As everyone knows, SEC football is a passion that lives on 365 days a year in every fan.
One of the beautiful things about the sport we love is that in the cold, gray months of February, everyone gets one last reminder of the beauty of fall as national signing day gives us a reason to get excited about our schools before the long hibernation.
In 2012, it seems as if the rich got richer as defending National Champion Alabama was at the top of the rankings once again, this time in recruiting.
Florida was also touted with a strong class, as was Georgia, LSU and South Carolina.
New members Texas A&M and Missouri also had notable signees that should make a difference.
I decided to rank these classes by one of the standards I base many things in my life on. No, it's not by the best Waffle House I have eaten at, since they are all tied for #1.(With the exception of the one in Hueytown, Alabama that didn't have any Buck Owens songs on the table juke box).
This time, it will be rated by Coach Scooter's Bourbon and Whisky scale!
Just so you know, Bourbon, Whisky and SEC football are always going to be great, no matter what the label says. It is all in degrees of taste and opinion, which makes this all the more fun.
When you read these rankings, I know some will ask if Coach Scooter was sippin' on the brown as he wrote this.
And my answer would be, "Are you kidding me? Of course I was! You don't think I could be neck deep in writing about SEC Football without having the old "Silent Partner" with me do ya?
Broken out by divisions, you'll see the overall conference ranking. So, without further ado, let's start sippin'!
The Gators are just a few shades behind Bama's class, but still something to sip and enjoy because it's so smooth.
Needing to address concerns on both lines of scrimmage, Will Muschamp got some good news when he stole away Dante Fowler Jr. from the hated Noles in a flip flop that was better than the one Jimmy Buffet blew out in Margaretville.
He also went down Tobacco Road and signed Jonathan Bullard, who is a monster defensive end, and on the offensive side of the ball, he got the #1 ranked offensive tackle in D.J. Humphries.
However, Florida lost out on some big names like linebacker Josh Harvey-Clemons-Cougar-Mellencamp, who decided to go to Georgia, and is still waiting on five star WR Stefon Diggs, who is waiting until February 10th to make an announcement.
Everyone has heard of Jack, Woodruff Reserve and Makers Mark, but few know about Four Roses and how good it really is. Same thing with this class at UGA since other schools are getting more ink.
All right, Dawg fans, you can breath again as the before mentioned Josh Harvey-Clemons finally signed with the Dawgs.
This class is loaded on both sides of the ball, so I am sure a lot of UGA fans got loaded themselves when they saw all the talent heading to Athens.
Troubled RB Isaiah Crowell needs a push, and he will get it from Keith Marshall. Marshall is a five star player, as is OT John Theus so the offense has some weapons ready to go.
Even though the state of Georgia is stocked with high school talent, Coach Richt went to other states to get some blue chippers.
Marshall was the top rated player in North Carolina, Thus from Florida, and Sheldon Dawson is from Tennessee. Add in OLB Jordan Jenkins, who is the top rated player in Georgia and that's a nice return on investment.
I think Coach Richt doesn't have to worry too much about being asked to leave Athens, at least for the next four years.
Sorry, I just had to pair these two up, no matter what the Carolina class looked like, or what Fighting Cock actually tastes like. This match is a writers dream!
Carolina has been more of a running team lately, especially when you have Marcus Lattimore, so that's a no brainer. However, the Cocks went out and got some great receivers to help out QB Conner Shaw.
Shaq Roland was a must have, especially with Alshon Jeffrey leaving early, so they are set at WR for years to come. Roland became the fourth consecutive Mr. Football in South Carolina to sign with the Gamecocks.
They also stole away RB Mike Davis from Florida in a nice recruiting coup.
As I was writing the USC recruiting review, I had to pull up my iTunes and sure enough, I have Black Oak Arkansas performing Fighting Cock. It sounds about how Fighting Cock tastes, but you should experience it for yourself. For all the Carolina fans, I think this is required listening before and after every game.
Growing up in Knoxville, this was the drink of choice, especially on game day Saturdays. And it is fitting to assign the Old No. 7 to this class, because the Vols are nothing more than an old icon who has been passed by many others.
It used to be that the Vols were having a bad recruiting class when they would finish eighth in the country, but now, they are finishing eighth in the conference. Where have you gone Peyton, Jamal and Tee?
