College Football Recruiting: Initial Top 25 Classes for 2021

David KenyonFeatured ColumnistFebruary 7, 2020

College Football Recruiting: Initial Top 25 Classes for 2021

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    Richard Shiro/Associated Press

    As the first Wednesday of February signaled the relative end of the 2020 recruiting cycle, it also turned the college football world's attention toward 2021.

    Well, sort of.

    Recruiting never sleeps. Nearly 11 months from December's early signing period, 11 programs already hold at least five verbal commitments. Ohio State and Florida both have 10, while Clemson has nine. That's reflected in their overall team rankings.

    Player evaluations are far from settled. At this point, our ranking's largest value is helping fans become familiar with the next wave of Football Bowl Subdivision talent.

25-21. Washington, Michigan, Pitt, Boston College, North Carolina

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    Elaine Thompson/Associated Press

    25. Washington Huskies

    Class size: 2 (one 5-star)

    Recruit to know: The son and nephew of former NFL quarterbacks Damon Huard and Brock Huard, Sam Huard is deemed the second-best recruit at the position. Over the last two seasons, per MaxPreps, the 5-star has crested the 4,000-yard mark and totaled 98 touchdowns. Huard is ranked 11th nationally.

                  

    24. Michigan Wolverines

    Class size: 2 (one 5-star)

    Recruit to know: Close behind Huard is J.J. McCarthy, a 5-star quarterback and the No. 17 overall player in the class. He committed to Jim Harbaugh and Michigan in May 2019 and has since taken six unofficial visits to Ann Arbor.

                  

    23. Pittsburgh Panthers

    Class size: 3 (two 4-stars)

    Recruit to know: Pitt's top-rated pledge is 4-star outside linebacker Nahki Johnson, who is ranked 273rd. He's also the ninth-best player from Pennsylvania.

                

    22. Boston College Eagles

    Class size: 4

    Recruit to know: TJ Guy committed to Boston College in November, but his recruitment might just be getting started. Michigan recently offered the 3-star defensive end.

                     

    21. North Carolina Tar Heels

    Class size: 3 (two 4-stars)

    Recruit to know: Late in January, 4-star inside linebacker Power Echols announced his verbal pledge to North Carolina. During his junior season at Zebulon B. Vance High School in Charlotte, North Carolina, Echols racked up 156 tackles with 22 for loss and 14 sacks, also forcing seven fumbles.

20-16. Mississippi State, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Texas A&M, LSU

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    Rogelio V. Solis/Associated Press

    20. Mississippi State

    Class size: 4

    Recruit to know: New head coach Mike Leach has already picked up commitments from 3-star wideout Brandon Buckhaulter and 3-star quarterback Daniel Greek. Buckhaulter, a top-500 player, caught 35 passes for 687 yards and 10 scores last season.

                  

    19. Nebraska

    Class size: 3 (two 4-stars)

    Recruit to know: The Cornhuskers landed a rare prized prospect from South Dakota in 4-star outside linebacker Randolph Kpai. The state hadn't produced a 4-star since Matt Farniok in 2016, but he also headed to Nebraska.

                

    18. Oklahoma

    Class size: 3 (two 4-stars)

    Recruit to know: Oklahoma continues to sway top-level receiver talent. The Sooners hold a pledge from 4-star wideout Cody Jackson, who is considered the No. 94 player.

                   

    17. Texas A&M

    Class size: 3 (three 4-stars)

    Recruit to know: Jimbo Fisher is known for developing quarterbacks, and 4-star Eli Stowers might be next in line. Last year, he threw for 2,969 yards, 36 touchdowns and only four interceptions while running for 1,166 yards and 11 scores.

               

    16. LSU

    Class size: 3 (one 5-star, one 4-star)

    Recruit to know: LSU traveled to California and swiped a 5-star. Rated No. 19 nationally, outside linebacker Raesjon Davis committed to the Tigers on New Year's Day in 2020.

