Georgia Bulldogs: Trey Quinn

We continue our breakdown of each position group in the SEC on Wednesday by looking at a group that might be low on name recognition but quite high -- and deep -- on talent.

Mike Evans, Odell Beckham Jr. and Jordan Matthews are all off to the NFL. Now a new group of playmakers is ready to emerge.

Who will be this season’s star pass-catchers? Let’s find out.

Wide receiver/tight end position rankings

1. Alabama: Like so many on this list, all of it depends on who is throwing the football. If Jacob Coker shows he can spin it, then Alabama will have the best group of pass-catchers in the SEC -- maybe the country. It isn’t just Amari Cooper and O.J. Howard, whom you will read about later this afternoon. Howard, who was underutilized in the passing game last year, is poised to have a breakout sophomore campaign. But there’s also veteran DeAndrew White, all-purpose star Christion Jones and depth that includes a litany of former blue-chip prospects.

2. Texas A&M: Too bad Johnny Manziel didn’t stay another year because he might have really enjoyed the guys he was throwing to. Malcome Kennedy, he of 60 receptions and seven touchdowns last season, isn’t even the most exciting receiver on the field. That honor belongs to one of two freshmen. Ricky Seals-Jones, who redshirted last season, would have reminded Manziel so much of Evans, an impossibly tall target who can go up and get the ball. And then there’s Speedy Noil, the No. 1 athlete in the 2014 class, who looks like a dangerous weapon at slot receiver. With tight end Cameron Clear working the middle of the field, the Aggies should be able to stretch the field effectively.

3. Georgia: How can you not like Chris Conley? Not only did he write and direct a "Star Wars" fan film, he’s also a pretty good receiver with 45 catches for 651 yards last season. Starting opposite him, if his health holds up, should be Malcolm Mitchell. The redshirt junior has loads of potential, as he was second on the team in receiving in 2011 and 2012. Throw in Jay Rome, one of the more underrated tight ends in the SEC, and that’s a good group for quarterback Hutson Mason to work with.

4. Auburn: Nick Marshall is progressing as a passer at the right time. His receiver corps, which looked thin at times last season, is set to make a big jump. Sammie Coates, Auburn’s leading man, has the potential to become much more than a speed demon who can run a nasty post. Ricardo Louis, Quan Bray and Marcus Davis are all guys who have shown flashes of talent. Then there’s D'haquille Williams, the former No. 1 junior college receiver. The 6-foot-3, 210-pound target has all the tools to become one of the best receivers in the SEC.

5. Ole Miss: Offensive coordinators love it when they can stretch the field both vertically and horizontally. Laquon Treadwell, who as a true freshman trailed only Jordan Matthews for the most receptions in the SEC last season, is the type of home-run threat to keep safeties on their heels. Evan Engram, who made a positive impression as a rookie himself before succumbing to injury, gives Ole Miss a one-two punch by demanding coverage in the middle of the field because he’s simply too athletic a tight end to be covered by most linebackers in the league.

6. South Carolina: They’re on the small side. Let’s get that part out of the way. There’s not a 6-3 or 6-5 receiver Dylan Thompson will be able to lob the ball to this season. But nonetheless, he’s got some options. Damiere Byrd is one of the fastest receivers in the SEC, and Pharoh Cooper is another guy who is dangerous with the ball in space. That’s not to mention Shaq Roland, who has All-SEC type talent. Though his 6-1 frame might not excite you, he’s one of those guys who can create separation and get the ball in traffic. If there’s one spot you’d like to see the Gamecocks progress, it’s at tight end. And with Jerell Adams and Rory Anderson, there’s potential to improve.

7. Mississippi State: Dan Mullen needs to find some playmakers on offense. Outside of running back, his ability to develop talent at receiver and tight end has been somewhat of a disappointment. This year could change that. Jameon Lewis has the upside of a poor man’s Percy Harvin, someone who can take it the distance any time he touches the football. De’Runnya Wilson, a 6-5 target with a hoops background, is just the type of over-the-top threat to play off the small, speedy Lewis. With a good group of running backs and a quarterback who can extend plays, expect more from the passing game in 2014.

8. Tennessee: Butch Jones has a lot to be excited about when it comes to his receivers this season. But until the status of Pig Howard is determined, that excitement is on hold. The talented receiver was forced to miss all of the spring with “personal issues.” If he can return and join Marquez North, it would make for a formidable one-two punch. Add top signee Josh Malone into the mix and whoever starts under center should be happy with what he’s working with. That said, without a single starter returning on the offensive line, time for the quarterback to throw downfield could be a big obstacle.

