College Football Recruiting: Initial Top 25 Classes for 2018

Tyler Donohue@@TDsTakeNational Recruiting AnalystFebruary 2, 2017

College Football Recruiting: Initial Top 25 Classes for 2018

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    Penn State head coach James Franklin should bring plenty of talent into future Big Ten games.
    Penn State head coach James Franklin should bring plenty of talent into future Big Ten games.Joe Robbins/Getty Images

    The dust is still settling after another memorable national signing day, but the hectic college football recruiting scene rarely cools off for long. As we await the arrival of the 2017 class on campuses across America, a talented group of high school juniors steps into an expanding spotlight.

    Many members of the 2018 class have secured scholarship offers as underclassmen, while 14 of the top 50 prospects in's rankings are already committed. If you're playing catch-up when it comes to this collection of athletes on the rise, we have you covered.

    A full year before recruits finalize their choices on national signing day, here's how we ordered college football's top 25 hauls in the 2018 cycle. Our scale favored top-tier pledges—4- and 5-star players in the top 300 overallat positions of need over sheer volume and rewarded programs that already carry cornerstone quarterback commitments.

25. Wisconsin Badgers

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    QB Ben Bryant
    QB Ben BryantCredit:

    Class Size: Three players (no recruits in top 300 rankings)


    Commitments to Know

    3-star safety Reggie Pearson, River Rouge High School (River Rouge, Michigan)

    Pearson received plenty of early interest from Big Ten teams and opted to join the Badgers' class in August. Wisconsin extended an offer following an all-state sophomore campaign that included 77 tackles and two interceptions, according to Jason Galloway of the Wisconsin State Journal.


    3-star quarterback Ben Bryant, Lyons Township High School (La Grange, Illinois)

    The Badgers bagged this 6'3", 185-pound passer just days after falling to Penn State in the Big Ten title game. Bryant, who also visited Northwestern and Iowa during the fall, completed 59 percent of throws for 1,847 yards and 20 touchdowns in 2016, according to Bob Narang of the Pioneer Press.

24. Washington Huskies

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    QB Jacob Sirmon
    QB Jacob SirmonCredit:

    Class Size: Two players (one 4-star recruit)


    Commitments to Know

    4-star quarterback Jacob Sirmon, Bothell High School (Bothell, Washington)

    Washington missed out on prized 2016 in-state passer Jacob Eason but managed to claim a commitment from Sirmon—considered a top-five quarterback prospect—after his sophomore season. The 6'4", 216-pound prospect completed 57.6 percent of pass attempts as a junior, per MaxPreps, tallying 2,498 yards, 18 touchdowns and just two interceptions.


    3-star linebacker Jack Sirmon, Brentwood Academy (Brentwood, Tennessee)

    It's the Sirmon Show so far for the 2018 recruiting efforts in Seattle, as the quarterback's cousin—and son of former Huskies assistant coach Peter Sirmon—hopped on board in late December. He provides the physicality and size (6'2½", 220 lbs) to make an impact inside.

23. NC State Wolfpack

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    ATH Ricky Person
    ATH Ricky PersonCredit:

    Class Size: Three players (one 4-star recruit)


    Commitments to Know

    4-star athlete Ricky Person, Heritage High School (Wake Forest, North Carolina)

    The Wolfpack edged alternative in-state suitors such as Duke and East Carolina, landing a top-15 athlete who stands 6'1½" and 202 pounds. Person, who picked N.C. State on Jan. 18, led Heritage with 774 rushing yards and 11 scores on the ground, per MaxPreps.


    2-star athlete De'Von Graves, Appomattox County High School (Appomattox, Virginia)

    Graves, a 6'2", 180-pound multisport standout who could also pursue a collegiate baseball career, per Marvin Hamlett of the Times-Virginian, didn't hesitate to choose the Wolfpack when an offer arrived last spring. He projects as a cornerback or receiver, as he recorded 27 receptions, six touchdown catches, 50 tackles, two interceptions and 19 pass breakups during a breakout sophomore campaign that concluded with a state championship.

