Team Recruiting Rankings - The Top 15

Dorian Bell helps Ohio State to #1

The recruiting process has always been a 12-month endeavor, but now more than ever colleges are taking commitments from teams earlier and earlier in the process. Scott Kennedy, Director of Scouting for Scout.com, runs down the top recruiting classes as they stand in July.

Director of Scouting Scott Kennedy discusses who is off to a fast start. (Filmed on 7-11, up-to-date analysis is below).

Scroll back the clock to July 14th of 2005. It seems like a long time ago, but is three years really a long time? In the world of recruiting and the information age, it's a time span so wide, it can be considered a generational gap.

Gone are the days where the spring evaluation period was used for scouting. Fast forward three years, and the spring evaluation period is used for recruiting. Colleges used to spend the spring and summer deciding which players they would recruit the next fall, but if colleges wait that long now, it's too late.

Taking a look at the top 15 schools for the Class of 2009, one sees Ohio State sitting on top of the heap with 24 commitments. Three years ago? Ohio State had five.

Texas has been a team that has historically gone out and recruited early, and this year is no exception. The Longhorns had 20 commitments by this time three years ago. Today, 19, and it looks like Texas is squarely focused on the Class of 2010 this summer and fall.

But Texas has long been the exception. Teams have realized that if they wait until a player's senior season to begin offering scholarships, they will be left behind. USC has 15 commitments. In 2005, the Trojans had three.

Georgia had 9, this year 12.

How about an up-and-coming team like Rutgers? The Scarlet Knights show 19 current commitments. They didn't have any by this time three years ago.

The sheer amount of information available to schools have made it impossible for them to recruit abroad before coming home to take care of the home state. Now everyone knows about the top players whether they be in Mississippi, Michigan, Texas, or California, and schools are taking commitments from players earlier and earlier.

How has Scout contributed to the process and help evolve with the rapid acceleration of recruiting information?

Looking back to the Class of 2005, Scout was content to rank a grand total of 940 high school prospects in the country by Signing Day. Scout had that many ranked by June this year, and will move into the 2000 range by tomorrow night.

The rankings come out earlier, the players are recruited earlier, and therefore, we get a better idea of who is going to be sitting with the No. 1 class in February earlier. While there is still a long way to go more than half of Scout's Top 100 players have already made a college decision.

Here is one man's opinion on how the teams are shaping up to this point.

Commitments

Kennedy's Take


#1 Ohio State
Ohio State has been one of the premiere teams in the country for several years now and with a defensive line class that includes Johnny Simon and Melvin Fellows, the Buckeyes could find themselves in the uncommon spot of having the No. 1 Class on Signing Day...without a quarterback commitment.

#2 Texas
The beat goes on for the Longhorns. The flagship program in the nation's most talent-rich state, Texas could put together a Top 5 class every year without leaving the state borders. All but one of Texas' commitments are from the Lone Star State.

#3 USC
USC is used to such lofty rankings both in February and thru the season. With three players ranked No. 1 at their position in quarterback Matt Barkley, tight end Morrell Pressley, and linebacker Vontaze Burfict, the Trojans aren't going away any time soon.

#4 LSU
Quarterback Russell Shepherd is the headliner in another strong class for Les Miles' team. A recent commitment from four-star guard Stavion Lowe gave the Tigers a whopping seven players ranked in the top 15 at their positions.

#5 Georgia
Georgia has quietly recruited as well as any team in the country the last five years. Maybe not so quietly any more as the Bulldogs have landed atop some pre-season polls. Five-star quarterback Aaron Murray hopes to be the successor one day to rocket-armed Matthew Stafford.

#6 Rutgers
I refer to a big season as "recruiting capital", and Rutgers is out using its newfound prowess on the recruiting trail. The biggest surprise in the top 10, Rutgers has 19 commitments headlined by Aaron Hayward.

#7 Texas A&M
Like Rutgers, A&M has benefited from a fast start, but like the Scarlet Knights, there is some substance to the raw numbers including big defensive tackle Stephen Barrera.

#8 Oklahoma
The Sooners have been known for their swarming defense under Bob Stoops, and that doesn't look to change as the top four commitments to Oklahoma are all linebackers, headlined by Tom Wort and Ronnell Lewis.

#9 Clemson
Clemson got off to a fast start after a strong finish to the Class of 2008, including the No. 1- and No. 2-ranked safeties in the country in Craig Loston and Devonte Holloman. More than half of Clemson's commitments are ranked in the top 15 at their positions.

#10 Notre Dame
Rutgers may be considered the biggest surprise of the season, but it's hard to discount what Notre Dame is doing right after its worst season in history. Five-star guard Chris Watt is the latest big timer to pledge to the Irish. Running back Cierre Wood is a difference maker.

#11 FSU
Defensive players continue to flock to the Florida State Seminoles including five-star defensive tackle Jaccobi McDaniel. Of FSU's 11 position player commitments, eight are ranked four-star or better.

#12 Michigan
Recruiting to a system? Best to start with a player that fits any system like five-star defensive tackle William Campbell. The transition to the spread will get an influx of talent in quarterbacks Kevin Newsome and Shavodrick Beaver. Classes 9-12 are almost identical.

#13 Penn State
Penn State is quietly putting together a solid class, particularly on the offensive line where five-Star Eric Shrive is Scout's No. 2-ranked offensive tackle prospect. Darrell Givens highlights a defensive back class that includes four corners.

#14 Tennessee
While Tennessee hasn't made as much news on the national stage the last couple of years, it's far from going away. Wide receiver Je'Ron Stokes and quarterback Josh Nunes could be a lethal duo.

#15 Auburn
Another example of a big change of recruiting philosophy, Auburn had three commitments at this time last year. Fast forward to 2008, and the number is sitting at 18, including junior college standout Eltoro Freeman.

The Biggest Surprise?
I would have to go with Rutgers right now. While a large amount of commitments has helped elevate them into the top 10, there's also a large amount of talent in this class. Six of Rutgers' commitments are ranked four-star or better. The New Jersey area has more than enough talent to sustain a top-10 program should someone be able to keep that talent home year in and year out.

Risers?
Hey, it's only July, right? So what will this list look like in February? Clemson, Notre Dame, Florida State, and Michigan have almost identical classes when it comes to talent. The team that can elevate itself past the others will likely wind up in the top five. West Virginia and North Carolina are two teams right on the brink of the top 15 that have a good shot to end up there. The Florida Gators are one of the last teams to really like to recruit in December and January.

And... Alabama... Take a look at the Tide's prospect list. Count the guys from the state of Alabama, then start picturing what Alabama's class is going to look like as it gets most of the guys in state it's after again. It's going to be tough to keep the Tide out of the top five.

Fallers?
If one goes up, one must go down right? So if the teams in the risers category are actually going to rise, who is going to move down? Rutgers is the biggest early surprise, but they're also almost full. They should stay in the top 15, but top 10 seems unlikely. Texas A&M is also likely to slide out of the top 10 as other teams begin to fill up. Auburn has 18 commitments and may have peaked at 15.

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