Early signing day isn’t a final exam – there’s still the traditional February signing period to come, not to mention how rosters will be shaped by the transfer portal – but that doesn’t mean there aren’t grades.
The USA TODAY Sports Network’s coverage team graded each SEC football team‘s recruiting efforts based on Wednesday’s signings. The rankings speak for themselves, but a school can do well for its circumstances and get a grade that is higher than its relative ranking might suggest. That’s what our experts have done.
Here are the early signing day grades for the SEC:
How they stack up:Final SEC Power Rankings: Where do the losers of a thrilling Iron Bowl, a bland Egg Bowl rank?
Best of the best:USA TODAY Sports Network 2021 All-SEC football team: Alabama and Georgia lead the way
Still the same:The empire strikes back: Alabama football bullies Georgia to win SEC Championship Game
247Sports Composite class rank: No. 2 overall, No. 2 SEC
Top signees: EDGE Jeremiah Alexander, No. 1 edge defender, No. 8 overall; QB Ty Simpson, No. 3 QB, No. 24 overall; RB Emmanuel Henderson, No. 1 running back, No. 30 overall
Biggest miss: Marvin Jones Jr., an five-star edge player who was ranked No. 2 behind Alexander. He chose Georgia over Alabama, Florida State and USC.
Grade: B+ – Alabama might not win the recruiting title for the Class of 2022. As of Wednesday night, it trailed Texas A&M on 247Sports. Nonetheless, the Crimson Tide still took home an impressive haul, led by three five-stars prospects.
– Nick Kelly
247Sports Composite class rank: No. 19 overall, No. 9 SEC
Top signees: WR Isaiah Sategna, No. 29 wide receiver, No. 185 overall; OL Andrew Chamblee, No. 22 offensive tackle, No. 290 overall; OL E’Marion Harris, No. 25 offensive tackle, No. 321 overall
Biggest miss: After LSU cornerbacks coach Corey Raymond left for Florida, rumors flew that four-star cornerback Laterrance Welch could flip to Arkansas. He didn’t, opting to stick with the Tigers.
Grade: A – Arkansas’ class is the best in recent memory. Sam Pittman and his staff signed 10 of the top 15 players in the state, including five four-stars.
– Christina Long
247Sports Composite class rank: No. 14 overall, No. 7 SEC
Top signees: LB Robert Woodyard, No. 11 linebacker, No. 137 overall; CB JaDarian Rhym, No. 21 cornerback, No. 168 overall; CB Austin Ausberry, No. 22 cornerback, No. 177 overall.
Biggest miss: Oregon receiver Darrius Clemons, the No. 131 overall recruit, committed to Michigan after Auburn’s late push. A cross-country home visit wasn’t enough.
Grade: B – A top-15 class would have been wishful thinking one week ago. Flipping an Alabama commit is significant. But if Auburn can’t land elite offensive linemen, it’s in trouble.
– Bennett Durando
247Sports Composite class rank: No. 50 overall, No. 14 SEC
Top signees: DB Kamari Wilson, No. 2 safety, No. 28 overall; LB Shemar James, No. 7 linebacker, No. 64 overall; DL Chris McClellan, No. 17 defensive lineman, No. 100 overall.
Biggest miss: New Orleans defensive tackle Shone Washington, a Georgia commit who decided to stick with the Bulldogs after officially visiting Florida last weekend.
Grade: B- – This transitional class is far from complete with only nine signees, but new coach Billy Napier landed some big fish in short order and addressed the line of scrimmage and secondary.
– Zach Abolverdi
247Sports Composite class rank: No. 3 overall, No. 3 SEC
Top signees: ATH Malaki Starks, No. 1 athlete, No. 14 overall; CB Jaheim Singletary, No. 5 cornerback, No. 21 overall; EDGE Marvin Jones Jr., No. 2 Edge, No. 22 overall
Biggest miss: No. 1 wide receiver Luther Burden had Georgia in his top three, but chose the hometown Missouri Tigers. UGA is still expected to finish with four wideouts in the class.
Grade: A – The Bulldogs filled every position need they had and added much-needed depth to a defensive secondary that could be called the weakest unit on the team this season.
– McClain Baxley
247Sports Composite class rank: No. 11 overall, No. 4 SEC
Top signees: OT Kiyaunta Goodwin, No. 4 offensive tackle, No. 25 overall; WR Barion Brown, No. 22 wide receiver, No. 145 overall; OLB Tyreese Fearbry, No. 12 outside linebacker, No. 164 overall.
Biggest miss: Kentucky was viewed as the favorite for four-star Ohio prep offensive tackle Aamil Wagner for most of his recruitment, but he signed with Notre Dame.
Grade: A – On paper, this is the best class Mark Stoops has signed yet in his Kentucky tenure. Nine consensus four- or five-star prospects puts the class at a level never seen before in Lexington.
– Jon Hale
247Sports Composite class rank: No. 18 overall, No. 8 SEC
Top signees: OT Will Campbell, No. 5 offensive tackle, No. 32 overall; QB Walker Howard, No. 5 quarterback, No. 34 overall, DL Quency Wiggins, No. 7 defensive lineman, No. 92 overall
Biggest miss: Four-star wide receiver Shazz Preston, a top 50 recruit, was on track to land at LSU. But the loss of wide receivers coach Mickey Joseph and the general instability of the situation in Baton Rouge opened the door for Alabama.
