The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

Sports

February 6, 2014

SEC dominates recruiting rankings once again

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Best class: Alabama's class was ranked first in the nation by all the major recruiting services and included seven players rated as five-star prospects by at least one service. Alabama's collection of five-star prospects includes defensive back Tony Brown, linebacker Rashaan Evans, Hand, defensive back Marlon Humphrey, offensive lineman Dominick Jackson, offensive lineman Cam Robinson and all-purpose athlete Bo Scarbrough.

Impact player: LSU's Leonard Fournette should step in and help the Tigers replace 1,400-yard rusher Jeremy Hill. Georgia's Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall and Alabama's T.J. Yeldon have shown recently that SEC running backs can make major impacts as freshmen. Fournette is rated as the nation's No. 1 overall prospect in the 247Sports Composite.

Players to watch: Texas A&M has a couple of them in Allen and defensive end Myles Garrett. Allen already has enrolled and will participate in spring practice with a legitimate shot at replacing Manziel, the 2012 Heisman Trophy winner. Defensive end Myles Garrett, the nation's No. 2 overall prospect in the 247Sports Composite, should boost the pass rush of a Texas A&M defense that allowed the most points and yards per game of any SEC team last season.

Biggest surprises: Tennessee had its fourth straight losing season last fall and Kentucky went 2-10, yet both teams signed their top classes in recent memory. Tennessee kept the state's top players at home, something that had been a problem in recent years. Kentucky signed a prize quarterback prospect in Barker - a home-state product - and also made plenty of inroads in nearby Ohio.

Biggest dud: A potential top-25 class at Vanderbilt was decimated after former Commodores coach James Franklin left for Penn State. New coach Derek Mason needed a flurry of commitments in the last 72 hours just to get Vanderbilt back in the top 50.

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