#1 Michigan Wolverines Avg. Star Rating for Top 20 Commits – 4.15 Headliner: No. 1 RB Derrick Green Commitment List | Forum Michigan had the No. 1 class for much of the year for the Class of 2012 but lacked the staying power to hold on to the top spot, eventually finishing an impressive fourth. Fast forward to the Class of 2013 and there have been several changes at the top, but Michigan may have solidified the No. 1 spot with a commitment from Scout’s No. 1 running back Derrick Green (5-foot-11/220 pounds) of Richmond, Va., on Jan. 26. Green was Michigan’s 19th player rated four stars or better including quarterback Shane Morris (6-3/205) of Warren, Mich., and safety Dymonte Thomas (6’1/180) of Alliance, Ohio. The one hole in Michigan’s class may be at receiver, but overall the Wolverines have a strong case for the nation’s No. 1 class.
#2 Notre Dame Fighting Irish Avg. Star Rating Top 20 Commits – 4.00 Headliner: No. 1 OLB Jaylon Smith Commitment List | Forum Notre Dame may have had a tough go of it at the BCS Championship Game, but sometimes the obvious gets ignored, they were one of only two teams playing for the championship. The Fighting Irish have recruited well the last several years, including the final years under former coach Charlie Weis, but now the talent is being put in position to win. Recruits are noticing. Linebacker Jaylon Smith (6-3/225) of Fort Wayne, Ind., is a home-state product that happens to be ranked the No. 1 outside linebacker in the country. Smith is a difference maker on defense who can drop into coverage or attack the quarterback. Notre Dame has a host of receivers coming in, but running back Greg Bryant (5-10/210) of Delray Beach, Fla., is special on offense.
#3 Texas A&M Aggies Avg. Star Rating for Top 20 Commits – 3.90 Headliner: No. 1 WR Ricky Seals-Jones Commitment List | Forum Yes Texas A&M has 33 commitments and counting, but it’s not the quantity of players that have the Aggies in such a lofty position, it’s the quality. Texas A&M has 17 players rated four stars or better, and the receiver class is the envy of most teams in the country. The Aggies may be looking to stock the basketball team as well as the football team, as big receivers such as Ricky Seals-Jones (6’5/220) of Sealy, Texas, and Derrick Griffin (6-6/215) of Rosenberg, Texas, are matchup nightmares. With Johnny Manziel coming off a Heisman Trophy season and having three seasons of eligibility left, it’s no surprise that receivers are flocking to College Station, but the Aggies also have commitments from two four-star quarterbacks in Kenny Hill (6’0/205) of Southlake, Texas, and Kohl Stewart (6’2/190) of Houston.
#4 Ohio State Buckeyes Avg. Star Rating for Top 20 Commits – 4.00 Headliner: No. 2 MLB Mike Mitchell Commitment List | Forum Urban Meyer and Ohio State took the Big Ten by storm in just a few short months last year before finishing with the No. 3 class in the country. The Buckeyes haven’t let up and could bring in an even more impressive haul this year. It’s a terrific year for running backs and Ezekiel Elliot (6-foot/200) of St. Louis, Mo., is ranked ninth but would push for No. 1 in most years. Linebacker Mike Mitchell (6-4/225) of Plano, Texas is a name who will have scouts salivating at the NFL Combine in a few years. He possesses a size/speed skill set that translates well to the next level. Percy Harvin did as much damage running the ball as he did catching it for Urban Meyer at Florida, and Jalin Marshall (6-1/190) of Middletown, Ohio, has the ability to play the Harvin role almost as good as Harvin.
#5 LSU Tigers Avg. Star Rating for Top 20 Commits – 3.90 Headliner: No. 5 DT Greg Gilmore Commitment List | Forum Going from Nick Saban to Les Miles, LSU has been the most consistent recruiting team in the nation over the last decade, and over the last decade no BCS program has a better winning percentage than the LSU Tigers. 2013 is no different as the Tigers look to lock in another top 10 class. The bulk of the talent LSU is bringing in is on the defensive side of the ball. Greg Gilmore (6-5/290) of Hope Mills, N.C., is a five-star defensive tackle looking to continue LSU’s run of talented interior linemen. Defensive end Frank Herron (6-5/270) of Memphis, Tenn., is a versatile lineman who can easily be compared to the giant ends of the recent past, including Marcus Spears and Marquis Hill. It’s not all defense for LSU though as the Tigers are bringing in a pair of four-star quarterbacks in Hayden Rettig (6-4/205) of Los Angeles and Anthony Jennings (6’2/202) of Marietta, Ga.