22. BYU Cougars

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    LB Nathan Latu
    LB Nathan LatuCredit:

    Class Size: Nine players (no recruits in top 300 rankings)

    Commitments to Know

    3-star linebacker Nathan Latu, Olympus High School (Salt Lake City)

    This 6'5", 230-pound edge defender initially joined the Cougars' class alongside twin brother Cameron Latu, though the latter decommitted in late January and has since collected offers from Alabama and Wisconsin. It remains to be seen whether Nathan, a mainstay of BYU's 2018 haul for nearly eight months, will also explore alternative options.

    3-star defensive tackle Tyler Manoa, St. Francis High School (Mountain View, California)

    Like Latu, Manoa committed to the Cougars in June and supplied a compelling defensive component. The 6'3", 280-pound lineman posted a career-high 39 tackles—nine for loss—and 5.5 sacks in 2016, per MaxPreps.

21. Louisville Cardinals

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    S Trenell Troutman
    S Trenell TroutmanCredit:

    Class Size: Five players (no recruits in top 300 rankings)

    Commitments to Know

    2-star safety Trenell Troutman, St. Thomas Aquinas High School (Fort Lauderdale, Florida)

    Troutman, one of the five Florida products that comprise this class, committed July 9 after securing multiple Power Five offers as a sophomore. He recorded 31 tackles, two interceptions and two defensive touchdowns during his junior season, per MaxPreps, helping St. Thomas Aquinas win another state championship.


    2-star athlete Marcus Riley, James Rickards High School (Tallahassee, Florida)

    Riley—who became the first member of this class two days before Troutman announced his intentions to play at Louisville—rose to national recruiting prominence while playing quarterback. As a sophomore, he accounted for seven touchdowns and 556 yards, including 219 rushing, in his team's city championship game, according to Brian Miller of the Tallahassee Democrat.

20. Texas Tech Red Raiders

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    WR Gabriel Douglas
    WR Gabriel DouglasCredit:

    Class Size: Three players (one 4-star recruit) 

    Commitments to Know

    4-star wide receiver Gabriel Douglas, Ryan High School (Denton, Texas)

    Considered one of the Dallas area's premier offensive prospects, Douglas landed his first offer from Texas Tech and quickly reciprocated interest. He posted career-high production across the stat sheet in 2016, per 247Sports, catching 82 passes for 1,302 yards and 17 touchdowns. 

    3-star wide receiver Jaylon Robinson, Paschal High School (Fort Worth, Texas)

    This field-stretching speedster is also a U.S. Junior Olympian in track and field, according to EJ Holland of the Dallas Morning News. Despite playing on a two-win squad in 2016, Robinson shined, totaling 41 receptions, seven offensive scores and two special teams touchdowns, per MaxPreps.

19. Virginia Tech Hokies

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    QB DeJuan Ellis
    QB DeJuan EllisCredit:

    Class Size: Three players (one 4-star)

    Commitments to Know

    4-star quarterback DeJuan EllisMcDonogh School (Owings Mills, Maryland)

    A late flurry of pledges pushed Virginia Tech into top-25 territory on national signing day 2017, and the Hokies hope to duplicate that success with a top-20 quarterback recruit leading the way. Though Ellis is undersized (5'10½", 160 lbs), the dual-threat passer also attracted offers from Maryland, Rutgers and Syracuse.

    3-star safety Chamarri Conner, Trinity Christian Academy (Jacksonville, Florida)

    First-year Hokies head coach Justin Fuente claimed a midseason commitment from Conner, who also weighed offers from North Carolina, Colorado, Florida and Michigan. A defensive stalwart for star-studded Sunshine State powerhouse Trinity Christian Academy, he emerged on the national stage with 70 tackles and two interceptions as a sophomore, per MaxPreps.

18. Mississippi State Bulldogs

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    WR Malik Heath
    WR Malik HeathCredit:

    Class Size: Four players (one 4-star recruit)


    Commitments to Know

    4-star wide receiver Malik Heath, Callaway High School (Jackson, Mississippi)

    Mississippi State may face a challenge sustaining this commitment, as Heath has collected offers from Florida, Louisville and Tennessee since his announcement. The 6'3", 194-pound playmaker averaged 30.4 yards per catch as a junior, according to 247Sports, leading to 1,276 receiving yards and eight scores.


