National Signing Day 2016: Grading Every Top 25 Team's Recruiting Class
College football fans across the country can finally take a moment to catch their breath in the wake of another action-packed national signing day.
The annual event allows America's most talented high school seniors to take center stage and put pen to paper on a national letter of intent to the university of their choice.
The process that preceded Wednesday's developments spanned years, as the recruitment process started for many elite talents during underclassman seasons. Now that the dust is settled, we've taken a broad look at the big picture, placing the spotlight on 247Sports' top 25 recruiting classes in 2016.
The outcome of 2016 recruiting efforts won't ultimately be understood until at least 2020, but speculation about which teams landed the best talent based on high school production and camp performances started well before signing day.
We've assigned grades to these top 25 classes, assessing each group based on how it measured up to early expectations in the cycle and how coaching staffs closed down the stretch.
25. Arkansas: C+
Top of the Class
5-star defensive end McTelvin Agim, Hope High School (Hope, Arkansas)
The 6'2 ½", 268-pound wrecking ball matches impressive strength with speed off the edge, creating a lethal combination that keeps offensive linemen on their heels. Rated No. 2 among strong-side defensive ends, Agim is enrolled in Fayetteville following a senior season that featured freakish production (75 tackles, 34.5 sacks and nine pass breakups, according to Richard Davenport of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette).
4-star running back Devwah Whaley, Beaumont Central High School (Beaumont, Texas)
Whaley previously pledged to Georgia in November, but the pact didn't last long, as he explored other options after a coaching change in Athens. Arkansas loves to pound the rock for four quarters and found a guy who can do just that, as Whaley collected 2,835 rushing yards and 33 touchdowns during the past two seasons.
4-star defensive tackle Austin Capps, Star City High School (Star City, Arkansas)
Capps is rated the No. 2 recruit in Arkansas behind only Agim, so his addition was huge for the Razorbacks last winter. The homegrown lineman, who is college-ready from a physical standpoint (6'3 ½", 307 lbs), collected 86 tackles—17 for loss— and five sacks in 2015, according to 247Sports' Otis Kirk (h/t Matt Barbato of SEC Country).
There are some terrific additions in the trenches, which we've come to expect as a trademark of head coach Bret Bielema's classes.
Arkansas carries two of the country's top 30 strong-side defensive ends and two of the top 31 defensive tackles, while Whaley is an ideal back who can help make up for an overall lack of major-impact perimeter additions on offense in this haul.
24. Nebraska: B
Top of the Class
4-star quarterback Patrick O'Brien, San Juan Hills High School (San Juan Capistrano, California)
A late bloomer on the recruiting trail, O'Brien actually delivered a very strong case to be considered California's top quarterback recruit by the end of his senior campaign. The 6'4", 230-pound passer displays quality mobility for his stature. In just two seasons as San Juan Hills' starter, he tallied 4,988 passing yards, 1,266 rushing yards and 65 scores, according to Steve Breazeale of the Capistrano Dispatch.
4-star offensive guard John Raridon, Valley High School (West Des Moines, Iowa)
The 6'2", 258-pound lineman is tough as nails and presents a physical frame that's prepared to pack on some pounds as he develops. Coaches will love his tenacity and ability to swiftly pull, sealing off rushing lanes along the line for teammates.
4-star safety Lamar Jackson, Franklin High School (Elk Grove, California)
This 6'3", 205-pound defender is rangy enough to man multiple positions in a collegiate secondary, separating himself from the pack with an eagerness to play physical against the run. It wouldn't be a surprise to see Jackson emerge among the Big Ten's top defensive backfield newcomers as a true freshman. He'll aim to make an immediate mark.
Credit the Cornhuskers staff for its hustle, which includes the acquisition of recruits from 14 states. O'Brien was an excellent find in particular, and he should be well protected by an offensive line that adds Raridon and two top-40 tackles.
23. TCU: B+
Top of the Class
4-star athlete Sewo Olonilua, Kingwood High School (Humble, Texas)
The 6'2 ½", 217-pound prospect is extremely versatile, offering glimpses of stardom on both sides of the ball and warranting a No. 5 overall rating among "athletes" in this cycle. He looked excellent at running back during U.S. Army All-American Bowl action, backing up his first 1,000-yard rushing campaign in 2015 that featured 13 scores on the ground.
4-star wide receiver Taj Williams, Iowa Western C.C. (Council Bluffs, Iowa)
Williams is the cycle's premier junior college wide receiver prospect, warranting offers from Alabama and Florida State. The 6'3", 180-pound playmaker caught 51 passes for 648 yards and nine touchdowns in 2015.
