National Signing Day 2014: Grading Every Top 25 Team's Recruiting Class

Edwin WeathersbyAnalyst IFebruary 5, 2014

National Signing Day 2014: Grading Every Top 25 Team's Recruiting Class

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    Morry Gash/Associated Press

    College football teams win games in the fall and winter, but what they do on the first Wednesday in February is just as important. It's national signing day, and every school in the country wants to bring in the best class possible.

    However, not all programs earn good grades in recruiting. 

    Using the final Top 25 AP poll, it's time to hand out 2014 recruiting grades for the best teams in the country. Some passed with flying colors, while others may need some tutoring. 

    All recruiting information is based from 247Sports.

    Player evaluations are based on review of tape at Scout.comRivals and 247Sports.

25. Washington

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    Total commitments: 22

    Headliner: Budda Baker, ATH

    New head coach Chris Petersen got a late start on recruiting for Washington, but that doesn't seem to have fazed him one bit. The lead Husky has finished strong on the trail, with 4-star athlete and Washington native Budda Baker being his top player.

    Petersen also has a quarterback of his own to develop in solid 4-star passer K.J. Carta-SamuelsKaleb McGary, a 4-star offensive lineman who is 6'7", was a great pickup late in the process. Defensively, the top player is sticky 4-star cornerback Naijiel Hale.

    Grade: B-

24. Vanderbilt

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    Mark Humphrey/Associated Press

    Total commitments: 20

    Headliner: Emmanuel Smith, S

    Vanderbilt plucked new head coach Derek Mason from Stanford, where he was the defensive coordinator for the Cardinal. A great recruiter, look for Mason to put together better classes in the coming recruiting cycles.

    The decommitment bug bit the Commodores a few times right before national signing day, so the mood in Nashville may not be as chipper as it usually is. That's not to say this group is chopped liver, as 4-star safety Emmanuel Smith is the headliner. 

    Also, keep an eye on 3-star athlete Dallas Rivers and 3-star quarterback Wade Freebeck.

    Grade: C+

23. Duke

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    Kevin Liles-USA TODAY Sports

    Total commitments: 18

    Headliner: Trevon Lee, WR

    Coming off of a 10-4 season, Duke appears to be a program on the rise. The Blue Devils' great 2013 season will help on the recruiting trail, as head coach David Cutcliffe will continue to net results.

    The top player in the class is 3-star receiver Trevon Lee, who is from Florida. He'll have some good battles in practice with 3-star cornerback Alonzo Saxton, while 3-star offensive tackle Trip McNeill and 3-star defensive end Taariq Shabazz are also good players.

    Nico Pierre is a solid 3-star quarterback from Miami who should flourish under Cutcliffe's tutelage, while 3-star defensive tackle Edgar Cerenord will help anchor things in the trenches.

    Grade: C+

22. Wisconsin

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    Total commitments: 26

    Headliner: Jaden Gault, OT

    Looking to get back on top of things in the Big Ten is Wisconsin, which has a class of 26 commitments. The headliner for the Badgers is terrific 4-star offensive lineman Jaden Gault, who could become an elite left tackle.

    Wisconsin went to Florida to get 4-star dual-threat quarterback D.J. Gillins, plus 4-star athlete Dareian Watkins could play anywhere. Guard George Panos and defensive ends Conor Sheehy and Billy Hirschfeld are underrated 3-star prospects, plus 3-star running back Taiwan Deal and 3-star receiver Krenwick Sanders will help on offense.

    Grade: B

21. Arizona State

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    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    Total commitments: 27

    Headliner: Derik Calhoun, OLB

    There's a good amount of talent headed to Tempe, as Arizona State is bringing in one of the better classes in the Pac-12. Head coach Todd Graham has done a solid job collecting talent, with 4-star linebacker Derik Calhoun being the best player in his 27-man group.

    However, keep an eye on 4-star quarterback Manny Wilkins. Receiver was a position of emphasis for the Sun Devils, evidenced by them landing 4-star prospects such as Tyler WhileyJalen Harvey and JUCO recruit Eric Lauderdale.

