SEC continues its recruiting dominance with loaded 2023 classes
The SEC continued its reign over college football on the field last month, winning its fourth consecutive College Football Playoff national title. Georgia’s second-straight championship marked the 10th time in the last 14 seasons that an SEC program has taken home the title, a feat never accomplished by any other conference in the modern era.
The league has been equally dominant on the recruiting trail, and the 2023 cycle is no different. Of the top 300 recruits in the 2023 On3 Consensus, 299 have signed their National Letters of Intent. And of those 300, nearly 40 percent — 120 — have signed with an SEC program. The numbers are even more staggering if you add future SEC programs Texas and Oklahoma to the total, with those two accounting for 25 more of the top 300 signees.
Meanwhile, no other Power Five conference has more than 43 top-300 signees. Here’s how each conference breaks down among the top 300, typically considered to be the most likely players to have an impact at the college level.
SEC – 120
Summary: Alabama and Georgia lead the SEC with 24 and 21 top-300 signees, respectively. LSU, who won the national championship during the 2019-20 season, has the SEC’s third-most top-300 signees with 16. Florida, Tennessee and Texas A&M also have double-digit top-300 signees. To go along with the conference’s slogan, it is clear that recruiting “means more” in the SEC. 13 of its 14 members have a signature from a top-300 prospect, with the exception being Vanderbilt.
Big Ten – 43
Summary: The Big Ten has the next-most top-300 signees, but nearly 80 less than the SEC. Ohio State, the sole Big Ten program to win a national title in the College Football Playoff era, leads the conference with 17 top-300 recruits. Meanwhile, Penn State is the only other Big Ten school with double-digit top-300 signees (12). Ohio State, Penn State and Michigan among others often recruit against the SEC. Losing some of those recruiting battles likely contributes to the large gap between the conferences. For example, the Wolverines — the back-to-back Big Ten champions — only signed five top-300 recruits this cycle. Additionally, four other Big Ten schools have five or less top-300 signees, including Michigan State and Nebraska.
Pac-12 – 41
Summary: Oregon has 15 top-300 recruits, more than all but three schools in the SEC. However, the Ducks are the only Pac-12 program with double-digit top-300 signees. USC has the next-most in the conference with nine. Having Deion Sanders at Colorado certainly helps, as Coach Prime flipped three top-300 recruits from the ACC, Big Ten and Notre Dame. Meanwhile, Kyle Whittingham‘s Utah program brought in five top-300 players. However, the Pac-12 will certainly feel recruiting ramifications when UCLA and USC depart for the Big Ten ahead of the 2024 season. The Bruins and Trojans combined for 11 top-300 prospects and three Five-Star Plus+ recruits this cycle.
Big 12 – 40
Summary: Like the Pac-12, conference realignment will affect the Big 12’s recruiting efforts. Texas (15) and Oklahoma (10) have more than 60% of the conference’s top-300 signees. The Longhorns and Sooners are soon bound for the SEC, which will likely cause the talent gap between the conferences to grow since no other Big 12 programs currently have five or more top-300 signees. Meanwhile, TCU has four following its stunning run to the national championship game. While it may be hard to make up for the loss of Oklahoma and Texas, the Big 12’s four new members will still bring talented prospects to the conference. For example, Houston and UCF had five combined top-300 signees this cycle.
ACC – 38
27 of the ACC’s 38 signees are headed to two schools: Miami (15) and Clemson (12). It likely helps that the Tigers have played for four national championships under Dabo Swinney, winning two, between 2015-2019. Meanwhile, Mario Cristobal has rebuilt the Hurricanes as a recruiting force in Florida, including three top-300 signees from IMG Academy. Florida State is a step behind Clemson and Miami with six top-300 signees, including a top-10 player in the state.