National Outlook

You may have heard this story before: Florida is No. 1. Just a month after beating Ohio State to win the BCS Championship, and ten months removed from their basketball championship, the Gators top the Scout.com recruiting rankings for 2007. While no banners will be hung for this achievement, it may lead to further titles in the near future.

While already solidly entrenched in the top spot heading into the final week, Urban Meyer and his staff added five more players to the class, including five-star wide receiver Deonte Thompson of Belle Glade, Fla. The 5-foot-11, 185-pound Thompson is undoubtedly one of the fastest players in the country. At the Jacksonville Scout.com Combine in April of 2005, he ran three consecutive 4.28 forties. He is not a great route runner at this time, but he can definitely use his speed to stretch the field. Thompson took official visits to Miami, Ohio State, LSU, and USC along with one to Gainesville.

Last April, 6-foot-5, 230-pound Jay Howard became Florida's first commitment. But when the Gators obtained commitments from several other defensive end prospects, the Orlando resident began to consider other schools. But when push came to shove on Wednesday, Howard signed on with Florida. Auburn and Rutgers were chasing Howard hard, but it was Florida State that was the big concern. Howard's father is an FSU grad and he looked closely at the Seminoles. The Gators lose some defensive ends this year and the opportunity for early playing time was a huge factor in his decision making process.

Indianapolis safety Jerimy Finch committed to Michigan last May. In mid-January, the 6-foot-2, 200-pounder visited Indiana and subsequently switched his pledge to the Hoosiers. Last weekend, he was in Gainesville and on Wednesday, he faxed his letter of intent to Florida. If he changes his mind again, he will have to sit out a year as a transfer, so you can expect him to arrive at Florida this summer ready to play.

Florida's other two late signees were three-star cornerback Moses Jenkins of Lauderdale Lakes, Fla. and four-star linebacker Brandon Hicks of Jacksonville.

Scout.com's No. 2 team, LSU, also made a late charge landing four prospects in the last three days. Baton Rouge native Chad Jones is the top ranked safety in the class of 2007 according to Scout.com. Being a local product, he was expected to sign with LSU, but he also looked at USC, Miami, and Alabama. The Tigers also snagged Scout.com's top receiver prospect in Terrance Toliver of Hempstead, Texas. The 6-foot-5, 195-pounder uses his size extremely well. He picked LSU over Florida.

Sidell Corley was an early Florida commitment. Like Jay Howard, Corley looked at other programs after the Gators started taking in more and more defensive ends. Unlike Howard, the 6-foot-4, 250-pounder will not be attending Florida, deciding instead to cast his lot with LSU. Corley also took a look at Alabama and Auburn. LSU also signed Scout.com's No. 8 safety prospect, Stefoin Francois of Reserve, La. Francois also checked out Florida State and Arkansas.

USC picked up six recruits in the last week and jumped into the No. 3 position in the Scout.com team rankings. The Trojans seem to gather running backs the way numismatics collect coins. After signing several top prospects last year, three more will attend USC in the fall. Joe McKnight of River Ridge, La. is Scout .com's top running back prospect and their No. 2 player overall. If there is one player in this class that can possibly be compared to Reggie Bush, it is the 5-foot-11, 193-pound McKnight. At 6-foot-1, 230-pounds, Broderick Green of Little Rock seems to be the perfect complimentary back to the swift McKnight. He had been a soft commitment to USC for quite some time and reaffirmed his position just before signing day after looking at Penn State and Ohio State.

Three of the Trojans' late commitments possess three-star ratings. Tight end Rhett Ellison had committed to Virginia Tech in August, but when USC (where his father Riki was a star linebacker) offered, he jumped on the Trojan bus. Trey Henderson of Vancouver, who had originally committed to Washington State, could wind up at either tight end or along the defensive line.

Sacramento's Christian Tupou held his last visit open in case USC extended an offer. When they did, the defensive end scheduled a trip to Los Angeles last weekend and signed with USC on Wednesday. He also considered BYU, Cal, and Nebraska.

And in sort of a bizarro world situation, five-star cornerback Ronald Johnson of Muskegon, Mich. spurned his home state Wolverines and chose USC. At the same time, fellow five-star cornerback Donovan Warren of Long Beach, Calif. selected Michigan over USC.

Texas, Tennessee, Auburn, South Carolina, Oregon, Pittsburgh, and Michigan round out the Scout.com top ten. Notre Dame comes in at No. 11 after suffering a couple of signing day disappointments.

Wide receiver Greg Little of Durham, N.C. had been a Notre Dame commit since October, but at the last minute he changed his mind, deciding instead to stay at home and play for the North Carolina Tar Heels. He will be joined by all-everything defensive tackle Marvin Austin in Chapel Hill. Scout.com's No. 3 player overall shocked many when he selected UNC over Florida State. The Washington, D.C. product has great speed and quickness for someone 6-foot-3 and 300-pounds. The Tar Heels got a re-commitment from four-star wide receiver Dwight Jones of Burlington, N.C. He originally committed last February and did so again after he visited Clemson and Tennessee in January.

And after committing to nearly every school in the eastern time zone including Notre Dame, Twiggs, Ga. offensive lineman Chris Little signed with the Georgia Bulldogs.

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