Ranking a recruiting class the day it’s signed is a challenge, because there are so many unknowns. To accurately evaluate a class, it requires time. Today we look back at the SEC's recruiting classes from 2012, re-grading and re-ranking how they fared.
2012 grade: A (1st in SEC)
2016 grade: A
Top signees: S Landon Collins, WR Amari Cooper RB T.J. Yeldon, LB Reggie Ragland.
Nick Saban's haul at the time was ranked No. 1 nationally, and looking back, that lofty status was justified. Collins, Cooper and Yeldon were each early-round NFL draft picks last year, Ragland is likely to be this year and all four were critical to the Crimson Tide's recent success. Of the 26-member class, 12 became regular starters, and five more have been key contributors as reserves or on special teams. Seven are no longer with the program, four of whom transferred and two of whom were dismissed after running into legal trouble. The Crimson Tide are 50-6 since this class stepped on campus.
2. LSU Tigers
2012 grade: B+ (4th)
2016 grade: A-
Les Miles’ 2012 class brought numerous major contributors and future pros. Three signees are in the NFL (Kwon Alexander, Hill, Hunter) and several others certainly will be (Vadal Alexander, Mills, Jerald Hawkins and Dural). Ten players didn’t finish at LSU; two never made it to campus after signing and eight others transferred or left the team.
2012 grade: A (2nd)
2016 grade: A-
Top signees: DE Dante Fowler Jr., DE Jonathan Bullard, OT D.J. Humphries, C Max Garcia.
Of then-coach Will Muschamp's top-five-ranked signees in the class, four (Humphries, Bullard, Fowler, Brian Poole) turned out well. Humphries and Fowler are in the NFL, as is running back Matt Jones, a four-star pickup in the class, and Garcia, whom the Gators landed via transfer from Maryland in the 2012 offseason. Linebacker Antonio Morrison and defensive tackle Bryan Cox Jr. both were three-star recruits who emerged as multiyear starters. There was notable attrition: Eight players in the class transferred out of the program, including three ESPN 150 recruits (Jessamen Dunker, Colin Thompson and Kent Taylor).
2012 grade: A- (3rd)
2016 grade: A-
The Bulldogs and then-coach Mark Richt hit it big with some players in this class, namely Gurley, Floyd, Jenkins and Theus. Running back Keith Marshall, the top-ranked recruit, looked to have a bright future, but injuries have interrupted his career. The class produced two full-time specialists (kicker Marshall Morgan and punter Collin Barber) plus a three-star offensive lineman who became a two-year starter (Greg Pyke). There were six defections, including two high-profile dismissals -- Josh Harvey-Clemons and Jonathan Taylor.
2012 grade: C+ (13th)
2016 grade: B+
Dan Mullen's hit rate was strong here: 13 of the 28 signees started at least 10 games and nine more played at least 20 games and completed their eligibility or are scheduled to do so next season, meaning more than three-quarters of the class has contributed. The foundation for the Bulldogs' 2015 starting defense comes from this class: Beniquez Brown, Richie Brown, Jefferson, Ryan Brown, Redmond, Nick James and Kivon Coman. Evans, the lone ESPN 150 signee in the class, left the team prior to 2014 and was one of only seven who transferred or didn’t make it to campus.
2012 grade: C+ (12th)
2016 grade: B+
Hilton and Elston developed into All-SEC defensive backs and Wallace rewrote the record books for Ole Miss quarterbacks while starting every game in his three years there. Gross, one of two ESPN 150 signees in the class, will be back in 2016. Eight players in the 19-member class started at least 19 games; seven others became contributors. Attrition rate in this class is low: The Rebels lost only four players. This was Hugh Freeze's first signing class after taking over two months earlier.
2012 grade: B (7th)
2016 grade: B
It wasn't necessarily a star-studded class for then-coach Gene Chizik, but it was solid overall. Of the 22 signees, 14 have become contributors -- seven emerged as multiyear starters (Louis, Young, Kozan, McKinzy, Joshua Holsey, Jonathan Jones and Prosch, a transfer in the class who is now in the NFL), and the other seven became part-time starters, solid reserves or valuable special-teams contributors. Five players departed either via transfer or dismissal or were non-qualifiers.
