College Football Recruiting: Initial Top 25 Classes for 2019

David KenyonFeatured ColumnistFebruary 9, 2018

College Football Recruiting: Initial Top 25 Classes for 2019

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    Wade Payne/Associated Press

    College football programs moved one major step closer to wrapping up the 2018 recruiting cycle on national signing day, but time is precious on the recruiting trail. Coaching staffs have already moved on to 2019, and we're headed there along with them.

    At this stage of the recruiting cycle, volume is a significant part of holding a high ranking. For example, that's an enormous reason why BYUwhich has never landed a top-25 class, per the 247Sports composite rankingsis currently just outside the top 10.

    In other words, things are going to changea bunch. Ohio State, Oregon, Stanford and Texas each have one verbal pledge, while UCLA and USC are still searching for their first commitment.

    They'll eventually start climbing the rankings, but for now, they're chasing the back of the top 25.

25-21. Northwestern, Clemson, Iowa State, North Carolina, West Virginia

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    Gerry Broome/Associated Press

    25. Northwestern Wildcats

    Class size: 3 (Zero 4- or 5-stars)

    Commitment to know: Northwestern edged into the Top 25 thanks to a recent verbal pledge from tight end Thomas Gordon. Over the last two seasons, the 3-star from Texas has caught 72 passes for 1,000 yards and 10 touchdowns.


    24. Clemson Tigers

    Class size: 2 (One 4-star)

    Commitment to know: Two unofficial visits to Clemson during the past campaign convinced Joseph Charleston to join the ACC powerhouse's 2019 class. Rated the seventh-best safety in the nation, Charleston is the No. 137 player overall.


    23. Iowa State Cyclones

    Class size: 4 (Zero 4- or 5-stars)

    Commitment to know: Wide receiver is a clear priority for Iowa State in 2019. The Cyclones recently seemed to lose 3-star Maurice Massey, but he remains in the class. Massey is listed as the eighth-best player from Missouri.


    22. North Carolina Tar Heels

    Class size: 3 (One 4-star)

    Commitment to know: The prized prospect in the early stages for North Carolina is 4-star athlete Hakeem Beamon. However, since school's recruitment of him is starting to pick up, the Virginia talent could be a challenge for the rebuilding Tar Heels to keep.


    21. West Virginia Mountaineers

    Class size: 4 (Zero 4- or 5-stars)

    Commitment to know: Dana Holgorsen and Co. enjoyed a recent run of success on the trail, securing verbal pledges from two players within a week. Jalen Thornton and Dewayne Grantham join Lee Kpogba, the No. 473 recruit overall.

20-16. Washington, Auburn, Iowa, TCU, Florida

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    David Goldman/Associated Press

    20. Washington Huskies

    Class size: 3 (One 4-star)

    Commitment to know: Washington is loading up on quarterbacks. After signing two 4-star signal-callers in the 2018 haul and likely adding Georgia transfer Jacob Eason, the Huskies are adding Dylan Morris, the No. 3 pro-style QB.


    19. Auburn Tigers

    Class size: 2 (Two 4-stars)

    Commitment to know: Twelve months out, the battle to replace Jarrett Stidham is intriguing. Auburn recently signed 4-star Joey Gatewood, and in-state standout Bo Nixthe top-ranked dual-threat quarterbackpledged to the program in mid-January.


    18. Iowa Hawkeyes

    Class size: 3 (Two 4-stars)

    Commitment to know: In unsurprising news, Iowa has secured the state's two best prospects, and they're both offensive linemen. Four-star Ezra Miller is ranked No. 235 overall, and Tyler Endres is 23 spots behind at No. 258.


    17. TCU Horned Frogs

    Class size: 4 (Zero 4- or 5-stars)

    Commitment to know: William Jones II will add speed and ball skills to his college home. Last season, the 3-star cornerback notched 36 tackles, nine pass breakups and six interceptions while scoring a pair of return touchdowns on special teams.


    16. Florida Gators

    Class size: 3 (One 4-star)

    Commitment to know: Florida already has a stunning nine decommitments in the 2019 cycle, but Ja'markis Weston stuck with the program through the change in head coach. The 4-star athlete is listed as the No. 319 prospect overall.

