Power Ranking Top 25 2014 Recruiting Classes Post-Summer Edition

Edwin WeathersbyAnalyst IAugust 27, 2013

Power Ranking Top 25 2014 Recruiting Classes Post-Summer Edition

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    Now is a great time to take another look at the top 25 2014 recruiting classes. This cycle has had several surprise programs build good classes and several big disappointments. A few juggernauts are dominating once again on the recruiting trail.

    With summer almost over and football season arriving, many programs have assembled a solid portion of their classes. They're resetting their boards and gearing up for the dual roles of game-planning and recruiting during the week this fall.

    A program led by a former SEC coach has its eyes on the No. 1 ranking. A pair of ACC programs are positioned for elite classes, plus an upstart SEC program is proving its 2013 success was not a fluke. 

    Player evaluations are based on review of tape at Scout.comRivals247Sports and ESPNU.

25. Arkansas

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    Total commitments: 16

    Number of 4-star or higher rated commitments: Four

    Class headliner: Bijhon Jackson, DT

    The Hogs have gradually risen up the recruiting rankings. New head coach Bret Bielema has more in-state talent than he did at Wisconsin.

    Jackson is a 4-star defensive tackle who already weighs 334 pounds and stands nearly 6'2".

    Quarterback Rafe Peavey is a sleeper prospect. The 4-star passer is a gritty player who displays solid accuracy, toughness and above-average arm strength.

    Arkansas may not land the top class in the SEC, but Bielema will sign a class full of players who will help him change the culture of the program. 

24. Vanderbilt

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    Total commitments: 18

    Number of 4-star or higher rated commitments: Two

    Class headliner: K.J. Carta-Samuels, QB 

    Head coach James Franklin is becoming a superstar at Vanderbilt. He is on the verge of bringing in a third straight top-25 caliber recruiting class, which is unheard of in Nashville.

    Franklin has a commitment from Carta-Samuels, a 4-star quarterback, but the best player in the group may be 3-star running back Mikale Wilbon. A speedster from Illinois, Wilbon is a shifty runner with deceptive strength. 

23. Louisville

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    Total commitments: 25

    Number of 4-star or higher rated commitments: One

    Class headliner: Poona Ford, DT

    Credit head coach Charlie Strong and his staff for taking advantage of their Sugar Bowl win over Florida by constructing an outstanding recruiting class.

    Strong's old connections from his days at Florida have served him well; Louisville has 10 commitments from the Sunshine State. However, its headliner is Ford, a 4-star defensive tackle with good quickness from South Carolina.

    Keep an eye on 3-star receiver Isaiah Ford

22. North Carolina

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    Total commitments: 21

    Number of 4-star or higher rated commitments: Two

    Class headliner: Bentley Spain, OL

    The Tar Heels are poised for a big year in the ACC, but things look even better on the recruiting trail. Head coach Larry Fedora has 21 commitments, and he could land 4-star running back Elijah Hood

    Spain is a 4-star offensive lineman who is 6'6" and 275 pounds. Yet the most important player in the class is 4-star quarterback Caleb Henderson, who at 6'3" and 230 pounds could be North Carolina's quarterback of the future.

21. Stanford

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    Total commitments: 16

    Number of 4-star or higher rated commitments: Four

    Class headliner: Keller Chryst, QB 

    Stanford's class starts and ends with Chryst, the 5-star quarterback from Palo Alto. He is a 6'4", 220-pound passer with great mechanics, field vision, arm strength and accuracy.

    Athletic 4-star running back Christian McCaffrey has as much agility and quickness as any runner the Cardinal have brought in. Also, 4-star safety Brandon Simmons will be a leader in the secondary. 

20. Rutgers

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    Total commitments: 23

    Number of 4-star or higher rated commitments: Three

    Class headliner: Saeed Blacknall, WR

    As Rutgers prepares to move into the Big Ten, it is assembling a class full of players who fit the conference's style of play.

    Blacknall, a 4-star prospect, is a 6'3", 210-pound receiver from New Jersey with a good blend of speed and strength. Kiy Hester, an athlete/safety recruit, is a 4-star New Jersey product who stands 6'0" and 200 pounds.

    With 11 commitments from New Jersey, head coach Kyle Flood has done an excellent job of locking up his state.

19. Virginia Tech

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    Total commitments: 20

    Number of 4-star or higher rated commitments: Three

    Class headliner: Holland Fisher, S/LB

    Fisher is a 4-star prospect from the 2013 class who is now considered a 2014 recruit after he enrolled in prep school. The 6'1" 200-pounder can play safety on top of the defense or roll into the box as an outside linebacker.

