All those ugly losses didn't stop Notre Dame from landing a beauty of a recruiting class.

Same goes for Miami.

And while Alabama's first season under Nick Saban was so-so, the first Crimson Tide recruiting class the $4 million-per-year coach can truly call his own turned out top-ranked.

Despite coming off lackluster seasons, Notre Dame, Miami and Alabama — along with Florida, Georgia and Oklahoma — came away with the top recruiting classes Wednesday, the first day of the national signing period for high school football players.

"It's a statement about tradition," said Allen Wallace, the national recruiting editor for and publisher of SuperPrep magazine. "It's the hardest thing to get and it's the hardest to kill."

Terrelle Pryor broke with tradition and decided to put off his big decision. The ballyhooed high school quarterback from Western Pennsylvania, who has been compared to Vince Young, had Ohio State and Michigan at the top of his list but now wants to give Oregon and Penn State a better look.

Rarely does a major recruit not announce on the first day.

"I'd like to take more time and be fair to all the coaches that recruited me, who spent a lot of time recruiting me," Pryor said during a no-news conference at Jeannette High School that must have left Ohio State coach Jim Tressel and new Michigan coach Rich Rodriguez exasperated.

For Notre Dame coach Charlie Weis, signing day went much better than the 2007 season, when the most storied program in college football finished 3-9. Still, Weis was able to lure some of the best prospects in the country to South Bend, Ind.

"It's still Notre Dame," said recruiting analyst Bobby Burton of, which had Alabama's class No. 1 and Notre Dame's No. 2. "At the same time when a team is 3-9, highly ranked kids see an opportunity to play right away."

The Fighting Irish class includes a five-star prospect at quarterback (Dayne Crist from Sherman Oaks, Calif.), wide receiver (Michael Floyd from St. Paul, Minn.) and tight end (Kyle Rudolph from Cincinnati) and plenty of defensive line help.

"I think our program needed this boost," Weis said. "I think this is a significant boost — the right type of players, the right type of kids and the right type of day. This is the type of day where everyone has to feel good, saying, 'What a good day."'

There were few good days for Randy Shannon in his first season as Miami coach. The Hurricanes went 5-7 and, like Notre Dame, suffered several embarrassingly lopsided losses.

This recruiting class provides the promise of better times for the Hurricanes. Miami came away with quite a haul, much of it from the fertile South Florida area that has stocked past Miami championship teams.

"Randy Shannon has been a dynamic recruiter as a head coach," Burton said.

Prized defensive tackle Marcus Forston was one of eight players the Hurricanes signed from powerhouse Northwestern High School in Miami.

"This class is the foundation that we're building on, a foundation that's preparing us for the next step of what we're trying to get done at the University of Miami," Shannon said.

Saban went 7-6 in his first season at Alabama and the Crimson Tide's losing streak to archrival Auburn reached six games.

Tide fans are hoping this year's stellar recruiting class, made up mostly of in-state players, is a sign Saban is starting to reclaim the state from coach Tommy Tuberville and the Tigers.

"They completely clobbered Auburn," said analyst Tom Lemming from CSTV.

Alabama's class was strong heading into signing day and then got even better when Julio Jones, a wide receiver from Foley considered one of the best players in the nation, and linebacker Jerrell Harris from Gadsden decided to stay close to home and join the Crimson Tide.

"We have a significant number of needs because we lack depth on our team almost at every position," Saban said. "We were able to across the board attract some good players at just about every position."

National champion LSU will need to reload fast just to stay on top of the Southeastern Conference. Aside from Alabama, Florida and Georgia added highly touted recruiting classes to their already well-stocked rosters. had Florida's class ranked third and Georgia's sixth. LSU was No. 11.

As usual, Oklahoma mined talent-rich Texas to put together another top recruiting class. The Sooners' three highest rated players — defensive end R.J. Washington, running back Jermie Calhoun and offensive lineman Stephen Good — all played high school football in Texas.

The Sooners' class was ranked fifth by Rivals.

Southern California coach Pete Carroll has been the king of recruiting since he took over the Trojans in 2001, consistently landing classes ranked in the top two or three nationally. USC was 10th according to, but don't think the Trojans have slipped. Their ranking was held down because they signed only 18 players, while most teams inked at least 20. Alabama and Miami both signed 33.

"USC's top 10 players would be right there with Ohio State's at the top," Lemming said.

Even without Pryor, Ohio State (No. 8), which also had a relatively small class of 19 signees, and Michigan (No. 9) had classes ranked in the top 10 by

Pryor has until April 1 to make up his mind. Fans of the Buckeyes, Wolverines, Ducks and Nittany Lions will be anxiously awaiting.