The Top 10 Surprise College Football Teams to Watch After National Signing Day

Bleacher ReportCorrespondent IFebruary 5, 2011

The Top 10 Surprise College Football Teams to Watch After National Signing Day

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    National Signing Day has now past and it's time to reflect on which teams performed well on the recruiting trail and those that didn't fare so well.

    Many teams, like Auburn, USC, Georgia, Tennessee, Alabama, Ohio State and many, many others, are expected to do well on National Signing Day. Amidst a hot bed of recruits and known for their abilities both on the football field and on the recruiting trail, these are the perennial powers we know will be in the mix year in and year out.

    Other teams, however, come out of nowhere on any given year. They hit the trail hard and don't look back. Regardless of past performance on the trail or the field, many teams go hard after recruits and smile on the first Wednesday in February.

    Here are the top 10 surprise college football teams to watch after National Signing Day.



10. Clemson

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    Yes, we all know that Clemson should compete year in and year out. The Tigers have proven their worth on the recruiting trail time and again.

    Still, this year's crop of recruits is shocking even for a program with as lofty a reputation as Clemson.

    On National Signing Day, the Tigers welcomed letters of intent from four 5-star recruits. Not bad.

9. Virginia

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    The Cavaliers performed well on the recruiting trail despite a terrible year on the field.

    Competing with North Carolina, Virginia Tech and a host of SEC and ACC schools for recruits, Virginia pushed on, desperate to erase the memory of a 4-8 season.

    The Cavs did just that, grabbing 4-star players Demetrious Nicholson, Darius Jennings, Dominique Terrell and Brandon Phelps along the way.

8. Central Florida

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    Following a season in which they went 11-3 and 7-1 in C-USA play, the Knights surely had to live up to heightened expectations.

    And did they ever.

    Central Florida welcomed 29 new recruits to the program Wednesday and will look towards wide receiver Jacques Mackeroy, athlete Jeremy Davis and outside linebacker Willie Mitchell to lead the way on the field next fall.

7. Boston College

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    Given the fact that UConn reached a BCS Bowl this past season, the Eagles needed to make a strong push to gain the top recruits in the northeast.

    Luckily for them, the allure of the ACC was too much to overcome, as Boston College landed what considers the No. 39 class in the country.

    With highly-touted cornerback and former Miami commitment Albert Louis-Jean and 30th-ranked tight end Brian Miller, the Eagles did their best to keep the state's best talent in state.

6. Rutgers

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    Two words: Savon Huggins.

    While there is certainly plenty of depth to the Rutgers' 2011 recruiting class, it's clear that Huggins is the focal point for the program moving forward.

    The 5-star recruit leads a solid class for head coach Greg Schiano that will surely help the Scarlet Knights turn around a 4-8 2010 record and get them back into the mix in the Big East.

5. Washington

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    Competing against schools like Oregon, Stanford, USC and Cal, the Huskies did a terrific job of keeping pace to compile what considers the No. 23 class in the country.

    The Huskies recruited successfully highly-touted and 5-star receiver Kasen Williams and top 10 offensive tackle Austin Seferian-Jenkins. Both players will be among the foundation that helps Washington move past its 7-6 campaign in 2010.

4. Cal

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    What was said about Washington can surely be applied to Cal.

    Cal made a big splash at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl when it snagged highly-touted defensive tackle Viliami Moala from USC.

    It continued through National Signing Day, when the Bears received letters of intent from 22 commits, including five ESPN150 players.

3. North Carolina

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    The Tarheels did a solid job of keeping the attention on the football field despite it being basketball season in Chapel Hill.

    And head coach Butch Davis and co. did that by keeping their collective foot on the recruiting gas pedal to compile what calls the 16th best class in the country.

2. Louisville

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    Perhaps it was the way that Louisville head coach Charlie Strong handled his business that makes his 2011 recruiting class so impressive.

    Strong walked right into Miami's back door and plucked a handful of top players right out from under the eyes of the Hurricanes and a host of other top schools.

    With the additions of No. 3 safety Gerod Hollimon, 15th-ranked wide receiver Eli Rogers and Teddy Bridgewater, the ninth-ranked quarterback, the Cardinals are primed to be a team to beat in the Big East for years to come.

1. Utah

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    Making the move to the Pac-12, the Utes needed to make a significant splash.

    And that's just what they did.

    Now competing with Pac-10 powers rather than the best of the Mountain West, Utah performed well. The program will look towards 4-star wide receiver Quinton Padroza and highly-touted running back Harvey Langi as the building blocks for its Pac-12 future.