SEC Recruiting: Christmas Gifts Abound

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With National Signing Day six weeks away, OKTC has taken a look at where each SEC recruiting class stands and determined what each team needs Santa to bring them to fill out their allotment of 25 signees in 2012.

Alabama –

Nick Saban has put together another banner recruiting class, and depending on how things fall between now and February, this may be his best haul yet. The late steal of TJ Yeldon from cross-state rival Auburn was a big win, and it filled a major hole in this class as the Tide desperately needed another RB to add depth in the backfield.

What’s currently under the tree: Saban and Co. did well – this group is the equivalent of finding an iPad 2 under the tree on Christmas morning. If it doesn’t work after a couple of weeks, Saban will just give it a medical redshirt and wait for Apple to release the next version.

Gift they want to find under the tree: The Tide would love to round this class out with a couple more defensive stars – particularly up front. Any combination of Eddie Goldman, Alphonse Taylor and JUCO star Daniel McCullers would be a welcome addition with the departure of NT Josh Chapman, although Taylor could play on either side of the ball.

Auburn –

Despite the loss of Yeldon, Auburn has recruited very well at RB over the past three seasons, and they still have a commit in Jovon Robinson that has plenty of star potential in his own right. Credit Auburn for holding this class together despite losing both coordinators within days of one another.

What’s currently under the tree: After getting shellacked in their five losses, Auburn was on Santa’s “naughty” list for the second half of this year (and, depending on who you ask, at the end of last season during the Cam Newton fiasco…but we digress), but they managed to do just fine this holiday season. Call this class a nice winter coat. Maybe not as flashy as the gifts you got last year or the year before, but it’s what you needed and will be in your closet for years to come. It also goes great with those knock-off Costas you bought online. Now, go stock up on egg nog – you’re going to need it to get through that bowl match-up against Virginia.

Gift they want to find under the tree: Auburn has recruited well at the skill positions and along the defensive front recently, but look for them to add one more playmaker at WR and DL. Channing Ward is an elite end that projects as a slightly bigger version of current Tiger Corey Lemonier. Auburn may make a push for Ward late. Stefon Diggs is a name to watch at receiver, as well.

Arkansas –

The Hogs have a real need at wide-out in this class, and they’ve filled that nicely with commitments from five SEC-caliber wide-outs. Nabbing JUCO athlete Courtney Gardner late in the process helped bolster that group, but one very big recruit still remains uncommitted in Dorial Green-Beckham.

What’s currently under the tree: With all the speed the Hogs landed, Petrino’s getting a new 4G phone for Christmas. But nothing too nice like an iPhone. This is one of those generic brands they give you for free just for signing a 2-year agreement. Now good luck finding a signal anywhere in Arkansas.

Gift they want to find under the tree:  Green-Beckham’s recruitment has been all over the place despite the top WR in the country being fairly quiet throughout the process. Landing him would make a serious statement to indicate that Arkansas has really arrived, and it would easily make this the best receiving class in the nation.

Florida –

Will Muschamp’s first full class at Florida has been a good one, and the Gators have addressed some real needs up front on both sides of the line. They’ve also received commitments from two outstanding tight end prospects in Kent Taylor and Colin Thompson.

What’s currently under the tree:  Overall – a fantastic class. It’s like your boss giving you a $100 gift card, letting you off work early at the 7-11, and telling you to pick yourself out the nicest pair of jorts you can find in town.

Gift they want to find under the tree: Florida will look to keep it “down home” as it wraps up this class, as they’ll go hard after recruits like Nelson Agholor (Tampa) and Avery Young. Landing either player, at this point, may be a longshot as Agholor is really interested in Oklahoma and Notre Dame, and Young may head out of state to Auburn or Georgia. If Florida can lock in a few more local players, they’ll maintain a top 5 class in the country.

Georgia –

As he always seems to do, Mark Richt is closing strong with the Georgia’s Class of 2012. As we mentioned last week, the recent addition of Keith Marshall was a huge score for Georgia, and they’ll look to close out with two or three more stars.

What’s currently under the tree: This class isn’t the coolest gift out there, and there’s a good chance you won’t even know where it is in a couple of years, but it’s probably nicer than anything your next-door neighbors are getting.

Gift they want to find under the tree: If Georgia can steal a recruit like Jordan Jenkins from Alabama and Florida, it could potentially make this class. The race of Jenkins’ pledge has been a Tide-Gators battle for months, but Georgia is giving him something to think about. If Georgia could snag either Jenkins or Alabama commit Dillon Lee, the class would be considered a success.

