Heading down the home stretch toward national signing day and fresh off the Under Armour All-America Game, it is time to once again weigh in on how the nation's most prominent programs are doing on the recruiting trail. This edition of our class rankings has been tweaked somewhat after seeing many of the nation's top prospects several times over the last 10 months.
Most classes are really starting to take shape and now the key for many programs is to solidify and hold onto their prized recruits until they actually sign on the dotted line. This edition of our class rankings will include our top 15 classes as opposed to the previous top 10.
The big question come February 6 is who will be this year's North Carolina or South Carolina, two schools that surprised everyone by landing top-10 classes in 2007. It could be Clemson, which has 19 total commitments, including six ESPN 150 prospects and No. 1 overall prospect DE DaQuan Bowers (Bamberg, S.C./Bamberg-Ehrhardt). Or maybe it's Alabama since Nick Saban's presence has been felt across the SEC as a familiar force to be reckoned with.
As always, the needs of a program and whether those needs are being met is an accurate measuring stick for a successful class (along with great players).
The following top-ranked teams have garnered the attention of the nation's elite prospects as far as verbal commitments go, but good, even great recruiting classes aren't just made up of ESPN 150 players; they are made up of players that grade out from 77 to 79. Programs like Illinois, Virginia Tech, Washington, Texas A&M, Colorado, Minnesota and Arizona State, just to name a few, have built or are building top-25 programs without a multitude of elite, nationally-known prospects. Instead, they're starting with good football players who are developing into great ones.
What you will not see here is a list of teams with their commits' grades added up and divided by the number of total commits to provide an average for coming up with where they will land in the rankings. Sometimes, a number isn't as important as the position needed to improve a roster. For example, Alabama may only have four ESPN 150 prospects, but some of their prospects in the 77-79 grade range are very good players at positions of need such as defensive end, wide receiver and safety.
All in all, these rankings will only truly be tested two or three years from now when these prospects hit the field, and then everyone will know if a particular team is worthy of its rank.
(previous top 10 rank)
Billy Tucker and Craig Haubert contributed to these rankings.
Tom Luginbill is the national director of recruiting for Scouts Inc. Luginbill is a college football and recruiting studio analyst for ESPNU.