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February 7, 2005

News, names and teams that shaped 2005 class

David Letterman has been doing his top-10 lists for years, and with signing day having passed for the class of 2005, Rivals.com national recruiting analyst Jeremy Crabtree decided to run down a few top lists of his own. While these lists have a college football recruiting twist, as you'll see, Letterman doesn't have anything on Rivals.com.

Top five surprise classes
1) Cal - Why this is a surprise? It's hard to explain. The Bears still don't recruit on a national level very often and continue to make the Golden State their bread and butter. And they've been in the top 20 for three straight years, so I guess it's not that big of a surprise after all. But the way Cal closed was definitely surprising, as the Bears added four-star defensive end Cameron Morrah and five-star receiver DeSean Jackson on signing day.

2) Virginia Tech - The Hokies always have had solid classes, but Frank Beamer and Co. have never been known for their national recruiting ability. Yet, this year's class definitely had a national flavor as Tech landed kids from New Jersey, South Carolina, Maryland, Georgia and North Carolina. The Hokies would have the been No. 1 surprise but losing Jonathan Hannah on signing day bumped them to No. 2.

3) Alabama - Most would assume that battling in the rugged SEC, having your in-state rival go undefeated and finishing with a 6-6 record might make it tough to score a top class. Don't tell that to Mike Shula. His staff did an amazing job and the Tide's class is one of the biggest surprises in the SEC and the nation.

4) Arizona - Mike Stoops and his staff did a masterful job in the states of Arizona and Texas, especially when you consider the struggles the Wildcats had on the field in their first season.

5) Duke - You're probably asking if we've gotten this confused with basketball, but no, we have not. The Blue Devils signed a top-50 national class this year, and landed better classes than several teams in the Big 12 and Big East, as well as a few in the SEC.

Top five football names
1) Colt McCoy - The quarterback from Texas heading to Texas just sounds like he's ready to take the football world by storm.

2) Mario Manningham - What's the over-under on how many times he'll be called Super Mario at Michigan?

3) Ndamukong Suh - Imagine the crowd yelling out S-u-u-u-u-u-h at Nebraska after he sacks the quarterback

4) C.J. Ah You - Ah You ready for some football? C.J. will be, as he's expected to help the Sooners' defensive line right away

5) Jermichael Finley - Who wants to be like J-Mike? Texas fans will be if he helps the Longhorns out.

Top five impact recruits
1) Derrick Williams - Joe Pa doesn't always like to play youngsters, but with a talent like Williams on campus already and ready to go through spring drills, don't be surprised if he gets plenty of touches and is used much like Ohio State used Ted Gin last season.

2) Patrick Turner - USC has a thing about playing young players, especially receivers. If you're good enough, then you'll play. And Turner is more than good enough. Look out Pac 10. Imagine trying to cover Dwayne Jarrett and Turner on both sides of the field. Scary!

3) Martellus Bennett - Texas A&M needs an offensive playmaker at the tight end position to help complement Reggie McNeal at quarterback. Look for Bennett to fit the bill.

4) Jason Gwaltney - The stud running back was going to be a load to stop right away no matter where he went, but imagine what he's going to be like in West Virignia's wide open and very diverse offense. Look out.

5) Derek Pegues - Mississippi State needs a reliable cover man to come in and shut down the top-notch receivers in the SEC. Look for Pegues to be called into duty early.

Top five de-commitments
1) Ryan Perrilloux - There isn't even a close second. No other de-commitment brought story lines like the Perrilloux soap opera did. It broke the hearts of Texas fans and filled LSU fans with dreams of another national championship. This one definitely will go down as one of the biggest de-commitments in the past 10 years because of all the drama.

2) Antonio Clay - If Perrilloux was the top story, Clay was No. 2. He originally committed to Oklahoma, then changed his mind and said he was picking between Florida State and Miami. In a period of two weeks had committed to both those schools several times. Then, three weeks before signing day he said he was heading to Oklahoma, again. He was finished right? Wrong. Clay signed with Clemson on signing day.

3) Jerrell Powe - Not only did Powe de-commit once, he did it twice. After telling Auburn for months that he was heading there, he got on national television and told everybody that he was going to LSU. Tigers fans rejoiced. However, he never made it to Baton Rouge for an official visit and ended up de-committing and signing with Ole Miss on signing day.

4) Roy Miller - Texas fans had a heart break with Perrilloux, but they did get a chance to celebrate when the nation's No. 34 player switched from Oklahoma to Texas. That alone was a big deal for both OU and Texas fans, but when you throw in the heated and hated rivalry between those teams, it makes it an even bigger story line.

5) Dajleon Farr - LSU fans won in the battle for Perrilloux, but they lost one, too. Farr was a solid commitment to the Tigers, but when Nick Saban bolted for the NFL, Farr bolted for the Miami Hurricanes.

Top five surprise decisions
1) Marlon Lucky - Nebraska is a long way from California and Nebraska had gone years without signing a major running back recruit, despite using a run-oriented attack. So the Huskers switch to a West Coast offense and land one of the nation's top 13 players and the No. 2 running back overall. Go figure.

2) Demetrice Morley - Since he committed midway through the process some have forgotten how big of a deal this was at the time. Morley, the nation's No. 2 cornerback, spurned offers from the Florida schools and is heading to Tennessee. Getting an elite kid out of Florida and away from Miami, Florida State and Florida is always surprising.

3) Antone Smith - Everybody, including the analysts at Rivals.com, pegged Smith as a guy who was heading to Miami, or maybe Auburn since the Tigers needed help at running back. But nobody ever really gave FSU much of a chance. Many apologies to Bobby Bowden, who you should never, ever count out.

4) Kade Weston - The No. 2 player in New Jersey heading to Georgia? Yes, you read that right. Weston, a stud defensive tackle, knew all along he was going to go national, but many overlooked Georgia in favor of programs like Florida, Tennessee and Oklahoma.

5) Kalvin Bailey - Ranked as the nation's No. 1 fullback and being from the state of Florida had many thinking that Bailey was a lock for programs like FSU, Miami or Georgia. But the Hawkeyes did an amazing job and got him away from the closer programs and scored a big one.


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