College Football Recruiting 2012: Early Top 10 Recruiting Classes

Edwin WeathersbyAnalyst IMay 16, 2011

College Football Recruiting 2012: Early Top 10 Recruiting Classes

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    Ranking recruiting classes can be a tricky and fluid process, as many factors weigh into the process. Size of a class, quality, filling of critical needs and ever-so-controversial star power.

    Surely the rankings on this edition's list reflect the current status as of now, and will fluctuate routinely all the way through National Signing Day 2012.

    But for now, we decided to rank the 10 best recruiting classes we like thus far for the 2012 recruiting class.

    Here's a quick and early look.

10. LSU

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    LSU comes in at this slot as the Tigers have a nine-man class going so far. The Boys of Baton Rouge usually are among the dominant recruiting schools, so this is no shock.

    Right now the headliner is 4-star WR Avery Johnson, the younger brother of former Tiger DB Patrick Peterson. At 6'2", 185 pounds, Johnson has great speed and a high ceiling. Torshiro Davis is a 6'3", 210 pound 4-star DE/OLB type who makes plays wherever he's at on defense.

    A sleeper is LB Trey Garnier. He's only rated three stars, but has been uber-productive and is a tackling machine.

9. USC

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    Right now, as it stands, the Trojans have a six-man class, with four out the six pledges being 4-star status or higher.

    Lane Kiffin and Ed Orgeron have not let the sanctions stand in their way of infusing more talent and bodies on the roster in Troy.

    The headliner now and through the recruiting period will be Arik Armstead. The younger brother of current Trojan DL Armond Armstead, Arik is a 6'8", 280 pounder who can play DE, DT and LT. Some consider him to be the No. 1-overall player for the 2012 class.

    Jabari Ruffin is a 6'4", 230-pound future starter at SAM LB, while Darreus Rogers and Jayden Mickens are top talents as receivers.

8. Michigan

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    Brady Hoke has burst out of the gate in his first full recruiting cycle in Ann Arbor. It really seems he and his staff are bent on returning Big Blue to its place among the elite, and they certainly know it starts on the recruiting trail.

    Hoke has scored 11 commitments already, including his most recent pledge of 4-star LB James Ross. Ross' pledge is a huge get, as he will team with other 4-star LBs in Royce Jenkins-Stone, Kaleb Ringer and Joe Bolden to form a solid future LB core for Greg Mattison

7. Texas A&M

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    Mike Sherman is off to a fantastic start, having already secured an astonishing 21 pledges for his 2012 recruiting class. Six players of the 21 are rated four stars or higher.

    The two big-time commitments are 5-star RB Trey Williams and 4-star QB Matt Davis. Williams is a 5'8", 180-pound shifty jitterbug type of back who isn't the biggest, but is among the quickest players in America.

    Davis is a 6'1", 200-pound signal caller who missed his junior year with a torn ACL, but he is so athletic that talk is being bantered of him perhaps playing receiver for the Aggies.

    Sherman just got a recent commitment from 4-star speedster ATH Bralon Addison, as well.

6.Notre Dame

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    Notre Dame's current class is small, like USC's, but like the Trojans, it has quality.

    The Irish have six commitments, but four out the six are rated four stars or higher, including 5-star DB Ronny Darby, considered the best cornerback prospect in the country.

    At 5'11", 175 pounds, Darby also will be joined on the back end in South Bend by 6'0", 172-pound 4-star cornerback Tee Shepard, rated No. 3 at his position

5. Florida

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    Will Muschamp has hit the ground running for the 2012 class.

    He saw a solid 2011 class sign with the Gators, but with recruiting powers restored by Urban Meyer, a top-five class is expected year in and year out in Gainesville.

    The Gators have a nine-commit class thus far for 2012, headlined by athletic left-tackle prospect Jessamen Dunker.

    At 6'6", 315 pounds, Dunker is a super athletic big man who could see himself in the NFL in just a few short years.

    Matt Jones is one of the top "big back" prospects in the country, and he and Mike Davis give the Gators a formidable tandem in the backfield going forward

4. Ohio State

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    Ohio State has gotten off to a good start, but this may be the highest the Buckeyes get in the recruiting rankings. I'm just not sure if they will score as many more elite recruits as they should with looming uncertainty surrounding the program.

    However, the Buckeyes have a quality class going so far. A six-man class to this date, Ohio State has two 5-star prospects already secured, in RB Brionte Dunn, a 6'1", 220-pound power back, and OT Kyle Kalis, a 6'5", 305 pounder who can play left and right tackle

    Dunn is a tad shaky right now, as he says he is solid to the Buckeyes, but recently took a shocking visit to Michigan.

3. Florida State

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    The Seminoles have already loaded up on pass rushers in this class, with three DE pledges thus far in 2012 recruiting.

    The headliner not only of the DE class, but for the overall commit list for FSU, is 5-star defensive end Mario Edwards.

    At 6'4", 275 pounds, Edwards has strong-side potential and is likely the most complete edge defender in the country. Chris Casher and Dante Fowler are not slouches either, and all three will terrorize ACC QBs for years, with Dalvon Stuckey in the middle.

    P.J. Williams is one of the top safety prospects in the country, and Mario Pender is a super-productive running back with a very high ceiling

2. Texas

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    Mack Brown and the Longhorns are at it again.

    Sixteen commits already and May is not even done yet. Wow.

    Brown and Texas have changed the way everybody recruits at the FBS level, and they still keep a few paces ahead of everyone else.

    The class is led by 5'11", 195-pound Johnathan Gray, who in my opinion is the top running back in the country. He and class of 2011 running back Malcolm Brown will be a dangerous tandem in Austin. 

    Mack Brown has another QB in the fold in Connor Brewer, along with two elite receivers in Cayleb Jones and Thomas Johnson.

    Defensive tackle Malcolm Brown, Bryson Echols and Peter Jinkens could develop into stalwarts on the Longhorn defense. Twelve out of the 16 commits for Texas are 4-star players or higher.

1. Alabama

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    The Tide have seen themselves become a recruiting juggernaut under Nick Saban. Saban's approach to recruiting is disciplined, smart and thorough. It's the same approach used at FSU, South Carolina, Florida and LSU.

    For his 2012 class, Saban has 11 commits, with seven of those players having 4-star ratings or higher.

    The headliners so far are Reggie Ragland, a 5-star, 6'4", 245-pound linebacker, and Eddie Williams, a 6'4", 205-pound ATH who likely will be a free safety.

    Other 4-star standouts includes OLB Tyler Hayes, RB Kenyan Drake, DT Dakota Ball, WR/QB/ATH Justin Thomas and OT Brandon Greene.