4-star defensive end Isaiah Chambers, Aldine MacArthur High School (Houston, Texas)
Rated No. 7 among strong-side defensive ends, Chambers is the most impressive incoming Horned Frogs freshman on that side of the ball. He's extremely swift at 258 pounds, providing consistent pass rush that resulted in 32 tackles for loss and 21 sacks as a junior.
TCU picked up three top-10 overall junior college recruits and may have the Lone Star State's biggest steal in Olonilua (No. 20 in composite state rankings). With three 4-star linemen and three 4-star wide receivers, this talent collection hits well inside and out.
22. Michigan State: A-
Top of the Class
4-star wide receiver Donnie Corley, Martin Luther King High School (Detroit, Michigan)
Corley capped off his prep career with a game-winning Hail Mary reception in the state championship game, bringing his senior-season totals to 1,408 receiving yards and 16 touchdown catches. He pledged to the Spartans over Ohio State, Tennessee and Michigan during U.S. Army All-American Bowl action.
4-star defensive end Josh King, Hinsdale South High School (Darien, Illinois)
The nation's No. 6-ranked strong-side defensive end headlines a five-player haul from Illinois for Michigan State in this cycle. King, who stands nearly 6'7", displays agility as a state champion wrestler and tallied 82 tackles and eight sacks in 2015, according to Bob Narang of the Chicago Tribune.
4-star quarterback Messiah deWeaver, Wayne High School (Dayton, Ohio)
The Elite 11 finalist threw for 2,924 yards, 32 touchdowns and just four interceptions as a senior. He joined Michigan State's class as a junior after spending a stretch committed to Michigan under former Wolverines head coach Brady Hoke.
Michigan State managed to land four of the state's top 10 overall prospects, including the highly coveted Corley. DeWeaver is already on campus working with two 4-star wide receivers, and another pair of 4-star pass-catchers arrive this summer, setting the stage for a strong future passing attack.
21. Miami: B
Top of the Class
4-star linebacker Shaquille Quarterman, Oakleaf High School (Orange Park, Florida)
Like other athletes featured on this list, Quarterman remained a Hurricanes commit despite frustrating defeats that defined the end of former head coach Al Golden's tenure. He's an enforcer at the second level and is the type of passionate playmaker who can help a new regime reestablish Miami's tone against opponents.
4-star wide receiver Sam Bruce, St. Thomas Aquinas High School (Fort Lauderdale, Florida)
His 5'8" frame might not pass many eye tests, but Bruce is well built for his stature, weighing in at 180 pounds and battling downfield as an effective blocker. He's a blur along the sidelines, helping him tally 11 touchdown catches as an upperclassman.
4-star quarterback Jack Allison, Palmetto High School (Palmetto, Florida)
Allison is another early member of a Miami class that underwent extensive changes along the way, and he never wavered in his confidence about the Hurricanes' potential. He tossed 29 touchdowns as an upperclassman, collecting 3,072 passing yards along the way.
If you were looking for a dramatic drop-off or surge after the coaching change, it didn't exactly turn out that way. However, head coach Mark Richt did stabilize the situation with several fragile commitments, and that ultimately salvages a class that will be counted on to contribute for a new staff.
20. Oklahoma: B-
Top of the Class
5-star linebacker Caleb Kelly, Clovis West High School (Fresno, California)
Kelly beat out a crowded field of elite talent for the Dick Butkus Award, which is handed out each year to America's top high school linebacker. He made a mighty case for the honor with outstanding pass coverage and gaudy stats (115 tackles, 23 for loss and 21 sacks in 2015, according to the Fresno Bee).
4-star quarterback Austin Kendall, Cuthbertson High School (Waxhaw, North Carolina)
Kendall initially pledged to Tennessee but backed off that verbal pact last March, making a move to Oklahoma's class less than a month later. He is already on campus in Norman following a high school career that included 10,256 passing yards and 110 touchdowns, per MaxPreps.
4-star defensive end Amani Bledsoe, Lawrence High School (Lawrence, Kansas)
Oklahoma edged out Big 12 foe Kansas in this pursuit, prying Bledsoe away from his home state. Rated No. 8 among strong-side defensive ends, the 6'5", 263-pound playmaker compiled 89 tackles and 11 sacks as a senior, according to KUSports.com's Bobby Nightengale.
The additions of Kendall and Kelly show off the Sooners' coast-to-coast appeal, though the Sooners only managed to land one top-five in-state prospect, and you might have expected a higher-rated class from a 2015 College Football Playoff competitor.
