Grading Every FBS Team's 2013 Recruiting Class
The 2013 national signing day has essentially come and gone, with a number of teams making large strides during the final day of the recruiting season. Most commitments stuck, but there were some high-profile flips that happened Wednesday.
This is a look into all 124 teams and their signing classes. For each team we will examine what players can make an early impact and whether the program was able to meet needs and match expectations.
Here is the breakdown and grading of each FBS team.
The SEC is loaded with incoming talent again for 2013. The conference has 10 teams inside the Top 25, according to the 247Sports Composite Team Rankings, and a number of the country’s elite prospects are headed to play football down south.
The traditional powers are pulling their weight, but even the non-traditional players in the conference are seeing major success this season.
There are 36 players in the Top 100 who are SEC-bound, as the SEC is leading the country once again with its 2013 recruiting efforts.
Alabama Crimson Tide
Alabama closed with the best class in the country on Wednesday, reeling in nearly every target they focused on for the 2013 class. The Tide had a class full of impact early enrollees and will bring in a host of talented freshmen during the summer workout sessions.
The star of the class is athlete Derrick Henry. He is an early enrollee who is game-ready. Given time over the spring and summer to dive into the offense, Henry will be a contributor from the Tide backfield this fall.
Players like Reuben Foster, Henry, O.J. Howard, Robert Foster and Jonathan Allen are expected to make an impact as freshmen as well.
This class was a leader in the country since last signing day, but somehow continued to add talent through the next 12 months. This was the best close of the Saban era so far at Alabama.
The Vanderbilt Commodores continue to exceed expectations under head coach James Franklin. His electric personality has helped Vanderbilt achieve unexpected heights on the field and in recruiting.
This year’s class isn’t loaded with stars, but there are a lot of quality players heading to Nashville this fall.
The star of the class is early enrollee Jonathon McCrary. He is a dual-threat quarterback who should come in and be a challenger for the starting job this spring.
Outside of McCrary, Nigel Bowden and DeAndre Woods are names to watch in this class as possible freshmen contributors.
The loss of headliner Jonathan Ford late in the process was tough. This has been the weakest effort of the Franklin tenure, but Vandy should be OK.
Bret Bielema and his staff walked into a very tough situation in Fayetteville when they took over, but this staff was able to assemble a very talented recruiting class in a very short period of time. This class met a lot of needs and will have a number of key freshmen contributors.
The headliner for this class was tight end Hunter Henry. The Razorbacks needed to bring in a big-bodied playmaker for the passing game, and Henry is that player.
Bielema also brought in a ton of offensive line talent, and a host of other skill players like Austin Allen at quarterback, and Tiquention Coleman at safety. Allen may be able to challenge for the quarterback job, and Coleman is an early enrollee at a major position of need.
One major player in this class was Alex Collins, the No. 5 rated running back in the country. Rumor has it that his mother took off with his letter of intent and refused to let him sign with the Hogs on signing day—it was too far away from home.
How this will settle is anyone’s guess, but if he does indeed sign with Arkansas, Bielema will have landed his premier running back threat, and the Razorbacks will have a new class headliner.
This class filled a lot of needs, and was a very impressive score for Arkansas and the new staff.
Auburn fought through a coaching change and lost a lot off the face of its initially highly rated recruiting class. Once Gus Malzahn and Co. settled in, the class reformed into an impressive unit. Malzahn placed a firm stamp on this class with JUCO talent pouring in and by closing with top stars on signing day.
The star of the class is defensive end Carl Lawson—the No. 1 weakside defensive end. He will see the field immediately.
Alongside Lawson will be Cameron Artis-Payne, Ben Bradley, Brandon King and Tony Stevens as players who will make an impact this fall.
This was the strongest close for Auburn in recent memory. They lost the edge on some top players, but they finished better than anyone expected with a number of the country’s top stars.
The Tennessee Volunteers are another one of the many high-profile teams in college football that faced a coaching change at season's end. Despite the shift, the Vols did extremely well on the recruiting trail.
Butch Jones and his staff are putting together a lot of talent, landing star receiver MarQuez North in late January. North is the star of the class and should be an instant impact player for the Vols.
Early enrollees Jalen Reeves-Maybin and Paul Harris should be in a good position to make early waves as well. Jason Carr is a talented defensive end who could also push for playing time as a freshman.
This is a great first class for Jones to build a program around.
Missouri really struggled on the recruiting trail this winter. The Tigers are bringing in a Top 40 class, but that puts them at the bottom of the SEC.
A lot of needs were met for the Tigers, but there are not a lot of go-to players who will be ready to step in this fall.
The class headliner is Josh Augusta. Augusta is a 6’5”, 295-pound defensive tackle who could be a first-year starter along the defensive line. He is quick off the snap and has a great base when pushing through blockers.
The Kentucky Wildcats were on the path to mediocrity on the recruiting trail once again until Mark Stoops stepped in to the program. The class is rated 42nd in the country, per 247Sports, and the worst in the SEC. Still, there are stars present.
Za’Darius Smith is undoubtedly the class headliner as a JUCO signee. He is a huge defensive end—6’6”, 250 pounds—and is game-ready. He will start this fall.
Smith will be joined by freshmen Ryan Timmons and Marcus McWilson as possible impact players this fall from this class.
Stoops closed as strongly as possible here, and looks to have Kentucky on a new path.
Texas A&M Aggies
The Aggies are riding high on the recruiting trail after their explosive SEC debut in 2012. Kevin Sumlin is making this team championship material, with a number of top players inking with the Aggies.
There are a number of headliners in this class, but Ricky Seals-Jones is undoubtedly the biggest star in the pack, and will be one of the many stud receivers who come from this class.
Other early contributors will be JaQuay Williams, Tommy Sanders and Isaiah Golden.
Texas A&M has brought in eight early enrollees, filling a number of major needs with a Top 10 class.
Will Muschamp has put together a Top 10 class of his own, with the headliner this year being Vernon Hargreaves III. He is a major impact corner who will be on the field early in the Gators secondary.
Early enrollees Kelvin Taylor and Alex Anzalone should also be first-year impact players. Demarcus Robinson and Darious Cummings are other names to watch this fall.
The Gators closed as strongly as any team in the country with this class. Florida is filled with talent and should continue to grace the top levels of college football for the next few years.
The Georgia Bulldogs are once again a Top 10 finisher in recruiting, with a very talented class inking with the Dawgs on signing day. The Bulldogs also pulled in a huge early signing class, bringing in 13 players for spring.
Though not exactly the headliner, the most significant signing could very well end up being quarterback Brice Ramsey. He is an early enrollee and should be a solid understudy to Aaron Murray this year.
Georgia also brought in some early-impact players in Tray Matthews, John Atkins and Leonard Floyd. All three will be names to watch this fall.
The LSU Tigers bring in a host of talented prospects year after year, and this recruiting season is no different. This class may finish as a Top Five unit once everything settles in the coming weeks.
The Tigers picked up a top secondary player in Tre’Davious White, who is one of the best cover corners in the country for 2013. LSU is not afraid to play young guys, and White may be the next in line.
Other players who should get a look early are Avery Johnson, Frank Herron and Kendall Beckwith.
This class is layered with talent, and keeping it all together until signing day was a huge task.
South Carolina Gamecocks
Steve Spurrier continues to impress with his recruiting skills in Columbia. The Gamecocks are a Top 20 unit with a number of needs being met in this year’s class. Defense was a focus, and some of the top defenders in the country have inked with South Carolina.
Connor Mitch is the leader of the class, joining the squad early this spring as an early enrollee. He has the talent to become the next in line in what has become a South Carolina quarterback pipeline.
Two stud defenders stand out as possible early-impact guys. Larenz Bryant and Kelsey Griffin should both be able to step in and help this defense immediately. Running back is also a concern, and David Williams could step in as a freshman and help fill out the depth chart.
Ole Miss Rebels
Ole Miss is in the best position that it has ever been in recruiting with this 2013 class. Hugh Freeze is making waves on the recruiting trail and put together an amazing group of talent in his second season as the Rebels head coach.
Headlining the class is the No. 1 recruit in the country, Robert Nkemdiche. He will step in and start from day one.
The Rebels also brought in Laquon Treadwell, Lavon Hooks and Jordan Wilkins. All three should be able to earn time early as freshmen.
This class finished more strongly than any in recent memory, and Hugh Freeze will have the Rebels challenging for championships with this talent pool.
