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SEC Spotlight: Wrapping up the Early Signing Period

CLASS OF 2019 RANKINGS: Rivals250 | State | Position | Team

CLASS OF 2020 RANKINGS: Rivals250 | State | Position

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Alabama five-star RB Trey Sanders (Nick Lucero/Rivals.com)

The SEC once again stole the headlines of the Early Signing Period and the conference finished with the nation’s top four teams in the Rivals.com Team Rankings. While there’s likely to be some more shuffling between now and National Signing Day, it’s still clear the conference remains the king of recruiting. Today we put a bow on the Early Signing Period storylines in the conference and take a look ahead to what the next six weeks will hold.

MORE: Big Ten wrap-up | SEC team rankings

STANDING OVATION: ALABAMA

Alabama is looking to take that No. 1 spot in the team rankings back in 2019, and the Crimson Tide are off to a great start. Nick Saban and has staff signed 23 during the Early Signing Period, and three were five-stars. Out of the 23 signees, seven are Rivals100 members and 11 others are slotted in the Rivals250. As strong as the group is now, there are still numerous elite prospects Alabama is in good position to land come February. What Saban and his staff do year in and year out is very impressive. They are in position now to take that top ranking back in 2019.

SURPRISE PARTY: ARKANSAS

It was obvious by the results on the field this fall that the Razorbacks needed an influx of talent after a winless season in SEC play and that’s exactly what they got. Given a full year to recruit, Chad Morris and company showed that they are tireless recruiters by landing one of the best classes in school history. Arkansas currently sits No. 13 in the team rankings, with Rivals250 addition Trey Knox as well as nine other four-stars officially signed. Regardless of how things shake out with other programs down the stretch, the foundation for the rebuild in Fayetteville has been laid with this class.

WORK TO DO: AUBURN

The Tigers actually rank in the conference’s top half, but have just 16 signees, the fewest in the 14-team league. The No. 1 piece of unfinished business is signing five-star wide receiver George Pickens, a long-time commit who decided to delay his signing until February. Auburn is also still heavily involved with uncommitted four-star athlete Mark-Antony Richards and adding him to the class would likely give the Tigers a boost in the rankings. Expect Auburn to add nine more signees in February, giving them a real chance to finish in the Top 15 nationally.

RANKING THE SEC

1. ALABAMA

The good: Alabama flipped Jordan Battle from Ohio State and then landed five-star teammates Trey Sanders (running back) and Evan Neal (offensive tackle). They inked 23 of their 26 commitments.

The bad: Early on day one of the Early Signing Period, Daxton Hill flipped to Michigan and signed with the Wolverines.

Top remaining target: Ishmael Sopsher, DL

2. GEORGIA

The good: Landing five-star linebacker Nakobe Dean was the story of the day for Georgia. They also inked two quarterbacks; flipping Dwan Mathis from Ohio State and Stetson Bennett from the junior college ranks.

The bad: Leading into Wednesday, the buzz was Georgia was going to land Sanders, but instead, the No. 1 running back signed with Alabama.

Top remaining target: Tyrique Stevenson, DB

3. TEXAS A&M

The good: The Aggies had a few reasons to celebrate during the signing period, flipping and signing defensive lineman Derick Hunter from Florida State while also signing all but two members of their commitment list.

The bad: Longtime target Marcus Stripling spurned the Aggies in favor of Oklahoma, a loss at a position of need for the school.

Top remaining target: Devonta Lee, ATH

4. LSU

The good: Keeping the best at home is key for Ed Orgeron, so signing five-stars Derek Stingley, Trey Palmer and Kardell Thomas, in-state running backs John Emery and Tyrion Davis, linebacker Donte Starks and offensive lineman Thomas Perry have this class receiving high marks.

The bad: Maurice Hampton opted not to sign, so a top cornerback who has been committed for two and a half years is still on the market.

Top remaining target: Ishmael Sopsher, DL

5. TENNESSEE

The good: The Vols closed on two major targets, landing signatures from in-state Rivals250 running back Eric Gray and Rivals100 athlete Quavaris Crouch.