The staff managed to pull in a few prospects who decommitted from elsewhere late in the cycle, augmenting a quality class down the stretch.
19. Penn State: C+
Top of the Class
5-star running back Miles Sanders, Woodland Hills High School (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania)
He ended up as the only composite 5-star rusher in this cycle, surging up national rankings after his third consecutive 1,000-yard campaign. Sanders, who is also a skilled receiver out of the backfield, committed to the Nittany Lions before his junior year.
4-star offensive lineman Michal Menet, Exeter Township High School (Reading, Pennsylvania)
Expect Sanders to spend his Penn State career seeking out rushing lanes carved out by Menet, an athletic 6'5", 273-pound bookend. Offensive line play plagued this program at times during head coach James Franklin's first two years on campus, so an immediate role may await Menet.
4-star defensive end Shane Simmons, DeMatha Catholic High School (Hyattsville, Maryland)
Simmons is one of five Maryland products in this class, providing Franklin with a heavy dose of mid-Atlantic talent. The 6'4", 221-pound edge-rusher, rated No. 4 among weak-side defensive ends, secured 23 tackles for loss and 16 sacks as a senior, according to Brandon Parker of the Washington Post.
Franklin caught fire quickly on the recruiting trail upon his arrival in Happy Valley, carrying that momentum through the 2015 cycle and early stages of this one.
Things tapered off a bit during recent months, as Penn State suffered a few key decommitments, and there are still some concerns about this offense's ability to attack deep downfield.
18. Texas A&M: C
Top of the Class
4-star defensive end Justin Madubuike, McKinney North High School (McKinney, Texas)
The nation's No. 5 strong-side defensive end is an enforcer off the edge, offering the Aggies a fresh option when in obvious pass-rushing situations. He put himself on the map as an elite talent with 35 tackles for loss and 16.5 sacks as a junior.
4-star wide receiver Quartney Davis, Langham Creek High School (Houston, Texas)
The Aggies outlasted competition in a recruitment that grew increasingly interesting as national signing day approached, with late offers arriving from Georgia, Ole Miss, Oklahoma and Tennessee. Davis hauled in 88 passes as an upperclassman, collecting 1,862 receiving yards and 18 scores.
3-star quarterback Nick Starkel, Liberty Christian School (Argyle, Texas)
Starkel's commitment may not have commanded as many headlines as other quarterbacks in this class, but it became an absolute necessity at Texas A&M following the transfer of two former 5-star passers. He showed plenty of raw potential at Elite 11 finals, and we suspect a strong senior season (3,091 yards and 29 touchdowns) is the start of a career resume that will outperform his composite rating as the No. 20 pro-style quarterback.
The Aggies appeared primed to ascend to a perennial top-10 recruiting force following recent cycles but took a slight step back this year, which can probably be partially attributed to on-field struggles and the transfer of two high-profile quarterbacks. This coaching regime seems to be at a crossroads, and you got the sense this cycle that some recruiting targets could sense slight uncertainty.
17. Baylor: B+
Top of the Class
4-star wide receiver Tren'Davian Dickson, Navasota High School (Navasota, Texas)
Dickson actually pledged to the Bears twice during his recruitment process, spending a few months in between on board with the Texas Longhorns' class. He set a national single-season record with 39 touchdown receptions in 2014 and followed that effort with 1,516 receiving yards and 24 scores as a senior.
4-star wide receiver Devin Duvernay, Sachse High School (Sachse, Texas)
Baylor head coach Art Briles adds another dynamic weapon to his offensive attack, which could become even more potent as these young pass-catchers develop. Duvernay is a state champion sprinter who routinely burned defensive backs en route to 1,142 receiving yards and 16 touchdowns in 2015.
4-star offensive lineman Patrick Hudson, Silsbee High School (Silsbee, Texas)
This 6'5 ½", 325-pound prospect is a punishing blocker who is capable of contributing as an interior lineman or along the edge at tackle. Hudson was on the cusp of 5-star status throughout much of the cycle and could quickly prove he deserved that higher rating in college.
Baylor bagged four of the state's top 25 prospects, including two of Texas' premier pass-catchers. The Bears' brand is undoubtedly on the rise within state borders and beyond, but you get the sense this squad may have left a little on the table when it comes to elite-level defensive recruits.
