Because everyone loves revisiting the past, why not bring back some old rankings and see how they panned out? This fall with be the last time some members of the class of 2007 see the college football field. That year brought us the likes of Notre Dame’s Jimmy Clausen and USC’s Joe McKnight. Florida’s John Brantley was a part of that class and so was LSU’s Terrence Toliver.
That truly was a special year for recruiting, so how have the top classes from that year fared? I’ll show you. To create this top-10, I combined rankings from ESPN.com, Rivals.com and Scout.com. Because no rankings ever look the same, I had to tweak the classes from each to get the most accurate 10. I’m not re-ranking classes in terms of what they’ve done up until now, I’m just tweaking the past.
1. Florida (Notables — DE Carlos Dunlap, CB Joe Haden, TE Aaron Hernandez, DT Torrey Davis) Florida had a stud recruiting class and it showed when four players were selected in this year’s NFL Draft. This group went to two SEC championships and won a national title. Solid players from this class, on both sides of the ball, are back this fall, including defensive captains Justin Trattou and Ahmad Black and quarterback John Brantley, who has the responsibility of filling the gigantic shoes left by Tim Tebow.
2. USC — (Notables — LB Chris Galippo, DE Everson Griffin, Joe McKnight, Ronald Johnson) This class has been a part of two Rose Bowl wins and an Emerald Bowl win. Last year’s fall off appeared to be a minor bump in the road with the talent coming back this fall, but NCAA sanctions will keep the Trojans out of bowl contention. This class will leave without taking USC to a national title, but kept the Trojans near the top of college football for most of the time it was on campus.
3. Texas — (Notables — LB Curtis Brown, ATH John Chiles, WR, James Kirkendoll) This class has suffered just five losses so far and one of those came in last year’s national championship. If Colt McCoy doesn’t get injured, it might have been just four losses and a title to show off. Two Big 12 championships and two BCS bowl games make this one of the most successful classes on this list.
4. Tennessee — (Notables — S Eric Berry, DE Ben Martin, LB Chris Donald, WR Kenny O’Neal) Eric Berry became one of the most feared defenders in college football during his three years in Knoxville and was drafted by the Kansas City Chiefs with the No. 5 pick in the 2010 NFL Draft. But the class as a whole didn’t do much on the field. In 2007, the Vols went to the SEC title game, but went 5-7 in 2008 and 7-6 in 2009. This fall will bring this class’ third head coach in four years.
5. LSU — (Notables — ATH Chad Jones, WR Terrance Toliver, DT Joseph Barksdale, WR Demetrius Bryd) This class was privileged enough to win a national title in its first year in Baton Rouge. Since then, the Tigers have lost a little bit of their edge. LSU has lost nine games in the last two seasons, but is expected to push Alabama for the SEC West championship in 2010.
6. South Carolina — (WR Chris Culliver, DT Olufemi Ajiboye, QB Stephen Garcia, WR Dion Lecorn) Culliver is easily the star of this class. He’s been an absolute terror in the Gamecocks’ secondary the last two years. Stephen Garcia made strides in 2009, but coach Steve Spurrier made it clear that he’s got a lot of work to do to earn his spot this fall. This was supposed to be the class that helped Spurrier get back to the top of the SEC, but he’s still wading in the middle. This class didn’t make it to a bowl in 2007, lost its last two bowls and is 1-2 against arch-rival Clemson.
7. Auburn — (QB Kodi Burns, RB Enrique Davis, LB Josh Bynes, OL Lee Ziemba) Burns is now a wide receiver and Davis is at Ole Miss. This class of 30 certainly hasn’t lived up to the hype with its 14-11 record in its first two years. Former coach Tommy Tubberville was sent packing after the ’08 season and the Tigers rebounded with an 8-5 year under Gene Chizik. Auburn should be good in 2010 and Bynes and Ziemba will be exceptional leaders.
8. Notre Dame — (QB Jimmy Clausen, RB Armando Allen, TE Mike Ragone, WR Golden Tate) The prize was Clausen, but he wasn’t much of a prize in the wins column for the Irish. Clausen was picked by the Carolina Panthers in the second round of the draft. His biggest weapon, Tate, was an absolute beast for the Irish and went in the second round to the Seattle Seahawks. Head coach Charlie Weis was fired after the 2009 season, so this class is left in the hands of Brian Kelly. Allen, Ragone and Gary Gray — extraordinary high school prospects — are all back, but only Allen has made much of an impact during his career.
9. Michigan — (QB Ryan Mallett, DB Donovan Warren, LB Austin Panter, WR Toney Clemons) Mallett is in the running to be the SEC’s top quarterback at Arkansas and Michigan just can’t seem to get out of trouble. The losses piled up for this class — 20 to be exact — the last three years. This class floated around the bottom of the top-10 on most recruiting sites, but after the last three years, it doesn’t deserve to even sniff the first 10 slots.
10. Georgia — (LB Rennie Curran, QB Logan Gray, DE Justin Houston, RB Caleb King) The potential is there for this class to go out on a positive note, but it won’t be easy. The good thing for the Bulldogs is that Houston, Gray and King are back. King and especially Houston should make solid impacts this fall, while Gray will try his hand at receiver and backup quarterback. The last three years haven’t been great for the ‘Dawgs. Their 2007 ended with Georgia being one of the most exciting teams to watch and propelled them to a No. 1 ranking in 2009, but they finished the year 10-3. Last year,UGA was 8-5, leaving coach Mark Richt’s seat a little hotter this fall.