Signing Day in the SEC: News and analysis (6 p.m. update)

An updated look at the latest from the SEC on National Signing Day.

Robert Nkemdiche (right) is in the Ole Miss fold, but Chris Jones (left) stuck with Mississippi State. (US Presswire)

6 p.m. ET: Was there ever any doubt? Last July, possibly? Maybe last February? October of 2011, say? When was the last time anyone would have placed a bet on anyone other than Alabama finishing the 2012-2013 recruiting cycle atop the team rankings? Not every ranking service agrees with 247sports or even its composite rankings, but who are you gonna believe: the coaching staff that's won three of four national titles and had its pick of nearly any national recruit that wasn't listening to Hugh Freeze's pied piper flute, or your lyin' spreadsheet?

The Tide capped off their 2013 class with -- ho-hum -- another five-star offensive tackle (this one plucked out of Texas) and another four-star, top-75 tailback (their fourth). At this point, it's the same thing repeated every signing day ad nauseam, but Nick Saban's perpetual-motion recruiting machine doesn't allow for any other kind of analysis: the Tide have proven they will win national titles if they recruit at this level, and they recruit at this level every single year.

Is there hope for the rest of college football? Yes, in the sense that even the best college football teams can always drop a game or two by random chance. In the sense that the Tide won't loom over the national title discussion on an annual basis like a celluloid alien spaceship drifting over New York, until Saban finally departs? No. That hope is long gone.

One other final note: Whiffing on Alvin Kamara and Clemson-bound guard Tyrone Crowder meant that there's no other way to spin Mark Richt's signing day than as one of disappointment. Between the single three-star defensive end landed in Wednesday's finale, the poor in-state showing (the Bulldogs signed 2 of 247Sports' top 15 Georgia prospects), and zero five-star signees, Georgia fans aren't going to be happy.

That's not to say this class is a disaster. Thirty-two signees strong, it ranked 12th in the final national rankings, and thanks to a healthy 14 four-stars it finished with a better per-recruit ranking average than Auburn's 23-member No. 11 class. But that's almost the point: the Tigers just went 3-9, fired their entire staff, and share a less talent-rich state with Alabama. Should defensive line coach Rodney Garner's switch from Athens to Auburn really have been so monumental as to propel the Tigers ahead of the Bulldogs despite all of the former's disadvantages and the latter's advantages? If Richt has found a number of diamonds-in-the-proverbial-rough, it won't matter, but on its face this class may not be good enough in today's SEC.

Final winners: Alabama, Ole Miss, Auburn, LSU, Florida, Texas A&M. 

10 a.m. ET: The nation's No. 1 offensive tackle, Laremy Tunsil, announced for Ole Miss -- giving the Rebels the nation's No. 1 player and No. 1 DE, No. 3 player and No. 1 OT, and in Laquon Treadwell they have a five-star wide receiver considered by many to be the No. 1 WR as well. Again: Ole Miss. (They also quietly added Prattville, Ala. OT Austin Golson, who's "only" the No. 144 player in the country. That that went "quietly" tells you what kind of noise the Rebels are making otherwise.)

All by itself, this 2013 class won't overturn the established SEC hegemony ... but if Freeze can continue to coach as well as he did in 2012, and if he follows up this class with anything similar in 2014, yes, the Rebels will be legitimate SEC players.

Elsewhere, Auburn added its third five-star defensive lineman of the class with tackle Montravius Adams, the No. 10 overall player in the country. Adams joins Elijah Daniel (see below) and five-star defensive end Carl Lawson to form what should be the foundation of one of the SEC's most dangerous future defensive lines. New Auburn defensive line coach Rodney Garner was always one of the SEC's best recruiters at Georgia, but hanging onto Lawson and adding Daniel and Adams in the mere weeks since the Auburn graduate returned to the Plains ranks among anything he accomplished in Athens.

As for the program he left behind, missing out on both Adams and fast-rising four-star OT George Adeosun -- two major in-state propsects -- means Mark Richt could use some good news. 

10 a.m. winners: Ole Miss, Auburn Losers: Georgia.

9 a.m. ET: The first domino to fall on Signing Day 2013 also happened to be the biggest, as five-star defensive end and consensus No. 1 overall recruit Robert Nkemdiche pledged to Ole Miss. Nkemdiche becomes the third consecutive No. 1 overall prospect to take his talents off the path usually beaten by recruits of his caliber, following in the footsteps of Dorial Green-Beckham's signing with Missouri and Jadeveon Clowney's with South Carolina. Unlike those decisions, however, Nkemdiche's isn't motivated as much by a need to stay closer to home (he's from Loganville, Ga.) as his family connection to Rebels linebacker and brother Denzel Nkemdiche.

Whatever the reasoning, though, one thing is clear: You don't have to be Alabama, USC, or Florida to have a chance with the nation's No. 1 overall recruit any more, and this year it's Ole Miss that's benefited.

That's not to say it's all wine and roses so far in Oxford: Five-star defensive end Elijah Daniel from Avon, Ind., pulled a last-minute switch from the Rebels and will sign with Auburn, according to his coach. That, in turn, might have influenced the decision of longtime Auburn commitment Tashawn Bower, a four-star defensive end from New Jersey who's reportedly signed with Florida after a big late push from Florida. Add that pull to the signing of four-star defensive tackle Jay-nard Bostwick, and it's the Gators who have the best ratio of good news (lots) to bad news (none) in the early going.

9 a.m. Winners: Florida, Ole Miss, Auburn. Losers: n/a

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