Commentary

Tigers Geaux to top of class rankings

On a day full of surprises, LSU and the SEC dominated the Top 25.

Updated: February 5, 2009, 3:59 PM ET
By Scouts Inc. | ESPN.com

In a day that saw plenty of big surprises, LSU made sure there wasn't an upset at the top of the Scouts Inc. class rankings. Les Miles and the Tigers signed 10 ESPNU 150 prospects, including several players ranked at the top of their position.

That's not to say a few teams didn't try to make it interesting. Alabama made a late run with seven ESPNU 150 players, including three players who were No. 1 at their positions. It was that kind of day for the SEC, which features four teams in the top 6 and 10 teams in the Top 25.

Fans, please remember that rankings mean nothing now, but two to three years from now is when you will know a class' value. Just remember it was the Class of 2006 that Florida landed Tim Tebow and Percy Harvin, among others, who just led the Gators to their second national title in three years.

LSU

1. LSU Tigers

LSU went into signing day with the country's top recruiting class and held onto to it with a strong finish. The Tigers had a big day, inking raw but very talented defensive end Sam Montgomery (Greenwood, S.C.) and ESPN's No. 1 receiver Rueben Randle (Bastrop, La.). The Tigers signed 10 ESPNU 150 prospects and addressed areas of need with speed and athleticism. They raided the state of Texas for some of the better prospects in the country, including ESPN's top-rated safety Craig Loston (Aldine, Texas/Eisenhower) and No. 1 athlete Russell Shepard (Houston/Cy-Ridge). Shepard eventually could be the answer at quarterback thanks to his electrifying dual-threat skills, but he could be employed first at any number of skill positions. Joshua Downs (Bastrop, La.), the No. 4 DT in the country, leads the Tigers' in-state recruits. He could develop into a disruptive force in Baton Rouge, and defensive line was a position that needed to be addressed by the Tigers. He's joined by DT Chris Davenport (Mansfield, La.) and ESPNU 150 RB Michael Ford (Leesville, La.), who will be a legit high-carry back for LSU. CB Janzen Jackson (Lake Charles, La./Barbe) is expected to sign with the Tigers and that will make an already impressive class even better.

Alabama

2. Alabama Crimson Tide

Alabama signed an elite class in 2008 and 2009 was just as good, if not a little better. The Crimson Tide signed nine players from the ESPNU 150, up from seven from last year's third-ranked class. Premier corner Dre Kirkpatrick, (Gadsden, Ala.), teammate WR Kendall Kelly (Gadsden, Ala.) and top 10 OLB Tana Patrick (Stevenson, Ala./North Jackson) headline the class. Kirkpatrick gives the Tide three No. 1 positional prospects, joining RB Trent Richardson (Pensacola, Fla./Escambia) and OT D.J. Fluker (Foley, Ala.). Richardson was a significant pickup with the loss of Glenn Coffee to the NFL and should immediately challenge RB Mark Ingram for reps. He has a supreme blend of size, speed and power as a downhill back. The massive Fluker could be inserted into Andre Smith's left tackle spot. Alabama also signed ESPN's No. 4 quarterback prospect A.J. McCarron (Mobile, Ala./Saint Paul's Episcopal) to add depth to the position with the graduation of John Parker Wilson. The defense also got a much-needed boost in the middle of their 3-4 defense with top 5 inside 'backers Nico Johnson (Andalusia, Ala.) and Petey Smith (Seffner, Fla./Armwood). The overall top-to-bottom quality in this class is very impressive.

