2014's recruiting classes are just about in the books, with only a handful of recruits around the country left to settle on college destinations. Below are the consensus top-25 recruiting classes, as compiled by the 247Sports Composite of the four major rating services.
The Crimson Tide might have ended the season on a two-game losing streak, but Nick Saban's program was the big winner on Signing Day for the fourth year in a row. According to the Composite ratings, it's the second-best class of the recruiting-rankings era, behind only Florida's 2010 haul.
It takes a lot to stand out in the SEC West, which turned up four of the top six classes, but Saban's staff did it. Bama brought in more five-stars than it did three-stars ... and more five-stars than the 22 schools of the Pac-12 and Big 12 did combined.
Alabama landed six of the nation's 33 five-star prospects, including the top offensive lineman (Cameron Robinson), two of the top three cornerbacks (Tony Brown and Marlon Humphrey), the top outside linebacker (Rashaan Evans, whose surprise Auburn snub produced internet humor), and arguably the top overall recruit (Da'Shawn Hand).
Alabama's class includes at least one of the top two players from nine states, both near (Humphrey and Evans are the consensus top two in Alabama) and far (four-star center J.C. Hassenauer is No. 2 in Minnesota).
During SB Nation's live Signing Day shows, Bud Elliott called the class "legendary," "nuts," and "just sick." He said, "if these guys pan out, Bama's gonna win another couple championships."
The Tigers add Leonard Fournette, the country's top high school player. Kim Klement, USA Today
The Tigers' class of 2014 includes running back Leonard Fournette, the nation's consensus top recruit, out of New Orleans. LSU might've signed the country's best group of safeties, including five-star Jamal Adams, and it brought in a trio of four-star defensive linemen.
Four-star, early-enrollee quarterback Brandon Harris could be offensive coordinator Cam Cameron's man of the future, but he could also contribute in year one.
3. Ohio State
Nearly 75 percent of the Buckeyes' class received four-star ratings or better. One year after taking Joey Bosa out of Florida, Urban Meyer went to Georgia for No. 1 inside linebacker Raekwon McMillan and picked four-star receiver Johnnie Dixon out of the Sunshine State.
Closer to home, the Buckeyes landed a pair of cornerbacks (Damon Webb and Marshon Lattimore), two linebackers (Dante Booker and Kyle Berger), and skill position talent galore (wideouts Parris Campbell and Terry McLaurin and athlete Noah Brown), four-star prospects all.
Buckeye fans are going to want to see this gorgeous Land-Grant Holy Land recap.
4. Florida State
The newly crowned national champions capitalized quickly, landing commitments from four previously undeclared recruits with four- or five-star ratings on Signing Day, including top wide receiver Ermon Lane. Since New Year's Eve, the Seminoles have added seven players with four-star ratings or better and landed Florida's top player, early-enrollee running back Dalvin Cook.
Of course, the Seminoles' class was already in the top five. Four-star recruits such as defensive tackle Demarcus Christmas, linebacker Delvin Purifoy, and quarterback J.J. Cosentino have been longtime Florida State commits.
The Noles lost a few players on Wednesday, but overall met all of their needs and then some.
5. Texas A&M
Texas A&M did not sign a big class, but it gave Kevin Sumlin the opportunity to choose quality over quantity. Texas A&M got the nation's top-rated pro-style quarterback (Kyle Allen) and top-rated wide receiver to catch his passes (Speedy Noil).
On the other side, the Aggies signed the top player in Texas and top defensive end in the country (Myles Garrett) and the second-rated cornerback recruit in the Lone Star State (Nick Harvey).
Most important to A&M fans: the Aggies landed five of the top 18 recruits in Texas, dominating the other state programs. Also, check out Good Bull Hunting's interactive map on where all the SEC's signees came from.
Gus Malzahn's first recruiting class as Auburn head coach is nearly as good as his first season was.
Five-star running back Roc Thomas and inside linebacker Tre' Williams signed with the Tigers Wednesday, while two of the nation's top JuCo players, wideout D'haquille Williams (whom College and Magnolia calls the class' most talented player) and safety Derrick Moncrief, were already on campus.
A trio of four-star cornerbacks (Nick Ruffin, Kalvaraz Bessent, and Stephen Roberts) should bolster a weak-link Auburn secondary, and quarterback Sean White could inherit the keys to Malzahn's supercharged offense in a few years.
Rebuilding in the SEC is like "trying to rebuild during a hurricane," says Rocky Top Talk, but the Vols top the SEC East.
Butch Jones came out swinging, landing a ridiculous 33 new players in his first full class as head coach of the Volunteers. It includes a massive upgrade at the skill positions, including borderline five-star running back Jalen Hurd, four-star back Derrell Scott, four-star receivers Josh Malone and Von Pearson, and four-star tight end Daniel Helm.
The Vols also got signatures from a U.S. Army All-American in safety Todd Kelly, a ready-to-play offensive tackle in JuCo transfer Dontavius Blair, and six four-star recruits for the defensive front seven.
