football

Position recruiting ranking: Defense

MORE: Position recruiting breakdown: Offense | Signing Day Central | Team recruiting rankings
Rivals.com has broken down how the teams did overall on National Signing Day, and now here's a look at which teams fared best, position-by-position, on defense and at the athlete position.
Defensive Position Recruiting Rankings
DEFENSIVE TACKLE
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1. FLORIDA STATE
The Seminoles landed the nation's deepest defensive tackle class with three four-star signees and two three-star prospects. Jernigan was a huge signing day victory over LSU and Florida, and could see immediate playing time. Bell may not have quite the fanfare as the other signees but he is an athletic defender.
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2. OKLAHOMA
The Sooners signed one of the top overall defensive line classes but really hit it big at tackle. U.S. Army All-American Anderson is versatile and plays the run and pass well, while Wade is a good pass rusher for an interior lineman. Phillips is an incredibly physical specimen who could end up at either OT or DT.
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3. NORTH CAROLINA
The Tar Heels picked up Rivals100 DT Simmons on signing day in a shocker as he never even visited Chapel Hill. He has a chance to play early. Brown was a big in-state pick-up while junior college transfer Williams should provide immediate help.
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3. LSU
The Tigers only signed two defensive tackles but they were a pair of very good prospects. Five-star Johnson is one of the most prolific high school pass rushers ever and has earned the nickname "The Freak." Johnson picked the in-state school a few days before signing day and is a big run stopper in the middle.
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5. SOUTH CAROLINA
Quarles is the headliner of the group as the nation's No. 3 overall prep school prospect signed with the Gamecocks for the second year in a row. The team also did well to keep Rivals250 prospect Dukes in-state. Dixon Jr. has a high motor and could end up being the sleeper of the class.
DEFENSIVE END
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1. NOTRE DAME
Though some will likely play linebacker in the Irish 3-4 defense, there is no denying this is one of the most dominant jobs a team has ever done recruiting one position. Five-stars Tuitt and Williams, and Rivals100 prospects Lynch and Councell were all huge gets. Nobody else was even close to Notre Dame at this position.
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2. ALABAMA
Pagan was a nice surprise for the Crimson Tide as many expected him to choose Georgia on signing day. He will combine with fellow Rivals100 prospect Dickson to form a terrific defensive end tandem. Pettwat and Dial are also four-star prospects and no slouches.
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3. MIAMI
The new coaching staff did one of the most important recruiting sells of the class to hold on to Chickillo. He has shown a very good ability to rush the passer. Pulling longtime USC commit Grimble away from the Pac-12 on signing day was a big coup as well.
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4. PENN STATE
The Nittany Lions pulled one of the biggest shockers in this recruiting cycle when Zettel committed to them over in-state Michigan. They also signed three in-state prospects at the position with Oakman being a long and lanky pass rusher.
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5. GEORGIA
Drew was tough for the opposing offensive line to stop both in practice and the game during Army week. The five-star prospect was a huge grab for the Bulldogs. Rivals250 prospect Bailey is another player at the position that Georgia managed to keep in-state.
LINEBACKER
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1. CLEMSON
The Tigers pulled a stunner on signing day with two five-star linebackers making Clemson pledges. Steward seemed headed to Florida State before signing with the Tigers while Anthony was a head-to-head win over Virginia Tech. Townsend played well at the Army game and picked the Tigers over rival South Carolina.
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2. OHIO STATE
The Buckeye class is headlined by Grant, the nation's top linebacker and No. 2 prospect regardless of position. He made Ohio State fans sweat things out before making a signing day decision. Shazier may have played defensive end in high school but showed potential at his new position during the Under Armour week.
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3. USC
Dawson was a big signing day steal for the Trojans. He was thought to be down to Kentucky and Tennessee before surprising everyone by picking USC. Madden entertained overtures from other schools but the longtime commit stayed true to his pledge and could play early. Sarao is yet another New Jersey prospect to head to USC.
