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April 2, 2013
The first iteration of the Rivals.com team rankings has been released, but with 10 months remaining until National Signing Day anything can happen.
And it probably will.
Texas A&M holds the top spot, and it is followed by Texas, LSU, Florida and Ole Miss. While some things can be read into the early rankings, there is much that needs to shake out and it's nearly impossible to determine which team will finish atop the rankings.
Last recruiting cycle was a perfect example. USC took a commanding lead in the team rankings, but after a flurry of de-commitments and other teams landing highly ranked prospects, the Trojans finished No. 13.
The team rankings are in their infancy, but some things can be gleaned from the data.
First, Texas A&M is doing a fantastic job early by landing 10 commitments, including six four-star pledges, more than any other team in the country.
"For Texas A&M, this is an indication that they have become the dominant force in the state of Texas," Rivals.com national analyst Mike Farrell said. "The move to the SEC, a great recruiting head coach and Johnny Football have them recruiting at the highest level I can remember.
"It's not a surprise to see Texas right up there as well. They are always a program that starts quickly, and I like the additional aggressiveness of Mack Brown and his staff. The key for the Longhorns will be how they finish more than how they start. But so far both programs are off to great starts and this has become one of the most interesting recruiting battles out there."
The Texas schools make up the top spots, and then the SEC takes over. LSU has eight commitments, followed by Florida with seven, and both powerhouses should be just fine as the offseason continues. Texas A&M and Texas are the only teams with double-digit commitments.
Noteworthy is that Ole Miss, which last cycle signed the nation's top player in defensive end Robert Nkemdiche, the top-rated receiver, Laquon Treadwell, and the No. 1 offensive tackle, Laremy Tunsil, is in the fifth spot early.
Coach Hugh Freeze and the Rebels staff have built on that success by landing four four-star prospects and eight total commits not even two months after signing day.
New Tennessee coach Butch Jones and his staff are following late success last recruiting cycle and have the Volunteers sixth in the team rankings. Most noteworthy is that all three of Tennessee's four-star commits are in-state recruits, led by running back Jalen Hurd and defensive back Todd Kelly.
There will be many changes. For example, out of the 14 five-star prospects by Rivals.com so far, only two are committed -- Virginia Beach (Va.) Bayside defensive back Quin Blanding to Virginia and Gainesville, Ga., quarterback Deshaun Watson to Clemson.
There will be many more commitments and more five-stars, and the rankings could change dramatically. That's not to say the teams at the top aren't doing a phenomenal job early.
One major program that is not in the top 15 yet is Alabama. The Crimson Tide list only three commits -- two are four-star prospects -- and Rivals.com ranks the class No. 16 in the country. After winning the last three Rivals.com recruiting titles, it's noticeable that Alabama is lower.
Or it's just another obvious sign that it's incredibly early and many things need to play out before anyone takes a critical look at the team rankings.
"Team rankings this early aren't exactly a snapshot of what we can expect 10 months from now, but it's a good indication of who has recruiting momentum from last year and which schools traditionally get off to a fast start," Farrell said.
"Ole Miss in the top five, which is a clear indication of how they finished last year, and seeing Tennessee in the top 10 speaks to how the new staff finished down the stretch. While they didn't land a bunch of the top guys they wanted, the Vols were in the mix for many and now they are carrying that momentum over.
"But with so many players uncommitted and with so many de-commits to come, this list will change quite a bit as we move through the process."