Articles By Braden Gall

All taxonomy terms: Fantasy, MLB, Fantasy
Path: /mlb/fantasy-baseball-no-1-not-pujols-cabrera-or-kemp
Body:

The Athlon staff debated who they would take with the No. 1 pick in the 2012 MLB fantasy draft today, but after 26 years of loyal service to Athlon Sports, Editorial Director — and fantasy baseball guru — Charlie Miller deserves a few extra words...

Athlon Sports Fantasy Rankings: Big Board | C | 1B | 2B | 3B | SS | OF | SP | RP

So who would he take with the first pick in the 2012 MLB fantasy draft?

-by Charlie Miller (@AthlonCharlie)

There are three names that garden variety fantasy players will immediately consider Albert Pujols, Matt Kemp and Miguel Cabrera. And certainly solid choices all. But the three names that come to mind for me are: Robinson Cano, Troy Tulowitzki and Jose Bautista.

I’m going with Cano. Three simple reasons: He’s at the age and stage of his career that he continues to get better. He’s proven to be durable. He plays a premium fantasy position. Cano’s five-year average line is .304-23-96 with 95 runs, not bad for any position. His three-year average is even better: .314-27-104 with 103 runs. And for five years he’s played a minimum of 159 games. Consider also that he plays in a hitter-friendly park surrounded by a terrific lineup and you have all but guaranteed tremendous numbers. Tulowitzki gets serious consideration because of the dearth of solid shortstop options. But there’s a little bit of a durability question. I just can’t count on Tulo showing up for more than about 140 games.

Funny how perceptions change over time. When Jose Bautista was a rising star in the Pittsburgh organization (his second tour through), I thought he was a can’t-miss star. But repeated failures to make a splash at the big league level turned my opinions sour. Then after his breakout season with Toronto, I still was skeptical. Now I’m back on board. And with a .302 average and 25 starts at third base (giving him third base eligibility), Bautista can be a fantasy stud.

I’ve always stayed away from Cabrera. Both his demeanor and apparent physical condition scream of an imminent breakdown. But manager Jim Leyland keeps writing his name in the lineup and Miggy keeps raking. Now that he is apparently becoming eligible at third he’s even more attractive. Certainly Pujols has been the most consistent fantasy player for 11 seasons. I don’t see any major slippage, but Pujols is going from hitter-friendly N.L. Central ballparks to pitcher-friendly A.L. West parks. Something to think about. I expect Kemp to be a productive fantasy player for several years yet, but I suspect we have seen his best.

Debate: Athlon's Staff Debates the No. 1 pick in the 2012 MLB Fantasy Draft

Fantasy Baseball is coming... and so is the 25th Anniversary Edition of Athlon Sports' Baseball Preview Magainze. Click here to order yours today!

Other Fantasy Baseball Content:

2012 Fantasy Baseball Rankings: The Big Board
2012 Fantasy Baseball: First Base Rankings
2012 Fantasy Baseball: Second Base Rankings
2012 Fantasy Baseball: Shortstop Rankings
2012 Fantasy Baseball: Third Base Rankings
2012 Fantasy Baseball: Outfield Rankings
2012 Fantasy Baseball: Catcher Rankings
2012 Fantasy Baseball: Starting Pitcher Rankings
2012 Fantasy Baseball: Relief Pitcher Rankings
2012 MLB Fantasy Closer Grid

Teaser:
<p> Athlon's fantasy guru might surprise you with who he would take with the No. 1 pick.</p>
Post date: Thursday, February 23, 2012 - 06:01
Path: /mlb/fantasy-baseball-draft-who-no-1
Body:

There is one piece of unfinished business that remains in the fantasy baseball world — and no, it's not where Manny Ramirez will sign. It is the pending final decision on NL MVP Ryan Braun's 50-game suspension. Braun's potential absence has certainly affected his fantasy ranking, placing him at No. 71 overall.

While Braun's potential fantasy value for the 2012 season is up for debate, another interesting debate that is developing is who's No. 1? Three different players – Miguel Cabrera, Matt Kemp and Albert Pujols – received first-place votes among the eight different sources used to compile Athlon's big board. In addition, none of the trio was ranked lower than fourth. What does that mean, you ask? How about a three-way tie for the top spot?

Since there is no tying in baseball, there aren't any on Athlon's big board, either. Using Athlon's rankings as the tie-breaker, Pujols ascends to the top spot followed by Kemp and then Cabrera. So while Kemp could post a 40-40 season and Cabrera now has Prince Fielder hitting behind him, the consensus, for now anyways, is that The Machine, is still No. 1.

The Athlon Sports Big Board only proves that the uncertainty atop the first round is more cloudy than it has been in years. So we went around the Athlon office — which claims more than a few sick and twisted fantasy junkies — and polled the gurus about the first pick in the 2012 draft.

Athlon Sports Fantasy Rankings: Big Board | C | 1B | 2B | 3B | SS | OF | SP | RP

Who would you take with the first pick in the 2012 MLB fantasy draft?

Charlie Miller (@AthlonCharlie)
Athlon Sports' Editorial Director's No. 1 overall pick might surprise you. Check who fantasy baseball guru Charlie Miller would take at No. 1 in 2012 here.

Mark Ross
This season I think you can make a strong case for five different players, including Jose Bautista and Troy Tulowitzki because of their respective positions. However, in the end it’s probably a three-horse race between Miguel Cabrera, Matt Kemp and Albert Pujols. A month ago I would have said Pujols since I think he’ll be able to make the adjustment from the National League to the American League just fine. But that was before Detroit signed Prince Fielder, who will team with Cabrera in the middle of the Tigers’ line up and do even more damage than Miggy and Victor Martinez did last year. Besides it’s not like Cabrera (.344, 111 R, 48 2B, 30 HR, 105 RBI, 108 BB, .448 OBP, .586 SLG, 1.033 OPS) was some sort of a slouch as a hitter last year in the first place. Cabrera is my choice if I was picking first.

Patrick Snow (@AthlonSnowman)
Miguel Cabrera of the Tigers and Albert Pujols of the Angels are probably the safest choices at No. 1 in your draft. A stat line of .300-30-100-100 seems like a lock for either one of the prodigious sluggers. Cabrera should hit for a better average, while Pujols is likely to launch more home runs. However, I could see the move to third base leveling off Miggy’s stats just a little bit. I could also see Pujols, whose numbers have declined across the board over the last two seasons, needing some American League adjustment time and battling some nagging injuries. Consequently, I would take Matt Kemp and his 40-40 potential with the top pick. There is a little more risk involved (we all remember his “Rihanna” season of 2010), but I see Kemp as the consummate 5-tool player in his prime. I think he will replicate the above stat line, but his 30+ extra steals should be worth more to your team than the higher batting average of Cabrera.

Nathan Rush
Tigers slugger Miguel Cabrera was already the safest bet in fantasy baseball — with a career .317 batting average, .950 OPS and eight full-season averages of 33 HRs, 115 RBIs and 158 games played per season. Now Cabrera has Prince Fielder protecting him from the cleanup spot in Detroit's lineup and is only a few games away from having third base eligibility. Listed at 6'4" and 240 pounds, Cabrera reportedly lost roughly 20 pounds this offseason in preparation for his move to the hot corner. Miggy is in the best shape of his playing career and in his prime at only 29 years old. I'm expecting a career year, which by Cabrera's standards would be a stat line worthy of the MVP award — in the American League and your fantasy league.

Braden Gall (@BradenGall)
It is hard to argue with Miguel Cabrera's consistency, relative youth and potential third-base eligibility. However, when you compare the numbers to the newly minted $240-million man in Los Angeles, they actually pale in comparison. Albert Pujols has hit at least 37 home runs in nine of his 11 seasons. Cabrera has topped the 37 home run mark only once in his nine-year career. Pujols has nine seasons of at least 116 RBI as compared to Miggy, who has topped the 116 mark only three times. Cabrera turns 29 in April and has the age edge over Pujols — who recently turned 32 (ish) in January. Yet, off-the-field issues, a position change and weight concerns push me officially towards SoCal and The Machine. Additionally, Matt Kemp might be the most complete fantasy player but speed can be had on the cheap in 2012, so the premium in your draft should be placed on power. With Robinson Cano and Joey Votto having possibly the least downside of anyone, and Troy Tulowitzki’s position scarcity, picking anywhere in the top six should deliver a fantasy stud. But when in doubt I will go with the three-time MVP, two-time World Champion and six-time Silver Slugger.

Related: Fantasy Baseball is coming... and so is the 25th Anniversary Edition of Athlon Sports' Baseball Preview Magainze. Click here to order yours today!

Other Fantasy Baseball Content:

2012 Fantasy Baseball Rankings: The Big Board
2012 Fantasy Baseball: First Base Rankings
2012 Fantasy Baseball: Second Base Rankings
2012 Fantasy Baseball: Shortstop Rankings
2012 Fantasy Baseball: Third Base Rankings
2012 Fantasy Baseball: Outfield Rankings
2012 Fantasy Baseball: Catcher Rankings
2012 Fantasy Baseball: Starting Pitcher Rankings
2012 Fantasy Baseball: Relief Pitcher Rankings
2012 MLB Fantasy Closer Grid

Teaser:
<p> MLB Fantasy Draft: Who Is No. 1?</p>
Post date: Thursday, February 23, 2012 - 06:00
All taxonomy terms: AC100, College Football, Recruiting, UCLA Bruins
Path: /college-football/2012-recruiting-rankings-no-15-ucla-bruins
Body:

-by Braden Gall (@BradenGall on twitter)

No. 15: UCLA Bruins (25 total signees)

Pac-12 Rank: 3rd
Athlon Consensus 100 Signees: 2
National Signees: 5

Where They Got 'Em:

While the entire Pac-12 — and plenty of other national powers — will dip into California for prospects, the key to any sustained success for UCLA is excelling in-state on the trail. New head coach Jim Mora Jr. went into nine different states to fill out his 25-man class, but 14 of those hail from the California — including the No. 2 player in the state.

Mora Jr., landed two players each from the talent-rich states of Georgia, Arizona and Texas — including the Lone Star State's No. 2 quarterback. He clearly wanted a Northeast presence as the Bruins landed one player each from New Jersey and New York as well as Delaware, Hawaii and Florida. UCLA pulled the No. 2 player from the Garden State in 2012.


Areas of Focus:

Devin Fuller is an explosive athlete who could land at a variety of positions, but for now is listed as a quarterback. Should the AC100 talent land at QB, it would make him the No. 3 signal-caller prospect in the nation. Packaging Fuller with T.J. Millweard, the No. 2 passer from the state of Texas and No. 11 QB prospect nationally, should leave Mora well covered at the most important position on the field. The 6-4, 225-pound Millweard is more of a pure passer, as he completed over 67% of his passes in 2011, while Fuller is a pure athlete (120 attempts, 1,326 yards rushing, 17 TDs in 2011) who will need to develop as a passer.

What should help both young passers grow will be an outstanding five-man pass-catching class. The dramatic recruitment of Jordan Payton, a guy who committed to three teams in roughly one month, ended in Westwood. Payton posted an absurd 24.2 yards per catch as a junior and has scored 28 times through the air over the last two seasons. Due to his strange recruitment, the spotlight will shine bright on Mr. Payton. He is joined by a versatile group that features slot types Ahmaad Harris and Kenny Walker as well as an extremely rangy 6-foot-5 deep threat dynamo in Javon Williams. He averaged 27.9 yards per catch as a senior.

A 6-5, 300-pound local product, Lacy Westbrook, leads a four-man offensive line class. Three of the four come from in-state, while the massive Simon Goines (6-6, 314) comes to UCLA from the Lone Star State.

The secondary got the most attention on the defense as five of the ten defensive signees will play on that side of the ball. The uber-talented Ishmael Adams proved to be one of the best covermen in the nation at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl. He excelled in all three phases of the game on the prep level and could be a future all-conference player. Marcus Rios gives UCLA a tremendous future tandem at corner while Taylor Legace stablizes the safety position. The best-named prospect in the class, cornerback Randall Goforth, will undoubtedly come to campus and prosper.

The biggest — literally and figuratively — name in this class is the No. 4 defensive tackle in the nation, Ellis McCarthy. The monster defensive tackle (6-5, 326) led his team to a 23-5 record over his final two seasons and claimed the Pasadena Star-News Defensive Player of the Year honors in both years. He finished with 124 tackles and 16 sacks over that span as well.

Aaron Porter leads a solid three-man linebacking class for Mora Jr.

Positional Breakdown:

Offense: QB: 2, RB: 1, WR: 4, TE: 1, OL: 4, ATH: 2
Defense: DL: 2, LB: 3, DB: 5, K/P/LS: 1

AC100 Recruits:

17. Ellis McCarthy, DT (6-5, 326), Monrovia (Calif.) High
35. Devin Fuller, QB (6, 195), Old Tappan (N.J.) Northern Valley

Other National Signees:

124. Jordan Payton, WR (6-2, 205), Westlake Village (Calif.) Oaks Christian
141. Ishmael Adams, DB (5-10, 190), Westlake Village (Calif.) Oaks Christian
192. T.J. Millweard, QB (6-4, 225), Ft. Worth (Texas) All Saints

Early Enrollees:

Alexandru Ceachir, OL (6-5, 305), Santa Monica (Calif.) C.C.

Athlon Sports' Top 25 Classes of 2012:

1. Alabama Crimson Tide

2. Texas Longhorns
3. Florida Gators
4. Ohio State Buckeyes

5. Florida State Seminoles
6. Michigan Wolverines
7. Stanford Cardinal
8. Miami Hurricanes
9. Georgia Bulldogs
10. USC Trojans
11. Oklahoma Sooners
12. Auburn Tigers
13. LSU Tigers
14. Texas A&M Aggies
15. UCLA Bruins
16. Thur., Feb. 23
17. Fri., Feb. 24
18. Mon., Feb. 27
19. Tues., Feb. 28
20. Wed., Feb. 29
21. Thur., Mar. 1
22. Fri., Mar. 2
23. Sat., Mar. 3
24. Sun., Mar. 4
25. Sun., Mar. 4

Teaser:
<p> The UCLA Bruins landed the No. 15 recruiting class in the nation in 2012.</p>
Post date: Wednesday, February 22, 2012 - 07:10
Path: /college-football/2012-recruiting-rankings-no-14-texas-am-aggies
Body:

-by Braden Gall (@BradenGall on twitter)

No. 14: Texas A&M Aggies (19 total signees)

SEC Rank: 6th
Athlon Consensus 100 Signees: 2
National Signees: 6

As should be the case with any good Texas A&M class, the state of Texas is the primary focus. While Big Brother down in Austin will almost always get its top choices, the Aggies have a tremendous brand to offer. Of the 19 total signees, 15 hail from the Lone Star State, including two of the top five players in the state. New head coach Kevin Sumlin should be very pleased with his in-state offensive skill talent as the Aggies signed the No. 1 quarterback, the No. 1 wide receiver and the No. 2 running back in the state of Texas.

Louisiana (2), California and Missouri supplied the remaining four prospects.

Areas of Focus:

Transition was easily the word of choice for the 2012 Texas A&M recruiting class. New coach, new conference, new identity. Sumlin steps onto campus with a distinct offensive scheme that has been as prolific as any in the history of the sport. But he is in the SEC now. Will he adjust his system for the elite level defensive lines? Does he utilize a more traditional offensive attack? Only time will answer these questions, but for now, Sumlin has some elite-level offensive skill talent joining the squad.

Related: 2012 SEC Schedule Analysis

And it all starts with the nation's No. 3 running back, Trey Williams. Small in stature only, Williams is one of the most productive prep running backs in history of Texas football. He carried 447 times for 3,890 yards and 48 touchdowns as a senior and earned Class 5A state Offensive Player of the Year Honors. He finished his career with 8,110 yards rushing and 86 touchdowns on 935 attempts. He can score from anywhere on the field and is a perfect fit for Sumlin's pass-happy scheme.

Wide receiver Thomas Johnson, a former Texas Longhorn verbal commitment, is the state's No. 1 wideout prospect and trails only Dorial Green-Beckham in the WR ranks nationally. Hailing from powerhouse program Dallas-Skyline, Johnson leads a talented three-man pass-catching class for Sumlin. Sabian Holmes, who also played at a power program in Southlake-Carroll, is joined by junior college prospect Derel Walker. Holmes led Carroll to the 5A State Championship with an 11-catch, 138-yard, one-TD performance in the title game. Despite the loss of Jeff Fuller, Sumlin has added three names to what appears to be a gluttonous receiving corp.

Should the 6-4, 170-pound athlete Edward Pope — who caught 76 passes for 1,233 yards and 17 touchdowns in 2011 — land at wide receiver, the sky would be the limit for mad passing scientist Sumlin.

Quarterback Matt Davis, an early enrollee, could compete for playing time very quickly as starter Ryan Tannehill has moved on. The dual-threat passer was a star as a sophomore before missing his junior year with a knee injury. He rebounded in 2011 with a stellar senior season: 1,483 yards, 13 TD, 931 yards rushing, 12 TD. Already on campus, expect Davis to push more likely starting options Johnny Manziel, Jameill Showers and Matt Joeckel in spring ball.

An already talented and solid offensive line got three new names in this class, and one of the names will be very familiar. Nationally ranked Mike Matthews is the top-rated blocker in this group and has the bloodlines to prove it. He is the son of legendary hog molly Bruce Matthews and the younger brother of former Aggie blocker Kevin and current Ag Jake. The 330-pound Kimo Tipoti and 305-pound Ifedi Germain literally and figuratively round out the OL class.

While the offensive skill is impressive, the defensive line is the strength of this haul. There are no nationally ranked prospects, but five new ends and one likely tackle make this six-man DL group one of the best in the SEC. This is a versatile and deep collection that is headlined by the massive (6-5, 255) Polo Manukainiu and District 11-5A Defensive MVP Michael Richardson. The small (6-3, 210) but very athletic Tyrone Taylor won his own District MVP award at Galena Park (19-4A), while Alonzo Williams posted 100 tackles out West in Long Beach, Calif. Signing Day pickup Edmond Ray might be the most intriguing of the group, however, as the projected tackler checks in at 6-5 and 290 pounds. This group may not have the five-star name, but it has loads of depth and tons of versatility.

A three-man defensive back class is headlined by AC100 near-miss De'Vante Harris. The 5-10, 160-pound coverman makes up for his lack of size with tremendous competitive edge and natural instincts. This undoubtedly comes from his father Rod Harris, who starred at Texas A&M as a wide receiver it the late '80s. He will also be a dynamic return man — much like his father. Junior College transfer Tremaine Jacobs and early enrollee Kenneth Marshall round out a nice secondary haul for TAMU.

Nationally ranked linebacker Jordan Richmond is the only backer to join the Aggies in this class after back-to-back All-State seasons at Ryan High.

Positional Breakdown:

Offense: QB: 1, RB: 1, WR: 3, TE: 0, OL: 3, ATH: 1
Defense: DE: 5, DT: 1, LB: 1, DB: 3, K/P/LS: 0

AC100 Recruits:

19. Trey Williams, RB (5-8, 175), Spring (Texas) Dekaney
29. Thomas Johnson, WR (5-11, 180), Dallas (Texas) Skyline

Other National Signees:

110. De'Vante Harris, DB (5-10, 160), Mesquite (Texas) Horn
162. Matt Davis, QB (6-2, 202), Houston (Texas) Klein Forest
206. Jordan Richmond, LB (6-3, 225), Denton (Texas) Ryan
238. Mike Matthews, OL (6-3, 260), Missouri City (Texas) Elkins

Early Enrollees:

Matt Davis, QB (6-2, 202), Houston (Texas) Klein Forest
Tremaine Jacobs, DB (6-1, 180), Covington (La.) Covington/Miss. Gulf Coast C.C.
Kenneth Marshall, DB (6, 191), South Houston (Texas) High
Derel Walker, WR (6-2, 185), Hillsboro (Texas) High/Trinity Valley C.C.

