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Ranking The Recruiting Classes

Rivals has rated today's recruiting classes, and as usual, the familiar names take up the top of the list. Alabama is #1, narrowly keeping Florida St. from regaining the spot at the top of the list they held for some time a few years ago. Texas is third, and USC fourth, the highest Western team as always.

The strength of the SEC is a product of their recruiting, and it doesn't look like that's changing anytime soon. Georgia, LSU, and Auburn come next, giving the SEC 4 of the top 7 nationally. Throw in Tennessee at 12, Florida at 14, Mississippi at 18, South Carolina at 20, and Arkansas at 24, and you have 3/4 of the conference well restocked.

The Pac-12 skakes out as follows:

USC (4)
Oregon (9)
California (17)
Stanford (22)
Washington (23)
Utah (37)
UCLA (43)
Oregon St.
Arizona
Arizona St.
Colorado
Washington St.

(Rivals stops rating nationally after the top 50)

The number of open spots a team has, and the depth of the field at positions of need for a given school of course moves teams around some, and so you have to take several years together to get a true representation of the talent level being attracted. And of course, some coaching staffs have earned a reputation for developing raw talent into winners, and NFL prospects.

Clearly, Oregon has capitalized on back to back BCS appearances, and the state of California offers their programs an advantage. Interestingly, it doesn't appear that the boost Colorado was hoping for has materialized, as they are in the same place relative to the other conference members as they were a year ago, when they were still recruiting into and against the Big XII.

A possible surprise is Utah, but they have been at about at the same level for a couple of years, dating well back into their Mt. West non-automatic qualifier days. It makes their run of winning seasons more explainable, and suggests they might be well capable of holding their own against supposedly higher quality competition.

The climber is Washington, and the trend points to a return toward, if not to, the glory days on Montlake. Certainly a trend to watch, especially around the northwest. For the first time in several years, the Huskies swept the top recruits from in-state. And at the same time the talent level in Oregon wasn't that great. While Oregon is clearly in position to remain atop the northwest, Washington could well be on their heels, having displaced the state U's already.

It will be 2-3 years at least before the current crop of recruits can completely evaluated. But at the same time, it will be informative to compare results to these rankings, and see how closely incoming talent has translated to wins and ratings.

Andy_Wooldridge@yahoo.com