    Graham scored a late pledge from talented 3-star JUCO defensive tackle Dalvon Stuckey, while the defensive line will also be bolstered by the additions of 4-star defensive end Connor Humphreys and 4-star defensive tackle Tashon Smallwood.

    Running back Demario Richard and JUCO cornerback Kweishi Brown are 3-star recruits to watch.

    Grade: B

20. Notre Dame

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    Total commitments: 23

    Headliner: Nick Watkins, CB

    While Notre Dame has 23 commitments from players who play various positions, 12 of them play offensive or defensive line. That shows head coach Brian Kelly wants to beef up his roster in the trenches.

    Alex BarsQuenton Nelson and Sam Mustipher are talented 4-star offensive linemen. Andrew TrumbettiJay Hayes and Grant Blankenship are 4-star defensive linemen who are good fits for Notre Dame's scheme.

    Notre Dame also has a commitment from stud 4-star linebacker Nyles Morgan.

    The top player in the class, however, is 4-star cornerback Nick Watkins. From Texas, Watkins is 6'1" and 180 pounds, plus he can also play safety. Corey Holmes and Justin Brent are 4-star receivers who stand 6'2" and 6'3", respectively, while 4-star quarterback DeShone Kizer and 4-star tight end Tyler Luatua will also help on offense.

    Grade: A

    Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly said the following about Watkins on Feb. 1, via 247Sports:

    This is a long corner. This is draft day, you're getting a No. 1 draft pick. This kid is an exceptional football player. We think we got one of the best corners around. Long, athletic, can really do a lot of things for us.

19. USC

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    Total commitments: 19

    Headliner: Adoree' Jackson, CB

    USC only has room for 19 players in its class, but that hasn't stopped the Trojans from getting good quality. Adoree' Jackson, a 5-star cornerback who can also play receiver, is the best player in the group.

    Yet, 5-star athlete John Smith can also be considered a headliner. 

    Plus, USC has a pledge from Damien Mama, a high-end 4-star guard who is 6'4" and 370 pounds.

    Mama isn't the only 4-star offensive lineman coming to Troy, as Viane TalamaivaoChris Brown and Toa Lobendahn are also in the fold for USC. Tight end Bryce Dixon is a 4-star player who is more like a jumbo receiver, Jonathan Lockett is an instinctive 4-star cornerback, and 4-star defensive lineman Claudeson Pelon should help right away.

    Defensive ends Don Hill and Olajuwon Tucker and cornerbacks John Plattenburg Jr. and Lamont Simmons are 3-star recruits to keep an eye on. 

    Grade: B+

18. Texas A&M

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    Total commitments: 21

    Headliner: Kyle Allen, QB

    This is another outstanding recruiting class for head coach Kevin Sumlin. Texas A&M is building one of the most talented rosters in the country, so there's going to be a lot of fireworks in College Station for awhile.

    Sumlin boasts three 5-star prospects in his class, as quarterback Kyle Allen, receiver Speedy Noil and Myles Garrett are an elite trio. Jermaine Eluemunor and Avery Gennesy are good 4-star JUCO offensive linemen, plus Otaro Alaka and Josh Walker are impressive 4-star linebackers.

    Defensive back Nick Harvey, defensive end Qualen Cunningham and receiver Frank Iheanacho are also 4-star recruits who have the potential to be stars for the Aggies.

    Grade: A

17. Oklahoma State

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    Brett Deering/Getty Images

    Total commitments: 29

    Headliner: Tyreek Hill, RB

    With 29 commitments, Oklahoma State has one of the biggest classes in the nation. However, it's full of solid quality from top to bottom.

    Tyreek Hill, a shifty 4-star JUCO running back, has the speed and quickness to be a good fit for the Cowboys' spread offense. Devon Thomas, who has more power than Hill, is also a 4-star running back in the group.