9. LSU: Yes, the team’s top two receivers are gone. Jarvis Landry and Beckham were both the real deal last season, accounting for 66 percent of all receptions. And, yes, LSU is replacing its quarterback, too. But we’re betting on potential here. Travin Dural and John Diarse have the tools to be starters in this league. And then there are the freshmen. LSU signed two the top three receivers in the 2014 class -- No. 1 Malachi Dupre and No. 3 Trey Quinn -- in addition to Jacory Washington, the No. 5 tight end in the country.

10. Florida: It’s time to prove it, Florida. We’ve heard for a few years now how the receivers were getting better. But last season was the same old story with no real playmakers on the outside. Maybe new offensive coordinator Kurt Roper will change that. Demarcus Robinson seems in line for a big sophomore bump, along with Ahmad Fulwood and Chris Thompson. With seniors Quinton Dunbar and Andre Debose back, there’s a good amount of depth to lean on. But until we see consistent results from the Gators’ receivers, we’ll have to wait and see if this really is the year.

11. Missouri: Gary Pinkel had to let Dorial Green-Beckham go. But what a waste of talent it was. He would have easily been the most talented receiver in the SEC. Now his future, and that of Missouri’s offense, is up in the air as the Tigers fail to return any of their top three pass-catchers from last season. Seniors Bud Sasser and Jimmie Hunt are back, which helps, but more receivers will need to emerge to help Maty Mauk in the passing game.

12. Kentucky: Javess Blue quietly was one of the most productive receivers in the SEC last season, despite having little consistency at quarterback. Blue, now a senior, finished 14th in the league with 43 catches for 586 yards and four touchdowns. He’ll anchor a group that has some potential. Ryan Timmons, a former four-star prospect in the 2013 class, could break through after playing in all 12 games as a freshman. And as far as true freshmen go, look for Kentucky to lean on its 2014 class that includes Thaddeus Snodgrass, T.V. Williams, Dorian Baker and Blake Bone.

13. Arkansas: Someone needs to take the load off of Hunter Henry this season. Henry, who caught 28 passes and four touchdowns as a true freshman in 2013, stands to make up the majority of the Razorbacks passing game now that Javontee Herndon, the team’s leading receiver in 2013, is gone. So is Kiero Small, the fourth-leading receiver. The good news: Demetrius Wilson, who missed all of last season, returns. Wilson, a big target at 6-foot-3, could be a difference-maker.

14. Vanderbilt: You don’t replace Jordan Matthews. You don’t replace the man with the most career receptions in SEC history. Vanderbilt will try, but it’s going to be difficult. And it’s going to be even more of an uphill battle considering that Jonathan Krause, the team’s second-leading receiver, also is gone. With those two no longer on campus, look for C.J. Duncan and Jordan Cunningham to step up.

Weekend recruiting wrap: SEC 

November, 18, 2013
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As usual, there was a lot of recruiting news around the SEC over the weekend. There were a few commitments and Auburn hosted several visitors for its last-second win over Georgia. Here’s a closer look at some of the top SEC storylines.


Biggest commitment: Mississippi State may have suffered a hard-fought loss to Alabama on Saturday night, but the Bulldogs did get some good news on the recruiting front. ESPN Junior 300 linebacker Tim Washington (Yazoo City, Miss./Yazoo City) verbally committed to Mississippi State late on Saturday night.

Washington is ranked as the 247th-best player in the ESPN Junior 300 and the No. 5-ranked player in the state of Mississippi for the 2015 recruiting cycle.

The Bulldogs were also close to landing their second ESPN Junior 300 member on Saturday. The No. 27 prospect in the country in the Class of 2015, T.D. Moton (Baton Rouge, La./Woodlawn), according to multiple reports, gave a verbal commitment to Mississippi State. However, Moton said Sunday he had not gave his pledge to the Bulldogs.

"I have to weigh my options," Moton said in a text message. "I haven't seen Alabama, Ole Miss or Florida State, so I'm taking my time. I haven't talked to coach [Dan] Mullen yet, either. But Mississippi State is one of my favorites."