The good news was getting top JC WR Cordarrelle Patterson, and stud WR's Drae Bowles and Alton Howard. Add these guys to Da'Rick Rogers and Justin Hunter, and you have the Vols looking like Wide Receiver U once again.
However, are there any offensive lineman coming to Knoxville? And how about some running backs? You could have Don Hutson, Jerry Rice and Randy Moss playing and if you cannot run the ball in the SEC, you are toast.
Jack is an icon, but there are better browns out there. Just like UT's recruiting class.
A perfect symmetry exists between Old Crow Bourbon Whisky and Vanderbilt.
In American culture, Old Crow has often lovingly been portrayed as the drink of choice by down and out characters that are often sympathetic. Who does that sound like in the SEC?
Feisty James Franklin, who probably chose his recruiting class by the number of times each player watched the Rocky movies, put together the best class in Vanderbilt history.
That's not saying much, but hey, that's why they are Vanderbilt.
The Doores raided the state of Georgia and came away with LB's Darreon Herring and Jacob Sealand as well as DE Stephen Weatherly.
They lost out on DE Josh Dawson, who was committed to Vandy, but changed his mind on signing day and went to UGA.
Welcome to the SEC, Missouri. Here is some breaking news, you had better improve in February if you want to win in the fall.
If it wasn't for super WR Doral Green-Beckham (Can anyone around here be happy with just one last name for goodness sake? These hyphens are giving me the red ass.), the Tigers would be on the outside of everyone's rankings.
This kid set the NATIONAL career mark for receiving yards with 6,447 and was regarded as the #1 prep player in the land.
Mizzou also added one of the top guards in the country in Evan Boehm. Other than that, not too many of the top players wanted to head to Columbia.
Here's a fun fact: When Bear Bryant was being booed when the Tide traveled to play Georgia Tech in the 60's, he had to wear a football helmet on the sidelines to protect himself from all the whisky bottles being thrown at him.
After a bottle of Ancient Age bounced at his feet, he peered down, and in his molasses thick southern accent quipped, "I thought the Tech students drank better whiskey that that."
I'm sure he would have said the same thing about Missouri.
In a Bourbon ranking system, you would think Kentucky would rate a Four Roses or a George T. Stagg, but this is football, not basketball.
The Cats needed help on both sides of the line of scrimmage and they got a stud in DT Thomas Chapman from Louisville. I am sure DC Rick Minter was pleased to see that one fall in his lap.
On offense, WR DeMarcus Sweat and athlete Fred Tiller can stretch the field and put points on the board.
Kentucky also got a gift when Atlanta RB Justin Taylor, who was told by Nick Saban he would have to wait a year to sign with the Tide, got over the breakup real fast and signed with Kentucky.
Overall, the Cats signed no player with more than a three star rating, and unless you work for Texaco, that's not a good sign.
Then again, they did beat Tennessee last year, and that should be good for at least ten more years of bliss in the Blue Grass State.
It does not get any better than this, my friends. Imagine sitting in a rocking chair on a porch like in Forrest Gump, watching the sunset, sipping a Pappy, smoking a fine cigar, and having Kate Beckinsale sitting next to you.
She would take a puff off her cigar, hand you a fresh drink, then pour one for herself and you both would watch the sunset together.
Perfect end to a perfect day. Kind of like they had in Tuscaloosa on Wednesday.
With the defending national champs losing some key players, they more than compensated for in bringing fresh talent to the Capstone.
Goodbye Trent Richardson. Hello T.J. Yeldon and Kenyan Drake. Throw in Dee Hart, who didn't play last year due to a knee injury and Eddie Lacy, and you have four backs that could start anywhere.
Stolen from Les Miles, who was probably sick the day they taught recruiting at head coaches' school, was the top safety in the country in Landon Collins from Geismar, Louisiana.
With A.J. McCarron back, they didn't need to worry about a QB, which is a good thing since they did miss out on Jameis Winston.
A Chairman's Trophy Winner in the Bourbon category at the 2011 Ultimate Spirits Challenge last spring in New York (They should have held it somewhere in Kentucky, so that's sacrilege), GTS has a solid hold on its business.
The same can be said of the LSU Tigers 2011 season as well as their 2012 recruiting class.
If it had not been for having to play Bama twice, I am sure the Tigers would have won the national championship, so I see similarities between these two.