    With head coach Mike Gundy being a former quarterback, it should shock no one he has a good one in his class in 4-star field general Mason Rudolph. Rudolph will likely throwing to 4-star receiver Keenen Brown

    Defensively, 4-star linebacker Gyasi Akem leads the way. Plus, watch out for strong 3-star guard Lemaefe Galeai

    Grade: B

16. UCLA

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    Total commitments: 18

    Headliner: Zach Whitley, LB

    Although it's a bit on the small side, this is another fantastic recruiting class for UCLA head coach Jim Mora. His staff is full of premier recruiters, which helps the Bruins lure good talent to Westwood.

    UCLA has 18 commitments, with eight playing either linebacker or defensive back. Zach Whitley is part of a linebacker group that also features fellow 4-star stud Kenny Young, plus 3-star prospects Dwight Williams and Cameron Griffin.

    Jaleel Wadood and Adarius Pickett are solid 4-star defensive backs, while 4-star running back Nathan Starks and 4-star receiver Alex Van Dyke will be weapons on offense.

    Grade: B+

15. Louisville

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    Timothy D. Easley/Associated Press

    Total commitments: 20

    Headliner: Reggie Bonnafon, QB

    While Charlie Strong is now at Texas, Louisville made a splashy hire by bringing back Bobby Petrino. The Cardinals don't have a 4-star recruit in their class, but Petrino will make it work.

    Reggie Bonnafon is the top get for Louisville, as he's a 3-star dual-threat quarterback with the mobility to burn defenses with his legs. Cornelius Sturghill is a 3-star athlete who can play cornerback or receiver, plus 3-star offensive tackle Lukayus McNeil has major upside.

    Grade: C

14. LSU

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    Total commitments: 23

    Headliner: Leonard Fournette, RB

    Baton Rouge is one of the happiest places in the world right now, as LSU has signed an exceptional recruiting class. Head coach Les Miles used his charm to land 23 talented football players, with 5-star running back Leonard Fournette being the headliner.

    Yet, the Tigers also have commitments from 5-star receiver Malachi Dupre, 5-star safety Jamal Adams and 5-star linebacker Clifton Garrett. Quarterback Brandon Harris and safety Edward Paris are elite 4-star prospects, plus 4-star receiver Trey Quinn is also in this class.

    The players mentioned are really just the tip of the iceberg, because LSU's group is phenomenal.  

    Grade: A

13. Baylor

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    Matt York/Associated Press

    Total commitments: 28

    Headliner: KD Cannon, WR

    Baylor is fresh off of an 11-2 season that saw them emerge on the national scene. That's why the Bears are emerging on the national recruiting trail, and their class of 28 commitments is an impressive collection of talent.

    KD Cannon is a 5-star receiver who has outstanding speed, hands and quickness. He'll be joined in Waco by 4-star athletes Davion Hall and Terence Williams, plus 4-star linebacker T'Kevian Rockwell.

    Blake Blackmar is a big 3-star guard who is 6'5" and 320 pounds, while fellow 3-star guard Josh Pelzel is even bigger at 6'7" and 320 pounds. Head coach Art Briles and his staff did a solid job recruiting in 2014.

    Grade: B

12. Ohio State

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    Total commitments: 23

    Headliner: Raekwon McMillan, LB

    Head coach Urban Meyer is one of the best recruiters in the history of the game, so Ohio State's grade shouldn't come as a surprise. 

    The Buckeyes' class is headlined by 5-star linebacker Raekwon McMillan, who has a chance to play right away. Damon Webb and Marshon Lattimore will make a nice 4-star cornerback tandem one day, with 4-star safety Erick Smith and 4-star linebackers Dante BookerKyle Berger and Sam Hubbard joining them on defense.

    Parris CampbellJohnnie Dixon and Curtis Samuel are 4-star offensive skill-position prospects who are lethal with the ball. Also, the offensive line class features solid 4-star blockers such as Kyle TroutJamarco Jones and Demetrius Knox.

    Grade: A

11. Stanford

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    Total commitments: 21

    Headliner: Solomon Thomas, DE

    Another strong class of recruits is set to come to The Farm, as Stanford has a 21-man group. Solomon Thomas, a 5-star defensive end from Texas, is the top-rated recruit.

