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Class of 2003 redux

Top recruits directly had hands in four national titles

Posted: Friday February 16, 2007 4:00PM; Updated: Friday February 16, 2007 4:00PM
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Reggie Bush helped guide USC to a pair of national titles and won the Heisman Trophy.
Reggie Bush helped guide USC to a pair of national titles and won the Heisman Trophy.

By Bob McClellan, Special to SI.com, Rivals.com

They still talk about Reggie Bush's highlight clips around the office at Rivals.com.

You can watch them for yourself here. There are more clips of him than anyone in the Rivals.com top 10 from the Class of 2003. And they're dazzling. He leaves defenders in his dust, caught in a vapor trail as he jukes then hits that gear no one else in the San Diego area could hope to match.

The videos of Bush border on comical, or is it comic book? He certainly looks like the superhero he turned out to be at USC. Bush, the No. 1 running back and No. 2 overall player in the country by Rivals.com, was the headliner in a loaded USC class that Rivals ranked third in the country at the time. The class also included four-star prospects LenDale White, Sam Baker, Steve Smith and Lawrence Jackson. It was a USC class that produced a pair of national championships, including one right out of the gates in which some of the freshmen made major contributions.

The top three schools in Rivals' 2003 team rankings actually garnered four national championships. LSU finished atop the team rankings, and it immediately paid dividends when the Tigers shared the title that year with the Trojans. LSU started two freshmen, running back Justin Vincent -- who rushed for 1,001 yards and 10 touchdowns -- and free safety LaRon Landry. Vincent was LSU's only five star in the class; Landry was a four-star prospect.

The team ranked No. 2 by Rivals was Florida. It sewed the seeds for the 2006 national championship with such players as Chris Leak (four stars), Bubba Caldwell (five stars), Earl Everett (four stars) and Jarvis Moss (five stars). A couple of players from that class even left Gainesville early to pursue NFL dreams -- wide receiver Chad Jackson and cornerback Dee Webb.

Rivals.com's No. 1 prospect in the class of 2003 was Tallahassee North Florida Christian linebacker Ernie Sims. He chose Florida State and three years later was a first-round pick (ninth overall) by the Detroit Lions.

Michigan landed four of the starters from this past season's top rushing defense -- end LaMarr Woodley, linebackers Shawn Crable and Prescott Burgess and cornerback Leon Hall. Woodley and Burgess were five-start prospects, and Crable and Hall were four stars.

Florida led the Rivals 2007 team recruiting rankings, in front of USC and Tennessee.