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February 12, 2012

SEC breakdown: Bama still on top

MORE: Big East | Big 12

Rivals.com analyst Keith Niebuhr ranks the SEC 2012 recruiting classes by position.

SEC's best by position
OFFENSE
1. Auburn
2. Texas A&M
T3. Kentucky
T3. Tennessee
T5. Georgia
T5. LSU
T5. Missouri
T5. South Carolina
T5. Vanderbilt
T10. Alabama
T10. Ole Miss
12. Florida
13. Mississippi State
Quarterback

Auburn tops the list, just slightly ahead of Texas A&M, largely because the Tigers signed two quality signal-callers - Zeke Pike and Jonathan Wallace. Although both are three-star prospects, Pike was a U.S. Army All-American and many believe given his frame and natural ability he has a high upside.

The Aggies counter with Matt Davis, a Rivals250 prospect and the highest-rated quarterback heading to the SEC. Kentucky and Tennessee each grabbed four-star quarterbacks in Patrick Towles and Nathan Peterman, respectively. Peterman ranked eighth nationally among pro-style signal callers; Towles was No. 9.

1. Georgia
2. Alabama
3. Ole Miss
4. Texas A&M
5. Arkansas
6. South Carolina
7. Vanderbilt
8. Missouri
T9. Auburn
T9. Florida
T11. Kentucky
T11. Tennessee
13. Mississippi State
Running back

The race for No. 1 was a doozy. Alabama landed five-star tailback T.J. Yeldon and Rivals250 back [/db]Kenyan Drake[/db], but Georgia gets the nod.

The reason?

Well, the Bulldogs signed two top-50 national players in Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall of North Carolina. Additionally, Georgia brought in Quayvon Hicks, the country's No. 2 fullback. Mississippi also did quite well for itself, getting four-star back I'Tavius Mathers and Jaylen Walton, a standout scatback from Memphis.

1. Tennessee
2. Texas A&M
3. South Carolina
4. Alabama
5. Missouri
6. LSU
7. Auburn
8. Florida
9. Arkansas
10. Mississippi State
11. Kentucky
12. Georgia
13. Vanderbilt
14. Ole Miss
Wide receiver

Missouri got the biggest prize but Tennessee had the biggest and best class. All four Volunteer receiver signees are four-star prospects. Two incoming Vols - Drae Bowles and Jason Croom - are members of the Rivals250. Bowles also was an Army All-American.

Another Tennessee receiver signee, Cordarrelle Patterson, was the No. 4 overall player in junior college. The Aggies scored big with Thomas Johnson, a top-50 recruit.

Meanwhile, South Carolina picked up Rivals100 standout Shaq Roland. Missouri, of course, brought in Dorial Green-Beckham, the country's top recruit regardless of position.

1. Florida
2. Auburn
T3. Alabama
T3. Georgia
T3. South Carolina
T6. LSU
T6. Mississippi State
T6. Missouri
T6. Tennessee
Tight end

Florida and Auburn each did extremely well at tight end, separating themselves a good bit from the pack in the SEC primarily because both signed two players at the position. Florida locked down Kent Taylor, the country's No. 1 tight end, and Colin Thompson, a four-star blocking specialist and Under Armour All-American.

No. 2 tight end recruit Ricky Parks, among the most athletic players in the class, is headed to Auburn. So is 6-foot-7 standout Darrion Hutcherson, a player with a very high upside.

1. Auburn
2. Florida
3. Georgia
4. South Carolina
5. Vanderbilt
6. Texas A&M
7. LSU
8. Mississippi State
9. Alabama
10. Missouri
11. Ole Miss
12. Kentucky
13. Arkansas
Offensive line

Auburn had a big-time haul on the offensive line, much like a year earlier. Of the Tigers' six signees, four are four-star recruits. Nationally, only Stanford and Texas had that many.

The headliner is Rivals100 tackle Avery Young, a player who also strongly considered Florida and Georgia. Tackle Shane Callahan is in the Rivals250 while Jordan Diamond and Patrick Miller also are four-star prospects.

