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NCF Nation: 2010 recruiting wrap

Recruiting rewind: Alabama

February, 4, 2010
Alabama Crimson Tide

The class

Recruits: 29 (27 high school players, 10 who enrolled early, and two junior college players, one enrolled early).

Top prospects: The Crimson Tide were second to Florida in the SEC with nine ESPNU 150 prospects. DeMarcus Milliner is the No. 2 cornerback prospect in the country, and he’s already on campus. Phillip Sims is the No. 1 quarterback, and he’s also enrolled in school. Alfy Hill and Adrian Hubbard are two of the top 6 defensive end prospects in the country, and Chad Lindsay is the top offensive guard prospect nationally.

Sleepers: The Crimson Tide offered 330-pound defensive tackle Brandon Ivory late, stealing him away from Memphis. Ivory figures to play the same role as Terrence Cody at nose guard. Jalston Fowler is another guy to watch. He was a running back in high school, but already weighing 230 pounds, may grow into a fullback or tight end at Alabama.

Needs met: Alabama lost three starters in the secondary, which makes junior college signee DeQuan Menzie and Milliner key additions. Both will compete for starting jobs at cornerback and possibly the star position, Alabama’s version of the nickel. Typical of a Nick Saban class, Alabama loaded up on defensive linemen. There are six in this class. The Crimson Tide also picked up both a kicker and punter. Where they fell a little short was at receiver. Julio Jones is likely gone to the NFL after next season. That’s where losing Keenan Allen hurts.

Analysis: Keep in mind that three of the 29 players listed are “grayshirts” from last year who enrolled early. The fact that 11 players are already on campus puts them ahead of the game with the added benefit of spring practice. This is three straight top 3 classes now for Saban, who has recruiting down to a science. He’s built a great recruiting program at Alabama much the same way he did at LSU. Saban is never going to come up short in the secondary, so it’s not surprising to see this class include two of the top four cornerback prospects in the country in John Fulton and Milliner as well as Menzie, one of the top junior college defensive backs in the country. It’s difficult to predict a second straight national title for the Tide, but you can bet that they’re going to be competing for titles every year with this kind of talent flowing in on an annual basis.

Scouts Inc. grade: A

What Nick Saban said:

"Because of the situation, we had to recruit more by need in this recruiting class than ever before. We feel good about the way things worked out for us and the guys we got."

"We’re very pleased because we have a unique circumstance in this class where we have 11 players – seven new players, one junior college transfer, three holdovers from a year ago and a transfer from another school – that are all here at mid-semester who are going to be a part of our team. They’re going to be here for spring practice. They’re going to be here for the offseason program, and that’s going to enhance their development."

"You guys know that I’m not really much into the ratings and really don’t even know how we are rated and really don’t much care how we’re rated. Every year I try to come up with some analogy to sort of put in perspective how you should rate recruiting classes. If we went out to buy a hunting dog and it was a puppy, we would buy it based on its potential, its lineage or whatever you want to call it in terms of breeding, and we would know probably when that dog grew up whether it was a good hunting dog or not. We’d never know until we put him out in the field and saw him actually go hunting, but we would buy it without knowing for sure what that result would be."

Recruiting rewind: Arkansas

February, 4, 2010
Arkansas Razorbacks

The class

Recruits: 25 (25 high school seniors, one enrolled early).

Top prospects: The Hogs signed one ESPNU 150 player, offensive tackle Cam Feldt. He’s rated as the No. 8 offensive tackle prospect in the country. Calvin Barnett is the No. 21 defensive tackle prospect nationally, while Daunte Carr is the No. 24 safety prospect in the country.

Sleepers: Bobby Petrino really likes Marquel Wade’s ability to make things happen in the open field even though he doesn’t have blazing speed. He’s also a dangerous return man. Garrett Uekman is a pass-catching tight end who may have a chance to play early for the Hogs.

Needs met: The Hogs needed some more muscle in the offensive line and found it in Feldt, who has big-time potential as a run-blocker at both tackle and guard. Petrino thinks 260-pound Jatashun Beachum has a chance to be a Michael Bush type of player. It remains to be seen how much the Hogs helped themselves on defense. Are there enough linebackers and pass-rushers in this class, guys who can make plays, to bolster a defense that's given up far too many points the last two seasons?

