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SEC breakdown: Top needs in the 2018 class

The SEC is known for flexing its recruiting muscle, and the class of 2018 isn’t expected to be any different. This week we take a look at which positions of need will be crucial to recruiting success for each SEC program.

MORE: Big Ten breakdown

Class of 2018 rankings: Rivals250 | Team | State | Position

ALABAMA

Coynis Miller
Coynis Miller

Biggest Need: Defensive Line

The Latest: Alabama has a big need on the defensive line, and it needs to sign a strong unit this class. It is not just defensive ends or defensive tackles; Alabama needs both. The Crimson Tide may sign as many as five up front along the defensive line, as there is a lack of depth on the current roster. Of course the Tide will target the best of the best, but it will start with in-state prospects Coynis Miller and Jalen Cunningham.

AUBURN

Brenton Cox
Brenton Cox

Biggest Need: Defensive Line

The Latest: Auburn signed arguably the country's top defensive line class in 2016, which included five-stars Marlon Davidson and Derrick Brown as well as four-stars Nick Coe and Antwuan Jackson. The Tigers, however, followed that group by signing only three defensive linemen in 2017 - a trio of three-star recruits that included only one defensive end (Markaviest Bryant) and two inside guys in Tyrone Truesdell and Alec Jackson. Auburn, as it did in 2016, needs to have another big year recruiting defensive linemen, particularly at weakside end, in order to maintain a deep and talented depth chart in the future. The Tigers have to ensure there isn't a significant drop in two years when Davidson, Brown, Coe and Jackson all graduate or move on to the NFL. Brenton Cox, a four-star defensive end, is a top target for the Tigers.

ARKANSAS

Owen Condon
Owen Condon

Biggest Need: Offensive Line

The Latest: Arkansas is not going to sign a large class in 2018 due to only having 11 scholarship seniors on the roster. There are a few needs out there this cycle for the Razorbacks, but offensive line may be the position at which they ink the most. Owen Condon was recently on campus for a visit and he is a top target. Penei Sewell and Darrell Simpson are two others that have been offered by Arkansas that it is targeting up front. It will likely sign around three in this class.

FLORIDA

Joe Milton
Joe Milton

Biggest Need: Quarterback

The Latest: The Gators are in the middle of a healthy quarterback competition this spring, with a pair of redshirt freshmen battling it out to win the starting job. Class of 2017 signee Jake Allen will be on campus this summer and jump right into the mix, so in theory it’s not a make-or-break year in 2018 at the position. But Gators fans will be the first to say that you can never have enough quarterbacks competing, and adding a talent such as four-star Joe Milton would give the group a major boost in talent, even if he might need some time to develop in college.

GEORGIA

James Foster
James Foster

Biggest Need: Quarterback

The Latest: Georgia recently lost Brice Ramsey, who has decided to transfer, and the Bulldogs now only have two scholarship quarterbacks on campus. They don't just want to sign a pair of quarterbacks this cycle - they need them. Kirby Smart is looking for at least one dual-threat quarterback in 2018. Joe Milton out of Florida is a hot name right now since he has visited a couple of times over the last month. James Foster is another out-of-state quarterback that likes the Dawgs, and UGA is not giving up on in-state quarterbacks Justin Fields (Penn State commit) and Emory Jones (Ohio State commit).

KENTUCKY

Former Kentucky RB Stanley Williams
Former Kentucky RB Stanley Williams (AP Images)

Biggest Need: Running back

The Latest: The Wildcats' timeline for running backs picked up a little bit when star Stanley “Boom” Williams elected to leave early for the 2017 NFL Draft. Veterans Siheim King and Benny Snell are among the four backs that the Wildcats will have on their roster this fall, but when 2018 rolls around three of the four will be upperclassmen. That opens the door for Kentucky to focus on an elite back for the 2018 class. So far Kentucky has offered 15 different running back prospects; it figures to sign two in the class.

LSU

Terrace Marshall Jr.
Terrace Marshall Jr.

Biggest Need: Wide receiver

The Latest: LSU has quite the history of producing NFL-caliber wide receivers, and recruits are quick to mention the Tigers in that regard. But after not signing as many wide receivers as once thought in the 2017 class, the door is open for a major wide receiver haul in 2018. The prime target for the Tigers is in-state Rivals100 wide receiver Terrace Marshall, one of the country’s best players regardless of position. Other stars such as Rivals100 wide receiver Brennan Eagles and in-state Rivals250 wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase are also on LSU’s radar. With so much talent at the position already seriously considering the Tigers, it appears they could be in for a much-needed big haul.