#6 UCLA Bruins Avg. Star Rating for Top 20 Commits – 3.85 Headliner: No. 4 CB Priest Willis Commitment List | Forum Urban Meyer and Ohio State got the national attention last year for putting together a terrific class in just a few short months, but Jim Mora and UCLA did the same out west, finishing 12th after being left for dead earlier in the season. Like Ohio State, UCLA has picked right up where it left off, taking advantage of a winning season and scholarship limits imposed on USC. The pass-happy Pac-12 may have to think twice when facing UCLA, which has commitments from four defensive backs rated four-stars or better including five-star cornerback Priest Willis (6-2/190) of Tempe, Ariz., and versatile safety tandem Tahaan Goodman (6-2/190) of Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., and Tyler Foreman (6-2/205) of Encino, Calif. It may not be flashy, but it’s certainly necessary — the Bruins have commitments from a whopping five four-star offensive linemen including Poasi Moala (6-5/265) of Moreno Valley, Calif.
#7 Florida Gators Avg. Star Rating for 20 Commits – 3.80 Headliner: No. 1 CB Vernon Hargreaves III Commitment List | Forum Florida’s pass defense was pretty strong in 2012, and it shouldn’t slow down with the addition of No. 1 cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III (5-11/181) of Tampa, Fla. Hargreaves is as good in pass defense as any prospect in a long time. His coverage skills should free up hard-hitting safety Marcell Harris (6-2/200) of Orlando, Fla., to do what he does best — hit opponents hard. The running game shouldn’t miss a beat for the Gators either with the addition of one of the most prolific high school running backs in history in Kelvin Taylor (5-10/205) of Belle Glade, Fla. Ahmad Fulwood (6’4/200) of Jacksonville, Fla., and Demarcus Robinson (6’2/195) of Fort Valley, Ga., are two big receiving targets who should help to open up running lanes.
#8 Georgia Bulldogs Avg. Star Rating for Top 20 Commits – 3.65 Headliner: No. 7 QB Brice Ramsey Commitment List | Forum Georgia was 10 yards from a spot in the BCS Championship Game, and the Bulldogs aren’t going away any time soon. Georgia is bringing in a big class with several junior college transfers (four), so the Bulldogs are looking to make a run in 2013 with senior quarterback Aaron Murray. Wide receiver Jonathon Rumph (6-4/200) of Holmes Community College can be counted on right away. The Bulldogs are looking to re-stack the defense with a whopping 18 players committed on the defensive side of the ball, including junior college safeties Shaquille Fluker (6-1/205) of East Mississippi and Kennar Johnson (6-2/185) of Gulf Coast. Quarterback Brice Ramsey (6-3/200) of Kingsland, Ga., won’t be counted on next year, but he is a terrific passer who could be in line for the starting job in 2014.
#9 Alabama Crimson Tide Avg. Star Rating for Top 20 Commits – 3.90 Headliner: No. 1 TE O.J. Howard Commitment List | Forum Alabama doesn’t so much recruit any more as they select. Winning three of the last four BCS Championships has its benefits, and reloading with talented players willing to wait their turn for championship hardware is one of them. Normally this time of year we talk about Alabama’s defensive stars, but this year, the intriguing players are mostly on offense. The Crimson Tide isn’t getting away from smash-mouth football any time soon, not with running backs Derrick Henry (6-3/240) of Yulee, Fla., Altee Tenpenny (6-foot/205) of North Little Rock, Ark., and Tyren Jones (5-9/200) of Marietta, Ga., all slated to play for Alabama. Henry is particularly interesting as the nation’s all-time leading high school rusher in the body of a defensive end. Quarterback Cooper Bateman (6-3/205) of Salt Lake City, Utah, is a solid passer with 4.5+ speed, which could give the Tide an option they haven’t had in recent years. Tight end O.J. Howard (6-5/230) of Prattville, Ala., is as good a pass-catching tight end as I’ve scouted in years. USC #10 USC Trojans Avg. Star Rating for 13 Commits – 4.46 Headliner: No. 1 QB Max Browne Commitment List | Forum That USC only has half a class (13 commitments) and still cracks the top 10 as late as the week before Signing Day is one of the most amazing developments I’ve ever seen. USC has more five-star players committed (six) than any team in the country. With so few scholarships to give, USC put a premium on early commitments and made each scholarship more valuable. While the early pressure cooker can