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Recruiting Recap: Early signing day has become the big day in college football recruiting. That date in February is now an afterthought.

The surprise of Dec. 15 was the flip of Travis Hunter, regarded as the nation's top recruit by many, to Jackson State (an FCS school) from Florida State.

Deion Sanders, stole one away from his alma mater. And he did it with the NIL on his side and his own "Prime Time" appeal. You've seen the ads with Deion and Nick Saban.

Alabama landed another top-three class. In fact, The SEC had the top three classes nationally with Texas A&M, Georgia and Bama.

And you should take those rankings with more than just a grain of salt. They do correlate to success on the field.

Five-star players are sometimes busts. And three-stars are sometimes superstars. But overall - the teams that recruit well year in and year out are the top teams on the field.

I took a compilation of the SEC rankings from 2017-20 and compared the numbers with on-the-field results the following four years. They were similar and the league's top six were identical.

Using the recruiting numbers from 247 Sports, here are the top six during that period:

2017-20 SEC Recruiting
1. Alabama
2. Georgia
3. LSU
4. Texas A&M
5. Florida
6. Auburn

Now, the SEC-only records for 2018-21:

1. Alabama: 33-3 (91%)
2. Georgia: 29-7 (86 %)
3. LSU: 25-10 (76%)
4. Texas A&M: 21-12 (63%)
5. Florida: 22-13 (62%)
6. Auburn: 21-14 (60%)

The remaining eight SEC teams were not exact as the top six but close.

SEC recruiting rankings from 2017-20 with SEC-only (standings) and records with win percentage (2018-21):

7. Tennessee (T11) 10-23 (30%)
8.  Arkansas (14) 4-30 (12%)
9. Ole Miss (T11) 10-23 (30%)
10. S. Carolina (T9) 14-20 (41%)
11. Mississippi St. (T9) 14-20 (41%)
12. Kentucky (T7) 16-18 (47%)
13. Missouri (T7) 16-18 (47%)
14. Vanderbilt (13) 5-28 (15%)

There are other factors in play when it comes to comparing recruiting success with winning; i.e. attrition, early draftees, misevaluation of talent and development of personnel.

Still, priority one of the winning equation in sports is selection of talent and putting the right pieces of that puzzle in place. In college football it begins with solid recruiting classes.