16. Stanford: B
Top of the Class
4-star quarterback KJ Costello, Santa Margarita Catholic High School (Rancho Santa Margarita, California)
The cycle's No. 3 overall quarterback recruit secured several offers as an underclassman, ultimately pulling the trigger on a Cardinal pledge during his junior year after weighing options at USC and Michigan. Costello collected nearly 7,000 passing yards with 54 touchdown tosses during three years as a high school starter.
4-star tight end Kaden Smith, Marcus High School (Flower Mound, Texas)
Costello could quickly form a bond with the sure-handed Smith, who rates No. 2 nationally among tight ends. The 6'5 ½", 235-pound prospect punishes opponents with an ideal blend of blocking ability and receiving savvy, putting him in position to exploit Pac-12 defenses early and often.
4-star wide receiver Simi Fehoko, Brighton High School (Salt Lake City, Utah)
He leaves Utah with real estate in state record books after racking up 124 receptions for 3,139 yards and 40 touchdowns as an upperclassman. Fehoko, a U.S. Army All-American Player of the Year finalist, expects to skip two years of football while participating in a church mission, according to Brandon Gurney of the Deseret News.
The Cardinal continue to churn out quality recruiting classes that provide evidence of the program's national reach. Costello was considered the state's top quarterback, but several standouts arrived from far beyond California, and those commitments came early.
15. Notre Dame: A-
Top of the Class
4-star offensive tackle Tommy Kraemer, Elder High School (Cincinnati, Ohio)
He is one of two top-10 offensive tackles headed to South Bend in 2016 and looked like an incredibly polished prospect during difficult matchups on the camp circuit. He's a candidate to play on either side of the line and gives Notre Dame immediate depth it may need to use next fall.
4-star wide receiver Javon McKinley, Centennial High School (Corona, California)
This prolific pass-catcher put together one of the most productive seasons you'll find at the high school level during his junior campaign. McKinley torched opponents for 2,062 receiving yards and 25 touchdown catches, bringing his scoring total through the air to 37 as an upperclassman.
4-star linebacker Daelin Hayes, Skyline High School (Ann Arbor, Michigan)
Hayes initially pledged to USC but backed off that verbal commitment shortly after former head coach Steve Sarkisian was dismissed. He carried multiple contenders as a senior, considering Michigan State and Ohio State before choosing the Fighting Irish.
The Fighting Irish found a ton of talent along the offensive and defensive front, where we expect freshmen to play a prominent role as the 2016 season progresses. Notre Dame also did a great job addressing needs in the defensive secondary and made a splash by maintaining momentum with McKinley and prying him away from Pac-12 territory.
14. Tennessee: B+
Top of the Class
4-star quarterback Jarrett Guarantano, Bergen Catholic High School (Oradell, New Jersey)
He pledged to the Volunteers over Ohio State and nearby Rutgers as a junior, later establishing himself as the cycle's No. 1 overall dual-threat recruit. Despite missing multiple games with injury in 2015, Guarantano posted 1,687 total yards, 17 touchdowns and only three interceptions.
4-star safety Nigel Warrior, Peachtree Ridge High School (Suwanee, Georgia)
The Peach State prospect picked Tennessee on signing day, following the footsteps of his father (former Tennessee star Dale Carter). Despite personal ties to the program, Tennessee needed to compete with Auburn, Alabama and LSU for his pledge.
4-star cornerback Tyler Byrd, Naples High School (Naples, Florida)
This former Miami commit flipped to Tennessee the night before signing day, joining close friend and Naples teammate Carlin Fils-aime in the Volunteers class. He was sensational during U.S. Army All-American Bowl action, rising to his ranking as the No. 10 overall cornerback in its aftermath.
Tennessee closed strong on defense, with Byrd, Warrior and No. 1 junior college defensive lineman Jonathan Kongbo joining the class during the final 24 hours of the cycle. Guarantano has the makings of a superstar if he can stay healthy, though Volunteers coaches lost multiple recruiting battles for top-tier wide receivers he could've developed alongside.
13. Florida: B+
Top of the Class
4-star cornerback Chauncey Gardner, Cocoa High School (Cocoa, Florida)
Gardner was an imposing force during the most contested showcases of his career at The Opening and Under Armour All-America Game festivities. He is fearless in coverage, can lend support in blitz packages (seven sacks since 2014, per MaxPreps) and registered four total touchdown returns on special teams in 2014 and 2015.
4-star defensive end Antonneous Clayton, Dooly County High School (Vienna, Georgia)
Clayton could be the most college-ready pass-rusher in this class, forcing opposing quarterbacks to always account for his presence off the edge. He decimated elite offensive linemen throughout Under Armour All-America Game preparations and picked up 25 sacks during the past two seasons.