Analysis: There weren’t a lot of big names in this class and only two four-star players, but Petrino likes the overall athleticism of the class. Byran Jones and Barnett were must gets at defensive tackle. The Hogs were able to get Barnett away from Oklahoma State. Eduardo Camara is one of the top 5 kickers in the country, and Arkansas can certainly use a boost in special teams. The offense is in place for the Hogs to do big things, especially next season. But it still gets down to stopping people, and the Hogs are still very much an unknown on that side of the ball.

Scouts Inc. grade: B-

What Bobby Petrino said:

  • "The last week gets a little bit wild. I think it continues to change. Recruiting is continuously changing, the early the commitments, the not staying committed, who the commitments are. The one thing we have to do is continue to work and have to have a good plan. We do a good job with our ranking system. We try to rank them and try to go get the number one guy on our list and then we work our way down the list. It’s quite the process. It’s a lot of fun. It’s a lot of stress but it’s rewarding when you stand up here at the end of the day."
  • "I think we really helped ourselves on defense. That was certainly an emphasis. We understand that we are going to improve on defense. We have a lot of young guys coming back, but we needed to add some guys who could come in and contribute right away. On the defensive front, the size and the athleticism of the guys coming in on defense will certainly do that. We do feel like some of the guys in the secondary will come in and compete. The best part about it is that they are going to have to compete."

Recruiting rewind: Auburn

February, 4, 2010
Auburn Tigers

The class

Recruits: 32 (28 high school seniors, two enrolled early, and four junior college players, three enrolled early).

Top prospects: The Tigers signed seven ESPNU 150 prospects, led by running back Michael Dyer of Little Rock, Ark. Dyer is the No. 1 running back prospect in the country. Eric Mack is the No. 2 offensive guard prospect in the country. Corey Lemonier was a signing day addition; he's rated as the No. 9 defensive end prospect nationally.

Sleepers: Jessel Curry, the son of former Atlanta Falcons star Buddy Curry, could make an impact at linebacker or fullback. He’s already enrolled in school. Ryan Smith was a productive quarterback in high school, but is skilled enough to play just about anywhere.

Needs met: One of the Tigers’ biggest needs was met back in December when they signed former Florida quarterback Cameron Newton, who’s in school after graduating from junior college and will compete for the starting quarterback job this spring. Lemonier was also a key get late, especially with the Tigers losing Antonio Coleman. The other thing Auburn did was improve its speed on both sides of the ball. With Ben Tate departing, Dyer probably won't have to wait long to get a shot.

Analysis: No, the Tigers didn’t violate the SEC’s 28-signee rule. They actually signed 27 players to national letters-of-intents on Wednesday, adding to the five early enrollees that count against last year’s class. But, yes, Gene Chizik did make a statement that was heard around the SEC. The Tigers are well equipped to go out and sign great players and beat anybody to get them. He has a great recruiting staff with the likes of Trooper Taylor, Curtis Luper and Tommy Thigpen, and kids clearly want to play in Gus Malzahn’s offense. It doesn’t appear that this bunch is going to back down to Nick Saban’s recruiting machine. It should be fun in the state of Alabama over the next few years.

Scouts Inc. grade: A

What Gene Chizik said:

  • "I've said this so many times, but it's not about getting the best player. We obviously want the best player, but he also has to be the right player. I think our coaches did a great job and we did a great job of evaluating not only talent, but the mark of a man that we wanted to bring in to represent this university, our football program and the Auburn family. I am as much or more proud of that as I am with the talent that we recruited with this class."
  • "Michael Dyer, rock solid. Solid from the beginning to the end. My hat is off to him and his family. It's incredible, in our opinion, on what he brings to the table, not just as a football player. His personality is dynamic. His commitment to Auburn, his commitment to his coaches ... it's been phenomenal. He's been one of the most fun guys to recruit from the beginning to the end. He played some practical jokes at the end that we didn't appreciate, but we love him. He's been great. The importance of him to us is huge. Michael brings a dual type situation when you talk about a tailback. He is extremely powerful. He's probably one of the strongest running backs in terms of power running, breaking tackles, being able to run through two or three guys at times."
Washington State signed a class of 22 that ranked at or near the bottom of the Pac-10.