Mississippi State Bulldogs
The Bulldogs have done moderately well on the recruiting trail during the Dan Mullen era, but this class has fallen way short of expectations.
The Bulldogs do have some major talent that signed, and the biggest name was Chris Jones—rated the No. 18 player in the country by 247Sports.
There are a number of possible early-impact types, with Justin Cox and Ashton Shumpert likely pushing for time in the secondary as freshmen.
The Bulldogs pulled in Chris Jones late, which was a major score, and there were a number of players who stand to fill gaps in the lineup. But they were overshadowed by in-state rival Ole Miss, and that hurts.
Big Ten Conference
The Big Ten is looking to surge back to the top of college football, and if the recruiting is any indication, the conference is well on its way.
There are four teams from the Big Ten inside the 247Sports Top 25, while Ohio State is battling for the top spot in the country.
Ohio State Buckeyes
The Ohio State Buckeyes are benefiting greatly from the presence of Urban Meyer on the sideline. Not only did the Buckeyes go undefeated in 2012, they've also put together one of the country’s most talented recruiting classes for 2013.
The Buckeyes loaded up on early enrollees, and Cameron Burroughs is the best of the class. He should step into the secondary this spring and help fill out a depth chart in need of playmakers.
Others who could earn time early and contribute to OSU's Big Ten title chase are Eli Apple, Corey Smith and Jalin Marshall. The Buckeyes closed really strongly and put together the best class in the past few years.
The Michigan Wolverines are quickly taking back their place atop the Big Ten conference, and this recruiting class will help continue the climb. The Wolverines brought in a Top Five class, with six early enrollees leading the charge.
Derrick Green was one of the last players to commit. He is one of the best running backs in the country and will earn early time in the Michigan backfield.
Kyle Bosch, Taco Charlton, Logan Tuley-Tillman, Shane Morris and Dymonte Thomas are all names to keep an eye on. This is a championship squad in the making.
Michigan State Spartans
Despite all its troubles on the field of late, the Spartans are doing much better than most would expect on the recruiting trail. They are nowhere near their rivals' level, but the Spartans are doing well enough to keep up and compete on Saturdays.
This class is headlined by dual-threat quarterback Damion Terry. Terry is a physical specimen at 6’4”, 218 pounds, and should be able to step in and add a new dimension to the Spartans offense. Andrew Maxwell still has a lot of growing to do, and having a change-of-pace quarterback to hand the reins to on occasion could speed the process.
Defense was a focus in recruiting, and Shane Jones and Jon Reschke are two who immediately stand out.
Michigan State finished as well as expected. There wasn’t much flash, but this team filled a lot of needs.
Purdue is struggling to find consistency both on the field and on the recruiting trail. This year, they brought in a very low-ranking recruiting class, but there is one steal in the group.
The Boilermakers were able to land Danny Etling, a pro-style quarterback who could step in and challenge for playing time this fall. He has a live arm and is mobile enough to buy time in the pocket.
Keyante Green is a sleeper. He is a 5’9”, 190-pound cannonball who could step in and help the team's rushing attack.
Rising star Darrell Hazell certainly has his work cut out for him as the new man in charge of the Boilermakers program.
Kirk Ferentz is continuing his downward spiral with his recruiting effort this year. Not a Top 50 class by most estimates, this was another disappointment for the Hawkeyes program.
The leading recruit in the class is Jon Wiesnieski. The rangy tight end should be able to step in and help a struggling passing offense by providing the Hawkeyes with a solid dump-off route-runner.
Outside of Wiesnieski, JUCO transfer Damond Powell could be a help at wideout as well.
This was a very unimpressive close for the Hawkeyes, as a once promising program is now sitting near the bottom of the conference.
Penn State Nittany Lions
Bill O’Brien deserves to be the highest-paid coach in college football. The Nittany Lions have put together the No. 22 class in the country, according to the 247Sports rankings. They may be facing terrible scholarship reductions and sanctions, but this team isn’t ready to disappear yet.
Christian Hackenberg is the headliner of the class at quarterback, and the young signal-caller has the talent to challenge for the starting job immediately. He may not win the job this fall, but having this talent on the roster is huge for the Nittany Lions’ future.
Defensive end Garrett Sickles, and early enrollees Adam Breneman and Tyler Ferguson are also players to watch. Ferguson is a 6’5”, 210-pound JUCO transfer at quarterback. He will be available for spring.
Wisconsin picked up a new coach this winter when Gary Andersen made the jump from Utah State, but the Badgers' recruiting efforts weren’t hurt much. The previous staff was known for player development, not star-studded classes, and Andersen is looking to take on the same philosophy.
This class has a number of players who should be able to impact the team early, but running back Corey Clement may be the first freshmen to hit the field. He has the size to compete immediately, and should help ease the loss of Montee Ball from the backfield.
Outside of Clement, there is one name to focus on this summer and fall: Tanner McEvoy. McEvoy is the No. 1 JUCO quarterback in the country and could be the Badgers' starter next fall.
This was a strong finish for the program, considering the late move by Bret Bielema and the delayed reaction and hiring of Andersen. He will develop this talent better than expected.
Nebraska has one of the best recruiters in the country in Bo Pelini, and this class illustrates his prowess on the trail. He has this class in the Top 25 of 247Sports' rankings.
Defense was a major focus, and Randy Gregory will be the star that rises from the group. He is a JUCO transfer and will be game-ready by the fall.
Other early contributors for the Cornhuskers could be Marcus Newby and Terrell Newby, and
early enrollees Courtney Love and David Knevel.
The class finished as strongly as any in the Big Ten, and it will help the Cornhuskers make another title run in short order.
Northwestern is always a team that has to do more with less. This year, they've done a little better on the recruiting trail, which will help this team continue their ascension through the Big Ten.
The stud of the class is dual-threat quarterback Matt Alviti. Alviti is walking into a crowded situation, but incumbent Wildcats quarterback Kane Colter will be gone after 2013, soon opening up the position for Alviti.
Tyler Lancaster is the player to watch along the offensive line, as the Wildcats may be able to use the talented center early in his career.
The Hoosiers have a surprising amount of talented players that line the top of this class, changing the usual “get who we can” strategy that used to run the program.
This isn’t a deep class, but the talent at the top will help the Hoosiers win some ballgames.
Darius Latham is easily the class' top prospect. A 6’5”, 291-pound offensive tackle, he has the frame to add a lot of bulk, and he should finish his career as the anchor of the offensive line. Antonio Allen and David Kenney are two other incoming freshmen to watch.
Illinois Fighting Illini
The Illinois Fighting Illini are coming off a terrible season under first-year head coach Tim Beckman. The lack of success on the field has been overcome on the recruiting trail, however, as Beckman and his staff have pulled in a decent class for 2013.
This is a class that is full of borderline stars, but the headliner is easily Aaron Bailey. Bailey is a 6’2”, 225-pound dual-threat quarterback who could help shake up the offense in 2013.
Zane Petty is an early enrollee at safety who could make an impact early for the Illini, while Paul James will also be a name to watch along the defensive line.
This class finished better than most expected, pulling it in the middle of the conference pack.
Minnesota Golden Gophers
The Minnesota Golden Gophers have the worst recruiting class in the Big Ten as national signing day closes, but that has become an unfortunate regularity. This team has a lot of work to do in development to be competitive in the Big Ten next season.
The one player in the class that could be an early impact player is Berkley Edwards. The all-purpose back out of Michigan has a low center of gravity and runs through arm tackles. He should be able to help the Gophers balance their ground game.
There are no other players in the class that stand out as game-ready just yet.
This class finished as the worst in the conference and closed outside of the Top 50.
The Pac-12 has four teams inside the Top 25. There were some late defections from conference leader Southern Cal, but the overall pull on signing day for these teams was impressive.
The Pac-12 has been a leader in the country over the past decade, and the talent that will line up in this class will help keep the conference near the top.
California Golden Bears
The Golden Bears have been successful bringing in talent in the past, but this is a strong class that fills apparent needs as well.
The headliner is pro-style quarterback Jared Goff, a 6’4”, 185-pound gunslinger who could help the Bears become a prolific offensive attack once again. Meanwhile, Takkarist McKinley and Sione Sina are two defensive ends who should be able see the field early in 2013.
This class closed as well as it needed to, but it missed on a few of its top targets. Still, this will be a good enough class to keep them competitive in the conference.
Southern Cal Trojans
Southern Cal took a dive as signing day approached, losing a number of its top recruits to defection. The class is still loaded with All-Star-worthy talent, and though the number of bodies are limited, pound-for-pound it is one of the best classes in the country.