Adding Lorenzo Carter on Signing Day gave the Dawgs another reason to hold their heads high. Brett Davis, USA Today
For once, everything went right for Georgia.
Georgia's continued reliance on the running game landed the Bulldogs a pair of five-star halfbacks, Sony Michel and Nick Chubb, and a trio of four-star linemen (Isaiah Wynn, Dyshon Sims, and Kendall Baker) to open up the holes. Five-star defensive end Lorenzo Carter will terrorize opposing quarterbacks for years to come.
And with ever-increasing competition for the top talent in Georgia, Mark Richt's staff managed to sign three of the state's top five recruits (Carter, Chubb and cornerback Malkom Parrish).
Florida added 24 prospects, including five-star cornerback Jalen Tabor out of Washington D.C.
Quarterback Will Grier is among the nation's top pro-style signalcallers, and a tandem of defensive tackles (Gerald Willis and Thomas Holley) will anchor the Gators' defensive line for years to come. Florida also got a late boost when four-star dual-threat quarterback Treon Harris flipped from rival Florida State on Signing Day.
The Gators were a horrendous 4-8 in 2013, but somehow signed a top-10 class. Could Florida have competed for the No. 1 class if it had had a better season?
I firmly believe there's an alternate universe where Florida wins 9-10 games in 2013 and just CLEANS HOUSE on the recruiting trail.— Alligator Army (@AlligatorArmy) February 5, 2014
10. Notre Dame
The Irish struck out on the top tier of recruits (One Foot Down found that a little disappointing), but more than made up for it with a huge haul of four-star prospects. Of the Irish's 23 signees, 16 received consensus four-star rankings.
Those include pro-style quarterback DeShone Kizer (one of the top 10 players in Ohio), wideouts Corey Holmes and Justin Brent, and bookend tackles Quenton Nelson and Alex Bars.
On the defensive side of the ball, new defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder can utilize cornerback Nick Watkins, defensive tackle Jay Hayes, and defensive ends Grant Blankenship and Andrew Trumbetti (OFD's pick for 2014 household name).
Notre Dame got recruits from 14 different states.
Signing Day's biggest commit, Adoree' Jackson, boosted USC into the top 15. Gary A. Vasquez, USA Today
In a year in which some of the Pac-12's also-rans made significant leaps forward on the recruiting trail, it's the old standby that still landed the conference's best class. Despite a coaching change and continuing scholarship reductions, the Trojans' 19 signees included two five-star prospects and eight four-stars.
Adoree' Jackson, the top player in California and top-rated cornerback in the country, committed to USC on Signing Day in complicated fashion. The state's second-rated player, safety/wide receiver John Smith, also joined, as did four-star guard Damien Mama. The Trojans might've had the country's best Wednesday.
The Hurricanes, now free of NCAA investigation and secure with coach Al Golden, signed a class that can compete with its Sunshine State rivals.
On defense, five-star defensive end Chad Thomas is a consensus top-five player in the state of Florida.
On offense, quarterback Brad Kaaya will move from the California coast to lead the Hurricanes' offense. And four-star halfback Joseph Yearby can run through holes created by fellow four-star linemen Kc (yes, that's how he spells it) McDermott and Trevor Darling.
The Canes' 2014 class could line up and play just about anybody else's:
Now this is how you commit to Stanford. ESPNU
The Cardinal came in just behind their in-state rivals despite getting Signing Day's most hilarious commitment. It was an important one, as well: defensive end Solomon Thomas is the five-star prospect at the top of that tiny tree, the nation's second-rated strongside defensive end prospect and one of the best players in the state of Texas.
Linebackers Bobby Okereke and Joey Alfieri will join him on the vaunted Stanford defense, while four-star quarterback Keller Chryst will one day get protection from tackle Casey Tucker. And, because it's Stanford, there has to be a four-star tight end. Dalton Schultz, the top player in Utah, fits the bill.
With Texas in transition, Bob Stoops landed the best recruiting class in the Big 12 thanks in part to a Signing Day surge.
The Sooners' 27-member class is heavy on skill position talent: the Sooners welcome five-star halfback Joe Mixon, dual-threat quarterback Justice Hansen, and a quartet of four-star wide receivers. Oklahoma also bolstered its secondary with four-star safety Steven Parker and borderline four-star cornerback Tito Windham.
15. South Carolina
In the SEC East, nobody had a more critical Signing Day than the Gamecocks. Going four-for-four on last-minute commitments turned a disappointing class into a solid one.
The Gamecocks got better in the trenches, with guard Donell Stanley, defensive tackles Abu Lamin and Dexter Wideman (a late Florida State flip), and defensive end Dante Sawyer highlighting the haul. Linebacker Bryson Allen-Williams and cornerbacks D.J. Smith and Chris Lammons provide four-star support on defense, while wide receiver Shaq Davidson gives Steve Spurrier a bit of skill-position star power.
16. Ole Miss
After a banner recruiting year in 2013, Hugh Freeze took a small slide back to the pack in 2014.
