Ranking the top 2012 recruiting classes by defensive position
Florida State signed the top two 2012 DTs in Mario Edwards and Eddie Goldman
Florida and Ohio State each nabbed a pair of touted five-star defensive ends
Alabama reloaded on defense by adding three of the top five linebacker recruits
Green-Beckham's 2012 impact on Mizzou
Storylines that defined Signing Day
Top 50 recruits in the class of 2012
The top 15 recruiting classes of all time
Now that the dust has settled from Signing Day, the winners of the 2012 recruiting cycle have emerged. And the top classes are deeper than just the big names. Here's a look at which teams fared best, on a position-by-position basis, on defense.
1. Florida State
It's simple: The Seminoles signed the nation's top two players at the position in Edwards and Goldman and rounded out their class with the U.S. Army All-American Shanks. This is one of the top hauls at any position by any program in the country.
Brown is the headliner, a five-star talent who showcased his talent -- and deceptive speed -- during the Under Armour All-America Game. Norman was also an Under Armour selection, while Moore is one of the first JUCO standouts to sign with the Longhorns in quite some time. There's lots of upside coming to Austin.
By landing Kirven and Tomlinson on Signing Day, the Tide added two top prospects to an already impressive defensive tackle crop. Ball, Lake and Taylor provide Nick Saban with enviable depth.
The Wolverines scored a huge get in the five-star Pipkins, a tremendously strong Kansas City native who should contribute right away. Three-stars Godin and Henry are solid, too, and could develop into starters by their junior or senior seasons.
The four-star Jacobs is the nation's No. 3 JUCO defensive tackle, while the four-star Phillips is No. 9 in the high school ranks. Mann spurned offers from Alabama, Auburn and Georgia, among others, to sign with the Gators.
The Gators boast a terrifying defensive line haul, bookended by two five-star ends in Bullard and Fowler Jr., the latter a Signing Day flip. Cox Jr., a standout at high school power St. Thomas Aquinas (Fla.), could be the sleeper of the bunch.
2. Ohio State
Urban Meyer strikes again. The Buckeyes nabbed two five-star ends in Washington and Spence, and bolstered their depth by adding Pittman, a one-time Michigan State pledge. He's no consolation prize. The nation's No. 95 recruit could see action as early as his freshman year.
Armstead and Balducci are U.S. Army All-Americans, and should wreak havoc upon their arrival to the Pac-12. Buckner, a four-star Honolulu native, also looms large at 6-foot-7 and 230 pounds.
One of Stanford's three five-star gets on National Signing Day, Shittu headlines David Shaw's incoming haul. But Kaumatule and Lohn shouldn't be overlooked. The former is a U.S. Army All-American, and the latter is a power-lifter out of Kansas City.
Better known for its running back haul (Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall), Georgia made out similarly well with defensive ends. Jenkins, the nation's No. 56 prospect, is the crown jewel, while Dawson and Floyd are both four-star talents. They should bolster a unit that tallied 35 sacks in 2011.
Surprise, surprise: Nick Saban scored another coup of supremely talented linebackers. All five signees are four-star prospects, and three of them rank among the top five at the position (Ragland is No. 1, Lee is No. 4 and Devall is No. 5). Even with Courtney Upshaw and Dont'a Hightower's departure, 'Bama shouldn't miss a beat.
The Longhorns picked up two elite last-minute pledges, flipping Santos from Tennessee and Davis, a U.S. Army All-American, from LSU. Cole and Jinkens should also add depth to a unit that finished 11th in the FBS in total defense last season.
Alexander lessened the sting of Davis' switch to Texas by signing with the Tigers over Alabama and Florida State. Feist, an Under Armour All-American, and Phillips, a one-time Florida pledge, should also reinforce Les Miles' defense in Baton Rouge.
T-4. Virginia Tech
Three of the Hokies' four signees -- Clarke, Edmunds and Ekanem -- are Rivals250 prospects. They'll enter a well-coached linebacking corps that held opponents to just 17.6 points per game last year, seventh in the nation.
Bolden was one of the most impressive performers during the Under Armour All-America Game, while Jenkins-Stone and Ross starred in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl. All three could make an impact for Brady Hoke and Co. in the not so distant future.
The Hurricanes' class centers quantity (eight defensive back recruits), but boasts its fair share of quality, too. Tracy Howard, the nation's top-ranked cornerback, was a huge grab on National Signing Day, and Deon Bush, a homegrown four-star prospect, is brimming with potential. This haul should set Al Golden's secondary for years to come.
It seemed virtually impossible to pull five-star safety Landon Collins from Louisiana, but Nick Saban proved to be up to the task. The nation's No. 17 recruit leads a defensive back crop that includes Dixon, the No. 3 JUCO prospect, and Smith, a U.S. Army All-American.
Washington made national headlines by swiping Thompson, the top-ranked safety in the country, from Cal in advance of Signing Day. Beaver, a U.S. Army All-American, should also see playing time early and often for the Huskies.
The Gators may have lost Howard to Miami, but they still locked up an impressive batch of budding defensive backs. Rivals100 cornerback Poole stayed despite a late charge from Notre Dame, while Maye never wavered as a long-time Florida commit. Both could be standout performers by their sophomore or junior campaigns.
5. Ohio State
Four-star safeties Bogard and Murray have been Buckeye commits since June, while Reeves flipped from Penn State days before Signing Day. Reeves' switch further demonstrates Meyer's impact -- and bolsters what could be a terrific young defense in Columbus.
Rivals100 prospect Sanders intercepted two passes during the U.S. Army Bowl, four-star Johnson flipped from TCU the weekend before Signing Day and four-star Thomas showed promise at both cornerback and receiver. Needless to say, the Longhorns aren't lacking in young talent and versatility.
Though the Tide signed just two recruits classified as athletes, they were two big ones. Five-star Williams was the No. 4 recruit in talent-rich Florida, and four-star Jones was the No. 3 prospect in Maryland. The duo makes Nick Saban's already dangerous roster even more potent.
Like Alabama, the Bulldogs signed just two prospects listed as athletes. But like 'Bama, both could make immediate impacts. Harvey-Clemons has the makings of an all-SEC linebacker, while Dawson, a 5-foot-11, 169-pound speedster, could turn into a standout defensive back. Both provide Mark Richt and staff with plenty of options.
The Bruins staged one of the bigger surprises of the 2012 recruiting cycle when Fuller, a four-star talent out of Old Tappan, N.J., signed with UCLA over Rutgers, Arizona and Nebraska. Though a high school quarterback, he has the speed and field-savvy to thrive at a number of positions. Orjioke and Perkins, a pair of three-star talents, could contribute early as well.
T-5. Mississippi State
The Bulldogs loaded up on athletes, led by Redmond, the No. 8 prospect in Tennessee. Brown, the No. 20 recruit in Alabama, could also play a big role in Mississippi State's SEC success.
T-5. Georgia Tech
The Yellow Jackets pulled off a major coup when they convinced Justin Thomas, a Rivals250 prospect, to renege on his pledge to Alabama. Marcus Allen, a 6-foot-2, 210-pounder out of Hilliard, Fla., is also polished for an incoming freshman.
For more recruiting coverage after National Signing Day, visit the Rivals.com football recruiting hub.