4-star wide receiver Tyrie Cleveland, Westfield High School (Houston, Texas)
Florida reeled in arguably its best offensive prospect on signing day, flipping Cleveland from the Houston Cougars. The Lone Star State's top-rated receiver flashes sub-4.4 speed at nearly 6'3" and is ranked No. 2 overall among prospects at the position after piling up 2,023 yards and 27 touchdown catches as an upperclassman.
The first full recruiting cycle under head coach Jim McElwain's watch turned out well, while signing day featured flips in the right (Cleveland) and wrong (4-star defensive lineman Shavar Manuel) direction. Though the Gators failed to sign the kind of instant-impact quarterback this offense needs despite a hard push for 5-star Jacob Eason, there's a lot to like about fellow Elite 11 finalist Feleipe Franks, who may require a couple of years before he's ready to blossom into a high-level SEC starter.
12. UCLA: A
Top of the Class
5-star linebacker Mique Juarez, North High School (Torrance, California)
Juarez, a Butkus Award finalist, picked the Bruins after surveying SEC options at Ole Miss and Alabama. In addition to his defensive exploits, the former USC pledge accounted for 60 total touchdowns as a senior, according to Eric Sondheimer of the Los Angeles Times.
4-star safety Brandon Burton, Junipero Serra High School (Gardena, California)
The nation's No. 6 safety goes against the regular route of top-tier Junipero Serra recruits, who typically head to crosstown rival USC via an established and rewarding Trojans pipeline. The 6'2", 195-pound prospect can produce thundering hits and has ball skills from his time at wide receiver.
Howard enrolled early at UCLA—a school he initially planned to face as a member of the Oregon Ducks. The Bruins swooped in after his decommitment and landed him in November, midway through a senior campaign that included 959 receiving yards and nine touchdown catches, per MaxPreps.
The UCLA staff surged late on defense with Juarez, Burton and 4-star tackle Boss Tagaloa. The Bruins defense will be bolstered by six 4-star pickups, while multiple offensive newcomers should provide immediate support for rising sophomore star quarterback Josh Rosen.
11. Texas: A
Top of the Class
4-star safety Brandon Jones, Nacogdoches High School (Nacogdoches, Texas)
Rated No. 1 overall among safeties, he immediately helps stabilize an evolving Longhorns secondary and could have an instant impact similar to 2015 signee Malik Jefferson. He emerged as one of the state's finest defenders during a sophomore campaign that included 95 tackles and five interceptions.
4-star linebacker Jeffrey McCulloch, Aldine Davis High School (Houston, Texas)
Nicknamed "The Shark," McCulloch is a fierce competitor who spent official visits as far away as Stanford and Michigan. He racks up tackles in a hurry and should be able to help head coach Charlie Strong's defense put more pressure on the passing pocket, illustrated by a 19-sack junior season.
4-star quarterback Shane Buechele, Lamar High School (Arlington, Texas)
Buechele turned a ton of heads last summer at Elite 11 national finals, nearly earning a surprising MVP award. The son of former Texas Rangers third baseman Steve Buechele arrived in Austin early after throwing 59 touchdowns and just 12 interceptions as an upperclassman.
Charlie Strong is under .500 through two seasons but practically cracked into the top 10 on national signing day, surging past programs that have enjoyed significantly more success this decade. Credit the Longhorns for winning key in-state recruiting battles and finishing with the Lone Star State's most talented group of recruits.
10. Clemson: A+
Top of the Class
5-star defensive tackle Dexter Lawrence, Wake Forest High School (Wake Forest, North Carolina)
Lawrence is considered the country's No. 2 overall recruit in 247Sports' composite rankings following a senior season headlined by 91 tackles—21 for loss—and 13 sacks, according to MaxPreps. He enrolled early, heading to Clemson just weeks after a mid-December commitment announcement.
4-star all-purpose back Tavien Feaster, Spartanburg High School (Spartanburg, South Carolina)
This in-state standout deserves to be included in any debate about this class' premier backfield threats after tallying 2,000 total offensive yards during each of the past two seasons. Feaster finished 2015 with 1,121 rushing yards (7.2 per carry), 976 receiving yards and 22 touchdowns, according to MaxPreps.
4-star linebacker Rahshaun Smith, IMG Academy (Bradenton, Florida)
Smith spent much of his high school career pledged to the Tigers, though he reopened things as a senior. He ended up back in Clemson's class last month after emerging as a leader for talent-laden IMG Academy and carries the distinction as the No. 3 inside linebacker in this cycle.
