Football recruiting class rankings: Northwestern, Oregon move toward top 10

Sports

College football commitments are expected to heat up (along with the temperature) over the next two months, with plenty of movement in the class rankings to follow. There has, in the meantime, been some significant activity on the recruiting trail leading up to the busy summer, resulting in key changes and new entries.

Northwestern led the way with a busy month of May, adding nearly double-digit commitments to help the Wildcats roar back into the top 25 after falling out for a period of time. Notable pickups came in the trenches, as they added to a good haul of offensive line talent by landing high three-star OG Jordan Knox and Alex Doost. They also bolstered their defensive line with Dylan Roberts, who possesses good initial quickness and strength.

Out West, the race for the top class in the Pac-12 is shaping up to be one to watch. While USC climbed a spot with a commitment from ESPN 300 CB Braxton Myers, rival Oregon closed the gap by jumping up several spots. The Ducks added another big receiving target to their class in Ashton Cozart, a former Oklahoma commit who brings an excellent blend of length and speed.

Alabama and Texas A&M made major headlines with their war of words, and that battle continues on the recruiting trail, as the Crimson Tide were able to push ahead of the Aggies after landing their one-time commit QB Eli Holstein. While Alabama is expected to host No. 1 prospect Arch Manning on an official visit in June, the Tide did not wait to add more talented options to their QB room. Bryce Young could move on after this season, and in Holstein, they get a big, accurate passer with good mobility for his size.

ESPN 300 commits: 9 | Previous ranking: 1

Independent rank: 1
Top offensive commit: WR Braylon James (No. 46)
Top defensive commit: DE Keon Keeley (No. 23)

The Fighting Irish have inked two consecutive top-10 classes and are off to a strong start to extend that streak. New coach Marcus Freeman has his fingerprints all over this class with multiple key additions on the defensive side of the ball. Keeley is a lengthy edge defender who can be a disruptive pass-rushing presence. LB Drayk Bowen was a big in-state pickup as the top-rated player in Indiana. The Irish have two ESPN 300 defensive back commits in Peyton Bowen out of Texas and Adon Shuler out of New Jersey. There is also some promising offensive talent on board, led by ESPN 300 WR James, a lengthy vertical threat who posted a laser 4.47 40 this spring on the camp circuit.


ESPN 300 commits: 7 | Previous ranking: 2

SEC rank: 1 of 14
Top offensive commit: OT Bo Hughley (No. 100)
Top defensive commit: CB Justyn Rhett (No. 63)

The defending national champions are contenders to sign a seventh straight top-three class. Located in a talent-rich state, they are doing well at home with commitments thus far from three of the top 10 prospects in Georgia, including Hughley. They pulled WR Raymond Cottrell, a 6-foot-3, 205-pound prospect with quick, strong hands out of Florida. During their title run, the Bulldogs got great production from freshman TE Brock Bowers and are now adding more young talent to that position with commitments from ESPN 300 TEs Pearce Spurlin and Lawson Luckie. Their championship defense was popular during the NFL draft, with five members selected in the first round, and the Dawgs are now working to restock that unit with talent. They’re off to good start in doing so with commitments from a pair of top-10 CBs in Rhett and Marcus Washington.


ESPN 300 commits: 6 | Previous ranking: 3

Big Ten rank: 1 of 14
Top offensive commit: OT Luke Montgomery (No. 68)
Top defensive commit: CB Dijon Johnson (No. 113)

A staple near the top of the recruiting rankings, the Buckeyes are recruiting at a high level once again. ESPN 300 offensive linemen Montgomery and Joshua Padilla, along with high three-star Austin Siereveld, were key in-state keeps in the trenches. Ty Lockwood is a tight end with the tools to be a well-rounded player at the position. They pulled out of Florida strong secondary talent in No. 12 cornerback Johnson and athlete Cedrick Hawkins, who projects to that unit and can be an excellent player with his great feet and physical style of play.


ESPN 300 commits: 2 | Previous ranking: 4

Big 12 rank: 1 of 10
Top offensive commit: QB Jake Strong (four stars)
Top defensive commit: S Brenden Jordan (No. 186)

New coach Joey McGuire has been known as a strong recruiter and brings a high-energy style to the Red Raiders. Now with a full cycle to work, this is a team to watch in recruiting. The foundation of the class is built on in-state talent, including quarterback Strong, a passer who has continued to improve throughout his high school career and has good arm strength and accuracy. Jordan can be a sound tackler in the secondary, and four-star cornerback Calvin Simpson-Hunt is a smooth mover who can also be physical in run support. Edge defender Isaiah Crawford is a lengthy prospect with nice upside.


