Setting aside the national rankings for a second, to me the clear most important thing in looking at a recruiting class is how it stands up to the other recruiting classes in the conference. Of course, I am also the guy who cares a lot more about conference championships than about national championships. We don't play the University of Washington, so it's not really important how we stack up to the University of Washington's recruiting, is it?
I read in the Tuscaloosa newspaper that their beat writer gave us a B+ grade for our class. I think that's about right. Bama had an A+, and Florida and Georgia both got A's, putting our class at #4. Auburn was #5 with a B-. I'm really fine with all of that. I think Bama got a lot of really outstanding players at the top of their class. I'm particularly jealous that they got Jerrell Harris at the last minute, because that kid is going to be a stud and is exactly the kind of guy we need and don't have enough of. I suspect the mid- to bottom-level of Bama's class is a little overhyped and overrated, but we shall see. It is certainly true that they got a lot of players that could have gone anywhere in the country.
A B+ grade is, I think, pretty accurate for us. We got a lot of quality kids, and some real game-changing athletes in Patrick Johnson, Chancey Aghayere, Ryan Baker, and DeAngelo Benton, but probably not as many of them as we would generally hope for. Losing out on some kids at the last minute probably made the difference between a B+-quality class and an A-quality class to put us alongside the outstanding recruiting classes that Florida and Georgia had.
The good news is that the perceived middling nature of this class (compared to our last couple years) is primarily a result of the perceived weakness of the Louisiana high school senior class. Our recruiting success basically follows the fortunes of Louisiana high schools, which were reportedly down last year following a great 2007, and heralding a great 2009 as well. To get a B+ type class with a C-type Louisiana senior class is a pretty good achievement, and next year we will have an A-type Louisiana senior class. If we keep winning out on whoever we want in-state and keep up our current level of out-of-state success, we will have a terrific class next year, despite its relative small size.