With National Signing Day on the way, it's time to release another ranking of college football's top 25 recruiting classes. I'm sure these rankings will continue to fluctuate at a very fluid pace through the year as we move forward.
There are some very special classes being built by some of the normal juggernauts, while some surprise programs have begun to make their marks on the trail as well. We've seen more top prospects make their selections, and now classes are in full-forming mode.
Here are the top 25 recruiting classes as we sit in January 2012.
Pitt comes in here at No. 25, as obviously this class is led by 5-star RB Rushel Shell. Shell is one of the top 20 players overall nationally and should see time immediately.
Other notables include gritty QB Chad Voytik, LB Dakota Conwell and WR Corey Jones. Paul Chryst has some pieces to work with as the new leader of the Panther program.
Oregon started slow this cycle, but it's come up to speed very quickly. Chip Kelly has 19 commits and a Rose Bowl win now too.
Top prospects include big, dual-threat QB Jake Rodrigues and RB Byron Marshall, who has good speed. Also look out for TE Evan Baylis, S Reggie Daniels, OT Kyle Long, LB Jeremy Castro and DE DeForest Buckner.
I've got the Hokies at this slot thanks in large part to their 26 commitments. Yep, this is shaping up to be a full class for Frank Beamer, as the only knock I have is it may be a bit subpar in quality.
The top prospect is RB Drew Harris. The 6'1", 205-pounder should continue the tradition of solid RB play in Blacksburg. Cover corner Donaldven Manning is another good one that will be solid.
Isn't it wild to see the Commodores inside the top 25 recruiting rankings, let alone any ranking for that matter? Well, they're here at No. 22 thanks in part to a 21-commit class with five 4-star recruits.
Led by RB/ATH Brian Kimbrow, Vandy's class looks pretty solid. Also, be on the lookout for 6'4", 225-pound DE Josh Dawson, as he leads a solid DE class coming in for James Franklin.
TCU has an 18-commit class with four 4-star recruits in the fold. DE Devonte Fields is the class headliner due to his length, quickness and potential as a solid edge defender.
If TE Griffin Gilbert can add some weight and strength to his 6'5", 200-pound frame, he could develop into a complete do-it-all type of player for an offense. OT Halapoulivaati Vaitai will be a starter on the OL soon in Fort Worth.
The Cardinal suffered a heartbreaking loss to Oklahoma State in the Fiesta Bowl, but that smirk you see on David Shaw's face could be credited to him knowing he's got a good class coming in.
Stanford has 16 pledges with six of them being 4-star recruits. The headliner is LB Noor Davis, a 6'4", 225-pounder that could end up at OLB on The Farm. OC Graham Shuler, DB Alex Carter and OT Nick Davidson are just a few others to watch out for.
Right above Stanford is its hated rivals, the Berkeley Bears. I know I've gotten on Cal this cycle due to its lack of pledges, but it sits now with a solid 14.
Cal has always had good quality, and I think that's about to increase. Before it's all said and done, look for Arik Armstead and Shaquille Thompson, two of the top 15 overall players nationally, to sign with Cal.
Twenty-four commits, with five being 4-star prospects, is pretty good in Lubbock. Tommy Tuberville expected a better season, and I think he may find himself somewhat on the hot seat next season.
This class should help turn things around, though, as WR Dominique Wheeler and OL/DL Michael Starts are top-100 players. JUCO recruits Will Smith, a linebacker, and WR Javon Bell should help immediately—and watch out for WR Reggie Davis.
The Trojans got a huge gift when Matt Barkley announced he was coming back, and now they'll be looking to return to a BCS bowl. Their class is small, but it packs a punch.
Seven of USC's 11 commitments are rated 4-stars or higher. LB Jabari Ruffin is worthy of wearing No. 55, TE Jalen Cope-Fitzpatrick is a coup of a talent and JUCO SS Gerald Bowman could start right away.
Tennessee has 19 commits, and five are 4-star recruits. Dalton Santos is a LB that could stay or bolt due to the defensive staff changes in Knoxville.
Hard-hitting safety prospect LaDarrell McNeil is also looking around a bit. DE Trent Taylor is a former Miami commit, and WR Jason Croom is a huge, 6'5", 235-pound red-zone threat.
The Gamecocks are fresh off their best season in school history and are using that momentum to their advantage on the recruiting trail. Steve Spurrier has 20 commitments, two inside the top 100 and five total that are 4-stars or higher.
WR Shaq Roland leads the class, as he's the top prospect from the Palmetto State. OT Brock Stadnik is a top-tier OL prospect, and OG Joe Harris isn't far behind. WR Kwinton Smith is a tall, 6'5" WR who can make plays.
I like Miami's class, but I was expecting Al Golden to do a little more big-game hunting. The 'Canes have 27 pledges, which is cool, but only five of those players are rated 4-stars or higher. That leaves a little more quality to be desired.
Nonetheless, Golden and his staff have pledges from 5-star RB Duke Johnson and 4-star DE Jelani Hamilton, who is considered one of the top players in Florida.