Moton also holds offers from LSU, Georgia, Florida State, Notre Dame and many other schools. He is the sixth-rated defensive tackle in the 2015 class and the No. 2 prospect in Louisiana next year.

Weekend recruiting wrap: SEC 

November, 4, 2013
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As always, there was a lot of news around the SEC over the weekend. There were some record-setting performances and some important visits. Here’s a closer look at some of the top recruiting storylines in the SEC from this weekend.

Best weekend performances: Several SEC committed prospects put up ridiculous numbers. Here's a look at some of the top weekend performances


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SEC class rankings analysis 

October, 9, 2013
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Each Wednesday, ESPN RecruitingNation updates its national class rankings. For an in-depth look at the SEC, check out our conference rankings:

1. Alabama, 21 commits: The Crimson Tide sit atop the RecruitingNation class rankings with a class that features 15 ESPN 300 prospects, including most recent commitment Ronnie Clark (Calera, Ala./Calera), the No. 96 overall prospect. Alabama remains in the hunt for several five-star prospects, including No. 1 overall Leonard Fournette (New Orleans/Saint Augustine) and No. 9 Marlon Humphrey (Hoover, Ala./Hoover).


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Weekend recruiting wrap: SEC 

October, 7, 2013
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There was plenty of recruiting news in the Southeastern Conference over the weekend. Tennessee hosted several visitors for its exciting game against Georgia, and there were some impressive high school performances as well. Here is the latest news around the SEC.

Biggest commitment: Alabama beat out rival Auburn for Ronnie Clark, the No. 12 athlete and No. 96 overall prospect in the Class of 2014. The Tide continue to have a stronghold on the No. 1-ranked recruiting class in the country. Alabama now has 21 verbal commitments, including 15 who are ranked in the ESPN 300.


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Best SEC classes by position 

September, 10, 2013
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Top to bottom, the Southeastern Conference is recruiting better than any conference in the country. Thirteen of 14 SEC schools are ranked in the top 40 of the recruiting rankings, including six schools ranked in the top 10. Here's a closer look at which SEC school has the top recruiting classes at each position.

Quarterback
Strongest class: Alabama
This is the hardest position to determine who has the strongest class. Four of the top-five quarterbacks in the final Elite 11 rankings -- Sean White (Auburn), Kyle Allen (Texas A&M), Will Grier (Florida) and Jacob Park (Georgia) -- are committed to SEC schools. Alabama, however has the top-ranked quarterback, David Cornwell (Norman, Okla./Norman North) in the ESPN 300. The Under Armour All-American is the 32nd-ranked player in the nation. At 6-foot-5, 241-pounds, Cornwell has a big-time arm and ideal size for the position.

Running back

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SEC class rankings analysis 

August, 21, 2013
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There wasn't much change among SEC schools in the latest recruiting class rankings update. LSU moved up one spot, giving the conference six teams in the top 10. Alabama held on to its No. 1 spot for the second week in a row. Here's a closer look at how the rankings break down:


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The List: Most important SEC recruits 

August, 20, 2013
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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.


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Weekend wrap: SEC 

August, 19, 2013
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SECThe college football season is nearly upon us but there was still some big recruiting news throughout the Southeastern Conference this past weekend. There was an ESPN 300 commitment, a big decommitment and several other top storylines throughout the SEC.

Here's a look at the weekend that was in the SEC.


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SEC recruiting mailbag

August, 16, 2013
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It’s time to dip into the SEC recruiting mailbag and answer your questions. Because of the amount of questions we’ve received, we won’t be able to get to all of them today -- but we encourage you to ask again next week by tweeting your questions to @DerekTysonESPN.

@csull31: Can I get a comment on the direction Arkansas is headed with their new coaching staff?

Derek Tyson: Up -- that is the direction the Razorbacks are headed. New head coach Brett Bielema will have his work cut out for him to compete with the big boys from the SEC West, but it appears he is up to the challenge. Last recruiting cycle, in just a few short months on the job, Bielema was able to pull ESPN 300 prospects Denver Kirkland and Alex Collins out of Florida. This year, the Razorbacks already have a top 40 class, including 11 commits who are ranked as three-star prospects or higher. The SEC is a line-of-scrimmage league, and the Razorbacks were able to get one of the top junior college offensive lineman in the country, Jermaine Eluemunor, to switch his pledge from UCLA to Arkansas. It may take a few years for Arkansas to get to where Bielema wants his team to be, but it certainly appears as if the Razorbacks are headed in the right direction.