Texas

3. Texas Longhorns

Texas did not have a flashy signing day, but it was a good one. The Longhorns just continue to reload and did a great job filling their needs at offensive line and running back. They got after it early with this class and, as usual, stayed at home and signed just a handful of prospects outside of the state. No. 1 center Mason Walters (Wolfforth, Texas/Frenship) and No. 2 offensive tackle Paden Kelley (Austin, Texas/Lake Travis) headline a talented group of offensive line prospects. Overall, this class has nine top-10 positional prospects, including major offensive firepower with ESPN's No. 2 quarterback Garrett Gilbert (Austin, Texas/Lake Travis), well-rounded tight end Barrett Matthews (Houston/North Shore) and 6-foot-3 running back Chris Whaley (Madisonville, Texas). Of all the prospects in this group, Gilbert has the talent to be a special player in Austin and help the Longhorns continue being an annual national title contender. Adding talented youth on the defensive perimeter was important and Texas has a great one in top 10 corner Marcus Davis (League City, Texas/Clear Creek).

USC

4. USC Trojans

It's no surprise to see the Trojans near the top of the final recruiting rankings as they have consistently recruited well under coach Pete Carroll. The Trojans did lose a few prospects on signing day in ESPNU 150 receiver Alshon Jeffrey (Saint Matthews, S.C/Calhoun County) and No. 1 ILB Vontaze Burfict (Corona, Calif./Centennial), but landing No. 3 OLB Frankie Telfort (Miami/Gulliver), No. 6 OLB Jarvis Jones and No. 1 DE Devon Kennard (Chandler, Ariz./Desert Vista) softens the blow. Getting back No. 4 athlete Byron Moore Jr. (Harbor City, Calif./Narbonne) on signing day also had to bring smiles to the Trojans' staff. USC boasts an impressive nine ESPNU 150 prospects and started off strong with ESPN's No 1 overall player, QB Matt Barkley (Santa Ana, Calif./Mater Dei), committing over a year ago. The class includes three players who rank No. 1 at their positions -- including guard John Martinez (Salt Lake City, Utah/Cottonwood) -- as well as three more players who rank within the top five at their respective positions. And while safety T.J. McDonald (Fresno, Calif./Edison) and offensive tackle Kevin Graf (Agoura, Calif.) are USC legacies (their dads played for the Trojans), that's not the reason they were signed. McDonald is the 10th-rated safety and Graf is the fourth-ranked OT in the country.

Florida

5. Florida Gators

With half of their class residing in the ESPNU 150, the Gators are capitalizing on their second national title in three years. Florida enjoyed a big signing day with the pickup of No. 2 OLB Jelani Jenkins (Wheaton, Md./Good Counsel). However, the defection of our No. 2-rated CB Greg Reid (Valdosta, Ga./Lowndes) down the stretch to rival Florida State still stings in Gainesville. The addition of WR Andre Debose (Sanford, Fla./Seminole) couldn't come at a better time as Percy Harvin is heading for the NFL, and DeBose is Harvin-like in his speed and versatility. The Gators added impact defensive players in Gary Brown (Quincy, Fla./West Gadsden), who is quietly one of the best DTs in the country, and top-10 linebacker Jon Bostic (Wellington, Fla./Palm Beach Central) could eventually replace some of Brandon Spikes production in the middle. And don't forget about ESPN's No. 2 safety in 2008 Dee Finley (Auburn, Ala./Milford Academy), who officially joined this class after a year in prep school. Speedy athlete Josh Evans (Irvington, N.J.), who could eventually play defensive back, was also a nice pickup on signing day.

Georgia

6. Georgia Bulldogs

Georgia had a big signing day by landing No. 3 WR Marlon Brown (Memphis, Tenn./Harding) and doing a great job of filling needs in this class. The Bulldogs have the daunting task of replacing QB Matthew Stafford and RB Knowshon Moreno, but landed one of more prolific runners in Georgia history with 2009 RB Washaun Ealey (Twin City, Ga./Emanuel County) and signed Aaron Murray (Tampa, Fla./Plant) and Zach Mettenberger (Watkinsville, Ga./Oconee County), the Nos. 3 and 9 rated quarterbacks, respectively. Murray's the better athlete and gunslinger, while Mettenberger will remind Georgia fans of David Greene with a stronger arm. The Bulldogs also signed help upfront with No. 5 OT Austin Long (Memphis, Tenn./Briarcrest Christian) and No. 2 OG Chris Burnette (La Grange, Ga./Troup Comprehensive). On the other side of the ball, ESPN 150 CB Branden Smith (Atlanta, Ga./Booker T. Washington) will help make up for the loss of Asher Allen to the NFL.