15-11. Minnesota, Maryland, Alabama, Auburn, Georgia

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    Adam Bettcher/Getty Images

    15. Minnesota

    Class size: 5 (one 4-star)

    Recruit to know: In March 2019, P.J. Fleck and Co. secured commitments from twin brothers Athan and Dino Kaliakmanis. Athan is a 4-star quarterback, and Dino is a 3-star receiver.

                     

    14. Maryland

    Class size: 8 (one 4-star)

    Recruit to know: Seven of Maryland's eight pledges reside in the DMV, the two-state/D.C. region that is pivotal to the program's recruiting success. The school's top prospect is 4-star defensive tackle Taizse Johnson, who checks in at 191st nationally.

                   

    13. Alabama

    Class size: 3 (three 4-stars)

    Recruit to know: Alabama will attempt to hold off a strong North Carolina connection with Drake Maye. The 4-star quarterback's father Mark played the position for the Heels, and his brother, Luke, starred on the basketball court in Chapel Hill.

                 

    12. Auburn

    Class size: 3 (one 5-star, one 4-star)

    Recruit to know: Early rankings have the state of Alabama producing four top-75 prospects, and Auburn has grabbed two of them. Five-star defensive tackle Lee Hunter and 4-star running back Armoni Goodwin are ranked 29th and 70th, respectively.

              

    11. Georgia

    Class size: 2 (one 5-star, one 4-star)

    Recruit to know: Previously committed to Oklahoma, 5-star Brock Vandagriff backed off the pledge and announced for Georgia. Vandagriff is the top-ranked quarterback and No. 8 overall player.

10. USC

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    Leon Bennett/Getty Images

    Class size: 4 (one 5-star, two 4-stars)

    Top prospect: Jake Garcia (No. 3 pro-style QB, No. 14 overall)

               

    Recruits to Know

    Although the Trojans seemed to discover a gem in Kedon Slovis, they're hoping to add a coveted quarterback in Jake Garcia. The 5-star signal-caller took unofficial visits to Auburn, Alabama, Miami and Florida State before choosing USC in September 2019.

    Ma'a Gaoteote is a 4-star outside linebacker with a USC connection. His brother, Palaie, is a starting linebacker for the Trojans defense.

9. Iowa

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    Morry Gash/Associated Press

    Class size: 7 (two 4-stars)

    Top prospect: Connor Colby (No. 27 OT, No. 228 overall)

                 

    Recruits to Know

    Led by Connor Colby and 3-star defensive tackle Griffin Liddle, the Hawkeyes are controlling the state again. Iowa holds commitments from half the state's top-10 prospects.

    Three-star defensive end Jeffrey Bowie, 3-star inside linebacker Jaden Harrell and 3-star athlete Zach Twedt complete the group.

8. Miami

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    Wilfredo Lee/Associated Press

    Class size: 8 (three 4-stars)

    Top prospect: Laurence Seymore (No. 7 OG, No. 206 overall)

                 

    Recruits to Know

    Manny Diaz and Co. missed on high-value offensive linemen in the 2020 class, so bolstering the unit will be essential during this cycle. Miami is off to a good start with Laurence Seymore, a 4-star who is among the top 10 players at his position.

    The 'Canes have a commitment from Andres Borregales, the top-ranked kicker in the class. His brother, Jose, recently transferred to Miami from Florida International.

7. Wisconsin

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    Dylan Buell/Getty Images

    Class size: 8 (three 4-stars)

    Top prospect: JP Benzschawel (No. 24 OT, No. 195 overall)

                                         

    Recruits to Know

    Not only has Wisconsin secured a pledge from the state's top offensive lineman in JP Benzschawel, the Badgers did the same in Minnesota. Riley Mahlman is also a 4-star tackle.

    As if that's not enough, Wisconsin holds pledges from the five highest-rated in-state prospects. The others are 4-star safety Hunter Wohler, 3-star running back Jackson Acker, 3-star running back Loyal Crawford and 3-star defensive end Ayo Adebogun.