15-11. Ole Miss, Notre Dame, Mississippi State, South Carolina, BYU

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    Karl B DeBlaker/Associated Press

    15. Ole Miss Rebels

    Class size: 4 (One 4-star)

    Commitment to know: Jerrion Ealy is a versatile stud for in-state Jackson Prep. In 2017, the 4-star rushed for 971 yards and 16 touchdowns on 9.2 yards per carry, adding 34 receptions for 609 yards and 10 scores. Right now, Ealy is the fifth-best running back.


    14. Notre Dame Fighting Irish

    Class size: 3 (Three 4-stars)

    Commitment to know: Jacob Lacey has already taken two unofficial visits to South Bend and attended a recent junior day. A 6'2", 300-pound defensive tackle, he's the No. 3 prospect from Kentucky and ranked No. 157 overall.


    13. Mississippi State Bulldogs

    Class size: 3 (Two 4-stars)

    Commitment to know: After tallying 98 tackles with 22 stops for loss and 14.5 sacks as a sophomore, Charles Moore missed 2017 due to a torn ACL. Coincidentally, it happened on Mississippi State's home field. If Moore sticks with the Bulldogs, the 4-star defensive end has an opportunity to change his memory of Davis Wade Stadium.


    12. South Carolina Gamecocks

    Class size: 7 (Two 4-stars)

    Commitment to know: South Carolina edged across the border and snagged 3-star defensive end Rodricus Fitten from Atlanta. He's rated No. 23 at the positionas well as No. 335 overall, only trailing wideout Jamario Holley in that regard for the Gamecocks.


    11. BYU Cougars

    Class size: 8 (Two 4-stars)

    Commitment to know: Defensive end Chuck Alatini is ranked 275th nationally and is the No. 1 player from Utah. Fellow defensive lineman Siaki Ika checks in at No. 290 overall, potentially giving BYU the two best in-state prospects for the first time in the 18-year 247Sports' composite ranking era.

10. Michigan State Spartans

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    Carlos Osorio/Associated Press

    Class size: 4 (Three 4-stars)


    Commitments to know

    Julian Barnett, CB: Barnett committed to Michigan State last December, but his recruitment is a long way from over. The 4-star in-state cornerback told Isaiah Hole of 247Sports that Michigan could be a factor if the coaching staff shows continued interest.

    Dwan Mathis, QB: Though the Spartans added a couple of quarterbacks in the 2018 class, a sound strategy is adding at least one signal-caller every year. Mathis is listed as the No. 4 dual-threat QB, as well as the state's only 4-star at the position.

9. Florida State Seminoles

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    Class size: 4 (One 5-star, two 4-stars)


    Commitments to know

    Akeem Dent, CB: Shortly after receiving an offer from Miami, Dent committed to the 'Canes. The country's No. 1 corner has since flipped to Florida State, but the new coaching staff will need to hold off charges from Alabama, Clemson, Georgia and Miami, among others.

    Mike Morris, DE: The 6'5", 250-pound defensive end pledged to the 'Noles in February 2016. As with Dent's recruitment, Florida State will be battling top programs, but one key advantage FSU holds is Morris' father played for the school in the 1980s.

8. Michigan Wolverines

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    Class size: 4 (One 5-star, two 4-stars)


    Commitments to know

    Chris Hinton, DE: The 6'4", 265-pounder is a valuable commit for two reasons. First, he's a 5-star, and that's self-explanatory. But Hinton is also the No. 4 player from Georgia. Jim Harbaugh has showed a clear desire to get involved in the Peach State, and Hinton would be the second 5-star from there in three years (defensive tackle Aubrey Solomon being the other).

    Nolan Rumler, OG: Similarly, Rumler hails from an important territory for Michigan: Ohio. Any top prospect Harbaugh and Co. can steal from Urban Meyer is a major recruiting victory, and Rumler is considered the second-best player from the Buckeye State in 2019.

7. LSU Tigers

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    Rogelio V. Solis/Associated Press

    Class size: 6 (One 5-star, two 4-stars)


    Commitments to know

    Kardell Thomas, OG: The top-rated offensive guard in the country, Thomas is the type of prospect LSU rarely loses: He attends high school in Baton Rouge. Nevertheless, Thomas has unofficially visited Alabama, Florida and Georgia. Oklahoma will likely be a factor, too.

    Maurice Hampton, CB: Hampton is a coveted recruit for two sports. According to Billy Embody of 247Sports, Hampton said he first received an offer from Miami for baseball. On the gridiron, Hampton is the cycle's No. 10 cornerback and No. 2 player in Tennessee.