ESPN 300 commits: 3 | Previous ranking: 5

Big Ten rank: 2 of 14
Top offensive commit: OG J’ven Williams (No. 45)
Top defensive commit: DE Jameial Lyons (four stars)

The Nittany Lions spent most of the 2022 cycle near the top of the class rankings, and early in the 2023 cycle, they’re back near the top. They are doing a nice job in the offensive trenches with several talented OL pickups led by Williams, the top-rated player in the state and a mobile and physical blocker. They continue to find success in the Washington, D.C., area with multiple commits out of Virginia, including Alex Birchmeier, a flexible and aggressive blocker. TE Andrew Rappleyea was a nice flip from Michigan, as he is a productive receiving target with good hands and body control.


ESPN 300 commits: 4 | Previous ranking: 6

SEC rank: 2 of 14
Top offensive commit: TE Luke Hasz (No. 64)
Top defensive commit: DE Kaleb James (four stars)

The Razorbacks are stacking up talent at tight end with three ESPN 300 commits. Hasz comes out of a winning program in Oklahoma and, as a receiving target, runs good routes and has sure hands. Shamar Easter was a home-state keep and is a lengthy target with a big catch radius and good hands. Jaden Hamm runs well and can be an aggressive blocker. LB Carson Dean is a name to watch in this class, as he is an active presence with good range and agility and could develop into a highly productive player in the mold of Arkansas LB Bumper Pool.


ESPN 300 commits: 5 | Previous ranking: 7

ACC rank: 1 of 14
Top offensive commit: QB Pierce Clarkson (No. 137)
Top defensive commit: CB Aaron Williams (No. 143)

The Cardinals’ 2022 class took a bit to come together, as they finished near the bottom of the ACC, but they are off to a much stronger start for 2023. Clarkson is a passer with a strong arm and background at the position, as he’s the son of longtime quarterbacks coach Steve Clarkson. Receiver Jahlil McClain should have good synergy with Clarkson, as the two are high school teammates at St. John Bosco in California. DE Adonijah Green is a pickup with a high ceiling for development. He is a lean but lengthy player with good initial quickness and was among the top performers at a loaded Under Armour Camp in Atlanta this spring.


ESPN 300 commits: 4 | Previous ranking: 9

Pac-12 rank: 1 of 12
Top offensive commit: QB Malachi Nelson (No. 2)
Top defensive commit: CB Braxton Myers (No. 116)

Lincoln Riley has assembled a small but talented offensive class so far. Two key in-state pickups who were planning to join Riley at Oklahoma flipped to their hometown school when Riley made the change. Nelson is the No. 2 QB in the class with a smooth release and the ability to make tough throws on the move. Makai Lemon is high school teammates with Nelson and has good hands and quickness. WR Zachariah Branch, out of Las Vegas, is one the fastest players in this class and can be an electrifying playmaker with the ball in his hands. The Trojans also added some defensive talent, namely Myers, a well-rounded and tough cornerback.


ESPN 300 commits: 4 | Previous ranking: 8

SEC rank: 3 of 14
Top offensive commit: QB Nicholaus Iamaleava (No. 13)
Top defensive commit: LB Caleb Herring (No. 109)

The Volunteers were able to score a big, early win on the recruiting trail with the commitment of ESPN 300 QB Iamaleava. Among the top QBs in the country, he is not only a talented passer, but he also moves well. While he is a player they can build this class around, TE Ethan Davis was among the first commits for 2023. A talented basketball player as well, he is still developing but has good ball skills and the ability to win contested matchups. The top-rated player in the state, Herring, an edge defender that can be a sideline-to-sideline presence, was another key addition for this rebuilding program.


ESPN 300 commits: 1 | Previous ranking: 10

Big 12 rank: 2 of 10
Top offensive commit: TE Matt Klopfenstein (four stars)
Top defensive commit: LB Christian Brathwaite (No. 300)

QB Austin Novosad is a smooth passer with good arm talent who reminds us of LSU quarterback Myles Brennan. Micah Gifford can be a productive receiving target, as he possesses good quickness and has shown he can make the tough play in contested matchups. Defensively, Brathwaite not only possesses good initial explosiveness, but good pursuit range as well. Athlete Javeon Wilcox projects to the secondary and brings an attacking style of play and should be a good special teams contributor early on.


ESPN 300 commits: 2 | Previous ranking: unranked

Big Ten rank: 3 of 14
Top offensive commit: OG Dylan Senda (three stars)
Top defensive commit: LB Nigel Glover (four stars)

The Wildcats were active in May with eight three-star commitments. That haul helped bolster an already good group of OL commits, as Jordan Knox and Alex Doost came on board and joined top-25 OG prospects Senda and Anthony Birsa. Northwestern pulled out of Ohio two talented linebackers in Glover, who is a physical player with good agility and can be productive against the run and pass, and Michael Kilbane. DL Dylan Roberts might not be a highly touted name, but he has the tools to be a productive presence in the trenches with good explosiveness, strength and an active style of play.


