Rivals Rankings Turn 20: The top No. 1 classes in our history

This week we are celebrating 20 years of the Rivals rankings.There have always been debates about which recruiting class has been the best one during the 20-year history of Rivals.com and now there might be an answer.

Assigning five points to each five-star in the class and four points to each four-star, we’ve come up with what we think is the best way to figure out which recruiting class would top the charts based on their high school ranking (and not how they eventually panned out).

A simple analysis of total points in each recruiting class could not be utilized because the points system has changed since the beginning of the rankings so it wouldn’t be an apples-to-apples comparison.

So here’s a look at how we would score the No. 1 classes over the first 20 recruiting classes at Rivals based on four- and five-stars signed.

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1. ALABAMA – 2017

Najee Harris (AP Images)

Overview: Seven five-stars, 19 four-stars = 111 points

Thoughts: This might have been coach Nick Saban’s best class and that says something because the Crimson Tide are on this list a lot. Five-stars Najee Harris, Alex Leatherwood, Jerry Jeudy, Jedrick Wills, Dylan Moses, Isaiah Buggs and Elliot Baker top the list.

But there are also some fantastic four-stars in the class as well including Henry Ruggs and DeVonta Smith along with Xavier McKinney and many others. Both Tua Tagovailoa and Mac Jones were in that class as well. A true embarrassment of riches.

CLASS OF 2017 TEAM RANKINGS

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2. GEORGIA – 2018

Brenton Cox

Brenton Cox

Overview: Eight five-stars, 15 four-stars = 100 points

Thoughts: This was the first in three-straight No. 1 classes for coach Kirby Smart and the Bulldogs had some whoppers to lead this class in five-stars Tyson Campbell, Cade Mays, Jamaree Salyer, Brenton Cox, James Cook, Adam Anderson, Justin Fields and Zamir White.

Linebackers Otis Reese and Quay Walker along with tight end Luke Ford were on the five-star fringe. Some worked out for Georgia, others did not, and some transferred along the way. Only one other class in Rivals’ history has had eight five-stars as well.

CLASS OF 2018 TEAM RANKINGS

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3. USC – 2015

Ronald Jones

Ronald Jones (AP Images)

Overview: Four five-stars, 17 four-stars = 98 points

Thoughts: This class had a lot of potential with some major hits but also some players who never lived up to the hype. Five-stars Iman Marshall, Rasheem Green, John Houston and Porter Gustin looked like an unstoppable foursome on defense. Marvell Tell and Ronald Jones II had nice careers but Ykili Ross never got it going, Osa Masina faced off-the-field issues. This class had a lot of talent, but never really put it all together.

CLASS OF 2015 TEAM RANKINGS

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4. ALABAMA – 2021

Camar Wheaton

Camar Wheaton (Rivals.com)

Overview: Five five-stars, 18 four-stars = 97 points

Thoughts: Not one person in this class has played in a college football game so this is pure projection but this Crimson Tide group is loaded with five-stars and other players right on that cusp. Running back Camar Wheaton, offensive linemen JC Latham and Tommy Brockermeyer, linebacker Dallas Turner and DB Ga’Quincy McKinstry lead the way.

The wide receiver group of JaCorey Brooks, Christian Leary and JoJo Earle could be special. Terrion Arnold and Kadarius Calloway are great in the secondary and so many others could have huge impacts.

CLASS OF 2021 TEAM RANKINGS

*****

5. ALABAMA – 2008

Mark Ingram

Mark Ingram

Overview: Three five-stars, 19 four-stars = 91 points

Thoughts: There were only three five-stars in this class in WR Julio Jones, OL Tyler Love and ATH Burton Scott. But 19 four-stars marks the most in Rivals’ history. Other notable names that were in this Crimson Tide class included Mark Ingram, Don’ta Hightower and Mark Barron. There were some hits but also some misses in this recruiting class.

CLASS OF 2008 TEAM RANKINGS

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6. TEXAS – 2002

Overview: Six five-stars, 15 four-stars = 90 points

Thoughts: This was the first class in Rivals’ history when the company was still figuring out how many five-stars should be in a respective class and this was before the RR ratings system of 6.1, 6.0, 5.9 and down the line. But Texas put together an outstanding group in 2002 led by five-stars Vince Young, Rodrique Wright, Justin Blalock, Marquis Johnson, Edorian McCullough and Brian Pickryl.

CLASS OF 2002 TEAM RANKINGS

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7. FLORIDA – 2007

Overview: Four five-stars, 16 four-stars = 84 points

Thoughts: This was one of the major recruiting classes under then-coach Urban Meyer that led the Gators to a national championship but it wasn’t necessarily because of the five-star prospects. Those four were QB Cam Newton, OL James Wilson, DT Torrey Davis and DE Carlos Dunlap. Also in this class as four-stars were Major Wright, Joe Haden, the Pouncey Bros., Chris Rainey, Deonte Thompson and Aaron Hernandez to name a few.

CLASS OF 2007 TEAM RANKINGS

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8. ALABAMA – 2014

Overview: Six five-stars, 13 four-stars = 82 points

Thoughts: Five-star cornerback Marlon Humphrey and five-star OL Cameron Robinson ended up arguably as the most impactful five-stars in this group that also included No. 1 prospect Da’Shawn Hand, who surprisingly picked Alabama over Michigan. The other five-stars were DB Tony Brown, LB Rashaan Evans and Bo Scarbrough along with numerous four-stars who not only had great careers at Alabama but moved on to the pros.

CLASS OF 2014 TEAM RANKINGS

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9. USC – 2006

Overview: Five five-stars, 14 four-stars = 81 points

Thoughts: This was a loaded group on paper that had some hits and misses along the way for the Trojans as five-star Taylor Mays, Stafon Johnson, C.J. Gable, Allen Bradford and Vidal Hazleton were the highest-rated recruits in this class. What’s incredible is that nine other players were ranked as 6.0s, or one step away from being another five-star prospect.

