The class of 2022 is in the books and, like pretty much every other year, 99.8 percent of the coverage focused on who won the recruiting title and nothing else. Texas A&M not only claimed the 2022 championship, they signed the most decorated recruiting class of all time. We -- and by we I mean Jimbo Fisher, Lane Kiffin and Sliced Bread -- have cussed and discussed the Aggies' haul enough.
Like the sport itself, only a handful of programs can win the national championship. But not every program is measured by the same stick.
Texas A&M is far from the only staff to accomplish its goals in the 2022 cycle, and we're here to travel off the beaten path to highlight the long, long hours of evaluating tape, of grinding on the phone, of many nights in hotels by the coaching and recruiting staffs up and down the rankings.
With 20 years of data now at our fingertips, the discourse has changed. The Stars Don't Matter crowd has (mostly) been beaten into submission. We long ago acknowledged we'd rather have a first-round pick than an undrafted free agent, even if a first-rounder isn't bust proof. And so we can now admitted that a 4-star is more likely to make the NFL than a 3-star, and a No. 42 class ranking gives your program a better chance at achieving its goals than the 79th-ranked class.
The last lie to demolish? That coaches don't look at class rankings. Recruiting is a 365-day-a-year contact sport, and we're supposed to believe that some of the most competitive people on earth don't look at the scoreboard? Mmhmm.
Anywho, here is the 2022 top-25, as ranked by the 247Sports composite:
1. Texas A&M
4. Ohio State
6. Penn State
7. Notre Dame
10. North Carolina
20. Florida State
22. Michigan State
23. Ole Miss
25. South Carolina
-- Oklahoma signed the No. 8 class despite losing Lincoln Riley after Thanksgiving.
-- North Carolina signed its first top-10 class since 2007.
-- Kentucky, Missouri, Indiana signed their best classes ever.
-- Stanford signed its highest-rated class since 2017. Michigan State returned to the top 25 for the first time since 2016. Notre Dame's No. 7 ranking is its best since 2013.
-- Many noted Steve Sarkisian signing a top-5 class coming off a 5-7 debut at Texas, but Jedd Fisch inked Arizona's first top-25 class since 2006 on the heels of a 1-11 debut. The Wildcats were 77th in 2021. Similarly, Clark Lea signed Vanderbilt's highest-rated class (No. 33) since 2013 following a 2-10 first season at his alma mater.
-- Greg Schiano's last two classes (No. 39 and No. 32) mark the first time Rutgers has appeared in the top 40 since 2012, the group largely put together during the final season of his first tenure on the banks.
-- Iowa State (No. 39) is inside the top 40 for the first time in two full decades (No. 38 in 2002).
-- Illinois (No. 45) scored its highest finish since 2011.
-- Houston (No. 49) returned to the top 50 for the first time since 2016.
-- UCF (No. 50) signed its best class since 2010.
-- Marshall (No. 58) leaped forward from No. 120 in Charles Huff's first cycle to ink its best class since 2016. Likewise, Butch Jones at Arkansas State jumped from No. 103 to No. 67, and Southern Miss improved from No. 123 to No. 78 in Will Hall's first cycle.
-- Texas A&M isn't the only group of Aggies clicking their heels together as they leave the office Wednesday night. Utah State leapt from No. 130 to No. 77 in Blake Anderson's first full cycle, the program's best showing since 2004.
-- Jeff Traylor turned a Conference USA championship into the top class in UTSA's short history at No. 69.
-- Buffalo (No. 79) left the 100s for the first time since 2006.
The highest-rated class in each conference:
-- ACC: North Carolina (No. 10)
-- American: Cincinnati (No. 42)
-- Big Ten: Ohio State (No. 4)
-- Big 12: Texas (No. 5)
-- Conference USA: Marshall (No. 58)
-- MAC: Miami Ohio (No. 76)
-- Mountain West: Boise State (No. 60)
-- Pac-12: Stanford (No. 17)
-- SEC: Texas A&M (No. 1)
-- Sun Belt: Arkansas State (No. 67)
Finally, despite signing No. 1 overall player Travis Hunter, Jackson State did not ink the top class in FCS. With just seven high school recruits -- Deion Sanders teased two more earth-shattering moves that have not materialized as of press time -- Jackson State ranks 114th, which is still outstanding for a program in their weight class, ahead of 16 FBS schools. The best class in FCS, according to the 247 composite? That would be the Campbell Camels. The program, which just began offering scholarships in 2018, ranks 85th in the country, led by 4-star safety Myles Rowser of Belleville (Mich.) High School, a top-250 player nationally.