Florida, meanwhile, scored the top prize nationally on the offensive line, tackle D.J. Humphries.

DEFENSE
1. Alabama
2. Florida
T3. Mississippi State
T3. Tennessee
5. Georgia
6. Kentucky
7. Auburn
8. Ole Miss
T8. South Carolina
10. Texas A&M
11. Vanderbilt
12. Missouri
Defensive tackle

Alabama landed five defensive tackles, an extremely high number. From the group, two earned four-star status. Both of those players - Korren Kirven and Dalvin Tomlinson -- announced for the Tide on signing day. Another Alabama defensive tackle signee, Alphonse Taylor, once was committed to Florida State.

The Gators also had two four-star signees - junior college pickup Damien Jacobs and Dante Phillips. So did the Vols, who picked up Daniel McCullers and Danny O'Brien, the latter being a Rivals250 recruit.

1. Florida
2. Georgia
3. Arkansas
4. Mississippi State
5. Ole Miss
6. Texas A&M
7. Tennessee
8. Vanderbilt
9. South Carolina
10. LSU
11. Missouri
T12. Auburn
T12. Kentucky
Defensive end

Nobody in the country did better at end than Florida.

By the time the Gators were finished, they had signed five ends, two of whom are five-star prospects. Jonathan Bullard, an Army All-American is the country's No. 1 strongside end. Dante Fowler Jr., also a five-star recruit, is No. 3 among weekside ends.

Georgia also did very well at this spot, inking three four-star prospects, the headliner being Rivals100 recruit Jordan Jenkins. Arkansas signed seven ends, and each is a three-star recruit. The best of the group arguably is Darius Philon, a one-time Alabama verbal.

1. Alabama
2. LSU
T3. Auburn
T3. Florida
T3. Vanderbilt
T6. Arkansas
T6. Missouri
T8. Mississippi State
T8. Texas A&M
10. South Carolina
11. Kentucky
Linebacker

The Tide doesn't just have the best linebacker class in the SEC; it has the best in the country. And it wasn't even close.

All told, Alabama landed five backers, and all five are four-star prospects. Two of them - Reggie Ragland and Ryan Anderson - are members of the Rivals100. The other three - Dillon Lee, Denzel Devall and Tyler Hayes - are in the Rivals250. Ragland is the country's top-rated inside backer.

LSU is next with two four-star pickups in Kwon Alexander and Lorenzo Phillips.

1. Alabama
2. Florida
3. South Carolina
4. LSU
5. Texas A&M
6. Tennessee
7. Auburn
8. Arkansas
9. Kentucky
10. Missouri
11. Ole Miss
12. Vanderbilt
13. Mississippi State
Defensive back

On the back end of the defense, Alabama and Florida were the SEC's biggest winners. The Tide rolled with four signees, including five-star recruit Landon Collins, a safety, and two four-star kids in Geno Smith and Travell Dixon, a standout junior college player.

Despite missing out on five-star corner Tracy Howard, who picked Miami, the Gators landed Rivals100 players Marcus Maye, a safety, and Brian Poole, a cornerback.

The Gamecocks also grabbed a pair of four-stars - Jordan Diggs and Chaz Elder. Both are safeties.

1. Alabama
2. Georgia
3. Mississippi State
T4. South Carolina
T4. Tennessee
T6. LSU
T6. Texas A&M
8. Kentucky
9. Ole Miss
T10. Arkansas
T10. Vanderbilt
Athlete

Of the top 10 players listed at athlete nationally, Alabama landed two of them. They are Eddie Williams, who checks in at No. 1, and Cyrus Jones at No. 6. Both players expect to start their college careers at receiver, but are versatile enough to play defense. Williams, in particular, looks great in the secondary.

Josh Harvey-Clemons was a five-star pickup for Georgia. He'll start out at outside linebacker, but could see time at receiver. If he has trouble gaining weight in college, he easily could move to the secondary.

One of Mississippi State's top signees, Will Redmond, is likely to play either corner or safety, and should also be a factor on special teams.

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