Miami

7. Miami Hurricanes

Miami had a quiet signing day but still signed another top 10 class to add to last year's No. 1 overall class. Randy Shannon & Co. have been able to lure championship-caliber defensive talent to South Florida and their most recent addition, S Ray Ray Armstrong (Sanford, Fla./Seminole), could be another Kenny Phillips. While it's still important for the Canes to sign RB Bryce Brown (Wichita, Kan./East) after signing day, we feel both Lamar Miller (Miami/Killian) and Mike James (Davenport, Fla./Ridge Community) combine for similar attributes. We thought Miami needed to focus on the cornerback position in this class and it did just that, signing No. 5 corner Prince Kent (Norcross, Ga.) and sleeper athlete Jamal Reid (Mayo, Fla./Lafayette). Getting versatile DE/TE Billy Sanders (Coeur D'Alene, Idaho/lake City) back on signing day will add great depth to both sides of the ball.

FSU

8. Florida State Seminoles

It's no surprise coach Bobby Bowden closed strong and signed a top 10 class. He's been doing it for years and this year's late run was highlighted by his ability to snag No. 2 corner Greg Reid (Valdosta, Ga/Lowndes) from Florida. The Seminoles signed four prospects in the ESPNU 150 and eight who rank in the top-20 at their respective positions. FSU has reloaded on defense in this class, especially along the defensive front. Under Armour All-American Jacobbi McDaniel (Greenville, Fla./Madison County) is the nation's fifth-rated prospect, and the No. 1-rated defensive tackle. With sack artist Everette Brown bolting for the NFL, the addition of explosive DE Demonte McAllister (Tampa, Fla./Alonso) is also big. Top 10 safety Gerald Demps adds versatility and talent at safety, which was needed. The class also features some tall receiving targets, including 6-foot-6 Rodney Smith (Miami/Archbishop Carroll), a top-20 receiver prospect, and Willie Downs (Tallahassee, Fla./Godby). who may make the move to safety. Don't underestimate the importance of special teams as the Seminoles signed Dustin Hopkins (Houston/Clear Lake), ESPN's top kicker.

Ohio State

9. Ohio State Buckeyes

The Buckeyes did a good job of retaining most of the state's top players as well as landing a few key out of state prospects. Landing the explosive Jaamal Berry (Miami/Palmetto) out of Florida, the No. 3-rated running back, softened the blow of Chris "Beanie" Wells leaving early for the NFL. And signing three top-30 linebacker prospects, highlighted by Dorian Bell (Monroeville, Pa./Gateway), the No. 4-rated outside linebacker who can run and hit as well any backer in this class, helps ease the pain of losing Ohio State is also losing LBs James Laurinaitis and Marcus Freeman. The Buckeyes signed several good receivers, including ESPNU 150 prospect Duron Carter (Ft Lauderdale, Fla./St. Thomas Aquinas). Ohio State has a solid class that filled up quickly, but we do the question the future impact of some of OSU's lower signees. The loss of athlete Justin Green (Louisville, Ky./Louisville Male) to Illinois was significant as well.

Michigan

10. Michigan Wolverines

Despite having a disappointing first year under Rich Rodriguez, fans have to be pleased with Michigan's successful signing day. The Wolverines got their much-need second quarterback in Denard Robinson (Deerfield Beach, Fla.), who is a difference-maker with the ball in his hands and has deceptively good passing skills. They were also able to sign QB Tate Forcier (San Diego/Scripps Ranch). Snagging top-10 receiver Je'Ron Stokes (Philadelphia/Northeast) from Tennessee was also huge and increases their overall speed. Michigan also signed some prospects with great upside including DE Anthony LaLota (Princeton, N.J./The Hun School) and OT Taylor Lewan (Scottsdale, Ariz./Chaparral). LaLota is still fairly new to the game of football, but has the tools to be a good college defensive end, while Lewan has a great frame and wonderful potential. The addition of No. 6 guard Quinton Washington (Saint Stephen, S.C./Timberland) will also improve their line upfront. The Wolverines' defense will also get a boost from disruptive edge rusher Craig Roh (Scottsdale, Ariz./Chaparral) and 6-foot-1 safety Isaiah Bell (Youngstown, Ohio/Liberty).

