College Football Recruiting 2013: Underrated Classes That Will Surprise

Tim KeeneyContributor IFebruary 7, 2013

PASADENA, CA - JANUARY 01:  Head coach David Shaw of the Stanford Cardinal holds his son Gavin after the Cardinal defeated the Wisconsin Badgers 20-14 in the 99th Rose Bowl Game Presented by Vizio on January 1, 2013 at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California.  (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
Jeff Gross/Getty Images

Don't get caught up in the rankings. 

Every year national signing day rolls around, fans—with the help from media—get lost in player rankings, star rankings, class rankings and ranking rankings.

These arbitrary numbers are undoubtedly a good way to help gauge how well your school is recruiting, but they don't always correlate perfectly with wins. They are far from the be-all, end-all measure.

For proof, check out this compelling stat, courtesy of the Tacoma News Tribune's Ryan Divish:

On that note, let's take a look at the 2013 classes sure to prove the rankings wrong. 


Stanford Cardinal

At this point, can't we just assume David Shaw and his staff know what they're doing? Every year since Shaw has come on as head coach, there has been another reason why the Cardinal were supposed to drop off. 

And every year, they've won a boatload of games. 

So when you see Stanford ranked 63rd in 247 Sports' composite class rankings and 11th in the Pac-12 with a mere 12 recruits, don't fret. 

After a massive 2012 class, the conference's defending champ went with quality instead of quantity this time around.

Not only did the Cardinal bring in four 4-stars, but they got the 12th-best pro-style quarterback in Ryan Burns to go along with several recruits who have the one trait that has defined Stanford football over the past couple of years: size. 

Peter Kalambayi (6'4", 240 lbs), Eric Cotton (6'6", 230 lbs), Kevin Palma (6'2", 235 lbs), Austin Hooper (6'5", 240 lbs) and Mike Tyler (6'5", 225 lbs) all look like major forces in the Pac-12 for several years to come. 


North Carolina Tar Heels

Much like the Cardinal, the Tar Heels went the route of quality. 

Larry Fedora's staff only brought in 17 recruits, and as a result has a class that is ranked just 28th, but there are several players capable of making an instant impact. 

Dual-threat quarterback Mitch Trubisky, who will likely be further along than most true freshman after enrolling early, has a lethal combination of unreal speed, athleticism and cannon-like arm strength: 

Defensive end Dajuan Drennon, all-purpose back T.J. Logan and big defensive tackle Gregg Webb all have the making of highly productive players at the next level while guys like cornerback Brian Walker, dynamic athlete Ryan Switzer and wide receiver Johnathan Howard look like classic 3-star steals. 

Fedora's first real haul won't get a lot of talk for now, but expect pundits to be praising it in a couple of years. 


South Carolina Gamecocks

Ole Miss, Alabama, LSU—OK, pretty much the rest of the SEC—will get more attention than South Carolina, which is coming off an impressive 11-2 season and a top-10 finish, but Steve Spurrier is bringing in a highly versatile class. 

He got a crucial defensive playmaker in 4-star blazing linebacker Larenz Bryant. 

He beefed up the trenches with defensive tackle Kelsey Griffin, defensive end Devin Washington and offensive tackle Na'Ty Rodgers. 

He brought in the necessary offensive weapons: Conner Mitch is one of the best pro-style QBs in this class, David Williams is a home-run hitter and Pharoh Cooper is a versatile prospect capable of making plays anywhere on the field.

Spurrier's class only ranks No. 21, but it was exactly what he needed for the Gamecocks to continue their recent success.