- Tom Luginbill, ESPN Staff Writer
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The SEC continues to corner the market on many of the country's top high school football prospects. Five of our new top 12 teams in the latest ESPN.com team recruiting class rankings reside in the SEC, including our new No. 1 overall team, LSU, which moved up from No. 2. The Tigers may not be done yet; they are racing neck-to-neck for in-state WR Rueben Randle (Bastrop, La.). A commit from Randle would mean they're closing with a player whose talent is on par with that of No. 3 overall prospect Russell Shepard.
Prior to winning their second national title in three years, the Florida Gators received great news on three recruiting priorities. Florida got verbal commitments from dynamic WR Andre Debose (Sanford, Fla./Seminole), OT Xavier Nixon (Fayetteville, N.C./Jack Britt) and OLB Jon Bostic (Palm Beach, Fla./Central) during postseason all-star games. This catapulted the Gators from No. 8 into the No. 5 slot.
The ACC is well represented in our newest rankings as well. Miami is on its way to a second straight strong class after finishing No. 1 a year ago. The additions of S Ray Ray Armstrong (Sanford, Fla./Seminole) and his teammate DE Dyron Dye gives the Hurricanes plenty of defensive speed. Miami has moved up to No. 7 from No. 10.
Florida State and North Carolina are currently slotted at No. 10 and No. 11, respectively. Virginia Tech (No. 16) and Clemson (No. 20) join our rankings, which now include 25 teams.
There are, of course, several familiar names within this latest top 25. USC fell from the top spot to No. 2. Notre Dame is among the biggest fallers in this edition of our rankings, going from No. 7 to No. 13. Several traditional powers -- such as Alabama (No. 8), Ohio State (No. 4), Texas (No. 3) and Georgia (No. 6) -- saw little change to their ranking.
With the list expanding from 15 teams to 25 there are plenty of newcomers. Rutgers leads the charge for the Big East at No. 17, followed by South Florida at No. 24. The Pac-10 is, of course, represented at the top by USC's No. 2 overall ranking and on the back end with Stanford at No. 23 and Cal at No. 25, as Jim Harbaugh and Jeff Tedford battle it out in the Bay Area.
Of course, remember that rankings mean nothing now, but two to three years from now is when you will know a class' value.
Tom Luginbill is the National Recruiting Director for ESPN's Scouts Inc. He has an extensive background in professional football talent evaluation and coaching. He played quarterback at Georgia Tech (1994) and Eastern Kentucky (1995).
After adding a standout safety, LSU has ascended to the top ESPN.com's recruiting rankings.