Still, coach Paul Wulff was satisfied. He said the class upgraded the Cougars size and speed.

"I think this is as good a class as has come here," he said.

Top prospects: Linebacker C.J. Mizell, a former Florida State signee, sort of came out of nowhere. You can read about him here. Offensive linemen David Gonzales and Wade Jacobson, both junior college transfers, should compete immediately for playing time. Bobby Ratliff will upgrade the Cougars receiving corps. Tight end Aaron Dunn will play next year.

Under the radar: There's a lot of that with this class, but it's notable that there were plenty of "under the radar" guys playing their way into the NFL when Washington State was winning. More than a few people think quarterback Connor Halliday is underrated.

Issues? The Cougars took a big hit when tight end Asante Cleveland backed out of his commitment and signed with Miami. Also, Wulff was clearly miffed that committed lineman Maxx Forde -- son of a former Cougar player -- decided to sign with Idaho. It's also a bit worrisome that the class only had one defensive lineman and, of the three offensive linemen, only one is a high school player.

Notes: One of the Cougars best new players may be JC defensive end Brandon Rankin, a 2009 signee who's already enrolled. ... The class features five wide receivers, which should help Wulff run the shotgun, no-huddle spread offense that he brought from Eastern Washington. ... Running back James Montgomery, who missed last season after major surgery on his calf, may be ready to return for the 2010 season. The California transfer was the Cougars No. 1 running back before getting hurt. ... Wulff said told reporters he may still sign a couple of JC players. ... The Cougars signed players from four states, including eight from the Bay Area and three from the Spokane area.

Recruiting rewind: Florida

February, 4, 2010
Florida Gators

The class

Recruits: 28 (27 high school seniors, 11 enrolled early, and one prep school player).

Top prospects: The Gators led the country with 17 ESPNU 150 prospects, including the No. 1 and No. 3 overall players in defensive end Ronald Powell and defensive tackle Dominique Easley. Jonathan Dowling is the No. 1 safety prospect in the country, while Mack Brown is the No. 4 running back prospect nationally.

Sleepers: Linebacker Darrin Kitchens has great speed and is certainly one to watch at a couple of different positions. Michael McFarland played quarterback in high school, but is ticketed as a tight end at Florida.

Needs met: You name it, and the Gators got it. This has to be one of the best defensive line classes in the country when consider that Leon Orr, Sharrif Floyd, Easley and Powell were all ranked in the top 10 at their positions. The Gators needed a running back and got one of the best ones in the country in Brown. They lost Joe Haden and Major Wright early to the NFL, but added the likes of Matt Elam, Joshua Shaw, Jaylen Watkins and Dowling in this class.

Analysis: In short, the rich get richer. Moreover, maybe Urban Meyer should take a leave of absence every year. This is one of the most talented signing classes that anybody can remember going all the way back to the time they started ranking players. Already, the Gators have 11 players enrolled in school, which means they get to go through spring practice and should be more prepared to play in the fall. The Gators have lost some great players in recent years (Tim Tebow, Percy Harvin, Carlos Dunlap and Haden), but Florida fans can rest assured that a new shipment of great players is on the way.

Scouts Inc. grade: A+

What Urban Meyer said:

"I’ve gotten myself in trouble in the past by hyping up players who were not yet deserving of it. But I’m not sure I’ve seen a defensive front as good as this one. When you look at Ronald Powell, Sharrif Floyd, Leon Orr, Dominique Easley and Lynden Trail, those are some serious guys. I just think in certain areas, it’s the best we’ve ever done."

"We lost five juniors to the draft and obviously lost some talented players on offense and defense. I don’t know if there’s ever a rebuilding year, but if there was, this would be one for us. If you look at the receivers we have had here in the last few years starting with Dallas Baker, Bubba Caldwell, Chad Jackson and then you go to Louis Murphy and Percy Harvin and then this year we lost Riley Cooper, David Nelson and Brandon James. We have to start replacing them with real guys."

Pac-10 recruiting wrap: Washington

February, 4, 2010
Washington's class of 30 ranked 20th in the country and featured one ESPNU 150 player.

It was another big step forward for the program and second-year coach Steve Sarkisian.

