Miami claims top 2008 recruiting class
Terrelle Pryor's announcement for Ohio State bumped the Buckeyes up one spot to No. 6 ahead of USC. Here is the final version of the Top 25 classes for 2008.
Coach Randy Shannon did an outstanding job landing top-tier defensive talent in his first full recruiting class. The Canes boast five of the top seven outside linebackers, led by the top three -- Arthur Brown (Wichita, Kan./East), Sean Spence (Miami/Northwestern) and signing day recommit Ramon Buchanan (Melbourne, Fla./Palm Bay). The talent continues up front with Marcus Fortson (Miami/ Northwestern), the country's No. 1-rated defensive tackle. Taylor Cook (Eagle Lake, Texas/Rice) and Jacory Harris (Miami/Northwestern) have different types of games but are both quality quarterback prospects. ESPN 150 receivers Aldarius Johnson (Miami/Northwestern) and Davon Johnson (Miami/Booker T. Washington) both project to haul in a bunch of balls in their careers.
This year's surprise class closed with a bang down the stretch on signing day with signatures from No. 6 offensive tackle Antoine McClain (Anniston, Ala.), No. 3 tight end Dwayne Allen (Fayetteville, S.C./Terry Sanford) and No. 3 running back Jamie Harper (Jacksonville, Fla./Trinity Christian). This was all while ESPN's No. 1-rated overall prospect DaQuan Bowers (Bamberg, S.C./Bamberg-Ehrhardt) was already hitting the books on Clemson's campus with No. 4-rated quarterback Kyle Parker (Jacksonville, Fla./Bartram Trail).
One of the biggest movers on signing day, the addition of ESPN's No. 2 overall player, receiver Julio Jones (Foley, Ala.), gives Alabama perhaps its best class since the turn of the century. Jones, offensive tackle Tyler Love (Birmingham, Ala./Mountain Brook) and athlete Burton Scott (Prichard, Ala./Vigor) give the Tide three No. 1-rated prospects at their respective positions, but the Tide's 15 total prospects at need positions who have a Scouts Inc. grade of 80 or above make this class so impressive.
Losing ESPN 150 guard Ricky Barnum (Lakeland, Fla./Lake Gibson) and Ramon Buchanan hurt the Gators' chance of retaining the No. 1 spot they held heading into signing day. Still, they added wide receiver T.J. Lawrence (Lakeland, Fla. / Kathleen) to the mix and have tremendous prospects heading to Gainesville, particularly at defensive back. Will Hill (West Orange, N.J./Saint Peter's Prep) and Dee Finley (Auburn, Ala.) are the top two safeties in the country and No. 4-rated cornerback Janoris Jenkins' (Pahokee, Fla.) stock has recently soared. ESPN's No. 2-rated defensive tackle Omar Hunter (Buford, Ga.) was a big catch down the stretch.
Despite losing tight end Dwayne Allen (Fayetteville, N.C./Sanford) on signing day, the Bulldogs still have a number of impact players, particularly at the offensive skill positions. Receiver A.J. Green (Ridgevile, S.C./Summerville) and running back Carlton Thomas (Frostproof, Fla.) could provide quarterback Matthew Stafford with some added weapons as true freshmen. On defense, top-50 overall prospect Deangelo Tyson (Statesboro, Ga.) and ESPN 150 end Toby Jackson (Griffin, Ga.) are explosive, potentially disruptive linemen. Richard Samuel (Cartersville, Ga./Cass), currently ranked as 35th overall player in the country, could develop into the next great Georgia back or play linebacker.
Originally ranked below USC at No. 7, Ohio State moves up one spot after securing the services of No. 1 QB Terrelle Pryor. Pryor will get the benefit of not having to play right away and could be used in a Tim Tebow-like role his freshman year. Led by offensive linemen Michael Brewster (Orlando/Edgewater), Mike Adams (Dublin, Ohio/Dublin-Coffman) and J.B. Shugarts (Spring, Texas/Klein), the Buckeyes filled a big need up front. Linebackers Etienne Sabino (Miami/Dr. Krop) and Andrew Sweat (Washington, Pa./Trinity) are the top two inside linebackers in the country, infusing premium talent and youth at another needed position.
Losing athlete Joe Adams (Little Rock, Ark./Central Arkansas Christian) to Arkansas on signing day hurt, but landing No. 2 corner T.J. Bryant (Tallahassee, Fla./Lincoln) and No. 10 defensive end Nick Perry (Detroit/Mackenzie) are potentially bigger difference makers. This class may not boast as many elite stars and No. 1-ranked prospects as last year, but the Trojans did an excellent job filling areas of need like offensive line. Top-rated tight end Blake Ayles (Orange, Calif./Lutheran) and ESPN's No. 4 receiver Brice Butler (Norcross, Ga.) could make an impact on offense in 2009.