The Trojans are bringing in a number of top talents, but Su’a Cravens is the headliner of the class. With the loss of Tray Matthews, Craven should be able to walk in and play immediately at safety.
Others who could play early are Kenny Bigelow, Max Browne, Leon McQuay III and Steven Mitchell. Ty Isaac could also see time in the backfield.
The Washington Huskies have been on a tear on the recruiting trail and on the field. The Huskies finish with a Top 15 recruiting class and pulled in two of the most talented receivers in the country along the way. This is an offensive-based team, and will remain so with these players lining the roster.
Defensive tackle Elijah Qualls is the biggest get. He has the quickness to play inside and outside of the line, but will likely fill out his frame and become a solid inside guy before he his finished in Washington.
Darrell Daniels and Demorea Stringfellow are two star receivers that will make their presence known this fall.
Steve Sarkisian is proving there is more to his success than just a powerful offense—this coaching staff can recruit.
The Stanford Cardinal have been on a steady climb over the past decade, gaining a lot of national attention in the process. Top athletes across the country have begun to flock to the program annually.
The leader in this class is inside linebacker Peter Kalambayi. Kalambayi has the opportunity to step in immediately where Chase Thomas left off after graduation this past winter.
Others to watch are Eric Cotton, Francis Owusu and Kevin Palma. All three should be able to join Kalambiya as impact freshmen this fall.
This class closed stronger than any in the country. What was only a class of 12 commits by Tuesday night turned into a top unit in the Pac-12 by mid-day on signing day.
UCLA is on fire. Head coach Jim Mora Jr. is a rising star, and his recruiting class shows how high he is rising. The Bruins finish in the Top 10, and effectively recruited for need.
This class is headlined by safety Priest Willis, who committed to the Bruins in January. Willis is a very talented player in the secondary and should be able to contribute from day one.
Tahaan Goodman is another rising star, as is recent addition Kylie Fitts.
The Bruins were able to close strong, finishing with the top class in the Pac-12. Mora is changing the culture at UCLA, and it is beginning on the recruiting trail.
The Arizona Wildcats are not a recruiting powerhouse, but the Wildcats have held their own this class. This class is layered with players that will fill major needs, with two early enrollees joining the team in the spring. Rich Rodriguez turned around the play of Arizona the past season, and he is now rejuvenating the recruiting.
Pierre Cormier is a very talented all-purpose back that will be able to churn up a lot of yards in the Arizona offense over the next several years. And JUCO transfers Mario Alford, Jesse Scroggins and Brandon Golson will lead the charge for early playing time as well.
It is not the top group in the country, but a lot of potential lines this class.
Arizona State Sun Devils
The Arizona State Sun Devils have compiled one of the best classes in the Pac-12 for 2013.
They are a Top 30 unit, with a number of needs being met with this class. Joshua Dobbs is the headliner for the Sun Devils. He is a talented signal-caller out of Georgia that will challenge for a starting position first thing.
With ample opportunity on the defensive side of the ball, Chans Cox and Marcus Hardison are two players that could make waves early.
Overall, this will be a team that has a chance at changing the conference landscape over the next four years.
Oregon lost Chip Kelly to the pros, but the recruiting just kept on churning even after his late departure. The Ducks have a Top 20 class and have a number of key playmakers that will be the next big stars on offense.
One of those is the leader of the pack for this class. Thomas Tyner is a star running back that is game-day-ready today. Other possible contributors for the Ducks could be Joe Walker and Darren Carrington.
Oregon will continue to challenge for titles in the Pac-12 with the talent lining this class.
Oregon State Beavers
Oregon State has always done less with more with its recruiting, and this class is a prime example.
This class picked up a very talented running back in Damien Haskins, but there are few others that look like immediate impact players in 2013. At 5’9” and 215 pounds, Haskins has the size to come in and play from day one, perhaps serving as the change-of-pace option.
This class closed decently well, but it didn’t exceed hopes.
Washington State Cougars
Washington State still has a long way before they are solidly competitive on the field and on the recruiting trail. The Cougars are led by Mike Leach, but they lack his killer instinct at this point.
The Cougars needed help in a number of areas, but the headliner is undoubtedly outside linebacker and early enrollee Ivan McLennan, who has the ability to step in immediately.
This team will also look to Vince Mayle and Tyler Bruggman to challenge for starting roles in the fall.
The Cougars closed as strong as expected with some surprises near the top of the class. This was a successful run for Leach and Co.
Utah is a rising program in the Pac-12, but the recruiting needs some help. That help will come with more wins, but right now the Utes will have to get very creative with the talent that is landing on the roster.
There is one headliner, with Dre’Vian Young looking to walk in and become a star from the backfield. This team loves to run the football, and with a guy like Young in the fold, there will be a ton of production on the ground.
Andre Lewis, Gregg Reese and Davion Orphey will battle for starting roles during fall camp.
The Colorado Buffaloes were the worst football program in the country last year. The team is failing to produce on the field, making the recruiting that much more difficult in a vicious cycle.
There is one player that Buffaloes fans should be very excited about in quarterback prospect Sefo Liufau.
This class could finish meeting a lot of needs, but there will not be many players who will step in and play as freshmen.
Big 12 Conference
The Big 12 has a lot of traditional powers, but the programs are struggling to find a solid grip on the national stage lately.
It has three teams that finished in the 247Sports' Top 25 rankings. Here is a look at how each team in the conference closed out national signing day.
The Texas Longhorns have put together a group full of talented need-fillers heading into next season. Texas ensured that major needs were met, and ensured that there were players that could be of immediate impact.
The Longhorns are usually bringing in the top backs or skill players in the country, but this year a focus was along the offensive line. The leader in the class is offensive guard Darius James. At 6’6”, 320 pounds he is ready to play.
The Longhorns also added Tyrone Swoops and Deoundrei Davis for the spring.
This class could have closed a little stronger, but it is still a group that is loaded with top talent.
Kansas State Wildcats
Kansas State has not been known to have a lot of success with top recruits on the recruiting trail. This is a team that relies on the steady approach to needs fulfillment, and did a good job with that in mind once again here. The Wildcats have built a strong base of JUCO recruits and incoming freshmen.
Jake Waters is the No. 1 JUCO pro-style quarterback and is looking to join the team as an impact player from day one. And other players that are looking for playing time will be Devon Nash and Nick Ramirez.
This class finished very methodically and closed as strong as you could expect from Bill Snyder.
The Oklahoma Sooners put together the best class in the conference. With a need for incoming freshmen to make waves next season, this class is full of players that can fulfill that expectation.
The headliner of the class is Keith Ford. The ground game has been struggling a bit for Oklahoma the past few seasons, and he is a player that can step in and assist the ground production in the fall.
Stanvon Taylor, Quincy Russell and Hatari Byrd are three others to watch develop as true freshmen.
In a typical signing day for the Sooners, OU closed as well as any in the Big 12.
Oklahoma State Cowboys
The recruiting has picked up for the Oklahoma State lately, and this class quickly became layered with impact players.
The Cowboys looked to fill major needs, and one was along the defensive line. Vincent Taylor is an incoming defensive tackle that is the headliner of the class.
Others that could step in and play early are Rennie Childs and Corion Webster. Both are running backs that could help the offense continue its run up the conference.
This class wasn’t the best in the conference, but the Cowboys closed as strong as anyone on Wednesday. OK State is firmly entrenched in the Big 12 title discussion with this Top 30 class in the fold.
TCU Horned Frogs
The Horned Frogs are making their second-year adjustments for the Big 12, and that, of course, includes recruiting. TCU used to be reliant on transitional-type players, but now they are recruiting stars with the rest of the conference.
One player that really sticks out in this class is Kyle Hicks, a powerful running back that will fit into the Horned Frogs offense very well.
Alongside Hicks will be early enrollee Bryson Burtnett, Dac Shaw and Cameron Echols-Luper as possible impact freshmen.
TCU has grown into their Big 12 role, and it showed with this close.
The Kansas Jayhawks brought in Charlie Weis to shake things up for the struggling program, and he is giving it a valiant effort with this recruiting class.
The star of the class is JUCO defensive tackle Marquel Combs. He is a 6’3”, 305-pound stud on the interior and should be able to walk in and play immediately.
A number of other JUCOs have inked with the Jayhawks as early enrollees. Chris Martin, Cassius Sendish and Ty McKinney are names to watch this fall.
