NCAA Football: The Class Headliner for Each USA Today Coaches' Poll Team

Edwin WeathersbyAnalyst IAugust 13, 2012

NCAA Football: The Class Headliner for Each USA Today Coaches' Poll Team

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    Polls are a major part of college football and are the main tool that we use in stacking teams to see which are the best in the country. Polls are also a major subject of controversy, debate, passion and speculation in college football, but at the end of the day, they are a huge element of the sport.

    The USA Today Coaches' Poll has been released, and for this read, I'm going to put a recruiting spin on it. Let's take the top 25 teams in the coaches' poll and list each of those team's current 2013 recruiting class headliner. The headliner of a class is the top prospect among a program's current commitments and that player is the face of that year's recruiting class.

    So we're going to give you that for each USA Today Coaches' Poll team!

25. Auburn

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    2013 Recruiting Class Headliner: Reuben Foster, LB

    Auburn is two seasons removed from a national championship and checks in here at No. 25 to start the season. I have the Tigers in my top-10 recruiting rankings, and that is thanks to Foster, the No. 2 overall player and prospect in the nation.

    At 6'2" and almost 250 pounds, Foster has it all to be a plug-a-play guy when he comes to The Plains next year. He has great instincts, strength, shed skills, athleticism, range and speed. Once he develops as a pass defender, look out.

24. Notre Dame

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    2013 Recruiting Class Headliner: Jaylon Smith, OLB

    The Irish come into this season poised to make a jump, but their schedule will be tough. However, Brian Kelly has recruited very well since he's arrived and has steadily added more speed and athleticism to the roster.

    Smith will only add more of those traits, as he's the top OLB in the country. He looks like a big safety but goes 6'3", 225 pounds and can really excel as a pass defender. With his athleticism and skill set, Smith should become an excellent 3-down 'backer in South Bend.

23. Florida

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    2013 Recruiting Class Headliner: Vernon Hargreaves III, CB

    Florida is in year two of the Will Muschamp era, and they are back to get back the SEC crown. On the trail, Muschamp has kept the dominant juggernaut going by landing some great classes over the past two years.

    This year's class is led by the nation's best CB prospect in Vernon Hargreaves III. A 5'11", 180-pounder with fantastic technique, instincts and play smarts, look for Hargreaves to develop into a pillar player in Gainesville.

22. Boise State

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    2013 Recruiting Class Headliner: Andrew Tercek, OC

    The Broncos begin the post-Kellen Moore era, but Chris Petersen and his staff will have their guys ready to go. BSU isn't a sexy recruiting school, yet they still get solid players and coach 'em up well.

    This year's class is led by the 6'3", 285-pound Tercek, who is a technician at the OC spot. He'll battle anybody and will hold his own with great toughness inside.

21. Kansas State

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    2013 Recruiting Class Headliner: Tanner Wood, OLB

    Bill Snyder doesn't get the best players in recruiting, but he always finds a way to field competitive teams. That is a mark of a great coach.

    Wood is Snyder's top find this year and has great size at 6'5", 240 pounds.

20. Virginia Tech

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    2013 Recruiting Class Headliner: Kendall Fuller, CB

    Fuller is one of the top overall prospects in the country and a top-20 recruit on my board. He's a 5'11", 190-pound corner that fits best in man-to-man coverage.

    An amazingly talented athlete, Fuller has all of the tools to become Frank Beamer and Bud Foster's No. 1 CB by his sophomore season in Blacksburg.

19. Oklahoma State

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    2013 Recruiting Class Headliner: Luke Del Rio, QB

    This is a program that wins games by outscoring people, and the Pokes plan to continue that with Del Rio as their future QB.

    The son of former NFL LB and current Broncos defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio, Luke is a 6'2", 185-pound QB that performed well at the Elite 11 finals this summer.

18. Stanford

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    2013 Recruiting Class Headliner: Ryan Burns, QB

    Yes, believe it or not, Stanford will field a football team after Andrew Luck has departed. The Cardinal will not be as strong as they were recently, yet they'll win some ball games.