Oklahoma

11. Oklahoma Sooners

No significant news out of Norman on signing day. It was just business as usual for the Sooners as they signed a top 10 class. This class should make defensive coordinator Brent Venables smile as it's loaded on his side of the ball with their top six prospects all defensive players . Interior additions Jamarkus McFarland (Lufkin, Texas), the sixth-ranked DT, and fellow top 10 defensive lineman Justin Chaisson (Las Vegas/Bishop Gorman) and safeties Kevin Brent (Dallas/South Oak Cliff) and Gabe Lynn (Jenks, Okla.) bolsters OU's defensive class. The linebacker group of Tom Wort (New Braunfels, Texas), Ronnell Lewis (Dewar, Okla.), Gus Jones (Wagoner, Okla.) and Jaydan Bird (Conway Springs, Kan.) is one of the better units in the country. Lewis could be this year's biggest sleeper as the athletic linebacker's background is 8-on-8 football. There was some bad news as losing receiver Eric Ward (Rider, Texas) down the stretch to Texas Tech definitely still stings -- wideout was a position of need for the Sooners -- but it's still an impressive haul.

South Carolina

12. South Carolina Gamecocks

Landing in-state ESPNU 150 wide receiver Alshon Jeffrey (Saint Matthews, S.C./Calhoun County) from USC was a major coup for the Gamecocks and one of the biggest surprises on signing day. South Carolina also bolstered its receiving corps by signing 6-foot-3 WR Lamar Scruggs (Neptune Beach, Fla./Fletcher), who will form a nice tandem with Jeffrey. Explosive RB Jarvis Giles (Tampa, Fla./Gaither) was another big addition, but the Gamecocks failed to land a top-tier quarterback, which we thought was necessary. However, Steve Spurrier did manage to bring in one of the best defensive backs groups the SEC has seen in recent years. Safeties Stephon Gilmore (Rock Hill, S.C./South Pointe), Devonte Holloman (Rock Hill, S.C./South Pointe), Damario Jeffery (Columbia, S.C.), Chris Payne (Columbia, S.C.) and D.J. Swearinger (Greenwood, S.C.), who are all within the top 15 at the position and Gilmore, Holloman and Jeffery are in the top 6. But don't be surprised if Holloman, Jeffery and Payne could switch to OLB.

North Carolina

13. North Carolina Tar Heels

North Carolina bounced back strong on the recruiting trail from a year ago as Butch Davis continues to turn around the Tar Heels' once-struggling program. Based on this class, their quarterback play should be productive and consistent for years to come due to the signings of QB Bryn Renner (Lorton, Va./West Springfield) and ATH Donavan Tate (Cartersville, Ga.). Renner is an underpublicized prospect, but he's a terrific athlete who could easily become a dual-threat player for Davis. Tate would also give the Tar Heels quarterback position a boost, if he decides to play football, because he also a highly-touted baseball prospect. Whoever is under center, will have WR Jheranie Boyd (Gastonia, N.C./Ashbrook), who is UNC's highest-rated prospect, to throw to. He will certainly help fill the void left by WR Hakeem Nicks, who is opting for the NFL. The Tar Heels also landed top 10 DE Donte Moss (Jacksonville, N.C./Hillside).

