This could be the start of something big: 2018 recruiting and the SEC balance of power

I get this, Coach Smart, I really do.

Obviously, I’m excited about the class, and I know all you guys want to talk about the ranking. That really does not float my boat or this staff’s boat. I don’t think that’s what’s important. What’s more important is the quality of kids we were able to get, both academically and athletically.

It’s what I expect a head coach to say after any signing day.  For all I know, you really believe it.

While I would never suggest that recruiting rankings are an absolute science, they are a decent road map to show where the talent in any given season is heading.  And from that standpoint, the ranking matters, particularly in comparison with the rest of the conference.

Here’s the link to the current 247Sports composite team rankings for the SEC.  The gap between #1 Georgia and #3 Auburn is larger than the gap between Auburn and the conference’s eleventh-ranked team, Kentucky.  Beyond that, notice a significant trend to this year’s results.

There are two SEC teams in the first list.  There are five in the second.  And, sure, while a little of the second result can be explained by transitional staffs at Tennessee and Arkansas, the fact remains that those programs have to play football with the rosters they’ve assembled.

The discrepancy is even more apparent when you look at the élite talent assembled in this year’s classes.

SEC’s 5-star signees

  • Alabama — Eyabi Anoma (6-5, 235), DE, Baltimore, Md.
  • Alabama – Patrick Surtain Jr. (6-1.25, 199), CB, Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
  • Georgia — Justin Fields (6-3, 221), QB, Kennesaw, Ga.
  • Georgia — Zamir White (6-1, 220), RB, Laurinburg, N.C.
  • Georgia — Jamaree Salyer (6-4, 342), G, Atlanta
  • Georgia — Adam Anderson (6-4, 214), OLB, Rome, Ga.
  • Georgia — Cade Mays (6-6, 318), T, Knoxville, Tenn.
  • Georgia — Brenton Cox (6-4.5, 247), DE, Stockbridge, Ga.
  • Georgia – Tyson Campbell (6-2.5, 180), CB, Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
  • LSU — Terrace Marshall (6-2.5, 192), WR, Bossier City, La.

4-star signees: Auburn 16, Georgia 14, Alabama 11, LSU 11, Florida 10, Texas A&M 10, South Carolina 8, Tennessee 7, Mississippi State 6, Ole Miss 3, Vanderbilt 3, Kentucky 3, Arkansas 2

It’s hard to deny there is a growing talent gap between the very top of the conference and the rest.

Now, one great class does not a behemoth make.  Just ask Dan Mullen.  You can say Georgia isn’t Alabama until it puts together a similar run of dominance at the top of the recruiting rankings, and you’d be right.  (You can also make the point about developing the talent once it arrives on campus, but I’ll give Georgia’s staff the benefit of the doubt on that one after last season.)  But you have to start somewhere to make such a run, and the Dawgs appear to have taken those steps.

The point here is that when Saban started his run, Florida was a dominant, talented program and LSU was hitting its stride, too.  The SEC’s upper echelon, which included Georgia, regularly had multiple teams in the national top ten recruiting classes.  This year, there are only two.  (It should be noted that there are five more in the top twenty.)

My point here isn’t that we’ve just seen game, set, match.  It’s that we need to watch and see if a few years later, this is nothing but an outlier, or the start of a significant shift in the balance of conference power.  In that regard,

47 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football, Recruiting, SEC Football

47 responses to “This could be the start of something big: 2018 recruiting and the SEC balance of power

  1. A10Penny

    The exciting thing to me is that if this class was just a matter of Kirby passing Alabama, Alabama would have been ranked #2 in the class (maybe #3) since they win it every year. But the fact Alabama dropped all the way to #6 could be a sign of just how important Kirby was to the Tide’s wins on signing day for 7 straight years.

    Is Kirby that important? Is Bama slipping without him (and Pruitt, etc)? It’s way too early to tell but maybe, just maybe UGA is ready to capitalize on the post-Saban era which has to come at some point. It’s way too early to say UGA has passed Bama, but WOW this was amazing

    Liked by 2 people

    • Russ

      Losing Kirby certainly hurt their recruiting. Having to recruit against Kirby (for Georgia players in particular) hurts as well. It’s a double whammy.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Kirby was obviously a huge part of it – but so was Kiffin and Pruitt. I don’t expect that Daboll was a huge part of the recruiting given that his last college experience was in the last century, but Alabama’s drop might have as much to do the huge amount of turnover on the staff in the last 2-3 years.

