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Top College Football Recruiting Classes: Highlighting Most Impressive Showings

New Southern California football head coach Steve Sarkisian, left, and USC president, C. L. Max Nikias laugh during a news conference on Tuesday, Dec. 3, 2013, in Los Angeles. USC hired Sarkisian away from Washington on Monday, bringing back the former Trojans offensive coordinator to his native Los Angeles area and the storied program where he thrived as Pete Carroll's assistant. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
Jae C. Hong/Associated Press
Richard LangfordCorrespondent IFebruary 6, 2014

As always, national signing day delivered prospects to their future programs. This distribution was not done evenly. It never is. That is all part of the tradition of college football. 

It is fun to evaluate classes, as much for the potential that the incoming players will bring to the field as it is to see the kind of pull programs currently have on top recruits. 

Of course, some programs have left it very difficult for them to impress us. For instance, it can't be all that surprising to anyone that Alabama sits atop the 2014 class rankings by 247Sports

Alabama has made a tradition out of dominating recruiting. What Nick Saban has built there is extremely impressive. That said, Alabama's 2014 recruiting class isn't as impressive as it is expected at this point. 

For the teams I highlight below, I am going to point out the recruiting efforts that impressed by exceeding expectations. 

First, have a look at how 247Sports rank the top classes, and then I'll highlight the three most impressive programs:  

247Sports' 2014 Class Ranking
RankSchool
1Alabama
2LSU
3Ohio State
4Florida State
5Texas A&M
6Auburn
7Tennessee
8Georgia
9Florida
10Notre Dame
11USC
12Miami
13Stanford
14Oklahoma
15South Carolina
16Ole Miss
17Texas
18Clemson
19UCLA
20Michigan
21Oregon
22Kentucky
23Arizona State
24Penn State
25Michigan State
Source: 247Sports

 

USC

Jae C. Hong/Associated Press

It was just this past September when former Trojans head coach Lane Kiffin was running this proud program into the ground. The team was fracturing and struggling on the field. Ed Orgeron took over on an interim basis, and the team made quick improvements on the field. 

The uncertainty at the head coaching position wasn't doing the recruiting any favors. At the end of the season, Steve Sarkisian was hired and began to work his magic on the recruiting trail. It paid instant dividends as the Trojans earned some late commitments that boosted them up to 11th in 247Sports' rankings. 

USC landed two prospects on signing day who pushed the class over the top. 

And all of that comes despite the Trojans working on their last year of sanctions and limited scholarships.

The fact that Sarkisian was able to so quickly turn USC around is impressive, and it should be a touch frightening for the rest of the nation's programs. 

 

Florida

COLUMBIA, SC - NOVEMBER 16:  Head coach Will Muschamp of the Florida Gators watches on before their game against the South Carolina Gamecocks at Williams-Brice Stadium on November 16, 2013 in Columbia, South Carolina.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Image
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

Florida coming in with a ninth-ranked recruiting class isn't typically something to get excited over. Considering how awful the Gators were last year, it is rather shocking. 

Florida finished the year 4-8, and that doesn't even tell the whole story. The Gators lost their last seven games of the year as injuries took their toll on a tough defense. 

Florida's offense, however, was awful all year. The Gators finished last season ranked 114th in the nation in points scored. In short, the Gators were not playing the kind of football that I'd expect the typical recruit to be drawn to. 

Nevertheless, Florida hauled in an outstanding class that was highlighted by a late coup: 

The Gators are in a strong position to show that the malaise over the program from last season is not here to stay. 

 

Kentucky

Garry Jones/Associated Press

Closing in on McDonald's All-American Rashad Vaughn, Kentucky basketball is proving once again it is a force to be reckoned with. 

Wait, this is about football. That above ranking by 247Sports is about football, right? 

I know it is, it's just weird seeing Kentucky in the top 25. The Wildcats won just two games last year and just two the year before that. This program is not typically a destination spot for gridiron talent. 

This year's class features six recruits who are 4-star players in 247Sports' composite rankings

That includes the late coup of Lloyd Tubman, who previously decommitted from Penn State, according to Pat Tholey of 247Sports:

All of a sudden, I guess Kentucky is a program that produces top-25 recruiting classes and steals recruits from Penn State. Frankly, I'm surprised and definitely impressed. 

 

All recruiting rankings and information courtesy of 247Sports.

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