"It's a very complete class from front to back when you talk about 16 players on offense and 14 on defense," Sarkisian said. "It's one that can help us immediately and have an impact this fall for us in 2010 but also when we look at 2011, 12, 13 down the road.''

Top prospects: Safety Sean Parker is likely to immediately work his way into the starting lineup. Nick Montana is the quarterback of the future. "The apple doesn't fall far from the tree," Sarkisian said of Montana in relation to his father, some guy named "Joe." Receiver Jamaal Kearse and running back Deontae Cooper may earn playing time, though likely as reserves. Sione Potoa'e should work his way into the rotation on the defensive line. At least a couple of the class' six linebackers will play next year.

Under the radar: Sarkisian is very high on offensive tackle James Atoe. How high? He said Atoe "is a potential top-five NFL draft pick." Sarkisian called cornerback Greg Ducre a "tremendous man-to-man cover corner and that's what we want to get more to playing is man coverage.''

Issues? When a team that went 0-12 a season ago signs a top-20 class, there really aren't many issues, particularly with a class this big that hits just about every position. The biggest disappointment might be losing kicker Alejandro Maldonado to Oregon.

Notes: Cooper has already enrolled ... Montana, running back Jesse Callier and linebacker Victor Burnett are planning to enroll early and participate in spring practices. ... Two members of the class have older brothers on the current Husky team: Zach Fogerson's brother Johri is a running back and Jamaal Kearse's brother Jermaine is a wide receiver. ... Cooper Pelluer's father, Scott, is a former UW assistant coach and his uncle, Steve, was a standout quarterback for the Huskies in the 1980s.

Recruiting rewind: Georgia

February, 4, 2010
Georgia Bulldogs

The class

Recruits: 19 (18 high school seniors and one junior college player, who’s already enrolled).

Top prospects: The Bulldogs signed six ESPNU 150 prospects. Alex Ogletree is the No. 4 safety prospect in the country and may grow into an outside linebacker. T.J. Stripling is the No. 5 outside linebacker prospect in the country, while Garrison Smith is one of the top 15 defensive tackle prospects in the country.

Sleepers: Michael Bennett is a candidate to play either receiver or safety and a very instinctive football player even if he’s not highly rated. Kenarious Gates is a huge offensive tackle prospect who may need a couple of years to develop.

Needs met: The strength of the Bulldogs’ class is on the defensive line, and that’s always a good place to start. Michael Thornton and Smith are a pair of promising defensive tackles, which is critical given the Bulldogs are losing three senior tackles. Junior college safety Jakar Hamilton will also get a chance to play early, while Kolton Houston and Brent Benedict were big gets in the offensive line.

Analysis: This signing day won’t be a memorable one for the Bulldogs. They lost several players to other schools late, including top receiver prospect Da’Rick Rogers to Tennessee. Also, the Bulldogs didn’t fare nearly as well in state as they usually do. Nine of the top 10 in-state prospects on the Scouts Inc. chart went elsewhere. Still, the Bulldogs were able to get several players on defense that should fit well into new defensive coordinator Todd Grantham’s 3-4 scheme.

Scouts Inc. grade: B+

What Mark Richt said:

  • "Recruiting is a lot about relationships and any time there is a change on the staff for whatever reason, the relationships that have been built throughout the recruiting process were broken. I think the timing of the hires, taking as long as it did, put a strain on some of these young men that we had committed. Some guys changed their mind, but it drives the point home that it is very much about relationships.
  • "Some kids are a little more mature than others. They know what they want, and they know that their word means something. But there are a lot of things going on. Let's face it, you've got a kid who is 17, 18 or 19 years old and coaches that are anywhere from 25 to 65 trying to convince them that one school is better than the other. It can be confusing and difficult at times."

Pac-10 recruiting wrap: USC

February, 4, 2010
USC's class of 19 -- and one HUGE oral commitment -- ranks seventh in the nation and features 11 players (including said commitment) on the ESPNU 150 list.

That commitment is Seantrel Henderson, the nation's No. 1 offensive lineman, who will wait to sign until after USC meets with the NCAA later this month.

Lane Kiffin's first class after the departure of Pete Carroll was stronger than just about everybody thought it would be.

