Rivals.com: Top SEC recruiters
Buzz: Thigpen earned the prestigious title of Rivals.com National Recruiter of the Year by playing a major role in 17 of Tennessee's 31 signees. He's become the most important member of Butch Jones' staff when it comes to recruiting, and was integral in helping Tennessee come from out of the picture to the eventual home for five-star wide receiver Josh Malone. Thigpen's ability to connect not only with recruits, but with their parents, is one of the things that makes him one of the best closers in the business. Even when it looked like the Vols class was full in January, it was Thigpen who helped steal defensive tackles Jashon Robertson and Michael Sawyers away from in-state rival Vanderbilt. Things are changing in Knoxville and Thigpen has been a huge part of the recruiting turnaround.
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Buzz: Craig has done wonders for the Tigers' recruiting efforts in the year he's been back at his alma mater and he played a big role in Auburn's successful 2014 cycle. Not only did he deliver five-star linebacker Tre Williams and Rivals250 defensive back Kalvaraz Bessent and Nicholas Ruffin, but he landed the nation's No. 1 overall JUCO prospect in wide receiver D'haquille Williams and recruited do-everything offensive weapon Stanton Truitt.
Buzz: Marrow is Kentucky's version of Thigpen, a guy who came in and set his sights on the top prospects on Kentucky's board and delivered many of them to Lexington. On Signing Day, four-stars Nick Richardson, Dorian Baker, Darius West, Mike Edwards, Mikel Horton and three-stars Tymere Dubose, Josh Krok, Thaddeus Snodgrass, Dorian Hendrix and Darryl Long all signed with the 'Cats and all were recruited by Marrow. All in all, he was responsible for more than one-third of the best class in Kentucky history. For his efforts, Marrow was rewarded with a raise and the title of recruiting coordinator. If Kentucky was one of the college football recruiting surprises of the year, Marrow was the reason why.
Buzz: There was a lot of turnover on the Georgia staff in the month leading up to Signing Day, but McClendon staying helped the Dawgs finish with one of the top classes in the SEC. Rivals100 defensive end Lorenzo Carter picked Georgia despite not having a position coach, which shows just how good of a rapport he built with McClendon. Also, McClendon was integral in pulling five-star running back Sony Michel out of South Florida and landing the nation's No. 35 overall player, running back Nick Chubb. Throw in Rivals250 prospects like Kendall Baker and Isaiah Wynn and it's clear why McClendon had one of the best years in the SEC.
Buzz: Napier took the recruiting reins and position for Mike Groh, who was named the Rivals.com National Recruiter of the Year in 2013. Napier picked up right where Groh left off. He was in charge of a few vital areas this year, especially north Louisiana, where he snagged commitments from the nation's top offensive lineman in Cameron Robinson and Rivals100 safety Laurence Jones -- two prospects LSU wanted to keep home. He also added commitments from four-star wide receiver Cameron Sims and three-star defensive tackle O.J. Smith. Napier finally secured a commitment from Rivals100 defensive tackle Josh Frazier, who is also the No. 1 player in Arkansas. Frazier's mom credited Napier for winning her blessing for her son to attend Alabama.
Buzz: Bringing back the Wrecking Crew to Texas A&M has been a priority over the last few years and that effort starts up front with the defensive line. Without a doubt, the Aggies were able to get some difference-makers with Terry Price leading the way. He was instrumental in securing the services of the nation's No. 2 prospect, Myles Garrett. He tapped into Arizona for Rivals100 defensive end Qualen Cunningham. He swayed defensive tackle Zaycoven Henderson from Texas at the end and he was able to secure the services of DeShawn Washington early in the process. The group is one of the best in the country and will go a long way in strengthening the Aggie defense.
Buzz: Raymond's reach was far and wide for the 2014 recruiting class. He hit home with Rivals250 defensive lineman Davon Godchaux and he was the key to success in the hotbeds of Florida and Texas. Raymond was able to get the job done with two of the nation's top safety prospects in Edward Paris and Jamal Adams, and then he tapped into Florida for Rivals250 standout John Battle. His hardest job may have been securing the services of Rivals100 defensive tackle Travonte Valentine out of the Miami-area. The Tigers were able to beat out the hometown Miami Hurricanes and get him to Baton Rouge on Signing Day.
Buzz: Florida made headlines with its ability to land big names down the stretch despite a lackluster season and nobody deserves more credit for the late push than Robinson. He helped land five-star Jalen Tabor even after the defensive back committed to Arizona during the Under Armour All-America Game and then finished things off on Signing Day with the flip of Rivals100 quarterback Treon Harris from rival Florida State. He also kept the commitment of Rivals250 defensive back J.C. Jackson despite some signs that he might flip from the Gators, and landed four-star Quincy Wilson early and held him until the end. Other impressive signees recruited by Robinson include defensive back Duke Dawson, four-star defensive tackle Khairi Clark and offensive weapon Brandon Powell.
Buzz: Smart has always been good at building relationships and the 2014 cycle is no exception. When Alabama fans were cheering the signing of five-star linebacker Rashaan Evans on National Signing Day, it was Smart who was the man responsible. Closing the class with Evans and signing Rivals100 linebackers Christian Miller and Shaun Dion Hamilton as well five-star defensive back Marlon Humphrey gives Smart another year as one of the country's top recruiters.
Buzz: It is no surprise to see Frank Wilson among the nation's top recruiters. He has proven to be one of the best over the course of his college coaching career. In 2014, he was challenged with securing the services of several of the nation's top prospects and he came through with the two biggest the state of Louisiana had to offer. Five-star running back Leonard Fournette was probably the top priority of the staff and Wilson was charged with securing his services. He was able to fight off every school in the country and get him to Baton Rouge. He also played a big role in the recruitment of five-star wide receiver Malachi Dupre, and Rivals250 standouts Darrel Williams and William Clapp. It was a big year on the recruiting front for LSU and Wilson was without a doubt a big reason why.
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