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Signing Day Checklist: Wrapping up the SEC

By Jerry Hinnen | College Football Writer

Recapping how the SEC fared on Signing Day, starting with the West. East will be updated into this same post shortly.

WEST

ALABAMA

Signees: 26

247Sports National Rank: 1

Overview: No surprise here: the Tide won the mythical national recruiting championship for what most services would classify as at least the fourth time in six tries for Nick Saban in Tuscaloosa. The Tide didn't even need a big signing day to claim the title where 247Sports' rankings were concerned, but they had one anyway, adding three top 247 prospects in Dee Liner, Alvin Kamara and five-star offensive tackle A'Shawn Robinson.

Needed to Address: If you're going to nitpick the class in any way, it's that the secondary might need some immediate help after Dee Milliner and Robert Lester departed. After missing on five-star Mississippi safety Tony Conner, though, Alabama's top-rated defensive back is "only" four-star, No. 115 overall safety Anthony Averett. With four four-star DBs in the class, though, this is a minor quibble.

Headliner: Five-star OLB Jonathan Allen is 6-foot-3, 260 pounds and still has the agility to thrive as a pass-rusher in the Courtney Upshaw mold; give him a year or two, and Allen could become the most terrifying defender on the unit.

Instant Impact: With Eddie Lacy gone, Jalston Fowler coming off an ACL tear, and T.J. Yeldon the next-biggest back on the roster, Saban will be looking for a designated bruiser to carry the short-yardage load -- and colossal (6-4, 230) five-star athlete Derrick Henry, the national career high school rushing record holder, fits the bill.

Best-Case Scenario: The usual for a Tide class under Saban: a half-dozen All-Americans and multiple national title rings.

ARKANSAS

Signees:
22 (or 23)

247Sports National Rank: 22

Overview: Five-star tailback Alex Collins finally joined the class after a day of drama as Bret Bielema finished off his inaugural Razorback class in impressive style, vaulting up the rankings in the final days thanks to big wins like Collins, Miami guard Denver Kirkland and New Jersey four-star QB Damon Mitchell.

Needed to Address: Bielema has built his entire career on the shoulders of his dominating Wisconsin offensive line, and he took a big step toward repeating that success in Fayetteville by signing Kirkland, four-star guard Reeve Koehler (out of Hawaii) and promising Colorado tackle Dan Skipper.

Headliner: Collins is 247Sports' No. 1 running back in the class and the rare five-star signee for the Razorbacks. That his signing day story created national headlines only makes his signing that much more noteworthy.

Instant Impact: Though four-star JUCO cornerback Carroll Washington should fight for a starting spot after his early enrollment, Collins might have the biggest impact this fall; five-star running backs have a habit of thriving in the ground-game-dominated SEC even as freshmen, and Bielema will give him every opportunity to do the same.

Best-Case Scenario: Collins becomes the next Darren McFadden (or at least Felix Jones) and the OL and QB signees give Bielema the parts needed to construct the same lethally efficient offense he built in Madison, yielding an SEC West contender.

AUBURN

Signees: 23

247Sports National Rank:
11

Overview:
Though Gus Malzahn unsurprisingly signed his share of offensive playmakers, the story for Auburn on signing day was their massive Rodney Garner-led push on the defensive line. The Tigers' new line coach (and newly former Georgia recruiting ace) helped Auburn land a pair of five-star coups in end Elijah Daniel and tackle Montravius Adams as well as retain the commitment of five-star end Carl Lawson.

Needed to Address:
While the porous defense was the first order of concern, Malzahn also wanted to address the quarterback position after Kiehl Frazier's 2012 struggles, and he did so with four-star Jeremy Johnson and JUCO athlete Nick Marshall, who could become a Wildcat-style threat.

Headliner:
Adams ranked as the No. 2 defensive tackle in the nation and should do wonders for a front seven that was gashed repeatedly in 2012.