Notre Dame

14. Notre Dame Fighting Irish

The rivalry between Notre Dame and USC got a little hotter as the Fighting Irish lured away two top recruits, No. 1 OLB prospect Manti Te'o (Honolulu/Punahou) and No. 4 WR prospect Shaquelle Evans (Inglewood, Calif./Inglewood). Te'o should make an immediate impact due to his size, speed and often-underrated instincts, while Evans is a difference-maker at receiver and in the return game. These are off-the-field victories over USC, which might lead to some wins down the road over the Trojans. Aside from Te'o and Evans, the Irish boast two other top-five positional prospects in DT Tyler Stockton (Princeton, N.J./The Hun School) and OG Chris Watt (Glen Ellyn, Ill./Glenbard West). Stockton, the No. 3 DT, might lack ideal size, but is extremely quick off the ball and good against the run or pass. Stockton, Watt and versatile S Zeke Motta (Vero Beach, Fla.) filled positions of need in South Bend, but ESPNU 150 ATHs Cierre Wood (Oxnard, Calif./Santa Clara) and E.J. Banks (McKees Rocks, Pa./Montour) could be key to this class due to their potential.

Tennessee

15. Tennessee Volunteers

Tennessee had its ups and downs the past, but new coach Lane Kiffin weathered the storm and signed a strong class, despite not signing a quarterback. Kiffin and his veteran recruiting staff had a successful signing day, which featured No. 13 WR Nu'Keese Richardson (Pahokee, Fla.), No. 5 safety Darren Myles (Atlanta/Carver) and No. 12 OLB Jerod Askew (Chesapeake, Va./Oscar Frommel Smith). Askew is very explosive and could see the field early. However, the decommitment of RB David Oku (Midwest City, Okla./Carl Albert), the loss of No.8 WR Je'Ron Stokes (Philadelphia/North East) to Michigan and failing to sign in-state WR Marlon Brown (Memphis, Tenn./Harding Academy) will sting. But, we feel the Vols will be near the top of next year's recruiting class after having a full recruiting season under their belt.

Penn State

16. Penn State Nittany Lions

Joe Paterno has taken a lot of heat for his age, but continues to prove he can win and recruit as reflected in this top 15 class. Penn State didn't make a lot of significant noise on signing day, but the addition of top 25 WR Justin Brown (Wilmington, DE/Concord) was huge. He brings great size (6-foot-3) to a position in need of some talented youth. WR Shawney Kersey (Woodbury, N.J.) was also a solid pickup down the stretch, but we thought PSU could have done better to help compensate for the loss of their three key playmakers. Paterno hopes he found Daryll Clark's successor in Kevin Newsome (Hargrave Military Academy), especially now that Pat Devlin transferred. The Nittany Lions' incoming class also features some talented offensive linemen, including two top-25 tackle prospects in Eric Shrive (Scranton, Pa./West Scranton) and Mark Arcidiacono (Philadelphia/St. Joseph's Prep) and the No. 5-rated center in Ty Howle (Bunn, N.C.). The defense and special teams also needed to be replenished because several upperclassmen are manning the secondary and accomplished kicker Kevin Kelly moved on. Which is why No. 6 corner Darrell Givens (Indian Head, Md./Lackey) and No. 2 kicker Anthony Fera (Houston/Saint Pius X) were crucial signings.

UCLA

17. UCLA Bruins

Most of the recruiting spotlight in the city of Los Angeles is usually focused on USC, but that could be changing quickly judging by this class and the way it closed. The Bruins had a successful signing day, particularly upfront on the offensive line with Stan Hasiak (Kapolei, Hawaii) and No. 3 OT Xavier Su'a-Filo (Pleasant Grove,Utah/Timpview) signing. Although there is plenty of work to be done, UCLA's class has some strong points. The Bruins are hoping they found their quarterback of the future in ESPNU 150 prospect Richard Brehaut (Rancho Cucamonga, Calif./Los Osos). Working to leave no stone unturned, UCLA lured some other talent away from other programs aside from Hasiak (Cal) that can help the Bruins, such as former Arizona commit linebacker Taniela Maka (Long Beach, Calif./David Starr Jordan), a former Arizona commit, and the No. 1-ranked tight end Morrell Presley (Carson, Calif.). Presley was a big get for the Bruins; they were able to get him away from rival USC. Presley is a good player who can help the Bruins offense right away. The Bruins were also able to get back a prospect they lost in corner Marlon Pollard (San Bernardino, Calif./Cajon), who is one of three top-50 corners in the Bruins' class.

