National Signing Day 2019: Top 25 Recruiting Class Rankings Heading into NSD

Brad Shepard@@Brad_ShepardFeatured ColumnistFebruary 4, 2019

National Signing Day 2019: Top 25 Recruiting Class Rankings Heading into NSD

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    Georgia defensive end Nolan Smith is the nation's top-ranked overall player.
    Georgia defensive end Nolan Smith is the nation's top-ranked overall player.Credit: 247Sports

    We've hit turn four, and now the 2019 recruiting cycle is coming toward the finish line. National signing day is Wednesday, and though the early signing period has taken some of the gusto from the day, it's still a whirlwind with plenty of surprises left in store.

    Though the rankings will change several times over the next few days, things appear secure at the top. It's again going to be an Alabama-Georgia finish, and rivals Texas and Texas A&M are battling it out for the next two spots, according to the 247Sports composite rankings.

    All the classes in the top 25 have their share of storylines and superlatives, and everybody has reason for excitement with new players coming in to help outfit rosters across the country.

    Thanks to December's early signing period, much of the hay is already in the barn, as they say in the South, with many players signed and a lot already enrolled in school and getting ready to participate in spring drills.

    Let's take an in-depth look at each top-25 class, the names to know and the stars of tomorrow, with some trends from each class as well. As always, add your opinions in the comments.

    These rankings are courtesy of the 247Sports composite rankings and are accurate as of Feb. 2.

Nos. 25-21: Ole Miss, Purdue, Mississippi State, Arkansas, South Carolina

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    South Carolina's Ryan Hilinski could be one of the next great quarterbacks in the SEC.
    South Carolina's Ryan Hilinski could be one of the next great quarterbacks in the SEC.Credit: 247Sports

    25. Ole Miss Rebels

    Class size: 28 (Five 4-stars)

    Breakdown: A class with this many prospects should be ranked higher, but after a dismal season, coach Matt Luke didn't find it easy to lure players to Oxford. If running back Jerrion Ealy recommits, it'll make the class look much better.

    Seventeen of the Rebels' 28 commits/signees are on the offensive side of the ball, and eight offensive linemen should be able to make that thin unit much healthier. Impact defenders like Sam Williams, JUCO safety Jonathan Haynes and JUCO cornerback Jamar Richardson should help an awful unit.

    Key addition so far: There's no doubt Luke senses the urgency in his job, which is why he is bringing in four JUCO prospects to help. Jonathan Mingo is a 4-star freshman receiver who should step right onto the field and be a weapon for Matt Corral.


    24. Purdue Boilermakers

    Class size: 22 (Four 4-stars)

    Breakdown: David Bell and Milton Wright give coach Jeff Brohm some additional receiving weapons to go along with Rondale Moore for the future, but the Boilermakers need to get better on the defensive side of the ball.

    Brohm addressed that need by bringing in 14 prospects who could play defense, and if that side of the ball gets better quicker, the Boilermakers are well on their way to building a program.

    Key addition so far: One player who happened to fall into the laps of the Boilermakers was defensive end George Karlaftis, who just happens to be an elite defender from West Lafayette, Indiana, right in Purdue's backyard.

    He is the nation's No. 59 overall player and elected to stay home despite offers from much of the Big Ten. He could step right in and make a difference on the defense.


    23. Mississippi State Bulldogs

    Class size: 20 (One 5-star, four 4-stars)

    Breakdown: This is one of the most underrated classes in the country with elite offensive tackle Charles Cross, quality 4-star quarterback Garrett Shrader and a pair of defensive ends in Ani Izuchukwu and De'Monte Russell who can keep Bob Shoop's defense elite.

    The Bulldogs also got a lot of help in the secondary, including some JUCO talent. Across the board, this looks like a big, physical group.

    Key addition so far: It has to be Cross, considering he has All-America potential, elite athleticism and strength that will only improve when he adds 20-30 pounds. He's already enrolled in Starkville, which will help him add weight and thrive in the strength and conditioning program. He will be a multi-year star.


    22. Arkansas Razorbacks

    Class size: 26 (10 4-stars)

    Breakdown: With all the defections from the 2-10 Razorbacks, coach Chad Morris needed to sign a big, talented class, and it looks like that's exactly what he's doing. The Hogs have 10 4-star prospects in this group, and it's full of offensive skill-position players.

    Defensive linemen like Mataio Soli and Collin Clay and cornerbacks such as Devin Bush make this a deep, complete class.

