PHILADELPHIA, Pa. (Sports Network) - The Florida Gators were anointed as the top-ranked class of incoming players on Wednesday's college football national signing day.
Several publications, including the web site scout.com, put the Gators at the head of the 2006 class. The Seattle-based online sports network had Southern California No. 2, followed by defending national champion Texas, Georgia and Notre Dame. Penn State, LSU, Oklahoma, Auburn and Michigan rounded out their top 10.
Quarterback Tim Tebow, wide receivers Percy Harvin and Jarred Fayson, offensive lineman Carl Johnson, linebackers Brandon Spikes and A.J. Jones and safety/wide receiver Jamar Hornsby highlighted the recruiting class for the Gators.
The haul was awesome for Florida head coach Urban Meyer, who is in his first full season of recruiting for the Gators. A total of 27 players signed commitments to Florida.
"I am excited about starting up our off-season program on Monday," Meyer said. "We have to make sure that all these guys will make it, which they should. This is a really good class. I will not say that it is a great class because you will evaluate that in another three years. If they graduate, if they help you win championships and if they are fortunate if they make it to the NFL - that's how you truly evaluate a class."
The Trojans, under head coach Pete Carroll, received a dozen top 100 prospects on scout.com's list. That included running backs Stafon Johnson and Emmanuel Moody, wide receivers Vidal Hazelton and David Ausberry, lineman Butch Lewis, defensive tackle Derrick Simmons, linebackers Allen Bradford and Josh Tatum, cornerback Shareece Wright, and safeties Antwine Perez, C.J. Gable and Taylor Mays. Hazelton was listed as No. 5 on the list.
Mack Brown's Longhorns, coming off their first national championship since 1970, had most of their recruits commit to the school before the 2005 season began. Quarterback Jevan Snead, wide receiver/cornerback Ken Beasley, linebacker Sergio Kindle, defensive end Eddie Jones, and offensive tackle J'Marcus Webb were among the top players signing with the Longhorns.
"Most of the young men that are joining us this year committed very early," Brown said. "We thought the fact that over the last five years we've been consistently a top 10 team really impacted these guys, because that takes them back to their seventh, eighth and ninth grade years. Last year's Rose Bowl kind of put them over the top and this year's national championship made this bunch even more prideful than they were when they committed."
Safety Reshad Jones and running back Knowshon Moreno were among the top recruits landed by Georgia and head coach Mark Richt.
Notre Dame had a wide-ranging list of recruits, with 27 players coming from 17 different states. Head coach Charlie Weis was fortunate to land offensive lineman Sam Young, ranked by scout.com as the third-best recruit. Running back James Aldridge and tight end Konrad Reuland also joined the Fighting Irish, who are on the rise. After finishing 6-6 in 2004, Notre Dame went 9-3 in 2005 and lost to Ohio State at the Fiesta Bowl.
"This was a no sweat day," Weis said. "This was kind of anti-climactic to sit up there, wondering how everything is going to happen. Everything just kind of fell in line. They faxed, they called, we talked to them, we'd move on. I have to say, down the road, this is probably smooth sailing. What it really allowed us to do is we're going to need to have another killer class next year. It allowed us to really get a big jump start on next year's class."
Running back Chris Wells, considered the No. 1 prospect in the country, including by scout.com, signed with Ohio State. No. 2 prospect Andre Smith committed to Alabama, while defensive tackle Gerald McCoy (4th) joined Oklahoma.