Grade: B – When taking into account the program’s upheaval of its coaching staff and 11-11 record over the last two seasons, this was a step in the right direction. LSU’s class has room to grow with only 13 players committed.
– Koki Riley
247Sports Composite class rank: No. 22 overall, No. 10 SEC
Top signees: WR Marquez Dortch, No. 31 wide receiver, No. 229 overall; EDGE Trevion Williams, No. 31 defensive line, No. 254 overall; OT Percy Lewis, No. 3 JuCo offensive tackle, No. 5 JuCo overall
Biggest miss: Greenville Christian School wide receiver Chris Bell opted for Louisville despite interest in Mississippi State. At 6-foot-2, 220 pounds, he would’ve been a nice addition for the Air Raid.
Grade: B – The Bulldogs put together a nice class, with junior college additions DeCarlos Nicholson and Percy Lewis expected to be immediate contributors. But they added just two four-star recruits, fewer than every SEC team but Vanderbilt.
– Andy Kostka
247Sports Composite class rank: No. 12 overall, No. 5 SEC
Top signees: WR Luther Burden, No. 1 wide receiver, No. 3 overall; QB Sam Horn, No. 9 quarterback, No. 125 overall; RB Tavorus Jones, No. 13 running back, No. 161 overall
Biggest miss: East St. Louis (Illinois) cornerback Toriano Pride heard from Missouri coach Eli Drinkwitz early and often but decided to pledge to Clemson.
Grade: A – Missouri’s top-15 class was the best in program history by a large distance. Drinkwitz did a masterful job to land quality and quantity. He and his staff couldn’t have realistically done better.
– Eric Blum
247Sports Composite class rank: No. 24 overall, No. 12 SEC
Top signees: LB Jaron Willis, No. 17 linebacker, No. 170 overall; DL Zxavian Harris, No. 24 defensive lineman, No. 175 overall; S Taylor Groves, No. 25 safety, No. 276 overall
Biggest miss: Ole Miss pushed hard to get four-star defensive tackle Jaheim Oatis to flip on his Alabama commitment but couldn’t.
Grade: B – The class filled a lot of holes at linebacker, offensive line and defensive back. A few late flips and signings always help. But there are scholarships left over for in the transfer portal to bolster the group.
– Nick Suss
247Sports Composite class rank: No. 23 overall, No. 11 SEC
Top signees: WR Keenan Nelson, Jr., No. 19 receiver, No. 219 overall; QB Braden Davis, No. 22 quarterback, No. 323 overall; LB Stone Blanton, No. 36 linebacker, No. 371 overall
Biggest miss: Maryland native Jaishawn Barham verbally committed to the Gamecocks two days before the signing period opened. He then flipped and signed with Maryland.
Grade: C+ – The recruiting cycle so far has been a roller coaster for Shane Beamer and his staff. There are still glaring needs at running back and linebacker that need to be addressed.
– Cory Diaz
247Sports Composite class rank: No. 13 overall, No. 6 SEC
Top signees: DL Tyre West, No. 20 defensive lineman, No. 111 overall; OL Addison Nichols, No. 4 interior offensive lineman, No. 123 overall; QB Tayven Jackson, No. 12 quarterback, No. 209 overall.
Biggest miss: Defensive lineman Walter Nolen, the No. 2 overall player, signed with Texas A&M despite playing at Powell High School, about 10 miles from UT. A late visit to campus didn’t sway him.
Grade: B – Josh Heupel and his staff salvaged the class after Jeremy Pruitt’s firing and amid an NCAA investigation and COVID-19 protocols limiting in-person recruiting. It’s better than expected.
– Adam Sparks
247Sports Composite class rank: No. 1 overall, No. 1 SEC
Top signees: DT Walter Nolen, No. 1 defensive tackle, No. 2 overall; DL Gabriel Brownlow-Dindy No. 4 defensive lineman, No. 16 overall; QB Connor Weigman, No. 2 QB, No. 19 overall
Biggest miss: Kelvin Banks, No. 2 offensive, signed with Texas but A&M was in the mix after he decommitted from Oregon. He took an unofficial visit to Texas A&M on Nov. 20.
Grade: A+ – Led by their recruiting inside the state of Texas, the Aggies landed with the top national class at day’s end. Texas A&M is still in contention for multiple players inside the top-20, so the class could get even better.
– Maxwell Donaldson
247Sports Composite class rank: No. 37 overall, No. 13 SEC
Top signees: QB AJ Swann, No. 26 quarterback, No. 401 overall; EDGE Darren Agu, No. 35 edge, No. 497 overall; LB Langston Patterson, No. 50 linebacker, No. 499 overall
Biggest miss: Georgia cornerback Caleb Coley, ranked in the top 50 at his position, decommitted in November to sign with Michigan State.
Grade: B+ – Like all of Vanderbilt’s classes, this one isn’t full of stars, but Clark Lea and company did a good job filling weaknesses on the roster and building a class that will be able to contribute.
– Aria Gerson
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