There might have been a lot of headlines out west about the National Signing Day classes that Alabama and Ole Miss put together, but guess what? Florida’s was pretty darned amazing. Will Muschamp has the reputation as one of the best recruiters in the land, and he proved it with an excellent class. However, there are some deep questions about Georgia to answer, folks…

CHOMP! CHOMP! CHOMP! THE MUSCHAMP EFFECT

Among other thoughts from UF brass, Will Muschamp was hired to Florida for two reasons: 1) He’s a great defensive coach 2) He’s a great recruiter. After a fantastic 2012-3 season (marred slightly by an ignominious loss to Louisville), Florida needed to add some more depth on both sides of the ball, and by God, did they do it.

First of all, there’s a lot of love for Vernon Hargreaves, who stayed in-state to play for the Gators. People are using the words “lock-down corner” about him, so there’s room to get excited, Gators fans. Also helping Hargreaves in the secondary will be Keanu Neal (Replacements or Point Break, movie fans?!) and Marcell Harris, who will try and fill the hole left by Matt Elam (if that’s at all possible). He also brought in Caleb Brantley, Daniel McMillan and the amazingly-named Alex Anzalone (who opted for Florida sun rather than Notre Dame cold). You’ve guessed it, folks. Muschamp’s Gators are going to be STACKED in defense, if all goes to plan.

But let’s be honest, the Gators were poor on the other side of the ball last year, but the pick-up of highly-touted running back Kelvin Taylor (as well as RB Adam Lane), wide receivers Demarcus Robinson, Ahmad Fulwood, Alvin Bailey and Marqui Hawkins, and QB Max Staver is going to give Muschamp’s offense some speed.

WHAT’S HAPPENED TO GEORGIA?

The Great State of Georgia must have too much talent in its high schools to all attend the University of Georgia to go around, because the Dawgs signed 32 recruits, had a top-10 class, and STILL people are grousing. Can Mark Richt not win in Athens?

After the departure of Baccari Rambo to the NFL, there’s going to be a lot of pressure on corner Shaq Wiggins and safety Tray Matthews to show if they can feasible replacements. Alex Ogletree’s gone too, but Johnny O’Neal and Tim Kimborough will be asked to do the job.

On the other side of the ball, the decision by QB/offensive God Aaron Murray to stay hasn’t darkened the heart of Brice Ramsey, who spurned Alabama, Florida, Ole Miss and Ohio State to stay in-state and become a dawg. Let’s hope he behaves himself.

But there’s still annoyance from the Georgia sidelines – even internally. Offensive lineman Chris Burnette tweeted: “Dang why everybody leaving the state?” Maybe that was a call to recruits, or maybe that was a cry of despair. Georgia fans are still annoyed that Derrick Henry decided to go to Alabama, and were even more annoyed on National Signing Day after Montravius Adams decided on Auburn and Laramey Tunsil went to Ole Miss to be with Robert Nkemdiche – who also comes from Georgia. Have we finished? Reuben Foster (Bama), Matthew Thomas (Florida State – although he was pursued hard by Miami), and Alvin Kamara (Bama) apparently all looked at Athens before going to their SEC foes (apart from Thomas, obviously).

For us the big thing that’s hurting Georgia (and despite a Top 10 class, this is a step down from back-to-back great NSD years for the Dawgs) is the status of defensive co-ordinator Todd Grantham, who’s being considered for NFL jobs as we speak, and there’s no certainly he’ll stay, despite what Mark Richt says. Although we’ve got our reservations about Grantham coaching at the next level (UGA’s ‘D’ this season despite its talent was a disappointment, we believe), NFL coaches don’t. And they know better than this mere blog.

SPURRIER SOLID IN SOUTH CAROLINA

We believe that Jadeveon Clowney should have been used more as a recruiting tool. South Carolina should have said: “Come play for us. If you’re good enough this year, you’ll play on the D-Line with THIS GUY this year, and it’s going to be some fun.” It didn’t, and Carolina had a pretty uneventful year. It’s weird, because despite another excellent year for USC, South Carolina fans believe that not going to the SEC Championship Game was yet another disappointment for them. That’s the Spurrier effect, right?

