With the summer having a plethora of commitments, 2023 recruiting classes have started to shape up, giving us a good idea as to where most teams stand in terms of where they will finish. The SEC has been the dominant conference regarding recruiting for what seems like forever, with 13 of the 14 teams being a part of the top 22 ranked schools in the country in 2022 for reference. However, regardless of ranking, many SEC schools and their recruiting classes are often overlooked, allowing us to evaluate 5 of the underrated 2023 classes as of now.
With that being said, I would like to point out I eliminated three teams from contention due to the current lack of volume within the class (Texas A&M, Ole Miss, and Auburn), along with classes with a higher average commit rating of 93 (Alabama and Georgia), as we are all aware of the immense talent within those classes.
As Eli Drinkwitz prepares for his third season as Head Coach of the Tigers, he has done a decent job training for the future. Although he has lots of work to do in this cycle with only eight prospects currently committed, he has already filled the offensive skill position needs, highlighted by future shot caller and four-star QB Gabarri Johnson (#20 QB). Johnson will have options to throw to, as he will be joined by highly touted recruits Joshua Manning (#31 WR) and Brett Norfleet (#15 TE). These wideouts are joined by speedsters Marquis Johnson (#92 WR) and Nicholas Deloach (#180 WR). Although not impressive rankings, Johnson and Deloach are both track stars and show lots of promise to over achieve those rankings. Furthermore, Jamal Roberts (#67 RB) is a very balanced back showing signs of patience and power and could add to a nice dynamic for the offense.
Although filled with offensive weapons, Coach Drinkwitz needs to pick up his defensive recruiting, as there are only two commits on that side of the ball in Jahkai Lang (#48 EDGE) and 4th ranked JUCO prospect, Les Hewitt.
The main reason for the Gators making this list is that first-year HC Billy Napier did not have a complete cycle. Napier has found a way to already land ten four stars, with three more expected to join by the end of the week in Aidan Mizell (#14 WR), Jordan Castell (#16 S), and Ja'Keem Jackson (#22 CB). If all pans out this week, Florida will have thirteen four-stars and two three-stars, which is the solid groundwork for a first-year HC.
The class will feature one of the top WR groups in the nation, accompanied by QB Marcus Stokes (#21 QB) and RB Treyaun Webb (#6 RB). As for defense, the Gators seem to show strengths in the defensive line, highlighted by TJ Searcy (#22 DL), Isaiah Nixon (#26 EDGE), and Gavin Hill (#38 DL).
Yes, you may ask why a current top 10 class is underrated. Here's why: Balance. Although there is uncertainty in landing a QB this class, nearly every other position has been checked off. Besides QB, the weakest part in the class is OT, but Brian Kelly and staff seem to have that figured out, as they are predicted to land three 4-star OTs. Similar to Napier, this class is so impressive because Kelly has had less time to recruit in this cycle, but he is showing no signs of trouble in adjusting to the SEC.
Although plenty of guys ranked higher, Ryan Yaites (#27 S) and Michael Daugherty (#33 S) are two prospects Tigers fans should be excited about, as I believe they can be a dominant dynamic duo at the position. It is hard to write about this class and not mention top dog Jalen Brown (#8 WR), whose strength is being a severe threat. Brown has great speed and will make his presence known early on in his college career.
This may surprise some, as the Wildcats currently have the third lowest average rating per commit in the SEC, only in front of Vanderbilt and Mississippi State. Part of the reason for throwing Kentucky on the list is how they have a legitimate chance to be a top team in the conference this season, which always bodes well with potential prospects.
Something I like about this recruiting class is that two of the three four stars are wide receivers, Shamar Porter (#28 WR) and Anthony Brown (#52 WR), creating the chance to continue being an offensive threat in the conference.
- I was hesitant to throw Arkansas on the list because three of their seven four-stars are tight ends. Yes, they currently are ranked 12th in the nation but already have a pretty full class with 23 commits, so they will only drop as time goes on.
- As stated before, Ole Miss was not considered purely due to lack of volume (five commits). However, don't be surprised if the Rebels finish with a sneaky good class. I completely trust Kiffin and his ability to recruit, especially in the current state of NIL and transfer portal, as he has been one of the best at diving into the portal.
- Clark Lea's comments from last week about "aiming to build the best football program in the country" made me want to find reasons to throw Vanderbilt on this list, but I just couldn't. The fact that their only commit in the top 600 hasn't even eclipsed ten offers speaks for itself.