For those of you who follow recruiting (including you, weird message board guy who tweets at every 18-year-old your school is chasing after), you all know that as usual, schools like Florida, Alabama and Notre Dame are having monster recruiting years. To the surprise of many, other programs like Ole Miss, Texas A&M and UCLA are pounding the pavement, and closing in on top classes as well.
Of course with the good, there is the bad, and in the 2013 recruiting cycle, there is plenty of ugliness as well. The reasons for each program’s struggles are different, varying from coaching turnover, to scholarship limitations and looming NCAA sanctions.
But with less than a week left until Signing Day, there are still a number of programs that need to pick things up.
Here are five who need to kick it into fifth-gear.
Oregon (No. 22 ranked class via Rivals.com)
There is both good and bad news for Oregon, which currently has the No. 22 ranked class overall according to Rivals.com
The good news is that even in his Pac-12-dominating, score-running-up heyday, Chip Kelly never had incredibly highly ranked recruiting classes. In his four years at the school, Kelly only had one class ranked in the Top 10, much preferring to recruit players who fit “his system” rather than those who impressed the online scouting services. For example, Kenjon Barner was ranked just the 89th player in his senior year.
Woops, Barner was ranked as the 89th ranked player... just in California his senior year. He went on to rush for over 3,000 yards in Ducks’ career.
With that said, Oregon fans still have to be concerned going into Signing Day. As was mentioned, not only are the Ducks ranked just 22nd nationally (trailing Pac-12 rivals USC, UCLA and Washington in Rivals rankings), other coaches are doing their darndest to poach the top players who remain committed to Oregon. Four-star wide receiver Darren Carrington will visit Ohio State this weekend and fellow four-star running back Dontre Wilson will visit Texas in a few days, after taking a trip to Columbus himself last week.
Also, don’t undersell what Kelly’s year-long flirtation with the NFL may have done to this class. One prominent recruit told Crystal Ball Run on Wednesday that he never seriously considered Oregon, simply because he assumed Kelly would be gone at the end of the season.
Looks like he, and several other recruits were correct in that assessment.
Wisconsin (No. 45 ranked class via Rivals.com):
Like Oregon, there are two ways to look at what’s going at Wisconsin, which currently has the 45th ranked recruiting class according to Rivals.com. On the one-hand, this is a program going through a coaching change, and one that has never measured out well in the Rivals recruiting rankings. Like Kelly, former Badgers’ coach Bret Bielema always ignored the national rankings, and preferred to recruit players that fit his system.
At the same time, doesn’t it seem like a program that has been to three straight Rose Bowls should be recruiting a bit better at this point? Especially when Big Ten schools like Illinois (which went 2-10 and winless in conference play) and Penn State (which is currently under HEAVY NCAA sanctions) are currently ranked higher than them?
Speaking of the Badgers, how about...
Arkansas (No. 53 ranked class via Rivals.com):
For Arkansas fans, it’s been a year to forget. It was one which started with Bobby Petrino running his motorcycle right off the road and into unemployment, went straight through John L. Smith’s jaunt through the SEC and now into the recruiting cycle. With just six days before Signing Day, the Razorbacks currently have the 14th ranked recruiting in the SEC. For those scoring at home, there are only 14 teams in the SEC, period. I’m no math major, but as best I can tell, that’s not very good.
Now of course, a few variables are at play here. We know that Bielema recruits to his system (as mentioned above) and as we learned on Wednesday, there was so much dissention throughout Arkansas’ football program all season that it’s hard to blame any recruit- even ones from Arkansas- for looking in another direction. Speaking of the state of Arkansas, it also doesn’t help the state barely produces much talent to begin with; running back Altee Tenpenny (an Alabama commit) is the only Arkansas high school player ranked in Rivals’ Top 100.