Athlon Sports' Top 25 Classes of 2012:

1. Alabama Crimson Tide

2. Texas Longhorns
3. Florida Gators
4. Ohio State Buckeyes

5. Florida State Seminoles
6. Michigan Wolverines
7. Stanford Cardinal
8. Miami Hurricanes
9. Georgia Bulldogs
10. USC Trojans
11. Oklahoma Sooners
12. Auburn Tigers
13. LSU Tigers
14. Texas A&M Aggies
15. Wed., Feb. 22
16. Thur., Feb. 23
17. Fri., Feb. 24
18. Mon., Feb. 27
19. Tues., Feb. 28
20. Wed., Feb. 29
21. Thur., Mar. 1
22. Fri., Mar. 2
23. Sat., Mar. 3
24. Sun., Mar. 4
25. Sun., Mar. 4

Teaser:
<p> The Texas A&amp;M Aggies landed the No. 14 recruiting class in the nation in 2012.</p>
Post date: Tuesday, February 21, 2012 - 05:50
All taxonomy terms: AC100, College Football, LSU Tigers, Recruiting
Path: /college-football/2012-recruiting-rankings-no-13-lsu-tigers
Body:

-by Braden Gall (@BradenGall on twitter)

No. 13: LSU Tigers (22 total signees)

SEC Rank: 5th
Athlon Consensus 100 Signees: 1
National Signees: 10*

* - Tight End John Thomas will sign with LSU if he can raise his grades in the spring. He does not count toward LSU's 22 current signees.

Where They Got 'Em:

The Pelican State is one of the most talent-rich states in the nation and should always be at the heart of any good LSU recruiting class. Of Les Miles' 22 official signees, 14 of them hail from in-state. Miles spoke very highly of the linebacking class from within his borders as four members of this very talented five-man LB class played their prep ball in Louisiana — two of whom were nationally rated.

Georgia (2) and Texas (3) sent five total and two nationally rated prospects to the Bayou while Florida and Mississippi added one each. The top-rated, and only AC100, signee in the class comes to Baton Rouge from Alabama. This is a typical geographical layout for a solid LSU class — dominant in-state with some Lone State flavor topped off with some elite talents from around the Southeast.


Areas of Focus:

The biggest story with LSU recruiting wasn't with who Miles signed but with who failed to sign. The nation's No. 2 quarterback, Gunner Kiel, is sitting in freshman English class in South Bend after an 11th-hour change of heart (which wasn't his first such change, by the way). And while Miles immaturely failed to hide his feelings for the teenaged Kiel, he did, however, bolster his quarterback depth by signing a player with plenty of chest cavity. Dual-threat quarterback Jeremy Liggins, who checks in at 6-3 and 270 pounds, comes to Baton Rouge after 32 straight wins and back-to-back Class 4A state titles at Oxford (Miss.) High. He threw for 1,678 yards, rushed for 953 yards and totaled 34 touchdowns.

A five-man offensive skill group could grow to seven should tight end John Thomas get himself eligible and early enrollee "athlete" Lamar Louis land on the offensive side of the ball. For now, Avery Johnson — Patrick Peterson's younger brother — leads the offensive skill collection. Johnson is a tremendous competitor who had a 113-catch, 1,752-yard, 20-TD three-year career at Ely. A trio of Breaux Bridge (La.) High products join this group as Louis and wide receivers Travin Dural and Kavahra Holmes will play at least four more years together in college.

Tailback Jeremy Hill finished his senior season with 302 carries, 2,260 yards and 36 touchdowns. He broke storied local program Redemptorist's career rushing record and will join what is already one of the deepest running back groups in the nation.

A three-man offensive line unit is led by nationally rated guard Vadal Alexander. The two-time all-state selection is already enrolled in class and will be joined by the massive Derek Edinburgh Jr. (6-7, 325) and Jerald Hawkins along the offensive front.

Despite the loss of Michael Brockers to the NFL, the '12 version of Miles' defensive line should be downright nasty. Loaded with underclassemen, LSU didn't need to attack the line on the recruiting trail as nationally rated Danielle Hunter is the only player headed to the defensive trenches.

The linebacking corps did take a hit and Miles has completely restocked the cupboard as this is the strength of the class. Kwon Alexander is the best prospect in this class and is the lone AC100 signee, but has to recover from a knee injury during his senior year. He is joined by two other stellar players in Louisiana products Ronnie Feist and Lorenzo Phillips. Feist showed some versatility on the attack as his 35 sacks in 2010-2011 will indicate. Deion Jones and Trey Granier, both from in-state, round out one of the top linebacker classes in the nation.

The secondary lost some star power as Morris Claiborne left early. But Honey Badger should have plenty of help as a deep and versatile five-man DB class signed with the Tigers. It is not a star-studded group, as only Corey Thompson and Dwayne Thomas are nationally rated, but Tyrann Mathieu is proof that three-star, under-recruited prospects can turn into All-Americans.

This is not the same level of class that LSU fans are accustomed to in Baton Rouge as they have been completely spoiled by top-five hauls of late. And certainly this class was hurt by losing out on Kiel to Notre Dame and star in-state safety Landon Collins to Alabama. But Miles isn't hurting for talent, and this group is almost guaranteed to outperform the recruiting rankings.

Positional Breakdown:

Offense: QB: 1, RB: 1, WR: 3, TE: 2*, OL: 3, ATH: 1
Defense: DL: 1, LB: 5, DB: 5, K/P/LS: 1

AC100 Recruits:

82. Kwon Alexander, LB (6-2, 200), Oxford (Ala.) High

Other National Signees:

166. Avery Johnson, WR (6-2, 180), Pompano Beach (Fla.) Ely
171. Jeremy Liggins, QB (6-3, 270), Oxford (Miss.) Lafayette
176. Vadal Alexander, OL (6-6, 315), Buford (Ga.) High
209. Danielle Hunter, DL (6-5, 235), Katy (Texas) Morton Ranch
220. John Thomas, TE (6-5, 245), Bossier City (La.) Airline*
227. Ronnie Feist, LB (6-2, 225), Edgard (La.) West St. John
242. Lorenzo Phillips, LB (6-2, 200), Patterson (La.) High
246. Corey Thompson, S (6-2, 205), Missouri City (Texas) Elkins
258. Dwayne Thomas, CB (6-1, 170), New Orleans (La.) O.P. Walker

Early Enrollees:

Vadal Alexander, OL (6-6, 315), Buford (Ga.) High
Ronnie Feist, LB (6-2, 225), Edgard (La.) West St. John
Reid Ferguson, LS (6-2, 235), Buford (Ga.) High
Lamar Louis, ATH (6, 220), Beaux Bridge (La.) High
Jeremy Hill, RB (6-2, 225), Baton Rouge (La.) Redemptorist

Athlon Sports' Top 25 Classes of 2012:

1. Alabama Crimson Tide

2. Texas Longhorns
3. Florida Gators
4. Ohio State Buckeyes

5. Florida State Seminoles
6. Michigan Wolverines
7. Stanford Cardinal
8. Miami Hurricanes
9. Georgia Bulldogs
10. USC Trojans
11. Oklahoma Sooners
12. Auburn Tigers
13. LSU Tigers
14. Tues., Feb. 21
15. Wed., Feb. 22
16. Thur., Feb. 23
17. Fri., Feb. 24
18. Mon., Feb. 27
19. Tues., Feb. 28
20. Wed., Feb. 29
21. Thur., Mar. 1
22. Fri., Mar. 2
23. Sat., Mar. 3
24. Sun., Mar. 4
25. Sun., Mar. 4

Teaser:
<p> The LSU Tigers landed the No. 13 recruiting class in the nation in 2012.</p>
Post date: Monday, February 20, 2012 - 08:37
Path: /college-football/2012-recruiting-rankings-no-12-auburn-tigers
Body:

-by Patrick Snow (@AthlonSnowman on twitter)

No. 12: Auburn Tigers (21 total signees)

SEC Rank: 4th
Athlon Consensus 100 Signees: 4
National Signees: 12

Where They Got 'Em:

Auburn concentrated on three key states to bring in this year’s No. 12 recruiting class. Gene Chizik and staff signed 16 of their 21 student-athletes from the talent-filled states of Alabama, Georgia and Florida. That total includes the transfer back home of former Illinois fullback Jay Prosch, who played his high school ball at UMS-Wright in Mobile. The Tigers top-rated player was offensive lineman Avery Young (No. 53 in the AC100) from Palm Beach Gardens (Fla.) High School. He was the second-highest ranked offensive lineman in the Sunshine State. Auburn also went south for receiver Ricardo Louis of Miami Beach (Fla.) High School. He had 23 receptions for 412 yards and four touchdowns as a senior, while also rushing for 765 yards and 13 scores.

The Tigers usually have recruiting success in Georgia, and this year was no exception. Ricky Parks from Callaway High School was one of the top tight ends in the nation, and he was athletic enough to rush for 555 yards and 4 touchdowns this season. Receiver JaQuay Williams from Sandy Creek High School caught 47 passes for 972 yards and nine scores as a senior, while also adding three touchdowns on returns.

Areas of Focus:

Auburn definitely focused on the offensive line, adding six news blockers in this class. Along with Young, the Tigers reached into Illinois to ink Jordan Diamond (No. 88 in the AC100) from
Chicago’s Simeon High School. They also got a nationally-ranked lineman in Patrick Miller from Palm Beach power Dwyer High School in Florida. Miller will be one of two O-linemen to participate in spring practice, along with Shane Callahan from Parker (Colo.) Chaparral High School.

New Auburn offensive coordinator Scot Loeffler, who has a solid reputation for developing quarterbacks, will have two new pupils in this class. Zeke Pike from Edgewood (Ky.) Dixie Heights High School passed for 1,964 yards and 13 touchdowns, while rushing for 728 yards and 16 scores as a senior. Instate commitment from Jonathan Wallace of Phenix City Central High School ran for 891 yards and an eye-popping 28 touchdowns this season. He also had 1,761 passing yards and 12 TD tosses.

The Tigers added three new members to the secondary, including national signees Joshua Holsey from Fairburn (Ga.) Creekside High School and T.J. Davis of Tallahassee (Fla.) Godby High School. Holsey had 73 tackles and five interceptions as a senior. He also scored 10 touchdowns on offense. Davis compiled 40 tackles and intercepted three passes during his 2011 campaign.

Auburn returns running backs Onterrio McCalebb and Tre Mason this season, but there will an opportunity for carries with Michael Dyer leaving the program. The Tigers inked a big back from Memphis (Tenn.) Wooddale High School in Jovon Robinson, who rushed for 1,069 yards and 13 touchdowns as a senior. The Tigers’ backfield will also be bolstered by the transfer of Prosch, a solid lead blocker with collegiate experience.

Positional Breakdown:

Offense: QB: 2, RB: 2, WR: 2, TE: 2, OL: 6, ATH: 0
Defense: DE: 1, DT: 1, LB: 2, DB: 3, K/P: 0

AC100 Recruits:

53. Avery Young, OL (6-6, 292), Palm Beach Gardens (Fla.) High
88. Jordan Diamond, OL (6-6, 290), Chicago (Ill.) Simeon
90. Ricky Parks, TE (6-4, 235), Hogansville (Ga.) Callaway
99. JaQuay Williams, WR (6-4, 204), Tyrone (Ga.) Sandy Creek

Other National Signees:

121. Ricardo Louis, WR (6-2, 210), Miami Beach (Fla.) High
144. Joshua Hosley, DB (5-11, 175), Fairburn (Ga.) Creekside
153. Zeke Pike, QB (6-6, 225), Edgewood (Ky.) Dixie Heights
201. Tyler Nero, DT (6-2, 290), Atmore (Ala.) Escambia County
226. Gimel President, DE (6-4, 250), Mt. Pleasant (S.C.) Wando
237. T.J. Davis, DB (6-1, 180), Tallahassee (Fla.) Godby
239. Patrick Miller, OL (6-7, 275), West Palm Beach (Fla.) Dwyer
244. Jovon Robinson, RB (6-1, 220), Memphis (Tenn.) Wooddale

Early Enrollees:

Zeke Pike, QB (6-6, 225), Edgewood (Ky.) Dixie Heights
Patrick Miller, OL (6-7, 275), West Palm Beach (Fla.) Dwyer
Shane Callahan, OL (6-6, 285), Parker (Colo.) Chaparral
Javiere Mitchell, LB (6-2, 209), Leeds (Ala.) High
Jay Prosch, FB (6, 250), Mobile (Ala.) UMS-Wright

Athlon Sports' Top 25 Classes of 2012:

1. Alabama Crimson Tide

2. Texas Longhorns
3. Florida Gators
4. Ohio State Buckeyes

5. Florida State Seminoles
6. Michigan Wolverines
7. Stanford Cardinal
8. Miami Hurricanes
9. Georgia Bulldogs
10. USC Trojans
11. Oklahoma Sooners
12. Auburn Tigers
13. Mon., Feb. 20
14. Tues., Feb. 21
15. Wed., Feb. 22
16. Thur., Feb. 23
17. Fri., Feb. 24
18. Mon., Feb. 27
19. Tues., Feb. 28
20. Wed., Feb. 29
21. Thur., Mar. 1
22. Fri., Mar. 2
23. Sat., Mar. 3
24. Sun., Mar. 4
25. Sun., Mar. 4

Teaser:
<p> The Auburn Tigers landed the No. 12 recruiting class in the nation in 2012.</p>
Post date: Friday, February 17, 2012 - 06:00
Path: /college-football/2012-recruiting-rankings-no-11-oklahoma-sooners
Body:

-by Patrick Snow (@AthlonSnowman on twitter)

No. 11: Oklahoma Sooners (26 total signees)

Big 12 Rank: 2nd
Athlon Consensus 100 Signees: 3
National Signees: 7

Where They Got 'Em:

Oklahoma went to three recruiting hotbeds for 15 of its 26 new student-athletes. It’s no surprise that the Sooners inked seven players from Texas, but Bob Stoops and staff also signed four prospects each from the power states of Florida and California. One member of the Lone State State crew is receiver Trey Metoyer, who signed with OU a year ago before spending last season at Hargrave Military Academy. He was ranked No. 21 in the 2011 AC100 after catching 108 passes for 1,540 yards and 23 touchdowns as a senior at Whitehouse High School in 2010. OU also inked San Antonio Ronald Reagan High School quarterback Trevor Knight, who threw for 2,092 yards and 27 touchdowns while running for 943 yards and 15 scores as a senior.

While the Sooners found success all over the nation, they also signed two of the top three instate players. Running back Alex Ross from Jenks High School ran for 676 yards and 11 touchdowns as a senior. He was also the 2011 Oklahoma 6A state champion in the 200 meter dash with a time of 21.97. Wide receiver Sterling Shepard from Heritage Hall had 73 receptions for 1,243 yards and 17 touchdowns during his senior campaign, while also adding 303 rushing yards and eight touchdowns on the ground.

Areas of Focus:

Oklahoma definitely focused on adding weapons for its spread passing game, inking five wide receivers in this class. The Sooners top-rated signee was Durron Neal (No. 74 in the AC100) of St. Louis (Mo.) De Smet Jesuit. He totaled 35 receptions for 825 yards and 15 touchdowns as a senior. Neal also rushed for 716 yards and 11 scores. Another national signee was receiver Derrick Woods from Inglewood (Calif.) High School.

The Sooners also added depth at the tight end position, led by nationally-ranked Taylor McNamara of San Diego (Calif.) Westview High School. He had 526 receiving yards and seven touchdowns during the 2011 season. OU also showed its national recruiting prowess by signing tight ends Sam Grant from Saint Edward (Ohio) High School and Laith Harlow (although his football future is now in question with medical issues) from Tallahassee (Fla.) Godby High School.

The offensive line was another area of emphasis, with four new blockers signed in this class. The O-line group is led by national signees John Michael McGee of Texarkana (Texas) High School and Ty Darlington, the class Valedictorian of Apopka (Fla.) High School. The Sooners added two other 315-pounders in 6-foot-5 tackle Will Latu from the College of the Canyons in California and 6-foot-6 Kyle Marrs from San Antonio (Texas) Brandeis High School.

Only eight players in this 26-man class were signed on the defensive side of the ball, but three of those are early enrollees. That trio consists of cornerback Kass Everett from Pierce College, defensive end Chaz Nelson of Garden City Community College and defensive tackle Jordan Wade of Stony Point (Texas) High School. Nelson was a JUCO All-American after compiling 96 tackles, with 15.5 tackles for loss, last season.

Positional Breakdown:

Offense: QB: 1, RB: 3, WR: 5, TE: 4, OL: 4, ATH: 1
Defense: DE: 3, DT: 1, LB: 1, DB: 3, K/P: 0

AC100 Recruits:

74. Durron Neal, WR (6-1, 195), St. Louis (Mo.) De Smet Jesuit
78. Alex Ross, RB (6-1, 205), Jenks (Okla.) High
100. Sterling Shepard, WR (5-11, 185), Oklahoma City (Okla.) Heritage Hall

Other National Signees:

178. John Michael McGee, OL (6-4, 275), Texarkana (Texas) Texas
184. Ty Darlington, OL (6-3, 275), Apopka (Fla.) High
210. Derrick Woods, WR (6-1, 185), Inglewood (Calif.) High
234. Taylor McNamara, TE (6-5, 235), San Diego (Calif.) Westview

Early Enrollees:

Trey Meteyor, WR (6-2, 198), Whitehouse (Texas) Hargrave Military
Taylor McNamara, TE (6-5, 235), San Diego (Calif.) Westview
Kass Everett, CB (5-11, 195), Philadelphia (Pa.) Pierce College
Brannon Green, TE (6-4, 260), Altamont (Kan.) Fort Scott C.C.
Chaz Nelson, DE (6-3, 240), Columbus (Ohio) Garden City C.C.
Jordan Wade, DT (6-4, 290), Stony Point (Texas) High

Athlon Sports' Top 25 Classes of 2012:

1. Alabama Crimson Tide

2. Texas Longhorns
3. Florida Gators
4. Ohio State Buckeyes

5. Florida State Seminoles
6. Michigan Wolverines
7. Stanford Cardinal
8. Miami Hurricanes
9. Georgia Bulldogs
10. USC Trojans
11. Oklahoma Sooners
12. Fri., Feb. 17
13. Mon., Feb. 20
14. Tues., Feb. 21
15. Wed., Feb. 22
16. Thur., Feb. 23
17. Fri., Feb. 24
18. Mon., Feb. 27
19. Tues., Feb. 28
20. Wed., Feb. 29
21. Thur., Mar. 1
22. Fri., Mar. 2
23. Sat., Mar. 3
24. Sun., Mar. 4
25. Sun., Mar. 4

Teaser:
<p> The Oklahoma Sooners landed the No. 11 recruiting class in the nation in 2012.</p>
Post date: Thursday, February 16, 2012 - 06:10
All taxonomy terms: AC100, College Football, Recruiting, USC Trojans
Path: /college-football/2012-recruiting-rankings-no-10-usc-trojans
Body:

-by Patrick Snow (@AthlonSnowman on twitter)

No. 10: USC Trojans (16 total signees)

Pac-12 Rank: 2nd
Athlon Consensus 100 Signees: 7
National Signees: 10

Where They Got 'Em:

USC has the luxury of being located in one of the best, if not the best, recruiting “backyards” in the entire country. Despite scholarship limitations, Lane Kiffin and staff put together a solid class of 16 new signees — with 12 hailing from California. Two of the Trojans top three commitments were stars in Los Angeles County, linebacker Jabari Ruffin from Downey High School and massive offensive lineman Jordan Simmons from Crespi High in Encino. Ruffin compiled 99 tackles during his senior season, while also adding 745 total yards and seven touchdowns on offense. Simmons is one of the best O-line prospects in the nation and rated No. 47 in the AC100.