It added Muskogee, Okla., teammates ESPN 150 WR Jameel Owens and DT Stacy McGee down the stretch to an already impressive class. Right now we believe RB Jermie Calhoun (Van, Texas) is special and will join an already outstanding stable of Sooners running backs and contribute quickly. However, DE R.J. Washington (Keller, Texas/Fossil Ridge) is right on his heels as the premier player in this class. There is going to be no shortage of playmaking wideouts in Norman anytime soon. WR Josh Jarboe (Decatur, Ga./Cedar Grove) made a statement throughout the week at the Under Armour All-America Game.
After an abysmal 2007 season, Charlie Weis bounced back with a top-10 recruiting class. While some programs might boast more elite prospects, top to bottom this class holds some of the best overall quality and finally some defensive help is on the way. Elite receivers Michael Floyd (Saint Paul, Minn./Cretin-Derham) and Deion Walker (Christchurch, Va.) should have Irish fans smiling after watching an anemic offensive performance last fall while tight end Kyle Rudolph (Cincinnati/Elder) also has excellent receiving skills. No. 2 quarterback prospect Dayne Christ (Canoga Park, Calif./Notre Dame) has the arm strength to challenge Jimmy Clausen early in his career for reps. Center and defensive end were key areas of need and filled with good quality.
Same old class, different year -- and we mean that in a good way. Texas continues to grab who it wants, when it wants, particularly in Texas. This is one of those classes with no clear-cut guy separating himself from the rest of the pack. ESPN 150 receivers D.J. Grant (Austin, Texas/LBJ) and Dan Buckner (Allen, Texas) are special with Grant being the faster of the two. One of the things that separates a Texas recruiting class from many others is that the bottom half is always loaded with quality and sometimes even upper-echelon players that Texas is able to keep away from some of the up-and-comers in the conference. Keep an eye on S Blake Gideon (Leander, Texas) who was first-team All-State in 5A this year as being one of those gems.
LSU rode the wave of the BCS national title down the stretch and signed an impressive class. Wide receiver Chris Tolliver (Rayville, La.) and TE Tyler Edwards (Monroe, La./Ouachita Parish) are great in-state lands on offense. More importantly, the Tigers have explosive pass rushers in DE Chancey Aghayere (Garland, Texas) and DE/TE Chase Clement (Thibodaux, La./White Catholic) to replace departed upper classman in the front seven. Karnell Hatcher (Delray Beach, Fla./Atlantic Community) could be one of the better run-supporting safeties in this class.
Offensive tackle Zebrie Sanders (Clayton, Ohio/North Clayton) was a nice pickup down the stretch, but Bobby Bowden did not close as strong in 2008 as he usually does. FSU did sign four top-50 overall prospects and got off to an unusually fast start. ESPN's No. 5-rated corner Terrance Parks (Fairburn, Ga./Creekside) fits perfectly in legendary defensive coordinator Mickey Andrews 4-3/cover 2 scheme and could challenge for early playing time as he is already on campus this spring. Parks teams up with inside linebacker Nigel Bradham (Crawfordville, Fla./Wakulla) and outside 'backer Nigel Carr (Jacksonville, Fla./First Coast) to give it three top-five positional prospects on defense, all with the skills and physical development to contribute early. Help is on the way at quarterback with E.J. Manuel (Virginia Beach, Va./Bayside), which may have Jimbo Fisher thinking back to his days of grooming JaMarcus Russell at LSU.
Five ESPN 150 prospects
Rich Rodriguez has to be pleased with his fine class comprised of system-fitting offensive weapons. ESPN 150 receiver Darryl Stonum (Stafford, Texas/John Foster Dulles) and Brandon Moore (Trotwood, Ohio/Madison) are great additions to the passing game. Up front, Dann O'Neill (Grand Haven, Mich.) could have fans forgetting about Jake Long in a few years. Adding athlete Terrence Robinson down the stretch was huge as was poaching system-fitting No. 4 guard Ricky Barnum (Lakeland, Fla./ Lake Gibson) from Florida on signing day.
Comprised of four ESPN 150 members and six prospects with a Scouts Inc. grade of 80 or higher, the class he inherited (with much help from DeWayne Walker) has to please Rick Neuheisel in his return to Westwood. Aundre Dean (Katy, Texas) was a major land for the Bruins out of Texas and this top-10 running back shows good balance, explosiveness and burst between the tackles. Joining Dean in the backfield will be quarterback Nick Crissman (Huntington Beach, Calif./Edison), a possible future gem under the tutelage of Neuheisel. The Bruins needed depth at tight end and landed another top-10 positional prospect in Cory Harkey (Chino Hills, Calif.). Underrated sixth-ranked safety E.J. Woods (Culver City, Calif./Crespi Carmelite) should fill a depth void at defensive back with perhaps the fastest safety in this class, Rahim Moore (Los Angeles/Dorsey).
