With the dog days of summer on the horizon and the start of a new college football season still off in the distance, let's take a look at how the best Class of 2014 recruiting classes are shaping up across the country.
Of course, no recruit is required to attend his school of choice until his National Letter of Intent is faxed in, which occurs for most players on National Signing Day. But, as of now, here is the National Football Post's Class of 2014 Top 25 team recruiting rankings entering the summer months.
1. Michigan: Brady Hoke, Greg Mattison and Co. continue to land high-quality talent on the recruiting trail. The latest major addition to this stellar class was defensive end Lawrence Marshall. He joins defensive tackle Bryan Mone and linebacker Michael Ferns as difference-makers on that side of the ball. Offensively, tight end Ian Bunting and wide receivers Drake Harris and Maurice Ways will fit into the pro-style offense of coordinator Al Borges, who also will have quarterback Wilton Speight coming to Ann Arbor.
2. LSU: JUCO wide receiver D'haquille Williams was a huge "get" for Les Miles and Co., as he should make an instant impact in Baton Rouge. He joins Louisiana natives Jacory Washington (tight end) and Devin Voorhies (safety). Linebacker Sharieff Rhaheed and safety Edward Paris are also headliners.
3. Texas: The Longhorns have lost the commitments of a few prospects, including running back Daniel Gresham. But Mack Brown and his staff have a large class right now with 11 pledges, including defensive end Derick Roberson. Quarterback Jerrod Heard along with wide receiver Lorenzo Joe and running back Donald Catalon headline the offensive haul.
4. Notre Dame: Brian Kelly and the Fighting Irish continue to stockpile talent along the offensive line, which has been an area of concern in terms of depth. Tackle Alex Bars recently joined fellow O-Linemen Sam Mustipher, Quenton Nelson and Jimmy Byrne in this class. And Elijah Hood is one of the nation's top running backs.
5. Texas A&M: The Aggies currently have 10 commitments, including outside linebacker Hoza Scott, safety Dylan Sumner-Gardner and cornerback Cedric Collins. They have made the defensive backfield a priority, and they are holding their own against programs that have dominated the area such as Texas and Oklahoma. Aggies head coach Kevin Sumlin is building something special in College Station.
6. Florida: The Gators have two nice offensive pieces in this class with running back Dalvin Cook and dual-threat quarterback Will Grier. Tackle Anthony Moten headlines the defensive side of the ball. Will Muschamp and his staff would love to add offensive tackle David Sharpe and arguably the top receiver in the nation, Ermon Lane. Expect the Gators to close strong.
7. Tennessee: Butch Jones is working wonders for the Vols and he hasn't even coached a game in Knoxville yet. The Vols' 2014 haul is led by running back Jalen Hurd and safety Todd Kelly Jr., two of the best nationally at their positions. Offensive lineman Orlando Brown Jr. was a nice "get" because of his high ceiling, and Jones has shown that he can cover a lot of ground too, as he has prospects from Ohio, Virginia, Georgia, Florida and Maryland in the fold.
8. Florida State: The Seminoles added to their class late Saturday night/early Sunday morning when wide receiver Markell Pack gave a verbal commitment. FSU has pledges from receivers Pack and Florida natives J.C. Jackson, JoJo Robinson and C.J. Worton in this class. Inside linebacker Kain Daub and linemen Blake McClain and Demarcus Christmas lead the defensive haul.
9. Alabama: The Crimson Tide will likely shoot up these rankings by the time National Signing Day rolls around next February, but for now Nick Saban and his staff sit at No. 9. In-state linebacker Shaun Dion Hamilton was a very good recent pick-up, and he'll join one of the country's top running backs Bo Scarbrough, who was the first member of the 2014 class when he committed last September. Georgia teammates Kalvaraz Bessent and Chris Williams are very good defensive backs.
10. Ohio State: Urban Meyer continues to put his mark on the OSU program, landing a pledge from Michigan cornerback Damon Webb, who many believed would end up with the Wolverines. Linebackers Sam Hubbard and Kyle Berger will strengthen the defense, while running back Parris Campbell Jr. is a speedster who will excel in space.
11. Miami (FL): The Hurricanes still don't know their NCAA fate, but that hasn't stopped Al Golden and his staff from doing a magnificent job on the recruiting trail since investigators arrived in Coral Gables. Joseph Yearby is a Top 5 national running back, and he switched his commitment from Florida State. He will be blocked by an offensive line haul that is led by tackle Kc McDermott and Nick Linder, who is the younger brother of Hurricanes offensive guard Brandon Linder.
12. Ole Miss: All eyes are on the Rebels to see if Hugh Freeze and his staff can bring in a second consecutive uniquely strong class. So far, so good. Offensive guard Andy Bauer headlines the nine-player class, while in-state commits D.K. Buford (running back) and C.J. Hampton (safety) are two of six pledges from the state.