The Trojans seem to always have success recruiting in Southern California, but they were also able to lure a pair of top Florida ballers to the west coast. The Sunshine State duo is led by the top-rated player (No. 26 in the AC100) in USC’s class, receiver Nelson Agholor from Tampa’s Berkeley High School. During his prep career, Agholor had a staggering 4,732 rushing yards, 921 receiving yards, 12 interceptions on defense and eight kickoff return touchdowns. The other Florida signee is also a top 100 player, defensive lineman Leonard Williams from Daytona Beach, who collected 19.5 tackles for loss (10.5 sacks) during his senior season.

Areas of Focus:

USC definitely had less room for evaluation error with this class, due to ongoing NCAA sanctions where the Trojans lose 10 scholarships per year for this group and the next two seasons. Lane Kiffin, who has garnered some negative attention regarding his recruiting, should still be able to put together highly-rated classes because of USC’s tradition and location. However there will be some sacrifices, like not adding a quarterback to the roster this year.

One huge — and we mean huge — area of focus for the Trojans was the offensive line. Besides the 335-pound Simmons, USC inked two other AC100 prospects on the line in 6-foot-9, 335-pound Zach Banner from Puyallup (Wash.) Lakewood High School and 6-foot-6, 295-pound Max Tuerk from Santa Margarita High School. Where does Banner get his size? He is the son of former Oakland Raiders All-Pro lineman Lincoln Kennedy. Tuerk paved the way for Santa Margarita to win the CIF Pac-5 and CIF Division I state titles in 2011.

The Trojans also added three new players to the defensive line. Along with Williams, USC will bring in a pair of solid defensive ends in JUCO Morgan Breslin (Diablo Valley C.C.) and DeVante Wilson from Corona High School. Breslin had 13.5 sacks last year at Diablo, while Wilson originally signed with USC in last year but tore ligaments in his knee and sat out last fall. Both Breslin and Wilson are already in school and will participate in spring practice.

USC inked three new members to the secondary, highlighted by AC100 prospect Kevon Seymour from Muir High School in Pasadena. Seymour had 51 tackles and five interceptions (three touchdowns) on defense last season, and he added 33 catches for 653 yards and nine scores as a receiver. One impact player not listed in this class is Florida transfer Josh Shaw. A former AC100 defensive back, Shaw played in 10 games for the Gators last season and plans to apply for a hardship waiver from the NCAA to become immediately eligible.

Positional Breakdown:

Offense: QB: 0, RB: 1, WR: 2, TE: 1, OL: 4, ATH: 0
Defense: DL: 3, LB: 2, DB: 3, K/P: 0

AC100 Recruits:

26. Nelson Agholor, WR (6-1, 180), Tampa (Fla.) Berkeley
46. Jabari Ruffin, LB (6-4, 230), Downey (Calif.) High
47. Jordan Simmons, OL (6-5, 335), Inglewood (Calif.) Crespi
50. Zach Banner, OL (6-9, 335), Puyallup (Wash.) Lakewood
68. Leonard Williams, DL (6-5, 270), Daytona Beach (Fla.) Mainland
75. Max Tuerk, OL (6-6, 295), Trabuco Canyon (Calif.) Santa Margarita
96. Kevon Seymour, DB (6, 170), Pasasdena (Calif.) Muir

Other National Signees:

125. Darreus Rogers, WR (6-2, 195), Compton (Calif.) Carson
145. Jalen Cope-Fitzpatrick, TE (6-5, 260), Rocklin (Calif.) Whitney
182. Scott Starr, LB (6-3, 230), Nocro (Calif.) High

Early Enrollees:

Scott Starr, LB (6-3, 230), Nocro (Calif.) High
Chad Wheeler, OL (6-6, 265), Santa Monica (Calif.) High
DeVante Wilson, DE (6-4, 235), Corona (Calif.) High
Morgan Breslin, DE (6-3, 255), Walnut Creek (Calif.) Diablo Valley C.C.

Athlon Sports' Top 25 Classes of 2012:

1. Alabama Crimson Tide

2. Texas Longhorns
3. Florida Gators
4. Ohio State Buckeyes

5. Florida State Seminoles
6. Michigan Wolverines
7. Stanford Cardinal
8. Miami Hurricanes
9. Georgia Bulldogs
10. USC Trojans
11. Thur., Feb. 16
12. Fri., Feb. 17
13. Mon., Feb. 20
14. Tues., Feb. 21
15. Wed., Feb. 22
16. Thur., Feb. 23
17. Fri., Feb. 24
18. Mon., Feb. 27
19. Tues., Feb. 28
20. Wed., Feb. 29
21. Thur., Mar. 1
22. Fri., Mar. 2
23. Sat., Mar. 3
24. Sun., Mar. 4
25. Sun., Mar. 4

Teaser:
<p> The USC Trojans landed the No. 10 recruiting class in the nation in 2012.</p>
Post date: Wednesday, February 15, 2012 - 08:00
Path: /college-football/2012-recruiting-rankings-no-9-georgia-bulldogs
Body:

-by Patrick Snow (@AthlonSnowman on twitter)

No. 9: Georgia Bulldogs (19 total signees)

SEC Rank: 3rd
Athlon Consensus 100 Signees: 6
National Signees: 9

Where They Got 'Em:

Georgia always has a tough fight with the best programs around the South and the nation recruiting the Peach State with heavy emphasis, but Mark Richt and staff were able to keep the state’s top two players at home. Linebackers Josh Harvey-Clemons from Valdosta’s Lowndes High School and Jordan Jenkins from Harris County High School headline 11 signees from the state of Georgia. The Bulldogs also signed three players from fertile Florida, including top offensive lineman John Theus (the No. 13 player in the AC100) from Jacksonville powerhouse The Bolles School.

UGA also found success recruiting in North Carolina, inking two highly-rated running backs in Keith Marshall (Raleigh) and Todd Gurley (Tarboro). Marshall left Millbrook HS with the career record for yards (4,552) and points (332), and he rushed for 1,891 yards and 25 touchdowns during his senior campaign. Gurley was named the North Carolina Associated Press Player of the Year after scoring 38 touchdowns during his senior year and leading Tarboro to a third consecutive 2A State Championship.

Areas of Focus:

The Bulldogs definitely focused on the front seven of the defense, including five new linebackers to rush the passer in Todd Grantham’s aggressive 3-4 scheme. Along with Harvey-Clemons and Jenkins, Georgia signed three other instate linebackers in Leonard Floyd (Dodge County HS), Josh Dawson (Tucker HS) and James DeLoach (Jenkins County HS). UGA also inked a very important player in DeLoach’s Jenkins County teammate, defensive tackle Jonathan Taylor, who should be a solid run stuffer.

Georgia got a quality freshman season from running back Isaiah Crowell in 2011, and the Tar Heel duo of Marshall and Gurley should provide quality competition and depth at that position. In addition, Richt signed instate fullback Quayvon Hicks from Pierce County High School. Already at 245 pounds, Hicks should be a strong lead blocker for UGA’s top tailbacks.

Quarterback Aaron Murray had a solid year as a sophomore, throwing for over 3,000 yards and 35 touchdowns. However, big-time programs are always grooming their next signal caller. The Bulldogs were able to ink quarterback Faton Bauta from one of Florida’s top programs, Dwyer High School in Palm Beach County. Bauta has already enrolled in school and will go through spring practice.

Georgia has been very good in the kicking game over the last few seasons but lose both kicker Blair Walsh and punter Drew Butler. Richt showed a commitment to special teams by signing punter Collin Barber from Cartersville and kicker Marshall Morgan from Fort Lauderdale’s (Fla.) American Heritage High School.

Positional Breakdown:

Offense: QB: 1, RB: 3, WR: 1, TE: 1, OL: 3, ATH: 1
Defense: DL: 2, LB: 5, DB: 0, K/P: 2

AC100 Recruits:

13. John Theus, OL (6-6, 292), Jacksonville (Fla.) Bolles
16. Keith Marshall, RB (5-11, 190), Raleigh (N.C.) Millbrook
20. Josh Harvey-Clemons, LB (6-5, 208), Valdosta (Ga.) Lowndes
31. Jordan Jenkins, LB (6-3, 245), Hamilton (Ga.) Harris County
55. Jonathan Taylor, DT (6-4, 315), Millen (Ga.) Jenkins County
83. Todd Gurley, RB (6-1, 195), Tarboro (N.C.) High

Other National Signees:

188. Sheldon Dawson, ATH (5-11, 180), Memphis (Tenn.) Ridgeway
214. Leonard Floyd, LB (6-4, 215), Eastman (Ga.) Dodge County
218. John Atkins, DL (6-4, 300), Thomson (Ga.) High

Early Enrollees:

Keith Marshall,
RB (5-11, 190), Raleigh (N.C.) Millbrook
Faton Bauta, QB (6-3, 225), West Palm Beach (Fla.) Dwyer
Mark Beard, OL (6-4, 290), Adamsville (Ala.) Coffeyville C.C. (Kan.)

Athlon Sports' Top 25 Classes of 2012:

1. Alabama Crimson Tide

2. Texas Longhorns
3. Florida Gators
4. Ohio State Buckeyes

5. Florida State Seminoles
6. Michigan Wolverines
7. Stanford Cardinal
8. Miami Hurricanes
9. Georgia Bulldogs
10. Wed., Feb. 15
11. Thur., Feb. 16
12. Fri., Feb. 17
13. Mon., Feb. 20
14. Tues., Feb. 21
15. Wed., Feb. 22
16. Thur., Feb. 23
17. Fri., Feb. 24
18. Mon., Feb. 27
19. Tues., Feb. 28
20. Wed., Feb. 29
21. Thur., Mar. 1
22. Fri., Mar. 2
23. Sat., Mar. 3
24. Sun., Mar. 4
25. Sun., Mar. 4

Teaser:
<p> The Georgia Bulldogs landed the No. 9 recruiting class in the nation in 2012.</p>
Post date: Tuesday, February 14, 2012 - 05:45
Path: /college-football/2012-recruiting-rankings-no-8-miami-hurricanes
Body:

-by Patrick Snow (@AthlonSnowman on twitter)

No. 8: Miami Hurricanes (33 total signees)

ACC Rank: 2nd
Athlon Consensus 100 Signees: 3
National Signees: 9

Where They Got 'Em:

The Hurricanes have always been at their best when south Florida players stay near home. With all of the changes around the Miami program the last few years, other schools have been able to find more success in the fertile recruiting ground of Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties. Al Golden and staff were able keep more local talent home this year with a monster signing class of 33 student-athletes, with 26 of those hailing from the Sunshine State.

Miami scored big by inking three members of the AC100. Miramar defensive back Tracy Howard was the top signee, choosing the “U” over Florida and Florida State. Ranked as our No. 3 DB in the country, Howard had over 50 tackles and 10 interceptions during his senior year. Randy “Duke” Johnson is a speedster at running back, and he led Miami’s Norland High School to the Florida Class 5A Championship with his 1,957 rushing yards and 29 touchdowns. The third member of the top 100 trio is Palm Beach Central athlete Angelo Jean-Louis, who had eight touchdown catches this season and should play wide receiver for the Hurricanes.

Areas of Focus:

Golden and staff were able to address many concerns in signing 33 new players, and one of those was getting more bodies on the roster for spring practice. Miami had nine early enrollees, including national signees Raphael Kirby at linebacker and Ereck Flowers on the offensive line. Flowers was a teammate of Duke Johnson at Norland, paving the way for the superstar back. Miami also brought in two of their three quarterback signees early, with Preston Dewey of Austin (Texas) and Clearwater’s Gary Crow already on campus.

The Hurricanes will look to add to their stellar wide receiver legacy after signing five wideouts along with the aforementioned Jean-Louis. Malcolm Lewis, a teammate of Tracy Howard at Miramar, highlights this group after a senior campaign with 716 receiving yards and seven touchdowns. Robert Lockhart is another wideout to watch. He attended West Boca Raton High School before spending last season at Fork Union (Va.) Military Academy.

Another huge area of focus for Miami was the defensive line. Seven new players were inked in this group, including national signees Tyriq McCord from Tampa’s Jefferson High School and Jelani Hamilton from Fort Lauderdale powerhouse St. Thomas Aquinas. McCord was one of the top pass rushers in the Sunshine State, while Hamilton was a longtime Canes commit who lost much of his senior season to a knee injury.

The Hurricanes also added seven new players to the secondary, highlighted by Howard and Deon Bush from Miami’s Columbus High School. Rated as one of the top safeties in the country, Bush had 40 tackles and seven interceptions during his senior season. Rayshawn Jenkins played quarterback, running back, wide receiver and defensive back at St. Petersburg’s Admiral Farragut Academy and looks to be another impressive athlete who should improve the Miami secondary.

Positional Breakdown:

Offense: QB: 3, RB: 2, WR: 5, TE: 0, OL: 3, ATH: 1
Defense: DL: 7, LB: 5, DB: 7, K: 0

AC100 Recruits:

18. Tracy Howard, DB (5-11, 170), Miramar (Fla.) High
36. Randy "Duke" Johnson, RB (5-9, 183), Miami (Fla.) Norland
85. Angelo Jean-Louis, ATH (6, 182), Wellington (Fla.) Palm Beach Central

Other National Signees:

102. Deon Bush, DB (6-1, 179), Miami (Fla.) Columbus)
107. Tyriq McCord, DL (6-3, 212), Tampa (Fla.) Jefferson
133. Raphael Kirby, LB (6, 207), Stone Mountain (Ga.) Stephenson
154. Jelani Hamilton, DL (6-5, 262), Fort Lauderdale (Fla.) St. Thomas Aquinas
173. Malcolm Lewis, WR (6, 194), Miramar (Fla.) High
204. Ereck Flowers, OL (6-6, 312), Miami (Fla.) Norland

Early Enrollees:

Preston Dewey, QB (6-2, 203), Austin (Texas) St. Andrew's Episcopal
Gary Crow, QB (6-3, 233), Clearwater (Fla.) Countryside
Ereck Flowers, OL (6-6, 312), Miami (Fla.) Norland
Taylor Gadbois, OL (6-7, 292), Dallas (Ga.) East Paulding
Raphael Kirby, LB (6, 207), Stone Mountain (Ga.) Stephenson
Ladarius Gunter, LB (6-2, 196), Montgomery (Ala.) Fort Scott C.C. (Kan.)
Josh Witt, LB (6-2, 206), Weston (Fla.) Cypress Bay)
Larry Hope, DB (5-11, 160), Miami (Fla.) American
Dwayne Hoilett, DL (6-3, 217), Vero Beach (Fla.) High

Athlon Sports' Top 25 Classes of 2012:

1. Alabama Crimson Tide

2. Texas Longhorns
3. Florida Gators
4. Ohio State Buckeyes

5. Florida State Seminoles
6. Michigan Wolverines
7. Stanford Cardinal
8. Miami Hurricanes
9. Tues., Feb. 14
10. Wed., Feb. 15
11. Thur., Feb. 16
12. Fri., Feb. 17
13. Mon., Feb. 20
14. Tues., Feb. 21
15. Wed., Feb. 22
16. Thur., Feb. 23
17. Fri., Feb. 24
18. Mon., Feb. 27
19. Tues., Feb. 28
20. Wed., Feb. 29
21. Thur., Mar. 1
22. Fri., Mar. 2
23. Sat., Mar. 3
24. Sun., Mar. 4
25. Sun., Mar. 4

Teaser:
<p> The Miami Hurricanes landed the No. 8 recruiting class in the nation in 2012.</p>
Post date: Monday, February 13, 2012 - 08:00
Path: /college-football/2012-recruiting-rankings-no-7-stanford-cardinal
Body:

-by Patrick Snow (@AthlonSnowman on twitter)

No. 7: Stanford Cardinal (22 total signees)

Pac-12 Rank: 1st
Athlon Consensus 100 Signees: 7
National Signees: 8

Where They Got 'Em:

David Shaw and staff signed an excellent class of 22 student-athletes from all over the nation. The future Cardinal hail from 14 different states, including three each from California, Texas and Arizona. Stanford also inked a pair of signees from Florida and Washington, as well as one player each from the states of Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Minnesota, Missouri, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Virginia and Utah.

Perhaps no team in the nation closed better on Signing Day than the Cardinal, who signed seven players rated in the top 79 in the country. Another interesting note is that seven players in this star-studded class have fathers who played in the NFL. The most famous surname in that group belongs to Barry Sanders Jr., son of NFL Hall of Famer Barry Sanders. The young running back amassed 5,037 yards and 70 touchdowns during his career at Heritage Hall in Oklahoma City.

Areas of Focus:

Stanford signed one of the top offensive line groups ever seen in one recruiting class. With All-Americans David DeCastro and Jonathan Martin headed to the NFL, the seven new Cardinal blockers could compete for early playing time. The o-line crew includes three players who ranked in the top 30 of the AC100. Andrus Peat was thought to be a Nebraska lean with his brother playing for the Cornhuskers, but the son of former NFL lineman Todd Peat chose to matriculate in Palo Alto. Kyle Murphy was ranked as the top offensive lineman in the state of California, while Josh Garnett was the best blocker from the state of Washington. Brandon Fanaika (Pleasant Grove, Utah) was ranked as a top 10 offensive guard in the country, but he is expected to take a two-year church mission before enrolling at Stanford in 2014.

The defensive line was also a priority for the Cardinal, and the new crew is led by AC100 defensive end Aziz Shittu. The Atwater native decided to play his college ball close to home, and Shittu registered 101 tackles and eight sacks as a senior at Buhach Colony HS. Luke Kaumatule (Honolulu, Hawaii) and Jordan Watkins (Decatur, Ga.) were also highly-rated pass rushers.

Stanford also focused on the wide receiver position, signing four new pass catchers. Conner Crane (Lantana, Texas), Dontonio Jordan (Hickory Creek, Texas) and Michael Rector (Gig Harbor, Wash.) will be joined by Cardinal legacy Kodi Whitfield (Los Angeles) at wideout. Whitfield is the son of former Stanford offensive tackle and 15-year NFL veteran Bob Whitfield.

Along with Peat, Murphy, Garnett, Shittu and Sanders Jr., the two other AC100 signees are linebacker Noor Davis (Leesburg, Fla.) and cornerback Alex Carter (Ashburn, Va.). Davis was the recipient of this year’s High School Butkus Award as the nation’s top prep linebacker, and he is the nephew of NFL Hall of Famer Andre Tippett. Carter was named Virginia’s Gatorade State Player of the Year.