The Trojans had three top needs. They hit a grand slam at receiver and tight end. They did fairly well at defensive back. They fell short at linebacker.

Top prospects: Robert Woods is the nation's No. 1 receiver. Markeith Ambles was No. 4. Kyle Prater was No. 9. Xavier Grimble leads a list of three top-10 tight ends. Help is coming for quarterback Matt Barkley. Speaking of quarterbacks, the Trojans signed the No. 2 guy, Jesse Scroggins.

Under the radar: Not really a USC category. Fullback Soma Vainuku, recruited as a linebacker by a number of schools, signed as a fullback, perhaps positioning himself as the next Stanley Havili.

Issues? It's hard to quibble with the nation's No. 7 recruiting class, particularly when the school was dealing with a coaching transition to Kiffin from Carroll, but there are two things. First, linebacker was a need area that wasn't sufficiently addressed. Second, the Trojans lost out on a number of prospects to rival UCLA, most notably safety Dietrich Riley and linebacker Jordan Zumwalt

Notes: Kiffin said he expects linebacker Glen Stanley, the lone JC transfer, to play immediately... USC signed players from five states... Kiffin took a shot at the players who picked UCLA over USC in his signing day press conference: "I think, I've been gone three years but much hasn't changed. As you meet the kids there is a sense and I was reminded of the kids that go to UCLA and the kids that come to USC, and to be back here, I watched it over the weekend just to see if it's the same, and it's really still the same. I guess we waste time continuing to recruit them, we know within the first 10 minutes whether they're the type of guys that want to play here or there."

Recruiting rewind: Kentucky

February, 4, 2010
Kentucky Wildcats

The class

Recruits: 26 (23 high school seniors, one enrolled early, one prep school player and two junior college players, one who enrolled early).

Top prospects: Brandon Gainer is a four-star running back from Miami who’s capable of filling out to the 215-pound range. Dale Trimble and Eric Simmons were both rated among the top 25 cornerback prospects nationally.

Sleepers: Tyler Robinson has what it takes to play either tight end or defensive end in college, and although Tim Patterson of Louisville wasn’t rated real high nationally, he’s an athletic middle linebacker with great size who has a chance to move to defensive end at the next level.

Needs met: The Wildcats were gutted in their defensive line, especially inside, and made that a priority. Defensive tackle Bruce Laughlin will get a chance to play early. Donte Rumph, who initially signed with Kentucky last year, could play either tackle or end. Jerrell Priester has a chance to be one of those do-it-all running backs the Wildcats like. They could have used another receiver in this class.

Analysis: There aren’t a lot of highly rated players in this class, but Kentucky typically hasn’t raked in four- and five-star guys. Randall Cobb wasn’t rated out the roof coming out of high school, and he’s done just fine in the SEC. This was Joker Phillips’ first class after taking over for Rich Brooks, and he went hard after the Wildcats’ needs and went down to the final hour before getting several key players to sign. One thing's for sure: The Wildcats will have to continue to replenish on defense if they want to keep going to bowl games. That was the secret to their improvement under Brooks.

Scouts Inc. grade: C+

What Joker Phillips said:

  • "I have not been a part of a class [that has changed this much in the last 24 hours]. It says something about how relentless we were in this last 24, 48 hours in trying to get these kids to get the faxes in for us."
  • "We're not worried about recruiting. We're going to continue to do what we do, which is battle 'til the end. We'll sign great players. We'll be in some of those battles late in the game. That's what we did in this class."
  • "We always talk about the heart and soul of our program has to be in the state of Kentucky. What's the biggest population in the state of Kentucky? The city of Louisville. We have to be successful in the city of Louisville, and we have."

Pac-10 recruiting wrap: UCLA

February, 4, 2010
UCLA's class of 22 ranked 10th in the nation and featured six players on the ESPNU 150 list.

In other words, the Bruins had a happy signing day, particularly when they landed a number of elite recruits with nationally televised announcements.

The Bruins had particular needs on the defensive front seven and the offensive line. They addressed both areas with quality and numbers. The class is notably strong at linebacker, which should feel extra good for Bruins fans because that was one area where rival USC felt short.

