1. Ole Miss
The Rebels pretty much got everything they wanted for Christmas, thanks in large part to Robert Nkemdiche. The Grayson (Loganville, Ga.) defensive end, considered the consensus No. 1 recruit, signed and convinced two other American Family Insurance All-USA players, Crete-Monee (Crete, Ill.) wide receiver Laquon Treadwell and Columbia (Lake City, Fla.) offensive lineman Laremy Tunsil, to join him in Oxford.
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The two-time defending national champion had the No. 1 rated class, and signed five American Family Insurance All-USA first-teamers: Yulee, Fla., running back Derrick Henry; Central Valley (Monaca, Pa.) wide receiver Robert Foster; Huntsville, Ala., offensive lineman Grant Hill; Auburn, Ala., linebacker Reuben Foster; and Muscle Shoals, Ala., defensive tackle Dee Liner.
3. Ohio State
The Buckeyes had the No. 2 class and closed well, fighting off Alabama and Tennessee for Ridgeland (Rossville, Ga.) safety Vonn Bell, and landing DeSoto, Texas, running back Dontre Wilson, despite the best efforts of Oregon and Texas. They also were able to wrest wide receiver James Clark of New Smyrna Beach, Fla., away from Florida.
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“Vonn Bell to Ohio State surprised me,” said 247Sports recruiting analyst JC Shurburtt. “I felt like Ohio State would get him, but talking to people there, they weren’t that confident. Urban Meyer and his staff closed extremely well. Landing James Clark and Vonn Bell against the local team is a testament in what we can expect in the future.”
4. Penn State
After getting hit with sanctions this past summer that included a four-year bowl ban, the Nittany Lions were able to hold together a solid if not spectacular class of 17 players. The leader was Fork Union (Va.) Military quarterback Christian Hackenberg, who helped Penn State retain a class that included Cedar Cliff (Camp Hill, Pa.) tight end Adam Breneman, Randolph, N.J. offensive guard Brendan Mahon and Red Bank Regional (Little Silver, N.J.) linebacker Garrett Sickels.
5. Mississippi State
Overshadowed by Ole Miss’s big day, the Bulldogs still hit a home run when they were able to keep Houston, Miss., defensive end, Chris Jones, considered the No. 1 recruit in the state, away from Ole Miss. They tied for the No. 22 class.
1. Southern California
The Trojans had one of the top classes in the country a few months ago but were hurt by late defections. Brentwood (Nashville, Tenn.) cornerback Jalen Ramsey decommitted from USC and chose Florida State over Florida. Redlands (Calif.) East Valley defensive end Kylie Fitts jumped across town to rival UCLA, Alief Taylor (Houston) defensive end Torrodney Prevot signed with Oregon and another former USC commit, Trinity (Louisville, Ky.) defensive end Jason Hatcher, stayed at home, switching to Kentucky.
The Hurricanes lost out on two elite players from Booker T. Washington (Miami), with linebacker Matthew Thomas going to Florida State and offensive guard Denver Kirkland headed to Arkansas. They could still pull in South Plantation (Plantation, Fla.) running back Alex Collins if his mom has her way and keeps him from signing with Arkansas.
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The Dawgs had a fine class (tied for No. 11), but it could have been so much better. The lost out to Ole Miss on the aforementioned Laremy Tunsil, Norcross, Ga., running back Alvin Kamara headed to Alabama and Dooley County (Vienna, Ga.) defensive tackle Montravius Adams headed to Auburn.
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The Longhorns lost longtime commitment A’Shawn Robinson to Alabama on Wednesday, making the Arlington Heights (Fort Worth) tackle the latest of six elite prospects who backed out of their commitment to Texas.
The Volunteers lost out on Vonn Bell to Ohio State and couldn’t pull Milton, Ga., defensive end Carl Lawson away from Auburn.