Positional Breakdown:

Offense: QB: 0, RB: 1, WR: 4, TE: 0, OL: 7, ATH: 1
Defense: DE: 3, DT: 1, LB: 2, DB: 3, K: 0

AC100 Recruits:

21. Andrus Peat, OL (6-7, 305), Tempe (Ariz.) Corona Del Sol
25. Kyle Murphy, OL (6-7, 278), San Clemente (Calif.) High
30. Josh Garnett, OL (6-3, 305), Puyallup (Wash.) High
49. Noor Davis, LB (6-4, 235), Leesburg (Fla.) High
63. Aziz Shittu, DE (6-3, 275), Atwater (Calif.) Buhach
76. Alex Carter, CB (6, 195), Ashburn (Va.) Briar Woods
79. Barry Sanders Jr., RB (5-10, 185), Oklahoma City (Okla.) Heritage Hall

Other National Signees:

Brandon Fanalka, OL (6-3, 320), Pleasant Grove (Utah) High

Athlon Sports' Top 25 Classes of 2012:

1. Alabama Crimson Tide

2. Texas Longhorns
3. Florida Gators
4. Ohio State Buckeyes

5. Florida State Seminoles
6. Michigan Wolverines
7. Stanford Cardinal
8. Mon., Feb. 13
9. Tues., Feb. 14
10. Wed., Feb. 15
11. Thur., Feb. 16
12. Fri., Feb. 17
13. Mon., Feb. 20
14. Tues., Feb. 21
15. Wed., Feb. 22
16. Thur., Feb. 23
17. Fri., Feb. 24
18. Mon., Feb. 27
19. Tues., Feb. 28
20. Wed., Feb. 29
21. Thur., Mar. 1
22. Fri., Mar. 2
23. Sat., Mar. 3
24. Sun., Mar. 4
25. Sun., Mar. 4

Teaser:
<p> The Stanford landed the No. 7 recruiting class in the nation in 2012.</p>
Post date: Friday, February 10, 2012 - 06:00
Path: /college-football/2012-recruiting-rankings-no-6-michigan-wolverines
Body:

-by Braden Gall (@BradenGall on twitter)

No. 6: Michigan Wolverines (25 total signees)

Big Ten Rank: 2nd
Athlon Consensus 100 Signees: 3
National Signees: 10

Where They Got 'Em:

This class was equal parts Buckeye and Wolverine. In his first full class as the head coach at Michigan, Brady Hoke utilized the Buckeye State for a huge chunk of this top-10 class. Nine players apiece from in-state and from that state down south set the foundation what turned out to be the Big Ten's No. 2 signing class.

Missouri supplied two, including the No. 2 player in the class, and Tennessee, Kentucky, Iowa, Utah and California provided one prospect each. The No. 3-rated player in this class, Erik Magnuson, comes to Ann Arbor from Carlsbad, Calif., so two of the three AC100 prospects hail from outside of Michigan's Midwestern recruiting base.

Areas of Focus:

The two biggest ares of concern for the Maize and Blue heading into the 2012 season is the defensive line. And while most recruiting classes don't solve team issues until a couple of years down the road, Hoke did his best to ensure quality depth along the D-Line in 2012.

An extraordinarily talented six-man defensive line class is spearheaded by massive, field-ready AC100 tackle Ondre Pipkins. The 320-pounder proved late in the process that he was physically capable of contributing early and could be the biggest impact recruit in this class. His six forced fumbles as a senior are only a glimpse of what this stud tackle will do once he is a Wolverine.

Two very large, nationally recruited Buckeye State ends, Chris Wormley (6-5, 250) and Tom Strobel (6-6, 265), help with depth as well. Wormley posted 23 sacks and 126 tackles over his final two prep seasons, while Strobel posted 139 tackles and 20.5 sacks over his final three years. This group is complimented nicely by the much smaller Mario Ojemudia. At 6-2 and 220 pounds, the in-state product registered 28 sacks and 207 tackles as a junior and senior. Throw in tackles Matthew Godin and Willie Henry, and Hoke has solved his D-Line issues in one fell swoop.

Linebacker is also a deep area of this class. Early enrollees Joe Bolden and Kaleb Ringer head north to Ann Arbor from Ohio. Bolden was a force at the Under Armour event in Tampa and could make an immediate impact in spring practice. He was coached by his uncle at famed Colerain High, and his fundamentally developed game sets him up for early success. Nationally rated James Ross and Royce Jenkins-Stone, who combined for 298 tackles in 2011, make this one of the most intriguing linebacking groups in the Big Ten.

Jenkins-Stone's teammate at Cass Tech, defensive back Terry Richardson, heads a secondary class that features four quality names. Richardson did everything as a senior (49 tackles, 24 rec., 425 yards) after intercepting an absurd 12 passes as a junior. Ohio safety Jarrod Wilson is already enrolled and will help in spring ball. Tall safety prospects Jeremy Clark (6-4, 195) and Allan Gant (6-2, 205) make this one of the biggest (in stature) defensive back classes in the league. Gant's father, Allen Trail Gant, played safety at Michigan from 1982-1986.

Two AC100 blockers, Kyle Kalis and Magnuson, join Nashville product Blake Bars and in-stater Ben Braden to form a solid foursome up front along the offensive line. Kalis is the No. 2-rated player in the state of Ohio, had previously been committed to the Buckeyes and led his team to a state title as a junior. He is the highest-rated player in this Michigan class for a reason.

The offensive skill players, other than quarterback, are well represented as three running backs, two wide receivers and two tight ends signed with Michigan in this class. None were nationally rated. Michigan fans should already know all about Ann Arbor star Drake Johnson, who rushed for 2,805 yards and 37 touchdowns on 343 carries. He is joined in the backfield by scatback Dennis Norfleet and fullback Sione Houma.

With Kevin Koger, Junior Hemingway and Darryl Stonum no longer with the team, it will fall to wideouts Jehu Chesson and Amara Darboh as well as tight ends Devin Funchess and A.J. Williams to step up and create viable depth behind Roy Roundtree and Jeremy Gallon.

Positional Breakdown:

Offense: QB: 0, RB: 3, WR: 2, TE: 2, OL: 4, ATH: 0
Defense: DE: 3, DT: 3, LB: 4, DB: 4, K: 0

AC100 Recruits:

45. Kyle Kalis, OL (6-5, 305), Lakewood (Ohio) St. Edward
60. Ondre Pipkins, DT (6-3, 320), Kansas City (Mo.) Park Hill
73. Erik Magnuson, OL (6-6, 275), Carlsbad (Calif.) La Costa Canyon

Other National Signees:

108. Joe Bolden, LB (6-3, 230), Cincinnati (Ohio) Colerain
128. Terry Richardson, DB (5-9, 165), Detroit (Mich.) Cass Tech
152. Royce Jenkins-Stone, LB (6-2, 215), Detroit (Mich.) Cass Tech
157. Chris Wormley, DE (6-5, 250), Toledo (Ohio) Whitmer
161. James Ross, LB (6-1, 215), Orchard Lake (Mich.) St. Mary's Prep
196. Tom Strobel, DE (6-6, 265), Mentor (Ohio) High
254. Mario Ojemudia, DE (6-2, 220), Farmington Hills (Mich.) Harrison

Early Enrollees:

Joe Bolden, LB (6-3, 230), Cincinnati (Ohio) Colerain
Kaleb Ringer, LB (6-1, 225), Clayton (Ohio) Northmont
Jarrod Wilson, DB (6-2, 190), Akron (Ohio) Buchtel

Athlon Sports' Top 25 Classes of 2012:

1. Alabama Crimson Tide

2. Texas Longhorns
3. Florida Gators
4. Ohio State Buckeyes

5. Florida State Seminoles
6. Michigan Wolverines
7. Fri., Feb. 10
8. Mon., Feb. 13
9. Tues., Feb. 14
10. Wed., Feb. 15
11. Thur., Feb. 16
12. Fri., Feb. 17
13. Mon., Feb. 20
14. Tues., Feb. 21
15. Wed., Feb. 22
16. Thur., Feb. 23
17. Fri., Feb. 24
18. Mon., Feb. 27
19. Tues., Feb. 28
20. Wed., Feb. 29
21. Thur., Mar. 1
22. Fri., Mar. 2
23. Sat., Mar. 3
24. Sun., Mar. 4
25. Sun., Mar. 4

Teaser:
<p> The Michigan Wolverines landed the No. 6 recruiting class in the nation in 2012.</p>
Post date: Thursday, February 9, 2012 - 05:00
Path: /college-football/2012-recruiting-rankings-no-5-florida-state-seminoles
Body:

-by Braden Gall (@BradenGall on twitter)

No. 5: Florida State Seminoles (19 total signees)

ACC Rank: 1st
Athlon Consensus 100 Signees: 7
National Signees: 10

Where They Got 'Em:

Jimbo Fisher and company went all over the world to get players this cycle. Yes, that is right, Florida State signed 17 players from the United States and two stationed in European countries. Massive offensive tackle prospect Menelik Watson, who played at Saddleback Community College (Calif.), is orginally from Manchester, England. Fellow offensive lineman Daniel Glauser excelled the last two seasons at New Mexico Military Institute but comes to the state from Rheinfelden, Switzerland.

Obviously the state of Florida will supply the bulk of any FSU class, and this group features a small but talented six-man collection of Sunshine State prospects. The states of Texas and Alabama treated Fisher well in 2012 as Florida State landed five total players from those two states including the top player in each state. The D.C./Maryland area provided two elite prospects as well, including the top player in the greater D.C. area. 

The national (and worldly) approach to this class further illustrates the ongoing return to national prominece for Florida State under Fisher. Of the seven AC100 signees, only one hails from in-state. North Carolina, New Jersey, California and Georgia provided the Seminoles with one signee each.

Areas of Focus:

No one area in particularly dominated this class as no position got more than three new faces and seven of the 11 "official" positions got at least two signees. However, if there is a major strength to this class it comes clearly along the defensive line. Mario Edwards, the Lone Star State's top player and the nation's No. 1 defensive tackle, is headed to Tallahassee. The Noles list him as a defensive end, but he has added 30-40 pounds over the last year and is listed at 290 pounds. At that size and strength, it is hard not to see him sliding inside. He finished his final two prep seasons with 199 tackles, an astonishing 82 tackles for a loss and 29 sacks while leading Ryan to a state runner-up finish in 2010.

Along with Edwads, a talented foursome of hog mollies make this one of the top defensive line classes in the nation. Eddie Goldman (No. 9 in the AC100) is one of two top-10 players to sign with FSU, giving the Noles the top two defensive tackle prospects in the nation. He is a disruptive force up the middle as his 23 tackles for a loss and 15 sacks in 2011 will attest. Toss in pass-rushing specialist Chris Casher — who sat out his senior season after transfering from Faith Academy to Davidson — and Fisher should have plenty to work with in the front seven. Casher was talented enough to play some receiver (22 rec., 408 yards in 2010) while still being a dominant edge-rusher (50 tackles, 19 TFL, 10 sacks). Nationally rated Justin Shanks and tackle Dalvon Stuckey round out a phenomenal five-man D-Line class.

After landing Goldman and Darby on National Signing Day, the biggest unknown with this class concerned the nation's No. 1 quarterback Jameis Winston. The talented signal-caller made Noles faithful wait a few extra days, but on Friday sent in his signed LOI to Florida State. Now, fans might still be nervous until the June MLB Draft where Winston is considered the No. 64-rated prospect in the nation by Baseball America. Should he stay at Florida State, he is expected to be a two-sport star — unless he gets selected in the first round and has a lucrative signing bonus staring him in the face.

Until then, Florida State fans can brag about the nation's top quarterback being a Nole. Winston is the heir apparent to E.J. Manuel's throne should he stick around campus following the MLB Draft. Just in case Winston takes the paycheck, Fisher also landed the pocket-passing Sean Maquire from New Jersey. The 6-3, 200-pounder managed to throw 46 touchdowns against only 10 interceptions in a wing-T offense over his last three seasons at Seton Hall prep. He is a quality consolation prize if Winston should decide to play hardball instead.

Darby, also a two-sport track star, brings explosiveness and big-play ability to a small but talented secondary class. The do-everything star for Potomac High played six different positions as a senior after rushing for 1,329 yards and 23 TDs as a junior. Nationally rated P.J. Williams joins him with a versatile skillset that could land him at safety or corner. This isn't a deep secondary class at all, but the dynamic abilities and elite talents of these two make for an intriguing future in the defensive backfield.

The offensive line got a veteran boost with a pair of international JUCO recruits, and AC100 linebacker Murkuss Eligwe leads a two-man class of backers into Tallahassee. Eligwe is a special, versatile player who could play inside or out on defense.

Nationally rated athlete Marvin Bracy and top-100 running back Mario Pender should add some much-needed play-making ability to the offense. A track star, Bracy is considered by many as the fastest high school athlete in the nation and will likely end up playing wide receiver this fall. Pender is one of the more complete backs in the nation. The nation's No. 7 tailback averaged 11.9 yards per carry (1,543 yards) on only only 130 attempts and scored 17 times in 2011. He posted an absurd 13.9 per carry average as a junior when he rushed for 2,261 yards and 32 touchdowns back in 2010.

Positional Breakdown:

Offense: QB: 2, RB: 1, WR: 0, TE: 1, OL: 2, ATH: 1
Defense: DE: 2, DT: 3, LB: 2, DB: 3, K/P: 2

AC100 Recruits:

2. Mario Edwards Jr., DE (6-4, 290), Denton (Texas) Ryan
9. Eddie Goldman, DT (6-4, 310), Washington (D.C.) Friendship Collegiate
15. Jameis Winston, QB (6-3, 195), Hueytown (Ala.) High
24. Chris Casher, DE (6-4, 240), Mobile (Ala.) Davidson
34. Ronald Darby, DB (5-11, 176), Oxon Hill (Md.) Potomac
37. Mario Pender, RB (6, 190), Cape Coral (Fla.) Island Coast
71. Markuss Eligwe, LB (6-3, 225), Stone Mountain (Ga.) High

Other National Signees:

124. P.J. Williams, DB (6-2, 190), Ocala (Fla.) Vanguard
126. Marvin Bracy, ATH (5-9, 170), Orlando (Fla.) Boone
137. Justin Shanks, DT (6-3, 310), Prattville (Ala.) High

Early Enrollees:

Mario Pender, RB (6, 190), Cape Coral (Fla.) Island Coast
David Glauser, OL (6-6, 317), Rheinfelden, Switzerland
Cason Beatty, P (6-2, 225), Charlotte (N.C) Olympic

Athlon Sports' Top 25 Classes of 2012:

1. Alabama Crimson Tide

2. Texas Longhorns
3. Florida Gators
4. Ohio State Buckeyes

5. Florida State Seminoles
6. Thur., Feb. 9
7. Fri., Feb. 10
8. Mon., Feb. 13
9. Tues., Feb. 14
10. Wed., Feb. 15
11. Thur., Feb. 16
12. Fri., Feb. 17
13. Mon., Feb. 20
14. Tues., Feb. 21
15. Wed., Feb. 22
16. Thur., Feb. 23
17. Fri., Feb. 24
18. Mon., Feb. 27
19. Tues., Feb. 28
20. Wed., Feb. 29
21. Thur., Mar. 1
22. Fri., Mar. 2
23. Sat., Mar. 3
24. Sun., Mar. 4
25. Sun., Mar. 4

Teaser:
<p> The Florida State Seminoles landed the No. 5 recruiting class in the nation in 2012.</p>
Post date: Wednesday, February 8, 2012 - 08:00
Path: /college-football/2012-recruiting-rankings-no-4-ohio-state-buckeyes
Body:

-by Braden Gall (@BradenGall on twitter)

No. 4: Ohio State Buckeyes (25 total signees)

Big Ten Rank: 1st
Athlon Consensus 100 Signees: 6
National Signees: 11

Where They Got 'Em:

The Ohio State University has been a national brand for decades, and with Urban Meyer now at the helm, its recruiting stature will only continue to grow into the Southeast. Expect Meyer to hit the Sun Belt hard in 2013 for talent. In his short three-month tenure as the Buckeyes' coach, however, Meyer concentrated on dominating the more traditionally recruited areas for tOSU.

Like Florida, Alabama and Texas ahead of them in the rankings, Ohio State used a heavy in-state crop to land an elite class. Meyer signed 16 players from the Buckeye State, including three of the top five and the state's top target in defensive end Adolphus Washington.

The Scarlet and Gray also landed the top players in the states of Pennsylvania, Illinois and Massachusetts en route to the top class in the Big Ten. Meyer also dipped into California, Florida, Indiana, Colorado and North Carolina for one signee each.

Areas of Focus:

The story most Buckeyes fans are waiting on is obviously Stefon Diggs, the No. 1 athlete in the nation who will announce this Friday primarily between Florida, Ohio State and Maryland. The Gators are the team to beat but should he sign with OSU, this class becomes the No. 3 class in the nation, jumping Florida in the process.

Even without Diggs, this is a special group of future Bucknuts — especially along the defensive line. Meyer is clearly establishing his SEC style along the defensive front by landing the nation's No. 1 pass rusher in end Noah Spence. The 2011 Pennsylvania Gatorade Player of the Year finished with 204 tackles, 50 tackles for a loss and 35.5 sacks over his final two prep seasons. He will lead the Ohio State pass rush into the Meyer era with force.

Joining Spence is fellow AC100 ends Washington and Se'Von Pittman as well as top-100 defensive tackle Tommy Schutt. That gives Ohio State four AC100 defensive linemen — which equates to signing four of the top 25 trench players in the nation. This was a clear area of focus for Meyer's staff, and he delivered in brilliant fashion.

The back-end of the defense was improved with plenty of depth as nine players are slotted into either the linebacker or defensive back positions. Nationally rated linebackers Joshua Perry and Camren Williams replenish the middle of the defense. Williams, who finished his final season with 119 tackles, is the son of 11-year NFL vet Brent Williams. At 6-3 and 230 pounds, Perry, who is already enrolled in class, is a tremendous athlete who play inside, outside or even along the D-Line. He is a track and field long-jumper and brings tremendous athletic ability to the linebacking corps.

Armani Reeves and De'Van Bogard head up the secondary class. Reeves was the Catholic Conference MVP after 445 yards rushing on offense, 57 tackles on defense and nine total touchdowns. His ability to score on offense, defense and special teams makes him one of the more versatile prospects in this class. Bogard, who hails from OSU pipeline and prep powerhouse Cleveland-Glenville is one of the hardest-hitting safety prospects in the entire nation.

On offense, the offensive line got the most focus as five total — two nationally ranked — new faces join the offensive front. Joey O'Connor, Taylor Decker and Kyle Dodson add tremendous size, talent and depth to an area that Meyer is sure to solidify early on in his career. The lines of scrimmage are where national championships are won, and Meyer landed elite talent on both sides of the ball as six of his 11 nationally ranked prospects will play in the trenches. And lone tight end signee Blake Thomas is considered an overpowering blocker who will make his earliest impact in the running game.

Tailback Bri'onte Dunn is the most touted offensive player in this class, however. The early enrollee checks in at 220 pounds and rolled up 5,479 yards in his prep career at GlenOak High. He posted 1,657 yards as a senior and 2,030 yards back in 2009 while scoring 51 touchdowns over his final three years. Dunn and local product Warran Ball add depth to an already deep but undistinguished tailback depth chart.

Three wide receivers and one tight end also add much-needed depth to the pass-catching pool. Michael Thomas led the state of California (no easy task) with 1,656 yards receiving this fall, while Ricquan Southward brings that Florida speed north to Columbus. He is the lone Sunshine State signee in this class.

After one year at Fork Union Military Academy, quarterback Cardale Jones, who claimed MVP honors of the 2010 Offense-Defense bowl, finally gets to campus — and at 6-5 and 220 pounds, he has the exact skill set Urban Meyer looks for from his quarterback.

The biggest storyline surrounding Meyer's instant recruiting fame has been his ability to yank prospects from other powerful Big Ten programs. Penn State, Michigan State, Wisconsin and Notre Dame all lost highly touted prospects to Ohio State down the stretch — and opposing coaches have been outspoken about Meyer's recruiting practices. That said, all is fair in love and recruiting, and Meyer deserves all the praise he has gotten for pulling together the Big Ten's top class in a short three-month period of time.

