SEC-ond fiddle?
SEC-ond fiddle?
2011-08-11 00:00:00

By Greg Tepper //

Last week, Van linebacker Dalton Santos announced his verbal commitment to the University of Tennessee. It was the end of a long journey for Santos, a one-time Oklahoma State commit, that landed him in Knoxville, choosing the Volunteers over Texas A&M.

Last weekend, Allen quarterback Alec Morris committed to Alabama. Morris is a terrific signal-caller coming off a sensational junior year in which he threw for 2,533 yards and 22 touchdowns (and rushed for another eight scores). He’ll fit right in at Alabama, which is just now finishing its tenure with another Metroplex QB in Southlake Carroll product Greg McElroy.

Last weekend also saw Hebron defensive end Deatrich Wise commit to Arkansas. At 6-5 and 235 pounds, Wise is a monster coming off the edge. He was limited by ankle surgery last year, but coach Brian Brazil expects Wise to be a major player in 2011. Wise became the fourth Texas player to commit to Arkansas, joining Fort Bend Marshall DB John Gibson, Longview WR Eric Hawkins and Port Arthur Memorial RB Nate Holmes.

It was, as you can surmise, a pretty good few days for the Southeastern Conference. Three outstanding recruits from the Lone Star State are going to make their homes in SEC country. In fact, it seemed to me that the SEC has done abnormally well in Texas in recruiting this year. It just felt like more Texas kids were going to the SEC than ever before.

So, I got an idea to do a study, comparing the number of Texas high school players that signed with SEC teams in the past five recruiting classes. Now, we’re including the 2012 class as it is currently constructed now, but remember: verbal commitments are non-binding, and this can (and will likely) change come Signing Day in February.

We’re looking at the past five classes – 2012 all the way back to 2008 – to see: is the SEC really making further inroads into Texas? Or is it just my imagination?

(Important note: I am not including junior college signees unless they played at a Texas high school. For example: Cam Newton signing with Auburn from Blinn College does not count in Auburn’s total, but Philander Moore signing with Ole Miss from Blinn College does count because Moore is an Austin Bowie product.)

Let’s go to the numbers.

Texas HS recruits signed by SEC programs

2012 2011 2010 2009 2008 5-year total
Alabama 1 0 3 0 1 5
Arkansas 4 5 4 7 2 22
Auburn 0 0 0 3 0 3
Florida 0 0 0 0 2 2
Georgia 0 0 0 0 0 0
Kentucky 0 0 0 3 1 4
LSU 2 3 3 4 4 16
Mississippi 0 1 0 3 4 8
Mississippi State 0 0 2 0 1 3
South Carolina 0 0 0 0 1 1
Tennessee 1 0 1 0 0 2
Vanderbilt 0 1 1 3 2 7
ANNUAL TOTAL 8 10 14 23 18 73

A few things to draw from this:

-The quick answer to my original question is no, the SEC is not making further inroads into Texas. In fact, you could argue that the SEC is losing a bit of its recruiting foothold in Texas. Now, there’s still a lot of recruiting left to be done, but eight commitments at this point in the recruiting season is a little behind the SEC’s normal schedule.

-You can see which schools do the most damage: the closest ones geographically in Arkansas and LSU. In fact, Arkansas signed more Texas kids in its 2009 class alone than Auburn, Florida and South Carolina have signed combined in the past five years.

-Here’s a great trivia question: what’s the only SEC team not to sign a Texas kid in the past five recruiting classes? I posed this to DCTF managing editor Travis Stewart, who could not get it, marking the first time I’ve ever actually stumped him on a college football trivia question. But it’s true: Georgia hasn’t had a Texas recruit since Highland Park QB Matthew Stafford in 2006. Wonder whatever happened to him…

-At first, I was surprised to see that Vanderbilt signed seven athletes from Texas…but then I thought about all the exceptionally smart athletes Texas produces, and wondered no more.

-South Carolina’s lone Texas recruit in the past five years? Katy kicker Ryan Doerr.

So, no, the SEC does not have a growing foothold on recruiting in the Lone Star State. It ends up averaging out to about 14.5 recruits a year, and half of them go to Arkansas and LSU.

Recruiting perception, it seems, is not always recruiting reality.

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