Tennessee got off to an early start with five star commitments Jonathan Crompton (right) and LaMarcus Coker, and they never looked back. They quietly added such star players as Demetrice Morley and Jeff Cottam, and then they carried the momentum into January and solidified the #1 Class in the Country.
The Volunteer Class of 2005 has stars at every position, and that is the key to it being so good. Even the loss of #1 wide receiver to USC was offset by getting U.S. Army All-American Slick Shelley out of Arkansas.
A typical Phil Fulmer class is solid on the line of scrimmage, and the Class of 2005 is no different. Chris Scott of Lovejoy High School in Georgia headlines another stellar group of offensive linemen.
There are a lot of weapons on offense, and LaMarcus Coker of Antioch High School in Tennessee may be the biggest weapon of them all. Coker is a home run hitter capable of taking it the distance as well as going between the tackles for the tough yards.
While we'll truly be able to tell how well this class rates in three or four years, Tennessee certainly signed the raw talent to be able to compete for championships.
Georgia's Top 5 class is absolutely stacked on defense. The Bulldogs went heavy on defensive line with players like 5 Star defensive tackle Kade Weston (left) out of New Jersey. Darius Dewberry of Peach County High School in Georgia headlines the linebacking class, and the Bulldogs went down to Florida to sign several top defensive backs including Bryan Evans of Jacksonville.
What strikes this class as out of the ordinary for the Bulldogs is how much of it came from out of state. Weston came from New Jersey, and 5 Star safety C.J. Byrd is the top player from South Carolina. Jeff Owens out of Plantation, Fla. is an excellent defensive tackle that will team with Weston to form a fearsome pair at defensive tackle.
Georgia established themselves as a national recruiting power this season by going out of state to secure their needs, and new defensive coordinator Willie Martinez is going to have a lot of tools to work with.
It says a lot about a recruiting class when fans are talking about the players they lost, and the team itself still finishes with a class knocking on the door of the Top 10 in the country, but that is just what happened with Florida. Coach Urban Meyer brought his impressive credentials to one of the most fertile areas of the country, and he went out of state to pick and choose some players that would fit his system.
Josh Portis (right) is a quarterback from California that is tailor-made for Meyer's offense. Portis will have two huge receivers to throw to in Louis Murphy Saint Petersburg, Fla. and David Nelson out of Texas. Both big receivers are better than 6-3.
Avery Atkins of Mainland High School in Daytona is one of the top overall prospects in the state of Florida, and he could end up playing corner or safety in college.
Simon Codrington of Miami Senior is a huge offensive tackle prospect. At 6-7 and 255 pounds, Codrington has a background in basketball, and the sky is the limit for him as he grows into his frame in Gainesville.
Alabama's resurgence into the Top 20 of recruiting rankings was tale of two seasons for the Tide. Alabama went heavy early in the season with eight of its thirteen early commitments being on the offensive and defensive lines.
Those linemen made up the meat of the Tide Class, and Alabama got its star power as the year wore on, specifically with running backs from the Sunshine State.
Mike Ford (left) of Sarasota High School is the second best running back in the state of Florida behind Scout.com's #1 running back overall in Antone Smith of Pahokee. Ford has excellent size and speed. The Tide also added South Hot 100 running back Roy Upchurch out of Tallahassee. Upchurch got the most national recognition, but the running back coming in with the least amount of fanfare may be the one to watch the closest, Glen Coffee of Fort Walton Beach.
The Tide went with numbers in this class signing over 30 players this year. There is good depth in the defensive backfield, offensive and defensive lines, and as stated at running back.
The biggest name in the SEC came back to the SEC in December in South Carolina Head Coach Steve Spurrier. While the immediate impact of his recruiting seemed slow, the final product signing on February 2nd showed a definitive upgrade.
Like Ole Miss, South Carolina was short on commitments headed into the month of December, but the Gamecocks closed with a bang. Running back Mike Davis (right) of Columbia, wide receiver O.J. Murdock of Tampa, and tight end Jonathan Hannah of North Carolina were all huge pickups the last week before signing day. Cornerback Carlos Thomas of Atlanta was Spurrier’s first nationally recruited player to add to the roster, but he wasn’t the last as evidenced by the huge last week of recruiting before signing day.
Spurrier is going to be a player on the recruiting circuit for twelve months this year rather than just six weeks, and the impact he had in a short time was impressive. It will be interesting to watch Spurrier and his staff recruit for 12 months.
Coach Les Miles came into a good situation at LSU this season. The Tigers are loaded with talent, and they did not have many scholarships to offer so it was not imperative to sign a huge class of players this year. LSU would have been content if they simply could have held on to players like defensive end Alfred Jones of St. Augustine, but Miles was not content with just standing still.
Ryan Perrilloux (left) of East Saint John is the crown jewel of Miles’ first recruiting class, and he made a signing day decision for the new coach. Perrilloux is the #2 ranked player in the country by Scout.com regardless of position, and he can beat a team in so many ways. Perrilloux will push incumbents JaMarcus Russell and Matt Flynn to reach their potential or get out of his way. Either option is great a great one for LSU.