Although Weis has brought in a respectable class of prospects, there is still a major hill to climb in the Big 12.
Art Briles has turned Baylor into a destination spot for young offensive talent, but the Bears have also begun to reel in the defensive talent as well.
The star to watch in this class will be Robbie Rhodes. One of the top receivers in the country, Rhodes puts together solid route-running with excellent ball skills.
The Bears also landed a major talent in the 6’5”, 222-pound dual-threat quarterback Chris Johnson. Others to watch are Brian Nance and Andrew Billings.
This class closed extremely strong, as the Bears are continuing the upswing in the Big 12 with this class.
Iowa State Cyclones
Iowa State has overachieved on the field ever since the arrival of Paul Rhoads, but on the recruiting trail, the Cyclones have struggled. Nothing changed this year, with a modest class signing with the Cyclones.
JUCO running back Aaron Wimberly is the leader of the class. The Cyclones need help in the backfield, and Wimberly has the skills to walk in and make a major impact fo the offense.
One other name to keep a focus on is JUCO defensive end transfer Rodney Coe.
This class finished as expected, with the lack of flash continuing to hurt the program. To make the leap to Big 12 title contender, Rhoads needs to start pulling in more top-level talent.
Texas Tech Red Raiders
Kliff Kingsbury took over for his alma mater this winter when he stepped into the head coaching position at Texas Tech. It was an uphill battle, but Kingsbury pieced together some nice additions to the 2013 class.
Gary Moore is a rangy receiver that was one of the first commitments of the Kingsbury era. His 6’6” frame should help him play very early on for the Red Raiders.
Early enrollee Davis Webb is another player to watch. A pro-style quarterback with a lot of talent, he could challenge for time this year as well.
This squad closed fairly well, but next season has to both start and finish a lot better if Kingsbury wants to challenge for titles.
West Virginia Mountaineers
West Virginia is answering the call to the Big 12 better than anyone expected. This team lost a lot of talent to graduation and the NFL draft, but there are some players that will fill roles early in this class. And Dana Holgerson is not afraid to put young talent on the field.
Shelton Gibson is the headliner of the class, fitting the mold of the small, shifty receiver that makes the offense tick. Seven early enrollees helps this program as well, notably Dreamius Smith and Kevin White.
The class closed well, and is full of players that will help usher this team into its second year in the Big 12.
Atlantic Coast Conference
The ACC has become layered with talent, with a number of programs pulling in top-level talent the past few seasons. The most obvious team is Florida State, and this year they were stacked again on the recruiting trail.
This conference has four Top 25 finishers and has a class full of impact freshmen.
North Carolina has been the surprise, but newcomer Pitt did work on the recruiting trail as well.
Florida State Seminoles
Florida State has put together another top class and leads the ACC (as usual) in the recruiting wars. Jimbo Fisher is one of the elite recruiters in the game.
Headlining the group is early enrollee DeMarcus Walke, a 6’3”, 265-pound defensive end that will fill a gap left at the position for the Seminoles.
Other players to watch develop this fall are Jalen Ramsey, Levonte Whitfield and Ryan Green. Originally a Southern Cal commit, the addition of Ramsey is a particularly huge get for FSU.
Miami (Fl.) Hurricanes
Miami got a major boost this winter when the NCAA announced it would suspend its investigation into the program. Al Golden was putting together an already impressive class, but the news break helped secure this squad as one of the best in the conference.
The headliner of the group is early enrollee Beau Sandland, a star tight end position who will be able to walk in and help the Miami offense get rolling. He is a stud in the passing game and in run-blocking.
Also look for early enrollees Hunter Knighton and Standish Dobard. Kevin Olsen may also get some looks at quarterback.
This class is a star-studded lineup of players that help bring back the winning tradition for this Hurricanes program.
North Carolina Tar Heels
North Carolina has put together the most impressive charge of any team in the conference with the number of early-impact players that are lining this class.
The top of the class is Mitch Trubisky, a talented dual-threat quarterback that was an early spring enrollee for the Tar Heels.
Dajaun Drennon, Greg Webb and Khris Francis are others to watch this fall as they make their way to Chapel Hill.
Larry Fedora is leading a charge at North Carolina to bring this team to the top of the ACC. Classes like this one will make it a lot easier for Fedora and Co.
Wake Forest Demon Deacons
Wake Forest did make a run at the ACC this decade, but they have fallen off tremendously in the past few seasons. Recruiting has been a big part of the problem, and this class did the Demon Deacons no favors.
The best player in the class is safety Michael Stevenson. It is a need for the Wake Forest defense, but he may end up as a redshirt.
There aren’t any players that stand out as guys that will make an early impact for this team.
This class is very weak for its surrounding competition, and it will be one that continues the program's struggles.
N.C. State Wolfpack
The Wolfpack are struggling with mediocrity in the ACC, and this class has been a business-as-usual-type approach for the Wolfpack. There aren’t any stars, but there should be a number of productive players by the time they develop.
The headliner is Johnathan Alston. Alston is a rangy outside linebacker type that may be able to work his way onto the field early (likely on special teams).
Josh Mercer is another player to watch at running back, but he may end up with a redshirt by the end of 2013.
This class closed as anticipated. No more, no less.
Duke Blue Devils
The rise of the Blue Devils has been an impressive thing to watch under David Cutcliffe, but that on-field success is going to be tough to replicate with this incoming class. Duke was never a strong recruiting program, but there has been a slight boost with Cutcliffe’s arrival.
This squad is headlined by quarterback Parker Boehme. He is a 6’1”, 225-pound dual-threat player that will be a major player in the offense in the future. And 6’2”, 242-pound linebacker Dominic Zanca is another name to watch this fall.
This class did well considering its usual constraints with academics. Give Cutcliffe credit, the guy can recruit and develop the needs.
Boston College Golden Eagles
The Golden Eagles are one of the many programs that is crawling through a coaching change this winter all the while trying to make a major change in the way that this train has been rolling. This team needs help and it starts on the recruiting trail. This class is leading to a derailment.
The leading talent in this class is receiver Drew Barksdale, but if he sees time early it will be from necessity and not his ability to make a major early impact.
This class closed better than it started, but it is still the bottom feeder in the ACC for the 2013 recruiting season.
The Maryland Terrapins are turning the corner on the recruiting trail this winter. Randy Edsall is trying to get this program back on track and it takes star recruits to make that happen. Edsall is completing his second consecutive impressive run with national signing day as the Terps head coach.
The leader of the class is JUCO receiver Deon Long. Long is the No. 2 JUCO receiver in the country and joined the team this spring as an early enrollee.
Other names to watch are Derwin Gray along the offensive line, and shifty athlete Will Likely.
This class closed as strong as expected, and should be talented enough to help Randy Edsall turn around what has been a very underachieving Terrapins team the past few years.
Head coach Mike London is trying to make Virginia relevant again in the ACC. Pulling in a Top 30 recruiting class will help make that happen. London is loading this team with talent, and with each passing year is picking up the steam on the recruiting trail.
The headliner for this class is pro-style quarterback Corwin Cutler. He has a live arm and has a high football IQ for an incoming freshman. He may not start, but he will challenge the signal-callers ahead of him this fall.
Zach Bradshaw and Keeon Johnson are other names to watch as they develop in the Cavaliers system.
This class closed as strong as possible and should help add a lot of depth to a rising star in the ACC.
Virginia Tech Hokies
Virginia Tech continues to be a force on the recruiting trail, landing the second-best class in the ACC for 2013. Getting top talent to the Hokies program has never been the issue, and this is just business as usual for the school.
Kendall Fuller is the class leader from the cornerback position. He is considered to be as elite as they come in the secondary and will be an immediate impact player in college.
Others to watch this fall will be Holland Fisher, Jerome Wright and D.J. Reid. Bucky Hodges and Carliss Parker will also challenge for the starting quarterback position.
This class will be a unit that could lead this Hokies program back to the top of the ACC in 2013.
Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets
The Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets have been ninja-like with their recruiting classes the past few seasons. This year they flopped. The Yellow Jackets did not fill the class with depth, but they did land some key players that can contribute early. Top to bottom there are a lot of gaps.
Shamire DeVine stands out. He is a huge offensive tackle prospect—6’6”, 340 pounds—and could be an immediate help along the line. He is a pile-mover.
Another player that really sticks out right now is Donovan Wilson at running back. The rest of the class may need more development before becoming impact players.
This class is a typical Paul Johnson unit—not a lot of flash, but a group of solid prospects that will grow into the systems in place in Atlanta.