Positional Breakdown:

Offense: QB: 1, RB: 2, WR: 3, TE: 1, OL: 5, ATH: 0
Defense: DE: 3, DT: 1, LB: 5, DB: 4, K: 0

AC100 Recruits:

4. Noah Spence, DE (6-4, 245), Harriburg (Pa.) Bishop McDevitt
27. Adolphus Washington, DE (6-5, 245), Cincinnati (Ohio) Taft
67. Tommy Schutt, DT (6-3, 300), Glen Ellyn (Ill.) Glenbard
86. Se'Von Pittman, DE (6-5, 245), Canton (Ohio) McKinley
98. Bri'onte Dunn, RB (6-2, 220), Canton (Ohio) GlenOak

Other National Signees:

120. Joey O'Connor, OL (6-4, 295), Windsor (Colo.) High
142. Armani Reeves, DB (5-10, 185), West Roxbury (Mass.) Catholic Mem.
175. Joshua Perry, LB (6-3, 230), Lewis Center (Ohio) Olentangy
179. Taylor Decker, OL (6-8, 315), Vandalia (Ohio) Butler
215. De'Van Bogard, DB (6, 175), Cleveland (Ohio) Glenville
256. Camren Williams, LB (6-2, 215), West Roxbury (Mass.) Catholic Mem.

Early Enrollees:

Bri'onte Dunn
, RB (6-2, 220), Canton (Ohio) GlenOak
Jacoby Boren, OL (6-2, 275), Pickerington (Ohio) Central
Cardale Jones, QB (6-5, 220), Cleveland (Ohio) Glendale/Fork Union
Joshua Perry, LB (6-3, 230), Lewis Center (Ohio) Olentangy
Tyvis Powell, DB (6-3, 180), Bedford (Ohio) High
Michael Thomas, WR (6-4, 205), Los Angeles (Calif.) Taft

Athlon Sports' Top 25 Classes of 2012:

1. Alabama Crimson Tide

2. Texas Longhorns
3. Florida Gators
4. Ohio State Buckeyes
5. Wed., Feb. 8
6. Thur., Feb. 9
7. Fri., Feb. 10
8. Mon., Feb. 13
9. Tues., Feb. 14
10. Wed., Feb. 15
11. Thur., Feb. 16
12. Fri., Feb. 17
13. Mon., Feb. 20
14. Tues., Feb. 21
15. Wed., Feb. 22
16. Thur., Feb. 23
17. Fri., Feb. 24
18. Mon., Feb. 27
19. Tues., Feb. 28
20. Wed., Feb. 29
21. Thur., Mar. 1
22. Fri., Mar. 2
23. Sat., Mar. 3
24. Sun., Mar. 4
25. Sun., Mar. 4

Teaser:
<p> The Ohio State Buckeyes landed the No. 4 recruiting class in the nation in 2012.</p>
Post date: Tuesday, February 7, 2012 - 05:40
Path: /college-football/2012-recruiting-rankings-no-3-florida-gators
Body:

-by Braden Gall (@BradenGall on twitter)

No. 3: Florida Gators (23 total signees)

SEC Rank: 2nd
Athlon Consensus 100 Signees: 6
National Signees: 13

Where They Got 'Em:

The primary reason that Florida is the best job in the SEC is because of the talent in the Sunshine State. If any head coach is going to be successful in Gainesville, they will have to milk high schools from Dade County to the Panhandle for prospects. And those prep programs are some of, if not the, most talent-rich teams in the entire nation. Will Muschamp knew this going in and signed the bulk of his 23-man class from in-state. With 12 Florida prospects, the Gators didn't have to travel far to build the foundation of this class. Nor should they.

That being said, Muschamp was incredibly productive in the state of North Carolina this season as well. The state is no stranger to Gator staffers, but the job Muschamp's guys did in the Tar Heel state was incredible. Florida signed four total players from North Carolina, including the best two recruits in the state. Offensive lineman D.J. Humphries is the No. 1 offensive lineman in the nation, and it marks the second time in four years that Florida pulled the top blocker in the nation from the Tar Heel State (Xavier Nixon). Defensive end Jonathan Bullard is the No. 2 end prospect in the nation, and he, too, headed south to Gainesville. Humphries is already in class and ready to compete this spring.

Georgia and Pennyslvania provided a pair of talented athletes each while Muschamp signed one player from both Illinois and Mississippi. Urban Meyer had built plenty of inroads to the northeast, and it appears Muschamp wants to the do the same with Keystoners Colin Thompson (TE) and Skyler Mornhinweg (QB).

Areas of Focus:

The most woriesome and startling issue with this Gators' roster is the lack of explosive play-makers on the outside of the offense. For a team built around speedy, ball-in-hand guys for the better part of two decades, it's shocking that Muschamp has this issue on his hands. Carl Moore, Deonte Thompson, Frankie Hammond and Andre Debose are just few of the elite-level receiver prospects to flop in Gainesville.

So February 10 can't get here fast enough for Muschamp. He and new coordinator Brent Pease are holding out hope that Olney (Md.) Good Counsel athlete Stefon Diggs picks the Gators this Friday. The No. 1 athlete in the nation and the No. 5 overall prospect in America is considered a Gator lean, but he would drop this class to No. 4 in the rankings if he signed with Ohio State. More importantly, Pease would still be without an elite playmaker on his new offense.

Otherwise, this collection of talent is worthy of the Gator Chomp. And the best cure for a team that lacks proven outside options is to build from the inside out. Florida did just that with Humphries and fellow top-100 blocker Jessamen Dunker already enrolled. Pease added a pair of complementary tight ends in pass-catcher Kent Taylor and in-line blocker Colin Thompson. They are two of the top three tight end prospects in the nation, and Taylor is the country's highest-rated player at his position. With the developing youth already along the line, these four new faces could make this an area of strength for the first time since 2008.

However, the only nationally rated skill talents in this class are tailback Matt Jones and wideout Latroy Pittman. For most programs, these two could be considered marquee recruits so they are clearly very talented athletes, but can they develop into game-changers? Jones is a big, powerful back, which Gators fans aren't used to seeing in the backfield. He missed four games due to a knee injury but still helped Armwood to a 15-0 season and Class 6A state title. Pittman, an early enrollee, excelled on both sides of the ball in high school as a wideout (481 yards, 8 TD) and defensive back (37 tackles, 5 INT). There is a lot of pressure on these two — and fellow wideout Raphael Andrades — if Diggs signs with the Buckeyes, as they're the only three offensive skill players signed in this class.

The defense, which should be a major area of strength in 2012 already, added some seriously talented athletes to the two-deep. Bullard, who posted 16 sacks in 2011, has a chance to be special off the edge and could make the biggest immediate impact of anyone in this class. He is joined by five other stellar defensive line prospects, most notably Dante Phillips and Quinteze Williams. The nationally rated tackle duo will add quality depth to an already loaded position. They are tall (6-6 and 6-5 respectively), athletic and used to winning — Williams led Sandy Creek to the GHSA 3A State title two years ago, and Phillips helped Venice to the regional semifinals this fall.

The heart of the Gators defense got some help as well as four new faces will slide in at linebacker. Long-time Florida State Seminole commitment Dante Fowler Jr., at 6-3, 261, has a good chance of playing with his hand in the dirt. He is currently listed by Florida as an outside linebacker but would be perfect rushing the passer — something the Gators could use. Either way, he has a chance to be a star. Early enrollee Antonio Morrison and Jeremi Powell are much more traditional outside backers and will be joined by another potential hybrid in 6-6, 223-pound Alex McCalister. On the surface, it looks like the defensive line class could end up being eight-deep instead of six, but either way, the front seven for Florida should be well taken care of for years to come.

Muschamp, a former safety, didn't forget about his area of the field. Three of the four defensive back signees were nationally touted, and 202-pound cornerback Brian Poole leads the way. Poole is fiercely strong for a cornerback and is rated as the No. 9 overall defensive back in the nation. Marcus Maye and Rhaheim Ledbetter, who both weigh in at around 200 pounds as well, give the Gators a new pair of safeties.

Atlanta's Austin Hardin is ranked by some as the nation's top kicker.

Positional Breakdown:

Offense: QB: 1, RB: 1, WR: 2, TE: 2, OL: 2, ATH: 0
Defense: DL: 6, LB: 4, DB: 4, K: 1

AC100 Recruits:

3. D.J. Humphries, OL (6-6, 271), Charlotte (N.C.) Mallard Creek
11. Jonathan Bullard, DE (6-3, 263), Shelby (N.C.) Crest
28. Dante Fowler Jr., LB (6-3, 261), St. Petersburg (Fla.) Lakewood
64. Jessamen Dunker, OL (6-4, 320), Boynton Beach (Fla.) High
65. Kent Taylor, TE (6-5, 225), Land O'Lakes (Fla.) High
71. Brian Poole, CB (5-10, 202), Bradenton (Fla.) Southeast

Other National Signees:

118. Marcus Maye, DB (5-11, 200), Melbourne (Fla.) Holy Trinity
129. Dante Phillips, DL (6-6, 270), Venice (Fla.) High
136. Colin Thompson, TE (6-4, 252), Warminster (Pa.) Archbishop Wood
165. Matt Jones, RB (6-2, 213), Seffner (Fla.) Armwood
203. Latroy Pittman, WR (6, 195), Citra (Fla.) North Marion
247. Quinteze Williams, DL (6-5, 255), Tyrone (Ga.) Sandy Creek
268. Rhaheim Ledbetter, DB (5-11, 195), Shelby (N.C.) Crest

Early Enrollees:

Willie Bailey, DB (6-1, 167), Hallandale (Fla.) High
Jessamen Dunker, OL (6-4, 320), Boynton Beach (Fla.) High
D.J. Humphries, OL (6-6, 271), Charlotte (N.C.) Mallard Creek
Damien Jacobs, DL (6-3, 310), Scooba (Miss.) East Miss. C.C.
Antonio Morrison, LB (6-1, 209), Bollingbrook (Ill.) High

Athlon Sports' Top 25 Classes of 2012:

1. Alabama Crimson Tide

2. Texas Longhorns
3. Florida Gators
4. Tues., Feb. 7
5. Wed., Feb. 8
6. Thur., Feb. 9
7. Fri., Feb. 10
8. Mon., Feb. 13
9. Tues., Feb. 14
10. Wed., Feb. 15
11. Thur., Feb. 16
12. Fri., Feb. 17
13. Mon., Feb. 20
14. Tues., Feb. 21
15. Wed., Feb. 22
16. Thur., Feb. 23
17. Fri., Feb. 24
18. Mon., Feb. 27
19. Tues., Feb. 28
20. Wed., Feb. 29
21. Thur., Mar. 1
22. Fri., Mar. 2
23. Sat., Mar. 3
24. Sun., Mar. 4
25. Sun., Mar. 4

Teaser:
<p> The Florida Gators landed the No. 3 recruiting class in the nation in 2012.</p>
Post date: Monday, February 6, 2012 - 09:00
Path: /college-football/2012-recruiting-rankings-no-2-texas-longhorns
Body:

-by Braden Gall (@BradenGall on twitter)

No. 2: Texas Longhorns (28 total signees)

Big 12 Rank: 1st
Athlon Consensus 100 Signees: 7
National Signees: 17

Where They Got 'Em:

As is the case with every Burnt Orange signing class, the state of Texas supplied the majority of the talent. The Lone Star State provided 24 of the 28 total signatures delivered to the 40 Acres on Wednesday. Despite missing on top in-stater Mario Edwards, Mack Brown signed six of the 11 Athlon Consensus 100 recruits from Texas.

Louisiana provided the most excitement as Texas stole top-100 defensive end Torshiro Davis (AC100 No. 77) right out from underneath LSU on National Signing Day. Arizona provided a potential quarterback of the future — a position the Horns need to solidify if they expects to compete for the Big 12 title — and Mississippi supplied a pair of junior college prospects.

Areas of Focus:

With Manny Diaz now steering the ship, Texas fans have to be excited about the development of the defense moving forward — especially considering what the Horns have returning in 2012. Never satisfied, however, Brown helped his rising star coordinator in a big way by signing 12 front-seven defenders.

This group is the strength of the class and features two nationally ranked linebackers, defensive ends and defensive tackles. The headliner is the nation’s No. 3 defensive tackle in the nation Malcom Brown. He is joined by AC100 end Davis and a pair of stud tacklers in linebackers Peter Jinkins and Dalton Santos. Jinkins, ranked at No. 105 nationally, barely missed landing in the AC100 and should slide to the outside while Santos, at 250 pounds, is built for the middle of the defense. Nose guard Alex Norman and end Hassan Ridgeway were also nationally rated and provide incredible depth to the front seven heading into the future.

The secondary should also be well represented as at least four prospects will be heading to the defensive backfield. Nationally ranked athletes Duke Johnson and Adrian Colbert are already listed as a cornerback and defensive back respectively by Texas while Bryson Echols and Kevin Vaccaro are tagged as DBs as well. Athlete Daje Johnson is the only official “ATH” listed by the Longhorns, so his position is only one yet to be determined.

Quarterback Connor Brewer was, at one point, during this cycle an AC100 prospect but slipped outside of the top-100 and finished as the No. 7-rated signal caller in the nation. While his stock dipped a bit late in the process, Brewer is still the only quarterback in Arizona prep football history to win three state championships and holds the state record with 100 touchdown passes. Athlete Jalen Overstreet is slated to start his career as a quarterback, giving Brown a couple of new options at the biggest position of concern heading into the summer.

The offensive line, as usual, is also loaded with massive upside — in all senses of the word. Three of the four future blockers were nationally rated with blockers Kennedy Estelle and Curtis Riser landing in the AC100. Estelle and Camrhon Hughes both stand 6-foot-7 and both tip the scales at over 300 pounds.

The offensive skill positions have to get coordinator Bryan Harsin excited to get to work this summer. The nation’s No. 1 tailback and prized jewel of the class, Jonathan Gray, holds the national high school record with 205 touchdowns scored and finished his career with 10,889 yards rushing and 1,244 yards receiving. He claimed National Gatorade Player of the Year honors in 2011 after rushing for 3,888 yards and 65 touchdowns in Aledo’s 14-2 state championship. Once packaged with Malcolm Brown, Joe Bergeron and D.J. Monroe, the Longhorns could boast the best running back corps in the nation. Gray marks the second straight season that Texas has signed the nation’s No. 1 running back (Brown).

A pair of AC100 wideouts should give whomever is playing quarterback some talent play-making options on the outside. Cayleb Jones is the No. 7 wide receiver prospect in the nation while Kendall Sanders finished as the No. 11 wideout in the country. Jones, more of the pure pass catcher, finished his prep career with 213 receptions, 3,025 yards and 27 touchdowns. Sanders was utilized in a more unorthodox manner as he rolled-up at 1,000 yards receiving and rushing over the last two seasons. He also played plenty of defense as he earned Defensive MVP honors at the U.S. Army All-American bowl. Along with lower-rated Marcus Johnson, the duo provides new blood to a position that Texas has missed on of late.

Positional Breakdown:

Offense: QB: 2, RB: 1, WR: 3, TE: 0, OL: 4, ATH: 1
Defense: DE: 4, DT: 4, LB: 4, DB: 4, K: 1

AC100 Recruits:

7. Jonathan Gary, RB (5-11, 202), Aledo (Texas) High
10. Malcom Brown, DT (6-4, 285), Brenham (Texas) High
51. Kennedy Estelle, OL (6-7, 300), Pearland (Texas) Dawson
59. Cayleb Jones, WR (6-3, 198), Austin (Texas) High
77. Torshiro Davis, DE (6-3, 220), Shreveport (La.) Woodlawn
79. Curtis Riser, OL (6-4, 285), DeSoto (Texas) High
87. Kendall Sanders, WR (6-0, 175), Athens (Texas) High

Other National Signees:

105. Peter Jinkins, LB (6-1, 200) Dallas (Texas) Skyline
134. Connor Brewer, QB (6-2, 200) Scottsdale (Ariz.) Chaparral
138. Bryson Echols, DB (5-10, 165) DeSoto (Texas) High
139. Camrhon Hughes, OL (6-7, 320) Harker Heights (Texas) High
155. Alex Norman, DT (6-4, 275) Dallas (Texas) Bishop Dunne
163. Duke Thomas, CB (5-11, 170) Killeen (Texas) Copperas Cove
181. Adrian Colbert, DB (6-2, 191) Mineral Wells (Texas) High
194. Dalton Santos, LB (6-3, 250) Van (Texas) High
217. Hassan Ridgeway, DE (6-4, 255) Mansfield (Texas) High
255. Daje Johnson, ATH (5-10, 175) Pflugerville (Texas) Hendrickson

Early Enrollees:

Connor Brewer, QB (6-2, 200), Scottsdale (Ariz.) Chaparral
Alex De La Torre, LB (6-1, 230), Denton (Texas) Ryan
Donald Hawkins, OL (6-5, 310), Tunica (Miss.) Northwest Miss. C.C.
Camrhon Hughes, OL (6-7, 320, Harker Heights (Texas) High
Brandon Moore, DT (6-5, 335), Montgomery (Ala.) East Miss. C.C.
Duke Thomas, CB (5-11, 170) Killeen (Texas) Copperas Cove

Athlon Sports' Top 25 Classes of 2012:

1. Alabama Crimson Tide

Teaser:
<p> The Texas Longhorns landed the No. 2 recruiting class in the nation in 2012.</p>
Post date: Friday, February 3, 2012 - 11:00
Path: /college-football/2012-recap-national-signing-day-storylines
Body:

-by Braden Gall (@BradenGall on twitter)

This was easily one of the more entertaining National Signing Days in history.

And in stark contrast to years past, the dramatics had nothing to do with the nation’s top class. In fact, there was a noticeable absence of hype, conversation and overall excitement surrounding the reigning national champions’ No. 1-rated class. It’s almost as if Nick Saban has turned recruiting into a business or something? Alabama's ho-hum collection of five-star future All-Americans aside, there was still plenty of interesting, bizarre, baffling and intense happenings from coast to coast.

Here are the most memorable moments from Signing Day (with a distinct west coast feel):

The Nation’s No. 1 Player Signs With Missouri

Deontay Greenberry Shocks The Nation

Fresno (Calif.) Washington Union wide receiver Deontay Greenberry is ranked as the No. 52 player in the nation. He was a long-time Notre Dame commitment whose best friend and cousin, fellow Athlon Consensus 100 talent Tee Shepard, is already enrolled in class in South Bend. All signs pointed to the duo continuing their friendship on the football field as Irish teammates. But after a very late visit to the Houston Cougars, Greenberry pulled the biggest shocker of National Signing Day by signing with the CUSA-turned-Big East program. The 6-3, 190-pound wideout is the first AC100 signee in Cougars’ program history and the twittersphere nearly exploded when his LOI arrived in Houston. New head coach Tony Levine was one of the toasts of NSD '12.

Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly was apparently as shocked as the rest of us at the news. Kelly likely regrets letting his emotions get the better of him with this commentary on Greenberry, "I used to have a saying about players like that and that was I'd rather play against him for four games than with him for four years," he told UND.com. Sounds an awful lot like message board trolls who scream sour grapes when star recruits sign elsewhere.

The Great Tosh Lupoi

Washington hired former California defensive line coach Tosh Lupoi on January 16. The Bears featured the No. 1 defense in the Pac-12 and were ranked just outside of the top-10 in recruiting after landing Shaq Thompson, Ellis McCarthy and Jordan Payton at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl two weeks earlier.

