Cincinnati Football Recruiting: The 10 Greatest Recruiting Classes of All Time

Alex CallosCorrespondent IJanuary 17, 2012

Cincinnati Football Recruiting: The 10 Greatest Recruiting Classes of All Time

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    With Butch Jones poised to sign the best recruiting class the University of Cincinnati has ever seen, it brings up the question, what are some of the other top classes in the history of Cincinnati football.

    The Bearcats have never been known as a football school and have never even had a class ranked in the Top 25 according to major websites.

    This year may change that and things are looking up in Clifton.

    The classes have gotten progressively better over the years for Cincinnati, and the Bearcats look to continue that trend in the future.

    Here are the Top 10 recruiting classes of all-time for the Cincinnati Bearcats.

2004

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    This was the first class under head coach Mark Dantonio and really helped set the Cincinnati program in the right direction.

    Still, it was not a highly rated class coming out of high school.

    The lone 3-star recruit was Tyjuan Jones who did not do much as a Bearcat.

    There were numerous 2-star recruits who went on to have very successful careers, including Haruki Nakamura who is currently with the Baltimore Ravens.

    Offensive lineman Trevor Canfield was drafted and has spent some time in the NFL as was defensive back DeAngelo Smith.

2006

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    This was the final recruiting class of Mark Dantonio and like many others featured only one 3-star recruit.

    That recruit Freddie Lenix never really panned out, but a few of the 2-stars did.

    One of those was defensive tackle Ricardo Mathews who is currently with the Indianapolis Colts.

    The other was tight end Ben Guidugli who had the opportunity to play for three different head coaches and is currently with the St. Louis Rams.

2003

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    This was the last class under head coach Rick Minter, and like many of the classes in the early part of the decade, it featured almost all 2-star recruits.

    Among those 2-star recruits was tight end Brent Celek, who has had a solid career with the Philadelphia Eagles and was a stud in Cincinnati.

    Offensive tackle Digger Bujnoch also spent a few years in the NFL and was one of the highest rated players in the class.

2005

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    This was also a Mark Dantonio class that featured one 3-star recruit in quarterback Nick Davila who never really panned out.

    There were however, some excellent 2-star recruits that helped lead Cincinnati to an Orange Bowl.

    Among those was Connor Barwin who was recruited as a tight end and switched to defense for his senior season.

    Fellow 2-stars Mardy Gilyard and Jeffrey Linkenbach are currently playing on Sundays and Mike Mickens also spent some time in the NFL.

    This class was was filled with talent on defense.

2008

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    The 2008 class was signed by Brian Kelly and featured this year's senior class.

    That group was headlined by Isaiah Pead who was the Big East offensive player of the week.

    He was one of six 3-star recruits, along with D.J. Woods and Dominique Battle who have been three-year starters.

    One of the lowest recruited players in the class was second-team all-American Derek Wolfe who will be playing on Sundays for a long time.

    J.K. Schaffer, who was one of the best linebackers the school has ever seen, was also a part of this class.

2007

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    Like the previous class, this group featured six 3-star recruits and some talent on both sides of the ball.

    It was Brian Kelly's first class and featured some talent on offense.

    The class was headlined by Zach Collaros and John Hughes, who was flipped from a tight end to a defensive tackle and has a chance to play at the next level.

    One of the steals of the class was 2-star Armon Binns. Binns is currently with the Cincinnati Bengals and helped lead Cincinnati to the Sugar Bowl in 2010.

    Offensive lineman and three-year starter Alex Hoffman was also in this class.

2009

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    The 2009 class saw Cincinnati get their first two 4-star recruits of all-time in Jamar Howard and Chris Williams.

    While Howard was injury-plagued and never really did too much in Cincinnati, Williams will be entering his senior season in 2012 and has started the past two years.

    Linebacker Maalik Bomar will be entering his third year in the starting lineup in 2012 and offensive lineman Austen Bujnoch is an anchor on the offensive line.

    The class also featured eight 3-star recruits.

    This was the final recruiting class of Brian Kelly and put the Bearcats at a whole new level.

2010

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    Like the class before this group also featured two 4-star recruits. It was the first for head coach Butch Jones.

    The class was filled with talent on offense. The two 4-stars were wide receivers Kenbrell Thompkins and Dyjuan Lewis.

    Among the 10 3-star recruits was Munchie Legaux, who will be the starting quarterback the next two seasons.

    The top receiver on the roster, Anthony McClung, was also a 3-star in this class.

    The group will be juniors next season and will be counted on heavily the next two seasons.

2011

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    While this class only had one 4-star in running back Jameel Poteat, there were an unprecedented 20 3-star recruits, a lot of which made an immediate impact this past season as rookies.

    Linebacker Nick Temple will step into the starting role next season and wide receiver Alex Chisum is looking like a future star.

    Running back Ralph David Abernathy IV was a big-time kick returner and will see more action on the offensive side of the ball in the years to come.

    Poteat has a chance to step into the starting role next season and could be one of the best running backs in the conference over the next three years.

2012

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    The 2012 class is the best of all-time for Cincinnati.

    It is headlined by running back Dennis Norfleet who is a 4-star recruit and one of the top players in the state of Michigan.

    Fellow running back Deionte Buckley is the next highest rated player, and wide receiver Nathan Cole is certain to be a stud.

    Quarterback Bennie Coney could be a three-year starter after a red-shirt year next season.

    The class is filled with 24 3-star recruits, a new all-time high for Cincinnati.