6. Oregon

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    Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

    Class size: 6 (five 4-stars)

    Top prospect: Seven McGee (No. 5 RB, No. 82 overall)

              

    Recruits to Know

    Mario Cristobal and his staff are once again staking a considerable claim to California. After swiping the state's top defensive prospect in 2019 and 2020, the Ducks have a quartet of 4-star commits, with top-100 prospect Seven McGee leading the way.

    The Ducks are staying local, too, holding a pledge from the state's top-rated player in 4-star inside linebacker Keith Brown.

5. Florida

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    Mic Smith/Associated Press

    Class size: 10 (six 4-stars)

    Top prospect: Clinton Burton Jr. (No. 11 CB, No. 160 overall)

                       

    Recruits to Know

    Florida has a couple of longstanding commits in the 2021 class. Four-star defensive end Tyreak Sapp and 3-star offensive tackle George Jackson both announced for the Gators in late 2018.

    High school teammates are also pledged to Florida, as Four-star quarterback Carlos Del Rio and 4-star athlete Daejon Reynolds attend Grayson in Loganville, Georgia.

4. Texas

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    David K Purdy/Getty Images

    Class size: 7 (five 4-stars)

    Top prospect: Ja'Tavion Sanders (No. 4 ATH. No. 46 overall)

             

    Recruits to Know

    Just like Florida, Texas potentially has some teammates on the way. Four-star athlete Ja'Tavion Sanders and 4-star receiver Billy Bowmanboth top-100 prospectsare committed to the Longhorns from Ryan High School in Denton, Texas.

    The third top-100 pledge is 4-star quarterback Jalen Milroe. He's considered the third-best dual-threat option in 2021.

3. Notre Dame

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    Phelan M. Ebenhack/Associated Press

    Class size: 8 (seven 4-stars)

    Top prospect: Deion Colzie (No. 5 WR, No. 43 overall)

               

    Recruits to Know

    Rankings will change over the next 12 months, but Notre Dame is loading up on top-100 players. After signing four in the 2020 cycle, the Irish already have five such commits.

    Deion Colzie is the highest-rated prospect, followed by 4-star quarterback Tyler Buchner. The Irish are also continuing a half-decade trend of landing a top tight end. Four-star Cane Berrong is the No. 1 player at the position.

2. Clemson

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    David J. Phillip/Associated Press

    Class size: 9 (nine 4-stars)

    Top prospect: Korey Foreman (No. 1 DE, No. 1 overall)

                 

    Recruits to Know

    While it's early, Clemson could be headed toward signing the nation's No. 1 prospect for the third time in four recruiting cycles. Star quarterback Trevor Lawrence held the billing in 2018, and 2020 defensive tackle Bryan Bresee did the same. Defensive end Korey Foreman is atop the 2021 rankings.

    Additionally, Dabo Swinney and Co. have a trio of 4-star pass-catchers lined up in wideout Beaux Collins, tight end Jake Briningstool and receiver Dacari Collins.

1. Ohio State

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    AJ MAST/Associated Press

    Class size: 10 (one 5-star, seven 4-stars)

    Top prospect: Jack Sawyer (No. 2 DE, No. 2 overall)

                 

    Recruits to Know

    Highlighted by 5-star defensive end Jack Sawyer, the Buckeyes are dominating the state of Ohioas usual. Four of the top six prospects and six of the top 11 players are verbally pledged to Ohio State.

    The most recognizable player, without question, is a 4-star receiver with NFL bloodlines. Marvin Harrison Jr. is the son of Indianapolis Colts legend Marvin Harrison, who entered the Pro Football Hall of Fame as a member of the 2016 class.

                    

    All recruiting information via 247Sports. Stats from NCAA.com, cfbstats.com or B/R research. Follow Bleacher Report CFB Writer David Kenyon on Twitter @Kenyon19_BR.

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