Anyway, Carolina needed some running backs after the departure of Marcus Lattimore (he goes with everyone in college football’s blessing) and they got them in David Williams and Jamari Smith. Both of them will battle Mike Davis for the starting job now Kenny Miles has gone, too. The Connor Shaw/Dylan Thompson forced experiment at QB was a resounding success for the visor, but getting Conor Mitch won’t hurt Gamecocks fans, either. Don’t be shocked if Shaw doesn’t start on Game 1 because of his foot injury after foot surgery, but Thompson’s so capable that Mitch will just have to wait a while. The departure of punt returning ace Ace Sanders to the draft will mean that more pressure will be heaped on Bruce Ellington to perform, but he’ll have the added help of Jasper Sasser. They could have done with another receiver, though. DJ Park, Alan Knott, J.P. Vonashek and Na’Ty Rogers will provide much-needed cover on the offensive line, which is looking a little thin suddenly, according to this depth chart.

On the other side of the ball, Clowney can’t do everything. DT Kelsey Griffin – offered by both Florida and Georgia – opted to play in Columbia – and could immediately fight Kelcy Quarles for a starting job (albeit unlikely). Linebackers Larenz Bryant, David Johnson and Skai Moor could also start immediately with the lack of depth at the position for the ‘Cocks, but this is a really solid class by The Visor.

JAMES FRANKLIN – UNDERCOVER HERO?

There is no doubt that James Franklin’s got one of the most difficult jobs in the SEC. It’s not the fact that Vanderbilt is historically seen as a joke by the SEC schools because of a) it’s horrible record and b) the fact that no-one really goes to games so it’s the perfect away-day for visiting fans, but it’s the fact that Vanderbilt’s academic standards are higher than most in college football.

But we love Franklin. We love his energy, we love his outspokenness (I mean, who else would ‘accidentally’ call Nick Saban ‘Nick Satan’  live on videoed banquet – and then call and apologise?), and we love that he’s bringing Vanderbilt from an also-ran/SEC carpet into something that vies for bowl games (they’ve made two in two years, folks!).

Anyway, the Commodores will be hoping that the big upside that people were talking about with WR Jordan Cunningham will come to fruition, as well as DeAndre Woods and Carlos Burse. They should partner Jordan Matthews and Jonathan Krause in the wide receiver position. And now that Jordan Rodgers has graduated (we wish him luck), new arrivals Chad Kanoff and Johnathon McCrary will battle it out with Austyn Carta-Samuels and Paton Robinette to see who’s going to throw the ball to them. Brandon Vandenberg at tight end will also provide some much-needed pass protection, although Vanderbilt’s offensive line has got a lot of experience already.

Running the ball, Raphael Webb will help to fill the hole left by much-loved running back Zak Stacy – even though the ‘Dores are pretty set in that position (expect Webb to redshirt, folks!).

Defensively, Jay Woods and Landon Stokes could start immediately if they impress as much as they did recruiters. Woods spurned offers from Georgia, South Carolina and Ole Miss to play for Vandy, while Stokes ignored Ole Miss, Mississippi State and Clemson to play in the SEC East.

THE NON-SIGNING HIGHLIGHTS TENNESSEE DAY

It’s not been a great 12-14 months for Tennessee. After being touted as a possible winner of the SEC East, Tennessee then proceeded to fail to make a bowl, and promptly fired Derek Dooley. They then lost Cordarelle Patterson, Justin Hunter, DA’ Rick Rogers and QB Tyler Bray to the draft, hired Butch Jones from Cincinnati, and then announced that they were $240m in debt- which is sad but unsurprising if you consider the lack of success at Neyland Stadium in recent years. Anyway, it was all capped off by National Signing Day, where the Twitter-verse exploded with news that Newfound Savior of the Tennessee Defense Vonn Bell had signed for Tennessee. Immediately, tweets were sent out abusing Urban Meyer, the Buckeyes, proclaiming Tennessee was back, and touting SEC dominance. Well, Bell announced that he was actually going to bring his talents to Ohio State. And more sickeningly than that, Bell’s a self-proclaimed UT fan.