MISSISSIPPI STATE

Malik Heath
Malik Heath

Biggest Need: Wide receiver

The Latest: How do you replace Fred Ross? You lose your all-time leading wide receiver, then you only sign one at that position in 2017, so the 2018 class needs to bring in some talent that can catch the ball and make plays. The Bulldogs are off to a good start with commitments from in-state stars Malik Heath and Cameron Gardner. They also have Nero Nelson committed, and the junior college athlete is likely to play on the offensive side of the ball. Mississippi State is not done. It will add at least one more wideout, likely two, in this class. Other targets are C.J. Bolar, Jamaal Houston and Shedrick Jackson.

MISSOURI

Trevor Trout
Trevor Trout

Biggest Need: Defensive Line

The Latest: The Tigers loaded up with five defensive tackles in the 2017 class, but three of them are junior college players. A good portion of the line is going to be gone after this season, especially if Terry Beckner Jr. plays well enough to leave early for the NFL. But more important than need is opportunity. The state of Missouri features top 250 linemen Trevor Trout and Michael Thompson, along with highly recruited defensive tackle Daniel Parker Jr. and defensive end Ronnie Perkins. Landing some or all of those players would be a major statement inside the borders.

OLE MISS

Gerry Bohanon
Gerry Bohanon

Biggest Need: Quarterback

The Latest: There is a big need at quarterback in the 2018 class for the Rebels. While they were able to sign two quarterbacks in the class of 2017 in Jordan Ta'amu and Alex Faniel, the hole that could be left after the 2018 season by the early departure of former five-star Shea Patterson is not likely to be filled by either of them. With Earle (Ark.) Gerry Bohanon and Midway (Texas) Tanner Mordecai among the top early targets and both Olympia (Fla.) Joe Milton and Lehi (Utah) Cammon Cooper being offered not long ago, offensive coordinator Phil Longo has made it clear that the quarterback position is a priority going forward, regardless of what the NCAA rules in the coming months.

SOUTH CAROLINA

Xavier Thomas
Xavier Thomas

Biggest Need: Defensive lineman

The Latest: Will Muschamp’s defenses are known for having tenacious defensive line play, and despite stocking the cupboard with some nice prospects in 2016 and 2017 it’s clear the elite players at the position are still very much a priority. Enter five-star Xavier Thomas, a South Carolina native who is one of the best in the country and has been a priority of Muschamp’s staff since pretty much day one. An elite athlete such as Thomas or fellow Rivals100 prospect K.J. Henry would give South Carolina a different dimension on defense and help the program to take the next step in its rebuilding efforts.

TENNESSEE

Jacob Warren
Jacob Warren

Biggest Need: Tight end

The latest: The Vols have featured the tight end position since Butch Jones took over in Knoxville, and while the results have been inconsistent at times, it’s clear that there is a spot for the right type of playmaker. The Vols signed one tight end in the class of 2017 in converted quarterback James Brown, but he’s likely to need more time to develop before stepping in and having an impact. Current starting tight end Ethan Wolfe has caught at least 20 passes in each of his first three years with the Vols, but his graduation will leave a void that needs to be filled. So far Tennessee has offered 18 tight ends in the 2018 class, showing just how important the position is in this cycle. In-state prospects Jacob Warren and Gavin Schoenwald are both names to watch.

TEXAS A&M

Biggest Need: Wide receiver

The latest: The Aggies have one of the best wide receivers in the country in former five-star Christian Kirk but beyond him the team is counting on unproven players to step up in 2017. Depending on how that goes and who emerges it may become less important, but right now landing some elite prospects at the position appears key. Major targets include Rivals100 wide receiver Terrace Marshall and in-state prospects Brennan Eagles and Al’Vonte Woodard. Even if taking big numbers at the position isn’t a priority, landing the type of player capable of coming in and contributing early will be.

VANDERBILT

Justin Oden
Justin Oden

Biggest Need: Wide receiver

The latest: Even with the two prospects the Commodores signed in the class of 2017, the bulk of the pass-catchers on the roster will be upperclassmen heading into this fall. That means it will be time for a restock at the position, something that will be important especially as the Commodores' quarterback position becomes more of an asset to the offense. With that in mind the Vanderbilt coaches have already handed out 25 offers at the position and are still waiting on the first commitment. In-state four-star prospect Justin Oden has spoken highly of the ‘Dores in the past and is one of several names to watch as the cycle moves along.