    Key addition so far: Trey Knox and Shamar Nash are a pair of receivers who could make an immediate impact, but the most important player in Morris' class probably won't play in 2019. Quarterback KJ Jefferson is the future at the position for Arkansas, and he'll wait behind SMU transfer Ben Hicks before getting his shot.


    21. South Carolina Gamecocks

    Class size: 22 (One 5-star, five 4-stars)

    Breakdown: The top of South Carolina's class is extremely strong with defensive end Zacch Pickens and quarterback Ryan Hilinski leading the charge. The Gamecocks are particularly strong on the D-line, plucking Joseph Anderson right out of Tennessee.

    There are a lot of exciting defenders in this class for Will Muschamp to mold.

    Key addition so far: It was massive for the Gamecocks to go across the country and steal Hilinski from California. He is the younger brother of the late Tyler Hilinski, who had such a good career at Washington State.

    But the pick here has to be Pickens, who has as much upside and explosive potential as any defender in the country, including Nolan Smith and Kayvon Thibodeaux. With the major need for pressure on Carolina's defense, it would be a stunner if Pickens doesn't play right away. 

Nos. 20-16: Stanford, Nebraska, USC, Washington, Florida State

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    Florida State's Akeem Dent will help shore up a Seminoles secondary in need of help.
    Florida State's Akeem Dent will help shore up a Seminoles secondary in need of help.Credit: 247Sports

    20. Stanford Cardinal

    Class size: 23 (Eight 4-stars)

    Breakdown: Much like always, Stanford pulled its core group of players from instate but plucked guys from all across the country. Prospects from 11 different states and Washington D.C. are headed to Palo Alto, and this is a group of players that is highlighted by skill-position talent.

    Receiver Elijah Higgins and running back Austin Jones lead the way.

    Key addition so far: With Bryce Love and Cameron Scarlett out of eligibility, Jones and Nathaniel Peat are crucial to the continued success of the Cardinal, especially in the run-oriented scheme of David Shaw. Jones is a similar size and build to Love, and he should get immediate carries.


    19. Nebraska Cornhuskers

    Class size: 26 (Six 4-stars)

    Breakdown: This is not an "elite" class by any means in Scott Frost's first full group of Cornhuskers, but there are plenty of potential playmakers and guys who'll fit right into Frost's offensive scheme. Receiver Wandale Robinson and athletes Luke McCaffrey and Jamie Nance are ones to watch.

    This is a group of players who'll surround quarterback Adrian Martinez and make him better right away.

    Key addition so far: There are many needs for versatile linebackers and pass-rushers that don't look like they'll be fully met this year. But Frost needed playmakers on the back end of the defense and got one with cornerback Noa Pola-Gates, who had big-time offers in the early signing period.


    18. USC Trojans

    Class size: 22 (Eight 4-stars)

    Breakdown: The Trojans suffered a huge loss when Bru McCoy decided to enter the transfer portal and head to Texas just weeks after signing. This is still a good class, though, even if it isn't up to USC's lofty standards.

    Defensive end Drake Jackson, cornerback Max Williams and potential star receivers Kyle Ford and Puka Nacua highlight a stellar class. The Trojans must withstand a late charge by Oregon to keep Nacua, and Ford is at least still a possibility to flip to Washington, too. So there is work left to be done.

    Key addition so far: It has to be Jackson. With the receivers still up in the air on a final decision, the defensive end is enrolled and ready to make an immediate difference. He is big and physical and should wreak havoc on Pac-12 quarterbacks right away. The Trojans need impact defenders, and Jackson is one.


    17. Washington Huskies

    Class size: 21 (13 4-stars)

    Breakdown: This class would get another huge boost if Ford flipped in the 11th hour, but it's strong, regardless. Coach Chris Petersen has outfitted his roster with some dynamic defenders who will help keep the Huskies at the top of the conference on that side of the ball.

    Faatui Tuitele and Jacob Bandes will fortify the interior of the defensive line, and Laiatu Latu is a versatile defensive end/outside linebacker who can step right in.

    Key addition so far: It has to be Latu. The Huskies' pass rush was abysmal in 2018, and they won games in spite of it. They've got to upgrade that area, and Latu is the kind of prospect who can do it. Look for him to be worked in slowly, but by the end of the year, he'll be firmly in the rotation if not a starter.


    16. Florida State Seminoles

    Class size: 20 (10 4-stars)

    Breakdown: It's an even bigger deal that FSU got Louisville transfer Jordan Travis after Deondre Francois and the Seminoles parted ways, but nothing can fix their quarterback depth right away.

