Top 10 defensive tackle 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 tackle.
1. FLORIDA STATE
Analysis: Is it any surprise that the program that landed the top defensive tackle in the country - and the nation’s former No. 1 player - takes the top spot? Wilson is as athletic and aggressive of a prospect at defensive tackle as there is, and he should flourish in a program with a history of developing strong players on the defensive line. Parks is a Rivals100 prospect and would have been a fine headliner for this group on his own, but in conjunction with Wilson and Durden should make for a very strong unit for years to come.
Analysis: Three five-star defensive tackles is a solid number for the position, albeit small, so landing one of them is a big get. Heading into National Signing Day, Michigan wasn’t the unanimous prediction for Solomon, but he’s a welcome addition to a defensive class co-headlined by five-star linebacker Jordan Anthony. Pulling Solomon from the Southeast is another win for Jim Harbaugh and his ongoing battle with the SEC. Michigan used this class to load up at defensive end, but to add Jeter as well on the interior is another strong get.
Analysis: Shelvin, the third five-star of the defensive tackle group in 2017, keeps the Tigers’ group in the top-three by virtue of his combination of speed and explosiveness for such a big player. He has the build of a nose guard with the pass-rushing ability of a defensive end. LSU left signing day with a five-star defensive lineman, linebacker and defensive back in this class and should be able to continue its tradition as a power program defensively with Shelvin leading the way.
Analysis: The Trojans closed strong with two standout Army All-American defensive tackles in Tufele and Tuipulotu. Tufele is an explosive, powerfully built defensive tackle that sheds blocks quickly and pushes into the backfield with regularity. Tuipulotu could be similarly categorized, but there were some reasonable expectations that USC might not have been as close to landing Tufele as it was Tuipulotu. The Trojans iced their class with Pili.
5. MISSISSIPPI STATE
Analysis: The Bulldogs mined the junior college ranks pretty successfully in this year’s class to come away with two of their top three prospects at the position. Both Pope and Autry come from juco programs in Mississippi to help give an immediate lift to a defense very clearly looking to stock up for next season. The big win for Dan Mullen was pulling Elliss out of Colorado and away from an impressive list of other offers to really secure a talented group. Jackson and Collins don’t garner the same sort of fanfare, but have the desired size for interior linemen in the SEC.
6. SOUTH CAROLINA
Analysis: It didn’t take much time for Will Muschamp to start effectively recruiting to Columbia after doubling the Gamecocks’ win total from last season and landing a top-20 recruiting class in 2017. Both Webb and Sterling are Georgia prospects with an opportunity to help improve a defense that, on average, allowed more that 200 yards rushing and 400 yards of offense per game last year. Kinlaw is a junior college prospect out of Mississippi, but weighs in at 6-5, 304 pounds, and will add depth to the group.
7. NOTRE DAME
Analysis: Ewell is a nice get for a team that played below expectations last season and was particularly underwhelming defensively. Despite the turbulent season and the changes made to defensive assistants, the Irish still bagged some high-level prospects. Ewell is a chiseled tackle prospect that crashes through offensive linemen and takes them for a ride. Both Hinish and Tagovailoa-Amosa join as high three-star prospects that spurned other national offers for a chance to play with a traditional power.
Analysis: After the last few years of having an effective approach to proactive recruiting, Oregon made the bold call to hire Willie Taggart and make some positive changes to its strategy. Reitmaier showed at the Army All-American Bowl this year that he’s a steady and reliable defensive tackle, and the Ducks got a nice contrast in the pairing of the more athletic Faoliu and the more stout Scott - who hails from Taggart's old stomping grounds in Largo, Fla. Bulking up in the middle was a good first step in addressing the soft play the defense was responsible for last season.
Analysis: A pair of four-stars is a pretty good haul for the Gators, who finished last season with one of the more celebrated defensive units in college football. Both Campbell and Conliffe come from out-of-state, but both possess ideal size for making an impact on the interior and collapsing pockets. Conliffe is versatile enough to move around the line and nimble enough to be a pass-catching tight end in his high school’s offense. Campbell may not have been identified as a four-star prospect as widely as some others, but is also a formidable defender.
10. OHIO STATE
Analysis: Despite having the No. 2 class in the country, the Buckeyes just barely beat out Penn State, Tennessee and Maryland for the final spot on this list. Garrett’s place just outside the Rivals100 is slightly closer than Penn State’s Fred Hansard, and that’s what gave Ohio State the edge. Garrett was part of the talented and impressive defensive linemen at the Army All-American Bowl and others' opinions of Cage see him as a borderline four-star prospect as well.