Still, even with all that said, and even when factoring in a coaching change, nobody expected Arkansas’ recruiting to be, well, to be...THIS bad. Let’s also remember that two of Bielema’s bigger assistant coaching hires- offensive coordinator Jim Chaney and linebackers coach Randy Shannon- are known in large part for their recruiting prowess, yet each has done little to pull top talent into Arkansas so far. Most of this team’s recruits are underdeveloped guys who will likely need years to hit the field.
The good news is that there’s still a chance Bielema and his staff will get a few top players to flip their commitments and pick the Hogs, including Tenpenny himself.
At the same time, the last thing Bielema needs is to fall behind his competition in the SEC West this quickly. Only it’s happening right in front of our eyes.
Stanford (No. 58 ranked class via Rivals.com)
Unlike the other programs above, there was no coaching change at Stanford in the off-season. There also wasn’t disappointment on the field either, where the Cardinal posted a 12-win season which finished with a Rose Bowl victory.
So with that said, it’s a little surprising to see Stanford ranked this low. Especially when you think back to last year and remember that the Cardinal finished No. 5 nationally, swinging several key offensive and defensive linemen toward Palo Alto on Signing Day.
That doesn’t appear as though it will happen this year, although to Shaw’s credit, there’s a pretty good reason for that: Stanford was one of the youngest teams in college football last year, and frankly, doesn’t have all that many scholarships to give out.
Assuming nothing drastic happens, we fully expect to see Stanford at the top of the recruiting rankings in 2014.
Miami (No. 64 ranked class via Rivals.com)
Finally, we’d be remiss if we didn’t conclude with “The U.” Miami is currently ranked just 64th nationally according to Rivals, which puts them behind nine other ACC programs and only ONE spot ahead of, ahem, the Duke Blue Devils. But hey, at least they beat Duke in basketball the other week, right?!?!
(Cue every Miami fan looking around the room awkwardly)
In all seriousness, this is simply an unacceptable outcome for a program that has as much talent right in its own backyard as Miami does. To a degree outsiders can blame NCAA sanctions, but at the same time, don’t forget that with sanctions circulating around their program last year, Al Golden still managed to put together a Top 12 class nationally, with a pair of five-star talents. This year Miami only has 12 commits total, with four already on campus.
Safe to say that Golden has a lot of work to do in the final few weeks of the recruiting cycle.
At least he has the satisfaction of knowing he’s not alone.
For all his insight, analysis and opinion on college football, be sure to follow Aaron on Twitter @Aaron_Torres.
Follow Crystal Ball Run on Twitter @CrystalBallRun.
Aaron, the title of this article is "disappointing schools" with this year's recruiting, and you write that Stanford does not have space to sign recruits this year so their ranking is misleading. So which is it Aaron, is Stanford's recruiting this year disappointing or not? You argue that it's not. In fact, your argument and analysis is correct - when ranked by average star rating, stanford's recruits are an average of 3.17 stars - good for being ranked #23. You should have listened to your own argument and left Stanford off this list
You're right, this is probably a little bit of a mis-titled post. Would "Surprising" be a bit better?Here's a quick question for you: You mentioned that if we took the average star ranking of their players, Stanford would be ranked 23rd nationally. Well let me flip around, and ask you: Is a No. 23 ranking (even in a per player context) really befitting of a program which has been to three straight BCS bowl games and won 12 games in two of the last three years? Especially when they finished No. 4 in the country in Rivals rankings last year?
Just a different way of looking at it, but curious for your stance given those variables.
I like the attempt here, but relying on rankings as a sole way to determine who's having a "disappointing" time on the recruiting trail is a leap too far for me. Take Stanford as an example. They don't have a lot of scholarships to give out with the youth in the program. Is it possible they are taking in a lot of quality in this class? Very well could be. All the rankings are made up of are a points system that's heavily geared towards quantity and not quality. It begs the question what matters in recruiting - Is it taking a big swing and nabbing 30 guys in a class and only having 10 pan out, or grabbing 15 and having 10 of those pan out for you?
