- Tom Luginbill, ESPN Staff Writer
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With the official start of midyear signing and with many schools piling up more than 20 verbal commitments, it's time to roll out my top five recruiting classes for this year. Keep in mind that of the top 50 rated commitments, nearly half of them haven't verbally committed anywhere. Plus, verbal commitments are just that -- verbal -- so they can change before signing day.
That being said, here are the current top five classes:
That commitment was followed by Jermaine Cunningham, the No. 2-rated DE in the country, and then this week by Percy Harvin and Damon McDaniel, the country's two top-rated wide receivers. With 12 ESPN 150 commitments, Urban Meyer has Florida steamrolling toward signing day.
As with NFL draft choices, there are two positions that can make a huge difference on the field -- quarterbacks and pass rushers, and the Longhorns landed a great verbal from each. Luring instate quarterback Jevan Snead away from the Florida Gators was huge, and Kilgore's Eddie Jones is an explosive edge rusher and potential difference maker on defense. LB Sergio Kindle might get the pub as a running back and linebacker (and deservedly so), but look out for LB Dustin Earnest. He is a throwback and scouts love his tenacity.
The mark of a good class is not always quantity, but quality and the ability to fill the holes left by graduation or early NFL entry. The Bulldogs have done that. They stole red hot quarterback Matthew Stafford (top rated quarterback in ESPN 150) right out from under the Texas Longhorns, they have done a good job instate on defense with secondary players CB Asher Allen, safety Darryl Gamble and safety Quintin Banks, and they headed out west and nabbed a potential replacement for TE Leonard Pope in TE Naderris Ward from Oakland, Calif.
4. Notre Dame
Defensive secondary and offensive firepower are what the Fighting Irish need to continue the rebuilding process, and they have done a nice job in both areas. Cornerbacks Raeshon McNeil and Darrin Walls are both athletic, speedy cover corners. Safeties Jashaad Gaines and Leonard Gordon are solid range players in the back end. Quarterbacks Zach Frazer and Demetrius Jones are two different types of players, Frazer the pocket passer and Jones being able to make some things happen out of the pocket. RB James Aldridge can pound the ball and WR Richard Jackson is big, tall and strong, and a nice red zone threat.
There are several potential difference makers in this class. As with the Georgia Bulldogs, LSU is meeting positional needs and adding depth. DT Al Woods (No. 1 ranked DT, ESPN 150) is a two-gap player with one gap quickness. WR London Crawford was snagged out of Alabama's and Auburn's backyard and is a big, speedy deep threat. My favorite guy in this class is TE/DE Richard Dickson. He could play either position at LSU and is what you want a football player to be. He is tough, hard-nosed, has a great motor and possesses natural football instincts.
Tom Luginbill is the national director of recruiting for Scouts Inc. Tom will be a studio analyst on ESPNU every Thursday and Saturday, talking college football and giving updates on the latest recruiting news.