Frank Beamer should continue producing top-ranked defenses and excellent special teams with this talented class. Eddie Whitley (Matthews, N.C./Butler) fills a need and adds value at corner with his great size, range and potential to also play safety. Projected safety Lorenzo Williams (Fayetteville, N.C./Westover) possesses similar tools at defensive back. Projected end Dwight Tucker (Oviedo, Fla.) is a sleeper with vertical attacking speed. No. 14-rated inside linebacker Allen Stephens (South Boston, Va./Halifax County) is one of the more powerful between-the-tackles run stuffers in this class. Fellow linebacker Bruce Taylor (Myrtle Beach, S.C.) possesses size and straight-line closing speed. Ryan Williams (Manassas, Va./Stonewall Jackson) is a great, shifty, workhorse back who should soon be ready to take the reigns from Brandon Ore. Offensive line was also addressed with 6-foot-6, 79-grade offensive tackles Vinston Painter (Norfolk, Va./Maury) and Nick Becton (Wilmington, N.C./New Hanover).
Another solid class for Ron Zook and the Fighting Illini. While they might not have as many elite prospects as a year ago, the overall quality from top-to-bottom is still very good. Led by ESPN 150 corner Patrick Nixon (Jacksonville, Fla./Middleburg), Illinois boasts 15 prospects rated at 77 or higher on the Scouts Inc. scale. Wide receiver Alfred Jenkins (Jacksonville, Fla./Terry Parker), a potential playmaker at the next level, and Cordale Scott (Cleveland/Glenville), a smooth, big-play possession receiver, should complement last year's No. 3-rated receiver Arrelious Benn. Jack Ramsey (Chicago/Simeon) could develop behind Juice Williams at quarterback but also possesses the open-field speed and potential to get on the field early at another skill position. The Fighting Illini held onto defensive end Corey Liuget (Hialeah, Fla.), who could develop into a great pass rusher.
Second-year Arizona State head coach Dennis Erickson used the Sun Devils' successful season to put together one of their better recruiting classes in recent years. The group is highlighted by some big names, but the top-to-bottom quality is perhaps what is most impressive. Programs are built with players in the 77-79 range of the Scouts Inc. grading scale, and it boasts nine players in that range to build around its elite players like ESPN 150 athlete Gerell Robinson (Chandler, Ariz./Hamilton) and top-25 running back Ryan Bass (Corona, Calif./Centennial). Jarrell Barbour (Peoria, Ariz./Centennial) gives ASU the top two rated athletes in the state. The Sun Devils landed quality prospects at offensive tackle and two top-20 positional prospects at guard in Zach Schlink (Peoria, Ariz./Centennial) and Andrew Sampson (Aurora, Colo./Overland), filling areas of need. Defense also got a boost with Jamaar Jarrett (San Marcos, Calif/Mission Hills), ESPN's No. 12-rated defensive end prospect, de-committing from Oregon.
Love him or hate him, Bobby Petrino is back in college football, and from an offensive standpoint, particularly in the passing game, this is the best thing that could have happened for Arkansas fans -- hence QB Ryan Mallett's transfer to Fayetteville from Michigan. Running back De'Anthony Curtis (Camden, Ark./Fairview) and QB Tyler Wilson (Greenwood, Ark.) headline this class along with Jerico Nelson (Destrehan, La.), the nation's No. 21-rated athlete. Wide receiver depth is a need and Arkansas more than hit the mark in this area with Jarius Wright (Warren, Ark.), Greg Childs (Warren, Ark.) and Cruz Williams (Little Rock, Ark./Pulaski Academy). Top to bottom, the Hogs should consider Petrino's first class a big success. No. 2-rated athlete Joe Adams' (Little Rock, Ark./Central Arkansas Christian) commitment on signing day over USC was instrumental for the program and its in-state recruitment.
Auburn failed to sign some quality prospects down the stretch but the class is still deep with underrated talent. It lost former signee RB Enrique Davis from the 2007 class, but replaced him with RB Eric Smith (Seffner, Fla./Armwood). Speedster Harry Adams (Fort Lauderdale, Fla./Dillard) is a much-needed deep threat, and receiver Darvin Adams (Kennesaw, Ga./Harrison) should help as well. Adding ESPN 150 corner Neiko Lipscomb (Tucker, Ga.) was a big pickup with his rare height and transitional quickness.
Tom O'Brien probably did not achieve the success he desired in his first-year at NC State, but off the field the former Boston College head coach built a quality recruiting class in 2008. Quarterback Mike Glennon (Centreville, Va./ Westfield) possesses the size, arm strength and quick release to excel as a college quarterback and the intangibles to lead a rebuilding program. ESPN's No. 8-rated athlete, Brandon Barnes (Bunn, NC), is a nice addition and will likely settle in at safety. Quality additions were made in the secondary, wide receiver and along the offensive front.
