A look ahead - Class of 2012

Los Angeles, Calif. - Signing Day may be behind us, but recruiting never rests. Scout has already rated more than 500 players for the Class of 2012, and here is a look at the nation's best group of juniors.

2012's Top Prospects

With one million high school football players across the country, the flow of talent into colleges will never stop. But the talent ebbs and flows at different positions and in different areas of the country from year to year.

For example, the state of Texas produced four running backs rated 5-Stars by Scout.com for the Class of 2011. That number equaled the previous five classes in Texas combined.

The State of California produced just two offensive linemen in the Class of 2011 that were rated 4-Stars or better, including Troy Niklas (6'5/265) of Anaheim who has a chance to play either tight end or defensive end at Notre Dame. But the Class of 2012 already passed that number with only half of the stars allocated for the year.

The offensive line class on the whole is a stellar one for the Class of 2012 including the player that could be the nation's No. 1 overall Arik Armstead (6'8/275) of Elk Grove, Calif. Armstead is the younger brother of USC's Armond Armstead, and like his brother, he has already pledged to the Trojans.

The running back position is represented as well. With only 12 5-Star players so far for 2012, three of them are running backs including Johnathan Gray (5'11/195) of Aledo, Texas, Keith Marshall (5'11/180) of Raleigh, N.C., and Rushel Shell (5'11/215) of Aliquippa, Pa. Unlike Armstead, none of the running backs has yet to make a college decision.

While no quarterback is ranked amongst the Top 12 players to this point, I've said for the better part of a year that the two best pro-style passers I saw all season were juniors Gunner Kiel (6'4/200) of Columbus, Ind. and Zeke Pike (6'5/225) of Fort Mitchell, Ky. Both prospects hit the spring and summer camp circuit heavily and got a chance to compete with and outshine many of the Class of 2011's best.

Wide receiver Dorial Green-Beckham (6'5/210) of Springfield, Mo. is the nation's top receiver, and he likely would have been the nation's No. 1 receiver if he were a senior. He has the ideal blend of size, speed, athleticism and skills to be a go-to player the minute he steps on campus, similar to the prized receiver Class of 2008 which included players such as Julio Jones, Michael Floyd, and A.J. Greene.

While the focus has been on Signing Day for the Class of 2011, several colleges have gotten an early jump on the Class of 2012. Alabama has six commitments (List) including middle linebacker Reggie Ragland (6'4/245) of Madison, Ala., one of three players already rated 4-Stars.

Florida State, who could still end up with the No. 1 Class of 2011, is not missing a beat with seven commitments (List) including book ends at defensive end Chris Casher (6'4/220) of Mobile, Ala. and Dante Fowler (6'3/238) of Saint Petersburg, Fla.

Ohio State didn't sign a running back in its Top 5 ranked Class of 2011, but the Buckeye coaches have already addressed the need in 2012 (List) with commitments from a pair of 4-Stars in bruising Brionte Dunn (6'1/215) of Canton, Ohio and Warren Ball (6'2/200) of Columbus, Ohio. Dunn and Ball are two of 12 running backs already rated 4-Star or better by Scout, but they're the only two to have made a college choice.

Texas has yet to pick up a commitment, but that will change in the next few weeks as the Longhorns' junior day may as well be called Selection Saturday in Austin. Texas picked up 13 commitments last year during their junior day weekend on the way to 17 total players in the month of February.

The recruiting process begins earlier and earlier every year, and Scout's recruiting team is there to keep you ahead of the game. No one in the industry has more players scouted and rated than Scout.com.

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