Recruiting is the lifeline of any college football program, and the 2016 season was arguably the best year for defensive linemen in quite some time. The class turned in some of the best defensive linemen we have seen in years, with the top players in the class now looking to headline the 2019 NFL Draft.
The class also served up a handful of talented quarterbacks who have adopted the new trend of transferring to a new program. Yes, the Class of 2016 had quite a good amount of interesting storylines to follow over the past few seasons, and there could still be some more to come.
You won’t find a Heisman Trophy winner in this class (not yet, at least), but there is a Heisman finalist and some true stars in the making.
Let's take a look back at the recruiting class of 2016 and see how it might be ranked today compared to just a few years ago.
Note: This list references the 247 Sports Composite rankings.
1. Nick Bosa, DE, Ohio State
No. 1 SDE, No. 8 overall
Like his older brother before him, Nick Bosa put together an impressive college career at Ohio State and is one of the top players in the NFL draft pool. Although his 2018 season ended prematurely, Bosa proved to be one of the top defensive players in the nation.
Who was No. 1: Rashan Gary, DT, Michigan
2. Ed Oliver, DT, Houston
No. 3 DT, No. 6 overall
A major recruiting victory for Tom Herman at Houston, Ed Oliver did not disappoint. He was a monster on the line of scrimmage who created plenty of problems for opponents and heads to the NFL as one of the top players on the board.
Who was No. 2: Dexter Lawrence, DT, Clemson
3. Quinnen Williams, DT, Alabama
No. 17 DT, No. 155 overall
Alabama always seems to have strength on the defensive line. Williams was not one of the top linemen in his recruiting class but he certainly made a name for himself in Tuscaloosa. Williams leaves Alabama as one of the top defensive players in the nation.
Who was No. 3: Greg Little, OT, Ole Miss
4. Rashan Gary, DE, Michigan
No. 1 DE, No. 1 overall
Jim Harbaugh scored a major recruiting victory with Gary, and he lived up to much of the hype coming out of high school. In a recruiting class deep with elite defensive linemen, Gary proved he belonged in the conversation during his time in Ann Arbor.
Who was No. 4: Shea Patterson, QB, Ole Miss
5. Dexter Lawrence, DT, Clemson
No. 2 DE, No. 2 overall
Yet another top defensive lineman who delivered was Lawrence of Clemson. Lawrence was named the ACC Defensive Rookie of the Year in 2016 and was a part of two national title teams at Clemson.
Who was No. 5: Shea Patterson, QB, Ole Miss
6. Dwayne Haskins, QB, Ohio State
No. 7 pro-style QB, No. 91 overall
Haskins had just one year to shine in the Ohio State offense, but that was all he really needed to rocket up the updated ranking of the Class of 2016. Haskins shattered the record book at Ohio State and in the Big Ten in the 2018 season after taking over as the starting quarterback and now he is seen as one of the top QB prospects in the 2019 NFL Draft.
Who was No. 6: Ed Oliver, DT, Houston
7. Greg Little, OT, Ole Miss
No. 1 OT, No. 3 overall
Defensive linemen may highlight the Class of 2016, but Little proved there was some value on the offensive side of the ball as well. Little earned All-SEC honors each of the past two seasons and could be one of the top offensive linemen in this year's draft.
Who was No. 7: Levonta Taylor, CB, Florida State
8. Trayveon Williams, RB, Texas A&M
No. 8 all-purpose back, No. 313 overall
Williams had a breakout season in 2018 with a new head coach in place at Texas A&M, which earned him first-team All-SEC and second-team All-American honors. Williams ended the 2018 season as the nation’s third-leading rusher.
Who was No. 8: Nick Bosa, DE, Ohio State
9. Greedy Williams, CB, LSU
No. 20 CB, No. 219 overall
LSU has a solid history with players in the secondary, and Williams worked his way up to continue that tradition. Coming to LSU as a player ranked outside the top 200, Williams was a first-team All-SEC player each of the past two seasons and a consensus All-American in 2018. He leaves LSU as a potential top-10 draft pick.
Who was No. 9: Derrick Brown, DT, Auburn
10. Jalen Hurts, QB, Alabama
No. 4 dual QB, No. 192 overall
Our top 10 will be rounded out by a quarterback who enrolled at Alabama and led the Crimson Tide to two straight national championship games while posting a 26-2 record as a starter. The SEC Offensive Player and Freshman of the Year in 2016, Hurts will wrap up his college career at Oklahoma.
Who was No. 10: Ben Davis, LB, Alabama
Best of the Rest:
Jake Bentley, QB, South Carolina
No. 12 pro-style QB, No. 263 overall
Jacob Eason, QB, Georgia
No. 2 pro-style QB, No. 5 overall
Chris Evans, RB, Michigan
No. 9 all-purpose back, No. 338 overall
Mecole Hardman, Athlete, Georgia
No. 1 athlete, No. 12 overall
Lil’Jordan Humphrey, Athlete, Texas
No. 19 athlete, No. 397 overall
Isaac Nauta, TE, Georgia
No. 1 TE, No. 14 overall
Shea Patterson, QB, Michigan
No. 1 pro-style QB, No. 4 overall
Riley Ridley, WR, Georgia
No. 47 WR, No. 248 overall
Miles Sanders, RB, Penn State
No. 1 RB, No. 21 overall
Khalil Tate, QB, Arizona
No. 11 athlete, No. 214 overall
— Written by Kevin McGuire, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. McGuire also contributes to College Football Talk and The Comeback as well as hosts the No 2-Minute Warning Podcast. Follow him on Twitter @KevinOnCFB and Like him on Facebook.