Top 10 defensive end recruiting classes for 2017
Rivals.com has spent the last few weeks breaking down each position to see which school did the best on National Signing Day 2017. Today, we take a look at the programs that finished the cycle with the best hauls at defensive end.
Analysis: It's not a big surprise that Alabama tops this list. The Crimson Tide's defensive front year in and year out is one of the best in the country and they've certainly reloaded with his 2017 class. Buggs is a versatile defensive lineman from the junior college ranks that is ideally suited for Alabama's 3-4 front. He has the size to hold up against the run and bump down to the inside if needed but also the athleticism to hold the edge. Ray is a similar type of player that is more athletic but not as physically mature.
2. OHIO STATE
This class: Chase Young (five-star)
Analysis: Ohio State has a big arsenal of pass rushers and athletic defensive ends so Young should fit right in. He showed a lot of development from his junior to senior season and elevated his game to the next level. The versatility Young brings to the field is exceptional. He is strong at the point of attack against the run, can get to the passer in countless ways, and has the athleticism to play in space. Young will be a valuable weapon for defensive line coach Larry Johnson to mold for the future.
Analysis: An argument could be made that Clemson's defensive line was the unit that propelled the Tigers to the national championship this year. The additions of Williams and Foster should help continue that trend in the future. Williams is just scratching the surface of his potential and has a ton of room to fill out his frame. He has the speed to rush inside or outside and the strength to be effective against the run. As a very well-rounded defensive end he should fit in well with the other defensive linemen at Clemson. Foster brings a ton of versatility to Clemson's defensive line and should be useful as a pass rusher and help in coverage when needed.
This class: Zachary Carter (four-star)
Analysis: In recent years Florida has been churning out some very good defensive linemen and Carter could be the next in line. This is certainly not a big defensive end class for the Gators this season but the addition of Carter could be a key piece for the team's defense down the line. A very athletic edge presence, Carter could be a nightmare for opposing quarterbacks. He is a big hitter that has an arsenal of pass rushing moves to beat the offensive lineman in front of him. Look for him to fill out his frame and be a useful chess piece for the Florida coaches to move around.
Analysis: The passing game is king in the Pac-12 and the Bruins loaded up on some very good pass rushers in the 2017 class. Phillips is an absolute freak that will have no problem making an impact as a freshman whether it be against the run or pass. His huge frame and impressive strength are exceptional and should have opposing offensive tackles already studying film. Andrus and Isibor complement each other well. Andrus does a very good job against the run while Isibor will be a pass rushing specialist. The two should book-end the defensive line very nicely while Phillips should be able to move around and wreak havoc.
6. PENN STATE
Analysis: The defensive line was one of Penn State's strengths this season and it helped the Nittany Lions win the Big Ten championship. The two defensive ends they signed in the 2017 class could go a long way to helping them repeat as conference champs. Gross-Matos has a ton of potential and he has really progressed as a well-rounded defensive end. He has a good chance of outperforming his ranking. Barber is a stout defensive end prospect that will make a lot of plays. There is a chance that he could end up moving inside if he bulks up.
7. FLORIDA STATE
Analysis: With Josh Sweat and Brian Burns already terrorizing quarterbacks off the edge, five-star Kaindoh should have time to learn from some fantastic players. His potential is through the roof and as he learns how to use his unbelievable natural gifts the Seminoles will continue to make life very difficult on the opposing quarterbacks. Lawson is also a very big end prospect that will do well against the run and complement Sweat, Burns, Kaindoh and the rest of the Florida State defensive linemen.
Analysis: Georgia brought in Kirby Smart to help take the program to the next level and this pair of defensive ends will boost the Bulldogs' defensive line. Beal is an athletic edge defender that has no problem playing in space or rushing the passer. As he develops physically he'll be able to defend the run better and hold the line of scrimmage. Herring is a big end that plays with good leverage and has active hands. He should help Beal lock down the outside of Georgia’s defensive line in the future.
Analysis: Michigan lost a lot of very talented players after last season but did a nice job of loading up on defensive linemen in its 2017 class. Vilain, the leader of this talented group of signees, is a versatile edge defender that will be counted on as a pass rusher. As bigger defensive ends, keep an eye on Hudson and Irving-Bey as they develop. They should be used in multiple positions along the defensive front. Malone-Hatcher is a well-rounded defensive end that Michigan will be able to count on in a number of scenarios. Paye brings a level of versatility unlike any of these other defensive ends. Watch out for him to play defensive end and linebacker for the Wolverines.
Analysis: Building off of the momentum from last season, USC put together a very nice recruiting class including two extremely talented defensive ends. Echols is an athletic pass rusher that has no problem defending the run either. He has plenty of room to fill out his frame and will easily do so as a Trojan. Liechtenstein is further along physically but not as explosive as Echols. As he develops he will be a major asset along the USC defensive line.