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Friday, February 14, 2014
Top position classes: DL

By Gerry Hamilton


With national signing day in the books, RecruitingNation is looking at the top position classes. For the full series, click here.

Nationally (and SEC)
Texas A&M went into the 2014 class knowing that size and athleticism was an absolute must on its defensive front. And Kevin Sumlin and staff delivered on those glaring needs. Leading the way is No. 1 defensive end and five-star player Myles Garrett (Arlington, Texas/James Martin), who has the size, speed and power combination to be a difference-maker early on next fall. The 6-foot-5, 247-pound Garrett is joined at defensive end by ESPN 300 No. 203 Qualen Cunningham (Chandler, Ariz./Hamilton), and high three-star Jarrett Johnson (Katy, Texas/Seven Lakes), who has a nonstop motor. While the Aggies have some talented young defensive tackles, continuing to add size and athleticism to the interior was a must. No. 150 DeShawn Washington (Nederland, Texas/Nederland) and four-star early enrollee Zaycoven Henderson (Longview, Texas/Longview) add disruptive explosiveness and athleticism.

The Aggies had the nation’s best defensive line class; here’s which schools had the best in each of the remaining power conferences:

ACC
Miami addressed its needs in the 2014 cycle, and that includes adding talent on the defensive line. While the Hurricanes would have loved to grab one more defensive tackle, this haul includes seven prospects. The class features defensive end and No. 65 prospect Chad Thomas (Miami/Booker T. Washington), who is full of potential and has a terrific frame. No. 133 Trent Harris (Winter Park, Fla./Winter Park High) is a second end with excellent first-step quickness and strength, while three-star Demetrius Jackson (Miami/Booker T. Washington) is another end with upside and a 6-4, 225-pound lengthy frame. On the interior, junior-college prospects Calvin Heurtelou (Spring Valley, N.Y./Scottsdale Community College) and Michael Wyche (Monterey Park, Calif./East Los Angeles College) are expected to play right away, while No. 182 Anthony Moten (Fort Lauderdale, Fla./Saint Thomas Aquinas) brings run-stuffing ability.

Big 12
The early going for defensive line recruiting was tough for new Texas coach Charlie Strong. But the Longhorns closed strong with a key area of need at tackle. No. 266 prospect Poona Ford (Hilton Head, S.C./Hilton Head) picked the Longhorns on signing day, as did three-star Chris Nelson (Lakeland, Fla./Kathleen). While Ford might lack ideal measurables and Nelson may not have the playing experience at the position, both are solid athletes. A third defensive tackle Jake McMillon (Abilene, Texas/Abilene) could be a swing player who has a nose for the ball. At end, Texas signed a potential impact pass rusher in the fall in No. 78 recruit Derick Roberson (San Antonio/William J. Brennan).

Big Ten
Michigan State capitalized on its Rose Bowl win with this 2014 class. With needs along the defensive front, Michigan State went out and signed the best class in the conference. No. 60 Malik McDowell (Southfield, Mich./Southfield) committed to the Spartans on signing day but has yet to sign and is still looking to take visits. With or without McDowell, their class is still strong, led by four-stars Enoch Smith Jr. (Chicago/Mount Carmel) and Craig Evans (Sun Prairie, Wis./Sun Prairie). Another tackle who inked is David Beedle (Clarkston, Mich./Clarkston), who has size with a 6-foot-6, 285-pound frame. While the Spartans would have liked to sign one more end, high three-star Robert Bowers (Columbus, Ohio/Walnut Ridge) brings a long frame, athleticism and toughness. But he needs some time to add bulk and strength.

Pac-12
Arizona State signed the Pac-12's best class, with a mix of high school and junior-college prospects. With immediate needs, the Sun Devils attacked the junior-college ranks and came away with four-star prospects in tackle Dalvin Stuckey (De Funiak Springs, Fla./Pearl River Community College), end Edmond Boateng (Wesley Chapel, Fla./New Mexico Military Institute) and high three-star end Darrius Caldwell (Atlanta/Pearl River Community College). No. 234 prospect Tashon Smallwood (Fresno, Calif./Central East) brings quickness and power to the interior, while No. 239 Connor Humphreys (Portland, Ore./Central Catholic) adds toughness and physicality to the end spot. Three-star Renell Wren (St. Louis/Lutheran) is the fourth end in the class.