With National Signing Day in the books, Scout.com ranks the top 25 recruiting classes for 2016.
Less than a month later, Alabama has another national title to celebrate. For the second time in the past three years, the Crimson Tide boast the top recruiting class in the country. They have not had a recruiting class rank lower than fourth since 2011.
Alabama’s haul of 25 players includes three five-star recruit, 16 four-star recruits and seven players ranked in the top 100, according to Scout.com. The Tide closed with a remarkable flurry, landing five-star linebacker Ben Davis, four-star linebacker Lyndell Wilson, and four-star cornerbacks Jared Mayden and Shyheim Carter on National Signing Day.
Who else brought in an elite crop of talent? Check out Scout.com’s top 25 recruiting classes for the class of 2016 below or head over to Scout for full class rankings.
Top recruit: ILB Ben Davis
The Crimson Tide secured a loaded class led by linebacker Ben Davis, defensive tackle Kendell Jones and running back B.J. Emmons. The defending champions closed strong by landing two touted cornerbacks—Jared Mayden and Shyheim Carter—on National Signing Day.
Coach Urban Meyer cleaned up on the recruiting trail once again, signing prized defensive end Nick Bosa (brother of Joey), receiver Austin Mack and quarterback Dwayne Haskins Jr.—a flip from Maryland who Meyer called the “best QB at his age I’ve ever seen”—as part of the top-rated class in the Big Ten.
Florida State has consistently signed impressive classes under coach Jimbo Fisher, and 2016 proved no exception. The Seminoles landed some high-profile recruits on National Signing Day, including blue-chip defensive end Brian Burns and linebacker Dontavious Jackson, to finish with the best class in the ACC.
The Tigers entered National Signing Day with the No. 1 class in the nation, and they remained very close to the top. Coach Les Miles—who was in jeopardy of being fired late in the 2015 season—reeled in a crop that includes five-star prospects Rashard Lawrence and Saivion Smith. LSU was incredibly effective recruiting its home state; cornerback Kristian Fulton, athlete Devin White and receiver Stephen Sullivan are among the program’s key pickups from within Louisiana.
Three years after the Rebels took the recruiting world by storm by landing Robert Nkemdiche, Laremy Tunsil and Laquon Treadwell, the team had another National Signing Day to remember. Among its 2016 standouts: offensive tackle Greg Little, quarterback Shea Patterson and tight end Octavious Cooley. The most striking signee in Ole Miss’s haul? Wide receiver A.J. Brown. The native of Starkville, Miss., spurned rival Mississippi State to play for coach Hugh Freeze and Co.
Jim Harbaugh got his man. The Wolverines, who hosted an event Wednesday called “Signing With The Stars,” secured the commitment of No. 1 overall recruit Rashan Gary on National Signing Day. Gary wasn’t the only key component of this Michigan class, however; the program also signed tailback Kareem Walker, tight end Devin Asiasi and offensive guard Ben Bredeson, among many others.
Do-everything linebacker Mique Juarez is the headliner of the Bruins’ 2016 class—the 6’2”, 235-pounder has drawn comparisons to Myles Jack—but he’s far from the only notable name. There is also Theo Howard, a four-star receiver; Boss Tagaloa; a sought-after defensive tackle; and Devon Modster, an intriguing quarterback. Fans in Westwood should be quite happy with this haul.
Is this the day that Charlie Strong turned the corner at Texas? Despite the team’s disappointing performance over the past two seasons, it delivered a fine National Signing Day, as Strong signed top safety Brandon Jones, linebacker Jeffrey McCulloch and defensive tackle Jordan Elliott, among others. After entering the week near the middle of the recruiting rankings, the Longhorns found a way to crack the top 10.
First-year coach Kirby Smart may not have had a lot of time to secure his initial signing class with the Bulldogs, but he locked up an admirable group nonetheless. Beyond quarterback Jacob Eason, who is seen as the signal-caller of the future in Athens, the crop includes athlete Mecole Hardman Jr., tight end Isaac Nauta and wide receiver Cavin Ridley (the brother of Alabama’s Calvin). The 2016 class provided the Dawgs with a group of players who should lay the foundation for a new era.
The 2016 class amounted to coach Jim McElwain’s first full year on the recruiting trail, and he brought some dazzling names to Gainesville. The top-rated player is wideout Tyrie Cleveland, who flipped from Houston on National Signing Day, and he joins a haul that also features quarterback Feleipe Franks, safety Chauncey Gardner and defensive end Antonneous Clayton. The Gators surprised a lot of people by winning the SEC East last fall, and this class could help them take the next step.
The Trojans have a history of landing some major recruits on National Signing Day, and this year brought more of the same. USC secured the commitments of five-star athlete Jack Jones, four-star safety Jamel Cook and four-star offensive tackle E.J. Price—out of Georgia, no less—on Wednesday alone. Not bad for coach Clay Helton’s first class in the permanent head job.
The crown jewel of the Tigers’ 2016 class is defensive tackle Derrick Brown, a supremely productive player out of Lanier (Ga.) High who pledged to the team on National Signing Day. Still, Brown is far from the only prospect of note. The others: receiver Nate Craig, defensive end Marlon Davidson, defensive tackle Antwuan Jackson and receiver Kyle Davis. Auburn also signed one the headliners of the All-Name Team. Brodarious Hamm, a 6’5”, 322-pound guard, is coming to the Plains.