@QueBarbaro34: Who do you think will have the top 3 recruiting classes in the SEC after NSD?

DT: There are six teams in the top 11 of the team recruiting rankings, so a case could be made for several teams, but if I had to select three teams that would have the top three classes in the SEC, it would be LSU, Alabama and Georgia. Alabama already has the No. 1-ranked class in the country and still has several big targets such as Leonard Fournette, Cameron Robinson, Lorenzo Carter, Marlon Humphrey and Elisha Shaw remaining on its recruiting board. LSU, meanwhile, is in a similar situation. With prospects like Fournette, Robinson, Speedy Noil, Trey Quinn, Malachi Dupre, Gerald Willis III, Clifton Garrett and Laurence Jones left on their board, the Tigers could make a huge run as the recruiting season plays out. Tennessee has a very strong class and is currently ranked as the No. 3 class in the country, but that's including 24 commits. Georgia, on the other hand, has only 16 commits and it is ranked only two spots lower at No. 5. If the Bulldogs can land a few more prospects such as Carter, Raekwon McMillan or Josh Malone, Georgia could certainly find itself in the top three. Florida is another school that could make a big run toward the end. The Gators are limited in scholarships, but with prospects such as David Sharpe, Adoree' Jackson, Jamal Adams and Travis Rudolph left on their board, they could make a big run, too.

@SEC_Logo: How do recruits view all these new football facilities, how big of an impact do you think they play?

DT: In my opinion, facilities do play a role in a recruit's decision. Most of these top high school prospects want to attend a place that will prepare them for the next level. So if a school has top-notch training facilities, it only makes sense that a prospect would be more interested in that school. However, I think facilities are just one of many factors, such as on-the-field performance, proximity to home, chances of early playing time, academics and relationships with coaches, that ultimately determine which school a prospect will attend. If I had to rank the importance of each factor, I would say facilities would be near the bottom of that list.

Just for fun, I asked SEC blogger Edward Aschoff to tell me which schools have the top facilities in the conference. In no particular order and based on what he has seen, Aschoff said Alabama, Tennesee, Florida, Texas A&M, Georgia and LSU have arguably the top facilities among the SEC schools. It's interesting to note that all of those schools he mentioned are in the top 11 of the team recruiting rankings.

@THE_BOOMSTEIN: How do the 3 recruits from this past week set up the #Gators for other South Florida guys? #SEC

DT: By landing ESPN 300 defensive backs Chris Lammons and Quincy Wilson and wide receiver Ermon Lane, the Gators hit the jackpot in South Florida on Monday. Add in top 25 running back Dalvin Cook and ESPN 300 defensive tackle Khairi Clark, and the Gators have done exceptionally well in the area. It certainly can't hurt Florida's chances of landing other South Florida prospects such as wide receivers Travis Rudolph or Johnnie Dixon, but I think more importantly, it will help Florida in the future. The Gators already have a commitment from the No. 1-ranked wide receiver Da'Vante Phillips out of Miami Central and are in the mix for several other top 2015 recruits such as running back Jordan Scarlett, wide receiver Torrance Gibson, tight end Devonaire Clarington, cornerback Tyrek Cole, safety Kendrell McFadden and cornerback Tarvarus McFadden. By developing a pipeline in the talent-rich area, it will certainly help the Gators recruit younger prospects who see their friends leave South Florida and go on and have success in Gainesville.

@rbarguia: Where do Jamal Adams and Tony Brown land?

DT: With Brown, Alabama, Texas, LSU, Florida State and a few other schools are in the mix, but it's hard to ignore the fact that his older sister is headed to LSU to run track. There is still a ways to go in his recruitment, but as of now it looks like the Tigers could be the team to beat. If that is in fact the case, LSU could wind up with a top two or three class when all the pieces fall in to place. As for Adams, Florida, Texas A&M and Texas are all near the top of his list. The Gators might have the slight advantage because his godfather, Joker Phillips, is the receivers coach at Florida.

SEC class rankings analysis 

August, 14, 2013
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This was another big recruiting week in the Southeastern Conference. One school, Florida, moved up in to the top 10 while another, LSU, barely dropped out. Alabama is back a familiar spot in the rankings and the SEC 13-out-of-14 teams ranked in the top 40 of the rankings. Here's a closer look at the updated rankings.


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