Roundtable: Who will finish strong?
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Each day leading up to National Signing Day, Rivals.com's analysts will convene at the Recruiting Roundtable and debate a current recruiting topic.
Today's question: When 2014 National Signing Day ends, you'll likely remember this year most for what?
Mike Farrell, National, Mid-Atlantic: What a talented class overall that it was and very balanced. Every position seemed to have a leader or two at the top, but great depth as well and many of these prospects will be stars in college. Most of them will be on the defensive side of the ball, so they won't get as much attention, but in a few years you'll see a lot of these names in the first round of the NFL draft. This is a really, really good class, one of the better I've covered.
Woody Wommack, Southeast:
I really think I'll remember 2014 as the year of the running back. Obviously the position is becoming more devalued in the era of spread offenses, but there were so many outstanding players at the position that we have a larger number of five-stars and even a few more players who were seriously considered. As we spin it forward into next season and beyond, I expect guys such as Leonard Fournette, Racean Thomas, Dalvin Cook and company to have an immediate impact on the race for the national championship.
Adam Friedman, Mid-Atlantic: The thing I'll remember most from the 2014 recruiting cycle is the historic class Nick Saban and his staff at Alabama put together. Getting five five-star players in one class is special and the Crimson Tide have accumulated the most points ever in the Rivals Team Rankings. Recruiting is the lifeblood of college football and if Alabama continues to recruit like this there is no telling how many more national championships the Tide will win.
Jason Howell, Midlands: Without a doubt I will remember all the talent in Louisiana. It was a great year at the top of the class and the state also had plenty of depth.
The New Orleans area alone was overflowing with talent. There was the nation's No. 1 running back Leonard Fournette (St. Augustine), and the No. 2 and No. 3 wide receivers in Malachi Dupre (John Curtis), and Speedy Noil (Edna Karr), all which earned five-star honors. Then there was Gerald Willis III (Edna Karr) and Kenny Young (John Curtis), who also landed in the Rivals100, and Darrel Williams (John Ehret), Will Clapp (Brother Martin), and Garrald McDowell (Covington) were named to the Rivals250.
Throw in the Monroe trio of five-star Cameron Robinson, Rivals250 receiver Cameron Sims, and Rivals100 safety Laurence Jones, Lake Charles-area standouts Trey Quinn and Jacory Washington, and Bossier City signalcaller Brandon Harris, and the class of 2014 is going to be hard to match.
Regardless of the position need, Louisiana had it. Offense or defense, it did not matter. It was truly a great year top to bottom.
Josh Helmholdt, Midwest: This 2014 class has highlighted the changing landscape of Midwest recruiting. A quarter of the four and five-star recruits in the region are pledged to SEC schools, while the Big Ten has more member institutions in the top 30 of the national team rankings than they've seen in seven years. The Big Ten has let out-of-region schools come into their backyard and poach top talent, but they are expanding their own reach by pulling in impact players from the south and east coast, particularly. This is not unique to the Midwest, certainly, but the Big Ten is often the last conference to adapt. This recruiting cycle has shown that it is recognizing the trend nationally, and adjusting to maximize their success.
Adam Gorney, West: Looking back a few years from now I'll remember this class for the bevy of top talent in Virginia and the Mid-Atlantic area. The No. 1 player in the country Da'Shawn Hand is from Woodbridge, Va. He has been a monster at every event we've seen him. I really liked Virginia Beach Bayside DB Quin Blanding at the Under Armour All-America Game. He has the skills to be really special at UVa and beyond. DT Andrew Brown has slid a bit, but he has been dominant at times as well. To have three five-stars from the state of Virginia and two going to play for the Cavaliers is impressive. And it could be the beginnings of a new power base in high school football. This is something to watch in the coming years.
Rob Cassidy, West: This is probably a product of the region I cover, but this year will forever be the state of Arizona's year in my mind. The surge of talent that shot out of the Grand Canyon State this cycle was unlike anything we've ever seen. Arizona has never produced a class with so many high-level prospects, and there's no telling when it might do so again. Top-ranked quarterback Kyle Allen, a five-star prospect, was the headliner of the group, but the depth behind him is what made the class pop.
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