Clemson has been impressive on the recruiting trail the past few years and this class will help continue the upward climb through the ACC. Dabo Swinney is doing work for this team and had a strong close on signing day.
The headliner for Clemson is Tyshon Dye. The Tigers need help immediately at running back and Dye is a player that will walk in and make an early impact as a freshman.
Shaq Lawson is another stud for the Tigers, and having him already on campus is huge for the Tigers defense. A lot of linebacker talent landed in this class, and guys like Dorian O’Daniel, Wayne Gallman and Ben Boulware will be names to watch on defense this fall.
Mackenzie Alexander is also a stud at corner. He was a late signing day edition, but he was a major piece to this class. He should make an impact this fall.
This class closed the strongest of any group in the ACC. This is a very talented unit and it will help fuel more title runs for Clemson in the future.
The Pitt Panthers are entering their inaugural season in the ACC, and this is the first class that will help usher in the new era of Panthers football. This class is a middle-of-the-pack unit, but that is better than what has been produced in years past.
The leading recruit in this class is big Dorian Johnson. He is a physical specimen at offensive tackle—6’5”, 280 pounds—and could start from day one for the Panthers offense.
Another name to focus on is Tyrique Jarrett. He is a 6’4”, 310-pound interior lineman that will help shore up a porous front four at Pitt.
This was a solid close for Pitt in its first year battling against the ACC for top talent.
The Syracuse Orange have not been very consistent on the recruiting trail the past few years, but this year they took a major step forward. The team isn’t loaded with top talent, but it is heavy with players that can be very productive once they adjust to the college game.
Wayne Williams is the leader of the class. He is a 6’5”, 335-pound defensive lineman that could step in and anchor the Orange line from day one. He was a major pickup and one of the few game-day-ready players in this class.
Syracuse did well finishing with the talent it did, but there is still a major shortfall if this team expects to make it into the elite of the ACC.
Big East Conference
The Big East is moving into a new era of conference play with the addition of Houston, Central Florida, Memphis and SMU into the fold.
This conference is struggling to maintain its national stature, but the big Sugar Bowl win for Louisville bought a lot of time. Now the recruiting success needs to follow for these 10 teams.
The path is laid for this conference to be very successful in the future, but the recruiting efforts have to get better.
Central Florida Golden Knights
Central Florida recruited well for need, but it failed to pull in any major prospects despite sitting in the center of the most talented state in the country. This team overachieves on the field every year, but underachieves on the recruiting trail.
Micah Reed is the one player in this class that has the talent to make an immediate impact in Orlando. He has the body to be an every-down-type runner for this offense.
There is a lot of developmental players in this class, but Seyvon Lowry could be a rising star early this fall.
Houston is one of the four teams making the leap to the Big East and is looking to carry over its success from Conference USA. This class is loaded with players that can be major players from day one. No names will stand out, but given a few years to develop, the class should be looked at favorably.
The class leader is John O’Korn, a 6’3”, 210-pound pro-style quarterback. He will step into a situation that has a starter already, but he could challenge for time, as his talent will be hard to sideline.
WR DeMarcus Ayers will be another name to watch this fall.
This class finished as expected, but it lacked the flash that you'd hope for heading into a conference shift.
Memphis has been terrible for the past few seasons, and this recruiting class will continue the downward spiral for the program. This team needed a major splash on the recruiting trail, but instead it fell way short.
JUCO transfer DE Kewan Alfred is the leader of the class and as an early enrollee should be able to make an impact for the Tigers. They need the help.
No other players stick out as immediate impact players from this class.
The Tigers closed with the worst class in the Big East. They have a long way to go to become a competitive conference foe in the future.
Southern Methodist Mustangs
SMU has put together an impressive class. June Jones is growing this program, and the leap to the Big East should be eased by the talent that has signed this year. Bringing in impact talent has become a normal occurrence for this team under Jones.
Traylon Shead is the headliner for this unit. He is a talented JUCO running back who will be able to walk in and play from day one. He is a big-bodied back—6’2”, 225 pounds—who can work on an every-down basis.
This class closed strong, and Jones has this team in position to be a challenger in the Big East immediately in 2013.
The Cardinals have one of the best recruiters in the country leading the program in Charlie Strong, and the Louisville program is reaping the benefits of his talents. There is a lot of talent coming in this class with Strong looking to continue the national climb of his unit.
Kyle Bolin is the class leader for 2013. He is a very talented pro-style quarterback who could be a rising star as he learns under starter Teddy Bridgewater.
The Cardinals recruited to need in this class and landed a lot of players that can fill needs. Look for Kyle Shortridge and Finesse Middleton to help immediately along the defensive line.
This class closed stronger than any other unit in the Big East and should help the Cardinals stay on top of the conference well into the future.
Cincinnati is in its first year with Tommy Tuberville leading the recruiting efforts. Tuberville is a former SEC guy, so he knows the challenges and importance of recruiting.
His first class barely scrapes the top 50, and he underachieved a bit for his reputation. There were needs met, but this class needed more headliners.
Terrell Hartsfield is the leader of the class as a JUCO transfer at the defensive end position. He will be a challenger for starting time this fall.
Others to watch will be Travis Johnson at tight end and Hosey Williams at running back.
Tuberville closed as strong as he could but next year has to get a better jump-start for the Bearcats to stay at the top of the Big East.
Rutgers Scarlet Knights
Rutgers brings in a top-50 class this year with some stars lining the top of the group. This isn’t a group that will stun the country, but it fills needs and is a solid approach to recruiting that has landed Rutgers a lot of wins in the past few seasons.
The headliner in the class is Nadir Barnwell. He is a stud athlete in this class and could step in immediately for the Scarlet Knights on either offense or defense.
There is a lot of athletic defensive talent that could play early, at the very minimum on special teams. Guys like OLB Nick Internicola and ATH Janarion Grant are names to watch this fall.
This class is one of the better in the Big East, but there is still a lack of closing down big players that surround the Rutgers area. A lot of top athletes in the Rutgers area go elsewhere.
The UConn Huskies are desperately searching for a return to the BCS with a Big East title. After the departure of Randy Edsall, the team has fallen fall short of expectations on the field and on the recruiting trail. This year's class is not rated highly, but it has a lot of balanced talent throughout the group.
Connecticut picked up a hidden gem in class leader Tim Boyle. Boyle is a 6’3”, 205-pound pro-style quarterback with a live arm. He will be a major player for this team in the future.
This fall there are two linebackers looking to make an impact early. Chris Britton and Junior Joseph should have the ability to step in and upgrade the level of play on defense this fall.
Overall it was a solid class for the Huskies despite the No. 68 247Sports Composite Team Ranking.
The Temple Owls are dragging up the rear of the Big East with a recruiting class that is going to underachieve once it gets to campus. There are limited numbers in the class, and the overall impact that this class will have appears to be low.
The biggest signee of the day was Buddy Brown, a 6’3”, 210-pound outside linebacker.
The Owls are struggling to find success again, but with classes like this lining up to come to campus, the Owls will have to keep searching. This is not the best closing effort for this program.
South Florida Bulls
The South Florida Bulls are recovering from a 3-9 season and coaching change that dropped this winter. The Bulls are putting together a very talented class with solid contributors lining from top to bottom. This class is the best news for South Florida since Skip Holtz was let go.
Derrick Calloway is a major snag for this program at defensive tackle. He is the leader in the class and will come in ready to play for the Bulls this fall.
Another stud defensive lineman will join Calloway this fall. Dominique Threatt is a player built to walk in and help this school immediately at a position of need.
South Florida closed well this year, which should help this new staff return the team to the Big East title discussion.
The independents are a mixed bag of football teams. Notre Dame is the headliner, and BYU is a contender for top recruits, but Navy and Army are bottom-dwellers in college football, as are newly independent Idaho and New Mexico State.
It is a strange coupling that puts this group of teams together. Still, the Fighting Irish landing in the independent ranks brings a ton of talent to the group.
This is a look at the independent schools and their grades for the 2013 recruiting class.
Notre Dame Fighting Irish
The Notre Dame Fighting Irish are cashing in on their success this season, putting together a top-five class with a ton of early-enrolled talent. This team always brings in top talent, but this class is one of the best in the Brian Kelly era.
The headliner for the class is outside linebacker Jaylon Smith. He is a 6’3”, 220-pound headhunter from the outside. His play will remind college football fans of Jarvis Jones.