Since Lupoi was hired in Seattle, Washington has stolen Thompson, the No. 1 defensive back in the nation (and rightly so), and landed nationally-rated SoCal athletes Jaydon Mickens and Brandon Beaver. The Huskies also held onto the No. 4 quarterback in the nation Cyler Miles and stole Patterson (Calif.) defensive end Pio Vatuvei from USC. McCarthy and Payton (more on him in a moment) switched to UCLA and the No. 8-ranked player in the nation, Arik Amstead, sited the loss of Lupoi as part of the reason he landed elsewhere. Armstead signed with Oregon on Wednesday. 

Cal is currently ranked outside of the top 25 in recruiting by every major service and is leaking water on the talent trail. It's hard to see how one young, energetic defensive line coach could have such a huge impact on a conference, but that is exactly what the 30-year old Lupoi has done to the Pac-12. New offensive coordinator Eric Kiesau probably deserves some credit too.

Stanford’s New Recruiting Cachet

Jim Harbaugh is still rubbing off on the Stanford Cardinal. After landing AC100 star tailback Barry Sanders Jr. (No. 80) back at the start of the 2012 calendar year, head coach David Shaw landed Puyallup (Wash.) offensive lineman Josh Garnett (No. 30). He hasn’t slowed down either as he has convinced the nation’s No. 1 quarterback Jameis Winston to rethink his Florida State commitment and signed a trio of AC100 lineman on Wednesday.

Tempe (Ariz.) Corona Del Sol’s Andrus Peat is the No. 3 offensive lineman in the nation and his older brother just finished his first collegiate season on the Nebraska roster. Yet, somehow Shaw overcame the legacy factor and lured the stud blocker to Palo Alto. Late Wednesday afternoon Stanford also got signatures from the No. 4 offensive lineman in the nation, San Clemente (Calif.) High’s Kyle Murphy, and the No. 6-ranked defensive tackle in the nation, Atwater (Calif.) Buhach’s Aziz Shittu.

This is a top-10 class that features three of the top five offensive lineman in the nation. Toss in Sanders, star linebacker Noor Davis and top-100 defensive back Alex Carter, and Shaw has assembled a Cardinal class of unprecedented proportions. Only Alabama’s 10 top-100 signatures top the seven Stanford signed. The Cardinal's national appeal has never been higher.

Kiffin’s Quality over Quantity

Lane Kiffin is picking up right where Pete Carroll left off and NCAA sanctions appear to have had little effect on the USC's ability to recruit. The Trojans entered National Signing Day with 13 commitments. There were only two three-star prospects in the group, one of which is fullback Jahleel Pinner — who is rated as the No. 1 blocking back in the nation. The quality of USC's classes has been astounding for over a decade and the 2012 group is no different.

Despite losing Vatuvei to the Huskies, USC once again won the day by landing Sunshine State talents Nelson Agholor (No. 26) and Leonard Williams (No. 68). Additionally, the Trojans stole Inglewood (Calif.) cornerback Devian Shelton from Oregon State. Kiffin has built an entire staff full of former recruiting coordinators who know how to pound the trail and it shows. Only Alabama has more AC100 signees than the Trojans’ seven.

The offensive line class is one of the best in the nation. Three of USC's seven top-100 signees will play along the offensive line with Zach Banner (No. 50) leading the way. The 6-9, 310-pound Lakewood (Calif.) Lakes product is the son of former NFL star Lincoln Kennedy and could compete for playing time at left tackle right away now that Matt Kalil has moved on to the NFL.

Texas Actually Closes Strong

This is much less of an indictment on Mack Brown’s ability to close as much as it's a testament of his talents for locking down an incredible class earlier than everyone else, but the Texas Longhorns closed on NSD better than they have in years. Brown offered and landed Daje Johnson and Dalton Santos very late in the process and then pulled one of the biggest upsets of the day by stealing Louisiana's own Torshiro Davis away from LSU. It appears that maybe Brown and his staff is beginning to realize that they can now slow the process down a bit — which is strange coming from the program that has accelerated the recruiting calendar more so than any other university in the nation. Brown is showing his ability to adapt and it could lead to a 10-win season in 2012.

Jordan Payton Better Be Good

There are always a few recruiting stories that simply take the cake. Westlake Village (Calif.) Oaks Christian wide receiver Jordan Payton announced on national television at the U.S. Army All-American on January 7 that he would be attending Cal. On Tuesday, however, Payton switched his verbal commitment to Washington following star recruiter Lupoi to Seattle. However, where did he send his signed letter of intent the very next day? Yup, you guessed it, the UCLA Bruins? There are few stories that have had as many twists and turns as Mr. Payton’s and he better be prepared to put his head down and work hard because there will be more than a few fanbases watching his development over the next few seasons.

Delayed Signatures

The nation’s No. 1 athlete, Olney (Md.) Good Counsel star Stefon Diggs, is the latest on a long list of recent recruits who decided to postpone their signing until well after National Signing Day. He is the No. 5 player in the nation, is considered a strong Florida lean, has friend and former teammate Jelani Jenkins in Gainesville and would be a perfect fit on a roster that is in desperate need of a play-maker on offense. What is left to decide? Why does he have to wait until Feb. 10 to sign? Fellow AC100 prospects Davonte Neal and Jordan Diamond also failed to sign on Wednesday.

Bryce Brown, Terrelle Pryor, Latwan Anderson, Seantrel Henderson, Orson Charles, Cyrus Kouandjio and Vidal Hazelton are just a few of the names that delayed their signings. And for the most part, it has appeared like a mistake as Charles, Pryor, Brown, Hazelton and Anderson have failed to live up to the recruiting hype — or got kicked out of school prematurely. Is signing late a serious issue that indicates the maturity and focus levels of young kids? The evidence, at least in a broad sense, certainly points in that direction.

The biggest name still waiting to sign, however, is the nation’s No. 1 quarterback Jameis Winston. The Hueytown (Ala.) passer is also a stellar baseball prospect and has gotten cold feet after being committed to Florida State since the first week of August. He is considering a late push by Stanford and could wait until Friday to make his decision.

I understand it is an incredibly complex decision, but if 18 years isn't enough time to make up your mind, I can't imagine how an extra week will help. And a late signing is not the same thing as a flip-flop...

The Flip Flops

Every year there are loads of names that seem to be destined for one location only to land on another campus. Athlon Consensus 100 talents Dante Fowler (Florida State to Florida), the aforementioned Greenberry (Notre Dame to Houston), Torshiro Davis (LSU to Texas) and apparently Josh Harvey-Clemons (Georgia to ??? - all in one day) are just a few. Nationally-ranked Bralon Addison (Texas A&M to Oregon) and Jordan Payton (everywhere to UCLA) are just a couple of other highly-touted names to switch on NSD.

At first glance, it can be easy to get frustrated with the flip-flopping and waffling involved with some recruitments. But fans need to remember that this is the single most important decision most of these 17-year olds have ever made and that maybe a touch of patience is necessary.

I think Compton (Calif.) Dominquez cornerback Brandon Beaver said it best at 1:09 p.m. ET Wednesday on his twitter account (@B_2times): “Never been so unsure in my life.” Beaver committed to Washington roughly six hours later.

Teaser:
<p> 2012 Recap: National Signing Day Storylines</p>
Post date: Wednesday, February 1, 2012 - 18:33
Path: /college-football/alabama-crimson-tide-wins-recruiting-national-championship
Body:

-by Braden Gall (@BradenGall on twitter)

It didn’t take long for the dust to start settling on what has turned out to be one of the most entertaining National Signing Days in history.

At 8:15 a.m. ET, Nick Saban landed his first big unknown when Lynchburg (Va.) Brookville defensive tackle Korren Kirven (No. 198 nationally) signed his paperwork for the Crimson Tide.

And the Tide just kept on rolling to the 2012 recruiting national championship.

Alabama entered NSD ’12 with a virtual stranglehold on the mythical recruiting national title. It was going to take some minor miracles in Austin, Gainesville, Columbus or Tallahassee to knock Saban’s bunch off that top slot in the rankings.

But Athlon Consensus 100 safety Landon Collins from Geismar (La.) Dutchtown stuck with his initial (and bizarre) pledge to the Tide, essentially sealing the recruiting national championship for Alabama.

With eight early enrollees, Bama already had a huge head start on NSD as AC100 names like T.J. Yeldon and Ryan Anderson have already been to a few freshman English classes. But after finishing with a nation-leading 10 AC100 signees and second-best 16 nationally rated recruits, there is little doubt that this Crimson haul is the best in the nation.

It starts with the linebackers. This five-man group is the best in the country bar none and couldn’t come at a better time after losing stars Dont’a Hightower and Courtney Upshaw as well as starter Jerrell Harris. Madison (Ala.) Bob Jones tackler Reggie Ragland is the No. 2 linebacker in the nation and is the No. 44 overall player in the AC100. Ragland proved at the Under Armour event that his size-speed combination is one of the best in the nation. Anderson is the No. 8-rated linebacker, and Dillon Lee checks in as the No. 9-rated LB in the nation. All three are top-100 prospects.

Add to it Taylor Hayes (No. 15 linebacker, No. 143 nationally) and Denzell Devall (No. 20 linebacker, No. 158 nationally) and Saban should have plenty to work with in the middle of his defense. Anderson and Devall, at 6-3, 250, and 6-2, 240, respectively, will fit perfectly in his 3-4 scheme that features a variety of hybrid end/backer combo players.

The secondary, which loses Dre Kirkpatrick, DeQuan Menzie and Mark Barron, is also well represented with five potential athletes landing in the defensive backfield. Collins, Panama City (Fla.) Arnold star Eddie Williams and Atlanta (Ga.) St. Pius X corner Geno Smith are three of the top seven defensive back prospects in the nation. Both Collins and Williams rank in the top-21 nationally and could grow into one of the most imposing safety tandems in the country. Collins is listed at 6-2, 210 while Williams checks in at 6-4, 205. That is serious strength at the backend of Saban’s defense. Smith is the No. 3-rated coverman in the nation.

The big news on NSD for Saban, however, came along the defensive line. He got the day started with the 6-4, 275-pound Kirven and followed that up almost immediately with McDonough (Ga.) Henry County nose guard Dalvin Tomlinson. Packaged with a trio of three-star defensive tackles, Alabama has added incredible depth to the middle of its defensive line.

The only blemish on the day for the Crimson Tide was the loss of Atlanta (Ga.) Washington tailback Justin Taylor to Kentucky. Yet, with Dee Hart returning from injury and Yeldon already enrolled — to go with incoming Powder Springs (Ga.) Hillgrove speedster Kenyan Drake — the Alabama running game should be in great hands for years to come.

A pair of Sunshine State AC100 wide receivers, Jacksonville (Fla.) First Coast’s Chris Black and Miami (Fla.) Northwestern’s Amari Cooper, should help replenish a receiving corps that saw Marquis Maze and Darius Hanks depart due to graduation. Do-everything top-100 athlete Cyrus Jones could also contribute in a big way on the offense as well.

In all, Alabama signed at least one player ranked in the top five nationally at his position at five different spots on the field: LB, RB, DB, ATH, WR. It signed three of the top seven defensive backs nationally, three of the top nine linebackers and two of the top five wide receivers.

The Yellowhammer State has always provided the Tide with loads of talent, and generally speaking, it’s arguably the most territorial state in the nation. Saban signed seven in-state players in this class. Florida (3) and Louisiana (2) also provided some elite talents as well. However, the Peach State was the biggest surprise for Alabama during this cycle. The Tide signed eight players from the state of Georgia, including two AC100 prospects.

In short, this is an extraordinarily talented, deep and balanced collection of players heading to the Capstone. Saban won a recruiting national title back in 2008 and finished third nationally in 2009, and those two classes laid the foundation for his third BCS national championship. Of the 22 starters in the BCS title game win over LSU, 15 signed in either 2008 or 2009.

So while Will Muschamp, Les Miles, Mark Richt, Gene Chizik and Bobby Petrino sat in nervous anticipation for names like Dorial Green-Beckham, Eddie Goldman, Josh Harvey-Clemons, Tracy Howard, Torshiro Davis, Avery Young and Dante Fowler to sign their letters of intent with other programs, Saban coolly sat back and collected another stellar 26 signees.

Needless to say, Alabama football isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.

Athlon Consensus 100 Signees (in order of national rank):

12. Eddie Williams (Panama City, Fla.): No. 2 DB
21. Landon Collins (Geismar, La.): No. 4 DB
32. T.J. Yeldon (Daphne, Ala.): No. 4 RB
42. Chris Black (Jacksonville, Fla.): No. 3 WR
44. Reggie Ragland (Madison, Ala.): No. 2 LB
48. Cyrus Jones (Baltimore, Md.): No. 4 ATH
58. Amari Cooper (Miami, Fla.): No. 5 WR
61. Geno Smith (Atlanta, Ga.): No. 7 DB
84. Ryan Anderson (Daphne, Ala.): No. 8 LB
94. Dillon Lee (Buford, Ga.): No. 9 LB

Other Nationally Rated Recruits:

130. Kenyan Drake, RB (Powder Springs, Ga.)
135. Brandon Greene, OL (Ellenwood, Ga.)
143. Tyler Hayes, LB (Thomasville, Ala.)
158. Denzel Devall, LB (Bastrop, La.)
198. Korren Kirven, DT (Lynchburg, Va.)
251. Dalvin Tomlinson, DT (McDonough, Ga.)
 

Teaser:
<p> Alabama Crimson Tide Wins Recruiting National Championship</p>
Post date: Wednesday, February 1, 2012 - 16:52
Path: /college-football/recruiting-trail-dominated-urban-meyer-ohio-state
Body:

-by Braden Gall (@BradenGall on twitter)

It helps to have two coaching staffs.

While Luke Fickell's Ohio State staff prepared for the bowl match-up with Florida, new head coach Urban Meyer and his staff plowed through the recruiting trail in true General Sherman fashion.

This story began on November 27 rather than National Signing Day. In reality, Meyer had a rather quiet Signing Day, landing only the one big name (Kyle Dodson). But he had a monstrous two months leading up to Wednesday for the Buckeyes. Meyer stepped onto campus in Columbus and wreaked havoc almost instantly by pilfering powerful Midwestern classes for elite level talent.

Meyer landed 11 of his 25 total signees after taking over late in November including a number of former Penn State commitments, one Michigan State verbal, a former Wisconsin commitment and a Notre Dame pledge. He flipped Athlon Consensus 100 talents Glen Ellyn (Ill.) Glenbard West defensive tackle Tommy Schutt (No. 67) and Canton (Ohio) McKinley defensive end Se’Von Pittman (No. 86) from PSU and MSU respectively. He also pulled nationally-rated defensive back Armani Reeves from Penn State and landed the No. 3 player in the nation in Harrisburg (Pa.) Bishop McDevitt defensive end Noah Spence. Spence is the No. 1 defensive end in the nation and was considered a Penn State lock before Meyer took over at Ohio State.

Finally, Meyer stole a pair of offensive lineman in Vandalia (Ohio) Butler’s Taylor Decker and Cleveland (Ohio) Cleveland Heights’ Kyle Dodson. Decker had previously been committed to the Irish and Dodson has been set to go to Madison, Wisc.

With elite Cincinnati (Ohio) Taft defensive end Adolphus Washington (No. 27) on board as well, Meyer boasts four AC100 defensive lineman. It is one of, if not the, best defensive line class in the nation. He has clearly brought his SEC theories on rushing the passer to the Big Ten.

The last piece to the masterful Meyer puzzle will fall into place on Friday, February 10 when Olney (Md.) Good Counsel athlete Stefon Diggs makes his decision. Florida has long been the leader for the No. 5 player in the nation, but Ohio State made a late push for the do-everything talent. Meyer can simply pop in the tape of Percy Harvin and show Diggs exactly how he would be used in Columbus. Scottsdale (Ariz.) Chapparell play-maker Davonte Neal is a player with a similar skill set to that of Diggs and is also waiting until past NSD to make his call. Those are the only two names left on the Scarlet and Gray's board for the class of 2012.

Meyer has put together the best class in the Big Ten and a top five group nationally.  However, should they land Diggs next week, the Buckeyes could finish as high as No. 2.

And he did it in less than three months. Vintage Meyer.
 

Teaser:
<p> Since taking over in Columbus, Meyer's impact on Buckeye recruiting has been astounding.</p>
Post date: Wednesday, February 1, 2012 - 14:40
All taxonomy terms: College Football, Missouri Tigers, News
Path: /college-football/dorial-green-beckham-signs-missouri-tigers
Body:

-by Braden Gall (@BradenGall on twitter)

One of the best-kept recruiting secrets in years came from Athlon’s No. 1 player in the nation, Springfield (Mo.) Hillcrest wide receiver Dorial Green-Beckham.

The top name in the 2012 Athlon Consensus 100 took only three visits — to Texas, Arkansas and Missouri — and kept his recruitment incredibly quiet and impossibly impenetrable. After his visit to Fayetteville, Hogs fans felt great about their chances to land the superstar wideout. Yet, Gary Pinkel and the Tigers got the last opportunity to impress DGB when he visited the beautiful Columbia campus just before Signing Day.

And Pinkel capitalized.

Eventually, the star treatment from the in-state school proved to be too much, and Green-Beckham signed with Missouri in front of a circus of cameras and reporters at his high school on Wednesday morning.

His resume makes him a once-in-a-lifetime prospect for the ShowMe State. The Calvin Johnson clone caught 119 passes for 2,233 yards — the fourth-highest total in history — and 24 touchdowns as a senior. In the process, his astounding 6,353 career receiving yards broke Shreveport (La.) Evangel Christian Abram Booty’s national record of 5,867 yards. His 300 career receptions rank fourth all-time, and his 75 career touchdowns rank third all-time in American high school football history.

The impact of landing the nation’s top prospect is immeasurable for the Missouri Tigers.

As Pinkel leads his squad into the shark-infested, murky waters of the SEC, Green-Beckham could prove to be a program-changing recruit — not just on the field, but off of it as well. DGB's immense talent will obviously play in that high-flying Mizzou offense, but, much in the way Kevin Jones' signing impacted the Virginia Tech Hokies brand image back in the class of 2000, the recruiting clout gained off the field from the DGB signing should elevate the Tigers’ cachet on the recruiting trail. Especially considering they are now competing with the likes of Georgia, Florida, Tennessee and South Carolina within their own division every year.

Rising star quarterback James Franklin will feel the immediate impact of signing Green-Beckham the most as he now has an elite target who is only a freshman. Once the Tigers integrate former elite recruit Darius White, who is transferring in from Texas, Mizzou's passing attack in 2013 could downright impossible to stop.

Only time will tell, but February 1, 2012, could go down in the Mizzou annals as one of the most influential days in Tigers football history.

Teaser:
<p> Dorial Green-Beckham Signs With Missouri Tigers</p>
Post date: Wednesday, February 1, 2012 - 10:44
All taxonomy terms: AC100, College Football, Recruiting
Path: /college-football/green-beckham-diggs-top-list-uncommitted-prospects
Body:

-by Braden Gall (@BradenGall on twitter)

One glance at the Athlon Consensus 100 will prove that it should be an electric ride through National Signing Day 2012. In total, 18 players ranked in the AC100 are left uncommitted and a few massive names could pull the old flip-flop. Teams like Auburn, Florida, Florida State, USC and Ohio State could all experience major gains — or major heartbreak — once those faxes start rolling in tomorrow at 7 a.m. ET.