ESPN 300 commits: 5 | Previous ranking: 17

SEC rank: 4 of 14
Top offensive commit: TE Mac Markway (No. 122)
Top defensive commit: CB Daylen Austin (No. 138)

A key for Brian Kelly will be keeping the Tigers an in-state recruiting power. Many of the state’s top players remain uncommitted, but LSU landed top-10 prospect Omarion Miller, a receiver with a nice blend of size and quickness to win contested balls and make plays after the catch. The Tigers also secured a verbal from the top-rated RB in Louisiana in Trey Holly. Texas is also an important recruiting ground for the Tigers, and they pulled ESPN 300 CB Ryan Yaites, a defender with good length and tremendous quickness.


ESPN 300 commits: 5 | Previous ranking: 22

Pac-12 rank: 2 of 14
Top offensive commit: WR Ashton Cozart (No. 92)
Top defensive commit: CB Cole Martin (No. 183)

New head coach Dan Lanning led Georgia’s championship defense last year but now focuses on trying to build a similar unit with the Ducks. ESPN 300 CB Martin is a good place to start, as he is a player with good feet and upside. Despite his strong defensive background, Lanning’s first full class at Oregon is defined by promising offensive talent. The Ducks landed big targets for their passing attack in Cozart, who is long, fast and posted a laser-timed 4.45 40 at the Dallas Under Armour camp, and Jurrion Dickey, who had an MVP performance at the UC Report Elite Camp in Oakland this spring. Along with Kyler Kasper, all of them check in at 6-foot-2 or taller and can win contested matchups.


ESPN 300 commits: 4 | Previous ranking: 12

Big 12 rank: 3 of 10
Top offensive commit: ATH Ryan Niblett (No. 96)
Top defensive commit: CB Jamel Johnson (No. 110)

Early on, Texas has been able to land some top in-state defensive prospects led by Johnson, a defensive back with good ball skills and the size and toughness to support the run. Along the defensive line, ESPN 300 prospect Dylan Spencer gives the Longhorns an explosive player with a good motor in the trenches. Niblett was a key in-state addition on offense, as he can be a big-play threat with his outstanding speed.


ESPN 300 commits: 4 | Previous ranking 18

SEC rank: 5 of 14
Top offensive commit: QB Eli Holstein (No. 59)
Top defensive commit: CB Jahlil Hurley (No. 18)

The Crimson Tide have a small but talented class, with three among the top 60 nationally and top five at their respective positions. Hurley is an agile and smooth corner with good length, and safety Elliot Washington has good range, can change directions well and is a physical presence in the back end. Yhonzae Pierre might not be among the most touted names in this class, but he was a very strong in-state pickup, as he is a quick, flexible defender who can develop into a disruptive edge defender. The Tide added their first offensive commit in QB Holstein, a one-time Texas A&M verbal who is an accurate passer with good arm strength and mobility for his size (6-4, 225) .


ESPN 300 commits: 3 | Previous ranking: 15

ACC rank: 2 of 14
Top offensive commit: QB Chris Parson (No. 181)
Top defensive commit: DT Keith Sampson (No. 209)

The Seminoles are working to add more talent to their quarterback room. After signing ESPN 300 QB A.J. Duffy in 2022, they have added another top-300 signal caller in Parson. A player with the mobility to create problems as a runner, he can also be a dangerous big-play threat as a passer with a strong arm and impressive deep ball. The Seminoles added some strong additions to their defensive line in Sampson, who can be a stout presence, and Lamont Green Jr., a lengthy defender who runs well and has good upside.


ESPN 300 commits: 2 | Previous ranking: 14

Big Ten rank: 4 of 14
Top offensive commit: RB Cole Cabana (No. 108)
Top defensive commit: LB Raylen Wilson (No. 56)

Early on, the Wolverines secured a commitment from one of the top in-state prospects in Cabana, a slashing runner who can also be a productive receiving target out of the backfield. In-state WR Semaj Morgan has a compact build but a strong lower body to break tackles. Wilson, a powerful linebacker with good range, was a big out-of-state pickup.


ESPN 300 commits: 2 | Previous ranking: 16

Big Ten rank: 5 of 14
Top offensive commit: OG Johnathan Slack (No. 296)
Top defensive commit: DE Andrew Depaepe (No. 207)

The Spartans are working to notch a second straight top-20 class and are off to a good start. Offensive guards might not get fan bases fired up, but Slack is a very good in-state pickup, as he’s a blocker with good feet and excellent functional strength. The Spartans went into rival Big Ten country to land DE Depaepe out of Iowa, a player with good strength and motor. They went into Texas to land a powerful thrower at QB in Bo Edmundson.


