UM, UF and FSU all boast strong recruiting classes


Florida State, Florida and Miami each had signing classes rated among the top 10 nationally, with the Seminoles leading the charge.

Chad Thomas signs with the University of Miami during National Signing Day at Booker T. Washington on Wednesday, February 5, 2014.
Chad Thomas signs with the University of Miami during National Signing Day at Booker T. Washington on Wednesday, February 5, 2014.
Al Diaz / Miami Herald Staff

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1. Alabama (26 recruits)

- Top players: OT Cameron Robinson, DE Da'Shawn Hand, CB Tony Brown, CB Marlon Humphrey OLB Rashawn Evans

- Comment: Crimson Tide loaded up in the secondary, stole Evans from Auburn late and built the nation's consensus No. 1 recruiting class for the third year in a row.

2. LSU (23 recruits)

- Top players: RB Leonard Fournette, WR Malachi Dupre, OLB Clifton Garrett, S Jamal Adams, S Edward Paris

- Comment: Tigers landed two of the nation's top safeties, the consensus No. 1 player in Fournette and 16 ESPN Top 300 players.

3. Ohio State (22 recruits)

- Top players: LB Raekwon McMillan, ATH Curtis Samuel, WR Johnnie Dixon, CB Damon Webb, CB Marshon Lattimore

- Comment: Buckeyes beefed up on defense -- an area of weakness in 2013 -- by adding big-time help corner and the nation's No. 1 inside linebacker.

4. FSU (30 recruits)

- Top players: RB Dalvin Cook, WR Ermon Lane, WR Travis Rudolph, LB Kain Daub, LB Jacob Pugh

- Comment: The Seminoles reeled in the nation's top linebacker class, Florida's Mr. Football in Miami Central star Dalvin Cook (already enrolled) and added a couple huge signing day commitments at receiver.

5. Texas A&M (21 recruits)

- Top players: DE Myles Garrett, WR Speedy Noil, QB Kyle Allen, OT Jermaine Eluemunor, CB Nick Harvey

- Comment: Aggies nailed down the nation's No. 1 pass rusher in Garrett, and a replacement for Heisman winner Johnny Manziel in Allen.

6. Tennessee (34 recruits)

- Top players: WR Josh Malone, ATH Jalen Hurd, S Todd Kelly, LB Dillon Bates, DE Dewayne Hendrix

- Comment: Volunteers went heavy on defense (20 recruits) while leading all BCS conference schools with 14 early enrollees.

7. Auburn (22 recruits)

- Top players: RB Roc Thomas, LB Tre' Williams, WR D'haquille Williams, S Derrick Moncrief, QB Sean White

- Comment: Tigers lost a five-star linebacker to Bama, but reeled in five junior college players -- two tabbed to be instant stars (D'haquille Williams, Moncrief) and one of the most dangerous running backs in the country in Thomas.

8. Florida (24 recruits)

- Top players: CB Jalen Tabor, QB Will Grier, DT Gerald Willis, DT Thomas Holley, OT David Sharpe

- Comment: Gators picked up a few late commitments, loaded up on elite talent at corner and defensive tackle and already have their quarterback of the future in Grier on campus among the nine early enrollees.

9. Georgia (19 recruits)

- Top players: RB Sony Michel, QB Jacob Park, RB Nick Chubb, CB Malkom Parrish, OG Isiah Wynn

- Comment: The Bulldogs landed the best backfield duo in the nation and already have their quarterback of the future on campus.

10. Miami (26 recruits)

- Top players: RB Joseph Yearby, OL Kc McDermott, OL Trevor Darling, DE Chad Thomas, QB Brad Kaaya

- Comment: Canes lost four of the state’s Top 50 recruits down the stretch, but still netted a premier running back, a quarterback of the future, three All-American offensive linemen and a lot of help on the defensive line.

