National Signing Day By Position: Top LB classes
Our Top 10 position group rankings marches on with a look at the best linebacker classes signed in the 2018 class, and the list reveals that the Pac-12 will be adding talent at the position lead by a star-studded group headed to USC.
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CLASS OF '18 RANKINGS: Rivals250 | Team | State | Position | JUCO
Signed: Palaie Gaotete, Solomon Tuliaupupu, Raymond Scott, Eli’Jah Winston, Kana’i Mauga
This USC class only signed a total of 18 prospects, but five of them were at the linebacker position and each rated at least four-stars. Gaotete is the headliner of the talented group. An athletic outside ‘backer who is outstanding in space, he ranked as the No. 21 overall prospect in this 2018 class. The Trojans have a nice mix of abilities as well in this group, with Winston and Mauga joining Gaotete as outside linebackers, and Tuliaupupu and Scott projecting as inside linebackers.
2. OHIO STATE
Signed: Teradja Mitchell, K’Vaughn Pope, Dallas Gant, Javontae Jean-Baptiste
The Buckeyes' No. 2 ranked class addressed positions across the board, and this collection of linebackers may not even be its most impressive position group despite having four prospects each rated at least four stars. Led by the 2018 class’ No. 1 ranked inside linebacker prospect in Mitchell, the Buckeyes surround him with three four-star outside linebackers. Mitchell, Pope and Gant committed before their senior seasons, while Jean-Baptiste finished out the class on National Signing Day.
3. PENN STATE
Signed: Micah Parsons, Nick Tarburton, Jesse Luketa, Charlie Katshir
These next three classes were separated by a razor thin margin, but Penn State edges out Georgia and Notre Dame for a spot in the top three by way of landing the No. 1 overall linebacker prospect in Parsons, who was listed as a defensive end until the final rankings update in January. He is joined by four-star inside linebackers Taruburton and Luketa as well as high three-star in-state linebacker Katshir, who was one of the earliest commitments in this class.
Signed: Otis Reese, Quay Walker, Channing Tindall
Georgia’s record-setting 2018 class features a stacked group of linebacker prospects. Though just three prospects deep, each of the Bulldogs additions at the position rank among the top 12 outside linebackers in the class and top 151 prospects overall. Reese and Walker were part of the Bulldog’s big National Signing Day haul, and sit just outside five-star territory as 6.0 Rivals Rated prospects. Tindall committed and signed in the early period.
5. NOTRE DAME
Signed: Matthew Bauer, Jack Lamb, Shayne Simon, Ovie Oghuofo
Notre Dame just missed out on the overall top 10, but the linebacker group they signed in 2018 is comfortably among the top 10 classes at the position. This group got off to an early start, with Bauer and Oghoufo pledging to the Fighting Irish prior to their junior seasons. Lamb and Simon would join the class a year later when they announced their commitments just two days apart this past July. New defensive coordinator Clark Lea is understandably excited about this collection of talent headed to South Bend.
Signed: Travez Moore, Micah Baskerville, Damone Clark
LSU was hoping for a stronger finish to this 2018 class, especially after the way the class started. Among the 22 prospects signed, three of the first four to commit were linebackers rated four-stars. Addressing a position like linebacker that early with this level of talent is certainly a strong jumping off point for the rest of the class. Moore, who committed more than a year ago, is the headliner as the top-ranked JUCO linebacker prospect in the 2018 class.
Signed: Brandon Kaho, MJ Tafisi, Jackson Sirmon, Zion Tupuola-Fetui
Washington signed its first top 20 ranked class in five years, and this linebacker group was a strong reason why. Although just one of the four is rated four-stars, Nevada native Kaho was a Rivals100 prospect ranked No. 8 among the outside linebackers. He was joined by two 5.7 Rivals Rated prospects, including the highest rated non-four-star in Nashville’s Sirmon. The class is well-rounded with two inside linebackers and two outside linebackers signed.
8. ARIZONA STATE
Signed: Merlin Robertson, Reggie Hughes, Christian LaValle, Darien Butler
There were a few bumps along the way as Herm Edwards tried to pull together his first class as Arizona State’s head coach, but when it came to the linebacker position the Sun Devils met their needs with both talent and numbers. Edwards and Co. were able to hang on to commitments from four-star Hughes and three-star LaValle that were made to the previous staff. They then added two more on National Signing Day, including the class headliner in four-star Robertson.
Signed: Zakoby McClain, Michael Harris, Caleb Johnson, Josh Marsh
This is a really solid Auburn class that ranks third in the SEC and boasts 17 four-star commits among 24 overall additions. Two of those four-stars are at linebacker, with McClain and Michael Harris each ranking among the top 215 overall prospects in the class. High three-star Caleb Johnson was the Tiger’s only commitment addition on National Signing Day. And, although he is the lowest rated prospect of the group, three-star Marsh earned his offer at an Auburn summer camp after running a 4.43 40-yard dash for the coaching staff.
10. FLORIDA STATE
Signed: Xavier Peters, Amari Gainer
This is the smallest linebacker group in the top 10, but it is packed with potential as both prospects signed by the Seminoles rank among the top seven outside linebackers and top 80 prospects overall in 2018. Florida State was able to flip Peters from Kentucky in January after he had an outstanding Under Armour All-American Game performance. Gainer, who ranks just four spots behind Peters in the Rivals100 at No. 79, was an early pickup for the Seminoles, committing last May.