Kentucky –

Not a remarkable class by any means at this point, but Kentucky has done a nice job of loading up on offensive linemen. That’s where it all starts, and with no fewer than six OLs signing on in 2012, they’re building a base of talent in the trenches that will help rebuild the program.

What’s currently under the tree: Look, Kentucky fans! What’s that under the tree!? It’s that new basketball you’ve been wanting! But wait, it’s all deflated and looks like it was chopped up with scissors and run through a car wash. Nevermind.

Gift they want to find under the tree: The Cats are, for all intents and purposes, full at this point. The good news? Kentucky’s received more than 20 commitments. The bad news? They’re from 20 very mediocre football players. A stocking full of coal if ever I’ve seen one. If Kentucky adds any more to this class, they’d be well-served to find another capable running back or wide receiver. Right now, the class is very heavy on offensive linemen and defensive backs.


Top to bottom, this is a very well-rounded class that addresses needs and also brings in guys who can immediately make a different at the skill position. With a glut of talent at running back, that wasn’t a high priority this year for the Tigers, but they could still add Jeremy Hill back to the fold before it’s all said and done.

What’s currently under the tree: Just what anyone on the Bayou would want – a gift certificate to Galatoire’s and a rug made of the finest nutria pelts this side of Breaux Bridge. Enough to make the neighbors in the next houseboat over green with envy.

Gift they want to find under the tree: Nothing would please LSU fans more than to beat Alabama (again) in the Superdome on Jan. 9. The next-best thing would be to follow that up with a recruiting win over the Tide in February as both schools close in on talented defensive back Landon Collins.

Mississippi State –

With the commitments of JUCO DE Denico Autry and prep standout DT Quay Evans (among others), the Bulldogs have put together one of the top defensive line classes in the country. Autry, long considered to be a strong Tennessee lean, settled on Starkville as a final destination in recent weeks giving Dan Mullen the final piece to this crop of defensive linemen.

What’s currently under the tree: There’s a lot of meat to this class, both literally and figuratively. Dan Mullen’s getting a year’s supply of Omaha Steaks. Odds are, his wife will have to grill them for him, though.

Gift they want to find under the tree: This is a solid class. Not spectacular, but respectable. The Bulldogs have almost capped off this group, so unless there’s some attrition don’t expect much more here. Perhaps one or two more additions and they’ll be done, but there aren’t any great needs left unfilled. No more room under this tree.

Ole Miss –

It will be interesting to see how Hugh Freeze closes out this class. The new leader of the Rebels hasn’t been shy about aggressively recruiting committed players, and he’ll do his best to pick up a few more players before focusing on solidifying his staff and starting on the class of 2013.

What’s currently under the tree: This class basically amounts to a membership in the Jelly of the Month Club. Clark, it’s the gift that keeps on giving.

Gift they want to find under the tree: There’s some upside here, because the numbers work out well for Freeze to add more players late in the period. He’s getting a late start, but he’s not stuck having to honor commitments to a full class. If the Rebels could steal a commit from Mississippi State or Alabama, it would do wonders to build strong momentum for the new staff. He’s saying the right things and has a great attitude, but he has to recruit at a high level to close the talent deficit he faces with rest of the division. That needs to start sooner than later, and the Rebs could stand to land another OL and WR in this group.

South Carolina

It was imperative that South Carolina hold on to in-state standout Shaq Roland, and they managed to do that. The addition of Fork Union prep TE Jerell Adams, along with Roland and a few other above-average WRs makes this a satisfactory class for Steve Spurrier. Adams is versatile enough to play multiple additions, so we’ll see how the Gamecocks plan to use him once he’s on campus.

What’s currently under the tree: This class isn’t exactly a new Cadillac, but it’s not a pair of socks, either. It’s more like a Target gift card. Quick, painless, and requires little thought. But still something you can use.

Gift they want to find under the tree: Not many spots left here, but another linebacker would be an added benefit. With the likely departure of Ellis Johnson to Southern Miss, attracting another defensive prospect may be difficult this late in the game.

Tennessee –

Credit Derek Dooley here – not much has gone right for the second-year coach in 2011, but his recruiting class has improved week by week. After getting dominated in-state by James Franklin and Vanderbilt, the Vols stayed the course and put together a solid class, and not a minute too soon. Across the board, this is a very complete class. Plenty of talent at the skill positions, but some nice additions along the lines, as well.

What’s currently under the tree: A nice new pair of wool slacks. Very lawyerly, befitting a guy like Dooley. Now, find those orange trousers and burn them. Then scatter the ashes in the Tennessee River.

