For almost all of the top prospects, the second college football signing day marks the conclusion of the recruiting process. a look at this year’s top 10 classes.
Traditional high school prospects are only one factor to consider while analyzing recruiting classes in 2023.
Any review must concentrate on the two categories of newcomers: recruits and transfers, given how quickly the transfer site has changed roster management in the Football Bowl Subdivision.
Balance is achieved in the finest classes. The lone exception is Clemson, which has been among the Power Five teams with the least amount of portal activity. But to address very particular issues, clubs like Alabama and Georgia continue to be aggressive on the transfer market. For example, the Crimson Tide recently added a new tight end, and the Bulldogs recently added a new wide.
After the first signing period in December, almost every Power Five club was largely done with traditional recruiting, leaving few impact recruits remaining uncommitted going into Wednesday’s second signing day.
Instead, teams have spent most of the past month searching the site. These ten classes separated themselves apart from the rest of the FBS by combining typical prospects with transfers:
Most significant hire: OT Kadyn Proctor
Transferring an impact: TE CJ Dippre (Maryland)
Eight five-star talents and 18 four-year commitments from the top 200 recruits in the country make up the Bowl Subdivision’s consensus top-ranked class. Proctor, the biggest of the group, reversed his verbal commitment from Iowa in December and might be able to start right away. Dipper will be a welcome safety net for Alabama’s quarterback Bryce Young’s replacement with 30 receptions for 314 yards in 2022. Speaking of quarterbacks, the Crimson Tide recruited Dylan Lonergan and Eli Holstein. If Ty Simpson or Jalen Milroe lose the competition when the transfer gate reopens in May, one of these freshmen passers might end up serving as the starter’s backup in 2023.
Most significant hire: DL Damon Wilson
Transferring an impact: WR Dominic Lovett (Missouri)
With a team that is stacked with defensive backs, linemen, and receivers, the defending national champs grow even richer. Three five-star talents signed out of Florida include Wilson, the finest of the group. However, Kirby Smart chose not to sign a quarterback and appears unlikely to do so in the future, showing his confidence in the Bulldogs’ possibilities to replace Stetson Bennett at the position. Lovett, who flourished in relative obscurity at Missouri (56 catches for 846 yards), is a major boost to a receiver group that lacks a third option to join Brock Bowers and Ladd McConkey.
Most significant hire: quarterback Arch Manning
Transferring an impact: DB Jalen Catalon (Arkansas)
Manning is the highlight of a top-notch class for Texas and head coach Steve Sarkisian, who can instantly bolster the Longhorns’ depth going into what could be a make-or-break season by drawing from this bunch. Manning is anticipated to compete with Quinn Ewers for the starting spot and has a solid chance of playing versus Rice for the Longhorns in their season opener. Cedric Baxter Jr., a five-star running back, is already on campus and prepared to compete for the position left available by Bijan Robinson’s decision to join the NFL. If Catalon can remain healthy, which has been a problem the past two seasons, Texas will have an all-conference defensive back.
Most significant hire: OL Zalance Heard
Transferring an impact: LB Mr. Omar Speights (Oregon State)
The first full class taught by Brian Kelly is excellent: All but one of the 16 four-star recruits and 11 transfers that LSU signed were from the Power Five. Along with Speights, one of the best linebackers in the Pac-12, the Tigers also signed Syracuse cornerback Duce Chestnut, who might start and will undoubtedly contribute. In the end, LSU signed seven of the top 13 prospects in Louisiana as determined by 247Sports.com, including Heard and wide receiver Shelton Sampson, two of the best recruits overall. Heard has enormous promise, but development takes time.
State of Ohio
Most significant hire: WR Brandon Inniss
Transferring an impact: DB Ja’Had Carter (Syracuse)
With five newcomers, Ohio State is continuing to rebuild at wide receiver, including Inniss, Noah Rogers, and Carnell Tate, three of the best recruits at the position. To snag four-star cornerback Calvin Simpson-Hunt away from Texas Tech, Ryan Day and his crew also made a late trip into Texas. Although they haven’t been huge players in the portal, the Buckeyes did sign Carter, the top Power Five safety available, and also added Tristan Gebbia, an Oregon State transfer, to their quarterback depth chart.
Most significant hire: quarterback Jackson Arnold
Transferring an impact: OL Rouse, Walter (Stanford)
The Sooners’ second season under Brent Venables is looking much better; they once more searched the transfer portal heavily for Power Five stars who could step in immediately. The most significant is Rouse, who joined the Sooners after making a temporary commitment to Nebraska. He will presumably replace former starter Anton Harrison at left tackle now that Harrison is headed to the NFL. Adepoju Adebawore, an edge rusher who may be the most hyped prospect to come out of Kansas City in years, is another new signing to keep an eye on. Arnold, who was the top-rated signee for the Sooners, will likely play some minutes behind Dillon Gabriel in 2023 before taking over as head coach the following year.
Most significant hire: OL Francis Mauigoa
Transferring an impact: LB Santos Mauigoa (Washington State)
Following a difficult first season under coach Mario Cristobal, several offensive and defensive linemen were added, including Francis Mauigoa. Their goal is to build a more physical style and alter the course of the program. Despite the Hurricanes’ five-win season, Cristobal has assembled an excellent group of high school prospects thanks in part to the chance for instant playing experience. With the services of former Central Florida center Matt Lee and Alabama guard Javion Cohen, there is extra assistance entering the trenches through the portal.
Most significant hire: quarterback Nico Iamaleava
Transferring an impact: LB John Pili (Brigham Young)
The Volunteers relied on a breakthrough year to sign one of the best signing classes in recent memory. Iamaleava, a five-star recruit out of Southern California, is the real deal; he may have more potential than any other quarterback prospect in this cycle, including Manning. With five linemen, three linebackers, and five additional defensive backs, Tennessee’s class is heavily weighted on defense; several of the newcomers to the front seven are regarded as edge rushers. Donte Thornton, a transfer from Oregon, will help an offense that lacks depth at wide receiver (21.5 yards per catch in 2022).
Dame de Paris
Most significant hire: OL Charles Jagusah
Transferring an impact: Sam Hartman, quarterback (Wake Forest)
Hartman, who joins the Irish after several outstanding years at Wake Forest and significantly increases this team’s prospects of making the College Football Playoff, must come first in any consideration of Notre Dame’s recent additions. The Irish added linebacker Javontae Jean-Baptiste and wide receiver Kaleb Smith (both from Virginia Tech) as two more significant transfers (Ohio State). With more playing time, Jean-Baptiste, who played 250 snaps for the Buckeyes last year, may have a great year. The typical signing class hits the target across the board, with a focus on the receiver and the secondary but without a five-star standout. Despite having talent, running back Jeremiah Love may find it difficult to land a significant position in 2023 given Notre Dame’s current backfield depth.
Most significant hire: WR Jurrion Dickey
Transferring an impact: DL Brandon Burch (South Carolina)
The Ducks’ transfer haul puts them in front of Clemson, which is still fumbling around in the portal. Only former Alabama and Arizona State quarterback Paul Tyson, who might serve as Cade Klubnik’s backup, is expected to join the Tigers. Defensive linemen make up a large portion of Oregon’s signing class, including Blake Purchase, the top recruit from Colorado, and Matayo Uiagalelei, one of the nation’s top edge prospects. On the other side of the ball, the Ducks sign five-star wide receiver Jurrion Dickey and George Silva, the best offensive tackle from a junior college. Oregon has the top class in the Pac-12 when these recruits are added to the talented transfer group.