Alabama will win another national recruiting title. The only question is whether the Crimson Tide might have assembled the best recruiting class ever. Here is a look at who is doing well on the trail.
Alabama has 24 commitments, including five five-stars who are early enrollees and 14 four-stars. The group includes Najee Harris from Antioch (Calif.), who is ranked No. 1 overall by Rivals.com and Scout.com; No. 1 linebacker Dylan Moses from IMG Academy (Bradenton, Fla.); No. 1 offensive tackle Alex Leatherwood from Booker T. Washington (Pensacola, Fla.); and No. 1 dual-threat quarterback Tua Tagovailoa from St. Louis (Honolulu). It also features the top-ranked junior college linemen – offensive tackle Elliot Baker and defensive tackle Isaiah Buggs. Even before signing day began, Alabama got a commitment Tuesday from top-10 defensive tackle Phidarian Mathis from Neville (La.).
Where things get scary is the players who could still be added. Linebacker LaBryan Ray, the top-ranked player in Alabama, is likely to land with the Tide as could wide receiver Henry Ruggs, ranked No. 3 in the state. Five-star defensive tackle Aubrey Solomon from Georgia has Alabama among his finalists and three four-stars from Louisiana are considering Alabama: wide receiver Devonta Smith and defensive backs Todd Harris and Phidarian Mathis.
The Buckeyes will have a smaller class with much of its roster returning – at 20 players as Tuesday — but is filling any gaps with elite-level players. Ohio State has five five star prospects, including the top two cornerbacks in the class: Jeffrey Okudah from South Grand Prairie (Grand Prairie, Texas) and Shaun Wade, the American Family Insurance ALL-USA Defensive Player of the Year from Trinity Christian (Jacksonville, Fla.). Add in No. 1 guard Wyatt Davis from St. John Bosco (Bellflower, Calif.), No. 1 outside linebacker Baron Browning from Kennedale (Texas) and No. 2 weakside defensive end Chase Young from DeMatha (Hyattsville, Md.), who is among the nation’s top pass-rusher prospects. Kendall Sheffield, a former Alabama signee, is the No. 1 junior college cornerback in the nation. ALL-USA Offensive Player of the Year Tate Martell, who never lost a high school game at Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas), is a four-star prospect, and J.K. Dobbins, from LaGrange (Texas), is the No. 2 all-purpose back. Nine players are already enrolled.
Kirby Smart is proving the axiom in recruiting that you don’t judge a coach until his first full recruiting class after his hire. Smart started by winning his state. The Bulldogs have landed nine of the top 15 high school seniors in Georgia and 13 of the top 20. Among that group is safety Richard LeCounte III from Liberty County (Hinesville), offensive tackle Andrew Thomas from Pace Academy (Atlanta) and quarterback Jake Fromm from Houston County (Warner Robbins). Georgia also hopes to keep five-star Aubrey Solomon from Lee County (Leesburg) in the state. Smart also identified a pressing need on the offensive line with four offensive tackles, including top 5 Isaiah Wilson from Poly Prep in Brooklyn, N.Y., and two guards led by Netori Johnson from Cedar Grove (Ellenwood, Ga.). Georgia could surge on signing day if it lands some combination of Clay-Chalkville (Pinson, Ala.) wide receiver Nico Collins, can keep defensive end Markaviest Bryant from Crisp County in state and can flip South Carolina cornerback commit Jamyest Williams from Grayson (Loganville, Ga.). Williams took his last official visit to South Carolina over the weekend.
Jim Harbaugh again showed that he does things his way, especially when it comes to recruiting. And, well, it’s worked again. Eighteen of the 27 commits are ranked with four stars and the Wolverines have one five-star in wide receiver Donovan Peoples-Jones from Cass Tech (Detroit). Michigan also has the No. 1 center in the class, Cesar Ruiz from IMG Academy (Bradenton, Fla.). The Wolverines could be looking to add another defensive tackle, potentially Aubrey Solomon or Jay Tufele from Bingham (South Jordan, Utah). Michigan picked up four-star wide receiver Oliver Martin from Iowa City West on Monday.
