football Edit

National Signing Day AAC power rankings

Note: All numbers are as of Tuesday, February 3, 2015.
1. USF.
Class size: 20.
Three-star prospects: 12.
Class breakdown: USF focused on a couple of areas in 2015, specifically offensive line and defensive back. JuCo transfer Glen Bethel will be a monster in the offensive trenches at six feet, five inches and 300 pounds. Three-star linebacker Danny Thomas is already on campus working with the Bulls. USF got a couple of interesting players at the skill positions, specifically receiver Jordan Reed and tight end Mitchell Wilcox, but USF could stand to improve in those areas in 2016.
Key piece: Cornerback Ronnie Hoggins. The Florida native chose the Bulls over some bigger offers like Texas, TCU, Louisville and Wisconsin. At five feet, ten inches, Hoggins does not have the height expected of a college corner but he reads quarterbacks really well and is always a threat to jump in front of a receiver for an interception. With his speed, an interception is nearly a guaranteed six points.
2. Cincinnati.
Class size: 23.
Three-star prospects: 12.
Class breakdown: The Bearcat staff got themselves a good all-around class in 2015, with multiple commits at nearly every important position. Cincy really shored up the trenches with four offensive and four defensive linemen, including two offensive prospects standing at six feet, five inches and over 310 pounds: DeLonte' Murray and Evan Mallory. Three-star receiver Franklin Labady has game-changing speed whether as a wide out or a kick returner.
Key piece: Quarterback Ross Trail. The pro-style play caller turned down Ohio State and Louisville offers to play for the Bearcats and will get a year or two to develop before he sees the field in Cincy. As a senior he had a four-to-one touchdown-to-interception ratio. He has a cannon of an arm and is good at recognizing pressure and stepping up into the pocket to buy an extra second to find an open target.
3. UCF.
Class size: 16.
Four-star prospects: 1.
Three-star prospects: 10.
Class breakdown: The Knights did not have a lot of spots to fill in 2015 but made the most of those spots. Dallas Jesuit quarterback Bo Schneider fits the UCF offense and will get a year or two to develop. Running back Taj McGowan, who already is on campus, is a patient runner who waits for his blockers to clear a path for him. And don't forget former SMU commit D'erren Wilson will be heading to UCF in the fall as well.
Key piece: Wide receiver Tristan Payton. Central Florida got a steal in Payton, who is the number-142 prospect in the Rivals 250 for 2015 and held offers from Florida, Ohio State, USC, Louisville and more. He is strong, fast and has good footwork. The four-star receiver is a good route runner and will contribute right away in Orlando.
4. SMU.
Class size: 22.
Three-star prospects: 4.
Class breakdown: It is safe to say that this class for the Mustangs shaped up beyond most SMU fans dreams considering Chad Morris got less than two months to put his inaugural class together. Morris and his staff focused on the skill positions on offense, bringing in five wide receivers, two running backs and a tight end. Quarterback Ben Hicks is already on the Hilltop working out with the team and will battle for the starting spot in the fall. The defense is heavy on linebackers, especially with defensive back Jordon Williams set to become the star backer in the new SMU defense. The most important stat in this class for SMU: All 22 commits hail from the state of Texas.
Key piece: Wide receiver Xavier Castille. The Rockwall wide receiver represents a milestone for the Mustangs in that he chose SMU over two Power Five competitors in Oklahoma State and Washington. On the field, Castille will be a perfect fit into the slot in Morris' high-tempo offense with his speed and playmaking ability. With that speed, do not be surprised to see Castille occasionally lineup outside and just blow by the man defending him for a deep route opposite classmates Kevin Thomas or Alex Honey.
5. Temple.
Class size: 17.
Four-star prospects: 1.
Three-star prospects: 6.
Class breakdown: The one thing that stands out about Temple's class is the size and length of the players the Owls brought in in 2015. 6-foot-5 defensive end Josiah Bronson will be a load on the end against SMU's Bryce Wilds in the future. The Owls are bringing in four other defensive linemen to reinforce the trenches. 6-foot-6 athlete Roy Pugh will play receiver for Temple and has the speed to be a serious deep threat.
Key piece: Cornerback Kareem Ali Jr. The prize jewel of the Temple recruiting is already in Philadelphia. Four-star Ali held over 20 offers, including from Michigan State, Florida, Clemson, Penn State, Wisconsin and Louisville. He is savvy and opportunistic. His experience as both a running back and a kick returner makes him dangerous after an interception. He is physical at the line of scrimmage and can make open field tackles, especially in the flat. Ali will contribute right away at Temple.
6. Tulsa.
Class size: 19.
Four-star prospects: 1.
Three-star prospects: 2.