Tennessee will lose a lot of wide receiver product after the departures of Patterson, Hunter and Rogers, and Marquez North, Ryan Jenkins, (and to a lesser extent Cameron Sutton, Paul Harris and Joshua Smith) will immediately be asked to produce. Their quarterback will be Justin Worley, unless he gets overtaken in the Spring by Riley Ferguson and Josh Dobbs (although Dobbs can also play DT). On the running front, Jabo Lee is the only running back brought in by Jones – so expect a bit of ‘Air Former Bearcat’ in Neyland this year. Offensive tackle Austin Sanders has been added for some solidity.

On the other side of the ball, Corey Vereen and Jaylen Miller add some defensive depth to the Vols, who desperately need it. However, the Vols were killed by turnovers last year, and if they managed to cut those out, you never know. Jones has made silver purses out of sow’s ears before.

A YEAR AFTER THE NATION’S TOP RECRUIT, WHAT NOW FOR MIZZOU?

Missouri’s 2012/3 season wasn’t so much a disappointment as it was a brutal introduction to life in the SEC. Although they won their first SECs game in their history by beating Kentucky and Tennessee in back-t0-back SEC games, much was expected of Dorial Green-Beckham, but he really did nothing until the Tennessee game apart from get arrested. We can’t wait to see the fruits of the nation’s former No.1 recruit in 2013- this should be fun. After the graduation of TJ Moe, we expect Gary Pinkel to give DGB a ton more catching time – if he doesn’t get arrested again.

Anyway, Missouri’s class of 20 in 2013 underwhelmed many (they are 38th in ESPN’s Top 40 – last in the SEC), but it didn’t seem to have a problem keeping talent in-state, with four-star players Chase Abbington, LB Eric Beisel and RB Anthony Sherrils all deciding to play in yellow and black. They also beat Ole Miss, Cal and a host of Big Ten schools to defensive tackle Josh Augusta, who’s a man mountain.

And while Dorial Green-Beckham will expect to receive passes from James Franklin or Corbin Berkstresser this season, adding Trent Hostick and Eddie Printz could liven up the battle for the QB position.

OH, AND KENTUCKY….

Mark Stoops has arrived, and while we don’t expect miracles immediately for the Wildcats, it was pleasing to see that Kentucky wasn’t the worst team in the SEC from a recruiting point of view.

From Wildcats’ fans point of view, Stoops well-known recruiting excellence was highlighted when he managed to persuade Louisville native DE Jason Hatcher to stay in-state instead of playing for Southern California (although it helped UK’s cause that Monte Kiffin decided to leave LA, too!). Also coming in from on the DE side is juco Za’Darius Smith, who was also recruited by Texas A&M, Florida State, Texas, Auburn and Ole Miss, which is going to help immensely on a team that hasn’t really recovered from the loss of leaders Danny Trevathan and Winston Guy before last season. Four-star Jaleel Hytchye (that last name’s a mouthful, isn’t it?), who was recruited by a number of schools nationwide, will help the Wildcats at cornerback, too.

On the offensive side (and let’s face it, Kentucky needed help EVERYWHERE last year), Juco WR Javess Blue is seen as being a real pick-up by Stoops and the gang. Texas A&M, Mississippi State, Arizona State and West Virginia certainly thought his speed and playmaking ability would be an addition to the team – they all offered him. Running back Jojo Kemp may well see time at running back, particularly if he can impress in the Spring. Kentucky’s not exactly deep – or strong – at that position.

Be Sociable, Share!

Tagged with:

Filed under: FloridaGeorgiaKentuckymissouriSouth CarolinaTennesseeVanderbilt

Like this post? Subscribe to my RSS feed and get loads more!