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Tuesday, July 8, 2014
Five off to hot starts in Class of 2016

By Craig Haubert

While recruiting remains a marathon and not a sprint, recent trends have shown that it is never too early to look ahead. With the release of the ESPN Junior 300 it is a perfect time to see which programs are having early success. With roughly 10 percent of the prospects in the ESPN Junior 300 committed well over a year and a half before national signing day for the Class of 2016, plenty is still to be determined. Here are five programs, in alphabetical order, standing out early for the 2016 class:

Florida (three commits, all in the ESPN Junior 300): The Gators might be coming off a disappointing 2013 season in which they notched only four wins, but that hasn’t stopped them from remaining active on the recruiting trail. They signed a top-10 class for the 2014 cycle, their 2015 class is ranked in the top 15 and they are among the schools off to a fast start for 2016. The class consists of three talented perimeter prospects, all of whom are ranked in the ESPN Junior 300. Athlete Tyler Byrd, a talented and fundamentally sound prospect, leads the group, and cornerback Chauncey Gardner can be a strong addition to the Florida secondary. Athlete Tre Jackson could also project to play defense, but the speedy prospect will likely contribute at receiver.

LSU (three commits, all in the ESPN Junior 300): The Tigers signed the No. 2 class for 2014, are in the top 10 for 2015 and have begun to assemble a strong foundation for 2016. All three of their commits are in the top 100 of the initial ESPN Junior 300, led by No. 1-ranked defensive tackle Edwin Alexander. A top-10 prospect, Alexander is a quick and disruptive playmaking presence in the trenches. On offense, the Tigers have landed commitments from in-state wide receiver Stephen Sullivan and quarterback Feleipe' Franks, who is a tall signal-caller with a strong arm and quick release.

Miami (five commits, four ranked in the ESPN Junior 300): The only team with five commitments, three of Miami's prospects ranked in the ESPNJr300 came on board within the last few weeks. The class is led by top-three QB-PP Jack Allison, a poised passer with good zip and accuracy. The Canes' most recent pick-up was Dionte Mullins, an aggressive WR with a knack for making the tough catch. Miami also has commitments from a pair of linebackers, led by Shaq Quarterman, a physical run stopper.

Ole Miss (three commits, all in the ESPN Junior 300): The Rebels made noise with a top-five class in 2013 and have maintained a strong presence on the recruiting trail. They signed a top-20 class for 2014 and are off to good start for 2016. All three of the Rebels' commits hail from in state and are ranked in the ESPN Junior 300, led by athlete DeKaylin Metcalf. A local prospect, Metcalf could contribute at receiver or in the secondary. Tailback Justin Connor is a strong between-the-tackles runner who can wear defenses down, and Eli Johnson is an aggressive and tough offensive lineman.

Texas A&M (two commits, both in the ESPN Junior 300): There are several schools with two 2016 commits, but none have highly touted commits like Texas A&M. The Aggies' class features the top two offensive line prospects in the initial release of the ESPN Junior 300, including No. 1 prospect Greg Little. A long prospect with quick feet, Little displays the tools to be an outstanding college tackle. The class also features a commitment from No. 20 prospect Patrick Hudson, who is a massive and explosive big man with impressive mobility for his size. With their two commitments, the Aggies are building a strong foundation in the trenches.