Safety Max Redfield and RB Greg Bryant are others stepping into positions of need who could fill in immediately.
This class closed with no surprises, but it was as strong as any in the country once the 2013 class settled.
The Navy Midshipmen tried to put together a respectable class this year, but it is a tough draw to a service academy. The class is rated No. 117 according to the 247Sports Team Composite Rankings.
This team has a lot of needs, but there are few stars in the class. Austin Kurke is a 6’4”, 224-pound defensive end who is the leader in this class.
The class doesn’t have many players who look prepared to take on the college game as true freshmen.
Navy did as well as possible considering the tough draw to the school.
Army Black Knights
The Army Black Knights have the same issues that Navy does trying to sell a service academy. It is for certain guys and not for others. It is a tough job, but this class does hit some needs. Unfortunately for the Knights, they have the worst-rated recruiting class in the country for 2013.
The headliner for the class is offensive guard Patrick Joseph. He will be able to challenge for time early, as he has the size—6’3”, 295 pounds—to be a starter immediately.
The rest of the class will need major development before they hit the field.
This class closed as badly as expected, but Army landed some talent that can help down the line.
The BYU Cougars are a solid program despite their independent status. It is tough for a team to maintain a power base in recruiting as an independent, but they have done it year in and year out. The Cougars kept up the solid work this year, pulling in a decent class for 2013.
This class is headlined by WR Talon Shumway. Shumway is a big-bodied receiver—6’3”, 200 pounds—and possesses elite-route running ability. He will be a major asset for this squad.
Brayden Kearsley is a player who could also challenge as a freshman. He is a 6’5”, 270-pound offensive tackle who has a great nasty streak.
BYU finished as well as possible this season. It filled needs and landed a few stars for the future.
Idaho is struggling to find a niche in the FBS and is now without a conference after the dissolution of the WAC. This has consistently been a really bad program, and nothing about this class changed that.
The headliner is cornerback Delency Parham, who is expected to step in and play immediately.
Outside of Parham, this is a class full of projects for the Vandals. There will not be a lot of freshman success from this class.
New Mexico State Aggies
The Aggies are a bottom feeder in college football, and this recruiting class shows why. There are only nine current members of the 2013 class for this team.
This is a solid embarrassment for the Aggies. It is a top-heavy class, but there is not a lot of depth.
There are three players to watch in this class. WR Prentavious Morehead, RB Marquette Washington and ATH Brandon Hines could create some plays for this team. Too bad this game needs 22 starters, not just three.
Conference USA is loaded with teams now that the conferences have begun to condense at the FBS level. This group has a lot of talented teams that have been giant killers in the past.
This recruiting class is filled with serviceable players for these teams, with a few major playmakers scattered in the mix.
Marshall leads the conference with star players, but teams like East Carolina and Tulsa aren’t far behind.
Here is a look at all 14 Conference USA teams and their 2013 recruiting classes.
Marshall Thundering Herd
Marshall has put together one of its best classes in recent memory for 2013. This class is layered with talents that can make waves early, which could help the Thundering Herd take over the conference in 2013.
The star of this class is WR Angelo Jean-Louis out of Fork Union Military Academy. He was a prep star and will bring star talent to the field immediately.
The Herd will also look to WR Deontay McManus for help on the outside. Taj Letman is a name to watch at the safety position.
This class features JUCO talent that will walk in and play immediately. For that, this class finished much better than expected.
East Carolina Pirates
The East Carolina Pirates have been making impressive waves in the conference for the past few seasons. Ruffin McNeill is getting this program ready for another strong fall with a lot of talented players landing in the program. This was a solid effort for McNeill and his staff.
The headliner of this class is early enrollee Kurt Benkert. He is a star at the quarterback position and has the live arm that could drive this offense.
This was a solid close for the Pirates and will help them continue their climb in the conference. They have become consistent bowl contenders, but this team wants titles.
Tulsa Golden Hurricane
Tulsa brought in a solid recruiting class in the 2013 cycle with a number of needs being met along the defense and in the offensive backfield. This program is one of the best in Conference USA, and recruiting classes like this will keep it at the top.
The star of the class is defensive end Dalton Rodriguez. He is a star off the outside and could come in and contribute immediately along the line.
This program will also look to outside linebacker C.J. Gooden and offensive guard Rob Boyd to perform as incoming freshmen.
This class closed very strong and took home a number of signatures that mattered to this staff.
Southern Miss Golden Eagles
Southern Miss is coming off one of the worst seasons in school history, and this team is clawing its way through the 2013 recruiting class. It filled a lot of needs in this class, but there is an overall gap in talent heading into the 2013 season.
The leading player in the group is defensive end Jonathan Wilson. Wilson has a motor and is quick off the snap along the edge.
The Golden Eagles need this class to find early playmakers along the offensive line. JUCO players Fred Moore and Aaron Reed are two offensive tackles that should come in and play this fall.
This class finished OK for Conference USA, but to make another run at a BCS berth will require more talent from top to bottom.
Tulane Green Wave
The Tulane Green Wave are at the bottom of the conference consistently, and a lot of that struggle comes from a lack of production on the recruiting trail. This is a school that has great academics but has fallen short of winning a lot of football games.
This incoming class is a little better than usual, though, and could help the Green Wave pick up some wins this fall.
The leader of the pack in this class is Kenneth Santa Marina. He is a 6’5”, 305-pound offensive guard who should walk in and play immediately for the Green Wave.
Tulane will also look for Sherman Badie to add some offense from the running back position and for Leonard Davis and Nico Marley to make a move at the safety position.
This class is a solid fix to a lot of roster holes that Tulane faced heading into the 2013 season.
Florida Atlantic Owls
The Florida Atlantic Owls put together one of the mid-level class efforts coming out of Conference USA. They had needs to meet and did so, but the overall talent level is a bit lower than is needed to compete for titles.
The star recruit for 2013 is defensive tackle Lance Burlingame. He is a 6’4”, 290-pound player who will bring a presence immediately to the Owls line.
Also look for JUCO transfer Quez Johnson to challenge for the starting quarterback position this fall.
This team performed moderately well, but it failed to find a signing-day stud.
Louisiana Tech Bulldogs
The Bulldogs have landed some scattered talent at the top of this 2013 class, but they have failed to land a quality class at the bottom. Your worst player is the key to a class, and the Bulldogs have a lot of bad ones on the signing list.
The leader of the group is Nick Thomason, a JUCO transfer at the linebacker position. He will be a player who will drive the defense in the coming years.
Other key JUCO signees OG Mitchell Bell, safety Thomas McDonald and safety Terrell Pinson are hoping to walk into playing time.
This team finished OK, but it is not a championship class for the Bulldogs in 2013.
UAB is trying to find a way to the top of Conference USA, and it has made some strides lately. This 2013 recruiting class will provide a bit of a setback, though. This is a very top-heavy class with a lot depending on freshman contributors. This is not a strong showing for the Blazers.
The headliner is offensive guard Vincent Hunter, who stands at 6’4”, 315 pounds. He will be a contributor early along the line, as the Blazers are looking for earth-movers along the interior offensive line.
This class will also look for effort from JUCO transfer ATH DeVante Scott and incoming freshman DT Andra Smith on defense.
This team finished with a bad class, but it does have some potential scattered throughout.
The Rice Owls didn’t land a highly rated class—scarily close to falling out of the top 100—but they did pull in a lot of sleeper talent that will be better than the rankings show. This class is vastly underrated, and it will be a much more impressive class after four years at Rice.
The headliner of the class is Cole Thomas. He is a 6’3”, 190-pound athlete who can play quarterback or safety for the Owls.
The Owls will also look to tight end Cole Hunt and linebacker D.J. Green this fall to provide a spark for the offense and defense.
This class finished better than most expected and pulled in a lot of talented players at the top.
Middle Tennessee State Blue Raiders
The Blue Raiders are dragging near the bottom of the 247Sports Team Composite Rankings. This school is struggling on the recruiting trail and tried to salvage what could have been a borderline talented group. This class is a major disappointment for this school.
The top player on the list is defensive tackle Jimal McBride. He is a star along the line and is very explosive off the snap. He will play in opponents' backfields and help this team pick up the pieces in the future.
There are a few others that could perform early, like Shannon Smith at receiver and Shane Tucker at running back, but the majority of this class will benefit from a redshirt season.
FIU Golden Panthers
This team is trying to build a solid contender inside Conference USA, but at this point there isn’t much hope for the program. This class has two very talented cornerback prospects, but after that it falls off dramatically.
