After falling just short in a 34-31 loss to FSU in the Vizio BCS National Championship, Auburn continued to work its magic on the recruiting trail, as second-year coach Gus Malzahn stockpiled a top-10 class. The Tigers secured immediate help on defense with juco tackle DaVonte Lambert and juco outside linebacker Derrick Moncrief, who have already enrolled in school. D'haquille Williams, the No. 1 juco wide receiver, also signed with the Tigers. After losing junior tailback Tre Mason to the NFL draft, the Tigers signed No. 5 running back Racean Thomas and No. 20 running back Kamryn Pettway. There's also help coming for Auburn's much-maligned secondary; the Tigers signed two of the country's top 10 cornerback prospects, Stephen Roberts and Kalvaraz Bessent. The defending SEC champions are bringing back eight starters on offense, including quarterback Nick Marshall, who figures to be a better passer in his second season in Malzahn's spread offense.
Urban Meyer wanted to transform Ohio State's football team with SEC-like speed, and he dipped into Florida, Georgia and Texas in his most recent recruiting class to try to do it. Meyer concentrated on improving OSU's defense and building depth on its offensive line while landing another top-10 recruiting class. The Buckeyes signed four linebackers, including No. 1 outside linebacker Raekwon McMillan of Hinesville, Ga., who already has enrolled at OSU, and No. 8 outside linebacker Dante Booker Jr. of Akron, Ohio. No. 5 wide receiver Johnnie Dixon, No. 7 cornerback Damon Webb and No. 5 athlete Marshon Lattimore, who is expected to play cornerback in college, also could help the Buckeyes right away. They won't be the only new faces on OSU's defense this coming season. Meyer hired former Arkansas defensive coordinator Chris Ash to serve as co-defensive coordinator and hired longtime Penn State assistant Larry Johnson Sr. to coach the defensive line.
After a disappointing 8-5 season in 2013, Georgia coach Mark Richt was still able to put together a top-10 recruiting class, even after overhauling his defensive coaching staff. The Bulldogs landed No. 3 defensive end Lorenzo Carter and No. 4 defensive tackle Lamont Gaillard to help on defense, along with a pair of much-needed cornerbacks, No. 10 athlete Malkom Parrish and juco transfer Shattle Fenteng. Georgia also signed two of the country's top-10 running back prospects, Sony Michel of Plantation, Fla., and Nick Chubb of Cedartown, Ga. New defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt might have been Georgia's biggest recruiting coup, as he'll try to turn around a defense that struggled mightily the past two seasons. Pruitt put the finishing touches on his defensive staff, hiring former Auburn and Tennessee Titans assistant Tracy Rocker, former South Alabama defensive coordinator Kevin Sherrer and former USC assistant Mike Ekeler. If Georgia can stay healthy and fix its problems on defense -- 10 starters are coming back on that side of the ball -- it might be the team to beat in the SEC East in 2014.