    Other areas of need are being addressed, however. Coach Willie Taggart's class features seven defensive backs and three offensive linemen, and both of those spots were huge voids in '18. Star defensive back Akeem Dent and Raymond Woodie III will help on the back end.

    Key addition so far: Without a doubt, it's offensive guard Dontae Lucas, the IMG Academy standout who needs to step in and help improve a line that was porous a season ago. There just aren't enough quality bodies up front, and Lucas is advanced enough to come in and start.

Nos. 15-11: Tennessee, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Auburn, Florida

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    Ohio State's Garrett Wilson has a chance to be an electrifying weapon for the Buckeyes right away.
    Ohio State's Garrett Wilson has a chance to be an electrifying weapon for the Buckeyes right away.Credit: 247Sports

    15. Tennessee Volunteers

    Class size: 21 (One 5-star, 10 4-stars)

    Breakdown: The 5-7 Vols have so many needs, it'll take Jeremy Pruitt a couple of cycles to fill them, but this group of prospects helps fill voids in the defensive backfield with players like Jaylen McCollough, Tyus Fields, Warren Burrell, Aaron Beasley and Anthony Harris

    The Vols also added huge pieces at linebacker (Quavaris Crouch and Roman Harrison) and along the offensive line (Wanya Morris, Chris Akporoghene, Jackson Lampley and Melvin McBride) and are the presumed leader for 5-star Darnell Wright entering the backstretch.

    Key addition so far: Wanya Morris is a huge get at a major position of need, and as poor as Tennessee played along the offensive front in 2018, it's hard to envision a scenario where Morris doesn't start. He's big, athletic and is a mid-term enrollee who will go through spring drills.


    14. Notre Dame Fighting Irish

    Class size: 21 (15 4-stars)

    Breakdown: The Irish parlayed the College Football Playoff into yet another stellar class that includes 15 4-star players, despite not having a 5-star talent. The class is especially strong in the secondary and the offensive line, where the Irish need help.

    Safeties Kyle Hamilton and Litchfield Ajavon and cornerbacks Isaiah Rutherford and KJ Wallace will help shore up the back end, while mid-term enrollee O-linemen Zeke Correll, Quinn Carroll, Andrew Kristofic and John Olmstead will fortify the front on the other side of the ball.

    Kyren Williams and Kendall Abdur-Rahman are also important pieces of the reload at running back.

    Key addition so far: There are needs everywhere, but the best player of the bunch has to be Hamilton, who came from SEC country and is a big, hard-hitting safety who can step right in and help keep teams from torching the Irish like Clemson did in the College Football Playoff.


    13. Ohio State Buckeyes

    Class size: 16 (Three 5-stars, nine 4-stars)

    Breakdown: It's a relatively small class for new coach Ryan Day, but it's heavy on talent with three 5-star prospects and nine 4-stars. Receiver Garrett Wilson, defensive end Zach Harrison and center Harry Miller are all potential stars who should be in the rotation in 2019.

    Of course, a player who doesn't show up who is just as big of a "recruit" is Georgia transfer quarterback Justin Fields, who is trying to step in and be eligible in '19. If so, look for guys like Wilson, receiver Jameson Williams and Steele Chambers to see their immediate value escalate.

    There are a lot of young, talented players already on the roster in Columbus, and this group will only add to it.

    Key addition so far: Harrison will slot nicely into the pass-rushing role, but with Michael Jordan leaving a year early for the NFL, the clear pick here is Miller, who is talented enough to come in and start as a true freshman for the Buckeyes. He was a major recruiting victory in the South and should be a force in 2019.


    12. Auburn Tigers

    Class size: 18 (Three 5-stars, nine 4-stars)

    Breakdown: Another smallish class, Auburn is also top-heavy like the Buckeyes, with the same number of 5-star prospects and 4-star prospects as Ohio State.

    At the top of the list are elite linebacker Owen Pappoe, receiver George Pickens and quarterback Bo Nix, the son of former AU signal-caller Patrick Nix, who has the ability to step in and take over for the departing Jarrett Stidham right away.

    There are also a ton of talented defenders, and late-rising running back DJ Williams is good enough to step right in and help Auburn regain its rushing prowess that was virtually nonexistent during a down '18 season.

    Key addition so far: It's got to be Nix, who could be the starting quarterback in '19. He doesn't have the strongest arm, and he isn't the biggest player, but Nix is a winner and a good athlete who can run Gus Malzahn's system.