    However, 4-star quarterback Keller Chryst is the group's most important player. The Cardinal received a commitment late in the process from 4-star offensive tackle Casey Tucker, who should make some devastating blocks alongside 4-star tight end Dalton Schultz.

    Christian McCaffrey is an elusive 4-star running back, plus the defense will grow stronger with the additions of 4-star safety Brandon Simmons and 4-star linebackers Joey Alfieri and Bobby Okereke.

    Grade: B+

10. UCF

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    David Manning-USA TODAY Sports

    Total commitments: 17

    Headliner: Tyler Harris, QB

    While UCF has a commitment from 4-star safety Kyle Gibson, the player to watch in this group is 3-star quarterback Tyler Harris.

    From Georgia, Harris is a strong-armed passer who is 6'4" and 225 pounds. The Knights also have a pledge from 3-star safety Chris Williams, while 3-star defensive tackle Jamiyus Pittman is an underrated player at his position.

    Grade: C+ 

9. Oregon

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    Total commitments: 20

    Headliner: Arrion Springs, CB

    Oregon has a class of 20 commitments, with five being defensive linemen. However, the top player is 4-star cornerback Arrion Springs, who is from California.

    The Ducks should get immediate production from 4-star JUCO guard Haniteli Lousi, while 4-star linebacker Jimmie Swain has the speed and range to excel in the Pac-12. At running back, Oregon has a lightning-and-thunder combination in the works with 4-star runners Tony James and Royce Freeman.

    Quarterback Morgan Mahalak and receiver Jalen Brown are other notable 4-star offensive talents. Finally, 3-star safety Mattrell McGraw will make the Ducks' secondary a lot more physical once he settles in.

    Grade: B+

8. Clemson

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    Total commitments: 20

    Headliner: Deshaun Watson, QB

    Head coach Dabo Swinney and his staff have pulled off another terrific recruiting job, as Clemson has one of the top groups in the ACC and nation.

    The class is centered around 4-star quarterback Deshaun Watson, who will be able to throw to 4-star receivers such as Trevion Thompson, Kyrin PriesterDemarre Kitt and Artavis Scott

    Clemson also has three 4-star linebackers in Richard Yeargin IIIChris Register and Korie RogersAdam Choice, a 4-star prospect, is listed as an athlete, but he'll likely play running back. Watch out for 4-star offensive tackle Cannon Smith and 3-star tight end Milan Richard.

    Grade: B+

7. Alabama

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    Total commitments: 26

    Headliner: Cameron Robinson, OT

    Alabama's grade shouldn't be a shock, as it as an all-time great group of recruits on paper. Head coach Nick Saban and his staff are recruiting robots, and top talent flocks to Tuscaloosa on an annual basis.

    Cameron Robinson is a 5-star offensive lineman who could start this fall, while other 5-star commitments include defensive end Da'Shawn Hand, linebacker Rashaan Evans, athlete Bo Scarbrough and cornerbacks Marlon Humphrey and Tony Brown.

    This class also features elite 4-star studs such as linebacker Christian Miller, quarterback David Cornwell, receiver Cameron Sims, linebacker Shaun Hamilton and safety Laurence Jones.

    Grade: A+

    Ryan Bartow of 247Sports wrote on Feb 1:

    As the ink dried on the National Letters-of-Intent this afternoon it was Alabama again on top of the 247Sports Team Rankings (powered exclusively by 247Sports Composite rankings) and capturing the 2014 Recruiting National Championship.

6. Oklahoma

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    Total commitments: 26

    Headliner: Joe Mixon, RB

    Oklahoma head coach Bob Stoops put together one of his best classes in years with his 2014 haul. Joe Mixon, a 5-star running back from California, is the top player.

    The Sooners landed 4-star athlete Michiah Quick and 4-star safety Steven Parker as crowning pieces to a group that also has 4-star quarterback Justice HansenMark AndrewsDallis Todd and Jeffery Mead are a talented trio of 4-star receivers, while linebacker Devante Bond and tight end Isaac Ijalana are solid 3-star JUCO recruits.