Coach Brian Kelly’s crew thoroughly reloaded in 2016, bringing in a talent-laden class that featured very little drama. This crop is especially deep in the trenches—offensive tackle Tommy Kraemer, offensive tackle Liam Eichenberg and defensive end Julian Okwara are all top 250 recruits—and also boasts some game-changers at the skill positions. Keep an eye moving forward on tailback Tony Jones, out of IMG (Fla.) Academy, who could thrive for a Fighting Irish offense that produced a bevy of standout rushers during the ’15 campaign.
The Tigers may have missed out on National Signing Day’s biggest prize, with top overall recruit Rashan Gary signing with Michigan over Clemson. Still, coach Dabo Swinney added some pieces who could have his team rearing up for another run at a national title. Defensive tackle Dexter Lawrence should follow in the footsteps of Vic Beasley and Shaq Lawson by wreaking havoc in the backfield, while tailback Tavien Feaster is already drawing comparisons to a program great: C.J. Spiller.
The Cardinal didn’t make the biggest National Signing Day splash, but don’t think that will stop coach David Shaw’s team from fighting to defend its spot atop the Pac-12 standings. Stanford secured several key pieces—versatile, top-100 quarterback K.J. Costello and lanky receiver Simi Fehoko chief among them—who could continue what has become an annual winning tradition on The Farm.
The Horned Frogs picked up some tantalizing talent in the juco ranks, as receiver Ryan Parker, fellow wideout Taj Williams, outside linebacker Tyree Horton and defensive end Mat Boesen signed with TCU. Those guys should give Frogs fans plenty to rejoice in this cycle, especially when coupled with the additions of athlete Sewo Olonilua, defensive end Isaiah Chambers and defensive tackle Ross Blacklock.
The Volunteers’ mantra over the past few years has been “brick by brick,” and this class added plenty of bricks to the program’s increasingly strong foundation. Safety Nigel Warrior could become the anchor of the secondary in years to come, while defensive end Jonathan Kongbo could emerge as a star in the front seven. Then there’s quarterback Jarrett Guarantano, a standout at Bergen Catholic (N.J.) High who will be groomed as the eventual replacement for fan favorite Joshua Dobbs.
The Spartans have risen to the upper echelon of college football by turning under-the-radar recruits into bona fide sensations. That could change moving forward, as the program is beginning to sign some highly touted talent. Receiver Donnie Corley could make an instant impact following Aaron Burbridge’s departure for the NFL, while four-star defensive end Josh King could cause nightmares for offensive linemen. Coach Mark Dantonio took strides toward staying on top of the Big Ten East Division with this stellar crop.
Baylor’s offense should keep humming after the program signed some dangerous skill-position players. Receivers Tren’Davian Dickson and Devin Duvernay should help compensate for the loss of Biletnikoff Award-winner Corey Coleman, while Kameron Martin could be groomed into an efficient playmaker out of the backfield. Coach Art Briles picked up a college-ready lineman, too; Patrick Hudson, a 6’5”, 320-pound guard out of Silsbee (Texas) High, is now a member of the Bears.
Fresh off an appearance in last season’s College Football Playoff, the Sooners landed an enviable National Signing Day class. Among the standouts: five-star linebacker Caleb Kelly, four-star cornerback Jordan Parker and four-star receiver Mykel Jones. Oklahoma’s group also includes offensive tackle Erik Swenson, who made national headlines after Michigan dropped him following a lack of communication.
Kevin Sumlin didn’t sign his top-ranked class since he has been in College Station, but he secured plenty of quality prospects anyway. The Aggies picked up receiver Quartney Davis, cornerback Trayveon Williams and fellow corner Charles Oliver, among several others. The most intriguing pickup may be athlete Aaron Hansford, who could play either linebacker or wide receiver for the Aggies.
James Franklin has carved out a reputation as a National Signing Day star, and he pulled in some big names for Penn State in 2016. The most exciting addition may be tailback Miles Sanders, a five-star talent out of Pittsburgh, and he isn’t the only guy the Nittany Lions’ faithful should be pumped about. The program also added necessary depth on the defensive line, landing four-star prospects Tyrell Chavis, Ellison Jordan and Shane Simmons, all of whom are ranked in Scout.com’s top 100.
The Tar Heels were one of the surprises of the 2015 season, and their National Signing Day haul should help the program maintain that momentum. Coach Larry Fedora picked up offensive guard Jay-Jay McCargo, linebacker Jonathan Smith and safety Myles Dorn as part of North Carolina’s ’16 crop. The player who could make the earliest impact comes via the juco route. J.B. Copeland, a 6’3”, 225-pound linebacker, could see significant playing time right away.
The Ducks’ 2016 class isn’t the biggest group—it counts only 18 signees—but it includes some quality prospects. Safety Brady Breeze is the top-rated player in the state of Oregon, while four-star receiver Dillon Mitchell could contend for snaps as early as this fall. Of course, the most sought-after recruit was Tristen Wallace, who once was committed to Ohio State as a quarterback. Now set to be a wideout in Eugene, he could become a critical cog of Mark Helfrich’s high-flying attack.
The Badgers are always in the mix in the Big Ten West, and this class should help them continue that trend in the future. Coach Paul Chryst signed some impressive talent in the trenches, including four-star offensive tackle Cole Van Lanen and four-star defensive tackle Garrett Rand. Wisconsin also signed one of the faster tailbacks in 2016; Sam Brodner, a product of Glen Illyn, Ill., is clocked as having run a 4.49-second 40-yard dash.