    The class headliner is the 6'5", 220-pound Burns who comes over from the state of Virginia. A signal caller with great size, good arm strength, vision and touch, look for Burns to be a good one on The Farm.

17. TCU

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    2013 Recruiting Class Headliner: Patrick Morris, C

    The Horned Frogs are right where they want to be as they are now members of the Big 12. Gary Patterson will have team ready to go, and his class headliner for 2013 is the 6'3", 285-pound Morris, who likely will be a center or guard in Ft. Worth.

16. Nebraska

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    2013 Recruiting Class Headliner: Johnny Stanton, QB

    Big Red starts the season just outside the top-15 team in the country and will look to win the Big Ten for the first time this year. Stanton headlines their class, as he has drawn comparisons to Tim Tebow.

    From Southern California, it doesn't look text book, but Stanton and his 6'2", 220-pound frame get the job done with competitiveness and good athleticism.

15. Texas

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    2013 Recruiting Class Headliner: Tyrone Swoopes, QB

    Texas is looking to return back to atop of the Big 12 and inside the BCS bowl games. The Longhorns have used these past three recruiting cycles to restock on talent, and they'll start to rise again soon.

    Swoopes is a 6'4", 220-pound dual threat QB with a high ceiling. He has a great arm, excellent speed and is a play-maker on the field. Once he gets coached up, he should become a Vince Young-type of player in Austin.

14. Clemson

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    2013 Recruiting Class Headliner: Robert Nkemdiche, DE

    Clemson will look to rebound from that beating it took from the hands of WVU in the Orange Bowl. The Tigers have a stable of young talent to go along with some veteran seasoning.

    The news of maybe the entire 2013 recruiting cycle is that Clemson has gotten the best player in the country in 6'4", 270-pound Robert Nkemdiche. Hailed as a once-every-20-years talent, Nkemdiche is ready to play college ball now.

13. Michigan State

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    2013 Recruiting Class Headliner: Jon Reschke, LB

    Mark Dantonio's squad isn't always flashy or sexy, but they get results. The Spartans are a tough and solid program that once again will contend for the Big Ten title.

    The 2013 class is headliner by in-state LB Jon Reschke who is 6'2" and nearly 225 pounds. Reschke will play big at the point of attack, has good strength and has been pretty productive in his career thus far.

12. Wisconsin

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    2013 Recruiting Class Headliner: Darius Latham, DT

    Wisconsin is back yet again and will also look to get back to the Rose Bowl. The Badgers have an admirable program, and Bret Bielema is becoming one of the best head coaches in the country.

    Latham is the 2013 headliner, as the 6'5", 285-pounder is chalked full of potential. He shows a big frame with good quickness, strength and the ability to one-gap and two-gap if needed.

11. West Virginia

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    2013 Recruiting Class Headliner: Darrien Howard, LB

    Dana Holgorsen goes into year two of his reign in Morgantown and has a baller of a QB in Geno Smith. The Mountaineers could be a BCS title game dark horse.

    Howard is the face of the 2013 WVU recruiting haul and goes in the 6'2", 240-pound range. He can run well and surprisingly plays better in space than you'd think. 

10. Arkansas

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    2013 Recruiting Class Headliner: Hunter Henry, TE

    What a trying off-season in Fayetteville, right? Although Bobby Petrino is gone, the Hogs still feel they can win the SEC and do some big things this 2012 season.

    Recruiting has been tough a bit, but John L. Smith scored a coup in landing a pledge from Hunter Henry, a 6'6", 245-pound TE that has soft hands, a large catch radius and great prospects as a blocker.

9. South Carolina

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    2013 Recruiting Class Headliner: Larenz Bryant, OLB

    I could have gone with Matt Rolin or Connor Mitch here, but I really like Bryant. From North Carolina, he's a 6'2", 210-pound OLB that can combat the run and pass very well.