The class is solid, but not spectacular. A lot of four-star players, like Buford, Georgia's Vadal Alexander, who was the nation's #5 ranked OG are coming to the rescue. At 6'5 and 320 pounds, this guy is more difficult to move than the smile from Les Mile's face after he has told one of his many Gunner Kiel jokes.
I think the Tigers got a couple of studs at LB in Kwon Alexander and Ronnie Feist. But one concern is the QB position, as LSU does not have a QB prospect coming to town.
With A&M now in the division, things just got a little harder for the Mad Hatter and his Bayou Bengals. However, everyone is focused on Alabama, Florida and Georgia, so this might be a case of a solid class flying under the radar and producing big time in a couple of years.
Another of our brown buddies that doesn't get a lot of publicity, but is a solid member of the brown drinking nation, is Early Times.
And another of our SEC buddies with a class that did not get a lot of notoriety, despite its brilliance in many areas, were the Auburn Tigers.
Despite losing both coordinators, Auburn held the ship together. They were able to bring in a pair of talented offensive line players to give them a nice foundation to start with.
OT Avery Young, who was rated the fifth best OT in the nation was joined by Jordan Diamond, who was ranked eighth.
At the WR position, pencil in Jaquay William and Ricardo Louis, who are a pair of four-star burners who will add speed and a big play threat to the attack.
On defense, LB Cassanova McKinzy, who never met a Chick-Fil-A he didn't like (More on that later) was joined by DT Tyler Nero to form a nice wall that opposing offenses are going to need to be concerned with.
With the potential in this group, if Gene Chizik can coach them up, success will come "Early", and the "Times" for another championship on the Plaines will come sooner than expected.
I give the Aggies this ranking because I have not heard of Bulleit Bourbon until recently, and it has made a nice impression on me.
Similar to one of the newbies in the conference and the impression they made on their first day in SEC recruiting
I like RB Trey Williams, who was ranked the fifth best at the position in the country. Also looking good is the number three WR prospect in the nation in Thomas Johnson, who originally committed to Texas.
Although they lost WR Bralon Addison to Oregon, Trent Momom is a sleeper who might make everyone forget Addison.
On defense, De'Vante Harris is a four star CB and paired with Safety Kenneth Marshall, first year coach Kevin Sumlin has something nice to work with.
Now, if we can just get Smokey Harper back on the practice field in Junction (And make sure he brings his John Barley Corn with him), and Bear Bryant out of heaven, those Aggies might be able to hang with their new brothers in the SEC.
Solid, not spectacular, and a bit blue collar are the words spoken about Very Old Barton. My Dad use to drink this stuff because it was, A) Cheap, and B) Cheap. But it didn't give him the whisky face we all dread having.
VOB and the Mississippi State recruiting class are linked here because Dan Mullen's class was balanced (11 on both sides of the ball plus one specialist) and blue collar.
QB Nick Schuessler, who led Grayson to the Georgia 5A state championship last year is coming to Starkville and has been described as doing whatever it takes to win.
On defense, Mullen brought in a couple of studs on the defensive front as Quay Evans and Nick James are two defensive tackles that are both over 300 pounds and cannot be moved unless someone yells, "Supper's getting' cold!"
Offense is a concern especially in the backfield, but the Dogs did not exactly set the world on fire, as the best they could do at the RB position was the #52 ranked Xavier Grindle. Hmmm.
Coach B and I were in the middle watching a hard fought contest between Tennessee and Alabama (Just goes to show you how long ago this was) and we ran out of Jack. Big Mistake.
My Uncle Soup, who finds Brown like Aaron Murray finds a sack, somehow hands us a stadium cup. "Here ya go, boys. Take a little tickle of the Dickel."
Just goes to show you how desperate we were because we drank the whole thing. Goes without saying the next morning was rough. Thank God for a cloudy day and Cracker Barrel.
Kinda reminds me of the Arkansas recruiting class. It is good because it's all you have at the moment, but eventually, you are going to pay for your mistakes.
JUCO Transfer Courtney Gardner is a stud at WR and should make an impact quickly. Bobby "I love Atlanta" Petrino needed help at RB and he got it with Jonathan Williams.
Defense looks good with Deatrich Wise and Taiwan Johnson anchoring the ends. They also got Ray Buchanan Jr. son of former Falcons DB Ray Buchanan.
Other than that, that is all that will be coming to Fayetteville. The Hogs had to keep up with Bama and LSU, and this year, they did not.