2012 grade: B- (10th)
2016 grade: B-
This class, signed by Gary Pinkel, had "A" potential early on, but two of the top three signees were dismissed after starting their Mizzou careers well: Five-star receiver Dorial Green-Beckham was gone after his sophomore season, and quarterback Maty Mauk was kicked off the team last week. Boehm lived up to his ESPN 150 status, becoming an All-SEC performer and setting a school record for starts. Golden was a gem from the junior college ranks before going on to the NFL. The class’s ending is still to be written -- six players have eligibility remaining for 2016: Scherer, Harold Brantley, Sean Culkin, John Gibson, Rickey Hatley and Donavin Newsom.
2012 grade: B+ (5th)
2016 grade: C+
Branded the #AggSwaggMovement at its conception, this class largely underwhelmed for Kevin Sumlin, who arrived two months before it was signed. Eight of the 19 signees transferred, were dismissed, left the team or didn’t qualify; three of those were ESPN 150 prospects. The lower-ranked players were the gems here, like three-star recruits Obioha (four-year starter), Williams (three-year starter) and Matthews (three-year starter). Harris was a four-year starter and Ifedi started three before leaving for the 2016 NFL draft. Tragedy also hit this class, as it lost defensive lineman Polo Manukainiu in a fatal car accident in 2013; star recruit Thomas Johnson mysteriously left the team during his freshman season and has since taken a horrific turn.
2012 grade: B- (9th)
2016 grade: C
This class -- signed by then-coach James Franklin -- produced two starting offensive linemen (Jelks and tackle William Holden) and several key defensive players: Weatherly, McGaster, Herring, defensive tackle Adam Butler and defensive end Caleb Azubike. The lone ESPN 150 signee in the class (Brian Kimbrow) was dismissed from the team during the 2014 season. Three other players (Brandon Banks, Corey Batey and Jaborian McKenzie) never played a down for the Commodores and were dismissed after being charged with rape. Injuries cut short the careers of four-star recruit Jake Sealand and three-star quarterback Patton Robinette. Seven players have eligibility left for 2016.
2012 grade: C+ (11th)
2016 grade: D+
Signed by then-coach Bobby Petrino, this 24-member class had a whopping 14 busts. Two of the top three signees (D'Arthur Cowan and Demetrius Dean) were dismissed before the 2014 season, eight players transferred, one never made it to campus and three more are no longer on the roster or haven’t emerged as contributors. There were some nice finds, namely Williams, who became a star running back. Hatcher, Johnson and Philon all became regular starters (Philon left for the 2015 NFL draft). Collins, who has started 27 games and led the Razorbacks in pass breakups the past two seasons, was a diamond in the rough as a two-star recruit. JaMichael Winston, Jeremy Sprinkle and Deatrich Wise Jr. were three-star recruits who emerged as solid contributors.
2012 grade: B+ (6th)
2016 grade: D
Davis became an All-SEC talent, validating his ESPN 150 recruit status, and left after his junior season for the draft. The other ESPN 150 signee, receiver Shaq Roland, left the team before its 2014 bowl game and is one of a dozen players in the class who aren’t with the program (nine transferred and three didn’t qualify initially). There were some nice three-star finds (Adams, Gurley, McWilliams and T.J. Holloman), but otherwise it’s a mediocre class.
2012 grade: B- (8th)
2016 grade: F
Top signees: S LaDarrell McNeil, WR Cordarrelle Patterson, DT Daniel McCullers.
Only five players from the class signed by then-coach Derek Dooley started double-digit games in their Tennessee careers. Two were short-stay junior college products (Patterson and McCullers) and another (Pig Howard) was dismissed from the team before his career ended. McNeil emerged as a four-year starter at safety. Attrition was the theme: 13 of the 23 signees either transferred, were dismissed or left the team, including all three ESPN 150 recruits (Howard, Drae Bowles and Dante Phillips).
2012 grade: C+ (14th)
2016 grade: F
This class, signed by former coach Joker Phillips and predating Mark Stoops' arrival in Lexington, had an alarming rate of attrition. Eighteen of the 28 signees transferred, were dismissed or left the team. Only seven players started double-digit games for the Wildcats (Henderson, Swindle, Toth, Foster, cornerbacks Cody Quinn and Fred Tiller, and quarterback Patrick Towles) and one of those (Towles, a two-year starter at quarterback) has also transferred after Drew Barker took over late in 2015. The Wildcats are 14-34 since the class was signed, worst in the SEC in that span.