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Alabama, Florida, Texas among crucial state recruiting battles

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Here's a look at the recruiting battles in Alabama, California, Florida, Ohio, Michigan, Mississippi, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas and Virginia -- 11 of the most talent-heavy states in the class of 2012. The states could go a long way toward determining the ultimate team rankings, and are listed below in alphabetical order.

The Contenders: Alabama, Auburn, Florida State

The Frontrunner: Alabama

All three programs have landed talent in the Yellowhammer State, but the edge -- by a sizable margin -- goes to the Crimson Tide. Alabama has secured seven of the state's top 20 prospects, and four inside the top 10. That includes five-star running back T.J. Yeldon, a one-time Auburn commit, and linebackers Reggie Ragland, Ryan Anderson and Tyler Hayes. Florida State has just three prospects from Alabama, but all three are top 150 talents: quarterback Jameis Winston (No. 10), defensive end Chris Casher (No. 36) and defensive tackle Justin Shanks (No. 135). Auburn has two players in the state's top 10, with its highest-ranked pledge coming from outside linebacker Cassanova McKinzy. -- Keith Niebuhr

The Contenders: Stanford, Cal, USC, UCLA

The Frontrunner: Stanford

The leader thus far is Stanford, especially after gaining the commitment of four-star offensive guard Joshua Garnett on Thursday. Garnett's pledge gives the Cardinal 18 commitments from California, with five-star talents Kyle Murphy, Andrus Peat and Aziz Shittu still on the board. But things could change quickly: Four-star talents Brandon Fanaika and Kodi Whitfield are currently considering other options. Despite NCAA sanctions, USC has also salvaged a shot at the top, with a number of five-stars potentially headed to the Trojans. Murphy, Peat, Shittu, offensive tackle Zach Banner and athlete Nelson Agholor are all possibilities. Cal and UCLA also boast impressive classes -- particularly the latter after landing quarterback Devin Fuller -- but Stanford and USC could have blockbuster Pac-12 hauls in the making. -- Adam Gorney

The Contenders: Florida, Florida State, Miami, Alabama

The Frontrunner: Undecided

Just two days from Signing Day, it's nearly impossible to crown a champion in the Sunshine State. Miami currently looks the strongest, with running back Duke Johnson fronting a group that includes nine of the top 50 in-state talents. But Florida could be readying a charge. Will Muschamp's group remains in contention for the top two prospects -- Agholor and cornerback Tracy Howard. As for out-of-state programs, Alabama is the only school with multiple pledges from top 10 Florida prospects. Wide receivers Chris Black and Amari Cooper are both headed to Tuscaloosa. -- Chris Nee

The Contenders: Ohio State, Michigan

The Frontrunner: Ohio State

For the first time since recruiting entered to the national spotlight, it seemed as if the majority of Ohio's top talent was bound for a team other than the Buckeyes. Then Urban Meyer rode in and righted the ship, retaining the state's top running back, Bri'onte Dunn, and flipping four-stars Se'Von Pittman and Taylor Decker from rival programs. Michigan grabbed Ohio's top prospect, offensive lineman Kyle Kalis, and seven of the state's top 25 talents. But on Signing Day, expect the Buckeyes to reign supreme in their backyard yet again. -- Josh Helmholdt

The Contenders: Michigan, Michigan State

The Frontrunner: Michigan

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For the third year in a row, Michigan State will sign the state's top prospect, Farmington Hills, Mich., wide receiver Aaron Burbridge. But Brady Hoke's emphasis on in-state recruiting paid off for the Wolverines: Michigan grabbed six of the top 10 in-state prospects, highlighted by James Ross, Royce Jenkins-Stone and Terry Richardson. Out-of-state schools also made their mark. Cincinnati, Tennessee, Iowa, Syracuse, Missouri and Northwestern all pulled talent from the Great Lakes State. -- Josh Helmholdt

The Contenders: Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Southern Miss