Among Clemson's 12 4-star commitments, at least three could be considered guys on the fringe of 5-star status. The defensive front seven just became substantially more explosive, while Feaster has the skill set to flourish during Deshaun Watson's 2016 Heisman Trophy campaign.
9. Auburn: A+
Top of the Class
5-star defensive tackle Derrick Brown, Lanier High School (Buford, Georgia)
Brown spurned his in-state Georgia Bulldogs and a slew of SEC squads to join a deep defensive line class at Auburn. He was the only non-offensive prospect to earn consideration as a U.S. Army All-American Player of the Year finalist after he tallied 106 tackles—42 for loss—and 12 sacks as a senior.
4-star wide receiver Kyle Davis, Archer High School (Lawrenceville, Georgia)
The jury was out this cycle when it came to determining a No. 1 wide receiver prospect, but Davis makes as strong a case as anyone in terms of potential. He is a strong candidate to earn immediate reps after enrolling early and is one of three Auburn newcomers at the position who were considered top-20 talents at receiver in this class.
4-star quarterback Woody Barrett, West Orange High School (Orlando, Florida)
We've seen serious fireworks from this offensive attack when quarterback play is dynamic, and Barrett could be the next star to emerge behind center at Auburn. The No. 6 dual-threat talent rushed for 22 touchdowns in 2015 and threw for another 19 scores, according to Wesley Sinor of AL.com.
To address the struggles in the passing game this past season, the Tigers netted three of America's top 20 wide receiver recruits, along with two possible 2016 competitors at quarterback. The most impressive element of this group is along the defensive front, where Auburn added six prospects considered 4-star or better despite the December departure of coordinator Will Muschamp.
8. USC: A
Top of the Class
5-star defensive end Oluwole Betiku, Junipero Serra High School (Gardena, California)
The nation's No. 1 overall pass-rusher erupted for 28.5 sacks in just two high school seasons after emigrating from Nigeria. His high ceiling and immediate production make you wonder whether Betiku, who also secured 52 tackles for loss, could emerge as the most unique defensive force in this cycle.
5-star cornerback Jack Jones, Long Beach Poly High School (Long Beach, California)
USC secured a 5-star commitment from Long Beach Poly for the third straight year, as Jones follows Iman Marshall and JuJu Smith-Schuster. He has the makings of a dynamic slot receiver, but collegiate coaching staffs covet his smooth hips and elite speed in pass coverage.
4-star wide receiver Michael Pittman, Oaks Christian School (Westlake Village, California)
New USC offensive coordinator Tee Martin previously served as the Trojans' wide receivers coach and got the job done by landing four of America's top 30 prospects at the position. Pittman, son of the former Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back who carries his name, enrolled early after erupting for 1,990 receiving yards and 24 touchdowns in 2015, per MaxPreps.
USC loaded up at wide receiver and sustained successful pipelines to two powerhouse California programs. The late flip of former Oregon running back commit Vavae Malepeai was clutch, and E.J. Price's signing-day pledge gives the Trojans elite Georgia offensive linemen (they signed Chuma Edoga last year) in consecutive cycles.
7. Georgia: A
Top of the Class
5-star quarterback Jacob Eason, Lake Stevens High School (Lake Stevens, Washington)
Eason issued a cross-country Bulldogs commitment the summer before his junior season and maintained it in the aftermath of former head coach Mark Richt's departure despite a late official visit to Florida. He earned Gatorade Player of the Year honors in 2015 after completing 70 percent of passes for 3,585 yards and 43 scores.
5-star tight end Isaac Nauta, IMG Academy (Bradenton, Florida)
The No. 1 overall prospect at his position paired up with Eason early in Athens this winter after choosing Georgia over fellow finalists Alabama and Michigan at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl. The Peach State native previously pledged to Florida State but ended that verbal pact prior to his senior campaign. He should vie for immediate targets at Georgia.
5-star athlete Mecole Hardman Jr., Elbert County High School (Elberton, Georgia)
This scintillating talent is rated No. 1 overall among athletes in the cycle, so it should come as no surprise he provides plenty of potential at wide receiver, defensive back and kick returner. Hardman landed on the national radar with a sensational sophomore season that included 2,208 total offensive yards and 18 touchdowns, according to MaxPreps.
Considering the circumstances, Georgia fans should be ecstatic about how things turned out. A new regime managed to hold on to Eason when he appeared to be inching toward an exit and landed potential early All-SEC contributors on home turf with Nauta, Hardman and a slew of in-state talent.
