Rewind: The 15 best classes from Florida's Big Three
Mark Pszonak contributed to this report.
Earlier this week, with Miami ranked atop the 2018 Rivals.com Team Recruiting Rankings, I looked back at the Hurricanes' best classes in the Rivals.com era. What I found surprising while researching that story was that Miami's best class over that period still ranks outside the top 15 historically when it comes to the best classes among the big three in Florida. Here are the 15 best recruiting classes signed by Florida's Big Three - Florida, Florida State and Miami - in the Rivals.com era.
1. 2007 Florida - Ranked No. 1 overall
There were definitely some headliners in this class with Cam Newton, some NFLers like Joe Haden and Carlos Dunlap and the most infamous recruit – Aaron Hernandez. This was an immensely talented class.
2. 2010 Florida - Ranked No. 2 overall
This is the best recruiting job in Rivals history as Urban Meyer reeled in stars such as Ronald Powell, Sharrif Floyd, Matt Elam and Dominique Easley after retiring and then taking a leave of absence all in the span of a week in December.
3. 2006 Florida - Ranked No. 2 overall
4. 2016 Florida State - Ranked No. 2 overall
Clearly a recent class but already some guys who have made an impact, especially Brian Burns. Malik Henry was close to a fifth star but character questions held him back. That looks to be a good call.
5. 2011 Florida State - Ranked No. 2 overall
Kelvin Benjamin, Devonta Freeman and Tim Jernigan all panned out very well but headliners James Wilder Jr. and Karlos Williams weren’t shabby as big backs. Rashad Greene was probably the best value based on rankings.
6. 2005 Florida State - Ranked No. 2 overall
Ugh, this class wasn’t a great one but it sure looked good coming out of high school. Fred Rouse could have been a star but was a head case and Callahan Bright was a beast but never made it to campus. But there are some good ones in here in the four-star group.
7. 2003 Florida - Ranked No. 2 overall
This class didn’t pan out so well although Chris Leak did lead the Gators to a national title. The headliners - Andre Caldwell, Chad Jackson, Joe Cohen, Dee Webb and Jarvis Moss - had varied levels of success.
8. 2015 Florida State - Ranked No. 3 overall
Derwin James was the highest-ranked player in this class but other top talents such as Jacques Patrick, Tarvarus McFadden and Josh Sweat have emerged as well early. Deondre Francois could be the most important recruit of all in the class.
9. 2006 Florida State - Ranked No. 3 overall
10. 2008 Florida - Ranked No. 3 overall
A very talented class out of high school but had more underperformers than guys who lived up to the hype. Will Hill was the biggest name and he was clearly up and down but Janoris Jenkins turned out to be a star.
11. 2012 Florida - Ranked No. 3 overall
12. 2004 Florida State - Ranked No. 3 overall
13. 2014 Florida - Ranked No. 4 overall
Like 2012, this is heavy on defense with a lot of current or future NFL guys. Vernon Hargreaves III was the biggest name, and he joins Keanu Neal in the NFL with Alex Anzalone and Caleb Brantley soon to join them.
14. 2014 Florida State - Ranked No. 4 overall
15. 2002 Florida State - Ranked No. 4 overall
The early classes seem to have more busts than the current classes which makes sense since we were living in a VHS world with few camps and this class is a good example. It’s hard to find some big names.