Geographically, the SEC is located in a hotbed for some of the best talent there is to offer. Florida, Georgia and Alabama high schools have certainly been kind to coaches like Nick Saban and Les Miles over the years.
But don’t sleep on some of the northern states that are also producing big-time talent.
The state of Ohio has always been considered one of the top states in the country for football talent—or at least it should be—and most go on to play at Ohio State or even Michigan (e.g. Desmond Howard, Charles Woodson).
However in recent years, the SEC has been extremely successful at bringing in some of the best players from Ohio into the conference.
Let’s take a look at who has been making big impacts for their respected teams:
1. Trey DePriest, LB (Springfield, Ohio): Alabama Crimson Tide
DePriest was the No. 1-rated recruit in the state of Ohio in 2011 and he wasted no time getting on the field as a freshman. DePriest quickly became the No. 2 linebacker behind Don’t’a Hightower and made an immediate impact on special teams. He started at middle linebacker his sophomore year and went on to earn his second national championship.
Now DePriest is heading into his senior season at Alabama, and Nick Saban expects him to be an imperative piece to the Tide’s defense in 2014.
"Trey has a lot of experience," Saban said earlier this spring, according to timesfreepress.com. "He's a very good player, and we need his leadership on defense. He's obviously going to become the signal caller, which I think everyone looks up to.”
2. Maty Mauk, QB (Kenton, Ohio): Missouri Tigers
Starting quarterback James Franklin went down with a shoulder injury in 2013, and most thought the Tigers’ chances of making the SEC championship were over.
Mauk came to the rescue and threw for 1,071 yards and 11 touchdowns, while leading Missouri to a 3-1 record while Franklin was out (the only loss coming to South Carolina in double-overtime). Mauk is certainly expected to have a great career at Missouri.
3. Ryan Kelly, OL (West Chester, Ohio): Alabama Crimson Tide
Kelly has done a good job replacing standout center Barrett Jones. He was named an All-SEC freshman back in 2012 and was namd to the Rimington Trophy Watch List last season as a redshirt sophomore. Kelly is ranked as the No. 3 center prospect for the 2016 draft, according to NFLDraftScout.com.
4. Spencer Ware, RB (Cincinnati, Ohio): LSU Tigers, Seattle Seahawks
Ware left for the NFL a year ago, but it’s still worth noting his career as a Tiger. Ware came out of high school as the No. 3-ranked player in the state of Ohio (behind Texas' Jordan Hicks and Ohio State's Andrew Norwell) and immediately played for Les Miles, taking 24 carries for 175 yards rushing as a freshman.
Ware started 10 games as a sophomore and led the team with 177 rushes for 707 yards. He went on to have another successful season as a junior and then bypassed his senior year for the NFL. He was selected by the Seahawks during last year's draft and may have a future as a fullback for Pete Carroll.