Class breakdown: After one headliner (more on him later) the Tulsa class is not very deep as the new coaching staff tried to catch up on senior recruits, though the Golden Hurricane were successful in landing recruits from the home state and neighboring Texas. If athlete McKinley Whitfield gets stronger he could be an effective tight end. Tulsa also snagged a couple of former SMU recruits, ex-Mustang commit Cristian Williams and Irving Ranchview defensive back Keidrien Wadley.
Key piece: Quarterback Chad President. The Rivals 250 product was a steal for Philip Montgomery in his first class at Tulsa. The former Baylor commit was recruited by Montgomery when he was still the Baylor offensive coordinator and the two are very familiar with each other's styles. The Temple (Tex.) product Tulsa's class up to the six-spot in these power rankings on his own. He is a good passer and can run the dangerous read-option, making him the perfect dual-threat quarterback for Montgomery's offense, which the signee is already learning in Waco this semester as an early-enrollee.
7. Houston.
Class size: 16.
Three-star recruits: 6.
Class breakdown: What this Houston class is noticeably lacking is a quarterback so do not be surprised if new head coach Tom Herman and his staff are active on the transfer market this spring as quarterbacks look for new, less competitive homes. Houston added a couple of big bodies at offensive line and Terry Mark is a raw talent at receiver but the Cougars were definitely hurt in these rankings by the defections of Ben Hicks, Bryce Wilds and Braeden West to SMU.
Key Piece: Running back Tyreik Gray. Gray is Herman's first big land as the new coach, keeping the Houston Lamar kid home over offers from Baylor, Arizona State, Missouri, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Wisconsin and Arkansas. He combines his bursting speed with the strength to get those tough yards. One thing he will need to fix is that he runs the ball loose away from his body, which defenses will feast on at the next level if Gray does not correct it.
8. East Carolina.
Class size: 13.
Three-star prospects: 5.
Class breakdown: ECU did not have many spots to fill but the quality over quantity logic comes into play with this ranking. Three-star running back Shawn Furlow spurned four ACC offers for East Carolina and he looks like an immediate contributor with his breakout ability. 6-foot-3, 310-pound defensive tackle Justin Brown has the size and strength to clog up the middle. As a bonus, JuCo quarterback transfer James Summers is already on campus this spring preparing to be a potential replacement to the graduated program record breaker Shane Carden.
Key piece: Wide receiver Deondre Farrier. With many of East Carolina's top offensive threats from last season out of eligibility, it was important for the Pirates' staff to get a playmaker on offense. Farrier is fast and with moves in the open field and strength to extend plays and pick up extra yards. His routes are crisp and he is elusive enough to get himself open past the secondary. Farrier held offers from Florida, Miami, USC and USF.
9. Memphis.
Class size: 26.
Four-star prospects: 1.
Three-star prospects: 1.
Class breakdown: Memphis really did not get that many big time commits but the fact that six members of its class are already enrolled helps sooth that sting a bit for Tiger fans. Three-star Brady Davis will be an interesting quarterback prospect in the future for Memphis but will still need to prove he is the future starter. The Tigers' staff put together a solid group of defensive linemen (five ends and three tackles) as well as five defensive backs and three linebackers as Memphis retools its defense. Memphis will need to do more work on the skill positions in 2016.
Key piece: Wide receiver Jae'lon Oglesby. A former Clemson running back commit, Oglesby got cold feet at the last minute and instead committed to Memphis in the end of January. The 5-foot-11 prospect will need to adjust to his new position but the speed and vision to be successful as a receiver.
10. Connecticut.
Class size: 22.
Three-star products: 4.
Class breakdown: Connecticut emphasized receivers in this class, signing six wide outs and four tight ends. Tyraiq Beals has the most potential out of the group but needs to get stronger and faster for the college game. The trio of defensive tackles that the Huskies landed weighs an average of 301 pounds and UConn added two defensive ends for good measure. Cornerback Aaron Garland is a physical corner but his small frame puts him at a disadvantage against bigger receivers.
Key piece: Quarterback Tyler Davis. Connecticut is pretty much starting from scratch in this class and quarterback is key in any rebuilding process. Davis may not be a program-changing gunslinger but he is the guy to watch for the Huskies in 2015. He throws off his front foot and can fit the ball into tight windows but can also air it out if need be. He is a prototypical pocket passer and will not be seen scrambling for big plays on the ground.
11. Tulane.
Class size: 17.
Three-star products: 2.
Class breakdown: The February 1 commitment of three-star offensive lineman Leeward Brown spared Tulane of a one three-star class. The Green Wave added a couple of other big men to strengthen the offensive line. The class as a whole is a project but defensive back Jeremie Francis has the size to be a successful corner.
Key piece: Running back Nigel Anderson. The three-star back turned down two Pac-12 offers to stay in-state go to Tulane. He is better at using his speed to run outside the tackles than at fighting his way through the inside mess. Anderson uses his big frame to his advantage as a run blocker and will also block out in the open field for receivers.