11. Notre Dame (22 recruits)

- Top players: WR Justin Brent, DE Andrew Trumbetti, LB Nyles Morgan, OT Quenton Nelson, OT Alex Bars

- Comment: Irish landed two of the nation's premier offensive tackles back in May, added stellar receivers in Brent (already enrolled) and St. Thomas Aquinas standout Corey Holmes and an All-American inside linebacker in Morgan.

12. Stanford (21 recruits)

- Top players: DE Solomon Thomas, QB Keller Chryst, OT Casey Tucker, RB Christian McCaffrey, TE Dalton Schultz

- Comment: Cardinal closed strong, picking up six recruits after the bowl season and scored big early in landing one of the nation's top pro-style quarterbacks in Chryst.

13. Oklahoma (26 recruits)

- Top players: QB Justice Hansen, RB Joe Mixon, WR Mark Andrews, WR Dallis Todd, RB Samaje Perine

- Comment: Six of the Sooners seven ESPN Top 300 recruits are on offense including Hansen, the nation's No. 4-ranked dual-threat quarterback who is already enrolled and on campus for spring football.

14. Ole Miss (26 recruits)

- Top players: S C.J. Hampton, OG Roderick Taylor, WR Markell Pack, DE Garrald McDowell, DT Breeland Speaks

- Comment: Rebels had a top five class a year ago and brought in six early enrollees including Hampton, a top 10 safety.

15. Texas (23 recruits)

- Top players: DE Derick Roberson, QB Jerrod Heard, WR Armanti Foreman, LB Edwin Freeman, WR Lorenzo Joe

- Comment: Although they lost a couple recruits with the coaching change, the Longhorns still netted a premier dual-threat quarterback, two of the nation's Top 30 receivers and a couple blue-chippers on defense.

16. Clemson (19 recruits)

- Top players: QB Deshaun Watson, WR Artavis Scott, WR Demarre Kitt, WR Trevion Thompson, OLB Koriei Rogers

- Comment: Tigers said good-bye to Sammy Watkins and Tajh Boyd and replaced them with a loaded offensive signing class added Fort Lauderdale University School liebacker Richard Yeargin late.

17. UCLA (18 recruits)

- Top players: LB Zach Whitley, S Jaleel Wadood, CB Adarius Pickett, ATH Austin Roberts, ILB Kenny Young

- Comment: Bruins added front-line talent and depth at linebacker, receiver and the secondary.

18. USC (17 recruits)

- Top players: TE Bryce Dixon, OG Damien Mama, OG Viane Talamaivo, OG Toa Lobendahn, CB Jonathan Lockett

- Comment: New coach Steve Sarkisian did a good job bringing in interior offensive linemen and nabbed one of the nation’s premier tight ends in Dixon (6-4, 220).

19. Michigan (16 recruits)

- Top players: CB Jabrill Peppers, WR Drake Harris, DT Bryan Mone, OG Mason Cole, LB Michael Ferns

- Comment: Wolverines, in the process of transitioning to a pro-style offense, loaded up on receivers, linemen and tight ends.

20. Kentucky (29 recruits)

- Top players: QB Drew Barker, DT Matt Elam, S Darius West, DE Denzel Ware, WR Thaddeus Snodgrass,

- Comment: The Wildcats (eight-time national champions in men's basketball) don't usually put football recruiting classes this good, but even beat out Alabama for Elam, one of the nation's top defensive tackle prospects.

The national champion Florida State Seminoles cruised to another football title Wednesday: kings of recruiting in the talent-rich state of Florida.

Their two in-state rivals – the Florida Gators and Miami Hurricanes – were close behind. National Signing Day yielded strong classes for all three programs, which ended the day rated among the top-10 classes according to most recruiting analysts.

“Outstanding classes that bode well for the future,” said recruiting guru Tom Lemming of CBS Sports Network. “FSU has a great year every year, Florida has done just about as well as any other team when you talk about impact players and Miami got themselves great offensive linemen and an outstanding quarterback who had the best year of anybody on the west coast.”