The leader in the class is Vontarius West, who will be a major player at the corner position. He may start as a freshman.
Xavier Hines is another corner who could make major waves for this team early.
The Golden Panthers finished as strong as anyone could have hoped, but this class is very short on instant-impact talent.
Texas-San Antonio Roadrunners
The UTSA Roadrunners went on a tear last fall, and they are hoping to pick up where they left off when they join Conference USA this fall. This program is a rising star in college football, but to keep climbing it will need a much better core class to pick from.
The class leader is safety Tevin Broussard.
Outside of Broussard, there may not be a player in the group who could challenge for a starting position next year.
North Texas Mean Green
North Texas is struggling to put together a solid roster. This year’s class is doing the team no favors. There is a major gap occurring between the needs of the team and the signees that roll into campus.
The leader of the class is cornerback Chad Davis. This team needs a star in the secondary, and he has the ability to provide a lot of help in the deep third for this defense.
Shawn McKinney hopes that he can earn early time at offensive guard, but there is no promise for this player to be able to step in and earn immediate playing time.
There is a lot of gaps in the class, and the overall talent level leaves a lot to be desired for the Mean Green.
The UTEP Miners are bad. It really is that simple.
There is no star recruit who wants to head to a program constantly in a state of flux. This team is not very good right now, and the recruiting efforts are not helping this team climb out of the No. 118 class ranking.
Jaylon Scott is a corner who has enough talent to make waves as a true freshman. The Miners need all the help they can get. Most every other prospect will rely on a redshirt season for development.
Mountain West Conference
The Mountain West Conference has a lot of rising stars on the college football stage.
Boise State has always been a BCS buster, but now San Diego State, Nevada and Air Force are making waves against major players in big conferences.
These teams pulled in a decent haul on the recruiting trail. Here is a look at the conference's 2013 recruiting classes.
Boise State Broncos
Boise State has consistently overachieved with lesser recruits year after year. This year the Broncos bring in a pretty solid class, with a lot of defensive focus coming with the 2013 cycle. There are also four early enrollees looking to help this team during the spring.
The headliner of the group is Gabe Perez. He is a star outside linebacker who will see the field as a freshman.
With outside linebacker being a huge need for the defense, Tanner Vallejo and Durrant Miles could also see early time for the Broncos.
This was a solid class for Chris Petersen’s staff and one that can keep this program flying at the top of the mid-major college football world.
San Diego State Aztecs
San Diego State is climbing the ladder in the Mountain West and has come on strong in the past few seasons. This recruiting class may be the best in the conference, overtaking Boise as the leader for the talent pool for 2013. This team is on the rise, and the increased prowess on the recruiting trail is helping.
The headliner for this class is Fred Melifonwu. He is a stud defensive end who will step in and help continue the Aztecs' strong defensive attack.
Marcus Stamps is a running back who could also help this team early.
Fresno State Bulldogs
Fresno State is a big mover in the Mountain West and continues to be a leader in the conference on the recruiting trail. This class is not the best in the conference, but it will keep the team competitive well into the future.
The headliner for the class is safety Rodney Mathews. He is an instant-impact guy on special teams and should fill in at safety before the season concludes.
This class finished well and should be able to support this team well into the next four years. This is a championship-worthy effort for the Bulldogs staff.
The Hawaii Warriors have been a competitive group for the past decade. It is a surprisingly tough spot to recruit to, but this team does well converting island talent into explosive offensive and defensive players. This class is another building block for a success run.
California safety Trayvon Henderson should help strengthen the Warriors defense.
This Hawaii team is on the rise once again, and this class helps it stay very competitive inside the MWC.
Colorado State Rams
Colorado State is trying to find a way to championships, and recruiting is the key. Jim McElwain knows it after spending time under Nick Saban at Alabama. He is growing this class the same way the Tide do, with speed and size.
The leader in this group is pro-style quarterback Nick Stevens. Stevens is a player who has the talent to start immediately, and he may earn the job as this team looks for an offensive spark.
This was a solid close for the Rams and McElwain. Despite a struggling season, this class will help grow this program well into the future.
Nevada Wolf Pack
The Nevada Wolf Pack have been a rising star in the college football mid-major playing field for a few seasons, but this recruiting class is not going to be one that helps this program gain any major ground.
Ian Seau is the stud leader for this class at the linebacker position. He will compete for time immediately.
This class filled needs for the Wolf Pack, but there was not a major national name that brings wow factor.
New Mexico Lobos
New Mexico is not doing very well on the field or on the recruiting trail. The Lobos constantly struggle to find consistency, and there is none that will come from this recruiting class.
The headliner for the group is Romell Jordan. He is a very talented running back, but there isn’t a lot of help for him up front. That will cause issues for Jordan and not allow him to live up to his potential.
This class will fill some needs, but the Lobos are destined for the bottom half of the conference.
Air Force Falcons
Air Force struggles to pull a lot of top talent because of the service academy spin on the scholarship, but it was able to build a strong base of talent and playmakers in this class. This group isn’t rated highly, but it did fill gaps in the offense and defense.
The star of the class is running back Bryan Driskell. He will be able to step in and help this program where departing seniors will be leaving voids in the backfield.
This class is outside the top 100, but it is good enough to keep the Falcons competitive, featuring a lot of talent at the top end.
The UNLV Rebels are in trouble. They were not able to secure a very talented group in this 2013 class and are hurting for consistency on the field. This program has been hurting for some time, and there is no end in sight with this group.
Jared Lebowitz is the star of the class. He is a live-armed quarterback who may be thrown into the fire early for this squad.
The overall class is very top-heavy with talent but very bad at the bottom. Not a lot of voids were filled with this group. This class missed the mark for the Rebels.
The Wyoming Cowboys are at the bottom of the Mountain West, and the 2013 recruiting class will not change that. There is some role players scattered in the group, but there are some major missing pieces.
The class headliner is Troy Boyland at defensive tackle, but after Boyland this group falls off dramatically. This is the worst class in the Mountain West.
The Cowboys missed the mark with this cycle. This is a bad sign for the future direction of this program.
Utah State Aggies
The Aggies needed help on defense in this class, and they got it, though there is still a major drop-off happening with this group. The big need is at linebacker, and this class should be able fill that void.
Braden Harris is the star of the group, coming in as a 6’3”, 221-pound linebacker who is game-ready.
This class didn’t maximize on the potential of the recent success of this program, but it still finished better than most expected.
San Jose State Spartans
San Jose State is going to bring one of the worst recruiting classes in the country in 2013. There was a major upswing for this team recently on the field, but that success is getting lost in the recruiting shuffle.
The leader of this class is athlete Tyler Winston. He will be able to make an impact early, as this team lost a lot of skill players after the 2012 season.
This team met a lot of needs, but it still fell short of a lot of expectations by landing among the worst classes in the country according to the 247Sports Composite Team Rankings.
Sun Belt Conference
The Sun Belt has put together a lot of talented teams in the past year with a number of rising stars from the ranks.
Louisiana-Monroe made major waves last year with its upset over Arkansas. Arkansas State and Western Kentucky also made an impact nationally.
This is a conference on the rise. Here is a look at all eight teams' 2013 recruiting hauls.
Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin' Cajuns
The Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin' Cajuns played some great football a year ago, and this recruiting class shows the rewards of playing winning football. This is a strong class that fills a lot of needs for the program.
The headliner is Elijah McGuire at the running back position. He is a powerful runner who can add a lot of bulk to his 5’11” frame over the next few seasons.
This class will help the program become the leader in the conference and possibly take over as the top program in the Sun Belt in 2013.
Georgia State Panthers
Georgia State is making the move to FBS competition this fall as it moves into the Sun Belt. This recruiting class helped fill a lot of gaps heading into 2013, but this team will struggle in its first season at college football’s top level.
The class was able to land three early enrollees, and quarterback Clay Chastain is a guy who can make an impact immediately. The Panthers need playmakers, and Chastain has a live arm and is very selective with his throws. He is the leader in this class.
RB Gerald Howse is another player to watch, as he will develop into a primary weapon as the go-to back in this offense.
This class filled a lot of roster spots that needed depth, but overall this is far from where the Panthers need to be to compete for Sun Belt titles.
Western Kentucky Hilltoppers
Western Kentucky took a very balanced approach to this class. Bobby Petrino showed his knowledge of the JUCO pull, and he is placing a quality group of offensive production players together in this class.