    Bryant has excellent athleticism, cover ability, instincts and play speed. South Carolina has recruited well the past three seasons and is becoming a powerful SEC East program.

8. Michigan

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    2013 Recruiting Class Headliner: Shane Morris, QB

    Michigan shocked many last year by winning more than 10 games and nabbing the Sugar Bowl. They open with Alabama, and that will be a tough one, but Big Blue has BCS title game hopes this year.

    Morris is the face of the 2013 class and perhaps the future of the program. He's one of the elite QB prospects and overall talents in the country and the 6'3", 190-pound lefty has impressive charisma.

7. Florida State

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    2013 Recruiting Class Headliner: Ryan Green, RB

    FSU was a bit of a let down last season, but they're once again highly ranked because of their talent and potential. Jimbo Fisher has to demand results from his team this year, and they must produce.

    Green is a super speedy 5'10", 185-pound RB from Florida that also has return value. Quick with a slashing style, look for Green to be a dangerous weapon in Tallahassee.

6. Georgia

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    2013 Recruiting Class Headliner: Shaq Wiggins, CB

    Georgia started rough last year but went on a big-time run get back on track and finish the season among the top teams in the country. They lost frosh RB sensation Isaiah Crowell, but true freshman RB Keith Marshall has what it takes to make up for the loss.

    Wiggins leads a class that includes QB Brice Ramsey and ATH Tramel Terry. An athletic, speedy and instinctive CB, Wiggins is 5'10", 170 pounds and could be a prime time nickel guy immediately.

5. Oregon

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    2013 Recruiting Class Headliner: Thomas Tyner, RB

    The Ducks lost Darron Thomas and LaMichael James, though remain uber-talented and of course fast. Chip Kelly will continue to run his quirky offense, and the defense has good athleticism.

    Tyner could be the fastest player in the country and stands 6'0" and almost 210 pounds. His size, speed and game breaking ability make him an ideal fit in the Ducks offense.

4. Oklahoma

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    2013 Recruiting Class Headliner: Keith Ford, RB

    Last year's preseason No. 1 team is back to reverse what happened last year. The Sooners went out with a fizzle and didn't reach the goals they set for themselves.

    This year should be different with Landry Jones back and the addition of stud WR Trey Metoyer. Keith Ford is their top commitment, as the Texas runner is a 5'11", 200-pounder that has outstanding vision, instincts and run strength.

3. USC

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    2013 Recruiting Class Headliner: Max Browne, QB

    The Trojans are off their bowl ban and will look to get to the Rose Bowl and more this season. Matt Barkley is a Heisman favorite, and the offense is loaded. Can the defense continue to grow?

    Browne is perhaps the country's best pocket passer and the 6'5", 215-pounder has already become the leader of the USC class. He has a quick release, good arm strength and reads defenses very well.


2. Alabama

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    2013 Recruiting Class Headliner: O.J. Howard, TE

    The defending champs open as the No. 2 team in the country and as a national title favorite yet again. Nick Saban will have his team ready to go to defend the crystal football and Tuscaloosa will be rockin' this year.

    A great TE prospect, Howard is a physical and athletic marvel at 6'5", 225 pounds. He has a chance leave 'Bama as the best TE in school history.

1. LSU

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    2013 Recruiting Class Headliner: Ethan Pocic, OT

    I wonder: Would LSU still be No. 1 if voters would have known they would be without the Honey Badger this year? We'll never know, but the Tigers are a talented team even without Tyrann Mathieu.

    Their 2013 recruiting class has very good talent and is headlined by the 6'6", 285-pound Illinois native Pocic, who could be a very good right tackle.


    Edwin Weathersby has worked in scouting/player personnel departments for three professional football teams, including the New York Giants, Cleveland Browns and the Las Vegas Gladiators of the Arena League. He spent a year evaluating prep prospects and writing specific recruiting and scouting content articles for Student Sports Football (now ESPN Rise-HS). A syndicated scout and writer, he's also contributed to, and Diamonds in the Rough Inc., a College Football and NFL Draft magazine.