    Athlete Javon Harrison, a 4-star recruit from Florida, has good ball skills to go along with a long 6'1", 187-pound frame. Running backs D.J. Reid and Marshawn Williams, who are 4-star and 3-star recruits respectively, should make a good tandem in Blacksburg. 

18. Baylor

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    Total commitments: 23

    Number of 4-star or higher rated commitments: Four

    Class headliner: KD Cannon, WR

    Art Briles has recruited well since becoming the head coach in Waco. He has the Bears nestled into the top 25 recruiting rankings and has given the program more confidence on the trail.

    Cannon is a 4-star receiver from Texas who caught 102 passes as a junior. He has great speed, separation quickness and a large strike zone. The next top prospect for the Bears is 4-star athlete Davion Hall, who at 6'2" and 186 pounds can play safety or receiver.

17. Arizona

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    Total commitments: 24

    Number of 4-star or higher rated commitments: Six

    Class headliner: Cameron Denson, ATH

    The Wildcats are enjoying a wonderful recruiting cycle thanks to commitments from several key recruits.

    Denson, a 4-star Arizona native, is a 6'1" prospect who can excel as a cornerback or receiver. 

    Marquis Ware and Jamardre Cobb are high school teammates at Bishop Mora Salesian in California, and the pair of 4-star recruits will form a dynamic duo at linebacker in the desert.

    Running back Nick Wilson could be a dominant runner in Arizona's spread-option offense thanks to the 4-star recruit's strength and quickness. Naijiel Hale is a sticky 4-star cover corner who could play in nickel packages as a true freshman. 

16. Clemson

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    Total commitments: 17

    Number of 4-star or higher rated commitments: Eight

    Class headliner: Deshaun Watson, QB

    Clemson is one of the best non-SEC recruiting programs in the country. Head coach Dabo Swinney is a passionate recruiter. He has a great staff and knows how to connect with players.

    The headliner of the group is Watson, an elite 4-star quarterback from Georgia. At 6'3" and 200 pounds, Watson has good arm strength, is decisive in his reads and has impressive mobility.

    He will be throwing to 4-star receivers Artavis Scott and Demarre KittKorie Rogers, a 4-star linebacker, is the top defensive prospect in the class.

15. Kentucky

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    Total commitments: 23

    Number of 4-star or higher rated commitments: Six

    Class headliner: Drew Barker, QB

    Kentucky has seen its hiring of Mark Stoops as head coach pay immediate dividends on the recruiting trail. The Wildcats have one of the top classes in the SEC. Plus with Stoops being from Ohio, he has plucked nine players from his native state.

    Barker, however, is from Kentucky. The 4-star quarterback is viewed as the future of the program. He has good arm strength, but he also flashes the ability to run with power. 

    Denzel Ware leads the defensive class, as the 4-star defensive end/outside linebacker can rush the passer with speed, quickness and athleticism. 

14. Auburn

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    Total commitments: 14

    Number of 4-star or higher rated commitments: Seven

    Class headliner: D'haquille Williams, WR

    Williams is one of the best JUCO players in the nation. The 6'3", 213-pound receiver will make an instant impact on The Plains due to his speed, ability to release with solid strength versus press coverage and adequate hands.

    Running back Racean Thomas is a 4-star prospect who can explode through holes. He also has excellent receiving skills. Quarterback Sean White, a 4-star Florida native, will love checking down to Thomas.

    Linebacker Tre' Williams  is a 6'2", 230-pound heat-seeking missile. He will be joined by fellow 4-star defenders such as defensive end Justin Thornton, cornerback Nick Ruffin and JUCO safety Derrick Moncrief

13. LSU

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    Total commitments: 14

    Number of 4-star or higher rated commitments: Nine

    Class headliner: Edward Paris, DB

    LSU's class has been assembled just like every other class the Tigers bring to Baton Rouge. It is led by in-state talent, with eight pledges from Louisiana, and its best player is an elite defensive recruit.

    Paris has a 5-star rating. The 6'1", 190-pound Texan can bully receivers as a cornerback or roam around as a safety.

    Receiver Trey Quinn, a 4-star recruit, is the top offensive prospect. He is lethal in the slot and has terrific quickness.