    3-star cornerback Esaias Furdge, Clarksdale High School (Clarksdale, Mississippi)

    This 2016 first-team all-state selection—per the Clarion-Ledger—provided another pivotal piece for the Bulldogs with a Jan. 28 pledge. Furdge finished his junior campaign with nine interceptions, 15 pass breakups and 44 tackles.

17. Michigan Wolverines

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    S Otis Reese
    S Otis ReeseCredit:

    Class Size: Two players (two 4-star recruits)

    Commitments to Know

    4-star offensive guard Emil Ekiyor Jr., Cathedral High School (Indianapolis, Indiana)

    The 6'3", 315-pound blocker already held nearly 30 scholarship offers when he announced his commitment in early October. Rated a top-five offensive guard prospect, Ekiyor was a first-team all-state selection last season, per the Indy Star.


    4-star safety Otis Reese, Lee County High School (Leesburg, Georgia)

    Reese, considered a top-15 safety prospect who could compete at outside linebacker, is a versatile defender at 6'2", 190 pounds. He finished his junior season with 65 tackles—10 for loss—five sacks and three interceptions, according to Tim Morse of the Albany Herald. SEC offers have arrived from Alabama, Florida and Georgia since his June 2016 pledge.

16. Auburn Tigers

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    QB Joey Gatewood
    QB Joey GatewoodCredit:

    Class Size: Three players (one 4-star recruit)

    Commitments to Know

    4-star quarterback Joey Gatewood, Bartram Trail High School (Jacksonville, Florida)

    Auburn gained an early jump on Gatewood, a 6'3", 205-pound prospect who fielded several high-profile offers as a freshman before committing to the Tigers in December 2015. Rated No. 9 nationally among quarterbacks, Gatewood possesses the dual-threat skill set coveted by Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn, as evidenced by his 2,283 rushing yards through three high school seasons, per MaxPreps.

    Junior college defensive end Daquan NewkirkMississippi Gulf Coast Community College 

    This name may sound familiar to Tigers fans because Newkirk previously pledged to the program's 2016 class while in high school at The First Academy in Orlando, Florida. Academics delayed his arrival, according to Drew Champlin of, but he is expected to be among the top-rated JUCO defenders in this cycle when he arrives on campus with three years of eligibility left.

15. Tennessee Volunteers

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    OT Cade Mays
    OT Cade MaysCredit:

    Class Size: Two players (two 4-star recruits)

    Commitments to Know

    4-star offensive tackle Cade Mays, Knoxville Catholic High School (Knoxville, Tennessee)

    The son of former Volunteers offensive lineman Kevin Mays didn't waste time before becoming a legacy commitment, issuing a public pledge prior to his sophomore season. The 6'5", 295-pound prospect is rated No. 2 among offensive tackles and No. 15 overall in the 2018 rankings, and he provides a foundational piece for Tennessee's 2018 recruiting efforts.

    4-star athlete Alontae Taylor, Coffee County Central High School (Manchester, Tennessee)

    Taylor, who is 6'1", 190 pounds, could land on either side of the ball in Knoxville. A primary in-state concern for Volunteers head coach Butch Jones, he accounted for 61 total touchdowns and 4,591 rushing yards through his first three varsity seasons, per MaxPreps.

14. Georgia Bulldogs

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    DE Adam Anderson
    DE Adam AndersonCredit:

    Class Size: Three players (two 4-star recruits)

    Commitments to Know

    4-star defensive end Adam Anderson, Rome High School (Rome, Georgia)

    Former defensive coordinator Kirby Smart continues to assemble elite talent on that side of the ball in Athens, and this 6'5", 220-pound edge-rusher sustains a positive trend. Rated No. 3 nationally among defensive ends, Anderson tallied nine sacks and 31 tackles for loss last season, according to, and should make a case for 5-star status next fall.

    4-star offensive tackle Max Wray, Franklin High School (Franklin, Tennessee)

    The Bulldogs' class features another top-10 lineman in Wray, who is a potential plug-and-play talent at offensive tackle. Committed since March, he is the original member of this class and earned all-state honors as a junior, per's Steve Wilmoth.

