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2012 Recruiting Classes: How Did Notre Dame's Rivals Fare?

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With National Signing Day come and gone, the vast majority of programs around the country have closed the book on their 2012 class and are making preparations to recruit the next crop of young football stars.

A few players still remain undeclared and unsigned (Davonte Neal---we could use you), but for the most part, what you see now is what you're going to get from our rivals.

Important note: Before we get started let's agree not to turn this into a discussion about who is and who is not a rival to Notre Dame. Save those arguments for another day. If it makes you feel better, think of these as "teams of interest" because the Irish play them so often.

Boston College Eagles

Number Signed: 15

States Represented: New Jersey (x6), Massachusetts (x2), Virginia (x2), Ohio, Florida (x2), Pennsylvania, and Quebec.

Class Ranking (Scout-247): 71st & 81st

Top Players (Rivals):

LB, Steven Daniels (Unranked)

OL, Win Homer (No. 26 OT)

OL, Jim Cashman (No. 60 OT)

LB, Mark Strizak (No. 23 ILB)

OL, Frank Taylor (No. 20 OG)

Commentary:

It wasn't a very good class for Frank Spaziani and the Eagles as they finished 2012 near the bottom of the ACC and below-average across the country. In fact, only three AQ schools (Wake Forest, Iowa State, Kansas State) finished with a worse team ranking than Boston College.

The Eagles did recruit well at offensive line and linebacker---no surprise there---but didn't sign a quarterback, running back, and just one defensive linemen in a very small class.

Linebacker Steven Daniels is the top recruit (stashed away in prep school for a year to meet academic requirements) and BC will also add Iowa transfer Marcus Grant (No. 90 WR for 2011) who is not counted as part of the above class.

The arrow is not pointing up for BC or Frank Spaziani. A small class devoid of much talent is not what is needed right now in Chestnut Hill. 2012 may be Spaz's last at Boston College.

Michigan Wolverines

Number Signed: 25

States Represented: Ohio (x9), Missouri (x2), California, Michigan (x9), Tennessee, Iowa, Kentucky, and Utah.

Class Ranking: 4th & 8th

Top Players:

OL, Kyle Kalis (No. 4 OT)

DT, Ondre Pipkins (No. 3 DT)

OL, Erik Magnuson (No. 10 OT)

LB, Joe Bolden (No. 7 OLB)

LB, James Ross (No. 14 OLB)

Commentary:

There were two major questions facing Brady Hoke when he took over the job at Michigan and he answered them both this year. He turned around the Wolverine defense, and he recruited with the best of them. Oh yeah, and he won a lot of games in his first season.

This Michigan class is large in numbers, deep in depth, and has plenty of star power. Most of the top guys are what we'd term "power" recruits---and the "skilled" recruits aren't blowing anyone away---but you can see Hoke really wanted to bring toughness to his offensive line and front seven.

Michigan went back to dominating in Ohio and Michigan and it paid off. This is a massively successful anchor class for Brady Hoke.

Lack of difference makers at running back and wide receiver could pose problems in 2 or 3 years. There's no quarterback in the class, but 5-star Shane Morris is a verbal for 2013. Tremendous replenishment of the offensive line and linebacker corps. About as good of a class as anyone could have dreamed for Michigan.

Michigan State Spartans

Number Signed: 18

States Represented: Michigan (x4), Pennsylvania (x2), Florida (x2), Ohio (x7), Indiana, Georgia, and Oregon.

Class Ranking: 36th & 38th

Top Players:

WR, Aaron Burbridge (No. 16 WR)

DB, Demetrious Cox (No. 12 S)

DE, Jamal Lyles (No. 18 WDE)

WR, Macgarrett King Jr. (No. 86 WR)

QB, Tyler O'Connor (No. 18 Pro-Style QB)

Commentary:

If you're a Spartan fan, you have to be terribly frustrated. For a great portion of the season they showed they were the best team in the Big Ten. They even beat the Michigan team that went to (and won) the Sugar Bowl. They are 22-5 over the past two seasons, with back-to-back 11 win campaigns---and this class has little to show for it while Michigan's class is miles better.

Michigan State's class was hurt by some defections and it only has 7 defenders in total, with just 3 freshman coming in at the front seven positions. Also, there are just three 4-star players---not exactly the star power the Spartans probably expected to bring in.

MSU is losing a lot of offensive production this season so a focus on that side of the ball was probably a good idea. Still, this is a pretty disappointing (but not terrible) class for the Spartans. Looking at the success of Michigan and Ohio State in the 2012 class can't make the green and white feel too good right now.

Navy Midshipmen

Players Signed: 25

States Represented: Pennsylvania, Texas (x5), Wisconsin, Georgia (x2), Ohio, Arizona, Florida (x7), Maryland, Virginia, Illinois, Tennessee, Alabama, and Kentucky.