Instant Impact:
With Emory Blake gone, Auburn needs productive wideouts in the worst way, and four-star Jason Smith should have a chance to become one right away.

Best-Case Scenario:
The defensive line crop all lives up to its billing, setting the foundation for a defensive renaissance that -- paired with Malzahn's offensive scheming -- leads Auburn back into SEC contention.

LSU

Signees: 28

247Sports
National Rank:
7

Overview:
The Tigers needed an infusion of high-quality depth after their wave of draft departures, and as usual, the state of Louisiana provided it; Les Miles and Co. signed nine Louisiana-grown four-stars-or-better prospects, led by corner Tre'Davious White, the No. 9 overall player in the class.

Needed to Address:
After failing to get a quarterback onto campus in the class of 2012, the Tigers badly needed to find some potential replacements for Zach Mettenberger, and they got them in four-star pocket passers Hayden Rettig and Anthony Jennings.

Headliner:
Miles has proven he knows a thing or two about recruiting and developing defensive backs, and White appears to have all the ingredients to become the next Tiger secondary star.

Instant Impact:
White should find playing time right away, but the loss of Kevin Minter means the Tigers could also use some explosiveness in the linebacking unit, and top-100 four-star Kendell Beckwith could provide it.

Best-Case Scenario:
Another wave of future NFL stars, especially on defense, and a return to the national title circle.

MISSISSIPPI STATE

Signees: 22

247Sports
National Rank:
24

Overview:
It wasn't quite the class Dan Mullen and the Starkville faithful were hoping for after a handul of late defections, but it has MSU's usual share of high-upside prospects, and holding onto Chris Jones -- the nation's No. 2 defensive end and No. 2 overall prospect -- salved a lot of wounds. Though it still ranked seventh out of seven in the savage SEC West, the Bulldogs have signed far worse classes than this.

Needed to Address:
The Bulldogs didn't generate a lot of excitement at wide receiver in 2011 and 2012 even with the likes of Chad Bumphis around; adding JUCO Jeremey Chapelle and four-stars Donald Gray and Fred Ross should help fix that problem.

Headliner:
We mentioned they signed Chris Jones, right? The Houston, Miss., product becomes the highest-rated Mississippi State signee in school history (or at least in the recruiting rankings era) by a wide margin.

Instant Impact:
Jones should start from Day 1, but four-star JUCO safety Justin Cox should continue Mullen's recent success with immediate-impact defensive backs.

Best-Case Scenario:
Jones becomes an All-American, one of the two dual-threat quarterback signees becomes the poor-man's-Tebow Mullen has craved, and State finally breaks into the SEC's 10-win upper echelon.

OLE MISS

Signees: 27

247Sports
National Rank: 6

Overview:
Nothing much to see here -- just the single biggest story of signing day nationwide. The Rebels signed the nation's No. 1 and No. 3 overall players in top DE Robert Nkemdiche and top OT Laremy Tunsil, and even coups like those are more the icing on top of a cake that includes three other five-star recruits and five more four-stars. In short: This is an SEC-championship caliber class at a place that hasn't seen an SEC championship in a very, very long time.

Needed to Address:
The lines of scrimmage, first and foremost, and the reinforcements don't end with Nkemdiche and Tunsil; the Rebels have also enrolled five-star defensive tackle Lavon Hooks, signed top-150 overall OT Austin Golson, and added three other interior line prospects.

Headliner:
Nkemdiche was the consensus No. 1 overall recruit in the class of 2013 as far back as 2011 and seems an inevitable future first-round draft pick.

Instant Impact:
Nkemdiche and Tunsil won't wait long to see the field, but don't overlook the return of former-Rebel-turned-JUCO athlete Nickolas Brassell, who proved in his true freshman season in Oxford that he's an SEC-caliber playmaker at either corner or wideout.