    Nix's accuracy is elite, and he may not have as much upside as some quarterbacks in this class, but he's polished already. That's what the Tigers need.


    11. Florida Gators

    Class size: 23 (15 4-stars)

    Breakdown: With a group of nine early enrollees that is rich in defenders and offensive linemen, coach Dan Mullen looks poised to keep building on the 2018 success that should have earned him more recognition for the coach of the year.

    The Gators were strong, and they've built off that with 15 4-star prospects. The group is led by California cornerback Chris Steele, outside linebackers Mohamoud Diabate and Tyron Hopper, and offensive tackles Michael Tarquin and William Harrod, who have instant-impact ability.

    There are also nice offensive skill-position pieces like quarterback Jalon Jones and running back Nay'Quan Wright.

    Key addition so far: Pulling Diabate from under the noses of the Auburn Tigers was a big deal, and defensive end Lloyd Summerall's emergence as a pass-rushing defensive end is vital, but Steele is a huge recruiting victory and can upgrade the talent on the back end of the defense.

    The Gators are used to having elite playmakers in the secondary, and Steele fits the bill.

No. 10 Penn State Nittany Lions

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    Linebacker Brandon Smith ensures defensive reinforcements are on the way for James Franklin.
    Linebacker Brandon Smith ensures defensive reinforcements are on the way for James Franklin.Credit: 247Sports

    Class size: 21 (One 5-star, 17 4-stars)


    With so many losses to graduation and the transfer portal, Penn State needs to restock its pantry of players. 

    This is a talented group of prospects coming into Happy Valley, and it needs to help the Nittany Lions try to recapture some of the upward trajectory that was in the program before a 2018 season that stalled. 

    Coach James Franklin is bringing in a class full of potential elite defenders and skill-position talent that will help revitalize a team that didn't have many stars and now must move on from the Trace McSorley era.

    Running backs Devyn Ford and Noah Cain look like candidates to contribute right away in 2019 on offense, and there are plenty more.


    Number to know: 17

    That's how many 4-star prospects Franklin is bringing into his '19 class. The duo of running backs could help Miles Sanders and Ricky Slade immediately.

    A stout group of defensive backs will try to replace Amani Oruwariye, Nick Scott, Isaiah Humphries, Ayron Monroe and Zech McPhearson, who all either graduated or left.

    Safeties Tyler Rudolph and Jaquon Brisker and cornerbacks Keaton Ellis and Joey Porter Jr. could help right away, and a talented group of linebackers will bring plenty of excitement, too. This is a class that is heavy on average star rating, and the Lions have a bunch of players in this class who could have big careers.

    The defense is definitely getting an upgrade.


    Key addition so far: Brandon Smith, ILB

    The only 5-star prospect in Penn State's class is also the best player, a 6'4", 228-pound all-around athlete who will bring an elite player to the second level of the Lions defense right away.

    It's hard to envision a scenario where the Virginia product doesn't play in 2019. He likely will start. You don't get players like Smith, who can play sideline-to-sideline, is a sure tackler and a smart player who learns quickly, and let him stand on the sideline.

    This is the kind of recruiting win that keeps Franklin on the sideline, despite middling results in the win-loss column. Smith can change the latter with dynamic play.

No. 9 Clemson Tigers

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    Anthony Booth is one of the most polished cornerbacks in the entire class.
    Anthony Booth is one of the most polished cornerbacks in the entire class.Credit: 247Sports

    Class size: 27 (One 5-star, 12 4-stars) 


    The defending national champions haven't put together a class that will challenge for the top overall spot, but it filled many needs, nonetheless.

    By now, will anybody really doubt coach Dabo Swinney knows what it takes to get to and stay at the top?

    The Tigers' top two prospects are more weapons for Trevor Lawrence to utilize in receivers Frank Ladson (a 5-star) and Joe Ngata (a 4-star), but this class features 17 defensive players who will help try to fill the gaps of all those guys heading to the NFL.

    Clemson met many needs with this group, and while it isn't as flashy as some of the recent classes, it's deep and should help reload for the future.


    Number to know: 17

    The Tigers have an eye-popping 17 mid-term enrollees, which is by far the most ever for the program. Coach Swinney is thrilled with the group of incoming players, especially the guys who will go through spring drills.

    "You don't have any idea who they are right now, but this time next year everybody is going to know who they are," Swinney told the Anderson Independent Mail's Scott Keepfer. "That's the fun part about what I do. We get to start over every year and plug guys in and let them go play."