Related: National Signing Day Craziest Stories
Related: Team Rankings Heading Into Signing Day


Here are the Top Players left on the board (in order of AC100 ranking):

1. Dorial Green-Beckham, WR (6-6, 220)
Springfield (Mo.) Hillcrest
Announcement: NSD at 10:15 a.m. ET

The nation's top prospect, who conjures images of Calvin Johnson, took three official visits to Texas, Missouri and Arkansas. Rumors were that his visit to Arkansas gave the Hogs a clear advantage. That is, until he visited Mizzou last weekend. The M-I-Z-D-G-B chants rang through the rafters of Mizzou Arena during the weekend's hoops contest in Columbia. It appears that DGB wants to stay closer to home and reports have been the Tigers and Hogs will be his final two choices. Gary Pinkel has the luxury of holding the final visit, offers an in-state campus (Arkansas is actually a few miles closer to home) and now carries that all important "SEC" patch on their shoulder pads. Prediction: Missouri

5. Stefon Diggs, ATH (6-0, 185)
Olney (Md.) Good Counsel
Announcement: Friday, Feb. 10

Diggs will not sign on Wednesday so don't hold your breath. He has a scheduled visit to Maryland coming in the near future and is slated to announce two Fridays from today. The Florida Gators have long been the favorite but Ohio State has made a late push for the do-everything dynamo. Urban Meyer has promised to use the talented Diggs much like he did Percy Harvin. Randy Edsall and Mike Locklsey will make a strong push for the local product during the visit but it appears to be a rematch of the 2006 BCS title game for Diggs. Prediction: Florida

9. Eddie Goldman, DT (6-4, 305)
Washington (D.C.) Friendship Collegiate
Announcement: NSD 10:05 a.m. ET

The star defensive tackle has taken four visits thus far to Alabama, Auburn, Florida State and Miami. It has appeared to be a two-team race between the Crimson Tide and Seminoles but Auburn has made a strong push. The Seminoles are still the top team to beat for his services as almost all experts are in agreement that Goldman will pick FSU on NSD. Auburn's class has to be consider a slight disappointment, so you can bet Gene Chizik's staff is working the phones hard for Mr. Goldman. Prediction: Florida State

18. Tracy Howard, DB (5-11, 175)
Hollywood (Fla.) Miramar
Announcement: NSD 9:35 a.m. ET

Howard has long been considered a heavy Florida Gator lean and the smart money is still on Will Muschamp. However, the Miami Hurricanes have come out of nowhere and made a huge push. Alabama, Florida State, West Virginia and USC might still be in the mix, but it appears to be a Gators-Canes battle. Howard played well in the U.S. Army Bowl and figures to be an instant impact coverman. The Hurricanes, possibly his original team of choice, appears to have made a huge run at the talented DB. Prediction: Miami

20. Josh Harvey-Clemons, LB (6-4, 205)
Valdosta (Ga.) Lowndes
Announcement: NSD 9:15 a.m. ET

This rangy linebacker (potential defensive end) has Florida, Georgia, Louisville and Florida State as his finalists with the Gators and Dawgs leading the charge for his services. He has visited Florida, Georgia and Florida State and has long been thought of as a heavy Georgia lean. All of the experts have lined-up behind Athens as the landing spot for this versatile front-seven defender. Prediction: Georgia

22. Andrus Peat, OL (6-6, 295)
Tempe (Ariz.) Corona Del Sol
Announcement: NSD 1:35 p.m. ET

The big blocker was excellent in the Under Armour game and has proven his stock is warranted. His older brother, Todd, and cousin Avery Moss either play at or will play at Nebraska. So heading for a NSD announcement, the Huksers have the edge over his other three finalists. Peat has visited his four finalists — Nebraska, USC, Florida State and Stanford — and has them all technically listed even. That said, Bo Pelini has to be considered the clear leader. Prediction: Nebraska

25. Kyle Murphy, OL (6-6, 270)
San Clemente (Calif.)
Announcement: N/A

Murphy is down to four: Stanford, USC, Florida and Oregon. He visited those four programs over the last few months and has not set a time for his announcement. At this point, Stanford and USC look to be his true finalists with David Shaw and the Cardinal looking like the team to beat for his services. Most would be shocked if he landed at Florida or Oregon. Prediction: Stanford

26. Nelson Agholor, ATH (6-0, 180)
Tampa (Fla.) Berkeley Prep
Announcement: NSD 12:05 p.m. ET

Agholor is a young player who is wise and mature beyond his years and it shows on the field. He is dynamic and will be an immediate impact player on the next level – be it at running back, wide receiver or special teams. Florida, Florida State, Notre Dame, Oklahoma and USC are his finalists with the Gators and Trojans leading the way. He was considered a strong Gators lean, but USC has made a huge final push and may be the team to beat. This is one of the more intriguing recruitments in the nation — and could be one of the most important. Prediction: USC

29. Thomas Johnson, WR (6-0, 180)
Dallas (Texas) Skyline
Announcement: NSD 12:20 p.m. ET

Johnson decommitted from the Texas Longhorns the day after playing in the Under Armour game (strangely, with a big number of future teammates). After nearly one full calendar year as a Texas verbal, Johnson now looks to be picking between Cal, Oregon, Texas A&M and TCU. He visited all of his finalists except Cal and looks like all signs are pointing to him staying in the Lone Star State. The lure of the SEC will be too strong for Johnson. Prediction: Texas A&M

34. Ronald Darby, DB (5-11, 175)
Oxon Hill (Md.) Potomac
Announcement: NSD 2:30 p.m. ET

The longtime Notre Dame commitment reopened his recruitment and has Arizona, Auburn, Clemson, Florida State, Maryland, Notre Dame listed as his finalists. Of those final choices, Darby visited Clemson, Maryland, Florida State and Auburn. Look for Auburn and Florida State to battle it out for this talented speedster's athletic ability. Prediction: Florida State

53. Avery Young, OL (6-5, 275)
Palm Beach Gardens (Fla.) Palm Beach
Announcement: NSD at 2:00 p.m. ET

Young has trimmed his list to four: Auburn, Georgia, Florida and Miami. His mother is from Georgia and he will be announcing on TV in Atlanta on Signing Day. With Georgia and Auburn listed as his final two choices, his announcement time and location could this be a positive omen for Mark Richt and the Dawgs? Prediction: Georgia

56. Davonte Neal, ATH (5-9, 175)
Scottsdale (Ariz.) Chaparral
Announcement: N/A

Neal can play anywhere on the field and could still play anywhere in the nation. His list of finalists includes Arizona, Arkansas, North Carolina, Notre Dame and Ohio State. He has visited all five and has told everyone that he will not be deciding until, for whatever reason, after National Signing Day. This one appears to be wide open but the home state program might be the team to beat. Prediction: Arizona

63. Aziz Shittu, DT (6-3, 275)
Atwater (Calif.) Buhach
Announcement: NSD at 5 p.m. ET

If there is an interesting recruit who could pull something very interesting out of the hat on NSD, it might be the intriuging Shittu. Stanford, Cal, USC and UCLA are his finalists, but appears all but locked into a Palo Alto scholarship. Prediction: Stanford

68. Leonard Williams, DE (6-5, 255)
Daytona Beach (Fla.) Mainland
Announcement: NSD, TBD

Florida, USC, Auburn and Florida State will be the four teams holding their breath for Mr. Williams come NSD. He has visited all four but USC and Florida look like the two teams to beat. Lane Kiffin is all but assured of pulling at least one or two upsets and landing Williams could be considered one of them (Agholor would be the other). Where Kyle Murphy ends up could impact Williams decision. Prediction: USC

82. Kwon Alexander, LB (6-2, 210)
Oxford (Ala.) High
Announcement: NSD 11:05 a.m. ET

Alexander is down to three schools and the BCS Championship game could have played a large role in helping him to decide. The talented tackler has visited Auburn and LSU thus far but has interestingly enough not visited Alabama. He is currently rehabbing from a knee injury he suffered back in October and Auburn never backed down — and has new DC and strong recruiter Brian VanGorder working hard to land him. Prediction: Auburn

88. Jordan Diamond, OL (6-6, 290)
Chicago (Ill.) Simeon
Announcement: Feb. 3 at 8 p.m. ET

Diamond has tripped to all of his five finalists: Arkansas, Auburn, Michigan, Ohio State, Wisconsin. He has decided to postpone his decision to just beyond National Signing Day and will make his final call on Friday at 8 p.m. The Badgers got the all-important final visit and may be in the lead after losing a few offensive line prospects of late. Prediction: Michigan

95. Joel Caleb, ATH (6-2, 205)
Midlothian (Va.) Clover Hill
Announcement: NSD at 8:30 a.m. ET

Caleb has officially listed three programs as his finalists. Ohio State, Virginia Tech and West Virginia are his programs of choice, but the Hokies have long been rumored as the team to beat. The talented athlete missed some of this season with a torn meniscus and has been rehabbing hard in order to be ready for 2012. Prediction: Virginia Tech

Teaser:
<p> Who are the best players left on the board and where will they land on National Signing Day?</p>
Post date: Wednesday, February 1, 2012 - 06:00
Path: /college-football/can-national-signing-day-save-auburns-class
Body:

-by Braden Gall (@BradenGall on twitter)

The Auburn Tigers won the 2011 BCS National Championship. But you wouldn't be able to tell it from looking at the team recruiting rankings.

Rivals.com and Scout.com has the Tigers ranked No. 20 in the nation and 247Sports has Auburn ranked 21st in the nation. That is nothing to sneeze at and provides enough talent to any roster to compete for conference championships.

Yet, those rankings put the Tigers in the bottom third of the SEC. Eighth to be exact.

Certainly, having to replace two coordinators for the first time in years hasn't helped Gene Chizik maintain his astounding recruiting momentum from recent years. But with Scot Loeffler and Brian VanGorder, he has put together a fantastic new staff and could close the 2012 class with a flourish on National Signing Day.

Will Auburn land most of the names listed below? Probably not. But the Tigers need to pull a couple of upsets in order salvage a top-20 class — and keep up with that other in-state SEC school that currently owns the recruiting trail.

Here are the Athlon Consensus 100 targets Auburn has left on its board:

5. Stefon Diggs, ATH (6-0, 185)
Olney (Md.) Good Counsel
Announcement: Friday, Feb. 10

Diggs will not sign on Wednesday so don't hold your breath. He has a scheduled visit to Maryland coming in the near future and is slated to announce two Fridays from today on the 10th. The Florida Gators have long been the favorite but Ohio State has made a late push for the do-everything dynamo. Urban Meyer has promised to use the talented Diggs much like he did Percy Harvin. Randy Edsall and Mike Locklsey will make a strong push for the local product during the visit but it appears to be a rematch of the 2006 BCS title game for Diggs. Auburn is a heavy long-shot in the race for Diggs, but his inability to make up his mind only helps the upset cause. Prediction: Florida

9. Eddie Goldman, DT (6-4, 305)
Washington (D.C.) Friendship Collegiate
Announcement: NSD 10:05 a.m. ET

The star defensive tackle has taken four visits thus far to Alabama, Auburn, Florida State and Miami. It has appeared to be a two-team race between the Crimson Tide and Seminoles but Auburn has made a strong push. The Seminoles are still the top team to beat for his services as almost all experts are in agreement that Goldman will pick FSU on NSD. Auburn's class has to be consider a slight disappointment, so you can bet Gene Chizik's staff is working the phones hard for Mr. Goldman. Prediction: Florida State

34. Ronald Darby, DB (5-11, 175)
Oxon Hill (Md.) Potomac
Announcement: NSD 2:30 p.m. ET

The longtime Notre Dame commitment reopened his recruitment and has Arizona, Auburn, Clemson, Florida State, Maryland, Notre Dame listed as his finalists. Of those final choices, Darby visited Clemson, Maryland, Florida State and Auburn. Look for Auburn and Florida State to battle it out for this talented speedster's athletic ability. Prediction: Florida State

53. Avery Young, OL (6-5, 275)
Palm Beach Gardens (Fla.) Palm Beach
Announcement: NSD at 2:00 p.m. ET

Young has trimmed his list to four: Auburn, Georgia, Florida and Miami. His mother is from Georgia and he will be announcing on TV in Atlanta on Signing Day. With Georgia and Auburn listed as his final two choices, his announcement time and location could this be a positive omen for Mark Richt and the Dawgs? Or will the new coordinator and sheer desire of the Auburn staff win out? Prediction: Auburn

68. Leonard Williams, DE (6-5, 255)
Daytona Beach (Fla.) Mainland
Announcement: NSD, TBD

Florida, USC, Auburn and Florida State will be the four teams holding their breath for Mr. Williams come NSD. He has visited all four but USC and Florida look like the two teams to beat. Lane Kiffin is all but assured of pulling at least one or two upsets and landing Williams could be considered one of them (Agholor would be the other). Where Kyle Murphy ends up could impact Williams decision. Prediction: USC

82. Kwon Alexander, LB (6-2, 210)
Oxford (Ala.) High
Announcement: NSD 11:05 a.m. ET

Alexander is down to three schools and the BCS Championship game could have played a large role in helping him to decide. The talented tackler has visited Auburn and LSU thus far but has interestingly enough not visited Alabama. He is currently rehabbing from a knee injury he suffered back in October and Auburn never backed down — and has new DC and strong recruiter Brian VanGorder working hard to land him. Prediction: Auburn

88. Jordan Diamond, OL (6-6, 290)
Chicago (Ill.) Simeon
Announcement: Feb. 3 at 8 p.m. ET

Diamond has tripped to all of his five finalists: Arkansas, Auburn, Michigan, Ohio State, Wisconsin. He has decided to postpone his decision to just beyond National Signing Day and will make his final call on Friday at 8 p.m. The Badgers got the all-important final visit and may be in the lead after losing a few offensive line prospects of late. Prediction: Michigan

Other Nationally Rated Names to Watch:

Alex Kozan, OL (6-4, 295)
Castle Rock (Colo.) Valor Christian
Finalists: Auburn, Iowa, Michigan

Cordarrelle Patterson, WR (6-4, 205)
Hutchinson (Kan.) C.C.
Finalists: Auburn, Georgia, LSU, Ole Miss, Tennessee

Ricardo Louis, WR (6-2, 190)
Miami Beach (Fla.) High
Finalists: Auburn, Florida State

Teaser:
<p> Auburn's 2012 class has been a disappointment, but can National Signing Day save the day?</p>
Post date: Tuesday, January 31, 2012 - 16:11
Path: /college-football/recruiting-florida-gators-ready-huge-national-signing-day
Body:

-by Braden Gall (@BradenGall on twitter)

The Florida Gators need some good news these days.

One of the best jobs in America — and the best job East of the Mississippi — has featured four different coordinators in four seasons in Gainesville and eleven losses in two seasons. And shockingly, it is the lack of play-makers on that side of the ball that is so startling absent from the Gators' roster.

That could all change on Wednesday, however, as National Signing Day could be a huge day for second-year head coach Will Muschamp and new offensive coordinator Brent Pease. There are eight Athlon Consensus 100 targets left on the Gators board and two of them in particular could add some offensive spark to an otherwise dormant offense. Landing all eight is highly unlikely and virtually impossible, but if three or four of the names listed below pick Florida, Muschamp could actually push Alabama and Texas for the No. 1 class in the nation. Right now, the class currently sits at No. 3 in the Athlon Sports team rankings.

Here are the names Florida is waiting for:

5. Stefon Diggs, ATH (6-0, 185)
Olney (Md.) Good Counsel
Announcement: Friday, Feb. 10

Diggs will not sign on Wednesday so don't hold your breath. He has a scheduled visit to Maryland coming in the near future and is slated to announce two Fridays from today. The Florida Gators have long been the favorite but Ohio State has made a late push for the do-everything dynamo. Urban Meyer has promised to use the talented Diggs much like he did Percy Harvin. Randy Edsall and Mike Locksley will make a strong push for the local product during the visit but it appears to be a rematch of the 2006 BCS title game for Diggs. Prediction: Florida

18. Tracy Howard, DB (5-11, 175)
Hollywood (Fla.) Miramar
Announcement: NSD 9:35 a.m. ET

Howard has long been considered a heavy Florida Gator lean and the smart money is still on Will Muschamp. However, the Miami Hurricanes have come out of nowhere and made a huge push. Alabama, Florida State, West Virginia and USC might still be in the mix, but it appears to be a Gators-Canes battle. Howard played well in the U.S. Army Bowl and figures to be an instant impact coverman. Prediction: Florida

20. Josh Harvey-Clemons, LB (6-4, 205)
Valdosta (Ga.) Lowndes
Announcement: NSD 9:15 a.m. ET

This rangy linebacker (potential defensive end) has Florida, Georgia, Louisville and Florida State as his finalists with the Gators and Dawgs leading the charge for his services. He has visited Florida, Georgia and Florida State and has long been thought of as a heavy Georgia lean. All of the experts have lined-up behind Athens as the landing spot for this versatile front-seven defender. Prediction: Georgia

25. Kyle Murphy, OL (6-6, 270)
San Clemente (Calif.)
Announcement: N/A

Murphy is down to four: Stanford, USC, Florida and Oregon. He visited those four programs over the last few months and has not set a time for his announcement. At this point, Stanford and USC look to be his true finalists with David Shaw and the Cardinal looking like the team to beat for his services. Most would be shocked if he landed at Florida or Oregon. Prediction: Stanford

26. Nelson Agholor, ATH (6-0, 180)
Tampa (Fla.) Berkeley Prep
Announcement: NSD 12:05 p.m. ET

Agholor is a young player who is wise and mature beyond his years and it shows on the field. He is dynamic and will be an immediate impact player on the next level – be it at running back, wide receiver or special teams. Florida, Florida State, Notre Dame, Oklahoma and USC are his finalists with the Gators and Trojans leading the way. He was considered a strong Gators lean, but USC has made a huge final push and may be the team to beat. This is one of the more intriguing recruitments in the nation — and could be one of the most important. Prediction: USC

53. Avery Young, OL (6-5, 275)
Palm Beach Gardens (Fla.) Palm Beach
Announcement: NSD at 2:00 p.m. ET

Young has trimmed his list to four: Auburn, Georgia, Florida and Miami. His mother is from Georgia and he will be announcing on TV in Atlanta on Signing Day. With Georgia and Auburn listed as his final two choices, his announcement time and location could this be a positive omen for Mark Richt and the Dawgs? Prediction: Georgia

68. Leonard Williams, DE (6-5, 255)
Daytona Beach (Fla.) Mainland
Announcement: NSD, TBD

Florida, USC, Auburn and Florida State will be the four teams holding their breath for Mr. Williams come NSD. He has visited all four but USC and Florida look like the two teams to beat. Lane Kiffin is all but assured of pulling at least one or two upsets and landing Williams could be considered one of them (Agholor would be the other). Where Kyle Murphy ends up could impact Williams decision. Prediction: Florida

Teaser:
<p> National Signing Day 2012 could be a huge day for Will Muschamp and the Florida Gators.</p>
Post date: Tuesday, January 31, 2012 - 15:06
Path: /college-football/recruiting-signing-days-craziest-stories
Body:

-by Braden Gall (@BradenGall on twitter)

Children are complicated, fickle, naive creatures who seldom have any perspective on the trappings of adult life. Few 16-year old kids in this country are clued in to the rise of democracy in the Middle East, the emerging debt issues in Europe or the far-reaching effects of upcoming elections in South America. Hell, most of them have never even done their own taxes.

It’s why uniform colors, shoes, weather, license plates and even a coin flip have been used to select a university in the recent past. And I don’t expect National Signing Day 2012 to be much different.