Best-Case Scenario: It's too early to talk titles without another class or two like this one -- remember, it was just last signing day the Rebels dragged in at 41st nationally, one spot ahead of Colorado -- but between this kind of talent and Freeze's proven coaching, the foundation has been laid for some very big things.

TEXAS A&M

Signees: 32

247Sports
National Rank: 10

Overview:
Combine the fertile Texas recruiting grounds with an offer to play in the SEC and for one of the nation's most exciting offenses, and what do you get? A monstrous 32-signee class featuring 15 four-star-or-better recruits (or, 15 recruits ranked higher than Johnny Manziel was). Five four-star-or-better wide receivers -- led by No. 23 overall Ricky Seals-Jones --give the Aggies the best class of wideouts in the country.

Needed to Address:
The loss of Damontre Moore and years of recruiting to a 3-4 under Tim DeRuyter meant defensive linemen were a must; the Aggies snared the nation's No. 6 defensive tackle in Isiaiah Golden, signed two more four-star tackles in Justin Manning and Hardreck Walker, and stole No. 6 weakside defensive end Daeshon Hall away from Washington on signing day. Not bad.

Headliner:
At 6-foot-5, 230 pounds, and with the tutelage of Kevin Sumlin and co. awaiting him, Seals-Jones has as high an upside as any wideout in the class.

Instant Impact:
It's Seals-Jones' fellow blue-chip wideout and prep school signee JaQuay Williams who might make the biggest impact on arrival, though; at 6-4, 204, Williams isn't exactly lacking in prototypical receiver size, either.

Best-Case Scenario: There's no reason to think this class -- with its fair share of well-regarded quarterbacks, backs, and offensive linemen -- won't keep the Aggie offense humming. If the defensive studs pan out, 2012 could be just the beginning.

EAST

FLORIDA

Signees: 27

247Sports
National Rank: 4

Overview:
The Gators did what the Gators do on the recruiting trail, signing a class with national talent at the top, quality depth throughout the middle and "bottom," and a top-five ranking. Not that it's ever been difficult for Florida to sign in-state blue chips, but the Sunshine State was particularly kind this year: nine four-stars and a pair of five-stars, No. 1 CB Vernon Hargreaves III and No. 2 RB Kelvin Taylor.

Needed to Address:
The lack of offensive playmakers. So welcome, Taylor, a trio of four-star wideouts (starting with No. 16 WR Demarcus Robinson), and intriguing 5-8, 214-pound powerback Adam Lane.

Headliner:
If there's such a thing as a true can't-miss prospect in this class, many would say it's Hargeaves, a super-polished, technically sound coach's son who could wedge his way into even the crowded Gator secondary upon arrival.

Instant Impact:
Much less crowded: the Gator backfield, where Mike Gillislee ate up 244 carries and the next-most-used tailback (rising sophomore Matt Jones) got just 52. Expect Taylor to challenge for the starter's job -- if not win it outright -- as soon as this fall.

Best-Case Scenario: The flood of top-tier defensive blue-chips (we haven't even mentioned Alex Anzalone or Marcell Harris yet) make Will Muschamp's defense the best one this side of Tuscaloosa while the new offensive weapons lift that unit to far greater consistency. Result: a national title shot.

GEORGIA

Signees: 32

247Sports
National Rank:
12

Overview:
If you'd asked Bulldog fans at this time last year where their 2013 class would be ranked if it featured 32 names, we're guessing they'd have something much kinder than 12th. As written in this space Wednesday, Mark Richt didn't make much hay within the much-raided Peach State and wound up with a class more solid than spectacular -- and one ranked seventh in the SEC.

Needed to Address:
After losing as many as 10 starters from the 2012 defense, the Bulldogs needed an injection of defensive depth, stat, and they got it. Of their whopping 13 early enrolees, eight play defense, including prep school nose tackle goliath John Atkins and four-star safety Tray Matthew. Standout prep school OLB Leonard Floyd arrives in the fall.