      Like

      • Otto

        Agreed, it will be interesting to see how Saban rebuilds. I would say he is in the middle of the biggest staff rebuild he has had since arriving in Tuscaloosa. He has also benefited by recruiting in areas where the home program was weak.

        Whatever happens outside of Athens, I do believe Smart works to maximize everything he can in the program. Georgia can supply the bulk of the program and Smart has made it a priority to keep to Georgia recruits home while also getting top talent from around the country.

        Like

    • Stoopnagle

      Obv. but 23-26. We haven’t passed Bama.

      Like

  2. JasonC

    When you look at the stars in the 3-deep, it’s pretty surreal.
    But if Kirby keeps recruiting at this pace, his margin of error with fans will shrink pretty fast. I guess that’s a good problem to have.

    Like

  3. Russ

    We only need 2-3 of these classes to close the gap, and I think we’re there. The next classes keep us there.

    Atlanta is our destination and we should give Bama a straight up fight for top of the conference.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. ugafidelis

    Be still my heart!

    Like

  5. Boz

    The parallels with Bama go on and on, but one of the things that got talked about following the NCG was the number of true Frosh on the field during that game. Based on that information, you’ve got to believe the recruiting rankings got it right following Bama’s record breaking haul on ‘17 signing day. This would lead me to believe a great deal in what this years class can do for UGA. Plus, 9 have already enrolled.

    Time for me to go take a cold shower.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Stoopnagle

      That’s a great point. Bama is still stacked and we’re close to on-par with them and with Clemson (yeah, don’t look now, but Clemson has a year or two head start on us with this hauling in all the stars business – they just had an awesome class on par with ours save for volume)

      Like

  6. Bright Idea

    And I’m not as worried about whether this bunch is going to get coached up as I used to be. That’s what really feels good.

    Like

    • TomReagan

      Agreed. And on a similar note, I’m confident enough in our staff’s scouting ability to expect that our 3 star guys were underrated. Take that tackle from Oklahoma. For Pittman to keep his scholarship on the table through all of this past year, Pittman must see something in him. His video doesn’t show him as being the fleetest of foot, but certainly has the size, and he’s mean as hell.

      Walthour on the defensive line is another guy who could add plenty of weight and still be able to move and have a productive career.

      Lots of big bodies in this class.

      Liked by 1 person

      • W Cobb Dawg

        I’m almost gonna miss seeing us sign some of these 3-star players. Kirby has a keen eye for talent, and it’s reflected in 3-star players like McGhee, Marshall, Kindley, Grant, Rice, Herrien, not to mention transfers like Nizialek and Reed.

        Like

  7. TomReagan

    While early commitments don’t always stick, it should be noted that UGA already has 3 of the current top 10 players on next year’s board committed and are the heavy favorites for another, who is from Loganville.

    Like

  8. j4k372

    I saw an article that Mullen took a small signing class (19) because he didn’t want to just take any ole ball playa. He wanted a full cruitin’ cycle and space to add extra guys next year.

    Meanwhile, Pruitt grabbed a couple of 2 star players late and rounded out his class at 22. Seems like a dilution of talent to me.

    Two different strategies from the new faces in the East. Two coaches enter, which one leaves?

    Mullen is playing a dangerous game IMO. He is contending with FAU, USF, and UCF for those 3 star guys that fill out the roster. Yes, he will have room next year, but what is he going to put in there? Interesting times indeed.

    I would love for someone to make a GoT graphic with Mullen sitting in north-central Florida surrounded by all the competitors. Kirby is king of the North. Richt is king of the South and out to the west is a new king at FSU. Meanwhile, smaller kingdoms of UCF, USF, and FAU are all vying to take his land.

    We also need to tip our cap to CMR down at the U. Thank you sir, keep cruitin’ them Florida boys.

    We will see what Taggart can do at FSU after a full year. He did manage to pull 7 GA boys this year. Although I am not sure how many of them were already committed.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. kfoge

    This is why Hugh Freeze needed the hookers. All the time put into recruiting, you don’t have time for romance and foreplay with the wifey, you need to get-in, get-out while watching player film 🙂

    Like

  10. MLB2

    Seven 5* in one class?! I don’t know how to be a UGA fan anymore. CKS doing work.