    The group of newcomers who already are on campus include four defensive linemen and four defensive backs, two spots vital for '19 contributors. Defensive tackle Tyler Davis and cornerback Sheridan Jones should make immediate impacts.


    Key addition so far: Tyler Davis, defensive tackle

    With so many stars leaving off that defensive line, including Dexter Lawrence, Christian Wilkins, Clelin Ferrell, Austin Bryant and Albert Huggins, the Tigers are in major need of reinforcements if they want to get back to the title game.

    Davis is a guy who should help on the interior right away. 

    Clemson has exciting young pass-rushers such as Xavier Thomas and K.J. Henry, but Davis is an athletic interior piece of the puzzle who possesses strong moves to get to the quarterback and pressure from the inside.

No. 8 Oregon Ducks

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    Kayvon Thibodeaux is a disruptive force who will get after Pac-12 quarterbacks right away.
    Kayvon Thibodeaux is a disruptive force who will get after Pac-12 quarterbacks right away.Credit: 247Sports

    Class size: 25 (One 5-star, 11 4-stars)


    Oregon is back, at least in recruiting.

    As the Ducks attempt to try to reclaim some of the glory from the Chip Kelly years under second-year head coach Mario Cristobal, the 2019 recruiting class is a brilliant start. 

    Cristobal has 11 commitments/signees from California so far, and the renewed interest in the Ducks from players in the Pac-12 hotbed bodes well for the future. This is the kind of class full of highly rated players UO needs.

    "It’s something that we want to, and need to get used to," Cristobal told the Salem Statesman-Journal's Pete Martini. "We need to continue that part of rebuilding a successful program, which is talent acquisition, which is evaluating, recruiting and signing the top prospects in the country."

    This class is deep on talent, too. The Ducks have nine players ranked in the top 150 including Kayvon Thibodeaux (more on him later), Mykael Wright, Jonah Tauanu'u, Mase Funa, Mycah Pittman, Lance Wilhoite and Sean Dollars.


    Number to know: 2

    Elite defensive end Kayvon Thibodeaux is the nation's second-ranked player, the highest-ranked prospect ever to commit to Oregon, according to Martini.

    He is a big, athletic playmaker who has a terrific burst off the edge. It's up in the air as to who the better prospect is between him and Georgia defensive end recruit Nolan Smith. The Ducks went toe-to-toe with the top teams in the country to land Thibodeaux.

    He chose Cristobal's program over Alabama, Georgia, Florida State, USC and others. This is the kind of recruiting win that rebuilds programs in a hurry.


    Key addition so far: Cale Millen, QB

    Despite all the highly ranked prospects in this class, the most important is without question a 3-star. With Justin Herbert returning for his senior season, Millen won't have to play right away, but after the Ducks' backups were underwhelming in 2018, it's vital they develop Millen.

    The 6'4", 190-pound signal-caller competed in the Elite 11 and threw for 4,260 yards as a senior. He's a tall, lanky kid with a live arm and is known for his accuracy, completing 75.9 percent of his passes in his final high school season for 3,807 yards, 51 touchdowns and seven picks.

    "I felt that I was needed more at Oregon rather than just kind of being another guy filling a spot," Millen told the Register Guard's Ryan Thorburn. "At other schools it was kind of, 'Oh, we need a quarterback for the class, let's take him.' At Oregon, I felt like it wasn't just filling a position. It was, 'We need you here.'"

No. 7 Michigan Wolverines

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    Daxton Hill will be college football's best safety before he graduates.
    Daxton Hill will be college football's best safety before he graduates.Credit: 247Sports

    Class size: 27 (Two 5-stars, 14 4-stars)


    The best class in the Big Ten is as balanced as they come, strong in the trenches and also sporting flashy players like safety Daxton Hill, running back Zach Charbonnet and quarterback Cade McNamara.

    With the disappointing finish to a 2018 season that held so much promise before a blowout loss to Ohio State, the Wolverines went to work revamping both sides of the ball.

    The class they've come away with is far and away the class of the conference, and it's one of the best in the entire nation. With brawn and balance, it may be the one that helps Jim Harbaugh's team turn a corner.


    Number to know: 11

    That's how many offensive and defensive linemen are heading to Ann Arbor to play in the trenches for the Wolverines, fortifying the most important areas of the team for the next four years.

