Commentary

USC jumps to No. 2; Rutgers, Vols enter top 10

Originally Published: July 9, 2008
By Tom Luginbill | Scouts Inc.

Tom SavageTom HauckRecruits like ESPN 150 Watch List QB Tom Savage have Rutgers in the top 10 for the first time.
Even when our first edition of the top 10 classes came out in the first week of June, it was -- and still is -- extremely difficult to come up with a team ranking. Not every team plays with the same deck and number of commits vs. quality of commits can often skew these rankings at such an early juncture.

With that being said, Texas, who we are not convinced would be our No. 1 class in February (or even October for that matter), remains No. 1 at this stage for its combination of numbers and quality prospects. Ohio State has tremendous numbers and quality from the top through the middle of the class, but we still question some of the bottom of its class, and feel Texas' is stronger top-to-bottom. Nonetheless, it has continued to add good players while LSU and Georgia have slowed their paces somewhat, so OSU has elevated above Georgia and LSU.

We feel there will be a ranking tug-o-war between LSU, Georgia and OSU all the way to February and remember, numbers do not mean everything.

Yes, we have moved USC into the top two. Its combination of outstanding prospects with speed and athleticism, coupled with good numbers gives us confidence the Trojans are on their way to a premier class. They have many potential impact players and quality from top to bottom.

It is amazing what winning and national television exposure can do for a program and now all the fruits of Rutgers' labor are starting to pay dividends as it enters into our top 10 for the first time ever. Its class is extremely strong on defense with speed and playmakers, and the most important piece of the puzzle might be its quarterback of the future Tom Savage (Philadelphia/Cardinal O'Hara).

Are the Volunteers on their way back? Early indications are the addition of new offensive wiz David Clawson has proved to be pivotal on the recruiting trail with offensive skill players and quarterbacks jumping on board early, with the likes of QB Josh Nunes (Upland, Calif.) and RB Jarvis Giles (Tampa, Fla./Gaither). The surprising contract extension of Phil Fulmer won't hurt down the road either.

Below is a look at our updated, long-ways-away-from-being-final top-10 recruiting classes.

Top 2009 recruiting classes (July 2008)
(verbal commitments as of July 8, 2008)
(previous rank in parenthesis)

19 verbal commitments
[+] EnlargeMason Walters
Frenship HS athleticsMason Walters is one of four offensive linemen committed to Texas.
Numbers coupled with overall top-to-bottom talent keep the Longhorns here... for now. They have a unique situation not having to leave their state but also pass up a lot of good players by not doing so.

15 verbal commitments
Speed, speed and more speed. Stealing ATH Byron Moore away from crosstown rival UCLA was big. The Trojans have too many players not to be recognized, and at this pace they could have a special class come February.

25 verbal commitments
The number of commits is pretty impressive and so are the top six or seven players. Looks like the Buckeyes' coaching staff can now spend their time sewing things up, while focusing on the 2010 class and making sure these birds don't fly the coop over the next several months.

13 verbal commitments
[+] EnlargeJon Bostic
Tom HauckESPN 150 Watch List linebacker Jon Bostic has LSU among his schools of interest.
It has been slow going for the defending national champs over the last five weeks, but the next target for them is sure to be OLB Jon Bostic (Wellington, Fla./Palm Beach). Expect things to heat up for them again late summer/early fall.

11 verbal commitments
Speaking of slow going, the Bulldogs are circling the airport and have been in a holding pattern for sometime now, but the pups that are on board are excellent. O-Line, quarterback and running back seem to be set for quite awhile in Athens.

10 verbal commitments
After exploding out of the gate, the Tigers have slowed somewhat as well. Running back seems to be a strength again with underrated Larry Raper (Shelby, N.C.) and Ben Axon (Bradenton, Fla./Manatee) on board. With all these players, expectations at Clemson are going to skyrocket -- especially if it can live up to the hype this fall.

14 verbal commitments
Yet another jet circling the airport. The Sooners should expect a couple of O-Line prospects to bolster this group in the coming months. The development of OLB Ronnell Lewis (Dewar, Okla.) will be nice to follow especially if he can find a home and settle in against great competition.

12 verbal commitments
The addition of a kicker here in Dustin Hopkins (Houston/Clear Lake) is huge -- he can kick and punt. For the second year in a row, FSU is off to a fast start after traditionally making waves at the end.

[+] EnlargeJe'ron Stokes
Tom Hauck/ESPN.comJe'ron Stokes was the first player to commit to Tennessee's 2009 class.
19 verbal commitments
We mentioned QB Tom Savage, but the defensive secondary is being taken care of as well. Cornerback Ryan Logan (Voorhees, N.J./Eastern) and safeties Gerald Hodges (Paulsboro, N.J.) and Sanu Mohamed (South Brunswick, N.J.) can run. Updated stadium expansion isn't hurting them either.

11 verbal commitments
Wide receiver Je'Ron Stokes (Philadelphia/North East) is a much needed vertical threat and Damien Thigpen (Manassas, Va./Stonewall Jackson) is lightning in a bottle and would be great for David Clawson's offense, but he might be tailored for the corner position.

On the cusp: Auburn, South Florida, Alabama, Michigan, North Carolina, Penn State and Texas A&M.

Bill Conley, Craig Haubert and Billy Tucker contributed to this story.

Tom Luginbill is the national director of recruiting for Scouts Inc. Luginbill is a college football and recruiting studio analyst for ESPNU.

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