Gift they want to find under the tree: The Vols may look to add a JUCO player like Darrington Sentimore. The former Alabama DL has had his issues, but when he plays at a high level and stays out of trouble, he’s a game-changer.

Vanderbilt –

As mentioned, Franklin has done a more amazing job on the recruiting trail than on the field, and that’s saying something, because he’s been seriously mentioned as Coach of the Year material for his team’s success on Saturdays. Franklin has put on a full-court press, even taking to the skies in helicopters, as he’s launched his assault on SEC recruiting. Depending on how things shake out from now until February, this could wind up the third-best class in the East. Regardless, this has been an impressive haul for Vandy.

What’s currently under the tree: The newest graphing calculator from Texas Instruments and a nice cashmere scarf from Joseph A. Bank.

Gift they want to find under the tree: It’s not in the Christmas spirit to be greedy. Wanting anything else would be downright Grinch-worthy, but that may not stop Franklin. Five-star quarterback Gunner Kiel is down to the Commodores, Notre Dame, and LSU. Could Franklin nab the first five-star recruit in the program’s history?


Missouri –

While the SEC’s third, and newest, set of Tigers won’t officially join the conference until July, the new kids on the block in the “East” (we use that term loosely) are putting together a class that will compete against the nation’s best next season. Right now, though, this looks more like a class that’s still built to compete with Kansas and Iowa State, rather than the SEC’s heavyweights. This class is stale fruitcake. We appreciate the thought, but we still don’t want any of it.

What’s currently under the tree: Missouri is like a new in-law who married into the family. This is our first Christmas together, and well, it’s just a little bit awkward for now. You’re telling jokes, and nobody’s laughing. To take the edge off, you’re drinking more than Gary Pinkel during an Applebee’s Happy Hour. Take it easy. This time next year, you’ll be one of us. For now, you’re getting a set of pliers and a screwdriver. Because we don’t know you that well, and we thought you could use them. Now, go sit at the kids table.

Gift they want to find under the tree: Maty Mauk – the bizarro cousin of former LSU QB Matt Mauck, apparently – is a nice find here. The quarterback out of Ohio had offers from around the country, but Mizzou could really stand to find a WR or two for him to throw to. Green-Beckham, already mentioned earlier, is the top player in the country and is right down the road in Springfield. Want to make a statement in the SEC? Don’t let him escape to a future conference rival (Arkansas) or a former one (Oklahoma.)

Texas A&M –

A&M was long-rumored to be headed to the SEC before the official announcement was made in September, and they’ve been stocking up on talent like it was a foregone conclusion, as well. This is a very solid class, with 19 of 22 commitments coming from inside the Lone Star State.

What’s currently under the tree: A&M’s getting a nice bottle of whiskey and a new flask. Having you here just sort of feels right, and if you’re going to be one of us, you need to drink like one of us. We’re getting you a new collar for that dog of yours, too. It’s dri-fit and will improve her 40 time. Trust us.

Gift they want to find under the tree: A&M has covered most of their bases with the Class of 2012. It’s a solid group, and they’ve done well up front on both the offensive and defensive lines – a trend that will need to continue in the years to come if they want to contend in the SEC. Perhaps the only missing piece would be another linebacker, but all in all, this is one of the better groups in the SEC right now.

Written by Clay Travis

Clay Travis is the founder of the fastest growing national multimedia platform, OutKick, that produces and distributes engaging content across sports and pop culture to millions of fans across the country. OutKick was created by Travis in 2011 and sold to the Fox Corporation in 2021.

One of the most electrifying and outspoken personalities in the industry, Travis hosts OutKick The Show where he provides his unfiltered opinion on the most compelling headlines throughout sports, culture, and politics. He also makes regular appearances on FOX News Media as a contributor providing analysis on a variety of subjects ranging from sports news to the cultural landscape. Throughout the college football season, Travis is on Big Noon Kickoff for Fox Sports breaking down the game and the latest storylines.

Additionally, Travis serves as a co-host of The Clay Travis and Buck Sexton Show, a three-hour conservative radio talk program syndicated across Premiere Networks radio stations nationwide.

Previously, he launched OutKick The Coverage on Fox Sports Radio that included interviews and listener interactions and was on Fox Sports Bet for four years. Additionally, Travis started an iHeartRadio Original Podcast called Wins & Losses that featured in-depth conversations with the biggest names in sports.

Travis is a graduate of George Washington University as well as Vanderbilt Law School. Based in Nashville, he is the author of Dixieland Delight, On Rocky Top, and Republicans Buy Sneakers Too.