cause some headaches in January with de-commitments, USC is still bringing in the nation’s No. 1 quarterback — Max Browne (6-5/215) of Sammamish, Wa. — and the No. 1 safety — Su’a Cravens (6-1/205) of Murrieta, Calif. Of USC’s commitments, all of them are rated at least four stars, and 10 of them are ranked in the top 10 at their respective positions. That’s an unprecedented level of success on the recruiting trails in the teeth of harsh NCAA sanctions. Washington #11 Washington Huskies Avg. Star Rating for Top 20 Commits – 3.45 Headliner: No. 6 DE Daeshon Hall Commitment List | Forum Washington is putting together another strong class after three straight top 25 classes under head coach Steve Sarkisian. As is typical for teams on the West Coast, the bulk of the Huskies’ star power comes from California. Of Washington’s nine commitments rated four stars or better, eight of them hail from the Golden State, including quarterback Troy Williams (6-3/200) of Harbor City and big receiver Demorea Stringfellow (6-3/215) of Moreno Valley. Receiver John Ross (5-11/175) of Long Beach, Calif., may be the most under-appreciated four-star receiver on the West Coast. Generating little buzz among fans who had their focus on other prospects, Ross seemingly went under the radar. Ross will change that on the big stage of college football. He is a dynamic playmaker on offense and as a return man. Mississippi #12 Ole Miss Rebels Avg. Star Rating for 19 Commits – 3.45 Headliner: No. 5 WR Laquon Treadwell Commitment List | Forum Who is the surprise team of the year? That’s a common question in this business and never has the answer been as easy as it is this year: Ole Miss. The Rebels are knocking on the door of the top 10 with commitments from national stars such as five-star receiver Laquon Treadwell (6-3/190) of Crete, Ill., defensive end Elijah Daniel (6-3/260) of Avon, Ind., tight end Christian Morgan (6-4/255) of Plano, Texas, and arguably the nation’s No. 1 junior college prospect in defensive lineman Lavon Hooks (6-4/295) of Northeast Mississippi Community College. Ole Miss as is typical has signed its share of stars from within the state borders, including four-star quarterback Ryan Buchanan (6-4/210) of Jackson and four-star running back Kalio Moore (5-11/185) of Rosedale. Now comes the fun part. Ole Miss is also in on a host of other five-star prospects and are considered the favorite to sign defensive lineman Robert Nkemdiche (6-4/265) of Loganville, Ga., and safety Antonio Conner (6-1/205) of Batesville, Miss. Nebraska #13 Nebraska Cornhuskers Avg. Star Rating for Top Commits – 3.40 Headliner: No. 17 RB Terrell Newby Commitment List | Forum Nebraska’s move to the Big Ten generated the question “what will be Nebraska’s recruiting strategy?”. I didn’t have an answer at the time, and last year it appeared Nebraska didn’t either as the Cornhuskers finished 50th in the nation on Signing Day. Now it looks like Nebraska has settled in and figured it out. Rather than focus on a specific region, the Huskers have fanned out across the country and gotten commitments from 12 states and two countries (Canada). Two of Nebraska’s highest-profile recruits come from California in quarterback Johnny Stanton (6-2/225) of Rancho Santa Margarita and Terrell Newby (5-10/180) of West Hills. Stanton is a power running option spread quarterback with a good arm, and Newby is a speed back who attacks the line of scrimmage like a much bigger back. Newby can provide the lightning to Katy, Texas, Adam Taylor’s (6-foot/210) thunder.
#14 Mississippi State Bulldogs Avg. Star Rating for Top 20 Commits – 3.35 Headliner: No. 2 DE Chris Jones Commitment List | Forum Mississippi State and Dan Mullen have turned in three straight winning seasons in Starkville and look to turn in a second consecutive top 25 recruiting class after finishing 18th in 2012. Without a doubt the highest profile recruit in this class is defensive end Chris Jones (6-6/255) of Houston, Miss. Jones comes from a town of roughly 3,500 people and relatively speaking was late to the recruiting scene. A big senior year followed by an impressive All-American performance at Under Armour vaulted Jones to the No. 2 defensive end. On the offensive side of the ball, running back Ashton Shumpert (6-2/210) is a big, powerful back. The Bulldogs look like they are in search of playmakers, because they are bringing in eight wide receivers including four-star junior college transfer Corey Smith (6-1/190) of East Mississippi.