During his three-year tenure, head coach Dave Wannstedt has a losing record and is yet to take the Panthers to a bowl game. Despite that, he has recruited very well, especially in western Pennsylvania. He landed four ESPN 150 prospects, including No. 8-rated wide receiver Jonathan Baldwin (Aliquippa, Pa.). Pitt may have finished near the bottom of the Big East standings, but it is the only program in the conference with a top-25 recruiting class.
The Cornhuskers had a strong class in the spring of 2007 but imploded shortly after Bill Callahan's future looked bleak. New head coach Bo Pelini did a good job down the stretch of luring prospects back and signing linebacker Will Compton (Bonne Terre, Mo./North County) and defensive end Josh Williams (Denton, Texas). ESPN 150 offensive tackle Baker Steinkuhler (Lincoln, Neb./Southwest) stayed strong with his in-state commitment as did projected outside linebacker Sean Fisher (Omaha, Neb./Millard). Old Cornhuskers fans have to be pleased with a pledge from 210-pound power back Collins Okafor (Omaha, Neb./Westside) and Scouts Inc.'s No.1-rated fullback/H-back prospect Kyler Reed (Overland Park, Kan./Saint Thomas Aquinas).
After a miserable 1-11 first season, head coach and respected recruiter Tim Brewster has Gophers fans excited with his first real class, particularly with the surprise signing day addition of ESPN 150 prospect Keanon Cooper (Dallas/Skyline). This is a class filled with both in-state talent and players from 12 states outside of Minnesota. MarQueis Gray (Indianapolis/Ben Davis), the No. 13 signal caller, adds to the talented young depth at the position. Wide receiver Brandon Green (Chicago/Paul Robeson) could develop into a good receiver with his speed and soft hands. Defensively, Jewhan Edwards (Philadelphia/Roman Catholic) heads a pair of talented defensive tackles to help one of the nation's worst rushing defenses.
Colorado has put together one of the surprise classes of 2008 after going 6-7 last fall. ESPN 150 linebackers Jon Major (Parker, Colo./Ponderosa) and Lynn Katoa (Salt Lake City/Cottonwood) and No. 5 guard Max Tuioti-Mariner (Corona, Calif.) headed a top-heavy class heading into signing day. The addition of No. 2 running back prospect Darrell Scott (Moorpark,Calif./St. Bonaventure) was big as the Buffs beat conference foe Texas for his services. Tuioti-Mariner could be opening up holes for Scott and Ray Polk (Phoenix/Brophy), a back with a good size-to-speed ratio. Tight end Ryan Deehan (Poway, Calif.) is currently Colorado's fourth top-25 positional prospect in this class and possesses great potential size and receiving skills.
Heading into signing day, most would have assumed with a sub-par 2007 season, a coaching change and rival Texas dominating the recruiting landscape that the Aggies would have suffered on the trail, but they put together a solid class despite losing some key guys on signing day. Ninth-ranked running back Cyrus Gray (Dallas/DeSoto) possesses the skills to see the field early as does athlete Derrick Hall (Beaumont, Texas/Central).
Tom Luginbill is the national director of recruiting for Scouts Inc. Luginbill is a college football and recruiting studio analyst for ESPNU. Craig Haubert, Billy Tucker and Bill Conley are recruiting coordinators for Scouts Inc.
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National signing day 2008
What schools have the best classes? Where are the top undecided recruits heading? ESPN.com and Scouts Inc. have you covered in the final month leading up to national signing day.
• Top 25 class rankings
• Team grades: ACC | Big East | Big Ten | SEC
• Team grades: Big 12 | Pac-10 | Best of the rest
• Lawlor: Pryor's choice is not to choose just yet
• Hudson: Jones stays home to play for Alabama
• Signing day blog
• Signing day chat wrap
• Behind the scenes on signing day
• Tucker: Top uncommitted prospects
• Schlabach: Michigan's future could hinge on Pryor
• Forde: Verbals can be risky business
• Florida climbs to No. 1 in class rankings
• WIR: Pryor announcement could be on hold
• Dinich: Recruiting pipelines
• Lawlor: Proud HS coaches
• Dinich: Long and winding road for assistants
• Conley: What happens on home visits
• WIR: Watching the early entries
• Top 10 undecided prospects
• Conley: The final push
• WIR: Uncommitted prospects hit the road
• DaQuan Bowers tops final ESPN 150
• Pac-10 part one | Part two
• ACC Atlantic | ACC Coastal
• Big Ten part one | Part two
• Big 12 North | Big 12 South
• Big East
• Notre Dame and best of non-BCS
• SEC East | SEC West
• Follow the latest commitments