The headliner is JUCO transfer Maurice Bennett. Bennett is a stud along the defensive line and will be a major part of the Hilltoppers defense next year.
This is a program that will continue to grow its reputation and stand on the national stage with this group of talented players.
Texas State Bobcats
The Texas State Bobcats are new to the FBS game, but they are picking up recruiting like they have been at this level since day one. This is a rising program in the Sun Belt.
The headliner in the class is Jamel James, a stud running back. This offense needed help, and he will be able to provide it in the backfield.
This program is rising fast, and a lot of it is credited to the recruiting efforts put out by the staff.
South Alabama Jaguars
South Alabama is another up-and-coming program inside the Sun Belt. This program started transitioning into the FBS two seasons ago and is pulling in top talent around the South, building a strong program. This recruiting class was a solid haul, though it is not a championship-level effort just yet.
This class is led by running back Kaleb Blanchard. He is a solid runner who has a low base and bounces through the middle of the line effectively. He will be an immediate contributor for this squad.
This team is climbing the FBS rankings each year, and a solid continued recruiting effort will help that success continue for this squad.
This program was the premier player for the Sun Belt just a few years ago, but the rising teams that surround Troy have hurt its efforts. The recruiting trail is running dry for Troy as South Alabama and others pluck the traditional hotbeds that Troy used in the past.
There is a star in this class in Sam Lebbie. Lebbie is a game-ready inside linebacker who will create a lot of havoc on defense early for this team.
There is a lot of misses that happened for Troy in this class. They needed to hit on some major playmakers, but the Trojans whiffed.
Arkansas State Red Wolves
This program is a rising star in college football, but it has lost two coaching staffs in two seasons. That has hurt the recruiting efforts of this program, but recent success should be able to provide a boost again next season.
The class has a major role player that could make an impact early in wide receiver Dijon Paschal. He is a speedy receiver who will create a lot of mismatches as a freshman.
This program has to regroup in the future, or the Red Wolves will lose their top-tier status in this conference as other rising programs pass them by.
This program is on the rise on the field, but it is struggling on the recruiting trail. The Warhawks have put together one of the worst classes in the country this year. It has been a very unsuccessful run for this program, as it did not retain any momentum from a strong regular season.
Everett Anderson is the headliner for this class at the defensive end position and will be a leader for the defense well into the future.
This class failed to match needs at a number of key positions. The Warhawks have a long way to go before they make it into the elite recruiting ranks in the Sun Belt.
The Mid-American Conference became a BCS buster in the 2012 season, landing the Northern Illinois Huskies in the Orange Bowl. This conference fed off that success and had a relatively successful recruiting haul in 2013.
This is a rising conference from the mid-major pack.
It may be the headliner heading into 2013 with these recruiting classes leading the way.
Toledo finished with the leading class in the MAC after putting together a lot of talent on the offensive side of the football. This is a class that Toledo needed to help lead it into a strong 2013 showing.
The headliner in this class is Delando Johnson. He is an outside linebacker who can help fill an immediate need on defense for the Rockets.
WR Rodney Adams is another player to watch on the outside of the offense, as his skills should put him on the field early.
This class closed very strong and should help guide Toledo to a title game appearance in 2013.
Bowling Green Falcons
The Falcons from Bowling Green have not been the best recruiters in the past, but this season was different. The Falcons have a lot of talent in this class and will be able to utilize a number of these players as freshmen.
The headliner for the Falcons is DE Darius Holiday. He is a 6’5”, 260-pound stud off the edge. He will be a major player for the Falcons early.
Also keep an eye on Fred Coppet. He is an incoming freshman running back who has the star power to make big things happen for this offense.
The Bowling Green squad is increasing its status in the MAC and setting a firm place at the top of the recruiting totem pole with this class.
Central Michigan Chippewas
Central Michigan has put together a solid class for the 2013 recruiting cycle. It filled a number of needs for the program and is headlined by a lot of star power on offense.
The leader of this class is athlete Mark Chapman. He can play either side of the ball but will likely settle in as a receiver for Central Michigan.
This class is a very good one and should help this program move into the elite of the MAC in the coming year.
Miami (Ohio) RedHawks
The Miami RedHawks were a rising star in this conference earlier this decade, but they have struggled to return to the top of the conference in the past few seasons. Recruiting has been a big part of the drop-off, but this class should help them get back on top soon.
This class is not rated very highly, but it met needs for the program and has a lot of hidden gems. One to watch this fall is Jared Murphy. He is a rising star at safety and could help this defense as early as this fall.
This class filled needs and is among the best in the MAC.
Western Michigan Mustangs
Western Michigan is where this conference's elite classes start to fall. There is some top talent in this class, but the group is very top-heavy. Depth leaves a lot to be desired.
The one headliner in the group that will do big things this fall is Khairi Bailey. He is a major defensive end and could become a shutdown defender this fall.
This class filled some voids but overall is too top-heavy to receive a quality grade.
UMass has a major hill to climb to become a player in the MAC, and this class will help it claw a little closer to the top. This program is among the top recruiters in the conference this season.
The leader in the class is quarterback Todd Stafford. He is a huge prospect with a live arm who should challenge for playing time early.
If UMass wants to win big in the future, it has to continue the recruiting efforts of 2013. This class isn’t the best in the country, but it is a major leap forward for a new FBS program.
Ball State Cardinals
Ball State is where this MAC class really starts to fall apart. The Cardinals landed some quality talent early, but the depth of this class is very weak. This has been a really bad effort for the Cardinals on the recruiting trail.
The one player that looks to be able to impact this team immediately is defensive tackle Damerrian Petty. He has the skills to help this defense early and may be the only player who sees the field as a freshman.
This class left a lot of holes on the roster and failed to match the expectations that were needed to make this program challenge for the MAC title.
Eastern Michigan Eagles
Eastern Michigan has not been very good lately, and that will continue after this 2013 recruiting cycle. This program is struggling to bring in top talent, although the Eagles did land a star at quarterback.
Brogan Roback is a solid passer with a live arm. The Eagles aren’t looking for a new starter at quarterback, but Roback will still challenge the lineup.
This is an overall disappointing recruiting effort for Eastern Michigan. There are a number of voids that will remain on the roster, and this team will hope to push through them and challenge for the MAC from the outside.
Akron is entering its second season under Terry Bowden. If the Zips don’t get better in a hurry, his tenure may be short-lived. Nothing about this class screams extreme turnaround and sleeper talent. This is a bad recruiting class.
Dual-threat QB Tommy Woodson and safety Jerome Lane are the major players in the class and should be able to play early, but they will not be able to win games alone. Behind those two, there isn’t a lot of talent remaining in the class.
This is a bad effort by the Akron staff. Granted, this wasn't a great program last year. To climb the MAC standings, the Zips have to find more success on the recruiting trail.
The Ohio Bobcats are making blazing trails in recruiting like they are on the field. This program was one of the elite in the MAC a year ago, but this recruiting class will drag it down quickly without key holes being filled.
The Bobcats did land a star in Cedric Brown at receiver, but there is a lot of work that needs to happen at other positions. Still, keep an eye on Brown.
There is some tight end talent that could hit the field early as well, but the overall group is a disappointment. The success of the Bobcats may be short-lived.
Kent State Golden Flashes
The loss of head coach Darrell Hazell is apparent with this recruiting class. The Golden Flashes were a rising star in 2012 on the national college football stage, but they failed to capitalize with this class.
One player to watch will be CB Demetrius Monday. Monday is one of the elite defenders in the 2013 class and will come in as one of the highest-rated recruits in the entire conference.
Despite that big haul, this class struggled to land a lot of elite players. Kent State did meet needs and has a number of good prospects that could grow the program. Still, it was a disappointment after a strong 2012.
Northern Illinois Huskies
The Northern Illinois Huskies have been on a tear on the field, making it into the Orange Bowl last season, but their recruiting efforts are lacking. This class is very limited in numbers, but there are still needs that went unmet.
One player that should be a huge impact guy this fall will be Jordan Huff. The Huskies love to run the football, and landing a stud back like Huff was huge for this class.
Outside of Huff, receivers Mycial Allen and Blake Holder could be rising stars.
This class underachieved, but it drew in enough talent to keep the team balanced as a leader in the MAC.
This Buffalo class is not loaded with talent. The few years of glory are long gone for this program, and it shows.
Jacob Martinez is the one player who could be a difference-maker early at quarterback, but he is severely undersized.
This class will keep Buffalo grinding at the bottom of the MAC well into the next half decade.
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