July 2, 2008

First look: 2009 team recruiting rankings

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It is still relatively early in the recruiting process for the Class of 2009, but several schools are already beginning to fill up their recruiting classes with commitments from some of the nation's top prospects.

Rivals.com national recruiting editor Jeremy Crabtree takes a look at how the top 25 currently stands and gives us his take on those teams' efforts.

This first sampling of the team rankings is based strictly on rated high school players - neither junior college nor prep school prospects have been ranked at this time.

Team rankings top 25
1. Ohio State
2009 total commits: 23
Headliner: Dorian Bell
2008 class rank: 4
The Buckeyes have assembled the nation's best class with one five-star commitment and 16 four-star pledges. They also have a whopping 23 commitments, the most in the nation. But the class isn't just about quantity. It's about quality. Five-star linebacker Dorian Bell is a major catch, as are Jamie Wood, Justin Green and C.J. Barnett.
2. USC
2009 total commits: 14
Headliner: Matt Barkley
2008 class rank: 8
The Trojans are in a familiar spot near the top of the recruiting rankings. The class is headlined by the nation's No. 1 player, quarterback Matt Barkley, but he's not the only future star. Five-star prospect Vontaze Burfict is a headhunter at linebacker, two-way star Randall Carroll is one of the nation's fastest players and some insiders believe five-star athlete Patrick Hall is the best prospect in the class including Barkley. USC also has reloaded at receiver.
3. Texas
2009 total commits: 19
Headliner: Garrett Gilbert
2008 class rank: 14
The Longhorns are always near the top of the rankings at the start and at the finish, so it's no surprise to see them at No. 3 now. The class features one five-star player, 11 four-star prospects and seven three-star guys. Five-star quarterback Garrett Gilbert is back from an injury that has kept him on the shelf for a while, and he should have a big senior season. End Alex Okafor is one of the best defensive players in the nation. Texas has gone heavy on defense early and has landed some quality players, especially at tackle with Calvin Howell and Derek Johnson.
4. Michigan
2009 total commits: 12
Headliner: William Campbell
2008 class rank: 10
Who said Rich Rodriguez was going to struggle recruiting top players to Ann Arbor? After seeing what he was able to do down the stretch - and then to start off this way - there should be no doubt that he's going to be a successful recruiter in the Big Ten. Michigan's class is only 12 deep at this point, but it has top-shelf recruits. Five-star defensive tackle William Campbell has been as impressive as anybody in the nation this offseason. The Wolverines have added play-making receivers for the future with Bryce McNeal and Dewayne Peace. Running back looks to be solid for the future, too, with Jeremy Gallon and Fitzgerald Toussaint on board.
5. LSU
2009 total commits: 13
Headliner: Russell Shepard
2008 class rank: 11
The Tigers always are a factor when it comes to national recruiting rankings, so it's no shocker to see LSU at No. 5. The 13 players include one of the best players to come out of Houston since Vince Young in quarterback Russell Shepard. The Tigers also have done a lot of damage in Texas with the additions of four-star athlete Dexter Pratt and four-star defensive end Michael Brockers. They've also cleaned up in their backyard with big pledges from cornerback Janzen Jackson, offensive lineman Chris Faulk and running back Michael Ford. What's also impressive is that LSU continues to go into rival SEC schools' territories and do damage.
6. Florida State
2009 total commits: 12
Headliner: Jacobbi McDaniel
2008 class rank: 9
The Seminoles are off to a solid start. Five-star defensive tackle Jacobbi McDaniel is one of the most dominating players in the nation, and offensive standouts such as four-star prospects Willie Downs, Chris Thompson and Willie Haulstead give this class plenty of punch. FSU also has a pledge from arguably the nation's top kicker in Dustin Hopkins. FSU fans have to be pleased with the way things have started.
7. Georgia
2009 total commits: 11
Headliner: Aaron Murray
2008 class rank: 7
Georgia again has done a great job landing many of the top players in its backyard, such as four-star offensive lineman Chris Burnette, four-star running back Washaun Ealey and four-star defensive tackle Abry Jones. But what makes this class even more special is Georgia's ability to go out and pull in highly touted quarterback Aaron Murray out of Florida. Georgia also landed a potential star in four-star offensive lineman Austin Long out of Memphis.
8. Clemson
2009 total commits: 10
Headliner: Craig Loston
2008 class rank: 12
The Tigers continue to do wonders on the recruiting front, and not just in their home state. What also gives this class a nice early boost is the commitment from the nation's No. 1 safety prospect, Craig Loston, from Houston. In-state, Clemson has scored four-star pledges from Malliciah Goodman, DeVonte Holloman and J.K. Jay. There's still plenty of work to do - there are just 10 commitments - but it's a good start.
9. Oklahoma
2009 total commits: 14
Headliner: Ronnell Lewis
2008 class rank: 6
While this group might not contain the typical star power we've seen in years past for the Sooners, this group still is solid enough to rank in the top 10. The Sooners have 14 commitments, headlined by eight-man star Ronnell Lewis, Las Vegas defensive end Justin Chaisson and cover man Steve Williams. Insiders also are excited about the linebacker class of Lewis, Tom Wort, Jaydan Bird, Gus Jones and Brandon Mahoney.