    Also, keep an eye on 3-star guard Natrell Curtis.

    Grade: B+

5. Missouri

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    Total commitments: 28

    Headliner: Andy Bauer, OT

    In one of the biggest turnarounds in recent memory, Missouri finished the 2013 season with a 12-2 record. The Tigers have a recruiting class coming to campus that should help them continue to contend in the SEC.

    The headliner is 4-star offensive lineman Andy Bauer, who has the skills to become a great right tackle. The defensive class is led by talented 4-star linebacker Brandon Lee, plus gritty 3-star cornerback Raymond Wingo will help.

    Also, Missouri's trend of big receivers will continue with 6'4" 3-star prospect Desean Blair and 6'3", 210-pounder Nate Brown, who is also a 3-star recruit.

    Grade: B

4. South Carolina

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    Total commitments: 20

    Headliner: Bryson Allen-Williams, OLB

    With 19 commitments, South Carolina has yet another solid class of talent to help it compete for SEC East titles. Head coach Steve Spurrier, noted for his offensive intelligence, has 10 defensive pledges.

    The headliner of his class is 4-star linebacker Bryson Allen-Williams, who has great speed and quickness. Donell Stanley is a powerful 4-star guard, plus 4-star receiver Shaq Davidson will be challenged in practice by 4-star cornerbacks D.J. Smith and Chris Lammons.

    It'll also be interesting to track the career and production of 6'0" 4-star tight end Kevin Crosby.

    Grade: B

3. Michigan State

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    Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

    Total commitments: 22

    Headliner: Malik McDowell, DL

    Michigan State came into national signing day on edge due to the looming decision of 5-star defensive lineman Malik McDowell. Well, the Spartans got their man, as he is the gem of their class.

    Examining MSU's group, it's quick to see that it's an impressive one. Montae Nicholson is a big 4-star safety at 6'3" and 200 pounds, while the Spartans took 4-star defensive tackle Craig Evans from Big Ten foe Wisconsin.

    Brian Allen is a 4-star center who will help continue the trend of tough blockers for head coach Mark Dantonio.

    Michigan State is also getting excellent quality in 3-star prospects such as defensive tackle Enoch Smith Jr., linebacker/safety Byron Bullough and fullback Gerald Owens

    Grade: B

2. Auburn

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    Total commitments: 23

    Headliner: Roc Thomas, RB

    Head coach Gus Malzahn has to feel giddy about his class of 23 commitments. He has has two 5-star commitments in running back Roc Thomas and linebacker Tre' Williams, plus JUCO receiver D'haquille Williams is an elite 4-star prospect.

    Speaking of JUCO recruits, 4-star safety Derrick Moncrief will make an immediate impact. Nick RuffinKalvaraz Bessent and Stephen Roberts are also 4-star defensive backs coming to play early on The Plains.

    Sean White should be smiling that fellow 4-star prospect Braden Smith will protect him at guard. Andrew Williams and DaVonte Lambert are solid 4-star defensive ends who will like having 4-star recruit Dontavius Russell inside at defensive tackle.

    Grade: A

1. Florida State

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    Total commitments: 29

    Headliner: Dalvin Cook, RB

    The champs are enjoying their deserved spoils, with recruiting being one of them. Florida State has a 29-man group with 5-star running back Dalvin Cook and 5-star receiver Ermon Lane leading the way.

    Derrick Nnadi is a strong 4-star defensive tackle, while 4-star linebacker Jacob Pugh can also play defensive end. Chad Mavety is a great 4-star JUCO offensive tackle who is joined in the class by Roderick Johnson, a stud 4-star offensive lineman from Missouri.

    Other notable 4-star prospects in the class include receiver Travis Rudolph, linebacker Kain Daub, safety Trey Marshall and athlete Javon Harrison.

    Grade: A

2014 Bleacher Report College Football Recruiting Heat Map

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    Many of the top recruits in the 2014 Bleacher Report College Football Recruiting Heat Map signed with one of the Top 25 teams in the country!

    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.