Is there a direct correlation to highly ranked signees and wins in the SEC?
Well, you be the judge.
Over the past four years (2009-12), Alabama and Florida have tied for the most ESPN 150 prospects signed with 41 apiece. During that span, the Crimson Tide have won an SEC-high 49 games and three national championships.
The Gators, meanwhile, have won 10 fewer games (39) than the Crimson Tide and haven’t won any SEC or national titles during that span. In fact, they’ve been shut out of the SEC championship game the last three years.
The most ESPN 150 prospects any SEC school has signed in one year going back to 2009 was Florida in 2010 when the Gators signed 17 ESPN 150 prospects.
For perspective, that’s more than eight SEC schools -- Arkansas, Kentucky, Mississippi State, Missouri, Ole Miss, South Carolina, Texas A&M and Vanderbilt -- have managed to ink in each of their last four signing classes.
Every SEC school has signed at least one ESPN 150 prospect over the past four years, although Kentucky and Vanderbilt have both been limited to one each. The Wildcats’ only ESPN 150 signee during that period was quarterback Morgan Newton in 2009, while the Commodores signed running back Brian Kimbrow last year.
The school doing the least with the most over the last four years has been Tennessee. The Vols have signed 20 ESPN 150 prospects since 2009, which is tied for the fifth most in the SEC. However, the Vols are just 23-27 during that stretch (9-23 in the SEC) and have suffered through three straight losing seasons.
Tennessee signed six ESPN 150 prospects in 2009, Lane Kiffin’s only signing class in Knoxville. But four of those players (Jerod Askew, Janzen Jackson, Darren Myles, Jr., and Nu’Keese Richardson) were kicked off the team, and the other two (Bryce Brown and David Oku) wound up transferring out of the program.
The school doing the most with the least has been South Carolina. The Gamecocks have signed 13 ESPN 150 prospects since 2009, which is seventh in the league. But the Gamecocks have the third-best record over the last four years (38-15) behind only Alabama and LSU. They’re also one of two teams in the league (along with Alabama) to have won 11 or more games each of the last two seasons.
As the Head Ball Coach himself would say, somebody’s coaching ‘em up in Columbia.
Arkansas, prior to its collapse this past season, had managed a nice run despite not reeling in very many highly ranked signees under former coach Bobby Petrino. The Hogs won 11 games in 2011 and 10 games in 2010, including a trip to the Sugar Bowl, and signed just five ESPN 150 prospects between 2009-12.
Below is a breakdown of how many ESPN 150 signees each SEC school has signed over the past four years along with each school’s overall and SEC record during that span. We’ve also included Missouri and Texas A&M even though they’ve just played one season in the SEC.
Of the Aggies’ nine ESPN 150 prospects signed over the past four years, five came last year in Kevin Sumlin’s first signing class.
One other interesting nugget is South Carolina is the only team to have played in the SEC championship game over the past four years that hasn't signed at least 20 ESPN 150 prospects during that span.
Here’s a closer look:
Alabama: 41 ESPN 150 signees, 49-5 (.907), 27-5 SEC
Florida: 41 ESPN 150 signees, 39-14 (.736), 22-10 SEC
LSU: 28 ESPN 150 signees, 43-10 (.811), 25-7 SEC
Georgia: 26 ESPN 150 signees, 36-18 (.667), 21-11 SEC
Auburn: 20 ESPN 150 signees, 33-19 (.635), 15-17 SEC
Tennessee: 20 ESPN 150 signees, 23-27 (.460), 9-23 SEC
South Carolina: 13 ESPN 150 signees, 38-15 (.717), 20-12 SEC
Texas A&M: 9 ESPN 150 signees, 33-19 (.635)
Ole Miss: 6 ESPN 150 signees, 22-28 (.440), 8-24 SEC
Arkansas: 5 ESPN 150 signees, 33-18 (.647), 17-13 SEC
Mississippi State: 4 ESPN 150 signees, 29-22 (.569), 13-17 SEC
Missouri: 3 ESPN 150 signees, 31-20 (.608)
Kentucky: 1 ESPN 150 signee, 20-30 (.400), 7-25 SEC
Vanderbilt: 1 ESPN 150 signee, 19-31 (.380), 8-24 SEC