Way Too Early SEC Recruiting Outlook for 2018

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COLUMBIA, SC - NOVEMBER 14: Overhead view with SEC logo as South Carolina Gamecocks players huddle during the game against the Florida Gators at Williams-Brice Stadium on November 14, 2009 in Columbia, South Carolina. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

National Signing Day 2017 is in the books! As you rejoice (or lament) your team’s incoming players, you know it’s not too early to already think about next year’s players! Is it? Let’s take a look at the way too early SEC recruiting outlook for 2018!

(All rankings from 247sports.com)

Low Tide

Alabama has finished at the top of the recruiting rankings for seven years straight. The last time Alabama didn’t haul in the number one recruiting class was in 2010, yet Nick Saban still finished in the top five that year. (That 2010 class housed names like Dee Milliner, Phillip Sims and C.J. Mosley. It turned out okay). Recruits like Ha Ha Clinton Dix in 2011, Landon Collins and Amari Cooper in 2012, Heisman winner Derrick Henry in 2013, and Minkah Fitzpatrick in 2015 have helped Saban flex his muscles on the way to three national titles since then.

For 2018, the Tide currently sit outside the top-10 at number eleven overall. This means virtually nothing at this point, as the majority of 2018 players haven’t committed, and a number of schools don’t have even one commit yet. Bama has four-star RB Dameon Pierce in the fold as of today, along with four-star ATH Xavier Williams. Pierce is the fifth-ranked RB in the country. It will be interesting to see if Saban and his staff can continue to be a five-star magnet and pull in the top ranked class in the nation for the eighth straight year in 2018.

Two for Ten

Following National Signing Day 2017, the SEC had five teams in the top-10 for the fifth straight year. In the past ten years, the SEC has only finished with as low as three teams in the top-10 twice. One has to look all the way back to 2005 (13 classes ago) to find a recruiting overview that only sees two SEC squads in the top-10. As of today, only two SEC squads are in the top-10 for 2018: Texas A&M (#7) and LSU (#8).

Texas A&M already lays claim to four four-star recruits, including two top offensive linemen in nation’s ninth best OG Luke Matthews and nation’s 15th-ranked OT in Colten Blanton. The prize of LSU’s infant class so far is five-star corner Kelvin Joseph. Joseph is currently ranked the 4th best corner in the country.

Nothing at this point would imply that the SEC will have any trouble getting at least three teams in the final top-10 for the seventh year in a row in 2018, but for today, it’s only two.

Tussle for Thomas

Down in the Pee Dee region of South Carolina, in the eastern part of Florence sits Wilson High School. The purple and gold Tigers, while not normally known for anything nationally, will be able to boast that the nation’s (current) No. 2 recruit came from within their own brick walls. Xavier Thomas is a senior this year, but this time a year from now Thomas will have broken the hearts of many while simultaneously elating an entire fan base.

Thomas is the top defensive end in the country. In his sophomore year, Thomas racked up 70 tackles and nine sacks. His 6’3″ height and 250 lb. frame have coaches drooling…mainly coaches in purple & orange and garnet & black. Thomas has transferred to IMG Academy in Bradenton, FL to complete his high school career at one of the top high school programs in the nation. However, all signs point to him playing his college ball in his home state of SC.

Florida State was in the mix early, and may still have an outside shot at landing Thomas, but this appears to be a two-horse race at this point between the Gamecocks and Tigers. Clemson already has one commit from a five-star prospect (more on him below) but South Carolina doesn’t have any commits yet for 2018. Should the Gamecocks land Thomas, it’d be their first five-star signee since Jadeveon Clowney in 2011.

Lawrence to Athens?

Kirby Smart came away with the nation’s third best recruiting class this year. He landed two five-star players in S Richard LeCounte III and OT Isaiah Wilson and 18 other four-stars. Young QB Jacob Eason had a solid first year as the Dawgs starting QB in 2016, and four-star QB Jake Fromm is a big get for Smart as well. But on the horizon is a can’t miss QB prospect: five-star PRO QB from Cartersville, GA Trevor Lawrence.

For 2018, Lawrence is the top QB in Georgia, the top QB in the country, and the top player in the country at any position. In his junior year last season, Lawrence threw for 3900 yards and 51 TD’s, upping that mark from 43 in 2015 and 26 in 2014. The 6’6″, 196 lb. high school senior currently has 24 offers.

Last December, Lawrence verbally committed to play for Dabo Swinney and the Clemson Tigers…but anyone who pays close attention to recruiting knows that no commit is final until National Signing Day. Many top forecasters still think Lawrence is leaning red and will sign with his home state Bulldogs in 2018.

Don’t be Surtain

American Heritage High School in Ft. Lauderdale, FL is where we find the nation’s (current) sixth-ranked player and top DB in the country in CB Patrick Surtain Jr. Surtain currently has offers from 33 different schools, ten of those hailing from the Southeastern Conference. His 6’2″, 181 lb. frame has been seen at American Heritage shutting down receivers as well as returning kicks with shiftiness and break-away speed. Though Surtain holds offers from 33 different schools, three of his top four projected destinations are SEC schools.

LSU, Alabama, and Florida are all projected to get a pretty good shot at the lockdown DB, while Clemson is highly in the mix as well. All three of these SEC teams are known for their speed and physicality on defense. Each have boasted some of the best defenses the SEC has seen in recent memory. Surtain would fit in nicely at any of these places, but we’ll have to wait a big longer to see who will land the highly-coveted corner.

Avg. Class Rank for Each SEC Team since 2010:

Alabama – 1.5 (Highest: 1 – ’11, ’12, ’13, ’14, ’15, ’16, ’17)

LSU – 6.8 (Highest: 2 – ’14)

Georgia – 7.6 (Highest: 3 – ’17)

Auburn 8 (Highest 5 – ’11)

Florida – 8.8 (Highest: 1 – ’10)

Tennessee – 13.6 (Highest: 4 – ’15)

Texas A&M – 15.5 (Highest: 5 – ’14)

South Carolina – 20.5 (Highest: 17 – ’11, ’12)

Ole Miss – 20.6 (Highest: 5 – ’16)

Arkansas – 27 (Highest: 21 – ’11)

Mississippi St. – 27.5 (Highest: 18 – ’15)

Kentucky – 36.5 (Highest: 22 – ’14)

Missouri – 38.7 (Highest: 25 – ’15)

Vanderbilt – 48.3 (Highest: 26 – ’13)

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