Steve Spurrer after his Florida return
South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier finished with the highest class ranking ever as the Gamecocks finished with the number seven class in the country. Thanks to 31 signees, including five star defensive end Cliff Matthews, the Gamecocks finished in the Scout.com top fifteen for the first time since 2003. Still, the ranking places them firmly at number five in its own conference.
Last season, the Southeastern Conference was widely believed to be the toughest football conference in the country. Even the eventual national champion Florida Gators could not come out of conference play unskathed thanks to a 27-17 loss at Auburn.
In the end, with Urban Meyer raising the championship trophy, it started to solidify one of the top recruiting classes in recent memory which finished with the Scout.com mythical "national recruiting championship".
"The Gators landed ten five-star prospects in this recruiting class and six of them committed after the big game on January 8th," said Bob Redman, Associate Editor for GatorCountry.com. "The early recruiting efforts by the Gator staff probably would have landed a few of those, but big time prospects like defensive end Justin Trattou (who was previously comitted to Notre Dame), offensive lineman James Wlson (USC), safety Jerimy Finch (Indiana), and defensive end Carlos Dunlap, a South Carolina native, all had to be impressed with what the Gators did on the national stage."
But what does this mean for the conference?
Five SEC programs finished in the top seven of the Scout.com team recruiting rankings - Florida, LSU, Tennessee, Auburn, and South Carolina. Georgia and Alabama even stuck around in the top twenty, coming in at 17 and 19, respectively.
"LSU landed safety Chad Jones and wide receiver Terrence Toliver who are both ranked number one in the country at their respected positions," said Scout.com Southeast recruiting analyst Andrew Bone. "Coach Les Miles filled needs on the defensive line as well. They landed Joseph Barksdale, Will Blackwell, Sidell Corley, Drake Nevis and Kentravis Aubrey."
"The Auburn Tigers assembled a terrific in-state and out-of-state recruiting class. They landed the state's top prospect safety Michael McNeil, center Ryan Pugh, linebacker Eltoro Freeman and cornerback Ryan Williams. They ventured out-of-state to land quarterback Kodi Burns, offensive lineman Lee Ziemba, running back Enrique Davis and linebacker Josh Bynes. Coach Tommy Tuberville put together an amazing 2007 recruiting class."
Tennessee rose quickly in the rankings after the U.S. Army All-American Bowl during which the Volunteers added major commitments from five star players in defensive end Ben Martin and local linebacker Chris Donald. Signing Day came as a huge swoon as well when three four-star prospects committed to Coach Phillip Fulmer.
"South Carolina’s 2007 recruiting class has to be considered the best in school history if you look at the quality of talent brought in from top to bottom. Steve Spurrier and staff did an excellent job of hitting the recruiting trail and building relationships with prospects early on, and that paid great dividends in the months leading up to Signing Day," said Jonathan Jolley, recruiting writer for GamecockAnthem.com. "The Gamecocks entered this class with major needs at wide receiver, defensive end, and cornerback, and they were able to address all three areas in grand fashion. USC landed seven quality wide receivers in what could arguably be considered the top wide receiver class in the country. They landed a pair of stud defensive ends in Cliff Matthews and Travian Robertson, and even after the loss of Gary Gray to Notre Dame, Carolina landed three solid cornerbacks in Jamire Williams, Akeem Auguste, and Addison Williams. Whenever a coaching staff is able to meet their needs that well in a recruiting class, it’s mission accomplished."
Overall, the SEC finished 600 points higher than the second place conference, the Pac-10, on average points (2886 to 2222), ten more five stars (22 to 12), and double the players in the National Top 100 (34 to 17).
Auburn head coach Tommy Tuberville said at his press conference that the conference sells itself to recruits adding that of his signees "most wanted to play in the SEC" from the start.
However, with signing day done and one of the highest-rated classes in his school's history, Spurrier and his signees now have one more goal.
"We feel like we got a lot of good players that want to help us win the SEC."