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Sun Belt Class Rankings

By Kenzie Stanford
SouthernPigskin.com
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Ranking the 2015 recruiting classes in the Sun Belt.

It has been a long National Signing Day in college football, and some of the most elite prospects have landed in the Sun Belt Conference. The results of the day are not all too unexpected, but some teams have trumped others in numbers and quality for their 2015 recruiting classes.

After taking a look at the signees and early enrollees from this recruiting cycle, there has to be a decision on whuch team finished with the best class. Here is a list of the Southern Pigskin rankings for the Sun Belt Conference recruiting classes.

1. Louisiana

Louisiana has earned its spot as No. 1 on the Southern Pigskin class rankings for 2015. The Ragin' Cajuns ended their 2014 season second in the overall standings and a 7-1 overall conference record.

Louisiana signed a total of 24 players – 11 of which are three-star prospects. Out of these 24 players, it is bringing in two new quarterbacks – Dion Ray and Chris Weaver. Ray, of New Orleans, Louisiana, comes to Lafayette from Helen Cox High School as a three-star recruit by Rivals.com, Scout.com, and 247Sports.com, and is rated the No. 3 quarterback in Louisiana.

The signing class for the Ragin' Cajuns also consists of a handful of three-star defensive players that will create more depth for them in 2015. One notable name that stands out is defensive lineman Mario Osborne of Daphne High School in Daphne, Alabama. He is rated as the No. 5 defensive end in the state of Alabama and No. 23 in the South, per Scout.com.

2. Arkansas State

After finishing fifth in the Sun Belt in 2014 with a 5-3 conference record, the Red Wolves needed a boost to take them where they want to go in the upcoming season. They totaled 24 overall signees – twelve of which earned three-star ratings.

The Red Wolves gained a majority of what looks to be offensive players. Jamal Jones joins the team as a three-star running back from Memphis, Tennessee. He is rated by ESPN and 247Sports as a top player in the state of Tennessee, and is also listed as the No. 46 all-purpose back in the nation by 247Sports.

ASU also got a big gain at the quarterback position by signing three-star recruit D.J. Pearson from Duluth, Georgia. He is ranked as the No. 4 quarterback in Georgia, and No. 25 in the South, per Scout.com. He is a pro-style quarterback who should end up being a perfect fit for the offensive system.

The depth on offense and the defensive additions that Arkansas State made in its 2015 recruiting class has secured it as the No. 2 pick on our list, and it should be looking at a higher ranking in the Sun Belt in 2015 if it utilizes the amount of talent it has gained.

3. Georgia Southern

Georgia Southern ended its last season with its fancy Sun Belt title to flaunt at recruits, so it was expected that the Eagles would reel in some talented prospects. They are currently sitting at 22 overall signees – 11 of which are three-star prospects. Their expected 26-man quota has not been met, but there is still a solid amount of talent, which earns them the No. 3 spot on the list.

Joshua Moon of Creekside High School in Fairburn, Georgia, is a safety that earned a three-star rating by Scout, ESPN, and 247Sports and a two-star rating by Rivals.com. He is a fierce runner and the type of player that the Eagles will need in 2015.

Other notables are three-star defensive tackle Jeremiah Culbreth of Langston Hughes High School in Fairburn, Georgia, and pro-style quarterback Hampton McConnell of West Forsyth High School in Cumming, Georgia. Both will fit right in with the system that Georgia Southern is running. Plus, Willie Fritz is the go-to guy to develop the young potential towards another shot at the Sun Belt title.

4. South Alabama

South Alabama finished the 2014 season with a 5-3 record (tied with Arkansas State) in the Sun Belt and a 6-7 overall record. The Jaguars earn a No. 4 spot on our list with 24 total signees - ten of which have been attributed with three-star ratings.

A huge gain for the Jaguars is cornerback Jalen Thompson of St. Paul’s Episcopal School in Mobile, Alabama. Thompson chose USA over offers from Kentucky, Louisville and Miami, and he will be a game-changer on the perimeter.

South Alabama also brings in four new enrollees to its 2015 class with Dami Ayoola, a running back transfer from Arizona Western College, standing out amongst the names. Ayoola is the No. 87 recruit in Florida and the No. 41 running back in the nation, per 247Sports.

5. Texas State

Texas State finished its 2014 season with a 5-3 conference record and a No. 4 standing in the Sun Belt Conference. The Bobcats currently stand at 26 signed letters of intent – seven of which are three-star prospects.

The Bobcats worked hard to get Kwamane Bowens and Justin Gamble – a pair of three-star wide receivers. Bowens comes to TSU from Butler County Community College, after playing his freshman season at Hawaii. Gamble is a three-star recruit from Stony Point High School in Round Rock, Texas. Both of these wide receivers will make for serious passing threats for the Bobcats in 2015.

On defense, Texas State gains three-star prospect Javier Edwards, a defensive tackle from Aldine Davis High School in Houston, Texas. He is listed as one of the top 50 defensive linemen in Texas per Lone Star Gridiron, and is also listed amongst the top 100 recruits in Texas by TexAgs.com.