    This group of talented players is led by 5-star defensive tackle Chris Hinton, yet another Big Blue pickup from the heart of SEC Country (Atlanta), where the Wolverines seem to pull a few blue-chip prospects each year.

    Defensive tackle Mazi Smith, offensive tackle Trente Jones and offensive guard Nolan Rumler highlight a deep, talented group of big boys.

    Key addition so far: Zach Charbonnet, RB

    Much like Alabama's Trey Sanders and LSU's John Emery Jr., there is elite ability mixed with opportunity in Ann Arbor, and that could equal a breakout season for the big-time back.

    The Wolverines pulled a major coup when they went out to Oaks Christian High School in California and got Charbonnet, who is an Arian Foster-type running back who has height but strong balance and plays lower than his height would suggest. 

    He's a power back who possesses elite pass-catching skills and has another gear, too, that will make him tough to bring down in the open field. With Karan Higdon heading to the NFL, this could be Charbonnet's chance to step in and shine.

No. 6 LSU Tigers

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    LSU certainly has a claim to DBU, and Derek Stingley will help the Tigers keep it.
    LSU certainly has a claim to DBU, and Derek Stingley will help the Tigers keep it.Credit: 247Sports

    Class size: 21 (Three 5-stars, 10 4-stars)


    Nobody should doubt Ed Orgeron's recruiting acumen by now, and he continues to show his ability to lure star prospects to Baton Rouge every year. After a little bit of a down season, he was back pulling big-time players again.

    The Tigers aren't known for their ability to lure quarterbacks, but with Joe Burrow entrenched there another year and elite signal-caller Max Johnson committed, the Tigers are surprisingly OK there. They needed to fix the rushing game.

    That's exactly what they've done in the '19 class, picking up five offensive linemen and two elite rushers. There are also excellent defenders for Dave Aranda to mold, too. It's a huge class on quality.


    Number to know: Seven (could be nine)

    Orgeron has to keep Alabama from cherry-picking the top prospects in Louisiana each year, and he has done that for the most part in the 2019 class.

    Seven of the state's top 10 players are LSU commitments, with just Christian Harris heading to Tuscaloosa. Of course, the other two uncommitted players in the state (Ishmael Sopsher and Devonta Lee) are in LSU-UA battles, with the 247Sports Crystal Ball pointing to the home-state Tigers as the favorite in both.

    The state is deep on stars this year, and LSU locked them up from stud cornerback Derek Stingley (the class jewel) to arguably the nation's top offensive player in running back John Emery Jr.


    Key addition so far: John Emery Jr., running back

    As mentioned, LSU has to fix running the football, as the Tigers were eighth in the SEC last year. That's very un-LSU-like. 

    That should change right away in 2019 thanks to getting Emery and hard-nosed complement Tyrion Davis. That's the best running back class in the nation, and Emery has special ability. He can run between the tackles, has a second gear when he reaches the second level and can also be a force in the passing game.

    The Tigers need him to stay healthy, and if he does, he'll be an All-SEC type of player, sooner rather than later.

No. 5 Oklahoma Sooners

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    Spencer Rattler will have to wait his turn behind Jalen Hurts but has a bright future.
    Spencer Rattler will have to wait his turn behind Jalen Hurts but has a bright future.Credit: 247Sports

    Class size: 24 (Three 5-stars, 13 4-stars)


    By now, it's obvious coach Lincoln Riley is going to put together a formidable group of offensive players who are going to throw up PlayStation numbers.

    The question remains on defense for new coordinator Alex Grinch.

    A remarkable group of playmakers led by Spencer Rattler, Jadon Haselwood, Theo Wease and Trejan Bridges highlight a class of offensive players who are going to keep the scoreboards working overtime in the Big 12. Are there enough quality defenders, though?

    There are some impressive prospects on that side of the ball, too. They may be the first class to help the Sooners turn the corner on defense.


    Number to know: 7

    That's how many 4-star defenders are heading to the Sooners. You can talk all you want about all the elite offensive talent Riley is getting every single year, but it doesn't matter.

    Why? The past two years, OU could score with anybody in the nation, but it lost to the Georgia Bulldogs last year and Alabama Crimson Tide this year in the College Football Playoff semifinals because it couldn't play a smidge of defense.

    That has to change, and it's players like Jeremiah Criddell, Joseph Wete, Jaden Davis and others who can lead the charge.


    Key addition so far: Woodi Washington, CB

    The Sooners must fix the back end of the defense, and Criddell, Davis and Washington have to step in and prove they deserve reps.

