EDITOR'S NOTE: Coastal Carolina's class would easily be in the Top 5 of this list, but because the Chants won't be in the FCS a year from today (moving to FBS) we didn't include the group as many of the players likely came aboard because of that move.
Recruiting is an inexact science, as we've said many times before. Coaches will admit it, and media members who try to measure the worth of a class are also basing it on their personal opinions of the individual players, how needs were met, the size of the group, etc.
The FCS is a tricky animal to measure. There are so many different dynamics to consider. The Ivy League doesn't have scholarships, nor do some of the other conferences. There are huge differences between the schools.
But Mr. FCS gave it his best shot after getting to know hundreds of FCS recruits personally since August. For the most part, they're extremely humble athletes who appreciate the chance they've been given to play Division I football. Here's a look at the nation's Top 30 FCS recruiting classes … with some definite surprises.
30. COLGATE (23 recruits)
Coach Dan Hunt and his staff did their usual good job of getting available talent close to home, while mixing in a dash of south Florida spice by reaching down and plucking QB Carmine Scarfone and OL Louie Berkowitz from two south Florida prep powerhouses. Nobody in the Patriot League did better in this recruiting cycle.
29. NORTHERN ARIZONA (23)
The Lumberjacks did well in-state and O-lineman Steven Bailey is the cream of the in-state crop out of Litchfield Park (Ariz.). This is clearly one of the Big Sky's top groups in a conference that did well this week.
28. AUSTIN PEAY (26)
With one of the surprise classes in the FCS following an 0-11 campaign, first-year head coach Will Healy didn't waste any time putting together a massive class. It is deep, diverse and talented. Keep an eye on the offensive explosion that is Taeler Dowdy, who was one of the top prep producers in Tennessee (2,132 yards rushing, 30 TDs, Mr. Football finalist).
27. NORTH DAKOTA (22)
The Fighting Hawks were spurned by the FCS Playoff system last year, but they certainly weren't spurned by the recruiting gods. With DBs being an emphasis, landing Evan Holm out of Minnesota was a huge victory. This program and this class are hungry. And mad.
26. RICHMOND (15)
Coach Danny Rocco got his team to the FCS Semifinals, meaning he and his staff were pretty darned busy deep into December, but they still managed to bring aboard a small but talented group. The big late news was when star OL Logan Blake came over to the Spiders from James Madison after the Dukes' recruiting change.
25. VILLANOVA (17)
The Wildcats were hot down the stretch and landed an impressive DB in Terrell Vassel, who could have gone to several of the Northeast's top Power Five Conference schools. Another bright spot was DT Aaron Seigle.
24. ILLINOIS STATE (17)
Head coach Brock Spack said he was looking for good O-linemen, and got several top ones including Garrett Hirsch. And the pickup of RB James Robinson down the stretch was huge for the Redbirds. QB Tristan Smith is another good one. Winning games leads to winning recruiting battles.
23. EASTERN KENTUCKY (26)
One of the biggest reasons we have the Colonels here is QB Austin Scott. He is clearly the most underrated signal-caller heading to an FCS school, and he's going to prove it one day. And we've said this before–lineman Nathan Murray is special.
22. PORTLAND STATE (16)
Following up a 2015 dream season, head coach Bruce Barnum was able to add some quality to the roster, starting with one of the top overall FCS recruits in the country in 6-foot-7 O-lineman Moustapha Toure. QB Davis Alexander is also a born leader and put up massive numbers in high school.
21. ABILENE CHRISTIAN (20)
Head coach Ken Collums is on the record saying this is the best recruiting class in his five-year tenure. WR Donell Dunn certainly had his options, and fell in love with the Wildcats. This is certainly one of the upstart classes in the FCS.