Hurricanes coach Al Golden must have exhaled in relief when defensive end Chad Thomas of consensus national champion Miami Booker T. High signed his Letter of Intent at a 9 a.m. school ceremony.

Thomas, who visited perennial power Alabama last weekend and was shown plenty of love by coach Nick Saban, reportedly had the Crimson Tide lingering in his mind. When he arrived late to his school’s signing ceremony, UM fans no doubt got nervous.

“I was up there shaking,” Thomas, a five-star signee, told The Miami Herald. “It’s a great feeling. I stuck with my word. I found out UM was the best school for me through the whole process. …I’ve been in Miami my whole life.”

Thomas will study at UM’s Frost School of Music.

“If football goes away,” Thomas said, “I know I still have my academics and music from a great school.”

Alabama’s Saban nonetheless made out quite well, signing the No. 1 class in the country for the third consecutive year.

Although the Hurricanes lost four of the state’s Top 50 recruits since their loss to Louisville in the Russell Athletic Bowl, none of UM’s 26 commitments heading into Wednesday signed elsewhere.

The four who decommitted: Hialeah Champagnat Travonte Valentine (LSU), St. Petersburg Catholic offensive lineman Reilly Gibbons (Stanford), Deerfield Beach running back Brandon Powell (Florida) and Booker T. Washington cornerback Nigel Bethel (Texas Tech).

UM still got three All-American offensive linemen, All-American quarterback Brad Kaaya and stocked their greatest area of need with seven defensive linemen, led by All-Americans Thomas and St. Thomas Aquinas tackle Moten. The Canes already have nine signees enrolled for the spring.

The other Miami football school, FIU, announced a signing class of 24, with 12 from Miami-Dade and Broward counties and all but one from the state. The Panthers finished 1-11 last season and are in dire need of a lift. Offensively, Dillard High star receiver Dennis Turner, previously committed to Miami, could help.

Turner, 5-11 and 170 pounds, was recruited by UM as a cornerback, and told the Miami Herald last month that he was “most comfortable” with being a receiver. “I should see some playing time right away.”

Over in Tallahassee, where FSU was rated the nation’s No. 3 class, the Seminoles did wonders for their Heisman Trophy quarterback Jameis Winston. FSU’s bounty included five-star receivers Ermon Lane (6-3, 200 pounds) of Homestead High and Travis Rudolph (6-2, 190) of West Palm Beach Cardinal Newman, plus four-star receiver Javon Harrison (6-3, 190) of Lakeland Kathleen High.

Harrison was committed to Virginia Tech before flipping to the Seminoles on Wednesday, though some expected the change of heart.

And there will be plenty of big men to ensure Winston continues his success. FSU coach Jimbo Fisher said the Seminoles signed the deepest offensive line class since he has been in Tallahassee. Overall, he was thrilled with his class of 24 signees.

“This is one of the most complete classes we’ve been able to sign,’’ the coach said. “We’ve got large numbers this year and kind of hit needs across the board with great players.’’

The Seminoles also yielded composite 5-star Miami Central running back Dalvin Cook, Florida’s Mr. Football who will replace fellow former Miami Central great Devonta Freeman.

The Gators, who had an uncharacteristically poor 4-8 season, still finished with a flourish on signing day. They held on to four-star Immokalee cornerback J.C. Jackson and flipped former FSU commit Treon Harris, a four-star quarterback from Booker T. Washington. UF also landed three-star South Dade wide receiver C.J. Worton, whose older brother was a Gator.

The Gators closed with 24 signees, 10 of which were formerly pledged to other schools. Florida’s class includes nine early enrollees, headlined by five-star cornerback Jalen Tabor of Washington, D.C.

“We had a miserable fall,” UF coach Will Muschamp said. “But to have the staff come together – three new coaches in Kurt Roper, Mike Summers and Coleman Hutzler – and adjust some things midstream and put together this class, I’m really proud.”

Miami Herald sportswriters Manny Navarro, Patrik Nohe, Jesse Simonton and Andre Fernandez contributed to this report.

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