     

12. Ole Miss

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    Total commitments: 21

    Number of 4-star or higher rated commitments: Six

    Class headliner: Roderick Taylor, OG

    The Rebels are showing the country that last year's great 2013 class was just the beginning. Head coach Hugh Freeze and ace recruiter Chris Kiffin have a 21-man class that will help them ascend up the SEC pecking order.

    Taylor is a road-grading 4-star guard who will be joined in the offensive trenches by fellow 4-star blocker Andy Bauer. Although 4-star safety C.J. Hampton leads the defensive class, the player keep an eye on is 4-star athlete D.K. Buford.

11. Texas

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    Total commitments: 23

    Number of 4-star or higher rated commitments: Seven

    Class headliner: Jerrod Heard, QB

    Only three players in Texas' class are non-Texans, which means head coach Mack Brown has continued to recruit the Lone Star State in a near-exclusive manner.

    Heard, a 4-star quarterback, is the best player in the class due to his solid arm strength, above-average accuracy and ability to extend plays with his legs. However, 4-star running back Donald Catalon could also be considered the headliner. Derick Roberson is Brown's top defensive commitment; the 4-star recruit is a terror on the edges at 6'3" and 218 pounds.

    Otaro Alaka is a 4-star linebacker who can play on all three downs, plus 4-star receiver Armanti Foreman will provide a spark to the Longhorns' offense. 

10. Florida State

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    Total commitments: 24

    Number of 4-star or higher rated commitments: 12

    Class headliner: Kain Daub, LB

    The Seminoles have assembled another talented class with Daub, a 4-star linebacker, leading the way. At 6'3" and 234 pounds, the Florida native plays big at the point of attack and hits like a rhino.

    The most interesting prospect in the class is 4-star athlete Treon Harris. He plays quarterback for national powerhouse Booker T. Washington in Florida, but he has cornerback athletic ability. However, Harris has displayed wonderful accuracy early this season.

    Recruits such as defensive tackle Demarcus Christmas, quarterback JJ Cosentino, receiver Markell Pack, linebacker Jacob Pugh and safety Trey Marshall all add quality depth to Florida State's class.

9. Miami

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    Total commitments: 25

    Number of 4-star or higher rated commitments: Eight

    Class headliner: Joseph Yearby, RB

    Miami is in the middle of perhaps its best recruiting year under head coach Al Golden. He and his staff have established themselves as major players on the Sunshine State's recruiting trail, evidenced by the 19 commitments from Florida.

    Yearby is a 5-star prospect and a nightmare for defenses. The Miami native has exceptional quickness and instincts. He is elusive in the open field.

    Defensive tackle Travonte Valentine, a 4-star recruit, is a physical presence in the trenches. Offensive tackle Kc McDermott has solid technique. The 5-star blocker could play left tackle in Coral Gables. 

8. Notre Dame

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    Total commitments: 16

    Number of 4-star or higher rated commitments: 11

    Class headliner: Quenton Nelson, OL

    It is evident that head coach Brian Kelly got the message loud and clear after the national championship game loss to Alabama: To win prominent bowl games, a team needs to be able to control the line of scrimmage.

    Kelly has 10 commitments from players who play in the trenches. Plus with Notre Dame running a 3-4 defense, 4-star outside linebacker Richard Yeargin III and 3-star defender Greer Martini could push that total to 12.

     

7. Florida

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    Total commitments: 15

    Number of 4-star or higher rated commitments: Eight

    Class headliner: Dalvin Cook, RB

    Along with Cook, the Gators have 5-star commitments from receiver Ermon Lane and quarterback Will Grier. Cook is the most talented recruit in Florida's class, but Grier is the most important.

    Khairi Clark, a 4-star defensive tackle, has the potential to be a monster in the Swamp at 6'2" and 325 pounds. Duke Dawson and Chris Lammons, a pair of 4-star cornerbacks from the Sunshine State, will be quality reinforcements for UF's secondary.

    Also, with the Gators needing receivers, 4-star prospect J.C. Jackson has become a more vital piece to this class. 

6. Tennessee

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    Total commitments: 24

    Number of 4-star or higher rated commitments: 12

    Class headliner: Jalen Hurd, ATH

    Anyone who doubted if new head coach Butch Jones could recruit well on Rocky Top has had a muzzle placed over their mouths. The Vols have a renewed sense of energy and confidence and have been more aggressive under Jones.

    The two pillar prospects in this class are Hurd, a 5-star running back/athlete, and 4-star safety Todd KellyDillon Bates is a good 4-star run-stuffing linebacker, while 4-star receiver Dominique Booth could be counted on to make plays immediately due to Tennessee needing receivers. 

