After one of the wackiest recruiting seasons and Signing Days in recent memory, two familiar teams sat at the top of Scout's Team Recruiting Rankings. That restored some sanity to an otherwise crazy season.
The Texas Longhorns (list) edged the Alabama Crimson Tide (list) for Scout's No. 1 spot. But the classes are separated by mere percentage points, giving either team a legit claim to the top in the nation.
(Some players will commit days after Signing Day.)
Texas is no stranger to top recruiting classes, having finished in the top five in three of the past five years. Alabama has been even more dominant on the recruiting trail: four classes in the top five and another in the top 10 during coach Nick Saban's five full years on the recruiting trails.
Alabama's Class of 2008 was deemed No. 1 by Scout.com, but this is Texas' first year with the top overall class on Scout. Even by the Longhorns’ standards, this is a special group of players coming to Austin.
The Longhorns did not have a 5-Star running back committed in Scout's previous nine years. That changed last season, when Texas signed Malcolm Brown. This year, Texas made it back-to-back years in which it is bringing in a 5-Star running back. This time, it’s home-state product Johnathan Gray of Aledo. He scored 70 touchdowns as senior and had a whopping eight scores in the state championship game as a junior.
Gray said he likes the idea of saving some wear and tear on his body and forming a dynamic duo with Brown.
Speaking of Malcolm Brown, Texas is bringing in the nation's No. 1 defensive tackle prospect in Malcom Brown. Different spelling, different position, same all-world talent. The defensive tackle has the size and quickness to compete at one of the toughest positions for a freshman to make an impact.
In all, Texas signed 19 members of the Scout
300, including five 5-Star players.
Alabama was neck and neck with the Longhorns right up to the last minute, with 17 players from the Scout
300 prep ranks, as well as the nation's No. 1 cornerback from junior college, Travell Dixon.
We've come to expect Alabama to sign men amongst boys on defense, and 2012 was no exception. Scout's No. 1 linebacker, Reggie Ragland, has the size to play defensive end, but so did Rolando McClain and Dont'a Hightower, two 250-pound-plus linebackers who were stars at Alabama.
Scout's No. 2 prospect overall in the South and No. 2 safety in the country, Landon Collins, has linebacker size and physical strength with the instincts to stick at safety.
It's not all about the defense with Alabama's class. Cyrus Jones is an electric playmaker at receiver. Of course he's also a standout cornerback. But his big-play potential in the slot and in the open field gives Alabama a potent weapon for next year, and maybe the only part of their 2011 BCS championship team that was lacking after Julio Jones declared for the draft following his junior season.
Like Texas, Alabama closed strong on several players late in the process. It benefited from the Signing Day decisions of Scout 300 defensive tackles Korren Kirven and Dalvin Tomlinson. Kirven could play end in Alabama's 3-4 scheme.
Alabama used its national reach to branch outside the Deep South this year, securing signatures from Kirven (Virginia), Cyrus Jones (Maryland), Dixon (Arizona) and quarterback Alec Morris (Texas).
Texas and Alabama were at the head of the class this year when it came to recruiting. But in the end, there can be only one No. 1. For the Class of 2012, that's Texas.
Scott began with Scout as the Southeast Regional Manager in 2002. In addition to his recruiting responsibilities, Scott developed and ran the National Scout Combine series from 2005 thru 2008. Scott has been Director of Scouting since 2006 and oversees the Recruiting Rankings for Scout.
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