2018 National Signing Day is in the books, and the folks at ESPN have identified a winner and a loser from the SEC based on how the day played out.
We’ll start with the winner, and that was Texas A&M, per ESPN. While Georgia locked down four highly coveted targets and secured the nation’s No. 1 class and Florida secured multiple 4-star commitments, no team was a bigger mover than the Aggies. Texas A&M flipped Alabama defensive tackle commit Bobby Brown, then proceeded to add 4-star talents such as guard Tank Jenkins, quarterback James Foster and defensive end Jeremiah Martin. Add in 4-star safety Leon O’Neal Jr. from Monday, and the Aggies climbed from the No. 35 recruiting class to the No. 17 class in the country, according to the 247Sports composite rankings.
In the process of its big jump, the Aggies leapfrogged SEC counterparts such as Ole Miss, Tennessee and South Carolina. It’s an incredibly impressive job by Jimbo Fisher, considering that a little over two months ago, he was still the coach at Florida State.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the ledger, Tennessee missed out on all of its top prospects and Alabama failed to secure a top-5 class for the first time since 2007, but the conference’s biggest loser was Ed Orgeron and LSU. The one bright spot for Alabama came at LSU’s expense, as it snatched Patrick Surtain Jr., the No. 1 cornerback in the 2018 class and a longtime LSU lean. The Tigers also missed out on Foster, and while they did add 4-star wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase, the Tigers finished with the No. 15 class in the country, the school’s first class outside the top 10 since 2008.
All in all, it was a down year for the SEC in terms of recruiting. Only Georgia and Alabama finished ranked in the top 10. It’s the first time since 2005 that the conference couldn’t get three teams in the top 10. Part of that can be attributed to the fact that six schools made coaching changes. But if teams like Auburn and Tennessee are to close the gap between the two teams that played in the National Championship Game and the rest of the conference, it has to start on the 2019 recruiting trail.