6. Troy

The Trojans did not have a spectacular end to their 2014 season, but their 2015 recruiting class is shaping up nicely thanks to the leadership of new head coach Neal Brown. They currently have 23 signees, with seven of them listed as three-star prospects in the 2015 recruiting rankings.

Troy adds to its defense with three-star defensive tackle Demone Kemp of Greene County High School in Greensboro, Georgia. He finished his high school career with 262 tackles, 37 sacks, eight forced fumbles, 18 quarterback hurries and 22 tackles for loss.

To help the Troy offense develop in 2015, the Trojans add Richard Hallman, a wide receiver from Hillgrove High School in Powder Springs, Georgia. He ended his senior season with 65 receptions for 875 yards and nine touchdowns, and set the school record with a 97-yard touchdown reception.

The Trojans also add Gardner Minshew, a three-star pro-style quarterback from Brandon, Mississippi. He ends his high school career as a three-time all-state selection at Brandon High School, and he led the Bulldogs to Mississippi’s 6A semifinals during his senior season. Minshew finished his career with an overall total of 11,222 passing yards and 105 touchdowns.

7. Louisiana-Monroe

Louisiana-Monroe needed a solid recruiting class after its 2014 season ended with a 3-5 Sun Belt record. The Warhawks currently have a total of 27 signees, including seven three-star prospects on that list.

A big gain for the Warhawks is Cortez Sisco, Jr., a defensive back from DeSoto Central High School in Southhaven, Mississippi. Another name for the Warhawks is Sam Miller, a defensive lineman from Canton High School in Canton, Texas. He earned all-state honors following his 2014 season and was named DL MVP at the National Underclassman Combine in 2013.

8. Appalachian State

This may come as a surprise, but App State did not bring in the amount of talent that most would have assumed. The Mountaineers finished the 2014 season with a 6-2 conference record, good for third in the conference. The Mountaineers end National Signing Day with 23 total signees for their 2015 class, to earn them the No. 8 spot on our list.

The Mountaineers managed to sign Daniel David, a dual-threat quarterback from American Heritage High School in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. He is noted by Rivals.com as the nation’s No. 30 dual-threat quarterback in the 2015 signing class.

Enrollee Zireycus Letman is joining the Mountaineers from Georgia Military College in Milledgeville, Georgia. He is a three-star wide receiver who was ranked as the No. 11 junior college receiver in the nation.

Overall, the App State 2015 class was nothing too impressive. The Mountaineers' offense was seeking improvement from the 2014 season, so hopefully they will be able to develop the talent that they have gained in this class of recruits.

9. New Mexico State

New Mexico State won a single game in its 2014 season in the Sun Belt, so the Aggies were desperately seeking some talent to come onboard for their 2015 season. They have 24 signed letters of intent, but the class as a whole is nothing spectacular.

Javahan Ferguson is the only three-star prospect to sign with the Aggies. He is an outside linebacker from Catholic High School in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. He had interest from Alcorn State, Murray State, Southern Miss and Tennessee State, but chose to take his talents to New Mexico State.

An offensive gain by the Aggies is Brandyn Leonard, a running back from Mountain Pointe High School in Phoenix, Arizona. He ended his career with a total of 2,253 rushing yards and 33 total rushing touchdowns.

10. Georgia State

Well, we all know that Georgia State was not expected to have a phenomenal signing class after its performance in 2014. The Panthers sat at the bottom of the Sun Belt Conference with an 0-8 conference record, and only managed to win one game all season. But, on our list, they will jump one spot in regards to their 2015 recruiting class. They finish the day with a total of 24 signees (includes 17 early enrollees).

One of their top signees is inside linebacker Kaleb Ringer, a junior college signee from Butler Community College. He originally signed with Michigan in 2012, where redshirted with the Wolverines. He is a three-star prospect and the No. 17 inside linebacker in the nation per Rivals.com.

Another big name for the Panthers is redshirt junior offensive lineman Tyler Simonsen. He originially attended Fresno State in 2012 and then attended San Bernardino Valley Junior College in 2013, where he earned second-team all-conference honors.

11. Idaho

Sorry, Idaho, you have earned the final spot on the list for the 2015 signing class. The Vandals sat right above Georgia State in the Sun Belt standings in 2014, but now they sit right below them on our rankings. They end the day with 25 signees.

Kareem Coles, a dual-threat quarterback from Madison High School in San Diego, California, is one of Idaho's top signees. Cole had notable offers from Montana, Montana State and UNLV. During his high school career, Cole led Madison to its first state championship title.

Another notable name is offensive lineman Zion Dixon from Lake City High School in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. Dixon was recognized at the Northwest Elite Camp as the MVP, and was also chosen as a top-10 recruit by Northwest Prep Report.

Kenzie Stanford - Kenzie Stanford is a Georgia Southern student and Atlanta native who spent her summer as an intern at Turner Sports and spent her last semester as the Sports Director for WVGS 91.9 “The Buzz.” She was apart of the women’s soccer team at Georgia Southern, but her passion for sports goes far beyond that. Per her graduation in May, she is planning to keep the dream alive and work in the sports industry. Watch for Kenzie’s coverage of the Sun Belt Conference and Georgia Southern University here at Southern Pigskin.