The Tigers will need another NSD surge to finish in the top 10 for the third consecutive year, and they could easily do it again. Auburn has 16 commits, and nine are 4-star prospects.
QB Zeke Pike and WR Ricardo Louis lead a class that also includes LB Cassanova McKinzy, TE Ricky Parks, TE Darrion Hutcherson and CB Josh Holsey.
The top team in the country checks in here at No. 12 with 22 total commitments. Half the class is rated 4-stars or higher, and LSU is still working on some things on the trail.
WR Avery Johnson is a deep threat, OT Vadal Alexander will start soon, TE John Thomas is solid and Torshiro Davis can play DE or OLB.
But the biggest commitment is easily QB Gunner Kiel, viewed by many as the premier QB prospect in America.
For some reason, it always seems OU gets overlooked on the trail, but you look up and see it around the top 10 with good prospects year in and year out. This year is the same, as the Sooners hold 19 quality pledges with 10 being 4-stars or higher.
They count WR Trey Metoyer in this year's class due to the fact he was at a prep school this season. Don't forget he was a 5-star recruit last year. Toss in names like RB Alex Ross, WR Sterling Shepard, OC Ty Darlington, WR Durron Neal and OG John McGee, and you know Bob Stoops is at it again.
Ah yes, Notre Dame. This was not the season we all expected for the Golden Domers, but this recruiting cycle has gone pretty well. Aside from being in on several 5-star prospects left on the board, the Irish have 17 pledges, and three of them are 5-star players.
They also have seven 4-star players committed and are not done. The headliner is CB/ATH Ronald Darby, but this class has a wealth of talent.
Georgia has 15 commitments, but it's a solid class. Three players are top-100-caliber recruits in RB Keith Marshall, OT John Theus and DT Jonathan Taylor.
Marshall and Theus are two of the top 15 to 20 recruits in the nation. DE Leonard Floyd is also one to watch. Mark Richt started this season on the hot seat and now is on par for a top-15 class.
Kevin Sumlin is going to have to work a bit to keep some of the 24 commits A&M has. Nine are 4-star (or higher) prospects, including RB Trey Williams, QB Matt Davis and LB Corey Thompson.
Thompson, Williams and WR Bralon Addison have all reduced their commitments to soft verbals, which is not the best thing for Sumlin. But it's not out of the question for all three to stick it out with the Aggies.
Urban Meyer has led the Buckeyes' surge into the top 10, as it was iffy whether they'd be in the top 25 before he was named coach. Meyer has gotten OSU to the 19-commitment clip and has four 5-star prospects in the class.
Six other 4-star players are also committed. Headliners include 5-star DEs Noah Spence and Adolphus Washington, DT Tommy Schutt and RBs Warren Ball and Brionte Dunn.
I told my father last night that Brady Hoke has done a fantastic job in just one season at Michigan. He won a BCS bowl game, competed for a Big Ten title, won 11 games and is on track for a top-10 recruiting class.
Big Blue was left for dead when Rich Rodriguez was fired and Hoke was the third choice in Ann Arbor. Now he has 24 commitments, and 14 of them are 4-stars or higher.
Dabo Swinney started this year on the hot seat, but you kept hearing and getting a feeling of quiet confidence from him, his staff and his players. It all proved to be true, as now the Tigers will play WVU in the Orange Bowl.
On the trail, Swinney has 20 commitments, and nine are 4-star recruits. That's good quality, and I even think DB Travis Blanks could be a 5-star guy.
Florida could end up with the No. 1 class if things shake out right. It's in on some of the top uncommitted prospects all over the country and will likely land several of them.
For now, the Gators have 18 commitments, and 11 of them are 4-star (or higher) prospects, including 5-star players Brian Poole and D.J. Humphries, a CB and OT, respectively. Will Muschamp is getting it done on the trail.
I'm only listing FSU at No. 3 because Mario Edwards and Jameis Winston don't appear as locked in on the 'Noles as before. I slightly expect Edwards to sign elsewhere.
Edwards checked in at the Under Armour Game practices at 6'4", 297 pounds, as a DE. Winston is the top QB on my board. Even P.J. Williams is looking around some. However, technically, FSU holds 15 commitments, and the class is stocked with talent.
'Bama is doing it big on the trail this year—like it always does. The Tide have 24 commitments and 14 players who are at least 4-stars or higher.
The two headliners are LB Reggie Ragland and FS Eddie Williams. OL Alphonse Taylor, at 6'6", 340 pounds, switched from FSU, plus Alabama got T.J. Yeldon to switch from Auburn.
This class is stocked.
The Longhorns are holding on to the No. 1 spot, but we'll see come NSD. They have 25 commitments, and 17 are rated 4-stars or higher.
Top names include RB Johnathan Gray, WR Cayleb Jones, OG Curtis Riser, QB Connor Brewer, DT Malcom Brown, LB Peter Jinkens, OTs Kennedy Estelle and Camrhon Hughes and former Oklahoma State commit WR/DB Kendall Sanders.