Analyzing Top 10 CFB Recruiting Classes and What They Mean for Their Programs
The verdict is in, and it is a battle between the SEC and the Buckeyes for the No. 1 recruiting class. National signing day was nothing short of entertaining as a mother took off with her son's letter of intent, and the Ole Miss Rebels locked in the top recruit of the 2013 class.
It seems to me that this signing day gives us a preview of what the upcoming football season will be like. With the recruits the top 10 has secured, these teams are going to be a force to be reckoned with for the 2013 season.
All team and star rankings via ESPN Recruiting Nation.
Alabama Crimson Tide
After the season (and last four years) they've had, it is somewhat expected that the Alabama Crimson Tide would be able to recruit top-notch players. Coach Nick Saban has applied his process to recruiting as Alabama tops the list for 2013.
With four five-star and 13 four-star prospects, Alabama is looking to be just as competitive in 2013. Five-star prospect linebacker Reuben Foster, whose creative Auburn tattoo certainly made an interesting statement, has surely had the most colorful road to national signing day (this including the tattoo and taking an unofficial visit to Alabama during his official visit to Auburn, and thus recommitting to Alabama).
Still, Foster is sure to be quite the force for the Tide. A No. 16 recruit overall, Foster will fit right in at Alabama. His size, quickness, and ability to tackle is essentially the tenacious defensive qualities that Alabama is known for having. I predict that Foster will play a big role in Alabama's defense in the future.
Gaining four-star defensive end Dee Liner (what a fitting name, might I add) in the home stretch help put the Tide on top.
So, what does all this mean for the season to come?
It means Alabama's chance for yet another National Championship bid is looking to be more and more attainable. With a more mature defense that is sure to be a lot more stingy in years to come, Alabama shows no sign of stopping the process.
The Florida Gators may not have ended the season like they wanted to (just watch some highlights of the Sugar Bowl), but they are making sure that will not happen again. Coach Will Muschamp has filled practically every need through national signing day. It can be argued that the Gators may have had the best recruiting class in the nation.
With 15 four- or five-star recruits, Florida has filled those needs with elite talent. Cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III will be one of Florida's biggest threats for the upcoming season. He can completely shut down the third level of defense, which is perfect for the Gators' ability to put more pressure up front.
With five-star linebacker Alex Anzalone, and Jay-nard Bostwick and Jarran Reed at defensive tackle joining the ranks, Muschamp has built up what could be a ferocious defense.
And this will be key in the SEC. The SEC is getting tougher, and Florida will have stiff competition for years to come. Muschamp's overall success, and it was a success, on signing day ensures that the Gators will be playing for a National Championship in the near future.
Ohio State Buckeyes
The past may have not been so kind to Ohio State on national signing day, but Urban Meyer has changed that completely. After NCAA sanctions held them back from a chance at the National Championship, the Ohio State Buckeyes return to national signing day with a vengeance.
Urban Meyer got speed. Four-star wide receiver James Clark is just what the Buckeyes need to best corners on routes. With such a coveted speed, this has to be just what Meyer was looking for.
And it doesn't stop there. Meyer locked in five-start safety Vonn Bell, who had been leaning toward the Tennessee Vols. Bell may be the biggest asset for the Buckeyes. This top-notch player brings the speed Meyer desires along with the ability to make plays in all three levels of the defense. Bell is known for coming up with big plays and being a constant presence defensively.
The Buckeyes have put themselves in the position to compete for a National Championship. There's no doubt that their team was one of the best this past season (despite the sanctions). However, with this recruit class, Meyer is building a team to be the best.
Perhaps national signing day has given us a future Urban Meyer/Nick Saban show down.
Notre Dame Fighting Irish
National signing day went a lot better than the National Championship for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. While the loss to Alabama in the National Championship game was hard to bear, the Irish still have reason to celebrate the season.
Gaining prospects from 15 different states, the Irish signed four five-star players. Defensive tackle Eddie Vanderdoes, who chose Notre Dame over Alabama and UCLA, is the No. 10 overall prospect and adds to the Irish's first-class talent.
Linebacker Jaylon Smith, who will take Heisman finalist Manti Te'o's place, has big shoes to fill, but I predict his transition won't be incredibly difficult. An incredibly athletic linebacker, this may be just what Notre Dame's defense needs to compete with a more powerful offense.
Coach Brian Kelly has had the best recruiting class so far in his career. With more than 15 starters returning next season, Notre Dame has the chance to be return to the BCS National Championship game.
Notre Dame is back. There is no doubt about that, and it seems as if they won't be going anywhere any time soon.
Ole Miss Rebels
Ole Miss has caused quite an uproar after their success on national signing day. Many were shocked at their success and, perhaps, it is for good reason.
