College football's top dogs prevailed yet again on national signing day, but they're not the only squads excited about their new recruits.
As per usual, Alabama came away a big winner, luring six 5-star and 15 4-star recruits into town. The Crimson Tide's SEC cohorts did their best to keep up, as seven of 247 Sports' top-10 recruiting classes come from the conference.
LSU won the top prize in Leonard Fournette, a perfectly built running back who piled up 3,697 all-purpose yards last season.
Not every successful recruiting class, however, needs a superstar anchoring the brigade.
These three teams won't top the rankings for best recruits, but they'll enter the 2014 season feeling great about their new talent.
|2014 College Football Recruiting Rankings|
|Rank||Team||5-Star Recruits||4-Star Recruits||3-Star Recruits|
Tennessee (No. 7)
Although Tennessee nearly upset Georgia before knocking down South Carolina, it spend a good chunk of the 2013 season getting decimated by other SEC behemoths. On paper, the Volunteers fell short of their peers yet again, but they assembled a deep class of intriguing talent.
Jalen Hurd, who rushed for 43 touchdowns in 2013, will join them along with Daniel Helm, a tight end who can become a major mismatch and receiving playmaker. These guys might not suit up right away, but they'll make a difference down the line.
Ranking Tennessee, who didn't not land any 5-star recruits, No. 7 might be a bit conservative, and they enrolled enough talent to deserve top-five consideration.
USC (No. 11)
Back to operating at full strength, USC is looking to regain its position as a college football dynamo.
The Trojans took some significant steps to achieving that goal, most notably landing Adoree' Jackson. The nation's top-rated cornerback, Jackson amassed 17 interceptions throughout his high school tenure.
Jackson was one of two 5-star talents to sign his letter of intent with USC, along with John "JuJu" Smith, who doubled as a wide receiver and safety at Long Beach Poly. No matter where he lines up, Smith's athleticism will shine on the college stage.
Landing two of California's top prospects will pay major dividends for USC going forward.
Kentucky (No. 22)
Take a look at everyone occupying the top of the recruiting rankings, and they're all juggernaut programs loaded with years of rich history.
Kentucky is not a school that comes to mind as a football powerhouse, yet it scored a great group of new players.
Usually synonymous with basketball, perhaps the allure of its hoops program rubbed off on incoming freshmen. The school is a factory for producing future NBA talent, but the football squad went 2-10 last year, losing all eight of its SEC matches.
The runt in a loaded conference, Kentucky allows its players to enter the spotlight, even if it's while the team is getting manhandled by Alabama or LSU. Nevertheless, that was enough to land the Wildcats 23 3-star prospects and six 4-star recruits.
Defensive tackle Matt Elam earned a composite rating of 164, but 247Sports touts him as the third-best tackle at No. 21 overall. They also snagged one of the class' best quarterbacks in Drew Barker, a local product from Hebron.
They certainly have a long, tough road ahead of them, but this is a good start for the Wildcats to become relevant on the college football circuit.
All recruiting rankings and information courtesy of 247Sports unless otherwise stated.