13. Ohio State Buckeyes

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    Class Size: Two players (two 4-star recruits)

    Commitments to Know

    4-star quarterback Emory Jones, Heard County High School (Franklin, Georgia)

    Buckeyes head coach Urban Meyer claims one of college football's most impressive quarterback stockpiles, and Jones will only further drive competition in a post-J.T. Barrett era. The 6'3½", 177-pound playmaker—ranked No. 10 nationally at his position—pledged prior to his junior campaign and should become an even more effective rusher as he adds muscle.

    4-star running back Brian Snead, Armwood High School (Seffner, Florida)

    Snead, like Jones, joined this class in July. Ohio State reeled in a top-10 running back recruit who can also do damage catching the ball out of the backfield (18 receptions for 262 yards and two touchdowns last season, per MaxPreps). He collected 2,128 yards and 32 scores during the past two campaigns.

12. Nebraska Cornhuskers

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    WR Eric Fuller
    WR Eric FullerCredit:

    Class Size: Three players (two 4-star recruits)

    Commitments to Know

    4-star wide receiver Eric Fuller, Augustus Hawkins High School (Los Angeles)

    The sensation known as "Calibraska" continues into head coach Mike Riley's 2018 recruiting efforts. Nebraska signed three 4-star recruits from California in its 2017 class and landed a top-10 junior receiver in Fuller, who shared the position with 5-star prospects Joseph Lewis (2017) and Jalen Hall (2018) at Hawkins.

    4-star athlete Cameron Jurgens, Beatrice High School (Beatrice, Nebraska)

    The Cornhuskers will aim to make this in-state pact last two-and-a-half years, as Jurgens announced his plans before his sophomore season. He offers upside at tight end, defensive end and linebacker, building off a junior campaign that included 123 tackles and 23 receptions, per MaxPreps.

11. Michigan State Spartans

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    WR Joseph Scates
    WR Joseph ScatesCredit:

    Class Size: Three players (three 4-star recruits)

    Commitments to Know

    4-star wide receiver Joseph Scates, Dunbar High School (Dayton, Ohio)

    Despite a lackluster 2016 season, Michigan State continues to attract coveted young talent, including this top-20 receiver. Scates presents significant matchup issues at 6'4" and averaged 22.9 yards per reception as a junior en route to 14 touchdown catches, according to MaxPreps.

    4-star cornerback Xavier Henderson, Pickerington Central High School (Pickerington, Ohio)

    The Spartans also boast a top-15 prospect at cornerback, as Henderson selected the Spartans in September from an offer list that also featured Ole Miss, Boston College and Kentucky. He snagged seven interceptions last season, according to Sean Scherer of

10. Oklahoma Sooners

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    OT Brey Walker
    OT Brey WalkerCredit:

    Class Size: Three players (one 5-star recruit; one 4-star recruit)

    Commitments to Know

    5-star offensive tackle Brey Walker, Southmoore High School (Moore, Oklahoma)

    Walker's massive frame (6'7", 299 lbs) and dominant play thrust him into the initial No. 1 overall prospect conversation as an underclassman, and he sits atop's national offensive tackle rankings. Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Alabama are among the programs that offered him by the end of his freshman year, and Walker chose the Sooners in November 2015.

    4-star quarterback Cameron Rising, Newbury Park High School (Newbury Park, California)

    Oklahoma is loaded at quarterback for the coming years, and that position room should become even more competitive when this top-five 2018 passer arrives. Rising, a 6'2", 190-pound prospect, broke out as a national commodity during his sophomore season, when he amassing 3,213 passing yards and 40 touchdowns with just one interception and 756 rushing yards and 11 scores on the ground, according to 247Sports.

    4-star cornerback Jordon Austin, Lancaster High School (Lancaster, Texas)

    Sooners head coach Bob Stoops was the first to offer Austin a scholarship, and that early diligence paid off in the form of a July commitment. A top-30 cornerback recruit, the 6'1"defensive back plays with dogged aggression and remains set to follow older brother Dakota Austin to Norman.

