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February 2, 2005

V for Victory: Trojans repeat as recruiting champs

[ The Rivals.com National Team Rankings ]

Winning never gets old.

After capturing back-to-back national championships on the field and finishing with the top recruiting class in 2004, Southern California closed strong on the recruiting trail in 2005 with a finish that would make any recruiting coordinator jealous.

With the addition of studs like Luthur Brown, Kyle Moore and Brian Cushing, Rivals.com is proud to crown USC as the recruiting national champion for the class of 2005.

After racking up eight five-star players in 2004, the Trojans landed four five-star players - and that number could grow to five if DeSean Jackson signs later tonight - and continued their national recruiting dominance.

It's hard to point out just one or two players who top USC's class because it's so deep with talent. However, the Trojans did land three players who were ranked as the top player at their respective positions, highlighted by the nation's No. 1 signal-caller, Mark Sanchez of Mission Viejo, Calif.

"I'm just honored to be included in such an incredible class like this," Sanchez said. "USC has always made it a priority to go out there and sign the nation's best players, and if you look at what happened this year, there is no question that this group is the best out there."

Along with Sanchez, USC's class features the nation's No. 2 player and No. 1 receiver, Patrick Turner of Nashville (Tenn.) Goodpasture. Turner was the center of a heated recruiting battle that saw the Trojans beat out recruiting-seasoned coach Phillip Fulmer of the Tennessee Volunteers.

"I just like the school, the program, their style of offense, the coaches, and the players," Turner offered. "I just like them the best. USC just has more to offer. They have a great history of throwing the ball and I have a chance to be a part of a dynasty there. They can win three in a row."

Behind USC is Florida State.

The Seminoles closed with an amazing run that is the stuff of legends. FSU was sitting toward the bottom of the top 25 for more than a week now, but after the additions of Fred Rouse, Antone Smith and Callahan Bright, the Seminoles quickly leaped toward the top of the charts.

"Once again Florida State came out of nowhere on signing day to put together one of the nation's top recruiting classes," Gene Williams of Warchant.com said.

"Going into Wednesday there were several uncommitted blue-chip prospects on FSU's board, including three five-star recruits, and it seemed like all them fell to the Seminoles. Bobby Bowden and his staff are known as the best closers in the business but on Wednesday they set a new standard."

The Sooners closed with a strong day that included the commitments from four star defensive backs Reggie Smith and Nic Harris. Smith, a Rivals100 cornerback, picked the Sooners over USC and Nebraska. Harris, also a Rivals100 member, was leaning toward Michigan for the past months but changed his mind the night before signing day and is now headed to Norman.

"This is our most diverse and national class," Sooner coach Bob Stoops said. "The continual national exposure with television and championship games has generated a lot of attention for this program and enabled us to attract prospects from all over the country."

Tennessee is currently sitting at No. 3 in the Rivals.com team rankings, and its signing day was highlighted by the addition of Rivals100 athlete Montario Hardesty, who changed his original commitment from North Carolina to the Vols. UT also added three-star defensive end Vladimir Richard, giving Fulmer plenty of reasons to smile.

"I'm very excited about this recruiting class," Fulmer said. "This recruiting class has its own dynamics. We did fill some needs at our positions, which is always our first objective. Now it's a matter of seeing how they develop and how fast they can adjust to the college game and being away from home."

Rounding out the top five is Nebraska.

The Cornhuskers struggled on the field this season, but they hardly struggled on the recruiting front. Coach Bill Callahan and company signed 30 players and landed a group that's loaded with impact high school players and junior college prospects. What makes this Huskers class especially impressive, though, is the impact junior college prospects.

"I believe that this group of players really, truly complements the core players we have on this team," Callahan said.

"I just want to say also that these players we're bringing in want to be here. They want what we want, and they want to win, just like our current players want to win. They will contribute in every way to help get this program where we need to be. There's no doubt in my mind that they will add to positive team chemistry here at Nebraska."


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