Grading the top 25 classes of 2006
Here are the top 25 classes, complete with letter grades, for 2006:
1. Florida: A
The nation's best receiver, the nation's third best quarterback and 11 ESPN 150 players. Urban Meyer sold his program well and has gotten the prospects he needs for both his spread offense and his 4-3 defense.
2. USC: A
So much for rebuilding. They've filled holes with three talented running backs and answered defensive needs with two of the nation's top safeties and outside linebackers.
3. Texas: A
Texas struck early to keep most of the top talent in their own state -- only two players come from outside of Texas. QB Jevan Snead will compete for the starting job and OLB Sergio Kindle is already on campus and can be impact player as a freshman.
4. Georgia: A
Despite QB Matthew Stafford being largely anonymous throughout the recruiting process, he is one of the top quarterbacks in the country and will compete for the starting job. Georgia added safety Reshad Jones to cap off a stellar class in the defensive secondary. On signing day they also added a top running back in Knowshon Moreno.
5. Notre Dame: A
Notre Dame increased athleticism and team speed across the board as Charlie Weis parlayed surprising on-field success to the recruiting trails. RB James Aldridge reminds us a lot of a young Cadillac Williams.
6. Florida State: A-
Late addition wide receiver Damon McDaniel adds an offensive weapon and linebacker Marcus Ball fills a need on defense. S Anthony Leon, one of the most underrated players in the country, coupled with S Myron Rolle, our No. 1 overall rated player, will make an imposing secondary for years to come.
7. Oklahoma: A-
Along with Adrian Peterson, No. 1 rated RB DeMarco Murray could be part of the best 1-2 punch backfield in the country. He's the most versatile player in this class and has the potential to wow as a freshman. On signing day Oklahoma landed two big in-state prospects in defensive tackle Gerald McCoy and TE Jermaine Gresham.
8. LSU: A-
The Tigers have dominated the state of Louisiana and have added speed to their secondary with No. 1-rated corner Jai Eugene and three safeties rated 7.0 or above. LSU added another top defensive tackle in Charles Deas to go along with No. 1 rated tackle Al Woods.
9. Penn State: A-
Maryland is now getting a zip code in State College -- they've snagged three ESPN 150 recruits from the state. No. 1-rated DE Maurice Evans is the best player nobody knows about, for now.
10. Ohio State: A-
The Buckeyes have started to reload at linebacker with two ESPN 150 players at the position. They've also filled key impact positions at defensive end and running back with in-state players Robert Rose and Chris Wells.
11. Michigan: B+
Michigan addressed defensive secondary needs with the addition of safety Jonas Mouton and S/CB Steve Brown. Justin Boren and Steve Schilling fit the mold of typical Michigan maulers from offensive lines of past.
12. Auburn: B+
Last year's class was loaded on the defensive side, and this year the Tigers are meeting needs at quarterback and wide receiver on offense. The defense hasn't been neglected though as they've filled needs along their front seven.
13. Clemson: B
The Tigers made a big late addition with running back C.J. Spiller. Clemson has addressed needs in the front-seven with bookend ESPN 150 defensive ends Jamie Cumbie and Ricky Sapp. ESPN 150 DB Byron Maxwell could play either corner or safety and is a physical presence.
14. Mississippi: B
Ole Miss has not seen potential impact players like this since Eli and Archie Manning played in Oxford. High school teammates Markeith Summers and Allen Walker coupled with RB Cordera Eason make an explosive trio.
16. Pittsburgh: B
The Panthers weathered the storm of a disappointing early season and were able to keep key early commits that came with the hype of Dave Wannstedt returning home to coach. DT John Malecki is a potential sleeper.
17. Miami, Fla.: B-
Coaching changes right in the thick of recruiting season didn't help. Though they lost QB Patrick Devlin to Penn State, they landed a huge RB prospect in Kylan Robinson, a transfer from Anchorage, Alaska who burst on to the scene in Tampa.
18. Alabama: B-
The strength of this class starts with the addition of in-state offensive lineman Andre Smith. Should be an impact player the moment he steps on campus. Had QB Greg McElroy played as a junior, he might have had a lot more publicity. He's a solid get after missing out on QBs Tim Tebow and Mitch Mustain. The Tide's defensive back seven has some nice additions, including high-motor LB Charlie Higgenbotham.
19. UCLA: B-
The Bruins have worked their way into competing with USC for California's top recruits, but they still don't have much to show for it with the likes of LB Joshua Tatum and RB Stafon Johnson picking the Trojans over the Bruins.
20. Tennessee: B-
The Vols have a better class than many are giving them credit for. Sleeper QB Nick Stephens out of Texas has real upside. They have three solid tight ends, though Lee Smith may end up being a defensive end at the college level.
21. Louisville: B-
Late additions of S Brandon Heath and DE Deantwan Whitehead provide a big boost on the defensive side of the ball for the Cardinals. Luring Josh Chichester out of Ohio, who's a big receiving target, is a big coup.
22. Texas A&M: B-
Texas has ruled the state everywhere except at running back; the state's three top-rated runners, Michael Goodson, E.J. Shankle and Latreal Cooper, will all head to College Station. Jerrod Johnson and Kenny Brown also add depth at wide receiver.
23. Maryland: B-
The Terps let an opportunity to land an outstanding class slip away by letting some of their in-state talent leave the border. That said, the Terps landed two top in-state kids in CB Pha'Terrell Washington and WR Drew Gloster.
24. Virginia Tech: B-
The Hokies are a perennial top-10 program and their recruiting class isn't about stars. It's about quality from top to bottom. Frank Beamer and his staff do the best job of projecting prospect upside out of any program in the country.
25. North Carolina: B-
The Tar Heels added depth and team speed across the board. There really wasn't a position other than kicker that they missed on. Getting ESPN 150 DT Aleric Mullins on signing day was a nice exclamation point.
Tom Luginbill is the national director of recruiting for Scouts Inc.
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