Va Tech

18. Virginia Tech Hokies

No. 22 CB Jayron Hosley (Del Ray Beach, Fla./Atlantic Community) was a nice land on signing day and one of the few prospects signed outside the state. The Hokies' class has a potential difference-maker at RB in David Wilson (Danville, Va./George Washington), who has more speed than incumbent Darren Evans and could be good change of pace. Virginia Tech also signed two quality ATHs in Logan Thomas (Lynchburg, Va./Brookville) and Theron Norman (Richmond, Va./Hermitage). Thomas is built a lot like Ohio State's Terrelle Pryor and could play wide receiver, H-back or even QB, while Thomas could make an impact at safety or receiver. Most importantly, the Hokies signed sleeper LB Tariq Edwards (Cheraw, S.C./Marlboro County), who fills a need and could make an impact in the near future.

Clemson

19. Clemson Tigers

The Tigers fell short of their No. 2 finish in 2008, but after a tumultuous fall did sign five ESPNU 150 prospects including top-10 WR Bryce McNeal (Minneapolis/Breck) and top 5 QB Tajh Boyd (Hampton, Va./Phoebus). Clemson's class also boasts No. 11 OT J.K. Jay (Greenville, S.C./Christ Church), who's already on campus, and No. 9 DE Malliciah Goodman (Florence, S.C./West). Goodman and DaQuan Bowers could give Clemson a formidable bookend duo. Also, Clemson has a verbal commit from Under Armour All-American LB Eric Fields (Warner Robins, Ga./Northside), who would fill a major need for the Tigers, but it looks like he will be a late qualifier.

Arkansas

20. Arkansas Razorbacks

No significant news out of Fayetteville on signing day but Bobby Petrino have to be pleased with his top-20 class, despite a lack of success during the season. He has aimed to keep the top in-state prospects within Arkansas' borders, and it showed. The Razorbacks landed three of the state's top-five prospects, led by No. 3 CB Darius Winston (Helena, Ark./West Helena Central) and No. 5 OG Colby Berna (Fayettevill, Ark.). However, the Razorbacks have done well in surrounding areas as well by signing No. 12 CB David Gordon (Tulsa, Okla./East Central), RB Knile Davis (Missouri City, Texas/Thurgood Marshall), Ronnie Wingo (Saint Louis/Saint Louis University) and USC transfer RB Broderick Green. Gordon will enhance the team's overall speed, while Davis is a sleeper who could develop into a productive, workhorse back.

Rutgers

21. Rutgers Scarlet Knights

Coach Greg Schiano knows the importance of defense, which reflected in this year's recruiting class. Four of the Scarlet Knights' top-five recruits line up on defense, including No. 9 DT Antwan Lowery (Miami, Fla./Christopher Columbus). However, No. 8 QB Tom Savage (Philadelphia/Cardinal O'Hara) is their best prospect and one of the top pocket-passers in the nation. If it wasn't for decommitments from No. 3 C Mark Brazinski (Basking Ridge, N.J./Immaculata), No. 23 RB Desmond Scott (Durham, N.C./Hillside) and safeties Terrance Taylor (Miami/Archbishop Carroll) and Gerald Hodges (Paulsboro, N.J.), the Scarlet Knights would have been much higher on this list.