As former Corleone Consigliere, Tom Hagen, once told the Don, "We don't risk what we have now, but five years from now."
The Hogs better start planning for the future. And also be on the lookout for that Turk guy.
What a fitting name for a school that makes a lot of noise, but in the end, is really just a blue and red version of Vanderbilt.
The Rebs recruiting class was ranked 63rd overall by Scout, 11th in the SEC by Rivals, and ESPN gave them a C+ for their efforts.
I can't help but to keep seeing Mrs. Shields as a witch and repeating the line from A Christmas Story, "C+ hahahahahhahahahahahahahahahaha"
First year coach Hugh Freeze must have wondered what he has gotten himself into, but did manage to pull out some talented players, especially on defense.
Safety Trae Elston will help a porous secondary, and Channing Ward, who decided to stay home, is a force inside in the defensive front.
Has Ole Miss taken a couple of years off from everything related to football? From the opening kickoff in 2010 to signing day 2012, these guys have been pretty much invisible. I keep hearing Rhett Butler when I look over the Rebs 2012 class. "Poor gallant fools."
Parting Shots (No pun intended.well maybe a little one)
Did you hear about Auburn signee, Casanova McKinzy? First of all, with a name like that, you have to figure this guy is a writer's dream.
Second, when asked why he chose Auburn over Clemson, he said, "It was the kind of the environment and plus they had no Chick-Fil-A on campus."
I had to laugh about that one, because as silly as that sounds, he's right. How can a college athlete go without a Chick-Fil-A spicy chicken biscuit? It's down right cruel and unusual punishment to subject young men to that type of lifestyle.
I am not sure if Clemson is crying or laughing over that one, because I have seen a Chick-Fil-A on their campus, so this future Rhodes Scholar somehow missed it. Either that, or the Clemson people simply forgot to take him to that part of campus.
You have to love Cassanova (I could not go too many more paragraphs without using that line) for his reasons in choosing Auburn over Clemson.
Les Miles was in October form this week.
When Gunner Kiel de-committed from Indiana, then from LSU, to go to Notre Dame, the Mad Hatter decided to give him one last little kick in the pants.
"There was a gentleman from Indiana that thought about coming to the Bayou state," Miles said. "He did not necessarily have the chest and the ability to lead a program, so you know."
As much as I knock Miles for being a blowhard, I think I am going to knock him a little more. Why give any credence to an 18 year old that doesn't have the integrity to stand by his word? Miles is an older man who should know better than to play teenage games.
If Kiel wants to do his best Jeff George imitation, let him do it but don't make yourself look like a jackass in the process.
Wisconsin head coach Bret "The Boob" Bielema got a case of the red as when Urban Meyer outworked him for some prized recruits this week.
The red faced coach, who looks like he could be Bucky Badger without having to wear the head piece, said, "I can tell you this, we at the Big Ten don't want to be like the SEC—in any way, shape or form."
Well, Bret, you don't have to worry about the Big Ten EVER looking like the SEC. In fact, they have become a dinosaur.
Gone are the days when hard working coaches like Bo, Woody, Duffy and Joe worked their butts off to get the best players, and didn't belly ache about the results. Usually because they got the guys they wanted due to playing until the whistle blew.
These days, the Big Ten coaches sit back and count their chips before the river card is shown. Big mistake.
Urban Meyer saw what it took to get the players to come to Florida and you saw the results. Just because someone is verbally committed, it doesn't man anything until their name is on the dotted line. Meyer played the game until the final gun, and he was rewarded for his efforts. No rules were broken. Just hard work.
The Big Ten has won four national championships in the last 50 years. (Michigan State '65 (split with Alabama), Ohio State '68, Michigan '97 (split with Nebraska, although the Maize and Blue got screwed that year) and Ohio State '02).
The SEC did same thing in four years and is still counting.
As Tim "You suckahs better duck when Jarvis is at the wheel" Jarvis from Porkys once bellowed, "This is the South baby, where we do things right.
What did you think of LSU signee Kwon Alexander's matching LSU bow tie and suspenders?
I am a fan of the bow tie, but the matching suspenders were a little rough. Instead of being a fashion assassin, he should have pulled a Tony Montana from Scarface and walked in with Mike the Tiger on a leash.
He could have looked at the camera and said something like, "So say good night to the bad guy! There's a bad guy coming to Baton Rouge. You better get out of his way!"
Now that would be an entrance.
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