    Like

  11. Dylan Dreyer's Booty

    The 5* and 4* may not float Kirby’s boat as much as the academic quality, but let’s be real: he wants 5* guys. I think what he is saying is that between a 5* at a given position and another he wants the one with the better academic background. Why? Because those guys have shown enough personal self discipline to do well, and also because they are more likely to be coachable. I love it.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. BA Baracus

    Forget the cold shower. Anybody got a cigarette?

    Like

  13. TnDawg

    That first chart is scary. Here comes Vandy!

    Like

  14. ZutaDawg

    Senator, I’ve never seen your blog with so much ‘cruitin’, makes me think even Kang Kirby has the Senator subliminally ‘cruitin’. The man is relentless in his pursuit.

    Like

    • I guess it depends on your definition of recruiting. I’ve always been willing to explore the macro picture, from the programs’ side. What I don’t do is a deep dive into individual recruits.

      I had plenty of recruiting posts after last year’s signing day, too.

      Like

    • mg4life0331

      He usually posts after a class is signed and confirmed. He rarely comments on the day to day silent commit, then verbal, then decommit, then its up to mom, then its my decision, my twitter says something else, blah blah blah.

      Like

  15. I have a couple close friends who are Alabama alums and they 100% believe that the end is probably sooner rather than later and the face of that end is Kirby Smart.

    Like

    • I wonder if they see Kirby is getting his OJT at Georgia, and they will back up multiple Brinks trucks in front of the Smarts’ estate in 5 Points to convince him to return to T-town.

      Like

      • Mark

        It would be the most McGarity thing ever to let them steal him, quibbling over pennies.

        Like

        • Tony Barnfart

          while Smart would be an idiot to not leverage demand for his services from ANY employer, I will go out on a limb and predict that, because he coaches at his alma mater, he will spare us the Saban-to-Texas like midnight hour fear and speculation and short circuit letting speculation play out in the media, basically throwing Greg G a “solid” this-is-my-number before the story/worry grows big legs.

          Like

          • Tony Barnfart

            basically, i think Saban actually loathes Alabama. Smart’s heartstrings for all things red n black may harden after years of grinding but i don’t think it ever goes away to the point where he wouldn’t give us every opportunity to cool overtures from Alabama.

            Like

          • Jimmy Sexton didn’t go to Georgia. 😉

            Like

      • Russ

        Everyone needs to buy more beer and liquor before that happens.

        Like

  16. HVL Dawg

    It seems to me that firing a corch late in the season, right before the early signing day, has new consequences. And hiring a corch who is still in the CFP also has new consequences.

    Like

  17. South FL Dawg

    Without a doubt, from last signing class to this one with a near miss in the natty sandwiched in between, it’s been the best year of Georgia football since the early 80’s. Is it the beginning of a trend? I don’t know, but it beats the heck out of being Florida or Tennessee.

    At this point, if Florida or Tennessee wins the East would it be considered a great job by Mullen or Pruitt, or a failure on Kirby’s part? You have to at least think about it, don’t you?

    Like

    • The Truth

      I don’t have to think about it. Failure on Kirby’s part. And I say that with all due respect for — probably because of respect for — Kirby.

      Like

      • Russ

        Yep, anything less than Atlanta is a failure in my book, barring injuries of course. And we’re building the depth that even that excuse may not fly.

        Like

  18. ApalachDawg

    And all those jokers are home grown GA studs (including Mr Smith – Chatham co boy).

    Like

    • Biggus Rickus

      I mean, sure, he got pretty much who he wanted from Georgia, but nearly half the class is from out of state.

      Like

  19. S

    If I had one wish for this year, it would be that we use this talent to meet Alabama in the SECCG and grind them beneath our heels. I’m talking 20 point win or so. I know, I know, it won’t happen. But if I could have my dream, we’d whip the hell out of them and then tell them we stuck that yellow hammer up their asses.

    Like

  20. NoAxeToGrind

    If this year is any example, I say raise Kirby’s base salary 2 mil this year, and, if the same result continues to occur, be ready to pay more. Someone else will.

    Like

  21. PTC DAWG

    Want to mention the lack of process in hiring…but won’t…

    Like