The 2012 cycle has already provided one of the most bizarre recruiting stories I have ever witnessed. Geismar (La.) Dutchtown safety Landon Collins, the No. 21-rated player in the Athlon Consensus 100, announced on national television for the University of Alabama much to the chagrin of his mother, April Justin. Justin, just moments after her son committed to the Tide, was not only visibly upset but openly cheered for “her” LSU Tigers:

"I feel like LSU is a better place for him to be," Justin said at the time. "LSU Tigers, number one. Go Tigers.”

Collins’ girlfriend, Victoria Lowery, is reportedly going to Alabama and wants her significant other to come with her. Apparently, Justin and Lowery got into an altercation just before the announcement about who should be on set when Collins made the big decision. Well, Collins is still committed to Alabama and Lowery was on camera standing just behind her man at the Under Armour game.

Lowery 2, Mom 0.

But Mama isn’t going down without a fight as she has recently accused Nick Saban and Alabama of a recruiting violation. She claims Lowery has been offered a job in the football office by Saban – and obvious NCAA violation. Alabama has denied the accusation as it would be virtually impossible to cover-up such a blatant disobedience.

Les Miles and the Tigers are still recruiting Collins hard and nothing is certain with this saga until the ink is actually dry on Wednesday.

Collins is just one of many interesting, bewildering and sometimes hilarious recruiting decisions. My personal favorite came from Florida State signee Fred Rouse. On our national radio show on Sirius, he was asked, where are you going to college? And Mr. Rouse responded with “You know, a lot of people want me to go here or there. But I had to think, you know, what Fred wanna do? And Fred want to go to Florida State.” I think I have replayed that clip a thousand times since. The first-person, verbally illiterate announcement was absolutely hilarious. Unfortunately for everyone involved, his career wasn’t nearly as entertaining on the football field as it was on radio airwaves.

Rouse and Collins are just two of many memorable tales from the trail…

Related: 2012 Team Recruiting Rankings Heading Into Signing Day

The Imaginary Scholarship

As bizarre as the Collins’ girlfriend-mother feud is, nothing compares to Kevin Hart’s story. The 6-foot-5, 290-pound offensive lineman at Fernely (Nev.) High wanted so badly to play college football that he wrote his own fairytale ending complete with press conference. On February 1, 2008, Hart held a historic announcement at his high school in which he picked Cal over Oregon. “Coach Tedford and I talked a lot, and the fact that the head coach did most of the recruiting of me kind gave me that real personal experience,” Hart said at the announcement.

There was only one problem. Jeff Tedford had never spoken too, visited or contacted Mr. Hart. Neither had Oregon, Washington or Oklahoma State, his other finalists, for that matter. Eventually, Hart admitted the entire recruitment was fictitious and apologized to all parties involved.

The Forged Signature

April Justin isn’t the first parent to disapprove of their son’s educational choices. Just last year, Reserve (La.) East St. John defensive back Floyd Raven had decided that Texas A&M was the right school for him. There was only one issue, however, his letter of intent had already been sent to Ole Miss. The Rebels admissions department couldn’t read the signature and asked for a second copy. Raven’s mother wanted him to go to Ole Miss so badly, that she had forged the signature and sent it to Oxford without her son’s knowledge. Eventually, Floyd learned of his mother’s “betrayal” and sent the appropriately signed paperwork to Texas A&M.

The Coin Flip

It takes thousands of hours of labor and thousands of dollars to recruit athletes at the highest level. But in 2009, Atco (N.J.) Winsow Township linebacker Ka’Lial Glaud trimmed the entire process to a few cents. After taking five school-funded official visits, Glaud had narrowed his list to West Virginia and Rutgers. But the linebacker was still so torn he couldn’t make up his mind. So naturally, he decided to let chance decide his fate as he literally flipped a coin between the two programs. Heads he goes to WVU, tails he goes to Rutgers. He has posted 47 total tackles in three seasons for the Scarlet Knights.

The Five-Minute Flip-Flop

Flip-flops happen in recruiting all the time – especially, as national signing day draws near. The recruiting picture gets clearer for all parties involved, while schools get desperate to fill needs with late scholarship offers. The nation’s No. 2 player in 2011, however, Hyattsville (Md.) DeMatha offensive tackle Cyrus Kouandjio, made heads spin in record time last year. Kouandjio, whose older brother was/is a member of the Alabama Crimson Tide, announced on ESPN that he would be attending Auburn. Yet, five minutes after the bright TV lights had gone out, the younger Kouandjio, recanted his pledge to Auburn. He never sent in his letter of intent to the Tigers and three days later it was revealed he had officially signed with Alabama via twitter. Longtime commitments are snaked away at the last minute every season, but never has a kid committed on national television only to decide to sign with someone else five minutes later. The venom of the Yellowhammer rivalry only added to the drama of the Kouandjio signing.

The Announcement Props

I am not one who enjoys recruiting announcements. They are filled with superfluous rhetoric from coaches, analysts and handlers. They go on too long and rarely does a recruit offer any pertinent news or information other than his college of choice. Every now and then, however, if done with style, an announcement can be fun – or infuriating. Georgia’s Isaiah Crowell made fans coo when he pulled out an actual Bulldog puppy last year to signify his decision to play for Mark Richt in Athens. Andre Smith sent the Crimson Tiders into hysterics when he pulled out the houndstooth hat at his announcement for Alabama.

But Antonio Logan-El’s live announcement back in 2006 was met with a slightly harsher response. The Forestville (Md.) High offensive lineman had been committed to Maryland for the better part of a year. While dressed in Maryland red in front of a Terps crowd at the ESPN Sportszone in Maryland — including head coach Ralph Friedgen’s wife — Logan-El first pulled out a Florida hat before tossing it to the ground. He then pulled out a Tennessee hat. That, too, was tossed aside before picking up the Terps black and red headgear. After a few nice words, Logan-El threw his Maryland hat to the ground and held up a picture of Joe Paterno and announced he would be heading to Penn State. The decision was met with screams of “traitor” and violence nearly resulted. Logan-El, much to the pleasure of Terps fans, washed out at Penn State after only one redshirt year.

At least he actually made a decision, however, as the worst recruiting press conference in history has to belong to Greg Little. The peculiar wide receiver held a press conference in October of his senior year to announce what school he would be attending. Fans waited with anticipation while Little huddled with his family and coaches for a long period of time. He emerged from the mini-summit to announce that he had narrowed his list to Notre Dame and North Carolina. It’s the only news conference I can remember where a recruit officially announced that there was nothing to announce.

The Slimy Mentor

The most recent trend for elite recruits, for some reason unbeknownst to me, is to wait until after National Signing Day to make a decision. Terrelle Pryor, Orson Charles, Latwan Anderson, Vidal Hazelton, Seantrel Henderson, Kouandjio and last year’s top prospect Jadeveon Clowney all signed their LOIs well past signing day. But Wichita (Kan.) East running back Bryce Brown, and his handler/mentor/coach/agent/leech Brian Butler, set a new low for recruiting sludge.

Brown, whose older brother Arthur was enrolled at Miami, had been committed to the Hurricanes from the early stages. He did not sign on NSD and instead took a couple of extra visits to Tennessee and LSU after Signing Day. While Brown watched the calendar flip to March without a decision, Butler, who was a convicted felon and fledgling rapper, set up a website in order to charge $9.99 per month for recruiting updates on his protégé.

Threats from Butler about Brown potentially skipping college for the Canadian Football League only further exemplified how ridiculous the handler’s influence was over Brown. Meanwhile, Miami (and others) stopped recruiting the troubled tailback until halfway through March, when Brown got “a sign from god” to sign with Tennessee. Arthur left Miami for Kansas State (where he will be a standout senior in 2012) shortly thereafter. Bryce lasted one year in Knoxville before transferring back to Kansas State as well. He played in two games this season, got three carries and comically declared for the 2012 NFL.

Obviously, most of the names who waited until beyond signing day to sign have had major trouble getting their careers started on the next level (with the potenial exception of Clowney).

So there does appear to be a fairly simple and obvious lesson to be learned here: Sign the stinking papers and get to work because nothing is guaranteed on the next level.

Who knows what National Signing Day 2012 will bring. Will Shaq Thompson switch from Cal to Washington? Will Andrus Peat see a Nebraska license plate on the road in Tempe, Ariz., and therefore pick the Huskers much like his older brother did last winter? Which woman has more influence on Landon Collins? And how long will peacock playmaker Stefon Diggs wait to sign his papers?

Love or hate the press conferences and high-profile visibility of high school students, National Signing Day has become appointment viewing for all college football fans.
 

Teaser:
<p> National Signing Day has always provided plenty of bizarre, hilarious and eye-opening stories.</p>
Post date: Tuesday, January 31, 2012 - 07:04
Path: /college-football/2012-team-recruiting-rankings-signing-day-targets
Body:

-by Braden Gall (@BradenGall on twitter)

National Signing Day is upon us!

Tomorrow coaches, parents, fans and media members alike will be starring at fax machines (yes, they still use those) in anticipation of building a championship roster.

You can’t win football games without good players – and having better athletes than the next guy normally helps with the winning process. The Alabama Crimson Tide won the 2008 recruiting national championship and it turned into an actual national championship four years later. Additionally, the 2009 Alabama class was ranked No. 3 in the nation by Athlon Sports.

Of the Crimson Tide’s starting 22 in the BCS national championship destruction of LSU, 15 signed in either the 2008 or 2009 classes. It's safe to say recruiting is the lifeblood of the college football machine.

Certainly, the evaluation, development and scouting process plays a bigger role in eventual wins and losses. And yes, the star-ranking system is an imperfect science. But as the years go by, the evaluation process becomes more accurate and more predictable. So the current recruiting rankings, e.g.. the Athlon Consensus 100 where all the internet rankings are averaged together, are as perfect a system as we have ever had.

Who will land the top collection of players in the 2012 haul? There will be fireworks a plenty come NSD, but here is how the team rankings stand with less than 24 hour until players can sign (7:00 AM ET, Feb. 1).

Note: A national recruit is a prospect who is ranked in the top 150 by one of the six recruiting services. Athlon’s “national” recruits are roughly the top 300.

1. Alabama Crimson Tide (27 commitments)
AC100: 10, National Recruits: 14
National Targets: Dorial Green-Beckham (No. 1), Eddie Goldman (No. 9), Tracy Howard (No. 18), Kwon Alexander (No. 82), Korren Kirven, Dalvin Tomlinson, Ricardo Louis

Green-Beckham is the nation’s top player but it appears that race might be over with Missouri holding a slight edge over Arkansas. Tracy Howard looks like he will be selecting the Florida Gators. Nick Saban could still miss on all six national recruits left on the board and still land the top class in the nation. Alabama leads the nation by a wide margin with 10 AC100 verbal pledges at this point. Holding onto star safety prospect Landon Collins might be his top focus during the final hours of this recruiting cycle. It appears that, barring a small miracle, that Alabama will earn its second recruiting national championship in five years under Saban.

2. Texas Longhorns (26)
AC100: 6, National Recruits: 16
National Targets: Dorial Green-Beckham

Mack Brown had most of his work done nearly a year ago when they entered March of 2011 with 12 commitments already. Roughly a year later, Brown has an outside chance to push for the top slot. He landed two national recruits, defensive back Daje Johnson and linebacker Dalton Santos, to push their total to a nation-leading 16 national recruits. With DGB the only big fish left on the block, Horns’ fans should actually have one of the more stable NSD.

3. Florida Gators (21)
AC100: 5, National Recruits: 12
National Targets: Stefon Diggs (No. 5), Darius Hamilton (No. 14), Tracy Howard (No. 18), Josh Harvey-Clemons (No. 20), Kyle Murphy (No. 25), Nelson Agholor (No. 26), Avery Young (No. 53), Leonard Williams (No. 68)

No team may have a better finish to the 2012 class than Will Mushcamp. With six player ranked in the top-26 nationally still listing Florida as a finalists, Gators fans should have plenty of excitement to look forward to on Wednesday. Diggs, Hamilton, Howard and Williams look to be Florida leans with Agholor likely choosing between USC and the Gators. With Harvey-Clemons leaning towards Georgia and Young likely picking between Auburn and Georgia, landing all of the coveted names above is virtually impossible. However, if Muschamp can land three of four AC100 targets, Florida could push Alabama and Texas for the top slot.

4. Ohio State Buckeyes (24)
AC100: 5, National Recruits: 11
National Targets: Stefon Diggs (No. 5), Davonte Neal (No. 56), Jordan Diamond (No. 88), Joel Caleb (No. 95), Kyle Dodson

Few coaches have ever impacted a recruiting class in such short order as Urban Meyer has in Columbus this winter. He has landed eight prospects – a number of whom were former Penn State, Notre Dame or Michigan State verbals – since being presented as the head coach and this weekend stole Armani Reeves from Penn State. He is making a serious late push for the No. 1 athlete in the nation in Stefon Diggs and has a chance to land three other AC100 recruits as well. Should Meyer pull Diggs, Neal, Diamond and Caleb, the Buckeyes might have an outside chance to push for the top slot.

5. Michigan Wolverines (23)
AC100: 3, National Recruits: 10
National Targets: Jordan Diamond (No. 88), Alex Kozan

Brady Hoke has done an excellent job in his first full year on the job in Ann Arbor. Landing Diamond or Kozan would merely be icing on the cake. The Maize and Blue are basically set heading into National Signing Day and won’t be waiting to hear from too many big names. Certainly, Hoke was to keep Diamond away from fellow Big Ten rivals Ohio State and Wisconsin, but signing the big offensive lineman might give Michigan the top class in the conference.

6. Florida State Seminoles (16)
AC100: 6, National Recruits: 9
National Targets: Eddie Goldman (No. 9), Tracy Howard (No. 18), Andrus Peat (No. 22), Nelson Agholor (No. 26), Ronald Darby (No. 34), Leonard Williams (No. 68), Colin Blake, Ricardo Louis

One thing is certain about NSD 2012, one team from the state of Florida is going to make big waves. Be it the Gators or the Seminoles, a Sunshine State program will push Alabama for the top slot in the nation. The Noles rank second in the nation with six AC100 commitments and Jimbo Fisher seems to be in a shape for the nation’s No. 1 defensive tackle Eddie Goldman and fellow elite level prospect Ronald Darby. If Fisher can pull an upset or two on NSD, the Noles could easily push into the top five, but possibly the top two.

7. Miami Hurricanes (32)
AC100: 2, National Recruits: 8
National Targets: Tracy Howard (No. 18), Avery Yong (No. 53), Leonard Williams (No. 68)

With only two AC100 commits, Miami lands in the top-10 based on the depth of a potential 32-man class. And in the face of the issues surrounding the Nevin Shaprio scandal, Al Golden has done a fantastic job attracting talent. With one of the largest classes in the nation already intact, Canes fans shouldn’t expect too much movement on Wednesday despite still being mentioned by four AC100 recruits as a finalists. It would be an upset if Miami landed any of the AC100 targets left on the board.

8. Notre Dame Fighting Irish (17)
AC100: 3, National Recruits: 9
National Targets: Nelson Agholor (No. 26), Ronald Darby (No. 34), Davonte Neal (No. 56), Ken Ekanem

Brian Kelly won his biggest recruiting battle two weeks ago when the nation’s No. 2 quarterback, Gunner Kiel, enrolled in class in South Bend. With another stellar group of defensive lineman coming to Notre Dame, Kelly’s haul should once again be one of the nation’s best. If Kelly can pull an upset or two with Agholor, former commit Darby and Neal, this group has a chance to land in the top five.

9. Oklahoma Sooners (20)
AC100: 3, National Recruits: 7
National Targets: Dorial Green-Beckham (No. 1), Nelson Agholor (No. 26), Brandon Beaver, Colin Blake, Will Latu

There is still plenty of work to be done for Bob Stoops but it appears that landing the country’s top player is an unlikely proposition. And the Sooners also look like a long shot for Agholor and Banner as well. That said, the Crimson and Cream always does something exciting on signing day and that could include names like Beaver or Latu. Regardless of what happens on NSD, this Oklahoma haul will likely land it he top-10 nationally.

10. Georgia Bulldogs (16)
AC100: 5, National Recruits: 7
National Targets: Josh Harvey-Clemons (No. 20), Avery Young (No. 53), JaQuay Williams (No. 99), Cordarrelle Patterson

This isn’t one of the bigger classes in the SEC, but it has some serious star power. With two of the top 16 prospects in the nation heading to Athens, the quality of this class is elite and likely underrated nationally. With Harvey-Clemons looking like a UGA lock, Mark Richt would claim four of the top-31 players in the nation. Young will be picking between Auburn and Georgia with the Dawgs a slight favorite in that race. Should Richt land both, the Bulldogs could finish No. 2 in the nation with 7 AC100 signees and would lock the Dawgs into the Athlon top-10.

11. Clemson Tigers (20)
AC100: 3, National Recruits: 7
National Targets: Eddie Goldman (No. 9), Ronald Darby (No. 34)

12. South Carolina Gamecocks (24)
AC100: 2, National Recruits: 5
National Targets: None

13. Texas A&M Aggies (22)
AC100: 1, National Recruits: 7
National Targets: Thomas Johnson (No. 29)

14. USC Trojans (13)
AC100: 5, National Recruits: 9
National Targets: Tracy Howard (No. 18), Andrus Peat (No. 22), Kyle Murphy (No. 25), Nelson Agholor (No. 26), Zach Banner (No. 50), Aziz Shittu (No. 63), Kyle Dodson

15. LSU Tigers (20)
AC100: 1, National Recruits: 9
National Targets: Kwon Alxander (No. 82), Cordarrelle Patterson

16. UCLA Bruins (25)
AC100: 2, National Recruits: 4
National Targets: Aziz Shittu (No. 63), Brandon Beaver, Deaysean Rippy, Bryce Treggs, Javon Williams

17. Cal Golden Bears (18)
AC100: 3, National Recruits: 7
National Targets: Stefon Diggs (No. 5), Shaq Thompson (No. 6), Eddie Goldman (No. 9), Thomas Johnson (No. 29), Aziz Shittu (No. 63), Kenny Lawler, Raymond Ford

18. Stanford Cardinal (16)
AC100: 4, National Recruits: 5
National Targets: Andrus Peat (No. 22), Kyle Murphy (No. 25), Aziz Shittu (No. 63)

19. Auburn Tigers (15)
AC100: 2, National Recruits: 9
National Targets: Stefon Diggs (No. 5), Eddie Goldman (No. 9), Ronald Darby (No. 34), Avery Young (No. 53), Leonard Williams (No. 68), Jordan Diamond (No. 88), Kwon Alexander (No. 82), JaQuay Williams (No. 99), Alex Kozan, Cordarrelle Patterson, Ricardo Louis

20. Oregon Ducks (19)
AC100: 1, National Recruits: 6
National Targets: Kyle Murphy (No. 25), Thomas Johnson (No. 29), Jaydon Mickens

21. Tennessee Volunteers (20)
AC100: 1, National Recruits: 6
National Targets: Richie Brown, Quinshad Davis, Korren Kirven, Cordarrelle Patterson

22. Texas Tech Red Raiders (25)
AC100: 0, National Recruits: 5
National Targets: None

23. Virginia Cavaliers (26)
AC100: 1, National Recruits: 4
National Targets: None

24. Virginia Tech Hokies (27)
AC100: 0, National Recruits: 4
National Targets: Joel Caleb (No. 95), Ken Ekanam, Korren Kirven

25. Mississippi State Bulldogs (25)
AC100: 1, National Recruits: 2
National Targets: Richie Brown, Alonzo Moore
 

Teaser:
<p> Who has the top class heading into Signing Day and which teams will close hard?</p>
Post date: Tuesday, January 31, 2012 - 07:00

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