Headliner:
The No. 3 pro-style QB in the country, 6-3 Brice Ramsey could find himself doing a mean Aaron Murray impression in a couple of seasons.

Instant Impact:
Though not one of the early-enrolling mob, JUCO safety Shaquille Fluker had his pick of SEC programs and nonetheless should be ready to compete for a starting job right away -- good news with Bacarri Rambo and Shawn Williams having graduated.

Best-Case Scenario:
The headliners like Ramsey, Matthews, and Tramel Terry deliver, a high percentage of the rank-and-file three-stars become contributors (or stars), and Georgia never flinched from its perch atop the SEC East.

KENTUCKY

Signees: 22

247Sports
National Rank:
36

Overview:
Given that Mark Stoops' program is 1. Kentucky 2. Kentucky with an entirely new coaching staff 3. Kentucky coming off a 2-10, 0-8 season, this class isn't half-bad -- and a sign that given an complete cycle to work with, Stoops may be able to craft one that by Kentucky standards will be 1,000 percent good. When was the last time the Wildcats signed a player -- in this case, composite four-star DE Jason Hatcher -- who had been committed to a program like USC?

Needed to Address:
Everything, but given Stoops' defensive background it's no wonder five of the Wildcats' seven highest-ranked signees play on that side of the ball. Hatcher and four-star JUCO DE Za'Darius Smith should substantially upgrade the Wildcats' play on the defensive line.

Headliner:
Four-star Ohio product Marcus McWilson flipped from Nebraska late in the process to give Stoops a potential All-SEC safety -- and serve notice recruits were willing to listen to what the new Wildcat head man had to say.

Instant Impact:
With both starting defensive ends graduated, the 6-6, 250-pound Smith was likely recruited to step into the starting lineup from Day 1, and has the pass-rushing skills to make the most of that opportunity.

Best-Case Scenario:
Respectability, ho!

MISSOURI

Signees: 20

247Sports
National Rank:
39

Overview:
The euphoria of Signing Day 2012 and inking Dorial Green-Beckham seemed to have dissipated entirely by the end of Signing Day 2013, thanks to a class that featured just two consensus four-star players -- DT Josh Augusta and RB Chase Abbington -- and ranked dead last in the SEC. This is, as the kids say, not a good look.

Needed to Address:
Who's going to take over when James Franklin departs remains to be seen, and the Tigers put two more bullets in the chamber by signing a pair of promising three-star quarterbacks -- Trent Hosick from Kansas City, and Eddie Printz of Lassier, Ga., the former more athletic and the latter more of a pocket passer -- and getting both on campus early.

Headliner: The Tigers needed big bodies on the defensive line in the worst way after the departure of Sheldon Richardson, and the 6-5, 295-pound Augusta gives them one that's skilled and strong as well as big.

Instant Impact:
If Henry Josey can't recover from his catastrophic 2011 knee injury and become something like his former self, the shifty Abbington may get a real crack at the starting job before the season is over.

Best-Case Scenario:
Gary Pinkel has turned plenty of under-the-radar recruits into stars before; he'll have to again if he can't follow up this disappointing class with something better in 2014, at least if he wants the Tigers to do more than battle the Wildcats and Commodores for the East cellar.

SOUTH CAROLINA

Signees: 21

247Sports
National Rank:
21

Overview:
The Gamecocks' recruiting strides in recent years have largely coincided with an uptick in Palmetto State talent and a corresponding uptick in Steve Spurrier's ability to have them stay at home, so it's no surprise that in a year where the state produced only five composite four-stars (and only one, guard D.J. Park, signed with Carolina) that the Gamecocks' class is more similar to Arkansas' or Mississippi State's than Florida's or Georgia's. Still, the front seven talent -- OLB Larenz Bryant, DT Kelsey Griffin, WDE Devin Washington -- is impressive.

