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Tuesday, August 27, 2013
The List: Top SEC games for recruits

By Derek Tyson

Every SEC game is crucial for recruiting in some form or another. It was difficult to narrow down a top 10, but here's a list of the most important games of the year from a recruiting standpoint.

1. LSU at Alabama, Nov. 9

Not much else needs to be said about why this game is so important. LSU and Alabama will go head-to-head for many targets, including Leonard Fournette, Cameron Robinson and Laurence "Hootie" Jones and this game could play a big role in determining where these elite players will wind up.

2. South Carolina at Georgia, Sept. 28

Both teams are in the top 30 of the recruiting rankings and Georgia could help cement a top-five recruiting class with a big win over the Gamecocks. Expect the Bulldogs to bring a lot of top prospects to this game. This game, along with the LSU matchup, will be the toughest home games for the defending SEC East champions. South Carolina has done well recruiting in Georgia and a win for the Gamecocks would certainly catch the attention of some of the top recruits in the Peach State.

3. Florida at Miami, Sept. 7

The Gators have six commitments from South Florida, including ESPN 300 members Dalvin Cook, Ermon Lane, Chris Lammons, Quincy Wilson, Khairi Clark and J.C. Jackson. Florida is still targeting four-star prospects Johnnie Dixon and Travis Rudolph, who are both from the area. This game could have big recruiting implications, not only for this year, but next year's class. The Class of 2015 appears to be absolutely loaded in South Florida.

4. Alabama at Texas A&M, Sept. 14

Alabama will be hoping to avenge last year's 29-24 home loss to the Aggies. After a grand entrance to the SEC a year ago, Texas A&M will be hoping to establish itself as one of the premier teams in the conference. A victory against the No. 1 team in the country would certainly bolster A&M's already strong recruiting efforts.

5. Georgia at Tennessee, Oct. 5

There would be no better way to show Volunteers fans that Tennessee is back than a big win over a top-five team. New coach Butch Jones already has the No. 2 recruiting class in the country and Neyland stadium should be rocking for an SEC East matchup against Georgia, which enters the season ranked No. 5 in the country. Expect the Vols to bring in several of their top targets to watch this matchup.

6. Florida State at Florida, Nov. 30

This Sunshine State showdown always brings out the top recruits in the talent-rich state. The Gators are sure to bring in some of their top targets and this will be the last home game in which Florida can make a positive impression on their top targets. Florida State and Florida both have top-10 recruiting classes and a win by either team could help make a final push for some of the top in-state targets such as David Sharpe and Travis Rudolph.

7. Texas A&M at LSU, Nov. 23

LSU gave the Aggies one of their only two losses in 2012 and this year won't be any easier as the game moves to Baton Rouge, La. There are several top recruits the Tigers are hoping to impress, such as Tony Brown, Fournette, Robinson, Jones, Malachi Dupre, Speedy Noil and Gerald Willis. A win over reigning Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel would certainly help, but a loss could have a few of those players start to look in A&M's direction.

8. Alabama at Auburn, Nov. 30

The Iron Bowl always draws the who's who of big-time recruits. New Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn would certainly like to make his mark by defeating the team that enters the season ranked No. 1 in the country. Expect the Tigers to bring in as many top targets as they can for this Thanksgiving weekend showdown. But a bad loss could also hurt Auburn's recruiting efforts.

9. Louisville at Kentucky, Sept. 14

New Kentucky coach Mark Stoops is already off to a great start in recruiting with 22 commitments and a top-20 class ranking. Beating a top-10 team such as in-state rival Louisville early in the season would add to the excitement in Lexington. Kentucky will likely bring in some of their top targets.

10. Ole Miss at Vanderbilt, Aug. 29

There's no better way for Vanderbilt head coach James Franklin to showcase the progress of his program by playing a nationally televised game to open the season. Both programs are on the rise. Ole Miss and Vanderbilt are both currently in the top 25 of the team recruiting rankings.

Note: Though very important games, two big matchups (Georgia at Clemson and Florida vs. Georgia) were left off the list because only the home team can host visitors. Florida and Georgia have agreed not to bring in recruits for the game in Jacksonville, Fla.