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Take Two: Will SEC continue to reel in majority of five-stars?

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

CLASS OF 2020 RANKINGS: Rivals250 | State | Position

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Georgia signee and IMG Academy product Nolan Smith.
Nick Lucero/Rivals.com

Take Two returns with another offering tackling a relevant topic in the college football landscape. Rivals.com National Recruiting Analyst Adam Gorney lays out the situation and then receives takes from National Recruiting Director Mike Farrell and a local expert from the Rivals.com network of team sites.

MORE TAKE TWO: Is Jake Smith the next Christian McCaffrey? | Why isn't Clemson bringing in top-five classes?

THE STORYLINE 

SEC domination in the rankings is not a new phenomenon, but that conference took five-star signings to a whole new level this recruiting cycle as it signed 18 of 30 five-star prospects, the highest number in the history of Rivals dating back to 2002.

In the 2018 recruiting class, SEC schools signed 36 percent of the five-stars. The year before it was 38 percent. Some years, it’s in the 50th percentile and usually it’s hovering in the 40s. The average since the inception of Rivals is 44 percent of five-stars signing with the SEC. But the 2019 crop saw the highest amount ever at 60 percent as four of the top five players in the country and eight of the top 10 signed with SEC programs.

That’s complete domination.

Alabama’s national profile certainly helps the conference. Georgia’s emergence especially in the last few years under coach Kirby Smart - along with back-to-back team recruiting titles - gives the conference an added boost. The proliferation of top recruits playing at Bradenton (Fla.) IMG Academy has been a benefit to SEC teams as well, with Trey Sanders and Evan Neal heading to Alabama this recruiting cycle and Nolan Smith going to Georgia. All three were five-stars at IMG this past season.

Will the SEC’s stranglehold of five-star prospects end anytime soon? Or does its own success feed the beast even more?

  FIRST TAKE: JAKE REUSE, UGASPORTS.COM  

“I don’t think it’s an anomaly. A lot of factors are in play and part of it is the combine invites. You’re seeing the SEC being hoisted up on the stage so often. We saw it with Georgia getting Todd Gurley and Sony Michel as captains and they’re the starting running backs in the Super Bowl. It’s a ripple effect.

“It all trickles down from the highest level into the high school level. That’s as impactful as anything.”


  SECOND TAKE: MIKE FARRELL, RIVALS.COM  

“The SEC gets the most talent. It puts the most talent in the combine. It puts the most talent in the NFL Draft. That hasn’t changed, and I don’t think it will. The SEC teams also feed off each other. They have to play each other and knock each other off, whereas now Clemson is clearly the best team in the ACC, and it’s not even close. Clearly, Texas and Oklahoma are the two best teams in the Big 12, and you’ve got quite a bit of separation between the top and bottom of the Big Ten as well. The Pac-12 is out of the discussion right now when it comes to playoff contenders.

“IMG plays in. You have to have Florida State, Clemson and Miami, among others, land some of those kids. Originally, it was thought to be a feeder for Florida State when Chris Weinke was there, and it’s turned into something that makes the SEC stronger every year.”