    Riley and Co. went into middle Tennessee and plucked Murfreesboro athlete Washington, who is a 5'11", 175-pound athlete who can play on either side of the ball. He will start out at cornerback, and OU needs difference-makers at that position.

    With all the passers in the Big 12, OU must shore up the boundary.

No. 4 Texas A&M Aggies

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    Texas A&M's class is loaded thanks to defensive tackles like DeMarvin Leal.
    Texas A&M's class is loaded thanks to defensive tackles like DeMarvin Leal.Credit: 247Sports

    Class size: 25 (Two 5-stars, 14 4-stars) 


    This is a dynamic, explosive class that is balanced and really good. It just stinks for the Aggies that their two biggest competitors in the SEC West over the next few years are Alabama and LSU, who also have top-10 classes.

    It may not be a group of players who will gain ground on the Crimson Tide, but if the development is there, this could be a program-changing class. Thirteen defenders and 12 offensive players mean A&M gets help on both sides of the ball.

    With Kellen Mond and a group of young, exciting playmakers returning, the future is extremely bright in College Station.


    Number to know: 17

    That's how many of the Aggies commitments are from the Lone Star State. If you didn't recognize Jimbo Fisher's recruiting acumen before now, it's time to start. He didn't have a ton of ties to the state other than his time as an assistant at LSU, and, still, players listen.

    The group of players from the home state is loaded, too. From defensive tackle DeMarvin Leal, tight end Baylor Cupp and wide receiver Kam Brown to offensive tackle Kenyon Green and safety Brian Williams, this is an elite haul.


    Key addition so far: Baylor Cupp, tight end

    There are so many options here. Leal is a budding star who could help transform the front seven in a class full of difference-makers for defensive coordinator Mike Elko. Green has all the ability to be an instant-impact starter who can help protect Mond.

    But the pick here is Cupp, who could step into the vacancy of Jace Sternberger, the elite tight end who grabbed 48 catches for 832 yards and 10 touchdowns as Mond's primary target.

    So many options remain in the passing game for Mond with the '19 Aggies, but Cupp is a big, fast, athletic pass-catcher who is talented enough to come right in and carve a niche if not a starting role.

No. 3 Texas Longhorns

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    Jordan Whittington and Bru McCoy give Texas a dynamic receiving duo.
    Jordan Whittington and Bru McCoy give Texas a dynamic receiving duo.Credit: 247Sports

    Class size: 24 (Two 5-stars, 15 4-stars) 


    It's a class full of playmakers on both sides of the ball for coach Tom Herman, who needed another big, elite class to bolster the secondary and the receiving corps.

    He got it.

    After hitting the jackpot on defensive backs like Caden Sterns, B.J. Foster, Jalen Green and DeMarvion Overshown, Tyler Owens, Kenyatta Watson and Chris Adimora are going to add immediate help to a secondary that was poor in '18 but got better as the year matured.

    Receivers Jordan Whittington, Jake Smith and Marcus Washington already formed a great group, but when USC signee Bru McCoy transferred to Texas after just weeks with the Trojans, he made it the best receiver class in the country. He may have to sit out in 2019, but he's worth the wait.


    Number to know: 4

    Just that tiny number of players out of the top 25 prospects in the fertile Texas soil committed to the Longhorns. Yet, coach Herman still has a top-three class.

    That's a remarkable number when you think about it.

    Much like Georgia, Herman could recruit his state, but for whatever reason, there were other places and other players he explored in this class to much success. 

    Jordan Whittington (No. 6 player in Texas) was the highest-ranked prospect in the group, followed by offensive tackle Tyler Johnson (9), safety Owens (18) and linebacker David Gbenda (24). Texas A&M beat the 'Horns head-to-head for several Lone Star prospects, but UT still has a strong class.


    Key addition so far: De'Gabriel Floyd, LB

    Massive offensive tackle Tyler Johnson is an exciting and necessary piece of the puzzle, and everybody is thrilled with Whittington and McCoy.

    But Texas' group of dynamic linebackers is led by Floyd, a 6'1.5", 231-pound force of nature who is one of the most physical 'backers in the country. It's ridiculous Herman went into the heart of Pac-12 country and plucked Floyd and McCoy out from under the noses of the Trojans, but he did.

    Floyd prepped at Westlake Village High School in California, and he's as college-ready as they come. It's not hard to see him slotting into the middle of Todd Orlando's defense and making an instant impact.

