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Tuesday, August 20, 2013
The List: Most important SEC recruits

By Derek Tyson

Whether it's on-field production or friendships that recruits develop with other recruits, some prospects just have a desire to play with other top prospects. Here's a closer look at the most important committed player for each SEC school.

Alabama

ATH Bo Scarbrough (Bradenton, Fla./IMG Academy)
6-foot-2, 215 pounds
ESPN 300 rank: 20
The 20th-ranked player in the country has been committed to the Crimson Tide for nearly a year and is the highest-ranked Alabama commit. With his size and athleticism, Scarbrough could play either running back or linebacker. Alabama is targeting at least three players in the ESPN 300 top 10, including RB Leonard Fournette, OL Cameron Robinson and CB Marlon Humphrey, and Scarbrough is the type of star player with whom other big-name recruits want to play.

Arkansas

DT Bijhon Jackson (El Dorado, Ark./El Dorado)
6-2, 330
ESPN 300 rank: 80
Jackson is the only ESPN 300 member among the 16 Arkansas commitments. The SEC is known for having big, fast defensive linemen, and Jackson fits the mold. He's the No. 6-ranked defensive tackle in the country and could potentially help anchor a defensive front that has to face off against physical run teams such as LSU and Alabama every year. Keeping Jackson in-state was huge for the Razorbacks.

Auburn

RB Racean "Roc" Thomas (Oxford, Ala./Oxford)
5-11, 202
ESPN 300 rank: 34
Landing a commitment from the No. 34-ranked player in the country was huge for the Tigers. Thomas also was considering Alabama and Florida. Gus Malzahn has a high-powered offense and, with his explosiveness, Thomas should be the perfect fit. Thomas and Elite 11 MVP Sean White should make for a dangerous backfield combination for the Tigers. As a junior, Thomas rushed for more than 1,700 yards and 24 touchdowns, he also added another 200 yards receiving.

Florida

QB Will Grier (Davidson, N.C./Davidson Day)
6-3,185
ESPN 300 rank: 36
A case could be made for running back commit Dalvin Cook, but Florida has depth at running back, and the quarterback position is just too important. Grier is a record-setting quarterback and has the "it" factor that attracts other recruits. Florida QB Jeff Driskel will be a senior when Grier arrives in Gainesville, and there is no proven depth behind Driskel. Grier is the one commitment Florida cannot afford to lose.

Georgia

RB Sony Michel (Plantation, Fla./American Heritage)
5-11, 194
ESPN 300 rank: 18
There are a few other prospects who could be listed here, such as five-star DT Lamont Gaillard or QB Jacob Park, but landing Michel was an enormous feat for Georgia. Michel, a South Florida native, grew up a big fan of the Miami Hurricanes. For the Bulldogs to beat out the Hurricanes and in-state schools Florida and Florida State to land one of the top backs in the country was huge. Michel is very athletic and has the size and speed to compete for playing time early on in his career.

Kentucky

QB Drew Barker (Hebron, Ky./Conner Senior)
6-4, 217
ESPN 300 rank: 160
There is no question this Elite 11 quarterback is the most important piece to the Kentucky recruiting puzzle. Getting a commitment from this strong-armed quarterback was very important for first-year Kentucky head coach Mark Stoops. South Carolina continues to make a push for Barker, but it will be crucial for the Wildcats to keep their future quarterback in-state. As a junior, Barker threw for more than 2,000 yards with 22 touchdowns and only seven interceptions.

LSU

WR Trey Quinn (Lake Charles, La./Barbe)
6-1, 200
ESPN 300 rank: 37
The addition of the No. 3-ranked wide receiver last weekend was extremely important for the Tigers. Not only is he the highest-ranked LSU commitment, but more importantly, he could help the Tigers with other top in-state prospects such as Fournette, Robinson, safety Laurence Jones and athlete Speedy Noil. Quinn and quarterback Brandon Harris could become a dangerous combination for LSU. The ultra-productive Quinn has compiled more than 1,000 yards receiving in each of his three high school seasons.

Mississippi State

QB Elijah Staley (Marietta, Ga./Wheeler)
6-6, 208
This four-star quarterback threw for more than 1,800 yards with 16 touchdowns and no interceptions as a junior. Pulling a top quarterback out of a talent-rich state like Georgia was very important for the Bulldogs. Staley is an athletic prospect who is also planning to play basketball at MSU. Four-star athlete Jamoral Graham could also be listed here, but quarterback  is especially important in Dan Mullen's offense, in which the quarterback has to be an effective runner and thrower.

Missouri

WR Lawrence Lee (Pensacola, Fla./West Florida Tech)
5-10, 165
Missouri's only four-star commitment is an athletic playmaker that the Tigers desperately need for their spread offense. The Tigers went in to the panhandle of Florida and landed Lee, who also had offers from Tennessee and Memphis. Developing a pipeline in Florida is important,and so far Missouri has done a nice job of it. Lee is one of four Missouri commitments from the Sunshine State.

Ole Miss

OT Andy Bauer (St. Louis/De Smet Jesuit)
6-6, 304
ESPN 300 rank: 57
In-state prospect Rod Taylor also was a big addition to the Ole Miss class, but going to St. Louis and landing Bauer, one of the top offensive line prospects in the country, was a big accomplishment for the Rebels. Head coach Hugh Freeze is trying to capitalize on the recruiting success Ole Miss enjoyed last season, and by recruiting more nationally known players such as Bauer, it is apparent the Rebels are well on their way. Bauer, an Under Armour All-American, is one of 11 out-of-state Ole Miss commitments.

South Carolina

LB Bryson Allen-Williams (Ellenwood, Ga./Cedar Grove)
6-1, 230
ESPN 300 rank: 174
Allen-Williams might not be the most highly rated prospect committed to the Gamecocks, but he is certainly one of the most important. Allen-Williams is very active on social media, specifically Twitter, and has tried to persuade several other recruits to join him in Columbia, S.C. It also doesn't hurt that he's a four-star linebacker who also had offers from Clemson, Alabama, Florida, Florida State, Georgia and Michigan.

Tennessee

RB Jalen Hurd (Hendersonville, Tenn./Beech Senior)
6-4, 222
ESPN 300 rank: 39
Tennessee head coach Butch Jones is known for his uptempo spread offense, but landing a big bruiser of a running back such as Hurd should really help the Vols offense. Jones, in his first year with Tennessee, was able to secure a commitment from Hurd, who also had offers from other SEC powers Alabama, Florida, Georgia and LSU. With his excellent size and athleticism, Hurd has a chance to see a lot of action early in his college career.

Texas A&M

QB Kyle Allen (Scottsdale, Ariz./Desert Mountain)
6-3, 200
ESPN 300 rank: 74
Hoza Scott, the No. 2-ranked linebacker in the country, could also be placed here, but with all the offseason trouble surrounding Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel, getting another top quarterback prospect on campus is extremely important for the Aggies. Allen is a technically sound quarterback who finished as the No. 2-ranked quarterback in the Elite 11 quarterback final rankings. His presence alone should help A&M recruit top wide receivers.

Vanderbilt

S Kyle Gibson (Seffner, Fla./Armwood)
6-foot, 170
ESPN 300 rank: 165
Gibson is the highest ranked of Vanderbilt's 18 commitments. Vanderbilt head coach James Franklin has the Commodores recruiting at a very high level, especially out of state. Vandy has a 14 out-of-state commitments, including four who are ranked four-star prospects. Gibson is a hard-hitting safety who is athletic enough to play early in his career.