Phillip Fulmer and Tennessee beat out three hard-charging schools -- Michigan (No. 2), USC (No. 3) and Florida State (No. 4) -- to win Scout.com's national championship of recruiting on Wednesday. The rankings are based on commitment data and ratings compiled by Scout.com's analysts, including Jamie Newberg and Allen Wallace. Newberg breaks down the nation's top 25 classes below.
HEAD OF THE CLASS: QB Jonathan Crompton (3), DB Demetrice Morley (1)
NEWBERG'S ANALYSIS: What a class for Phillip Fulmer and the Vols, who have always recruited well but have never been No. 1 until 2005. This is a very balanced class that's loaded with elite prospects. Crompton (Waynesville, N.C.) is physically ready to play in the SEC and LaMarcus Coker (Antioch, Tenn.) is as explosive as it gets at RB. The Vols landed a big-time WR in Slick Shelley (Fort Smith, Ark.) on Monday. Jeff Cottam (Germantown, Tenn.) is one of the nation's top tight ends. Tennessee's OL group may be second only to Iowa, with Josh McNeil (Collins, Miss.), T Chris Scott (Lovejoy, Ga.) and G/T Malcolm Rawls (Memphis, Tenn.). Dan Williams (Memphis) and Wes Brown (Athens, Ala.) are listed as OLs but will get a shot at DT early on. The Vols have re-signed DT Demonte Bolden, (Chattanooga, Tenn.) who failed to qualify last season, and also landed the nation's No. 3 DE prospect in Raymond Henderson (Oak Creek, Wis.). Another strength of this group is at LB, with Rico McCoy (Washington D.C.), Todd Cox (Memphis) and Andre Mathis (Erie, Pa.). Morley (Miami) is the nation's top DB/S prospect; he may become a FS in Knoxville. Putting icing on the cake, Tennessee landed RB/CB Montario Hardesty (New Bern, N.C.) -- a former UNC commitment -- DL Vald Richard (Sunrise, Fla.) and LB Gerald Williams
(Lauderdale Lakes, Fla.) on Signing Day.
BIG FISH THAT GOT AWAY: WR Patrick Turner (Madison, Tenn.) -- USC
HEAD OF THE CLASS: RB Kevin Grady (5), DL Marques Slocum (5)
Michigan's class, like Tennessee's, is loaded just about everywhere. It starts with Grady (East Grand Rapids, Mich.), one of the nation's top RBs. Grady is the ideal Big Ten back -- big, strong and powerful. He should compliment Michael Hart very well. QB Jason Forcier (San Diego, Calif.) is one of the West Coast's best and he will certainly have some weapons at WR with the commitments of Mario Manningham (Warren, Ohio), Antonio Bass (Jackson, Mich.) and Laterryal Savoy (Mamou, La.). This is a terrific trio. In the trenches, the Wolverines did very well, especially on the offensive side of the ball. Four of their OL prospects are in Scout.com's top 20 at the position: Justin Schifano (Webster, N.Y.), Cory Zirbel (Murray, Ky.), David Moosman (Libertyville, Ill.) and Tim McAvoy (Bloomington, Ill.). The maize and blue received a commitment from one of the top big athletes in the country, Slocum (Philadelphia, Pa.), who was impressive on both sides of the ball during the U.S. Army All-American Bowl week. Slocum will play DT in Ann Arbor. Michigan also added top-notch DLs James McKinney (Louisville, Ky.) and Eugene Germany (Pomona, Calif.) on Signing Day.
BIG FISH THAT GOT AWAY: CB Justin King (Monroeville, Pa.) -- Penn State
HEAD OF THE CLASS: QB Mark Sanchez (1), LB Rey Maualuga (2)
NEWBERG'S ANALYSIS: Southern Cal once again attracted some of the nation's finest prospects, including the No. 1 player in QB Mark Sanchez (Mission Viejo, Calif.). Sanchez has a chance to really shine at USC, especially under the watchful eye of Trojan offensive coordinator Norm Chow. USC won a major recruiting battle over Tennessee for the No. 1 WR, Patrick Turner (Madison, Tenn.). Turner already has Mike Williams size, surprising speed and terrific hands. On defense, more big names are headed to Troy. The nation's No. 2 DE and LB are both Trojans. DE Averell Spicer (Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.) and LB Maualuga (Eureka, Calif.) are two potential difference-makers, even at USC. Spicer is very athletic and quick, while Maualuga is a nasty middle linebacker who plays with great passion. USC didn't rise to No. 1 on Signing Day, but it did finish with an amazing 10 top-100 signees.
BIG FISH THAT GOT AWAY: RB Marlon Lucky (North Hollywood, Calif.) -- Nebraska
HEAD OF THE CLASS: WR Fred Rouse (2), RB Antone Smith (1)
NEWBERG'S ANALYSIS: Starting in the 20s and finishing at No. 3, the 'Noles made their typical Signing Day rise up the rankings, landing hometown boy Rouse, the nation's No. 2-ranked WR, and the nation's top-ranked RB in Antone Smith (Pahokee, Fla.). They also received commitments from DT Callahan Bright (Bryn Mawr, Pa.), LB Eugene Hayes (Madison, Fla.) and OL Mathew Hardrick (Orlando, Fla.) late Wednesday. Already on board prior to Signing Day were such standouts as DE Justin Mincey (Folkston, Ga.), DT Kendrick Stewart (Lakeland, Fla.), LBs Derek Nicholson (Winston-Salem, N.C.) and Dan Foster (Blakely, Ga.), safeties Korey Mangum (La Marque, Texas) and Clarence Ward (Pensacola, Fla.) and cornerback Michael Ray Garvin (Ramsey, N.J.).
HEAD OF THE CLASS: LB Darius Dewberry (5), DT Kade Weston (3)
NEWBERG'S ANALYSIS: Once again, Mark Richt reeled in a super class that is loaded on the defensive side of the ball. The headliner is athletic DT Weston (Little Silver, N.J.). The Dawgs also landed DLs Roderick Battle (Atlanta), Brandon Sesay (Atlanta), Corey Moon (Decatur, Ga.) and Jeffrey Owens (Plantation, Ga.). This is the best crop of DLs in the country. UGA's LBs are almost as impressive, with Dewberry (Fort Valley, Ga.), Marcus Washington (Waynesboro, Ga.), Tavares Kearney (Tucker, Ga.) and Jamar Chaney (Fort Pierce, Fla.). All four of them can really run and will light you up. UGA needed help in the secondary and two of the standouts here are safety C.J. Byrd (North Augusta, Ga.) and cornerback Bryan Evans (Jacksonville, Fla.). Offensively, the Dawgs landed a record-setting duo from Charlotte, N.C., in QB Joe Cox and WR Mohamed Massaquoi. Eleven of Georgia's 18 commitments are from out-of-state. This is an interesting twist considering that over the previous three seasons UGA had only signed 13 out-of-state players.
BIG FISH THAT GOT AWAY: LB Tray Blackmon (LaGrange, Ga.) -- Auburn