For the first time in the 2022 football recruiting cycle, we’re take a look at the battle for the 247Sports Composite’s No. 1 recruiting class. The usual suspects are all in play here, but as anybody who follows recruiting knows, this race will see several different favorites from now until February’s National Signing Day.

THE LEADER

Georgia tops the standings at this point as head coach Kirby Smart guns for the program’s third No. 1 class in the last six cycles.

There’s potential that this could be perhaps his best haul to date.

In 2018, Georgia’s 26-player class finished atop the standings with a score of 323.91 and an average rank-per-player of 94.23, while the 2020 class that saw 25 put pen to paper took the top spot with a mark of 313.16 and an average rank-per-player of 92.95. About halfway home in 2022 already, the Bulldogs have 12 commits and an average ranking of 94.20 as they’re about on pace of that 2018 haul.

Two five-stars headline Georgia’s class to date in Deyon Bouie, who probably projects best to cornerback, and Malaki Starks, who could be a difference-maker at safety or linebacker, with a slight possibility he tries his hand on the offensive side of the ball. Defensive tackle Bear Alexander and quarterback Gunner Stockton are 247Sports Composite Top 50 recruits and two more prominent verbals in the class, linebackers Jalon Walker and C.J. Washington, are going to be stock-up guys for us when the Top247 updates April 21.

Moving forward, among the top targets Smart and his staff are in the middle of it for include six five-stars in Shemar Stewart, Travis Shaw (who happens to be buddies with Walker), Jeremiah Alexander, Kamari Wilson (recently trending for on the 247Sports Crystal Ball) and Mykel Williams (who the Bulldogs have long led for on the 247Sports Crystal Ball). This list goes on through the Top 50 with guys like Tyler Booker and a bevy of other guys considering a future in Athens.

Smart and his staff are working hard on the trail and it’s obviously paying off.

THE POUND-FOR-POUND FRONTRUNNER

Ohio State had led for much of the cycle with a class headlined by the No. 1 overall prospect, quarterback Quinn Ewers. They also lead in the average ranking-per-player category with a score of 95.74.

Ewers is one of four five-stars already in the fold for Ryan Day alongside cornerback Jaheim Singletary, linebacker C.J. Hicks and receiver Caleb Burton. Two more Top 50 commits are linebackers Gabe Powers and Dasan McCullough.

The Buckeyes are recruiting at a level similar to what they did back in 2017 (94.59) and 2018 (94.29) when they recruited the top pound-for pound classes in the country. The names they’re in on moving forward should keep them breathing the same air. Some of those touted prospects include five-star Omari Abor, Booker, Gavin Sawchuck, Zion Branch, Earnest Greene, Kaleb Brown, Xavier Nwankpa, Caden Curry, Nicholas Singleton and Addison Nichols, who are all Top 100 recruits. The latest prospect the Buckeyes are trending for is Top247 running back Dallan Hayden.

ANOTHER EMERGING CONTENDER

There might not be a program communicating with more top prospects nationally than LSU, who’s sitting at No. 3 in the standings. The Tigers have secured the top two players in the state and they’re both five-stars — quarterback Walker Howard and offensive tackle Will Campbell. In all, Ed Orgeron and his staff have 11 in the fold, seven ranking four stars or better.

Five-stars LSU is on the short list for as we move forward include defensive tackle Walter Nolen, cornerback Denver Harris, Shemar Stewart and offensive guard Devon Campbell, who are all Top 10 recruits. LSU is talking to top-ranked linebacker Harold Perkins, touted linebacker Shawn Murphy, safety Jacoby Mathews and athlete Gentry Williams … and we’re still talking about just five-stars.

As LSU also trends for guys like Top247 tight end Jake Johnson, we know the Tigers are going to contend for a No. 1 class. Over the last three cycles they’ve finished No. 5, No. 4 and No. 3. Perhaps No. 2 or even No. 1 is definitely on the table in 2022.

THE ONE YOU CAN NEVER COUNT OUT

Where is Alabama?

The Crimson Tide are up to No. 11 after Wednesday’s commitment from Top247 defensive tackle Jaheim Oatis. Oatis is commit No. 6 for Nick Saban, joining two five-stars in quarterback Ty Simpson and running back Emmanuel Henderson. The average ranking-per-player of 94.65 only trails Ohio State at this juncture.

Dating back to 2011, Alabama has finished with the No. 1 class every year with the exception of the two years mentioned where Georgia brought home the recruiting crown. Last year’s class was Saban’s best work on paper to date as the Crimson Tide bring in the highest-ranking class in 247Sports history to replace a 2017 haul that was maybe the most successful recruiting class in college football history.

This 2022 class is already on track to continue to standard, and with the likes of Nolen, five-star offensive tackle Zach Rice, Harris, Perkins, Alexander, Kevin Coleman, Stewart and Enai White seriously considering a future in Tuscaloosa. We know when all is said and done that the Crimson Tide will again be at the forefront of the conversation regarding the battle for No. 1.

OTHER SCHOOLS TO WATCH

– Texas A&M is sitting at No. 5 where Jimbo Fisher is working on a fourth straight Top 10 haul. His best class in Aggieland to date was 2019’s, which ranked No. 4. The Aggies have eight verbals led by five-star quarterback Conner Weigman with an average ranking per commit of 93.38.

– The Oklahoma Sooners have seven commits with a whopping 94.63 average per player and currently sit at No. 8 nationally.

– Texas and new coach Steve Sarkisian have seven commits, checking in at No. 9 nationally with an average ranking per commit of 94.05.

All three of these programs have the star power in the fold and on the board moving forward that puts them firmly in the race for No. 1. Don’t forget to check out the 247Sports Composite Team Recruiting Rankings here.

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