No. 2 Georgia Bulldogs

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    Georgia went into South Florida and stole versatile defensive back Tyrique Stevenson.
    Georgia went into South Florida and stole versatile defensive back Tyrique Stevenson.Credit: 247Sports

    Class size: 23 (Four 5-stars, 16 4-stars)


    This is a year for Georgia to replenish the front seven on defense, and, boy, have the Bulldogs done that.

    Ten of Georgia's 23 commitments so far are either defensive linemen or linebackers as Smart tries to bolster that side of the ball following graduation and early defections. Led by the nation's top-ranked player Nolan Smith and inside linebacker Nakobe Dean, this is a deep, talented group.

    Defensive tackle Travon Walker is a stud, too, and he could fit right into the rotation immediately.

    Last year, Georgia had a ton of success recruiting the same positions, so while the Bulldogs will be young again in 2019, they'll have some of the best young pass-rushing talent in the country.


    Number to know: 10

    That's the number of states represented in Kirby Smart's third full recruiting class.

    Much like Tom Herman at Texas, Smart sits on a hotbed of talent in a state that produces enough quality players to outfit rosters across the Southeast, but the Bulldogs brand is now far-reaching. He and his staff can walk into living rooms across the nation and sell kids on the red and black.

    There are prospects from Kansas to Rhode Island, Mississippi to Michigan. Of course, the Bulldogs keep some kids at home and go into South Florida to pluck a few more. Like last year, they're cherry-picking from Tennessee while the Vols are down, and they've even had success in Alabama. 

    It's a good time to be a Dawg.


    Key addition so far: Dominick Blaylock, WR

    So many options.

    Smith is the nation's top-ranked player, and he'll almost certainly be a force on defense right away. It was vital for UGA to pick up Dwan Mathis, flipping the quarterback from Ohio State, especially with Justin Fields transferring to the Buckeyes.

    Let's go with Blaylock, though. The silky-smooth receiver does a lot of things well, and he will play right away, if not start; he's that good. With Riley Ridley and Mecole Hardman leaving, quarterback Jacob Fromm needs more weapons.

    It should be a big year for Cal transfer Demetris Robertson, but watch out for Blaylock to be one of the SEC's top newcomers.

No. 1 Alabama Crimson Tide

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    Antonio Alfano is a future star who will be the next in a pipeline of Alabama D-line talent.
    Antonio Alfano is a future star who will be the next in a pipeline of Alabama D-line talent.Credit: 247Sports

    Class size: 28 (Three 5-stars, 24 4-stars) 


    It's no surprise Nick Saban keeps one-upping himself in recruiting. A year after Georgia snapped Alabama's streak of mythical recruiting championships, the Crimson Tide have the best, deepest and most balanced class in the country.

    There's talent across all levels, led by a brilliant offensive line recruiting class that features 5-star Evan Neal and 4-stars Pierce Quick, Amari Kight, Darrian Dalcourt and Tanner Bowles. A duo of top-shelf quarterbacks in Taulia Tagovailoa and Paul Tyson ensure Alabama will have options at the position moving forward.

    Antonio Alfano and Justin Eboigbe have massive potential as edge-rushers, too. It's a class that thrives at every position, as we've come to expect from UA. Twenty-four 4-stars with more coming is an incredible feat.


    Number to know: 12

    That's the number of top-100 players committed in this class for Saban, and seven are along the lines of scrimmage. By now, Saban has the perfect recipe to compete for championships year-in and year-out, and he isn't afraid to insert freshmen right away.

    Prospects like Alfano, Eboigbe and Neal will battle for starting spots right away, and others will, too. This Alabama class is deep and good, and it's arguably the most college-ready group he's signed in a decade.


    Key addition so far: Trey Sanders, RB

    You could make an argument for Neal, of course, considering he's got the potential to step in and be a Day 1 starter at left tackle. But Sanders is a pivotal weapon.

    With Josh Jacobs and Damien Harris off to the NFL, the Crimson Tide have carry vacancies at the running back position, and Sanders is a physical specimen who looks ready to play and will have every opportunity to.

    This is Najee Harris' backfield, and he is talented enough to win the Heisman Trophy. Alabama has plenty of other runners, too, but Sanders has been polished at IMG Academy and, while he needs a little humbling after predicting he'd win the Heisman as a freshman, will still make an impact.


    Unless otherwise noted, stats courtesy of Sports Reference and All recruiting information is from 247Sports, and rankings are from 247Sports' composite.

    Brad Shepard covers college football for Bleacher Report. You can follow him on Twitter @Brad_Shepard.