ESPN 300 commits: 3 | Previous ranking: 11

SEC rank: 6 of 14
Top offensive commit: OT Colton Thomasson (three stars)
Top defensive commit: ATH Jayvon Thomas (No. 124)

The Aggies signed the top class for 2022, anchored by an outstanding haul along the defensive line, and are continuing to add talent to that unit for 2023 in DL Johnny Bowens, who displays a good get-off and strength. In the secondary, they added some elite in-state speed in Thomas and Bravion Rogers, who both project to defense and should also be strong special-teams contributors. Thomasson is a strong in-state pickup to develop on the O-line.


ESPN 300 commits: 3 | Previous ranking: 19

ACC rank: 3 of 14
Top offensive commit: QB Christopher Vizzina (No. 79)
Top defensive commit: DE David Ojiegbe (No. 246)

Trevor Lawrence set a high bar, and replacing him is not easy, but the Tigers continue to add talented options under center. They signed the No. 2 overall quarterback in the 2022 cycle in Cade Klubnik and now landed ESPN 300 signal-caller Vizzina, a strong-armed, accurate and poised passer. Nathaniel Joseph has the tools to be a dangerous weapon, as the diminutive target is an explosive and shifty player who can win footraces and make defenders miss.


ESPN 300 commits: 0 | Previous ranking: 21

Pac-12 rank: 3 of 14
Top offensive commit: QB Ryan Staub (four stars)
Top defensive commit: DE Kam Bizor (three stars)

While USC works to reestablish itself as a dominant recruiting force in the Pac-12, Colorado is making some noise of its own on the recruiting trail, working to sign one of the top classes in the conference. They went into California to secure their QB in the four-star Staub, a passer with a quick release and gunslinger’s swagger. Edward Schultz and Isaiah Hardge, a quick playmaker who can be dangerous in space, have the tools be develop into productive weapons. A nice get out of Philadelphia is massive and aggressive OL Naquill Betrand.


ESPN 300 commits: 1 | Previous ranking: 25

Big 12 rank: 4 of 10
Top offensive commit: ATH Rodney Gallagher (No. 172)
Top defensive commit: LB Josiah Trotter (four stars)

Neal Brown landed a potential anchor for his defense over the coming season in Trotter. In the mold of his All-Pro father, Jeremiah, Trotter can be a tough, productive presence between the tackles. Offensively, the Mountaineers secured their QB in Raheim Jeter, a big, strong-armed passer. They also are adding to the backfield a talented three-star RB in Jahiem White, who displays good vision and the ability to produce after contact. A key addition is ESPN 300 ATH Gallagher, who projects to wide receiver. Also a talented basketball player, he displays natural playmaking ability with good quickness and ball skills and a high ceiling for development with focus on the position.


ESPN 300 commits: 2 | Previous ranking: unranked

SEC rank: 7 of 14
Top offensive commit: C Knijeah Harris (No. 155)
Top defensive commit: ATH Aaron Gates (No. 157)

Gates had committed to the Gators prior to Billy Napier taking over, but has stayed on board and gives them a prospect who projects to the secondary and could be a versatile player with his quickness and ball skills. Another commit who gives Florida nice versatility is Creed Whittemore. A hometown prospect, he has played QB for his high school and possesses excellent speed with tools to be a productive weapon at WR. Harris is a nice addition to the trenches, as he has been a multiyear starter at IMG Academy and should come in ready to compete for playing time.


ESPN 300 commits: 0 | Previous ranking: 20

Group of 5 rank: 1
Top offensive commit: TE Khamari Anderson (three stars)
Top defensive commit: LB Trevor Carter (four stars)

The Bearcats are showing they are ready for a move to the Big 12 with their play on the field and their ability to recruit among the better classes in the country. Four-star LB Carter was a big in-state win, and interior OL Evan Tengesdahl was another strong, home-state pickup as he took home positional MVP honors this spring at the Under Armour Camp in Ohio. Anderson can be a productive target in the passing game, as he is a smooth runner with good hands.


ESPN 300 commits: 0 | Previous ranking: 23

Big Ten rank: 6 of 14
Top offensive commit: QB Marco Lainez III (four stars)
Top defensive commit: DE Chase Brackney (three stars)

Not surprisingly, the Hawkeyes’ class is not real flashy, but it has a very solid foundation. QB Lainez is a consistent, smooth and accurate passer who looks like a nice fit for Iowa’s offense. Known for its eye for and developing offensive lineman, Iowa landed top-five center Leighton Jones. Defensively, Brackney displays good power to collapse the pocket and set the edge vs. the run.


Dropped out: Oklahoma (13), Miami (24)

Scorecard | 2022 class rankings | 2021 class rankings | 2020 class rankings

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