CONTINUE TO PAGE 2 TO SEE NOS. 13-25 IN THE CLASS OF 2014 TEAM RECRUITING RANKINGS
13. Penn State: Just as Al Golden is doing a fantastic job at Miami (FL), Bill O'Brien is really faring well in State College in a terribly difficult situation. The Nittany Lions are bringing in a lot of help at wide receiver, led by De'Andre Thompkins. Chris Godwin and Troy Apke have also given their pledges. Defensively, linebacker Troy Reeder is very solid. Look for a good but small class in 2014 because of the scholarship limit that will begin next season.
14. Auburn: Gus Malzahn and his staff recently added two huge pledges from linebacker Tre' Williams and defensive end Justin Thornton, so expect that momentum to continue on The Plains. Meanwhile, center Josh Casher is arguably the best nationally at his position.
15. Louisville: Charlie Strong, who rebuffed an offer to become the head coach at Tennessee, will be leading the Cardinals into the ACC with a lot of momentum. Wide receivers Isaiah Ford and DeSean Blair as well as safety Michael Johnson are Florida products that Strong was able to bring in because of his Sunshine State ties. And dual-threat quarterback Reggie Bonnafon could be the Cardinals' quarterback of the future.
16. Georgia: Mark Richt and his staff only have five pledges thus far, but one of those players is Sony Michel, a running back from South Florida who is the best in the country. He joins Jeb Blazevich, one of the nation's best tight ends. Tackle Dontavius Russell could be the anchor of future Georgia defenses, while Nick Glass is a very good safety.
17. Northwestern: Pat Fitzgerald is compiling perhaps the best haul in program history, and it's led by local quarterback Clayton Thorson, who will join Class of 2013 star dual-threat Matt Alviti. Running back Justin Jackson also gave the 'Cats a pledge, and athlete Dareian Watkins will likely contribute at receiver.
18. Texas Tech: New head coach Kliff Kingsbury has brought some of the momentum from Texas A&M back home to the Red Raiders, and the former quarterback has made offense a priority. Texas Tech has six wide receivers in the fray, led by Jakari Dillard. Running back Justin Stockton and quarterback Patrick Mahomes also are in the mix, but the school has only one defensive commitment: end L.J. Collier, although he is underrated.
19. Virginia Tech: The Hokies have had a very good spring on the recruiting trail, and this class is led by athlete Travon McMillian, who projects best as a defender but who wants to play quarterback. Bud Foster's unit will get help in the form of safeties C.J. Reavis, Kalen McCain and Terrell Edmunds, while tight end Xavier Burke and running back Marshawn Williams will help the offense.
20. Clemson: The Tigers hold a verbal commitment from the nation's top dual-threat quarterback, Deshaun Watson, but SEC teams are doing their best to get him to look elsewhere. Dabo Swinney, Chad Morris and the rest of the staff also have a pledge from playmaking running back Jae'lon Oglesby, while Milan Richard and Cannon Smith are two of the best tight ends in the country.
21. Kentucky: First-year head coach Mark Stoops is doing a marvelous job in Lexington, rallying a fan base that was wildly enthused for the team's spring game. The Wildcats' haul is led by quarterback Drew Barker, who will be joined by receiver Thaddeus Snodgrass, running back Mikel Horton and tight end Darryl Long. Stoops used his connections in the state of Ohio to put together a tremendous early list of verbal pledges.
22. Baylor: The Bears remain under the radar under Art Briles, but the start of this class is hard to overlook. Seven players are committed, led by athlete Davion Hall, who can play corner or wide receiver while possibly making an impact as a returner. And running back Terence Williams will try to make a similar impact as new Dallas Cowboys receiver Terrance Williams, who had a very good career in Waco.
23. Vanderbilt: James Franklin continues to make headlines on the recruiting trail at Vandy, as the Commodores have commitments from quarterbacks Kyle Carta-Samuels and Elijah Staley. But the real gem of this haul is defensive back Emmanuel Smith, who committed to Vandy in March over rival Tennessee.
24. Oklahoma: Bob Stoops has taken his lumps this offseason for various comments regarding paying players and the SEC, but it's been a good month for Stoops and his staff as they have picked up three commitments in May. Quarterback Justice Hansen headlines the group, and he'll be joined by running back Samaje Perine and wide receiver Dallis Todd. Stoops also made the secondary a major point of emphasis, so cornerbacks Marcus Green and Tito Windham Jr. are good "gets."
25. USC: Lane Kiffin and the Trojans were not able to land some higher-profile national players late in the 2013 cycle, so look for this haul to be West Coast-heavy. 'SC really needs to add depth up front despite scholarship restrictions, so it's no wonder that local offensive linemen Toa Lobendahn and Jordan Poland as well as in-state defensive linemen Tashon Smallwood and Austin Maloata have given pledges.
Five to watch
Five more to keep an eye on
This story originally appeared on Nationalfootballpost.com
- American Football
- Sports & Recreation
- National Football Post