Class Ranking: 100th & 118th

Top Players:

OL, Toye Adewon (No. 7 C)

RB, Toneo Gulley (Unranked)

LB, Tyler Goble (Unranked)

DB, Zander Yost (Unranked)

OL, John Ferguson (Unranked)

Commentary:

Navy is going to be Navy when it comes to recruiting. Just a whole bunch of unranked 2 and 3-star players. Curiously, the Middies only have 1 player signed right now, so I'm assuming the Naval Academy does things a little differently then the rest of the college football world.

Typically, Navy needs to find a few difference makers on defense, a smart quarterback, and a nice collection of players who run hard with the ball in their hands. We'll see if they found any of those in this class.

Pittsburgh Panthers

Players Signed: 16

States Represented: Pennsylvania (x6), Tennessee, Ohio (x6), Washington, New York, Maryland, and Wisconsin.

Class Ranking: 40th & 45th

Top Players:

RB, Rushel Shell (No. 6 RB)

QB, Chad Voytik (No. 4 Pro-Style QB)

OL, Adam Bisnowaty (No. 19 OT)

LB, Deaysean Rippy (No. 21 OLB)

ATH, Demitrious Davis (No. 32 ATH)

Summary:

Things were not looking bright for Pitt as they lost head coach Todd Graham to Arizona State and the program needed to hire their 4th coach in such a short time span. Overall though, this class held up pretty well even if the numbers are low.

The top of the bunch is very good, led by one of the best running backs in the country Rushel Shell. The Panthers added linebacker Deaysean Rippy on signing day (as well as three other defenders) and welcome a pretty talented quarterback in Chad Voytik.

The main problem is that the numbers are low, and half of the class is unranked according to Rivals. So this is a top-heavy class with poor and untalented depth bring up the rear. Pitt is going to need their stars to pan out and very good player development in this class.

Purdue Boilermakers

Players Signed: 25

States Represented: Indiana (x4), Ohio, Florida (x5), New York, Texas (x4), Alabama, North Carolina, Arkansas, California, Virginia, New Jersey, Arizona, Kentucky, Maryland, and Michigan.

Class Ranking: 51st & 53rd

Top Players:

ATH, Carlos Carvajal (Unranked)

DE, Ryan Watson (No. 16 SDE)

OL, Devin Smith (Unranked)

WR, B.J. Knauf (Unranked)

DB, Anthony Brown (No. 51 CB)

Commentary:

Purdue signed a very large class and the numbers have helped their overall ranking because there isn't much talent here. It's a pretty typical Boilermaker class---one in which they will have to find some diamonds in the rough and develop some unknowns---something they are pretty adept at anyway.

Notice how Purdue strays away from recruiting much in the Midwest? That's a pretty diverse collection of recruits coming from outside the middle of the country. If you include Texas, they have 15 players from the South. I think it's obvious that the Boilermakers are really concerned about speed.

Overall, this is a pretty strong class in comparison to most B1G schools, outside of the top power teams. The vast amount of bodies will allow Danny Hope & Co. to develop some underrated players.

Stanford Cardinal

Players Signed: 22

States Represented: California (x3), Arizona (x3), Virginia, Washington (x2), Florida (x2), Georgia, Tennessee, Minnesota, Hawaii, Oklahoma, Utah, Texas (x3), Missouri, and Illinois.

Class Ranking: 6th & 7th

Top Players:

DE, Aziz Shittu (No. 3 SDE)

OL, Kyle Murphy (No. 3 OT)

OL, Andrus Peat (No. 6 OT)

OL, Joshua Garnett (No. 2 OG)

S, Alex Carter (No. 3 S)

Commentary:

Up until the beginning of January the Cardinal had a very solid class but it was lacking in numbers and without any true blue-chip players. However, even with a bowl loss and Andrew Luck leaving, recruits are buying what Stanford is selling.

In late January, Joshua Garnett committed. On signing day, Stanford pulled a coup while bringing in Shittu, Murphy, and Peat---three of the best linemen in the country.

The class is without a quarterback or tight end (strange giving their success at these positions over the past couple seasons) but this is a very well rounded class with 6 or 7 elite to borderline elite players, and half a dozen top notch prospects.

Southern California Trojans

Players Signed: 15

States Represented: Florida (x2), Washington, California (x12)

Class Ranking: 19th & 11th

Top Players:

OL, Zach Banner (No. 2 OT)

WR, Nelson Agholor (No. 3 WR)

OL, Jordan Simmons (No. 1 OG)

OL, Max Tuerk (No. 7 OT)

LB, Jabari Ruffin (No. 1 OLB)

Commentary:

When you take away Notre Dame's long snapper, the probation handcuffed USC Trojans signed the same amount of players as the Fighting Irish---and USC's class is very talented indeed.

13 of the 15 recruits are 4-star prospects or better, while one of the 3-stars is the nation's top fullback.

Leading up to February 1st, the Trojans received a commitment from Zach Banner, then proceeded to add Nelson Agholor, Leonard Williams, and Devian Shelton on National Signing Day.

USC might run into inevitable depth issues over the next few seasons, but they continue to recruit at the highest levels with the numbers allowed to them.