The bad: Tennessee made a late run at running back Noah Cain but couldn’t land his commitment as he spurned the Vols for Penn State.

Top remaining target: Darnell Wright, OL

6. ARKANSAS

The good: It was a banner day for the Razorbacks as they held onto their class and landed a flip from four-star defensive back target Gregory Brooks, who had previously been committed to Mississippi State.

The bad: Two of Arkansas most notable recruits, in-state four-stars Hudson Henry and Treylon Burks didn’t sign during the early period, nor did four-star defensive backs Adonis Otey or Devin Bush.

Top remaining target: Lakia Henry, LB

7. AUBURN

The good: With all the noise around Gus Malzahn’s future at Auburn earlier this month, they still have a top 15 class. Signing Derick Hall and DJ Williams were two big gets for the Tiger staff during the Early Signing Period.

The bad: George Pickens is still out there. The five-star wide receiver was Auburn’s first commitment, and the odds of them holding on are around 50-50, so they have some work to do. The offensive line position is still a big need too.

Top remaining target: Kamaar Bell, OL

8. FLORIDA

The good: The Gators received some nice national attention on Wednesday, when a trio of four-stars from Lakeland, Fla., -- Deyavie Hammond, Keon Zipperer and Lloyd Summerall -- committed and signed with the school.

The bad: The Gators are still just No. 17 nationally, a departure from some elite classes of years past. Watching Sanders, who just took an official visit to Gainesville, sign with Alabama was also painful.

Top remaining target: Five-star DB Chris Steele

9. SOUTH CAROLINA

The good: The Gamecocks closed strong, adding commitments from three-star offensive lineman Jakai Moore, four-star defensive back Johnny Dixon and three-star wide receiver Xavier Legette.

The bad: The Gamecocks swung and missed on attempts to flip defensive back Tyron Hopper from Florida and offensive lineman Matthew Bedford from Indiana.

Top remaining target: Jammie Robinson, DB

10. MISSISSIPPI STATE

The good: Charles Cross and Jarrian Jones highlight this class. Both are in-state signees, and both will likely make a big impact in Starkville. Cross is an elite offensive tackle and Jones is a versatile athlete who could shine on either side of the ball.

The bad: Out of the 23 commitments, only 16 signed during the Early Signing Period. They really need to secure the commitments and get those others signed in February.

Top remaining target: Jerrion Early, RB

11. OLE MISS

The good: Ole Miss signed 25 prospects, so it is a big class, but it was hoping it would be a little bigger entering January. They had a big need on the offensive line and it signed six.

The bad: Missing out on in-state targets Nakobe Dean and Raydarious Jones were big blows on day one, then not signing commitments Jerrion Ealy and Jonathan Mingo keeps their recruitments open.

Top remaining target: Maurice Hampton, DB

12. KENTUCKY

The good: The Wildcats closed with a pair of commitments, landing three-star defensive back Taj Dodson and JUCO defensive back Quandre Mosely.

The bad: Kentucky didn’t get a signature from one of its highest-ranked commits, as four-star JaVonte Richardson elected to wait until February to sign.

Top remaining target: Devonta Lee, ATH

13. MISSOURI

The good: Missouri locked up 19 of 21 commitments, so its class is pretty much in place. Putting that with the addition of Clemson quarterback transfer Kelly Bryant, and the Early Signing Period was good to the Tigers.

The bad: Missouri can still use another offensive lineman or two in this class. They finished a little short in December.

Top remaining target: Brandon Mack, DE

14. VANDERBILT

The good: The Commodores had a nice close during the early period, landing three commitments in local offensive lineman Nate Clifton, three-star athlete Keyon Brooks and key JUCO three-star Dontye Carriere-Williams.

The bad: Despite adding three commitments and being ranked in the Top 50 nationally, the Commodores are last in the SEC team recruiting rankings.

Top remaining target: Jamal Hill, DB