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TIDE, IRISH LAND TOP CLASSES

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

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 lackluster seasons, Notre Dame and Alabama 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 Scout.com and publisher of SuperPrep magazine. "It's the hardest thing to get, and it's the hardest to kill."

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

"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 news conference.

Even without Pryor, Ohio State (No. 8), which also had a relatively small class of 19 signees, and Michigan (No. 9), which signed 22, had classes ranked in the top 10 by Rivals.com.

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.

"It's still Notre Dame," said recruiting analyst Bobby Burton of Rivals.com, 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.

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.

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

Bobby Petrino called his first Arkansas recruiting class a success, largely because the Razorbacks kept some top recruits close to home.

Central Arkansas Christian star Joe Adams committed to the Hogs in the morning. Arkansas hired Petrino in December, so he didn't have much time to woo high school players.

"Probably our No. 1 objective for this class was to make sure that we kept the best players in the state of Arkansas," said Petrino, who coached the Atlanta Falcons for less than a season before coming to Arkansas.

Also, Arkansas hired its second defensive coordinator in about a month, introducing Willy Robinson at the team's news conference for signing day.

GA. TECH: Quarterback Taylor Bennett won't be returning for his senior season because he plans to transfer, though he has yet to announce the destination.

NOTRE DAME:Tight end Will Yeatman was charged with misdemeanor counts of drunken driving and criminal recklessness after reportedly driving a car on a campus sidewalk with his headlights off in the early morning hours. The charges were filed a day after Yeatman, 19, was suspended indefinitely from the football and lacrosse teams for an undisclosed violation of team policy.

OKLA. ST.: Tight end Brandon Pettigrew, charged with assaulting a police officer, will remain with the team while his case plays out, coach Mike Gundy said.

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