9. Alabama Crimson Tide

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    WR Xavier Williams
    WR Xavier WilliamsCredit:

    Class Size: Three players (two 4-star recruits)

    Commitments to Know

    4-star wide receiver Xavier Williams, Chaminade-Madonna College Preparatory (Hollywood, Florida)

    Even while putting the final touches on a seventh consecutive composite No. 1 recruiting class, per 247Sports, Crimson Tide head coach Nick Saban stayed busy keeping an eye toward future endeavors. Williams—rated a top-15 player at his position after averaging 27.9 yards per catch last fall, per MaxPreps—committed Jan. 17 and will travel the path of former Sunshine State receiver recruits Amari Cooper, Calvin Ridley and Jerry Jeudy.

    4-star tight end Malcolm Epps, Andy Dekaney High School (Houston)

    Alabama bolstered its future outlook at tight end by landing this top-10 positional prospect last February, just days after Epps received offers from Florida State, LSU and Texas A&M. Attention increased after the 6'6", 220-pound prospect caught five touchdowns in 2015, according to 247Sports.

    4-star running back Dameon Pierce, Bainbridge High School (Bainbridge, Georgia)

    The Crimson Tide just welcomed top-rated 2017 running back Najee Harris to campus as an early enrollee, and there are already multiple former blue-chip rushers in Tuscaloosa. This incredibly steep path to playing time didn't dissuade Pierce—who has carried the football 551 times for 3,746 yards and 53 touchdowns over the past two season, per 247Sports—from committing over the summer.

8. Miami Hurricanes

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    WR Daquris Wiggins
    WR Daquris WigginsCredit:

    Class Size: Seven players (three 4-star recruits)

    Commitments to Know

    4-star safety Joshua Jobe, Christopher Columbus High School (Miami)

    The younger brother of Oakland Raiders receiver Johnny Holton, Jobe has progressively developed into one of the 2018 cycle's most highly regarded defensive backs since committing to former Miami head coach Al Golden in June 2015. Rated No. 3 among safety prospects, he may not be permitted to play at Columbus next season due to age restrictions (he turns 19 years old in April), according to Christopher Stock of 247Sports.

    4-star cornerback Gilbert Frierson, Coral Gables Senior High School (Coral Gables, Florida)

    The Hurricanes claimed another elite secondary component with this top-10 cornerback, who stands 6'1" like Jobe. Frierson, the type of local talent Miami head coach Mark Richt must keep home in order to rise in the ACC, played the 2016 season with two broken bones in his foot, according to Peter Ariz for the Miami Herald.

    4-star wide receiver Daquris Wiggins, Miami Southridge High School (Miami)

    Another Golden era holdover, Wiggins pledged to Miami midway through his sophomore season. Among 2018 Sunshine State receivers who've announced their collegiate intentions, he is rated No. 2.

7. LSU Tigers

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    S Kelvin Joseph
    S Kelvin JosephCredit:

    Class Size: Five players (five 4-star recruits)

    Commitments to Know

    4-star safety Kelvin Joseph, Scotlandville Magnet High School (Baton Rouge, Louisiana)

    Joseph, committed to the Tigers since last February, is another blue-chip prospect primed to embrace LSU's DBU aura. Considered a top-10 safety prospect in the 2018 cycle, he collected career-high statistics last season with 68 tackles, two interceptions and a fumble return for a touchdown, per MaxPreps.

    4-star athlete Caden Sterns, Steele High School (Cibolo, Texas)

    Though receiving and special teams return skills create options for a variety of paths toward collegiate stardom, this top-five athlete recruit is likely to join Joseph in the secondary. Sterns, a 6'1", 173-pound prospect, produced 73 tackles, four interceptions and three defensive scores at safety in 2016, per MaxPreps.

    4-star linebacker Damone Clark, Southern University Laboratory School (Baton Rouge, Louisiana)

    Clark, considered the nation's No. 1 inside linebacker prospect, committed to the Tigers over Florida, Miami and Mississippi State on Jan. 15, just four days after he received the offer.

