With the 2014 football recruiting season well underway, Saturday Blitz takes a look at the best classes formulated early on in the process, according to Scout/FOX Sports.
While these classes are good and all, let’s not forget that, in the game of recruiting, it’s not how you start, but how you finish. Ask the USC Trojans, who started out with the consensus No. 1 class in 2013, but fell apart late and didn’t even top the Pac-12 in recruiting. Ask Texas, which had more than a few big fish in its hands before letting ‘em slip away late.
Additionally, remember that these early star ratings are amendable as hell — throughout the offseason and into the high school football regular season, players see their evaluations upgraded often, and so a current four-star could very well find themselves with a five-star rating by the time February 2014 rolls around.
With that, let’s delve in to the top three classes so far, just because.
1. Texas Longhorns
Texas has gotten off to a ridiculously fast start, earning eight commitments, five of which are in the Scout 100 and six of which are four-star recruits.
First, they landed the top QB in the nation in Jerrod Heard, a 6’2”, 180-pound dual-threat signal-caller out of Denton, TX. While he’s only gotten offers from Texas and Nebraska, you can expect the offers to come in clusters, and a program like UCLA — which seems to have a knack for landing the top dual-threat quarterback in the nation the past few seasons — could swoop in and steal him at the last minute. For now, though, he’s a Longhorn. Here’s a look at his highlight tape, which should be taken with a grain of salt, as I caution constantly, because this is a highlight tape:
In addition to that, Texas has in its pocket the commitments of offensive lineman Demetriux Knox, a 6’4”, 305-pound big man out of Fort Worth, TX and the second-best OL prospect in the country. Cameron Hampton, a 6’2” inside linebacker from Dallas, TX, also pledged to the Longhorns last week. Add Donald Catalon, a 5’11”, 195-pound half-back out of Houston, TX, and that totals four prospects that are ranked in the top ten nationally in their respective position.
All while adding the 11th best wide-out (Lorenzo Joe, out of Abilene, TX) and the 11th-best defensive end in Derick Roberson (out of San Antonio, TX), and it’s clear that the Longhorns have a nice foundation to build on moving forward.
2. Texas A&M Aggies
The Aggies are poised early to follow up on a brilliant 2013 recruiting class, with seven commits already for 2014, one of which is five-star linebacker Hoza Scott, whom we looked at in-depth here.
Meanwhile, Texas A&M currently has the pledges of two top-20 corners in Texas natives Nick Harvey (5’10”, 170-pound defensive back out of Lancaster) and Cedric Collins (a 5’10”, 170-pound corner out of Dallas), both of which have received considerable attention from top-tier programs and have been offered by the likes of LSU and Notre Dame.
All while currently holding a pledge from the 15th-best running back in the country for 2014 in Shaun Nixon, a smaller (but quicker) half-back at 5’10”, 185-pounds.
Can the Aggies kick late and finish strong like they did in 2013?
3. USC Trojans
USC has started strong yet again, and is doing so in the manner that they did this past recruiting season: With a small group of players that’s highly rated.
The Trojans have earned the commitments of three four-star offensive tackles already, including the No. 3 tackle in the nation in Jordan Poland, a massive 6’8”, 335-pound lineman out of La Jolla, CA. Not too far off is the No. 4 offensive tackle nationally in Casey Tucker, a 6’6”, 270-pound lineman coming out of football-rich Chandler, AZ.
All while, of course, adding the 15th-best lineman recruit in Toa Lobendahn out of Lakewood, CA.
Laugh at USC all you want, but with 20 scholarships available for the class of 2014, it’s possible that they actually follow through with lofty expectations for the first time in awhile.