#15 Texas Longhorns Avg. Star Rating of 15 Commits – 3.87 Headliner: No. 1 DT A’Shawn Robinson Commitment List | Forum Texas has always recruited talent consistently, where they become inconsistent is with the size of their classes, and this year looks to be a smaller year for the Longhorns after signing 50 players in the last two. As usual, there is no shortage of talent on the Longhorn commitment list though, headlined by the nation’s No. 1 defensive tackle A’Shawn Robinson (6-4/305) of Fort Worth, Texas. Robinson is remarkably light on his feet for his size and has the quickness for defensive tackle and the strength for nose guard. Quarterback Tyrone Swoopes (6-4/220) of Whitewright can throw it a mile and run like a deer. If he can develop consistency and harness his talent, he can be special. As is typical for a Longhorn class, every one of Texas’ commitments played high school football in Texas.
#16 Oklahoma Sooners Avg. Star Rating for Top 20 Commits – 3.35 Headliner: No. 5 RB Keith Ford Commitment List | Forum Oklahoma isn’t accustomed to being in the teens on Signing Day, but the Sooners are bringing in one of the most talented running backs in the country in Keith Ford (5-11/195) of Cypress, Texas. After having such success going west to get oversized safety Tony Jefferson in 2010, the Sooners are trying their luck again with Hatari Byrd (6-2/210) of Fresno. Byrd is built like an outside linebacker but runs like a defensive back. The Sooners are looking to get bigger on the defensive line and have commitments from three defensive tackles, including junior college product Quincy Russell (6-4/310) of Trinity Valley who should push for immediate playing time.
#17 Florida State Seminoles Avg. Star Rating for 19 Commits – 3.35 Headliner: No. 7 DE Demarcus Walker Commitment List | Forum Head Coach Jimbo Fisher has helped establish Florida State as a national recruiting power again, but the Seminoles know they’ll still do their best work without having to venture far from Tallahassee. Florida State’s top commitments include Sunshine State prospects such as defensive lineman Demarcus Walker (6-4/250) of Jacksonville, offensive lineman Ira Denson (6-4/320) of Madison, running back Ryan Green (5-10/190) of St. Petersburg, and receiver Isaiah Jones (6-4/200) of Milton. Of course Florida State still ventures out of the south to cherry pick top talent including four-star linebacker E.J. Levenberry of Woodbridge, Va. Vanderbilt #18 Vanderbilt Commodores Avg. Star Rating for 19 Commits – 3.20 Headliner: No. 18 CB Ryan White Commitment List | Forum In any other year that Ole Miss isn’t crashing the top 10, Vanderbilt would be considered the surprise team of the year as the Commodores are looking for their highest finish in recruiting … ever. It wasn’t too long ago that it was surprising to see Stanford in the top 25, and now the Cardinal is a perennial top 25 team on the field as well. Vanderbilt is hoping to have similar success and solidify the lines of scrimmage with four-star prospects such as offensive lineman Delando Crooks (6-4/277) of Atlanta and defensive tackle Jay Woods (6-2/275) of Jackson, Ga., is a good start. Pittsburgh #19 Pittsburgh Panthers Avg. Star Rating for Top 20 Commits – 3.15 Headliner: No. 12 S Tyler Boyd Commitment List | Forum Pittsburgh is looking to shore up a defensive secondary and has five players committed who project as safeties. Some of those players — such as Tony Harper (6-4/200) of Toledo, Ohio — have the frames to grow into outside linebackers. It’s a safety though in Tyler Boyd (6-1/175) of Clairton, Pa., who headlines the Panther recruiting class. The cafeteria could take the biggest hit at Pittsburgh as the Panthers look to get considerably bigger along the lines of scrimmage. Pittsburgh has commitments from 13 players at tight end, offensive line, and defensive line, including four-star offensive tackle Dorian Johnson (6-6/275) of Belle Vernon, Pa. Oklahoma State #20 Oklahoma State Cowboys Avg. Star Rating for Top 20 Commits – 3.25 Headliner: No. 23 WR Fred Ross Commitment List | Forum Oklahoma State has quickly earned a reputation as a haven for skill players on offense and of the Cowboys’ five four-star rated recruits, not surprisingly three of them are wide receivers. There is a good