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Ranking the 10 Best College Football Recruiting Classes Since 2005

Dabo Swinney

Dabo Swinney

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Every February, talent evaluators from across the country weigh in with their rankings of the elite college football recruiting classes. The teams that consistently land near the top of the heap on those lists are typically competing for conference crowns and national championships in the fall.

Those rankings are speculative, though. Hindsight offers us a better idea of just how good each recruiting class truly was in terms of actual production on the field.

With that in mind, here are the top 10 college football recruiting classes from 2005-17.

Note: Team ranks referenced for that year come from 247 Sports Composite

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1. 2008 Alabama

Rank: 3rd, 33 signees

Key Players: Mark Barron, Julio Jones, Terrence Cody, Marcell Dareus, Dont'a Hightower, Mark Ingram, Barrett Jones, Courtney Upshaw, Damion Square, Michael Williams, Robert Lester, Brad Smelley

The Crimson Tide’s epic run under Nick Saban (above, right) began in earnest with the 2008 recruiting class. Its players helped make up the backbone of teams that won national championships in 2009 and ‘11. (Defensive back Robert Lester actually got a third title ring in 2012.) The wins and accolades amassed by 2008 signees such as Mark Ingram, Julio Jones, Courtney Upshaw and Mark Barron helped set the tone for everything to come in Tuscaloosa.

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2. 2009 Alabama

Rank: 2nd, 28 signees

Key Players: AJ McCarron, Trent Richardson, Dre Kirkpatrick, James Carpenter, Chance Warmack, D.J. Fluker, Eddie Lacy, Quinton Dial, Nico Johnson, Ed Stinson, Anthony Steen, Kenny Bell, Kevin Norwood, Tana Patrick

Picking between the Tide’s 2008 and ‘09 classes feels like splitting hairs. The ‘09 collection of studs featured six players who were picked in the first round of the NFL draft. Beyond the household names like AJ McCarron and Trent Richardson were other notable contributors such as linebacker Nico Johnson and offensive lineman D.J. Fluker.

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