The Gators are a few players away from knocking off the 2006 USC class as the best in Rivals.com history. The gap on Thursday afternoon was just 59 points, which could easily be made up if any of the following players commit: Jordan Hicks, Christian Jones, Chaz Green and Seantrel Henderson. Even if they strike out here, the Gators have put together a class that people will talk about for years.
The headliner in this class could change by Friday morning when the top player in Texas, Jackson Jeffcoat, is expected to announce his decision. Most believe he's bound for the Forty Acres, which should give UT a great shot at No. 2 overall. Then there's also Jordan Hicks, who will pick between Florida, UT and Ohio State. The Horns feel good about getting him, too. If UT lands Jeffcoat and Hicks the between No. 1 and No. 2 closes, but the lead may be too much to overcome.
The Tide has been fighting like crazy to keep Keenan Allen in this class. Clemson and Cal haven't made it easy on Alabama, and losing a five-star piece of the puzzle could push the Tide behind Auburn - and maybe Oklahoma. Still, this 'Bama class is full of playmakers on both sides of the ball. The defensive back class is far and away the best in the SEC, with or without Allen. Help was added on the defensive line and more offensive firepower is on the way. The Tide have made a late run at Shon Coleman, and Arie Kouandjio looks to be an Alabama lean. Both could help cement the Tide's spot at No. 3.
Newton is the lone five-star recruit in the juco ranks this season, and he could see the field quickly for the Tigers. Overall, though, this group heading to The Plains is special. The Tigers have a huge offensive line and linebacker group heading their way. Auburn appears to have upgrades in talent at most positions, and this class has tremendous depth. The Tigers feel good about their chances of landing star running back Marcus Lattimore. Other top prospects like Corey Lemonier, Jeffrey Whitaker and Bryan Jones are still on the board. Land a combination of those guys and you could see the Tigers push toward No. 2 or No. 3.
The Sooners did well in their region, scoring top prospects in Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas. But what made this class special was its ability to reel in top kids from California like Clay and Florida. The Sooners would still like to add an offensive linemen, like John Cullen, in the final days. OU would also love to steal linebacker Corey Nelson from Texas A&M.
As always, LSU did a tremendous job early on in its backyard, securing commitments from five of the top six players in Louisiana. The running back, defensive line and defensive back groups look special, and should help the Tigers' depth. Markeith Ambles, J.R. Ferguson and Kadron Boone are still possibilities that could help cement the Tigers' spot in the top 10.
Some thought the world was going to come to an end and that Tennessee wouldn't have recruiting success this season once Lane Kiffin bolted for the West Coast. Wrong. Not only did Tennessee keep a majority of its top recruits - save Markeith Ambles - but it also managed to reel in kids that hadn't been on the radar before. Tennessee could move up if Da'Rick Rogers flips from Georgia.
The Nittany Lions have the pieces for what should be a sure-fire top 10 class. However, Joe Paterno and Co. might slip some because of the efforts of others. What happens with teams below them will determine where the Lions finish, because there's just not a lot left on the board for PSU. The offensive side of the ball got a big boost with this class; depth was added at everywhere but wide receiver.
When Bobby Bowden finally stepped aside, Florida State's recruiting efforts were actually buoyed. Players finally had answers about the future of the program, and that helped FSU land some impact recruits - especially on the defensive side of the ball. The Seminoles are another team that also could push toward the top five. J.R. Ferguson, Demar Dorsey, Christian Jones and other top prospects are still on their board.
The A&M offensive line class is one of the best in the nation. It's not only deep, but it's deep with high-profile, talented players like Matthews and Cedric Ogbuehi. For A&M to remain within striking distance of the top 10, they'll need to hang on to Corey Nelson, who has been getting a full-court press from Oklahoma.
The Ducks made a splash again nationally when they reeled in five-star running back Lache Seastrunk, but this Oregon class is full of other potential stars. Curtis White, Keanon Lowe and Ryan Clanton are all major recruits that rank as four-star players. Oregon could move up a bit if things play out right. The Ducks still have Anthony Jefferson, but they also have to keep linebacker Chris McCain committed, too.
With all the attention that's been paid to the transition at USC, it's easy to overlook the tremendous job that has been done by UCLA's staff. The Bruins really hit some home runs on the offensive side of the ball by adding running threats Malcolm Jones and Jordon James. On defense, stealing Marsh away from LSU was sweet for Bruins fans. UCLA always finishes with some surprises, so don't think it's done yet. The Bruins remain heavily involved with Ricky Heimuli, Dietrich Riley, Anthony Jefferson and others. They could easily climb into the top 10 if things fall correctly.
Maybe it's finally time to stop calling anything Jim Harbaugh accomplishes at Stanford a surprise. Not only can he and his staff coach, they can also recruit. Take this year's class for example. Some might call it surprising to see Stanford in the top 20. But those that follow what Harbaugh has done in California aren't surprised. Stanford's academic lure to national kids is helping things get even more exciting on The Farm.
The Tigers are another team that has enough guys on the board to make a move toward the top 10. Clemson remains a viable option with Keenan Allen - where he could be a package deal with his brother. Overall, this Clemson class has a lot of good skill players coming its way. Progress was made on the defensive side of the ball, too.
The Tigers climbed all the way to No. 13 at one point, but have slid down some as other teams have added prospects. Regardless of what happens between now and Signing Day, this will go down as Gary Pinkel's best class ever. The Tigers did a tremendous job in Missouri and then raided top talent in Texas, too.
The Hokies look to be on solid ground as a top 25 class this season. Unless something dramatic happens down the stretch, expect Tech to rack up another very solid recruiting effort. The offensive and defensive line classes are very strong. Plus, much-needed depth was added at defensive back and quarterback.
The Wolverines are likely to finish in about this spot because a majority of the nationally ranked players don't have UM on their lists. Still, that shouldn't take away from the job that Michigan did this recruiting season - especially on the defensive side of the ball. The defensive line group is easily one of the best in the Big Ten.
Some have dubbed Miami's class disappointing, but it's hard to call a top-20 group a disappointment. Sure, the Canes aren't going to finish at No. 1 like in-state rival Florida might, but there's still plenty to like about this group. The Hurricanes could also climb the charts with a good finish. The 'Canes still have some highly ranked prospects on their board: Seantrel Henderson, Shon Coleman, J.R. Ferguson, Ivan McCartney, Jeffrey Whitaker, Josh Shirley and others. If things go well, Miami could make a big jump.
The Irish could be a team that moves up in the rankings if things go well in the final few days. The Irish look to be in good shape with Matt James and could be a sleeper to watch with Seantrel Henderson. Other names are also emerging every day. The new Notre Dame coaching staff has worked hard to get involved with several prospects down the stretch.
The Buckeyes are still waiting on Seantrel Henderson. The nation's top offensive lineman has narrowed his choices to Ohio State, USC, Notre Dame, Florida and Miami. The Buckeyes hold the edge here, and Notre Dame is emerging as a sleeper. Also, news on Jordan Hicks is expected on today, which might help clarify the situation with Latwan Anderson, too. The Buckeyes are one of the schools that could really move up if things go right.
Oklahoma State would love to have it be a slow few days. That would mean the Cowboys wouldn't lose any pieces in what is one of the Big 12's best classes. If all goes well, Oklahoma State should be able to fully shift its focus to the 2011 class with its first Junior Day coming up next weekend.