6. Florida State Seminoles

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    RB James Cook
    RB James CookCredit:

    Class Size: Six players (five 4-star recruits)

    Commitments to Know

    4-star running back James Cook, Miami Central High School (Miami)

    Florida State standout running back Dalvin Cook will continue his career in the NFL, but his little brother James—a top-five rusher who reclassified from the 2019 class last year—will have an opportunity to continue the family legacy on campus. His breakout performance occurred in the 2015 state title game, when a then-freshman Cook exploded for 178 yards and three scores, according to the Miami Herald.

    4-star defensive tackle Robert Cooper, South Gwinnett High School (Snellville, Georgia)

    Cooper, one of the largest prospects of this cycle at 6'1½", 369 pounds, is considered a top-five interior defensive lineman. The Seminoles secured his commitment in June 2016 but have since welcomed several challengers, including Alabama, LSU, Oklahoma and Notre Dame.

    4-star running back Justin Watkins, Vanguard High School (Ocala, Florida)

    Watkins joined Cook in this class in June, providing Florida State with a top-10 running back duo. His junior season featured success on the ground (1,122 yards on 113 carries) and through the air (213 yards on 16 receptions), as he tallied 21 offensive touchdowns in 11 contests, per MaxPreps.

5. Clemson Tigers

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    QB Trevor Lawrence
    QB Trevor LawrenceCredit:

    Class Size: Five players (one 5-star recruit; three 4-star recruits)

    Commitments to Know

    5-star quarterback Trevor Lawrence, Cartersville High School (Cartersville, Georgia)

    Lawrence looms large atop the 2018 recruit rankings as the No. 1 overall prospect. Clemson bested fellow finalist Georgia in this race on Dec. 15, securing the 6'6" gunslinger with 10,601 passing yards and 120 touchdown tosses against 20 interceptions through three varsity seasons, per MaxPreps.

    4-star defensive tackle Josh Belk, Lewisville High School (Richburg, South Carolina)

    Elevated defensive production provided a pivotal boost during Clemson's rise to College Football Playoff title contender, and additions like Belk create expectations things will remain the same moving forward. This top-10 defensive tackle prospect joined the class Jan. 29 after a junior campaign that included 78 tackles—28 for loss—and eight sacks, according to Phil Kornblut of the State.

    4-star athlete Derion Kendrick, South Pointe High School (Rock Hill, South Carolina)

    Kendrick, a top-five athlete, climbed into Clemson's class just one day before Belk. He stars at quarterback for South Pointe but projects as a receiver or cornerback in college. He amassed 3,137 yards and accounted for 34 touchdowns in 2016, per MaxPreps.

4. Texas A&M Aggies

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    QB Cade Fortin
    QB Cade FortinCredit:

    Class Size: Six players (four 4-star recruits)

    Commitments to Know

    4-star offensive tackle Colten Blanton, Cypress Ranch High School (Cypress, Texas)

    Blanton is the only Texas A&M commit ranked in the top 200 overall prospects. The 6'5½", 271-pound tackle received offers from schools such as Florida, Georgia, Nebraska and Ohio State before his Nov. 12 pledge.

    4-star athlete Jordan Moore, Yoakum High School (Yoakum, Texas)

    Safety, running back and receiver are all in play for Moore in College Station. This top-15 athlete committed to the Aggies in December and has made an impact all over the stat sheet during the past two seasons (1,484 rushing yards, 710 receiving yards, seven interceptions and 33 touchdowns, per MaxPreps).

    4-star quarterback Cade Fortin, North Gwinnett High School (Suwanee, Georgia)

    Texas A&M head coach Kevin Sumlin plucked a prized passer out of the Peach State, edging a dozen other suitors for this commitment over the summer. Fortin, who is 6'2", 202 pounds, threw for 1,841 yards and 16 touchdowns with three interceptions as a junior, per MaxPreps.

3. USC Trojans

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    QB Matt Corral
    QB Matt CorralCredit:

    Class Size: Five players (one 5-star recruit; four 4-star recruits)

    Commitments to Know

    5-star quarterback Matt Corral, Oaks Christian High School (Westlake Village, California)

    USC seems set behind center for the present with rising redshirt sophomore Sam Darnold expected to enter next season with Heisman Trophy buzz, while 4-star 2017 signee Jack Sears will work to become his heir apparent. Corral, who threw for 6,308 yards and 58 touchdowns with nine intercptions during the past two seasons, per MaxPreps, will also aim to enter the fray for starting reps as early as his first training camp.

