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Oklahoma, Florida State finish on top in recruiting
Once again, it all came down to Oklahoma versus Florida State.
Both could lay claim to bringing in the No. 1 recruiting class in the nation Wednesday as high school prospects across the country signed NCAA letters of intent.
According to Joliet, Ill., recruiting analyst Chris Pool of Rivals.com, the national champion Sooners have the top class of incoming freshmen.
``Everyone wants to play for coach Bob Stoops,'' Pool said. ``Oklahoma met all its needs, especially on defense. The Sooners signed the No. 1 defensive tackle in the country, 6-foot-8-inch, 280-pound Tommie Harris of Killeen, Tex., and the seventh-best defensive end, Jonathan Jackson of Houston.
``In Oklahoma's glory days, they used to live and die recruiting in Texas. Well, it looks like the Sooners are back again taking top players out of that state.''
SuperPrep recruiting magazine publisher Allen Wallace of Laguna Beach, Calif., said the Seminoles made a late rush to the recruiting title, landing three of the nation's top 50 prospects.
``This shows you what a remarkable job coach Bobby Bowden and his staff have done,'' Wallace said. ``In the last two years, assistant coaches have gone on to head up programs at North Carolina State and Georgia, taking all their recruiting skills and some recruits with them. Yet, here is Florida State signing 18 All-Americans.''
Names you'll be reading about very soon include 6-2, 235-pound running back Eric Shelton of Lexington, Ky., linebacker Willie Jones of Miami and 6-4 quarterback Adrian McPherson of Bradenton, Fla.
Pool has the Seminoles second with Michigan, Texas, Louisiana State, Tennessee, Washington, UCLA, Miami and Nebraska rounding out the top 10.
According to Wallace, LSU is No. 2 after signing five of the nation's top 50 recruits. Michigan is third, followed by Texas, Washington, Oklahoma, Nebraska, Virginia Tech, UCLA and Clemson.
Michigan signed four of the nation's top 50, led by top-rated safety Ernest Shazor of Detroit. A local standout, 6-8, 255-pound tight end Kyle Ealey of St. Joseph, is another prize Wolverines recruit.
Pool rated Northwestern as having the fourth-best class in the Big Ten behind Michigan, Wisconsin and Iowa. He ranked Penn State fifth followed by Illinois, Purdue, Ohio State, Michigan State, Minnesota and Indiana.
Northwestern's biggest coup was outrecruiting Ohio State for defensive back/running back Jeff Backes, Mr. Football of Ohio, whose high school is eight miles outside Columbus.
Backes, who rushed for more than 3,000 yards, scored 40 touchdowns, intercepted four passes and has been timed at 4.3 seconds in the 40-yard dash, said Northwestern was where he felt the most comfortable.
The Wildcats beat out Michigan State, UCLA, Notre Dame and Wisconsin for running back Ashton Aikens of Detroit Country Day. They outrecruited Miami and Notre Dame for 6-5, 245-pound tight end Trai Essex of Ft. WayneInd. They won the recruiting battle in Illinois to sign St. Viator All-State quarterback Brett Basanez, who could be the heir apparent to Zak Kustok.
Pool said Illinois started out strong but a number of prospects chose to go elsewhere after the Illini shook up their whole defensive staff.
``According to my rankings, Illinois only got three of the top 10 recruits in this state,'' Pool said. ``You don't see that happening in places like Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania or Texas.
``Look at LSU. Coach Nick Saban, who was a great recruiter at Michigan State, has closed down the border to the other states in the SEC. He kept all the top Louisiana players at home. That's one reason why they have the fifth-best recruiting class in the country.''
Of Pool's top 10 Illinois prospects, the first six made a run for the border. Top-rated Matt Roth, a linebacker from Willowbrook, signed with Iowa. Quarterback Casey Paus of Lincoln-Way is headed to Washington and No. 3 recruit Kevin Noel of Naperville Central will be a receiver at Purdue. Barrington offensive tackle Dan Stevenson signed with Notre Dame while Wheaton Warrenville South cornerback Brett Bell and Naperville Central QB Owen Daniels have signed with Wisconsin.