The Sooners have their best class in several years and 11 of the current 27 are already enrolled. A big reason for the surge is success in Texas with nine players, most notably Chris Robison, the No. 7 pro-style quarterback from Horn (Mesquite). Under Armour All-American cornerback Justin Broiles from John Marshall (Oklahoma City) is the highest-rated commit in the class at No. 79 overall. Oklahoma lost out on top-ranked inside linebacker Jacob Phillips, when he flipped to LSU. The Sooners appear to be closing strong with four commits in less than a week led by four-star guard Tyrese Robinson from McKinney Boyd (McKinney, Texas) and four-star athlete Ryan Jones from Mallard Creek (Charlotte, N.C.).
The Seminoles have 21 members of the class, with three five-stars and six four-stars. The top of the class features running back Cam Akers from Clinton (Miss.), who is No. 2 overall; weakside defensive end Josh Kaindoh from IMG Academy (Bradenton, Fla.), who is No. 9 overall; and all-purpose back Khalan Laborn from Bishop Sullivan (Virginia Beach), who is No. 28 overall. Florida State remains in play for a number of top uncommitted prospects, led by defensive tackle Marvin Wilson from Texas, outside linebacker Levi Jones from Westlake (Austin, Texas), defensive end Jarez Parks from Sebastian River (Fla.) and Ruggs, who is also considering Alabama. Florida State is also hoping to lure inside linebacker Leonard Warner out of Georgia. Warner has not indicated whether he plans to announce Wednesday.
Coach Ed Orgeron did well to retain the LSU commits after Les Miles was firing and is continuing to build on that group. Of the 17 commits, 11 players are four-stars along with five-star JaCoby Stevens, a defensive back from Oakland (Murfreesboro, Tenn.) who is an early enrollee. Orgeron also was able to keep two four-star quarterbacks: Myles Brennan from St. Stanislaus from Bay Saint Louis, Miss., and Lowell Narcisse from St. James (La.). Narcisse is already enrolled. LSU was able to flip Jacob Phillips, the top-ranked inside linebacker, from Oklahoma. LSU is among the final five for Marvin Wilson and the Tigers also could close with a group of in-state prospects that includes wide receiver Devonta Smith and safety Todd Harris after losing out on defensive lineman Phidarian Mathis. Texas defensive end K’Lavon Chaisson also is a high priority; he will choose from LSU, Texas and Florida.
The Aggies have a big group of 26 players, including nine early enrollees. The class has nine four-stars, including three players ranked in the top 10 at their positions. Inside linebacker Anthony Hines III from Plano East (Texas) is the highest-ranked player in the class at No. 63 overall. Dual-threat quarterback Kellen Mond from IMG Academy is No. 3 at his position, Mond’s high school roommate at IMG, Jhavon Ausbon is the No. 10 ranked receiver.
The Tigers have one five-star in their 20-member class: St. John’s (Washington, D.C.) offensive tackle Calvin Ashley. The most prominent recruit, though, is early enrollee dual-threat quarterback Jarrett Stidham, the No. 1 overall junior college prospect from McLennan Community College in Waco. Defensive end Markeviest Bryant from Crisp County (Cordele, Ga.) and Ruggs remain key Auburn targets. Bryant had what was described as a blowaway visit to Auburn, including hunting and fishing at Gus Malzhan’s house. It is a three-way race among Georgia, Auburn and LSU for Bryant.
The Volunteers have a class of 27 players with one five-star: offensive tackle Trey Smith from University School (Jackson, Tenn.). Smith is ranked as the No. 1 player overall by ESPN.com, although he is among the most polarizing players in the Class of 2017 in terms of evaluation. Ty Chandler from Montgomery Bell (Nashville) is ranked No. 5 among running backs. Maleik Gray from La Vergne (Tenn.) is ranked No. 10 at safety. Gray could be peeled away, though, after a planned official visit to Florida State.