6. Alabama Crimson Tide

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    Brynn Anderson/Associated Press

    Class size: 4 (One 5-star, three 4-stars)


    Commitments to know

    Pierce Quick, OT: Alabama must fight a familiar nemesis for Quick. According to Anna Hickey of 247Sports, the 6'5", 285-pound lineman said Clemson is "for sure" in his top two. Quick is considered the No. 2 player from Alabama and the fourth-best tackle in the cycle.

    King Mwikuta, OLB: One of three commitments from last December for the Crimson Tide, Mwikuta chose Alabama over Florida State, Georgia and Miami. He's the fourth-rated outside linebacker in the nation and the No. 11 recruit from Georgia.

5. Wisconsin Badgers

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    Darron Cummings/Associated Press

    Class size: 8 (Four 4-stars)


    Commitments to know

    Logan Brown, OT: Prior to giving Wisconsin his pledge, Brown unofficially visited Ohio State, Michigan State, Michigan and Notre Dame. He also holds an offer from Alabama. The seventh-ranked offensive tackle in the class, Brown is a coveted prospect who efficiently started his recruiting process.

    Graham Mertz, QB: As consistent as the Badgers have been for nearly two decades, they're almost always searching for a quarterback to consistently dominate under center. Early on, Mertz is considered the No. 9 pro-style signal-caller in the class.

4. Texas A&M Aggies

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    Chuck Burton/Associated Press

    Class size: 6 (One 5-star, three 4-stars)


    Commitments to know

    Brian Williams, S: In a recent eight-day stretch, Texas A&M added three commits. Williams highlighted the trio, giving first-year coach Jimbo Fisher a 5-star, the 2019 cycle's top safety and the No. 2 recruit from Texas. Williams has 13 interceptions over the last two years.

    Grant Gunnell, QB: He's put up ridiculous numbers at St. Pius X High School in Houston. Through three years, the nation's No. 2 pro-style quarterback has eclipsed 4,900 yards and 60 touchdowns in two straight seasons. His teammate, 3-star receiver Chase Lane, has also committed to Texas A&M.

3. Miami Hurricanes

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    Joe Skipper/Associated Press

    Class size: 9 (One 4-star)


    Commitments to know

    Brieon Fuller, WR: Miami brought in a few respected receivers in the 2018 class, highlighted by Mark Pope and Brian Hightower. However, the coaching staff must keep stockpiling talent to prepare for a few departures after next season. Fuller, who attends nearby Doral Academy, would add a major speed threat to the offense.

    Denzel Daxon, DT: In a matter of two years, the 'Canes will lose RJ McIntosh, Kendrick Norton and Gerald Willis. Defensive tackles who can make an immediate impact are a considerable need, and a strong senior season at Miami's Norland High would solidify Daxon's place in that discussion.

2. Oklahoma Sooners

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    Sue Ogrocki/Associated Press

    Class size: 5 (Four 4-stars)


    Commitments to know

    Spencer Rattler, QB: Kyler Murray is set to succeed Baker Mayfield, but Rattler is only two years from potentially taking over. The nation's No. 1 pro-style quarterback amassed 3,946 yards and 45 touchdowns through the air as a junior. Rattler also averages double figures for the Pinnacle basketball team in Phoenix.

    Austin Stogner, TE: Stogner, the third-best tight end in the country, caught 41 passes for 459 yards and 10 touchdowns last season. Although he holds offers from Alabama, Ohio State and many other top schools, the Texan told Embody he's "100 percent" committed to Oklahoma and won't take any visits.

1. Georgia Bulldogs

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    Jae C. Hong/Associated Press

    Class size: 6 (Three 5-stars, three 4-stars)


    Commitments to know

    Jadon Haselwood and Dominick Blaylock, WR: The Georgians are not a package deal, but Haselwood and Blaylock are both 5-stars and top-10 recruits. If Haselwood remains atop the state rankings and sticks with the Bulldogs, Kirby Smart would finally snag an elusive No. 1 in-state target.

    Nolan Smith, DE: Georgia added 5-star defensive end Brenton Cox in 2018. Smith could complete a lethal one-two combination off the edge, though the UGA coaching staff will be ready for a year-long challenge from Alabama, Clemson and others for the IMG Academy star.