Add the caveats. This is still way too early. We won’t know what this signing day meant until a few years from now, and likely it will look different then. However, here is a reassessment of our initial Top 20 for 2012, accounting for Signing Day and a few other January developments.
1. LSU: Not their best recruiting class on paper. Some Louisiana kids got away. That should not be a huge deal next year with the depth they have coming back.
2. USC: Still loaded to make a run. Added quality depth, especially on the offensive line.
3. Alabama: Sign No. 1 overall class. Reload. Compete for a BCS Title.
4. Oregon: Added some massive defensive linemen, four of them 6’6” or taller, including Arik Armstead. We drop them one place, because of Darron Thomas leaving.
5. Florida State: The Noles already had the deepest front in the collegiate game. They added two Top 10 overall defensive tackles. If they can mount something resembling an offense …
6. Georgia: Not sure there’s much immediate impact from this class. Josh Harvey-Clemons needs a year in the weight room. Still, nine starters back from a top ten defense, as well as Aaron Murray and Isaiah Crowell.
7. Oklahoma: Twenty starters back. Mike Stoops coordinating the defense. Can they avoid beating themselves?
8. Ohio State: Almost every starter back on defense, giving their four Top 100 defensive linemen time to acclimate. Urban Meyer implementing the offense. Braxton Miller with a year under his belt.
9. South Carolina: Solid class. 20 starters back. Marcus Lattimore healthy. Jadeveon Clowney moves closer to his potential – being the most dominant defensive player in the country.
10. Michigan: Greg Mattison and Brady Hoke did very well fashioning freshman and unheralded recruits into an effective defense. If they can perform a similar feat with the talent they brought in this class, look out. Schedule is still brutal.
11. Arkansas: On paper, this wasn’t the impact class one would expect from a purported title contender. DGB would have helped them after losing Adams and Wright.
12. Florida: No. 3 overall class from Coach Boom. Ten starters back from a No. 8 overall defense. At least one of last year’s quarterback recruits has to pan out? Right?
13. Michigan State: Who is going to be most adversely affected with both Brady Hoke and Urban Meyer on the warpath? Mark Dantonio. A lot coming back on defense, but they NEED wideout Aaron Burbirdge to contribute immediately.
14. Texas: Top-end talent as always. Second-year with both coordinators. Second year in a row with a five-star running back in Jonathan Gray.
15. Virginia Tech: They have a lot returning, but did nothing to assauge concerns about their four new offensive line starters.
16. Notre Dame: Class was underwhelming on paper, perhaps their worst since 2005. Like their defensive front with a year under the belts. Can they solve the turnover issue?
17. Clemson: A lot coming back, except on the lines, which will be an issue. Still concerned about the Dabo factor.
18. West Virginia: Holgo hit Florida hard, reeling in 12 recruits. Not sure what the impact will be next year. Second year under his offense (which looked scary in the Orange Bowl). Though, it’s the first year without Jeff Casteel.
19. Nebraska: Martinez and Burkhead return. Defense has to be better than last year. Okay class as they transition to a Big Ten recruiting orientation. Losing Andrus Peat hurts.
20. Stanford: Getting a top five class in the Pac 12 would have been a big deal a few years ago. Now, they have a top five class nationally. Landed four top 40 linemen (three offensive, one defense) over the final few days. Barry Sanders Jr. Losing Luck hurts, but if some of those kids can contribute immediately that’s talent Stanford has not yet had.
[Photo via Getty]