Same thing for Wisconsin. They have less scholarships to give out and in fact are ranked inside the Top 35 by some other recruiting services out there - if they land Alex Collins (No. 1 RB by some services) - they'll vault way up the rankings. Ask any Badger fan if they're "disappointed" in the class that's coming in and I'd doubt you'd find one that would even come close to saying that.
The point is that it's all subjective as to what's quality and what's "disappointing" - schools like Illinois have been super highly ranked by the recruiting services, but it didn't matter because the results didn't bare out on the field and ultimately, isn't that what matters most?
Of course, but this article isn't titled "Who is Doing Well, Relative to the Scholarships They Have Available." Or "Who Will Probably Have the Best Class In Four Years When We Look Back." It's in the here and now, and right now it's hard to argue that to a degree, Wisconsin is disappointing.
Again, I get that this is a program that never brings in elite prospects, and never plays well to the recruiting rankings. And I'm saying I even necessarily blame them for having a bad class, given the very late coaching hire.
At the same time, let's call a spade a spade here: This is a program which has been to three straight Rose Bowl's and won (or shared) three straight Big Ten Championships here. You'd think (based on common logic) that they'd be ranked a little higher? No. And don't give me the "Limited scholarships" angle either. Penn State has one less commit and isn't bowl eligible for THREE years and is still ranked higher than Wisconsin.
Now of course the inverse of all of this would be as follows: Spending some time after Signing Day who has actually had the most success, relative to their class rankings. If we did that I bet Wisconsin would be at, or near the top.
While you have a point in regards to the three straight rose bowls, I would also ask you this, compared to the "best" recruiting classes that come out, what's the in-state talent level like as well? It's not as if UW is sitting in the hotbed of college recruiting where it can pick and choose from it's share of 5 and 4 star recruits and ignore half or lose half of those prospects, right?
Not only that, but look at the numbers... 14 of the 18 committed recruits to this point are 4 or 3 star recruits by Rivals. You mentioned Illinois being ahead of them... They have nearly 10 more scholarships available, yet have just 2.73 average star ranking compared to the Badgers 2.94... All that makes them better in the rankings is having 15 3 star recruits to the 11 Wisconsin has. Perhaps there's a bit of tweeking needed to be done by the recruiting services?
Hard to say that having nearly your entire class be 4 or 3 star recruits by the services has disappointing in my book. In the end you know how I feel about these rankings from a lot of the recruiting services... All I will point you to is this article to show you just how off these services are... http://www.uwbadgers.com/blog/2012/01/a-look-at-the-badgers-recruiting-classes-from-2007-10.html
all this talk is very interesting and very partisan. those who favor wisconsin or stanford will come up with some reason why the recruiting is not as bad as it looks. makes no never mind as we say in hillbilly country. your recruiting is what it is, so go with what you have and dont whine. there is no crying in baseball and no whining in football. when you tyig yourself into a prtezel to defend something that should be a good clue to you.
Again, it's all relative. I'm not saying that Wisconsin is incapable of recruiting, or that the services are be-all, end-all. All I'm saying is that relative to success on the field, you'd think Wisconsin would be having more success in recruiting.
You mention the lack of in-state talent, except, well, what about Washington? Their in-state talent is comparable and they have an avg. star ranking of 3.38. Nebraska has an average star ranking of 3.17, West Virginia 3.0 and Tennessee 3.24. All programs which had worse years than Wisconsin. And in terms of lack of total scholarships, well, Maryland only has 19 commits and is just in front of Wisconsin, and Kentucky (19 commits) and Missouri (19 commits).
Again, this isn't the be-all, end-all and ask any recruiting expert or coach and we all know that these classes can't be truly judged for at least 3-4 years. I get that.
Still, it's a list of how these schools are recruiting, relative to their stature on the field. And you'd think Wisconsin would be ranked a bit higher right now.