5. Texas A&M

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    Total commitments: 14

    Number of 4-star or higher rated commitments: 10

    Class headliner: Kyle Allen, QB

    With quarterback Johnny Manziel likely in his final season with the Aggies and reserve quarterback Matt Davis transferring, Allen could start for Texas A&M in 2014.

    The 5-star passer only has average size at 6'2.5" and 187 pounds, but he displays great anticipation, field vision and accuracy.

    Linebacker Hoza Scott and cornerback Nick Harvey are 4-star recruits who lead the Aggies' defensive class. Outside linebacker/defensive end Josh Walker  is another great player to watch.

4. Michigan

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    Total commitments: 16

    Number of 4-star or higher rated commitments: Eight

    Class headliner: Jabrill Peppers, ATH

    Peppers, a 5-star New Jersey native, is the best player Brady Hoke has landed as head coach of Michigan. The 6'1", 205-pounder has a college-ready frame, mentality and skill set.

    Hoke also quieted doubters by landing 4-star receiver Drake Harris, who totaled 2,015 receiving yards as a junior. Bryan Mone could make an immediate impact in Ann Arbor due to the 4-star defensive tackle being 6'4", 338 pounds and explosive in the trenches. 

    Mason Cole and Juwann Bushell-Beatty are 4-star offensive linemen who will start a few games for the Wolverines, while Lawrence Marshall is an intriguing 4-star defensive end. 

3. Georgia

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    Total commitments: 16

    Number of 4-star or higher rated commitments: 11

    Class headliner: Sony Michel, RB

    Head coach Mark Richt and his staff are on the verge of landing one of the better classes of Richt's tenure. The group is led by Michel, a 5-star running back who has been on the national radar for several seasons.

    He will be joined in the offensive backfield by 4-star prospects such as quarterback Jacob Park and running back Nick Chubb.

    Defensive tackle Lamont Gaillard, who is 6'3" and 310 pounds, is Richt's top defensive pledge due to the 4-star prospect's explosive strength and ability to control the line of scrimmage.

2. Ohio State

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    Total commitments: 17

    Number of 4-star or higher rated commitments: 12

    Class headliner: Dante Booker, OLB

    Speed is the theme of Ohio State's class. Head coach Urban Meyer is building a roster that can run with SEC teams. Booker, a 4-star linebacker, has the ability to race around the box to chase running backs, along with the ability to drop into coverage.

    Curtis Samuel, a 4-star recruit from New York, has fantastic speed, agility and elusiveness. Damon Webb is a speedy cornerback from Michigan pipeline Cass Tech in Detroit, but the 4-star cover man will shadow receivers for the Buckeyes.

    He will face great competition in practice. Going against players such as 4-star receiver/running back Parris Campbell will sharpen any defender's skills. Also, the trio of 4-star offensive line prospects of Demetrius KnoxMarcelys Jones and Jamarco Jones will help Meyer's spread-option offense have more time to deceive defenses. 

1. Alabama

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    Total commitments: 19

    Number of 4-star or higher rated commitments: 13

    Class headliner: David Cornwell, QB

    Head coach Nick Saban has a tremendous amount of talent in his recruiting class.

    Cornwell is a 4-star quarterback who stands 6'5" and 241 pounds. He has great arm strength and solid accuracy, and he sees the field well from the pocket.

    Athlete Bo Scarbrough is a 4-star recruit who can play running back, receiver and linebacker thanks to his 6'2", 225-pound frame and good strength. Christian Miller is a 4-star outside linebacker who was once committed to Florida but has chosen to rush college quarterbacks for 'Bama.

    Receiver Cameron Sims and offensive linemen Ross Pierschbacher, Viane TalamaivaoDominick Jackson and JC Hassenauer are other notable 4-star offensive commitments.

    Cornerbacks Kalvaraz Bessent and Stephen Roberts, along with linebackers Zach Whitley and Shaun Hamiltonround out the notable 4-star defensive pledges. 

2014 Bleacher Report College Football Recruiting Heat Map

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    Many of the recruits mentioned in the best 25 recruiting classes in the country can be seen on the 2014 Bleacher Report College Football Recruiting Heat Map.

    The heat map not only features the headliners, but also many other key commitments that give each class depth.

    Edwin Weathersby is the College Football Recruiting Analyst for Bleacher Report. He has worked in scouting/player personnel departments for three professional football teams, including the New York Giants and Cleveland Browns.