McKnight Lifts Irish to No. 11

The national recruiting analysts were impressed with Tyrone Willingham's first recruiting class at Notre Dame. The Irish nearly cracked the Top 10, even with Lorenzo Booker's late change of heart. Check out the nation's Top 25 in this report, and then get the skinny on all 18 Irish recruits by clicking on "Commit List" in the left-hand navigation bar.

Copyright by Global Electronics Telecommunications, publishers of IrishEyes.Com™

February 7, 2002

McKnight Concludes
Outstanding Crop

By The IrishEyes.Com News Service
& TheInsiders.Com

OK, Notre Dame didn't land Lorenzo Booker.  Come back in off the ledge.  The Irish, according to the recruiting experts at, landed a pretty good class anyway.  Bolstered by the late signing of Rhema McKnight, the Domers finished with the 11st best group of recruits in the country.

Of course, recruiting is an inexact science.  But do boast the deepest, most experienced recruiting team in the business, with coast-to-coast analysts like Greg Biggins, Chris Pool, Jamie Newberg, and Max Emfinger, among others

Here is their collected work in ranking the top classes.  But keep in mind what Willingham said Wednesday. "I judge success in four years, by the number of championships won and Bowl berths earned."

That's the best barometer of all.

(Editor's Note: The complete Irish commit list can be found on the IrishEyes home page in the left-hand navigation bar under football recruiting.  You can see the vital statistics on all 18 of Willingham's signees, including a diary of their recruiting process through the past several months.)

The top 25 recruiting classes in the country:

1 Texas
The most complete and deep class in the country, with 8 of the top 101 in the country and the strongest defensive line class in recent memory.

2 Ohio State
Kept the best instate talent home and got key out-of-state stars like offensive lineman Derek Morris out of North Carolina.

3 Miami
In two years will anybody be able to stop Brock Berlin throwing to Chris Davis, Ryan Moore and maybe even Devin Hester?

4 Tennessee
What a Signing Day surge by the Vols, getting Top 101'ers James Banks and Brandon Jefferies to add to an already solid class.

5 Florida State
Speaking of strong finishes, does anybody do it better than FSU, who got Lorenzo Booker, Pat Watkins and Leon Washington in the last 24 hours?

6 Oklahoma
Without peer in the secondary, signing Aaron Miller, Jason Carter, Michael Hawkins and Brodney Pool.

Came up short with Justice and Dennis at Long Beach Poly, but may have gotten the school's best in Marcedes Lewis.

8 Virginia
The school's best class ever, signing the state's best talent in Kai Parham, Michael Johnson and Ahmad Brooks.

9 Michigan
Ran out of gas late but still has plenty of talent, led by mammoth lineman Gabe Watson, to warrant a Top 10 ranking.

10 Georgia
Mark Richt flexes his recruiting muscles in his first full year, beating out FSU for Marcus Jackson and Miami for Max Jean-Gilles.

11 Notre Dame
The Irish win one and lose one in Calif. on Signing Day as the nation's top RB, Lorenzo Booker, decommits at the last minute to FSU, but the top WR in the West, Rhema McKnight, ends up in the fold.

12 USC
The key to this class is simple: a quartet of Top 101 players from Long Beach Poly (Hershel Dennis, Darnel Bing, Manuel Wright and Winston Justice) will wear Cardinal and Gold.

13 South Carolina
Lou Holtz's aura has allowed the Gamecocks to go into homes and beat out other SEC and ACC powers for Top 101 players like LB Ricardo Hurley.

14 Colorado
A large class of 30 recruits is highlighted by stud DBs and WRs. The Buffs manage to pull Blake Mackey and his 4.38 speed back at the last minute.

15 Texas A&M
Reggie McNeal is an exciting playmaker at QB and the Aggies shined on the other side of the ball with some hard-nose LBs like Archie McDaniel.

16 Auburn
The Wildcats finally win the battle for talented receiver Devin Aromashodu, who committed to N.C. State and Florida before finally signing with Auburn.

17 Virginia Tech
Marcus Vick on offense and Jonathan Lewis, who many say is the best DT from Virginia since Bruce Smith, on defense. Nuff said.

18 Penn State
Usually the Lions start strong; this time they close well, getting FB/LB Brandon Snow from Delaware, who had offers from Notre Dame and the Florida schools.

19 Washington
No Booker? No problem, as the Huskies get a dangerous backfield threat in QB Isaiah Stanback.

20 Michigan State
Two receiver threats in Agim Shabaj and Kyle Brown to go with Charles Rogers.

21 Mississippi State
The Bulldogs get four of the top 101 players on our list, including phenomenal athletes Darren Williams and Marvin Byrdsong.

22 BYU
Yes, the last-minute defection of DT Haloti Ngata to Oregon stunned the Cougars, but this is still their best recruiting class ever, headlined by All-World QB Ben Olson.

23 Kansas State
Bill Snyder used his typical magic touch to pull in JC standouts like RB Daniel Davis, but also excelled at getting h.s. DBs like Noah Strozier and Maurice Mack.

24 LSU
A down here in Louisiana hurt the Tigers base for recruiting, but there are still a half dozen blazers including RB Skyler Green.

25 Florida
Not up to the typical Gator standards, as they didn't finish with a bang, but don't overlook the skill weapons here like RB DeShaun Wynn and WR/DB Jermalle Cornelius.

(For feedback on IrishEyes editorial content, please contact Alan Tieuli at Top Stories