Caught up with Rivals' Southeast Analyst Jamie Newberg on the phone last night. He had some interesting comments on SEC recruiting. He'd just finished up a show on CSS talking with Saban, Chizik, I think Lame, Derek Dooley, and others. Newberg thought Alabama's class was outstanding. They finished fifth. "There's not a lot of difference between one and five," he said. "Saban just keeps rolling in the classes. Sure they lost Keenan Allen and James Stone, but their secondary class is great (led by five-star DeMarcus Milliner), they got some great receivers (four-stars DeAndrew White, 6'0" 180 4.4, 40), and Kelwon Malone (6'1", 165, 4.4 40), a great quarterback (four-star Phillip Sims, 6'2", 209 second-ranked pro style qb after Heaps of BYU) and Thunder and Lightning at running back."
Thunder is Justin Fowler, a 6'0", 240 four star rb, and Lightning is Corey Grant, a 5'10", 186 four-star rb out of Opelika who runs a 4.4. I remember talking to Spence McCrackin, coach of Opelika when Corey was a junior. He said Corey was "something special." McCracken won three state championships. He was extremely high on Grant.
Newberg also liked 'Bama's dline pickups. Four-star ends Adrian Hubbard and Alfy Hill and three-star Wilson Love from Mountain Brook and liked three-star dtackles Brandon Ivory (6'3" 330) and Brandon Lewis (6'3", 275).
Alabama had eight enroll early. I asked Newberg about that.
"They graduate early now (over Christmas) and they're ready to play. You're going to see a lot of that. I think Eric Zeier started it at Georgia back in the day (in the early 90's). Now a lot of teams are doing it." Auburn has five, Tennessee has eight and Florida has 11.
Newberg called Auburn "the surprise of all recruiting classes." AU finished fourth, Alabama fifth. Team final rankings by Rivals are in an earlier blog along with rankings by ESPN and Scout. Top five for Rivals are USC, Florida, Texas, AU and Bama.
"Ted Roof, Curtis Looper, of course Gene Chizik, and Trooper Taylor were tremendous," Newberg said. "They did so well out of state. They got a five-star out of Arkansas (Robert Dyer rb), a five-star out of Mississippi (Shon Coleman ol), a high four-star out of Florida ( Corey Lemonier dend, 6'4", 223) and some great players out of Georgia ( led by high four-star Dtackle Jeffrey Whitaker, 6'3" 295)."
Newberg attributed Auburn's success to some of the things the Tigers did last spring: the Big Cat weekend and the Tiger Prowl tour. "They've got a great product to sell. The key is can they keep their momentum going."
Newberg said Tennessee did surprisingly well despite the coaching change in January. "Derek Dooley did his best job keeping the early enrollees. He got Justin Hunter (6'4" 172 4-star wr) from LSU, Rajion Neal (4-star rb 5'10" 204, 4.44 40), and the big story was getting Da'Rick Rogers out of Georgia (he was committed to Georgia. Rogers is a five-star, 6'3" 206 wr, 4.4 40). That was a real coup for Tennessee. The program looks like it's going to be in good shape with Derek."
Newberg likes LSU's class with 4-star wr Kadron Boone (6'1", 190) and high four-star de J.R. Ferguson (6'3", 272). "They already had a top ten class and they closed very well. They've already got five of the top 50 players for 2011 committed. Louisiana is stacked for next year and LSU might get'em all."
Newberg said Georgia was off this year, but he thinks Mark Richt will come back with a strong class next year. Losing Da'Rick Rogers out of state was a major loss. Newberg attributed some of Georgia's problems to not having coaches in place, defensive coordinator and others, in January which caused them to struggle in January. "Ever since Jim Donnan, Georgia has had strong classes," he said. "So they'll be back. They still had a top 20 class." Newberg did say Georgia's defensive line class was second only to Florida's in the country.
Florida was outstanding nabbing the no.1, no. 4 and no.7 players in the country.
Newberg says Vandy "had the best class I can remember them having, though they got cherry picked at the end." Vandy lost a db to SC and an athlete to Kentucky, both solid three-star players at the end, and lost a solid three-star wr in Jan. to Ohio State.
Newberg says Kentucky was solid, Arkansas "was the most underrated class," Dan Mullen did another good job at State and Ole Miss did well.
Newberg said Alabama has a great start for 2011 coming off their national championship season. "On their junior day they had kids from all over the country. The championship has really opened doors for them across the country."
Newberg's full throttle for 2011. "It never ends. It used to be 15 years ago where you had a break for a couple of months, but that's not the case anymore. We've got all kinds of film watching going on for 2011. Next year will be the normal soap opera of the SEC."