(MCT) — ORLANDO, Fla. — National Signing Day could help the Southeastern Conference keep its tight grip on the BCS national title.
The SEC, which has won seven consecutive national championships, delivered some of the nation’s top recruiting classes Wednesday thanks to the usual suspects — Alabama, Florida and LSU. However, it also gained some surprise momentum from an unlikely source.
Ole Miss likely secured a top 10 class rating from most sites after the Rebels signed several high-ranking recruits, including the nation’s top-ranked player in Robert Nkemdiche. The 6-foot-5, 265-pounder defensive end kicked off a busy day of action with a live announcement on ESPNU.
“The recruiting process has been long, but I enjoyed it,” Nkemdiche said during the broadcast. “It’s time to move on to the next stage of my life.”
The Rebels skyrocketed up the rankings after signing the nation’s top offensive tackle (Laremy Tunsil), wide receiver (Laquon Treadwell) and defensive end (Nkemdiche).
“It’s a heck of a class,” said JC Shurburtt, national recruiting director of 247Sports.com. “I don’t know if there were too many other schools that had the elite guys at the top that they did.”
Shurburtt added, “It will be an impact class. It gives them momentum heading into the class of 2014 and 2015.”
Alabama earned the top recruiting class in the country, according to 247Sports.com, followed by Ohio State, Notre Dame, Florida and Michigan.
SEC teams took five of the top 10 and 11 of the top 25 classes. It’s a trend that has been developing the last five years or so.
“There is no league close to them in recruiting right now,” Tom Lemming, national recruiting expert for CBS Sports Network, said of the SEC. “It’s been that way over the past five years and I don’t see that changing. I think the SEC will continue to dominate until the other conferences put together a game plan where they’re going to recruit nationally, aggressively and put as much effort towards it as the Southeastern Conference does.”
“You talk to prospects and they don’t even have a preference to which SEC they go to, if they have a chance to go play in the SEC that’s appealing. I’m not saying SEC school’s are batting a thousand … but I do think now more than ever that conference affiliation does matter. It’s like a badge of honor.”
Urban Meyer continues to work his magic at Ohio State by signing a top-rated class that features players who are fast and athletic, similar to the model he used to thrive at Florida.
“If there is a team out there that’s going to challenge the SEC, the school in the best position is Ohio State,” Shurburtt said.
Perhaps the biggest surprise this recruiting season was the number of prospects who wavered on their decisions.
The state of Florida, for instance, had more than 80 players switch their commitments before signing day, which is more than double the normal numbers. Specifically, the University of Miami had at least six players back their commitments. The highest-profile Miami recruit to flip was South Plantation running back Alex Collins, who switched his pledge to Arkansas. However, Collins ended up skipping his signing day ceremony and had not signed with a school late Wednesday because his mother reportedly took his letter of intent and didn’t want him to stray so far from home.
“I think this year, the buzz word is definitely flip,” added Shurburtt. “If it keeps happening like this, there will be coaches who push for early signing period.”
No recruit personified this more than Reuben Foster, a five-star linebacker from Alabama who committed to the Crimson Tide before switching to Auburn and then back to Alabama this week. All this despite having a tattoo of the Auburn logo on his arm.