Needed to Address:
The losses of Marcus Lattimore and Ace Sanders means some playmaking help was necessary, and the Gamecocks appear to have gotten some in four-star running back David Williams and wideout Pharoh Cooper. But did they get enough?

Headliner: Much of the Gamecocks' recent success has been built on a stout run-stuffing defense, and Griffin's sparkplug 6-3, 290-pound presence in the middle of the Carolina line should ensure that success continues.

Instant Impact:
With both Lattimore and Kenny Miles gone, there's carries to be had in the Gamecock backfield, and we'd expect Williams to make a major push for a major share of those.

Best-Case Scenario:
The stars along the front seven align and keep the Gamecocks among the SEC's most explosive defenses, while Spurrier continues to make the most of his offensive tools -- and the Gamecocks squeak past the Dawgs and Gators for another SEC East title.

TENNESSEE

Signees: 21

247Sports
National Rank:
25

Overview:
Both Lane Kiffin and Derek Dooley made the most of limited timeframes in the run-up to their first Signing Days on Rocky Top, but with the Vols in full-on rebuilding mode after back-to-back 5-7 disappointments, Butch Jones had less luck. Still, the late additions of four-star WR MarQuez North and four-star QB Joshua Dobbs meant the class was better than it could have been.

Needed to Address:
The 2012 Vols were a disaster defensively (somewhere, the Troy Trojans are nodding), so getting four defenders on campus early -- led by four-star Jaylen Reeves-Maybin, the No. 17 OLB -- is a nice boost for Jones. But No. 117 overall SDE Jason Carr might be an even bigger boost when all is said and done.

Headliner:
On a receiving corps gutted by early departures, North should have the chance to shine early and often, and the 6-4, 212-pound target could become a quick favorite of whoever inherits Tyler Bray's starting job.

Instant Impact:
A rotten 2012 meant that jobs might be available in the Vol secondary -- another reason losing five-star safety Vonn Bell to Ohio State stung so badly -- so don't be surprise if safety Lemond Johnson or corner Cameron Sutton make a push for immediate playing time.

Best-Case Scenario:
Jones squeezes the most out of his lightly-regarded players the way he did at Cincinnati, and in tandem with bigger and better classes down the road, the 2013 class paves the way for the Vols to return to SEC East relevance.

VANDERBILT

Signees: 27

247Sports
National Rank: 30

Overview:
Is the glass half-full or half-empty? Thanks to James Franklin's relentless push, Vanderbilt's finally recruiting on nearly the same level as Arkansas or Mississippi State, and nabbing big signing day wins like Zach Cunningham and Jordan Cunningham; on the other hand, even with Franklin's relentless push, Vanderbilt's still not quite recruiting on the same level as Arkansas or Mississippi State. Given the level on which Vanderbilt used to be recruiting, we'll say half-full, but the 'Dores aren't keeping the Gators and Dawgs up at night just yet.

Needed to Address:
Even pre-Franklin, Vandy's never seemed to lack for smart, overachieving players to fill out its lineup; it's finding legitimate All-SEC-caliber stars that's been harder. So signing three 247Sports four-star players -- Zach Cunningham, ILB Nigel Bowden, and WDE Landon Stokes -- and three more composite ranking fours-stars is a big move in the right direction.

Headliner:
And that's before we get to Jonathon McCrary, the 6-4 three-star dual-threat QB who earned interest from the likes of Georgia and Alabama and landed an invite to the U.S. Army All-American Bowl. McCray has enrolled early and has many Vandy fans expecting him to take over the starting job 2014 -- if not earlier.

Instant Impact:
Vandy's linebackers have always been one of the strengths of the team, and the 6-4, 200-pound Zach Cunningham has both the size and skills to start making his own impression at the position as soon as 2013.

Best-Case Scenario:
Franklin maximizes the talent of the class the way he has with his current roster, McCrary becomes a star, Bowden and Cunningham make the linebacking corps one of the SEC's best, and Vandy pulls off a previously unthinkable 10-win season.

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