10. Michigan State
2009 total commits: 9
Headliner: Edwin Baker
2008 class rank: 47
For all the headlines that have been grabbed in Columbus and Ann Arbor, Mark Dantonio and the Spartans have been overlooked a bit. Michigan State has tapped into the in-state talent in one of the deepest years in Michigan in recent memory. Running back Edwin Baker and linebacker Chris Norman are outstanding players. But when you see other talented guys such as Andrew Maxwell, Blake Treadwell, Larry Caper and Donald Spencer aboard, you know things are going well. Michigan State also will do well in Ohio this season, as evidenced by the addition of fast-rising receiver Patrick White.
11. Rutgers
2009 total commits: 18
Headliner: Tom Savage
2008 class rank: 46
The Scarlet Knights have done a tremendous job of reeling in some of the top talent in the East. It's a large class so far 18 commitments and it should be fun to see where Rutgers finishes with a late run of talent from the South.
12. Texas A&M
2009 total commits: 17
Headliner: Ivory Wade
2008 class rank: 16
A&M has 18 commitments and the class is loaded with help on the offensive line and in the secondary. The Aggies should close strong if they show signs of progress on the field.
13. Florida
2009 total commits: 7
Headliner: Nick Alajajian
2008 class rank: 3
This probably is only a temporary spot for the Gators - there just is too much talent interested in playing in The Swamp for UF not to finish in the top 10. The early class of seven is flat-out scary.
14. Tennessee
2009 total commits: 11
Headliner: Josh Nunes
2008 class rank: 35
Nobody in the SEC gets into recruiting more than Phillip Fulmer. UT's class of 11 features two solid quarterbacks, tremendous depth at running back and a solid offensive line group.
15. Mississippi State
2009 total commits: 10
Headliner: Fletcher Cox
2008 class rank: 44
The days of Mississippi State being down seem to be over. The Bulldogs have improved on the field and now they are making strides on the recruiting front. The defensive class so far is special.
16. Miami
2009 total commits: 8
Headliner: Bryce Brown
2008 class rank: 5
The Hurricanes have just eight commitments, but it's a really nice start. Expect Miami to climb the charts as things go deeper into the season, especially with the way it has had success in south Florida recently.
17. North Carolina
2009 total commits: 12
Headliner: Donte Moss
2008 class rank: 32
UNC has 12 pledges, and what it has done on defense has been impressive. Two solid defensive backs, a standout linebacker and stars on the defensive line make this a great start for the Heels.
18. Virginia
2009 total commits: 18
Headliner: Dominique Wallace
2008 class rank: 61
Virginia has 18 commitments, including some who aren't ranked yet. But the ones that are ranked should help boost the talent on campus quickly, especially on defense.
19. Penn State
2009 total commits: 12
Headliner: Eric Shrive
2008 class rank: 43
The class of 13 commitments is loaded with some big-time talent on defense. The defensive back class should rank among the nation's best, and plenty of help on the offensive line is on the way.
20. Notre Dame
2009 total commits: 9
Headliner: Cierre Wood
2008 class rank: 2
Notre Dame should close strong, and its current class of nine commitments is solid. A good start has been made at linebacker and defensive tackle, and the committed running backs have chances to be special for the Irish.
21. West Virginia
2009 total commits: 11
Headliner: Tajh Boyd
2008 class rank: 42
WVU's class hasn't been talked about, but there is plenty of offensive firepower - which should help keep the Mountaineers near the top of the rankings.
22. UCLA
2009 total commits: 7
Headliner: Richard Brehaut
2008 class rank: 13
The Bruins took a hit when Byron Moore decommitted in favor of USC, but UCLA still is off to a nice start. The defensive back class definitely is one of the nation's best so far.
23. Auburn
2009 total commits: 14
Headliner: Rodney Scott
2008 class rank: 20
The Tigers' class of 17 players definitely is defense-oriented. Auburn always does a great job of finding and developing defensive talent, and this group should be no exception. Watch out for unranked Reggie Taylor. He's a potential star.
24. Stanford
2009 total commits: 7
Headliner: Shayne Skov
2008 class rank: 50
Quietly, Jim Harbaugh is putting together one of the nation's best classes. Much as with West Virginia, nobody is talking about Stanford. But things definitely look like they're on the way up in Palo Alto.
25. Alabama
2009 total commits: 8
Headliner: Trent Richardson
2008 class rank: 1
Last year's recruiting national champions start off at No. 25 in the first edition of the rankings. The offensive line class is solid, and the Tide look to have their quarterback and running backs of the future.
JUST MISSED:
Missouri, Kansas, Wisconsin, USF, Georgia Tech, TCU and Texas Tech. Missouri and Kansas have put together the best classes in the Big 12 North, which isn't a big surprise based on last season's results. Wisconsin has been on a nice run lately after a strong group of players attended the Badgers' camp. USF continues to be one of the nation's most overlooked programs, but Jim Leavitt continues to bring in top talent in Tampa. Georgia Tech has done a nice job locally and added plenty of offensive playmakers. TCU and Texas Tech have done a nice job of keeping in-state talent at home.





 

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