Irish land top class of non-BCS conference schools
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. 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.
The first class of the Larry Fedora era was impressive. One of Fedora's key moves was hiring former Ole Miss assistant Tony Hughes, who helped lure some good in-state talent to the Golden Eagles. Hughes played a role in signing No. 7 rated wide receiver DeAndre Brown (Ocean Springs, Miss.), a blow to some SEC programs, and helped bring aboard underrated running back Desmond Johnson (Yazoo City, Miss.), who when healthy can fly and gain big yards. Southern Miss signed seven prospects -- more than double the last two classes combined -- with grades of 76 or higher.
UCF's amazing transformation between the white lines has recruits taking notice. Leading a once winless program to a Conference USA title and a 10-win season helped George O'Leary and the Knights sign six prospects rated 75 or higher in this year's class. Running back Brandon Davis (Suwanee, Ga,/Peachtree) brings the physical tools to carry some of the offensive load vacated by Kevin Smith, who declared early for the NFL draft. Two in-state steals are guard Steven Robinson (Tallahassee, Fla./Lincoln) and linebacker David Williams (Fort Lauderdale, Fla./Cardinal Gibbons).
Todd Dodge's first season at the helm for North Texas was not the most successful. But much like Tim Brewster is doing at Minnesota, he is building excitement around his pass-happy program and boasts a solid 2008 recruiting class to show for it. North Texas did a good job scooping up residual prospects with redeeming qualities who slid through the cracks of more prominent Lone Star State programs. In some cases, North Texas just stole a few away from the big schools. Originally committed to Texas, Dodge's son Riley Dodge (Southlake, Texas/Carroll), rated as the No. 17 quarterback prospect in the country, should greatly assist in the turnaround of the one-time Sun Belt Conference champions. Aside from Dodge, the Mean Green had glaring needs on the entire roster, mainly on a defense. Royce Hill (Houston/Cypress Ridge), who ranked as the No. 31 cornerback prospect in the country, should help a struggling pass defense right away. DaWaylon Cook (Dallas/Samuel Clemons) is one of the best pure athletes in this class and his versatility will be much needed to fill the multiple weaknesses exposed on both sides of the ball in 2007.
A successful season and bowl victory helped ECU sign a good recruiting class filled with a couple of sleepers. Talented running back Adrian Jones (Laurinburg, N.C./Scotland) slipped through the hands of bigger programs in the Carolinas. Dalton Faulds (Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla./Nease) was a good pickup at guard out of the great Nease program in Florida. Defensively, the Pirates got some much-needed help up front in disruptive defensive tackle Anthony Garner (Sliver City, N.C./ Jordan-Matthews).
This is solid class with two prospects rated in the top 25 at their respective positions. After an impressive 11-2 season, coach Bronco Mendenhall is seeing some of the results pay off on the recruiting trail. The class as a whole is a bit top-heavy, and losing ESPN 150 prospect Uona Kaveinga (Lawndale, Calif./Leuzinger) on signing day hurt. Still tight end Austin Holt (Jordan, Utah/Bingham), safety Daniel Sorenson (Colton, Calif.) and receiver O'Neill Chambers, (Harmony, Fla.), a potential sleeper in this class, could contribute early.
The national success has not paid dividends on the recruiting trail for Hawaii, perhaps one of the reasons June Jones left the beautiful island. Defensive coordinator turned head coach Greg McMackin landed a good in-state prospect down the stretch in massive top-30 guard Tuiatua Tuiasosopo (Honolulu/Saint Louis). But the Warriors lost some of program's top prospects, as well. Steven Christian (Sacramento, Calif./John F. Kennedy) is a fine-looking athlete who projects best as a defensive back and could see early playing time with his versatility in coverage.
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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
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• Big East
• Notre Dame and best of non-BCS
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