mix among the three as Marcell Ateman (6-4/190) of Wylie, Texas, fits the big role, Ra’Shaad Samples (5-10/170) of Dallas fits the slot role, and Fred Ross (6-0/180) of Tyler, Texas, fits right in between. Interestingly enough, Oklahoma State has a top 25 class without a single commitment from within its state borders, not a total surprise since the Cowboys have signed only two Oklahomans in two of the last three years. California #21 Cal Bears Avg. Star Rating for Top 20 Commits – 3.10 Headliner: No. 21 QB Jared Goff Commitment List | Forum It doesn’t seem like that long ago that Cal was flying on top of the world with several high profile announcements for the Bears at the Army All-America Bowl on national television. Then poof, none of those guys actually signed with Cal. A coaching change later and the Bears are right back in the top 25. Four-star quarterback Jared Goff (6-4/190) of Kentfield, Calif., has the ability to solidify the position that has seen its inconsistencies the last several years. Running back Khalfani Muhammad (5-7/175) of Sherman Oaks, Calif., is a track star with home run speed. Arizona #22 Arizona Wildcats Avg. Star Rating for Top 20 Commits – 3.15 Headliner: No. 35 QB Any Solomon Commitment List | Forum Arizona is bringing in a balanced class of talent led by quarterback Anu Solomon (6-1/205) of Las Vegas, Nev. Solomon is a mobile passer who can knock a dime off a tea cup with his accuracy. If he can continue to develop his talent on the next level, he’ll be a dangerous weapon in Arizona’s spread attack. Arizona should be solid on the ground with running backs Pierre Cormier (5-11/180) of San Diego and Zachary Green of Ventura. The California duo complement each other well with Cormier’s speed and open-field ability a good match for Green’s between-the-tackles punishing style.
#23 Auburn Tigers Avg. Star Rating for 19 Commits – 3.26 Headliner: No. 7 DE Carl Lawson Commitment List | Forum Few teams have experienced the up and down yo-yo on and off the field like Auburn. The Tigers’ recruiting class was top 10 early in the season, fell out of the top 25 after the football season, and is currently headed back in the right direction as we approach Signing Day. Adding weapons at quarterback in athlete Nick Marshall (6-3/200) of Garden City Community College and prep star Jeremy Johnson (6-6/210) of Montgomery, Ala., should help provide the rudders to steer the Tigers back in the right direction. Auburn is also looking for immediate help on the defensive line with junior college transfer Ben Bradley (6-3/315) of Hutchinson and a pair of highly recruited ends in Carl Lawson (6-2/255) of Alpharetta, Ga., and Tashawn Bower (6-5/235) of Somerville, N.J.
#24 Oregon Ducks Avg. Star Rating for 15 Commits – 3.47 Headliner: No. 2 RB Thomas Tyner Commitment List | Forum Oregon’s world was turned upside down recently with the departure of head coach Chip Kelly to the NFL, but the Ducks seem to be doing a good job of hanging on to a small but talented group of players. The small class (15) means there are less targets to lose to poachers, but the loss feels outsized. One player the Ducks can count on is running back Thomas Tyner (6-foot/215) of Beaverton, Ore. Tyner is a legitimate track star in the body of a big running back. Tyner had never had to run through tackles before, he could simply run by them at his high school, but he showed more than enough ability to go between the tackles when facing the tough competition of the Army All-America Bowl. Oregon’s high-powered attack will need to stay high powered — the Ducks have only three players committed on defense.
#25 South Carolina Gamecocks Avg. Star Rating for Top 20 Commits – 3.20 Headliner: No. 7 OLB Larenz Bryant Commitment List | Forum South Carolina is another team that has become a mainstay in the top 25. The Gamecocks have been quieter on the recruiting trail this year, and that may be because there’s no Jadeveon Clowney or Marcus Lattimore in state this year. In fact the Gamecocks went north to get a running back commitment from David Williams (6-1/200) of Philadelphia. South Carolina has made itself at home in Georgia though with commitments from seven players from the Peach State, including defensive tackle Kelsey Griffin (6-2/300) of Hoschton, Ga.