Over at al.com, they’ve noted the recruiting off-years at the two big in state programs and are looking for some answers.
By anybody’s standards but their own, Alabama and Auburn both reeled in excellent recruiting classes this year.
The Crimson Tide brought in a 19-man class (its smallest since the probation days) that ranked No. 7 nationally and second in the SEC. The Tigers landed a 24-man class that ranked No. 12 nationally and third in the SEC.
But it was definitely a fall-off from recent years.
Alabama’s streak of seven straight No. 1 classes ended, while its overall ranking was its lowest since 2007. That was Nick Saban’s first year, when he and his staff had only a month to put together a class.
Auburn’s No. 12 finish was its first outside the Top 10 in Gus Malzahn’s tenure, and its lowest since finishing No. 23 in 2009. That was Gene Chizik’s first year, after the turmoil of Tommy Tuberville’s resignation and Chizik’s controversial hire.
So how did this happen?
Here’s answer number one:
1. Kirby Smart has built a recruiting machine at Georgia: The Bulldogs signed the country’s No. 1 class, with seven 5-star prospects, 14 4-stars and seven of the country’s Top 23 players. Smart’s success at locking down his state has especially hurt Auburn, which has long had a history of pilfering top players from the state of Georgia (think Carl Lawson, Phillip Lutzenkirchen and Carlos Rogers, to name three). But he also beat Alabama head-to-head on at least two Top 50 players this year: Georgia linebacker Quay Walker and Florida cornerback Tyson Campbell.
Speaking of Auburn, does anyone know where Rodney Garner’s spending his time on the recruiting trail these days? He sure had a quiet time in his old stomping grounds this past year.