6. Ole Miss: A+
Top of the Class
5-star quarterback Shea Patterson, IMG Academy (Bradenton, Florida)
The 6'1 ½", 192-pound prospect picked up a pair of state championships at Calvary Baptist Academy (Shreveport, Louisiana) before finishing his career at IMG Academy. Patterson, who earned MVP honors at Elite 11 finals and the U.S. Army All-American Bowl, collected 140 total touchdowns and just 14 interceptions (per MaxPreps) during a high school career that included an early commitment to Arizona.
5-star offensive tackle Greg Little, Allen High School (Allen, Texas)
Little helped anchor the offensive front during multiple state title runs at Allen, where he protected 5-star 2015 quarterback recruit Kyler Murray. Rated No. 1 overall among offensive linemen, Little previously spent more than a year pledged to Texas A&M.
5-star defensive tackle Benito Jones, Wayne County High School (Waynesboro, Mississippi)
Jones briefly joined Alabama's class in 2014 before flipping to the in-state Rebels, eventually enrolling early. The 6'2", 285-pound wrecking ball battered opponents en route to a career-best 83 tackles and seven sacks during his senior season, per MaxPreps.
No program wrapped up signing day with more than three 5-star prospects, which puts this program in rarefied territory. Head coach Hugh Freeze arrived at signing day already holding No. 1 overall recruits at offensive tackle and quarterback, where Patterson has the makeup of an eventual Heisman Trophy contender.
5. Michigan: A+
Top of the Class
5-star defensive tackle Rashan Gary, Paramus Catholic High School (Paramus, New Jersey)
Michigan reeled in this recruiting class' biggest fish on signing day, securing its sixth New Jersey commitment with the nation's No. 1 overall recruit. Gary, who recorded three sacks in the Under Armour All-America Game, started receiving scholarship offers before high school.
4-star quarterback Brandon Peters, Avon High School (Avon, Indiana)
Wolverines head coach Jim Harbaugh spent three full months in Ann Arbor before securing his first 2016 pledge in the form of this 6'4 ½", 209-pound passer last April. Peters passed for 3,103 yards, 37 touchdowns and just five interceptions as a senior, per MaxPreps, earning consideration as a U.S. Army All-American Player of the Year finalist.
4-star tight end Devin Asiasi, De La Salle High School (Concord, California)
It's no secret Harbaugh loves to implement the tight end position, and it became a priority to sign multiple prospects there this cycle. He landed the most promising prospect last, capitalizing on a late official visit to sign Asiasi, the No. 3 overall tight end who averaged 18.3 yards per reception and caught five touchdowns in 2015, per MaxPreps.
Harbaugh's first full recruiting cycle in Ann Arbor included plenty of unconventional moments, including sleepovers and a star-studded signing-day party, but it couldn't have turned out much better. Michigan signed America's consensus No. 1 prospect and 11 players considered top-10 prospects at their respective position.
A key element was this staff's ability to pry top-tier talent away from faraway regions in bunches. Michigan landed six athletes from New Jersey, six from Florida and three from California.
4. Ohio State: A
Top of the Class
5-star defensive end Nick Bosa, St. Thomas Aquinas High School (Fort Lauderdale, Florida)
Expectations await the young Sunshine State standout considering the high bar his older brother Joey Bosa set in Columbus. A torn ACL cost him much of his senior season, but he helped lead St. Thomas Aquinas to a state title in 2014, recording 29.5 tackles for loss and five sacks.
4-star quarterback Dwayne Haskins, The Bullis School (Potomac, Maryland)
The Elite 11 finalist spent eight months committed to Maryland and fielded significant interest from Florida and LSU before flipping to Ohio State weeks before signing day. Considered the nation's No. 7 pro-style passer, Haskins tossed 56 touchdowns and just 15 interceptions during the past three seasons.
4-star all-purpose back Demario McCall, North Ridgeville High School (North Ridgeville, Ohio)
Buckeyes head coach Urban Meyer might have found his H-back of the future in McCall, who told Bleacher Report he's prepared to embrace that pivotal role in Ohio State's offense. Injuries cost him games as a senior, but his skill set was on full display in 2014, when McCall accounted for 2,842 all-purpose yards and 38 scores, according to Bill Kurelic of 247Sports.
Buckeyes head coach Urban Meyer once more proved he's an elite closer when signing day looms. His trio of Jan. 18 commitments—Haskins, 4-star Maryland linebacker Keandre Jones and 4-star wide receiver Binjimen Victor—helped punctuate another impressive haul in Columbus.