The Frontrunner: Mississippi State

Dan Mullen's Bulldogs have received nine verbal commitments from the Magnolia State's best prospects -- six more than the Rebels have entering the 2012 home stretch. Mississippi State's top in-state commits include defensive tackle Quay Evans and defensive end A.J. Jefferson, and it's considered the favorite for inside linebacker Richie Brown. While Ole Miss doesn't have the numbers that the Bulldogs do, its quality of each recruit may be greater than its in-state rival. Hugh Freeze and Co. have the state's No. 1 talent, defensive end Channing Ward, and defensive tackle Issac Gross, a three-star prospect in his own right. Southern Miss swiped U.S. Army All-American quarterback Anthony Alford, a model of versatility and the Golden Eagles signal-caller of the future. -- Keith Niebuhr

The Contenders: Clemson, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, N.C. State

The Frontrunner: Florida

With five D-I programs battling for local talent, it's somewhat amazing that the top eight North Carolina recruits are headed across the border. The top two -- five-stars D.J. Humphries and Jonathan Bullard -- are off to Florida, and running back Keith Marshall, Rivals' No. 48 prospect, pledged to Georgia in December. It's part of a very disappointing recruiting season for every program within state borders. But North Carolina is coming on strong. Since the introduction of new coach Larry Fedora, the Tar Heels flipped versatile dual-threat quarterback James Summers from N.C. State and maintained prized offensive guard J.J. Patterson. Still, Florida, Georgia and Clemson have been the biggest winners, securing commitments from six of the top eight in-state players. -- Mike Farrell

The Contenders: Penn State, Pitt

The Frontrunner: Pitt

In a recruiting cycle that saw turmoil at Penn State and yet another coaching change at Pittsburgh, neither program achieved in-state recruiting success as hoped for. The Panthers reeled in the No. 2 and No. 6 prospects in the state -- running back Rushel Shell and offensive tackle Adam Bisnowaty -- but have commitments from just five of Pennsylvania's top 40. The Nittany Lions couldn't match that total in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky scandal, landing just four top 40 prospects headlined by wide receiver Eugene Lewis. It should be noted: Rutgers, a team without a head coach, holds more top 10 Keystone State commitments than either Pitt or Penn State. -- Mike Farrell

The Contenders: Clemson, South Carolina

The Frontrunner: Clemson

With just one Rivals100 prospect on the board, this isn't a banner year for Palmetto State recruiting. That said, Clemson has done the best job of keeping local players at home. Five of the top 10 in-state recruits are pledged to the Tigers, while South Carolina has landed just two. Clemson's big pickups are defensive end Shaq Lawson, offensive tackle Javarius Leamon and safety Ronald Geohaghan, while the Gamecocks' key hauls include wide receivers Shaq Roland and Kwinton Smith. To give Steve Spurrier and staff credit, however, much of their best work has been done out-of-state: They've locked up running back Mike Davis and defensive back Chaz Elder from Georgia. -- Keith Niebuhr

The Contenders: Oklahoma, Texas, Texas A&M

The Frontrunner: Texas

As has been the case for the past several years, the Longhorns triumphed in most head-to-head in-state battles. But Mack Brown's stranglehold seems to be slipping. While Texas has five of the top 10 in-state talents -- led by blue-chippers Johnathan Gray and Malcom Brown -- Texas A&M nabbedTrey Williams and DeVante Harris and looks to be in solid position to add former Texas pledge Thomas Johnson. Oklahoma has been somewhat disappointing this year, with offensive guard John Michael McGee, the state's No. 20 prospect, serving as the top-ranked Texan on the Sooners' board. -- Brian Perroni

The Contenders: Virginia, Virginia Tech

The Frontrunner: Virginia Tech

While Virginia landed the top player in the state, defensive end Eli Harold, the Hokies successfully courted the majority of the region's homegrown talent. Virginia Tech already has commitments from seven of the top 15 in-state players, and, more importantly, could add three more on Signing Day: Joel Caleb, Korren Kirven and Ken Ekanem are four-star prospects that seem to be favoring Blacksburg. The Cavaliers' 2012 class is basically complete, bolstered by pledges from linebacker Kwontie Moore and athlete Maurice Canady. This is impressive: Only two of the top 21 local recruits are headed out of state. -- Mike Farrell