Top prospects: Owamagbe Odighizuwa was rated the No. 2 defensive end in the nation. Jordan James and Malcolm Jones give the Bruins two of the top-eight running backs in the country. Safety Dietrich Riley picked the Bruins over USC. All four linebackers could compete for immediate playing time. Cassius Marsh could play early at defensive tackle.

Under the radar: Offensive tackle Wade Yandall is a former volleyball player, but he now tips the scales at 310, according to Neuheisel. Defensive end Derrick Bryant has a frame that could support 30 or 40 more pounds, Neuheisel said.

Issues? The Bruins didn't sign a quarterback -- Brett Nottingham was a one-time commitment, but he ended up signing with Stanford. Neuheisel also said he wished he could have found one more receiver.

Notes: Neuheisel said linebacker Josh Shirley, who was expected to go to USC, had been a secret commitment for a while. Neuheisel said it was Shirley's idea to keep his intentions secret. ... Both Odighizuwa and Riley announced their decisions on ESPNU, which Neuheisel said was "great exposure." ... Linebacker Eric Kendricks is the younger brother of California linebacker Mychal Kendricks. ... Receiver Paul Richardson's father, Paul Sr., played receiver for the Bruins from 1987-1990. Neuheisel was his position coach.

Recruiting rewind: Virginia Tech

February, 4, 2010
Virginia Tech fell out of the top 25 on signing day, but considering the Hokies are likely to enter the 2010 season as a top-10 team, the staff clearly has a knack for finding and developing talent.

This class shouldn’t be much different.

"Our recruiting classes weren't ranked very high, but in the NFL draft we had the second-most players drafted after Southern Cal," coach Frank Beamer said. "We saw a lot of these guys at our one-day camp, these were all the guys who were committed to us. We really wanted them, they were our first choices. ... I feel good about this group. I don't know where they're rated; I don't pay a lot of attention to that. They're guys Virginia Tech liked and we feel good that they're going to be at Virginia Tech."

Virginia Tech only brought in one member of the ESPNU 150 -- four-star safety Nick Dew -- but it made strides in improving the offensive line. Of the 20 players in the class, 12 are projected to play defense (five on the line, four linebackers, and three defensive backs). Of the eight offensive players, five are coming in as offensive linemen.

“We continue to work on our offensive line,” Beamer said in a Wednesday teleconference. “I think we’re getting better all the time. I really like the guys we got there.

“Being athletic is important in the offensive line. Sometimes you say we’ll get big guys, but that doesn’t always work. ... They’ve got to be able to redirect and move their feet and have some toughness about them. I think we’re getting back on the right track. We’ve had some in the last few years who have played very well, we just didn’t have enough. We missed on some guys who just didn’t work out, but I feel like we’re closer to getting to where we want to be.”

The highlight of this class, though, was on defense, where Dew could give the Hokies some immediate help. With six starters gone from the 2009 roster, there should be plenty of opportunities.

“I think he and Dominique Patterson, both of those guys, you look at them and they’ve got good size and they’re very athletic,” said Beamer. “They’ll fit in somewhere pretty well. They’re big guys who can run well. We like those guys. They’ve got some versatility there as far as getting into your system and playing as quickly as they possibly can.”

Four-star defensive end Zack McCray is another player who caught Beamer’s attention.

“We want him to be prepared and come in here and challenge for some playing time at defensive end. We think he can. He’s physical, he’s got the credentials there. ... We’re going to give him that opportunity.”

As usual, the staff concentrated its efforts in the state of Virginia.

“In all, 17 members of our class [including January enrollees] played in the state of Virginia,” Beamer said. “We like to make sure we take care of our home state first, and I believe these are certainly some of the better players in the state. And then, the ones we got from out of state are really quality players, which you always want to be the case, too.”

With the exception of McCray, Dew and offensive lineman Mark Shuman, this class is mainly comprised of quality three-star athletes. Beamer is less concerned with how they're rated, though, than he is how they can help.

“We went in with the idea that we would take so many at certain positions and in the end we hit the number for the most part,” Beamer said. “We have some guys that can play two or three different positions, and I think the more you can get versatility in there, the better your class is.”