The Rebels' 26 signees include six four-star recruits. Ole Miss got three of the top four players in the state of Mississippi, including borderline five-star guard Roderick Taylor, wide receiver Markell Pack, and defensive tackle Breeland Speaks. The Rebels also bolstered the secondary with four-star safety C.J. Hampton and cornerbacks Tee Shepard (a Signing Day steal from Mississippi State) and Kendarius Webster.
Charlie Strong did his best to hold together Mack Brown's class, managing to sign wide receivers Armanti Foreman and Lorenzo Joe, defensive end Derick Roberson, and outside linebacker Edwin Freeman.
Signing Day commitment Poona Ford (who could be one of the country's most overlooked players) and safety John Bonney give Strong ample raw material for his defense, but Burnt Orange Nation is not impressed with that side of the ball.
The biggest addition is quarterback Jerrod Heard, the only quarterback the Horns offered, for the entire cycle, who could play early.
South Carolina's in-state rival went the other way, loading up on skill-position talent.
If four-star quarterback Deshaun Watson (perhaps Clemson's best quarterback signee ever) earns the starting job at some point, he will have four different four-star receivers in his class to pick from, four-star running back Adam Choice in the backfield, and the fantastically named Cannon Smith to protect his blind side.
Meanwhile, the Tigers brought in three four-star linebackers -- Chris Register, Korie Rogers, and Richard Yeargin III -- to bolster the defense.
Jim Mora's staff missed on a slew of Signing Day commitments, but the Bruins still managed to put together one of the Pac-12's top classes.
UCLA focused heavily on defense, bringing in two four-star linebackers (Zach Whitley and Kenny Young), two four-star defensive backs (Jaleel Wadood and Adarius Pickett), and a four-star defensive tackle (Ainuu Taua). On offense, the Bruins opted for huge receivers, signing super-sized wideouts Austin Roberts and Alex Van Dyke.
Jabrill Peppers, likely the Big Ten's best signee. Kim Klement, USA Today
Brady Hoke didn't have many spots this year -- the Wolverines signed only 16 recruits -- but he managed to land his top signing since coming to Ann Arbor in five-star safety/running back Jabrill Peppers.
Elsewhere, the Wolverines added a pair of four-star wideouts and a top in-state recruit in defensive end Lawrence Marshall. Tackle Juwann Bushell-Beatty and guard Mason Cole should provide much-needed assistance on the offensive line.
It's a small class that packs both star power and long-term impact, despite a bad 2013 season.
The Ducks didn't add many recruits this cycle, but maintained their national focus, signing 20 recruits from nine different states.
Halfback Royce Freeman was ranked as the top player in California by 247 Sports, while dual-threat quarterback Morgan Mahalak looks custom-made for the Ducks' high-tempo offense. Four-star wideout Jalen Brown enrolled in January to gain eligibility for spring practice.
On defense, Oregon adds linebacker Jimmie Swain and cornerback Arrion Springs, both four-star prospects, but might've left itself with a huge gap at defensive tackle.
Mark Stoops shielded recruits from looking at his first-year record and landed a solid recruiting class.
The Wildcats got the top two players in Kentucky, potential starting rookie quarterback Drew Barker and defensive tackle Matt Elam, despite interest from across the SEC. Wide receivers Thaddeus Snodgrass and T.V. Williams provide much-needed playmaking ability on the outside, while defensive end Denzel Ware and safety Darius West should bolster Stoops' defense.
23. Arizona State
The Sun Devils capitalized on a breakthrough 2013 by signing 28, including four-star quarterback Manny Wilkins, blue-chip wideouts Tyler Whiley, Jalen Harvey, and Eric Lauderdale, and outside linebacker Derik Calhoun.
Defensive ends Connor Humphreys and Darrius Caldwell and defensive tackles Tashon Smallwood and Dalvon Stuckey provide ASU with immediate help on the defensive line after a big NFL Draft exodus.
24. Penn State
James Franklin's 25-man first Big Ten class is most noteworthy for the players he plucked from elsewhere, including a half-dozen players who followed him from Vanderbilt and four-star receiver and Rutgers flip Saeed Blacknail. The Nittany Lions' passing game is set up to take another big step forward over the next few years, with four-star quarterback Michael O'Connor joined by three other four-star pass-catchers, including early-enrollee De'Andre Thompkins.
PSU's loss of longtime recruiting ace and defensive line coach Larry Johnson Sr. to Ohio State might've already hurt, as defensive tackle depth going forward is not pretty.
25. Michigan State
The Rose Bowl champions are still waiting on the letter of intent from five-star defensive end Malik McDowell, whose mother is against him going to East Lansing, but if the Spartans can get him on campus, they will be fine.
Four-star safety Montae Nicholson and defensive tackle Craig Evans are in the fold, while center Brian Allen and tackle David Hedelin will bolster the Spartans' offensive line and vaunted running attack. Running back Madre London fits the mold of a Michigan State back: 6'1, 205 pounds, and built to run downhill, and he could run behind the country's top fullback prospect, Gerald Owens.