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4. OLE MISS
Five-star prospect Johnson was a huge get after he switched from his longtime pledge to in-state rival Mississippi State and was the crown jewel of the entire class. Though the rest of the Ole Miss defensive end signees are three-star prospects, Lewis is a prospect from the Sunshine State that many are excited about.
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5. TEXAS
The Longhorns signed three of the top four in-state linebacker prospects including Army All-American Edmond, who just missed out on five-star status. He and Thompson are both bigger prospects who could end up seeing some time as pass rushing defensive ends as well. Moss is already on campus and is a leader both on the field and in the locker room.
DEFENSIVE BACK
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1. FLORIDA
The Gators saw the nation's No. 2 cornerback in Roberson seemingly fall into their lap on signing day. The big defensive back could play either corner or safety in Gainesville. Purifoy and Gorman are both shutdown corners who can play on an island. Longtime commit Saunders is a big-hitting safety. The Florida class saw six defensive backs sign.
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2. AUBURN
The Tigers got two physical safeties in Florence and Therezie. Both prospects were impressive at Under Armour practices all week. Four-star cornerback Whitehead was committed to Mississippi State before flipping on signing day. Rose is a bigger defensive back that has solid coverage skills for a safety.
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3. FLORIDA STATE
Williams is one of the most impressive athletes on the hoof in the country. He is the size of a linebacker but moves like a corner. He has great ball skills and is an incredibly physical defender. Waisome was a big get at corner after the Seminoles convinced him to switch from Florida. Smith may be a three-star prospect but he has a very god skill set to play either safety or corner in Tallahassee.
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4. GEORGIA
Mitchell made a huge jump to the No. 30 prospect overall and No. 1 cornerback after an impressive showing at the Under Armour game. Swann is another big corner who has plenty of speed so he should be able to match up with more physical receivers. Moore plays downhill at safety to be a big force against the run.
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5. TEXAS
Diggs did not play much cornerback in high school as he was the team's quarterback but he was one of the top coverage guys at any of the postseason all-star games. He is already on campus and has a chance to play early. The Longhorns went and got the top prospect from Oklahoma in Turner. Evans is a nationally elite track star who has every tool you could ask for in a corner. Add in athlete signee Mykkele Thompson, who will likely play defense, and this is a very good secondary class.
ATHLETE
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1. OREGON
The Ducks are at the top of this category and it is not even close. They grabbed a huge signing day switch when five-star Thomas changed from his USC pledge. Five-star Lyerla is a jumbo athlete who stayed in-state and reminds many people of Brian Urlacher. French is another jumbo athlete signee who could play linebacker, receiver or tight end for Oregon.
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2. TCU
The Horned Frogs are already seeing rewards from their on-field play. Brown is a Rivals100 prospect who would have been the top safety and No. 2 receiver in the state of Texas if not ranked as an athlete. He could excel at either position. Carter was an Oklahoma commit that switched late in the game and will likely be a slot receiver. He is dangerous with the ball in his hands. Merka is a tall high school quarterback that many see as a tight end or linebacker in Fort Worth.
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3. USC
The Trojans had a lot of success on or near signing day this year and Rivals100 athlete Lee is yet another example as he chose USC over Oregon. He could see time as a receiver, defensive back or even linebacker. USC went into Florida for Allen and the three-star prospect could also play a number of positions on either side of the ball.
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4. VIRGINIA
The Cavaliers kept two Rivals250 prospects relatively close to home in Jennings and Terrell. Both are high school quarterbacks with plenty of speed that could translate to receiver or corner. In-state athlete Harris is yet another high school quarterback that has numerous options of positions at Virginia.
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5. GEORGIA
Marshall is a high school quarterback that is a bigger prospect at 6-foot-2 and 185 pounds. The four-star prospect could be a safety, linebacker or receiver for the Bulldogs. Bowman and Sanders are both multi-dimensional in-state products that could be used at a number of spots in Athens as well.
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