Perrilloux wasn’t LSU’s only coup the last week of signing day. Brandon La Fell and R.J. Jackson are two stars out of the state of Texas that are difference makers. Add those three players to the solid nucleus of commitments that LSU had going into January, and Miles’ first class can be considered an unmitigating success despite the lack of sheer numbers.
Auburn signed its typical class of players that helped them to a 13-0 season last year: several star prospects surrounded by solid football players. Tray Blackmon (right) of LaGrange High School was rated the #1 linebacker in the country by Scout.com, but he won’t be alone. Louisiana’ Patrick Trahan doesn’t have the star power that Blackmon does, but he and Rex Sharpe of Fairfield, Ala. will help keep a strong linebacking tradition at Auburn going.
Tommy Trott of Trinity Presbyterian is the #1 ranked player in the state of Alabama by Scout.com, and he is a difference maker at the tight end position.
The sleeper of this group is Jonathan Wilhite of Butler Community College. Wilhite is a shutdown corner that will be asked to step in and contribute right away. He will have a lot of help in Walter McFadden of Ely High School in Florida.
One can’t count on many things in the crazy world of college football, but saying that Coach Ed Orgeron is going to be interesting to watch at Ole Miss is one of them. Orgeron has brought a passion to Ole Miss that was lacking under the business like Cutcliffe, and the recruits immediately took to him.
After a slow start on the recruiting trails, Ole Miss closed with a flurry. The Rebels only had four new commitments going into the month of December, but then things got interesting.
Michael Oher (left) is the top ranked offensive line prospect in the south out of Memphis, Tenn., and he pledged to the Rebels the week he returned from the U.S. Army All-American Bowl. Oher wasn’t the only Army All-American to make a commitment, Wayne County monster defensive tackle signed with Ole Miss.
Teammates Antonio Turner and Gary Aubrey of Edgewater High School in Orlando, Fla. went to three straight state championship games, and they are hoping to bring their winning ways to Oxford.
Arkansas got jilted by Roy Upchurch and Duke Robinson late, but they more than made up for the loss of Upchurch with Darren McFadden (right) of Oak Grove High School and a Signing Day pickup of Felix Jones out of Oklahoma.
The Razorbacks went into the state of Texas early to pick up commitments from teammates Casey Dick and Marcus Shavers of Allen High School as well as Colin Tucker and Matt Harris of Pearce High School.
The sleeper in this class could well be Michael Bibbs of Washington High School in Atlanta, Ga. Bibbs was a teammate of Duke Robinson, and while he didn’t get the fanfare that the offensive lineman, he may well end up being the better college prospect. He has excellent size and speed. He was fast enough to play corner for Washington, but he was also big enough to play linebacker.
Coach Croom’s first full class at Mississippi State brought what can be considered the surprise of the south in cornerback Derek Pegues (left) of South Panola. The term South Panola pipeline has been used to describe the predictable destination to Ole Miss through the years. Pegues bucked that trend on signing day, and he gives Mississippi State one of the Top 10 cornerbacks in the entire country.
With it being a down year for qualified talent in the state of Mississippi, both Ole Miss and Mississippi State ventured out of state to fill the majority of its class. As they do on so many topics, the Bulldogs and Rebels went in different directions. While the Rebels went west into Louisiana, the Bulldogs of Mississippi State raided the Peach State for several top players.
Keith Fitzhugh of Lovejoy High School in Georgia will team up with Pegues to form a dynamic pair of defensive backs. Corey Gardhigh is ranked the #1 wide receiver in the state of Georgia, and Mississippi State got a steal from the Cedartown product. Tray Rutland of Tri-Cities is a mobile quarterback with a strong arm that has the potential to do many good things Mississippi State down the road.
Kentucky went long on numbers this year. After signing several Junior College players in the Class of 2004, the Cats backed off of that approach somewhat this year with only two. That is a good sign that Coach Brooks is intent on rebuilding the Kentucky program, and what better place to start than Hopkinsville’s Curtis Pulley (right).
Pulley is a big quarterback that runs extremely well. He has a great arm, and the kind of athleticism that reminded me a lot of the more heralded Michael Bush when Bush was a junior.
Kentucky spent as much time in the Peach State this year as they did in the Blue Grass State, and their efforts were well rewarded with seven players from the state of Georgia. Teammates Braxton Kelly and Demoreo Ford won three State Championships in their time at LaGrange, and they are playmakers that know how to win.
Vanderbilt is going to have to start winning more games before they are going to make a huge splash on signing day, but they did pick up some key players to help them reach that goal.
Oklahoma’s Mackenzi Adams (left) is an athletic quarterback that can hurt a team in several ways. He likes the deep ball and is used to playing in big games.
Wide receiver Justin Wheeler from North Augusta High School in South Carolina is the type of prospect that Vanderbilt will bank on to develop into a star. He has a background in basketball, and he has an unlimited potential on the football field. If he reaches it, Adams will have a very dangerous target to through to.
Broderick Stewart of Riverside Military Academy in Georgia is a big tight end that will also open up the defenses. Earl Bennett of West End High School in Birmingham could end up being the best player in this class. Again, he’s a wide receiver prospect.
The Commodores’ top prospects all seem to be on the same side of the ball this year, and that will make the Vanderbilt attack more exciting in the very near future.