USATODAYhss.com ranks the Top 10 recruiting classes heading into Signing Day.
Led by American Family Insurance ALL-USA selection Vernon Hargreaves III, widely regarded as one of the top players in the country, the Gators’ class is loaded. Hargreaves, a cornerback, had 110 tackles, five interceptions and five forced fumbles at Wharton (Tampa, Fla.). Head coach Will Muschamp also welcomes Glades Day (Belle Glade, Fla.) running back Kelvin Taylor, the son of former Florida great Fred Taylor, and Wyomissing (Pa.) linebacker Alex Anzalone, who surprised everyone when he decommitted from Notre Dame and enrolled at Florida in early January.
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Nick Saban and the two-time defending BCS champions reload with another star-studded class. The Crimson Tide’s top offensive recruits include Yulee (Fla.) running back Derrick Henry and Central Valley (Monaca, Pa.) wide receiver Robert Foster. Henry was named to the American Family Insurance ALL-USA Team after breaking Ken Hall’s 59-year-old career rushing record, while 247Sports.com rates Foster as the nation’s top WR prospect. Alabama adds plenty of depth on defense as well, led by Stone Bridge (Ashburn, Va.) defensive end Jonathan Allen.
3. Ohio State
After signing a Top 5 class a year ago, Urban Meyer has done it again. The Buckeyes’ 2013 class is led by Trotwood-Madison (Trotwood, Ohio) cornerback Cameron Burrows and Eastern (Voorhees, N.J.) cornerback Eli Apple, who are ranked No. 6 and No. 8 at their position, respectively, by Rivals.com. Middletown (Ohio) wide receiver Jalin Marshall is the Buckeyes’ most promising offensive recruit.
4. Notre Dame
Bishop Luers (Fort Wayne, Ind.) linebacker Jaylon Smith is the gem of Brian Kelly’s 2013 class. The five-star recruit won the high school Butkus Award, given to the nation’s best linebacker, and helped lead Bishop Luers to its fourth consecutive state title. American Heritage (Delray Beach, Fla.) running back Greg Bryant and Barron Collier (Naples, Fla.) tight end Mike Heuerman are two of the Fighting Irish’s top offensive commits.
It’s not easy to keep pace with Meyer’s recruiting efforts in Columbus, but Brady Hoke is doing his best to keep the pressure on. The Wolverines’ class includes De La Salle (Warren, Mich.) quarterback Shane Morris, who committed to Michigan in 2011 and took it upon himself to convince some of Hoke’s other top targets to join him in Ann Arbor. Hermitage (Richmond, Va.) running back Derrick Green, the top-ranked running back by Rivals.com, committed to the Wolverines in January.
An LSU-record 11 underclassmen entered the NFL draft, but there are plenty of reinforcements en route to Baton Rouge, led by Central (Memphis, Tenn.) defensive end Frank Herron and Green Oaks (Shreveport, La.) cornerback Tre’Davious White. Other top recruits in Les Miles’ 2013 class include Lemont (Ill.) offensive lineman Ethan Pocic and East Feliciana (Jackson, La.) athlete Kendell Beckwith.
The Trojans have a small class relative to the other schools on this list, but it’s a good one. As he looks to put a disappointing 2012 season behind him, Lane Kiffin welcomes Skyline (Sammamish, Wash.) quarterback Max Browne and Vista Murrieta (Calif.) safety Su’a Cravens, who were named the American Family Insurance ALL-USA Offensive and Defensive Players of the Year. (It marks the first time that the two ALL-USA POYs have committed to the same school since 1998, when Chris Simms and Cory Redding committed to Texas.) Trojans commit Kenny Bigelow, who starred at Eastern Christian Academy (Elkton, Md.), is the top-rated defensive tackle according to Rivals.com.
8. Texas A&M
Who wouldn’t want to play with Johnny Football – or is it Johnny Heisman? The Aggies’ impressive class features several new targets for Johnny Manziel, including Santa Monica (Calif.) wideout Sebastian LaRue, Sealy (Texas) athlete Ricky Seals-Jones and Terry (Rosenberg, Texas) tight end Derrick Griffin. Kevin Sumlin and his staff also landed some impressive defensive talent, including two of the nation’s top defensive tackles in Isaiah Golden (Carthage, Texas) and Kimball (Dallas) standout Justin Manning.
In-state product Tray Matthews, a defensive back out of Newnan (Ga.), is one of the top commits in Mark Richt’s 2013 class. The group also includes Camden County (Kingsland, Ga.) quarterback Brice Ramsey – No. 14 at his position according to Rivals.com – and South Gwinnett (Snellville, Ga.) linebacker Reginald Carter. The Bulldogs were also in the running for Columbia (Lake City, Fla.) offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil, a five-star prospect who was also considering Ole Miss and Alabama.
10. Ole Miss
Perhaps the most surprising team on this list is the sixth from the SEC. Crete-Monee (Crete, Ill.) wide receiver Laquon Treadwell, an American Family Insurance ALL-USA selection and the top-ranked wideout in this year’s class, was Hugh Freeze’s most impressive commit heading into Signing Day. The Rebels were also among the favorites to land Grayson (Loganville, Ga.) defensive end Robert Nkemdiche, the nation’s consensus No. 1 prospect. Nkemdiche’s older brother, Denzel, is a linebacker at Ole Miss. If Freeze manages to land Nkemdiche and Tunsil, this is a top-5 class.