Penn State recruiting analysis

February, 4, 2010
Penn State Nittany Lions

The class

Recruits: 20 (all high school seniors, six players enrolled early)

Top prospects: Khairi Fortt is ranked as the nation's No. 2 inside linebacker by ESPN's Scouts Inc., while defensive linemen Dakota Royer, Evan Hailes and C.J. Olaniyan all were among the ESPNU 150. Penn State also landed the nation's best center in Miles Dieffenbach, as well as a quarterback (Robert Bolden) who can compete for snaps right away.

Sleepers: Late addition Shyquann Pulliam could really help the secondary, an area Penn State must continue to upgrade. Mike Hull adds depth to the linebacking corps after Penn State loses all three starters from the 2009 team. Running back Silas Redd could be a big help if the Lions suffer injuries to one of their top ball carriers.

Needs met: Penn State once again did a fabulous job of reloading in the defensive front seven with players like Fortt, Royer and Hailes. The Nittany Lions needed another quarterback and got a very good one in Bolden. Joe Paterno's staff also thought to the future at both tight end and offensive line and brought in several very solid prospects there.

Analysis: Penn State signed unquestionably the best recruiting class in the Big Ten, and it could have been even better. The Nittany Lions not only brought in elite prospects, but they addressed their needs in the front seven and bolstered the offensive line and some of the skill positions. After losing a lot of decorated players from the 2009 team, Penn State will need this class to contribute in 2010 and 2011. Despite Paterno's age and his uncertain future, Penn State has elevated its profile in recruiting the last two years.

Scouts Inc. grade: A-minus

Texas A&M recruiting capsule

February, 4, 2010
Texas A&M Aggies

Total class: 22

ESPN150: 3

By position: OT 4, DE 4, RB 3, QB 3, DT 2, WR 2, OG 1, ATH 1, CB 1, OLB 1.

By state: Texas 20, Louisiana 1, Colorado 1.

Already enrolled in school: 4.

The big ones: Bookends Luke Joeckel and Jake Matthews are two of the nation’s top seven offensive tackles with Joeckel ranked sixth and Matthews seventh. They are the kind of players that Coach Mike Sherman can build an offense around for the next few years. And Toney Hurd Jr., who decommitted from Notre Dame after the coaching change, is a ball-hawking cornerback who overcomes his lack of size with spectacular athleticism that helped him become the nation’s 11th-rated cornerback.

Sleeper: WR Malcome Kennedy was overshadowed while playing quarterback on his high school team because of the presence of RB Traylon Shead, a heralded Texas recruit. Kennedy moved to quarterback for his senior season, rushing for 25 touchdowns and 2,357 yards and passing for 1,515 yards and 22 more scores. He actually might be a better fit for the Aggies at safety because of the team's receiving depth. Kennedy had eight interceptions and four fumble recoveries last season along with his monster offensive numbers.

Needs met: Von Miller will be around for another season at defensive end, but the Aggies still need some help and got it with four players including projected standouts Nehemiah Hicks and Damontre Moore. Sherman is a stickler for depth in the offensive line so it’s no surprise the Aggies added four tackles and made it a huge priority. The Aggies also prepared for life without Jerrod Johnson by adding Matt Joeckel, Jameill Showers and Clay Honeycutt to battle for the backup job.

Analysis: The Aggies attracted a solid class that lost a little when Corey Nelson jilted them for Oklahoma and Jarrett Fobbs signed with LSU on the final day of the recruiting season. Sherman thinks that three of his offensive linemen will be contending for playing time next season. Despite the Aggies' struggles on defense and the arrival of new coordinator Tim DeRuyter, this class is heavily skewed with adding offensive help.

What Mike Sherman said: “We're not recruiting against Timbuktu U. We're recruiting against some pretty dang good universities. We're going to win some and lose some. We don't lose sleep over that, I promise you."

Scouts Inc. grade/rankings: B, third in Big 12.

Texas recruiting capsule

February, 4, 2010
Texas Longhorns

Total class: 25

ESPN 150: 15

By position: WR 5, DE 3, DT 3, OLB 3, ATH 2, QB 2, CB 2, G 1, RB 1, C 1, S 1, K 1.

By state: Texas 22, Ohio 1, Oklahoma 1, Louisiana 1.

Already enrolled in school: 3.