Ole Miss

22. Ole Miss Rebels

Mississippi head coach Houston Nutt has carried his programs' on-field success over to the recruiting trail in 2009; Ole Miss signed a talented and deep class. There are some questions about how many of these players the Rebels will actually head to Oxford next fall -- the oversigned the limit by more than 10 players. The Rebels had a successful signing day with the inking of top-15 WR Pat Patterson (Macon, Miss./Noxubee County) and ESPNU 150 TE Zaccheus Mason (Nashville, Tenn./Christ Presbyterian) on offense. The physically impressive Willie Ferrell (Tallahassee, Fla./Florida A. & M. U.) could make an impact at inside linebacker. Korvic Neat (Hallandale, Fla.) and Rodney Scott (Cross City, Fla./Dixie County) are explosive Sunshine State products when the ball is in their hands, and they will add dynamic presence to Mississippi's offensive roster in the fall. On defense, Ole Miss added a pair of good-sized, well-rounded safeties in Dele Junaid (Fort Bend, Texas/Hightower) and Frank Crawford (Miami/Gulliver). They also landed a major pickup down the stretch in the form of ESPNU 150 defensive end Craig Drummond (Chicago/ Morgan Park), who decommitted from Illinois. He has great size, a long wingspan, excellent reach and could help Ole Miss quickly as a run-stopper with his ability to use his hands and create great separation.

Mississippi State

23. Mississippi State Bulldogs

Recently hired head coach Dan Mullen inherited a solid class, including one ESPNU 150 prospect from Sylvester Croom, and quickly hit the trail signing some gems of his own. Landing WR Brandon Heavens (Bessemer, Ala./Bessemer Academy) from Auburn on signing day sent a message and added another playmaker to Mullen's spread system. Mullen's biggest recruiting achievement was landing Chad Bumphis (Tupelo, Miss.), the state's top-rated athlete and the No. 120 prospect in the 2009 class. Bumphis could serve as a Percy Harvin-type in the new head coach's system. Fellow top-10 Mississippi athletes LaDarius Perkins (Greenville, Miss./St. Joseph), Dennis Thames (Louisville, Miss.), and Jonathan Banks (Maben, Miss./East Webster) will join Bumphis. Look for the versatile, quick-footed Perkins to serve in a similar role to Bumphis'. Under Armour All-American running back Montrell Conner (Monroe, La./Ouachita Parish) is still the Bulldogs' top prospect in a quietly-strong class from top to bottom. Mullen made a huge splash on the trail once he officially became a full-time coach in Starkville.

USF

24. South Florida Bulls

The Bulls land in the Top 25 for the first time in the young program's history. Stealing versatile athlete Kayvon Webster (Miami, Fla./Pace) from Miami was significant, but the most impressive thing about South Florida's recruiting in 2009 is how the Bulls won some of the head-to-head battles against higher-profile universities, including other Florida schools. A perfect example of this is the signing of defensive end Ryne Giddins (Seffner, Fla./Armwood), the nation's fifth-rated player at his position with the pass rushing skills to eventually fill some of the void left by George Selvie. Teammates No. 19 RB Victor Marc (Hallandale, Fla./Hallandale) and No. 13 CB Ricardo Dixon (Hallandale, Fla./Hallandale) had their choice of major schools as well, but signed with the Bulls.

Auburn

25. Auburn Tigers

A once top-15 class has imploded after Tommy Tuberville's resignation in December. But new head man Gene Chizik inherited some quality prospects and landed a few of his own. The loss of WR Brandon Heavens (Bessemer, Ala./Bessemer Academy) to Mississippi State is significant, but landing top-25 quarterback Tyrik Rollison (Sulpher Springs, Texas) down the stretch was a great land for the program; he could develop into a productive dual-threat at that position. Rollison's an important piece to this class but whether he qualifies is the big question. Athlete Travante Stallworth (Leesville, La.) will enhance this roster at a position in need of young depth. Philip Lutzenkirchen (Marietta, Ga./Lassiter) is one of the more athletic pass-catching tight ends in the country. Auburn traditionally has recruited well on defense, and it shows in this class. Terrence Coleman (Mobile, Ala./Williamson) can provide some pressure as a speed-rusher. Athlete Izauea Lanier (Gordo, Ala.) was Chizik's first commitment in his return to The Plains. Lanier's is an underrated skill player with the versatility to play both safety and receiver. Also, former Southern Miss commit Jamar Travis (East Brewton, Ala./W.S. Neal) will be a handful in the trenches.