    4-star linebacker Bo CalvertOaks Christian High School (Westlake Village, California)

    The Trojans double-dipped at Oaks Christian, bringing aboard the 6'5", 215-pound Calvert as one of two in-state 4-star outside linebacker commits (along with Raymond Scott). Calvert's incredibly productive junior campaign included 61 tackles, 11.5 sacks and a defensive touchdown, per MaxPreps.

    4-star wide receiver Manuel Allen, Centennial High School (Corona, California)

    Allen, who committed to the Trojans on Jan. 6, became a vital cog in Centennial's high-scoring attack last season, catching at least four passes in six different games, according to MaxPreps. Expect his recruiting profile—Allen is considered a top-15 receiver—to rise as he gains further familiarity with teammate and 4-star quarterback Tanner McKee.

2. Notre Dame Fighting Irish

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    QB Phil Jurkovec
    QB Phil JurkovecCredit: Student Sports

    Class Size: Six players (five 4-star recruits)

    Commitments to Know

    4-star quarterback Phil Jurkovec, Pine-Richland High School (Gibsonia, Pennsylvania)

    Jurkovec, a rarely gifted dual-threat athlete at 6'5½", 201 pounds, chose the Fighting Irish over offers from Alabama, Ohio State and Penn State last spring. Though he missed the majority of his junior season with a thumb injury, this top-five quarterback recruit displayed compelling potential in 2015 with 2,560 passing yards and 20 touchdowns to go with 1,250 rushing yards and 11 scores, according to 247Sports.

    4-star running back Markese Stepp, Cathedral High School (Indianapolis)

    Like Jurkovec, Stepp missed a major chunk of his 2016 campaign with an injury (hamstring). He vaulted himself into top-15 rusher territory, however, with a sophomore campaign that included 1,300 rushing yards (8.4 per carry) and 17 scores, according to 247Sports.

    4-star defensive tackle Jayson Ademilola, St. Peter's Preparatory School (Jersey City, New Jersey)

    Notre Dame gained significant 2018 recruiting momentum over the summer when Ademilola committed to the Fighting Irish along with his twin brother, defensive end Justin. The duo wreaked havoc in the trenches throughout 2016, as Jayson posted career-high totals with 86 tackles and 11.5 sacks in 12 games, per MaxPreps.

1. Penn State Nittany Lions

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    DE Micah Parsons
    DE Micah ParsonsCredit:

    Class Size: Ten players (one 5-star recruit; six 4-star recruits)

    Commitments to Know

    5-star defensive end Micah Parsons, Harrisburg High School (Harrisburg, Pennsylvania)

    Parsons is the highest-rated defender in the 2018 class and is one of five Penn State pledges who appear in the top 100 overall. Expect heavyweight programs such as Alabama and Ohio State to keep things interesting for the 6'3", 236-pound prospect, who was a 2014 MaxPreps Freshman All-American.

    4-star tight end Zack Kuntz, Camp Hill High School (Camp Hill, Pennsylvania)

    The 6'7" Kuntz also claimed a spot on that 2014 MaxPreps Freshman All-American team, which made him a priority in-state target for the folks in Happy Valley. Nittany Lions head coach James Franklin closed with the top-five tight end in November, capitalizing on a relationship built while Kuntz collected 96 receptions for 1,451 yards and 17 scores as an underclassman, per MaxPreps.

    4-star quarterback Justin Fields, Harrison High School (Kennesaw, Georgia) 

    Fields provides yet another glimpse at what is shaping up to be a special crop of Peach State passers. The 6'3", 209-pound playmaker—who has been committed to Penn State since December—is rated a top-10 prospect at the position. Fields completed 69 percent of passes for 2,253 yards and 18 touchdowns while adding 977 yards and 14 scores on the ground last season, according to Steve Wiltfong of 247Sports.


    Tyler Donohue is a national recruiting analyst for Bleacher Report. All player ratings and information courtesy of Scout unless otherwise noted.

    Follow Tyler via Twitter: @TDsTake.