The big ones: Jackson Jeffcoat, the nation’s top player at his position and No. 2 player overall, is a dominant speed rusher who should only get better as he fills out. Jordan Hicks, the nation’s top outside linebacker and No. 4 player overall, shows the kind of burst and tackling ability that leads me to think he could win a college Butkus Award to go along with the high school version he picked up last season.

Sleeper: DE Greg Daniels might get lost amongst all of the publicity surrounding Jeffcoat, Hicks and the others on the defense. But he’s a strong, active pass rusher who should challenge for playing time while with the Longhorns.

Needs met: With Sergio Kindle departing and Eddie Jones and Sam Acho both entering their senior seasons, the Longhorns needed defensive ends. They addressed the deficiency by attracting three of the nation’s top 23 defensive ends. Texas coaches were specific about their offensive line needs and attracted Army All-Americans in center Dominic Espinosa and guard Trey Hopkins. And with Garrett Gilbert seemingly entrenched as the starting quarterback, the Longhorns attracted Case McCoy and Connor Wood to battle for depth at the position. Both graduated from high school early and will begin practice with the Longhorns later this month.

Analysis: Texas won the mythical Big 12 recruiting title with a typical strong early spurt and two monster late additions in Jeffcoat and Hicks. It should give Will Muschamp a lot of defensive building blocks to tinker with for the next several seasons. Help was needed at wide receiver and the Longhorns addressed those needs with five players, including potential standouts Mike Davis and Darius White. And look for Demarco Cobbs to challenge for playing time at running back. All of these elements help to make it one of Mack Brown’s top two recruiting classes, ranking with his 2002 class for his very best group.

What Mack Brown said: “I've been asked over the last couple of days, 'Is this the best class that we've ever had?' We feel like it definitely has the potential to be because from top to bottom it covers every position and that's a very difficult thing to do." … On Texas' consistent recruiting success: “Obviously, we had 25 official visits and we got 25 kids. We're not into offering guys that we don't want. We're really not into recruiting guys that don't have interest.”

Scouts Inc. grade/rankings: A-plus, first in Big 12.

Recruiting rewind: LSU

February, 4, 2010
LSU Tigers

The class

Recruits: 27 (25 high school seniors, one enrolled early, one prep school player and one junior college player, who enrolled early).

Top prospects: The Tigers signed seven ESPNU 150 prospects, with Travis Dickson leading the way. He's the younger brother of former LSU tight end Richard Dickson and rated as the No. 4 tight end prospect nationally. Eric Reid and Tharold Simon were two of the top 10 safety prospects in the country, while Kadron Boone feels a big need at receiver. The Tigers were able to wrestle him away from Texas Tech.

Sleepers: Sam Gibson was an athletic quarterback in high school, but is capable of playing a couple of different positions in college. Nic Jacobs is an underrated tight end/defensive end prospect who also kicked off in high school.

Needs met: One of the Tigers’ most important gets was stealing away defensive tackle J.C. Copeland from Tennessee at the last minute. They needed more depth in the interior. Landing Boone was key, too, especially since LSU lost a couple of receivers to other schools the last few weeks of the recruiting season.

Analysis: Prep school signee J.R. Ferguson should combine nicely with Copeland to give the Tigers an imposing defensive tackle duo over the next few years. The Tigers needed some help at running back. Perhaps Spencer Ware can come in next season and contribute after playing quarterback in high school. The same goes for Boone at receiver, because the Tigers are in need of playmakers on the perimeter. All in all, it was an impressive close to signing day by Les Miles and his staff.

Scouts Inc. grade: A-

What Les Miles said:

  • "I think the last day certainly benefited us. We didn't get everybody that we wanted, but we got those guys that we had to have and ones that will really come in and have an effect on this team."
  • "I feel like these four [receivers] were exactly what we needed at that position. I like those guys because they are good students. On the field, they are physical players with good speed and great ball skills, so I think the ability to put young guys on that field that will compete in those multiple wide receiver sets is back."
  • "In the secondary, we had to have a great class, both at corner and safety. Eric Reid at 6-foot-2, 220 pounds, reminds me of a young Chad Jones physically. Ronnie Vinson, Tyrann Mathieu and Tharold Simon can all play corner and are, in my opinion, a very capable group."