However, the Rebels are looking to make a statement in the SEC, and with this recruiting class, the Rebels will get that chance. In what was the most significant recruiting class Ole Miss has seen in decades, the Rebels secured No. 1 overall recruit Robert Nkemdiche.
Nkemdiche seemed to have a domino effect as the Rebels signed offensive linemen Laremy Tunsil, and Austin Golson and defensive back Antonio Conner shortly after. Tunsil has been considered to be one of the best offensive lineman in the nation.
The Rebels have been fairly quiet in the SEC for the past few years, but the recruiting seen on signing day has brought them to a dull roar. The talent they've obtained will do more than just give Ole Miss relevancy in the SEC. This will put them back on the map.
Ole Miss has created balance on both sides, giving them an enviable recruiting class. The Rebels' historical recruiting class has sent shock waves across the nation.
Here's hoping that their season will do the same.
Signing the most prospects in the Big Ten, the Michigan Wolverines looked to fill needs exposed during this past season. One of those primary needs is on offense which is making the transition from a spread-offense to a pro-style offense.
One crucial commit for the Wolverines comes as running back Derrick Green with a gnashing speed that Michigan so desperately needs. Michigan also hauled in a star offensive line.
Michigan continues to be a force in the Big Ten, but beyond that, has not been as successful as they have wished. Coach Brady Hoke is looking to change that.
Michigan's recruiting class could be the very thing that puts Michigan back in the Top 10 and in conversation for a National Championship. It may not come right away, but with Hoke's recruiting history, it can't be that far away either.
It seems as if The Mad Hatter hasn't turned any future prospects away as LSU had a quietly strong recruiting class on national signing day. This recruiting class is scarily solid on both sides; Les Miles may not be as crazy as everyone thinks he is.
Five-star defensive back Tre'Davious White is considered to be one of the most volatile players in the nation. LSU already contains one of the best defenses in the country, and White would only be an additional asset to this superb defense.
What has been perhaps the most talked about position on the Tigers' team is who will be quarterback. Hayden Rettig promises to be the future quarterback of LSU, and Miles has placed talent all around him.
Les Miles' recruiting has been stout season after season, which continues to keep LSU in the Top 10. As amazing as it is, as long as Miles continues his reign at LSU, this team will continue to be at the top for years and years to come.
Texas A&M Aggies
As if getting Heisman-winner Johnny Manziel back wasn't enough, Texas A&M brings in more prospects after an incredibly successful debut in the SEC. Coach Kevin Sumlin attained a large recruiting class sure to propel this team to the top.
Surrounding Manziel with players like Ricky Seals-Jones and JaQuay Williams will only make this offense even more explosive, if that's even possible.
Defensively, the US Army All-American defensive tackle Isaiah Golden will help to solve some of the second-half problems seen in games against SEC opponents.
The Aggies have been stirring up the SEC with their balance on defense and offense. As teams are attempting to figure out Johnny Manziel, Sumlin is recruiting all around Manziel to continue to keep opponents on their toes.
The Aggies may get to the National Championship game a lot sooner than first imagined. As long as Manziel continues to be successful, this team will be in a position to dominate the SEC.
Florida State Seminoles
Coach Jimbo Fisher has had to rebuild relationships with recruiting prospects, as his staff has been turned upside down. However, this didn't stop him from recruiting some top-notch players to complement his team.
The Seminoles closed signing day with a pair of five-star players in cornerback Jalen Ramsey and linebacker Matthew Thomas. Both were strongly considering other programs, but the Seminoles were able to grasp them before they could change their mind.
The Seminoles' recruiting class sits them comfortably in the Top 10, as they have a solid group of players. Florida State, who finished the season strong, is slowly but surely regaining a championship caliber status.
This recruiting class may not directly lead them to a National Championship, but it at least puts them in view of that path.
Coming within five seconds of the chance to play for a National Championship could haunt a team forever. However, Coach Mark Richt, who stands by that controversial call, won't allow that to be a plague to the team. Richt, who has pulled a hefty 32-man recruit class, stands by his team and believes they have built a solid group.
While top prospects may not have flocked to the Bulldogs, they have obtained talent that can immediately become a resource for the team. After losing 12 defensive starters, the Bulldogs had spaces to fill. The large recruitment class will serve as a benefit to this loss.
Depth is severely needed for Georgia, and players like receiver Jonathon Rumph, cornerback Shaq Wiggins, and Tramel Terry, who can line up at any position and pose a threat, not only fill this need but also add star talent.
Quarterback Aaron Murray is returning for his senior season, and this is huge for the Bulldogs. This large recruit class may give the Bulldogs the final push for a satisfying season. Georgia has recently dealt with the stigma of never winning big games. Fans may believe that this recruiting class won't help them win big either.
I guess we'll all just have to sit back and wait until September rolls around. Until then, it's all pure speculation.