Ohio State needed to juggle things a bit with its offensive backfield but welcomes a strong tandem in McCall and North Carolina product Antonio Williams. The Buckeyes signed six linemen (offensive and defensive) who are considered at least 4-star talents.
3. LSU: A
Top of the Class
5-star defensive tackle Rashard Lawrence, Neville High School (Monroe, Louisiana)
The 6'3", 305-pound prospect picked LSU over fellow finalist Ohio State less than two weeks shy of signing day. He finished with 91 tackles—15 for loss—and eight sacks in 2015, according to Ross Dellenger of the Advocate.
4-star cornerback Saivion Smith, IMG Academy (Bradenton, Florida)
Smith helps headline another outstanding group of defensive backs headed to Baton Rouge, where the "DBU" mantra is a tremendous source of pride. His finest high school campaign came as a junior, when he accounted for 67 tackles and five interceptions, according to MaxPreps.
4-star running back Devin White, North Webster High School (Springhill, Louisiana)
This 258-pound freight train also drew interest at linebacker but enrolled early at Baton Rouge and is rated the cycle's No. 5 running back. He gained 5,031 rushing yards during the past three seasons, rumbling for 81 touchdowns in the process.
There was a period of this recruiting cycle—the week of Thanksgiving—when everything seemed to be falling apart for the Tigers class. Per Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post, longtime LSU head coach Les Miles was almost run out of town, and Elite 11 finalist Feleipe Franks ended a 17-month commitment.
Ultimately, Miles stuck around and in typical fashion delivered the Tigers to a strong close. Despite the lack of an instant-impact quarterback prospect, a stagnant offensive attack should improve with four 4-star pass-catchers, while a loaded defensive backfield will restock yet again with several standout additions.
2. Florida State: A
Top of the Class
5-star cornerback Levonta Taylor, Ocean Lakes High School (Virginia Beach, Virginia)
Taylor is the top-ranked defensive back and competes with a level of confidence that indicates he knows it. He is tenacious in isolated coverage, provides strong support against offensive rushing efforts and is scintillating with the football, as evidenced by five special teams/defensive scores as a junior, according to MaxPreps.
4-star quarterback Malik Henry, Long Beach Poly High School (Long Beach, California)
The 6'3", 185-pound Elite 11 finalist is rated No. 4 nationally among pro-style passers and could quickly emerge as another productive pupil under Seminoles head coach Jimbo Fisher. He attended four high schools, wrapping things up with 16 touchdown tosses and only one interception in seven games as a senior, per MaxPreps.
4-star defensive end Shavar Manuel, IMG Academy (Bradenton, Florida)
Manuel made a last-minute commitment flip from Florida, giving the Seminoles another promising talent to develop along the defensive front. He recorded three seasons of double-digit sacks in high school, per MaxPreps, including a career-best 20 sacks as a junior in 2014.
Florida State finished with a flurry, headlined by the flip from Manuel, who was one of three 4-star linemen to commit on signing day. The Seminoles signed six players who are considered top-five prospects at their respective positions in 247Sports' composite rankings.
1. Alabama: A+
Top of the Class
5-star linebacker Ben Davis, Gordo High School (Gordo, Alabama)
This recruiting battle lasted until signing day for Crimson Tide head coach Nick Saban, who ultimately reeled in the Alabama legacy after Davis made official visits to Auburn, Georgia, LSU and Notre Dame. Davis, the No. 1 overall inside linebacker prospect and son of all-time Tide tackles leader Wayne Davis, was a Butkus Award finalist after racking up 105 tackles in 2015, per MaxPreps.
5-star offensive tackle Jonah Williams, Folsom High School (Folsom, California)
Rated No. 2 overall among offensive linemen, Williams is the leading man in another impressive collection of blockers headed to Tuscaloosa. Elite athleticism and a college-ready physique make him a candidate to replace former 5-star recruit Cam Robinson at left tackle down the road.
5-star linebacker Lyndell Wilson, Carver High School (Montgomery, Alabama)
Like Davis, Wilson was a Butkus Award finalist following a senior season that featured 115 tackles—18 for loss—and five sacks in 2015, per MaxPreps. The nation's No. 2 outside linebacker held out on a decision until signing day, considering Florida and Georgia during late stages.
Another cycle, same story. The reigning national champions capped off the 2016 class with two 5-star commitments on signing day, claimed nine top-100 overall recruits and finished with America's No. 1 talent haul for a sixth straight year.