024, but recruiting has been steadily up under the current staff relative to Power Five peers. Eleven states are represented in the class, including the sole four-star in the group in Texas native and tall defensive back Dontae Carter.

The group again shows balance on position projection and consistency, with another two-quarterback haul headed to Nashville in Whit Muschamp and Jeremy St-Hilaire each coming in to compete. The 21 new names should pair well with a fairly large transfer portal class for a program that could look plenty different in the fall.

Grade: B

SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS WITH VANDERBILT FANS AT VANDYSPORTS.COM

El deporte es una actividad física que se realiza con el objetivo de mantener la salud, mejorar la forma física o competir. Puede involucrar una amplia variedad de actividades, como correr, nadar, jugar al fútbol o practicar deportes de equipo. El deporte no solo beneficia el cuerpo, sino que también promueve la camaradería, la disciplina y el espíritu competitivo en las personas. Es una parte importante de la vida para muchas personas en todo el mundo.

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