CLASS OF 2006 TEAM RANKINGS

*****

10. Georgia – 2020

Overview: Five five-stars, 14 four-stars = 81 points

Thoughts: Finishing with the No. 1 class once is difficult enough but the 2020 class for marked three straight for the Bulldogs. They were led by five-stars Kelee Ringo, Darnell Washington, Kendall Milton, Tate Ratledge and Broderick Jones in that group. Other standouts included Mekhail Sherman and Jalen Carter as many in this class are just starting to make an impact on the loaded UGA roster.

CLASS OF 2020 TEAM RANKINGS

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11. ALABAMA – 2009

Overview: Four five-stars, 14 four-stars = 76 points

Thoughts: D.J. Fluker was one of the biggest prospects in Rivals’ history and he led a five-star group that included RB Trent Richardson, LB Nico Johnson and DB Dre Kirkpatrick for the Crimson Tide. Eddie Lacy was a four-star running back in that group and OL Chance Warmack went from a three-star to a first-round NFL Draft pick.

CLASS OF 2009 TEAM RANKINGS

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12. GEORGIA – 2019

Overview: Three five-stars, 15 four-stars = 75 points

Thoughts: WR George Pickens, OL Clay Webb and LB Nolan Smith were the only five-stars in this recruiting class but the Bulldogs held onto the top spot in the team recruiting rankings because of 15 four-stars. That group was excellent as well with Tyrique Stevenson, Nakobe Dean, Lewis Cine, Jermaine Johnson, Travon Walker and Dominick Blaylock leading the charge.

CLASS OF 2019 TEAM RANKINGS

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13. USC – 2004

Overview: Eight five-stars, six four-stars = 74 points

Thoughts: This was an incredibly rare case of a team that won the recruiting title with more five-stars than four-stars in the class. The Trojans had eight five-stars in Fred Davis, Thomas Herring, Keith Rivers, Jeff Schweiger Jr., Jeff Byers, Taitusi Lutui, Ryan Powdrell and Scott Ware but this was also before many of the Rivals ratings were placed on each prospect.

CLASS OF 2004 TEAM RANKINGS

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14. LSU – 2003

Overview: One five-star, 17 four-stars = 73 points

Thoughts: This was the only No. 1 class so far in Rivals history that had just one five-star prospect as running back Justin Vincent led this group that also had 17 four-stars. But it’s difficult to exactly judge which four-stars were the highest-rated since the Rivals ratings were not implemented yet. JaMarcus Russell, Matt Flynn, LaRon Landry and Dwayne Bowe were some other notables in this group.

CLASS OF 2003 TEAM RANKINGS

*****

15. ALABAMA – 2013

Overview: Four five-stars, 13 four-stars = 72 points

Thoughts: This Alabama class was loaded across the board and could have arguably been much higher on this list of 20 top recruiting classes in retrospect. The five-stars were A’Shawn Robinson, Reuben Foster, Jonathan Allen and O.J. Howard but after much debate and discussion Derrick Henry settled in as a high four-star. That is a slight miss considering his outstanding career at Alabama although he was a second-round pick. There was an extraordinary amount of talent in this class on both sides of the ball.

CLASS OF 2013 TEAM RANKINGS

*****

16. ALABAMA – 2011

Overview: Three five-stars, 14 four-stars = 71 points

Thoughts: Only three five-stars but Alabama held off Florida State, Texas, USC and others for the team recruiting title that year as the five-star group was spread among many teams and that ended up helping Alabama in the end. RB Demetrius Hart, OL Cyrus Kouandjio and DB Hasean Clinton-Dix led the way for the Crimson Tide in one of the more unassuming top classes in the Rivals era.

CLASS OF 2011 TEAM RANKINGS

*****

17. ALABAMA – 2012

Overview: Three five-stars, 14 four-stars = 71 points

Thoughts: In one of the biggest recruiting wins of the last decade, Alabama beat out LSU for five-star Landon Collins and he made a major impact during his time in Tuscaloosa. Five-stars T.J. Yeldon and Eddie Williams were a part of this class along with high four-stars Amari Cooper, Reggie Ragland, Chris Black and others.

CLASS OF 2012 TEAM RANKINGS

*****

18. USC – 2010

Overview: Four five-stars, 13 four-stars = 70 points

Thoughts: There was one very big hit in this USC recruiting class in five-star receiver Robert Woods from down the street at Gardena (Calif.) Serra but also some significant misses as five-star receivers Markeith Ambles and Kyle Prater and five-star running back Dillon Baxter never panned out for the Trojans.

CLASS OF 2010 TEAM RANKINGS

*****

19. ALABAMA – 2016

Overview: Five five-stars, 10 four-stars = 65 points

Thoughts: This class had some hits, some misses and one reason why this Crimson Tide group wasn’t higher is because among the four-stars there weren’t many on the cusp of five-star status. Offensive linemen Jonah Williams and Charles Baldwin, LBs Lyndell Wilson and Ben Davis and DE Terrell Hall were the five-stars in this Alabama class.

CLASS OF 2016 TEAM RANKINGS

*****

20. USC – 2005

Overview: Three five-stars, 10 four-stars = 55 points

Thoughts: Quarterback Mark Sanchez and LB Rey Maualuga were the five-stars that thrived from this class and receiver Patrick Turner was a five-star as well. But this class was on the cusp of having many other fives as well. Kyle Moore, Brian Cushing, Averell Spicer, Will Harris, Kevin Thomas and Luthur Brown were all one spot from that top ranking, too.

CLASS OF 2005 TEAM RANKINGS

Source: Rivals.com

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