Zavier Hamilton South Florida
South Florida top recruit Zavier Hamilton has opted to state in his home state (PHOTO COURTESY: Zavier Hamilton)

AAC Top 25 Recruiting Commitments: Surprise Team at Top

American Athletic Conference recruiting is at a high level. FanBuzz, along with our partners at Yahoo-Rivals, takes a look at who is elite.

Recruiting is the lifeblood of college football, and it's time to break down who is winning the battles off the field as well as the ones on television each weekend. The American Athletic Conference (AAC) is first.

There are 14 football programs in a talented and deep AAC. Some programs that have some of the top individuals have smaller recruiting classes, and some with larger classes don't have a top 5 AAC commitment. We worked in conjunction with our partners at to rank the teams and individuals — though our ranking method is a bit different from the recruiting network's criteria. Note: The AAC's Navy has a large 2024 class; but recruiting is completely different with the service academies, so we will compare the three of them — Air Force, Army and Navy — against each other at a later date.

The Top 5 AAC Program Rankings

No. 1 - South Florida: The Bulls may be coming off a 1-11 record in 2022, but that record hasn't hurt the program in the least when it comes to recruiting. USF has 17 quality commitments already on board, and 16 of them are rated three-star recruits or better — rare for a school at this level. The class is headlined by linebacker Xavier Hamilton, who holds a whopping 15 offers from Power Five programs but has opted to stay in-state (he's from Fort Walton Beach). In fact, 14 of the players who hail from that state have opted to play for first-year coach Adam Golesh and his staff, including five from greater Tampa Bay, where USF is located.

"Coach Golesh and (defensive coordinator) coach (Todd) Orlando have made it a point to establish a great connection with my family," Hamilton told FanBuzz this week. "They text them all the time, talking to them ... they really show you they care. With the offers and the visits and everything that I've done, it's so good to know you have people like them who keep it real and make you feel wanted and needed. They have an amazing staff and I've never been more excited."

No. 2 - Florida Atlantic: Like USF, the Owls have a new coach in Tom Herman. And also like USF, FAU is staying close to home — with 14 of the 15 current commitments hailing from the Sunshine State. That includes eight from what former FAU and Miami (Florida) coach Howard Schnellenberger used to call "the State of Miami." That's mostly considered to be Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties, where FAU is located. The Owls' top two recruits are from South Florida: Miami's Gavench Marcelin and Palm Beach Gardens' Michael Wright.

No. 3 - East Carolina: Coach Mike Houston and his staff have done a good job of stocking up talent this early, with an AAC-leading 20 commitments coming into September. It's a balanced group; and while it doesn't have a four-star level recruit, it is filling its needs nicely — and 6-foot-2, 200-pound linebacker Char'Quez Lee out of Miami is a gem. Also, highly coveted quarterback Cole Hodge held scholarship offers from 12 other Group of Five programs.

No. 4 - Tulane: The Green Wave were the top program at this level last year, and they opened impressively last week with a win over a solid South Alabama team. They have another big matchup at home this weekend against the SEC's Ole Miss, and one can imagine this will be a big recruiting visit period that could pay dividends by the end of the weekend. The program only has 12 commitments on board so far, but they are good ones — led by four-star linebacker Rodney Hill out of Daytona Beach, Florida. Keep an eye on Tulane; not only is this team going to move up in the AP poll this year, it's going to fly up the charts in recruiting, too. Coach Willie Fritz and his staff will see to it.

No. 5 - Tulsa: This was a tight battle for No. 5 in a loaded AAC, as North Texas can stake a claim, too. And SMU can argue quality over quantity, with three of the top six recruits although only eight total so far. But Tulsa takes this by a hair. As is usual with any FBS team in Oklahoma, the Golden Hurricane have dipped into Texas for eight of their 13 commitments, with another four coming from in-state. That's the usual recipe. Safety Ashton Williams and receiver Joshua Smith are special — and both are from Texas.

Tulane Rodney Hill

Tulane commitment Rodney Hill is one of the top Green Wave recruits, and one of the top guys in the AAC. (Photo credit:

Rest of the Country - Recruiting

American (AAC) | Conference USA (C-USA) | Mid-American (MAC) | Mountain West (MWC) | Sun Belt (SWC)

National Top 10 Programs | National Top 100 Commitments

The Top 25 AAC Commitments

FanBuzz conference rankings are placed in order in conjunction with our professional partners at

1 Ka'Davion Dotson S SMU
2 Rodney Hill LB Tulane
3 Rod Gainey RB Charlotte
4 Zavier Hamilton LB South Florida
5 Tyler Aronson QB SMU
6 Jamyri Cauley WR SMU
7 Joshua Smith WR Tulsa
8 Kenyan Kelly DB UTSA
9 Fred Gaskin III S South Florida
10 Barry Walker OT UAB
11 Joshua Jackson WR Tulane
12 Geordan Guidry DE Tulane
13 Brandon Jones LB North Texas
14 Ashton Williams S Tulsa
15 Kaleb Blanton LB Rice
16 Gavench Marcelin DE Florida Atlantic
17 Char'Quez Lee LB East Carolina
18 Kobe Williams OG Memphis
19 Makari Bodiford RB Memphis
20 Frederick Hinton OT South Florida
21 Armani Cargo CB Tulane
22 Brandon Winton WR South Florida
23 Adrian Laing DB Temple
24 Fredrick Dotie DB North Texas
25 King Large OL SMU

MORE: AAC Football's All-Time NFL Team