Top football schools shine in recruiting

BY DALLAS COOK
Star Staff

   With the coming and going of signing day 2002, many schools excelled in their hopes of recruiting the big time prep football stars for the 2002-2003 school year and in today's column I'll show you how your favorite teams stacked up in my top 25 list, including a breakdown of the top five, and the signees that will impact their programs this coming fall.
  
No. 1 - Texas

   Maybe one of the most disappointing season endings of any team last year, the Longhorns made sure that they went out and got the personnel they needed in their run for next year's national championship.
   The biggest recruits for Texas were quarterback Vincent Young and running back Selvin Young.
   Vincent, one of the top rated quarterbacks in the country brings a strong arm and speed to the table while Selvin's quickness and ability to break tackles will make him a threat.
   Along with 25 other players these two will help set the tone of the success that the Longhorns will have in the future.
  
No. 2 - Ohio State
  
In his first recruiting effort as the Buckeyes head coach, Jim Tressell turned the heads of many people as Ohio State landed nine of the top 10 players out of the state of Ohio.
   Running back Maurice Clarett, who was one of the nation's top backs, chose Ohio State over other top programs as did linebackers Bobby Carpenter (6'3", 240) and Mike D'Andrea (6'3", 240).
   Quarterback Justin Zwick will also add depth to the position after the Buckeyes lost Steve Bellesari to graduation.
  
No. 3 - Miami, Fla.
  
After winning the National Championship this year, coach Larry Coker wasted no time celebrating as he went out on the recruiting trail to try and bring in quality talent to help him get his team back to where they were.
   Returning most of this past year's starters to next season's squad Coker filled the one spot that he felt needed to be filled after losing tight-end Jeremy Shockey who declared for the NFL. Eric Winston will be in contention for the position but don't leave out Curtis Justus, who also is an incoming freshman, to contend for the spot.
   Other key additions are quarterback Marc Guillon and defensive lineman Baraka Atkins. Guillon will be a solid backup while Atkins will push for playing time on the line.
   As far as losses go Miami also lost running back Clinton Portis and defensive back Phillip Buchanon to the NFL draft.
  
No. 4 - Tennessee
  
For you Vol fans that think this past seasons performance was good, just wait until next year. Returning most of his starters for next season, coach Phillip Fulmer realized that he needed to start building for seasons to come.
   Signing running back Gerald Riggs Jr., son of former NFL star Gerald Riggs, Fulmer has added another star athlete that could have an immediate impact for the Tennessee offense.
   Defensively the Vols added defensive back Jason Allen out of Muscle Shoals High School in Alabama and defensive lineman Heath Benedict from New Jersey.
   Tennessee should make another strong run at the SEC title next season after suffering a disappointing loss to LSU in the championship game that costed them a shot at the national title.
  
No. 5 - Florida State
  
I know a lot of sports writers didn't pick the Seminoles to be a top five recruiting class but coach Bobby Bowden redeemed himself after last year's not so talented core of freshman with a couple of big signees.
   If you haven't already heard one of the biggest acquisitions for Florida State was running back Lorenzo Booker out of California, who has been hailed as one of the top running backs in the country.
   Speed is one thing coach Bowden likes and speed is one thing Booker has. Look for him to participate a lot next season and help bring the Seminoles back to the top.
   Quarterback Wyatt Sexton and offensive lineman Cory Niblock are also quality players that will contribute to Florida State's rebound from this past year.
   Top 25 recruiting classes:
   1. Texas
   2. Ohio State
   3. Miami
   4. Tennessee
   5. Florida State
   6. UCLA
   7. Virginia
   8. South Carolina
   9. USC
   10. Michigan
   11. Penn State
   12. Oklahoma
   13. Notre Dame
   14. Georgia
   15. Nebraska
   16. Colorado
   17. Texas A&M
   18. LSU
   19. Illinois
   20. Arizona
   21. Washington
   22. Boston College
   23. Auburn
   24. Virginia Tech
   25. Wisconsin