Mark Stoops is on a mission to prove Kentucky isn't just a basketball school; Photo: USA Today Sports
Recruiting is a big key to success in today's world of college football but often we just look at the big winners, the teams that finish in the Top 10. Truthfully, that's a big indicator for who will contend for the National Championship as the last four Champions all placed in the top ten when you look back at the average of the last four recruiting classes. What we want to look at today are the teams that are setting themselves up for potential future success by making substantial improvements in recruiting, whether they finished in the top ten or not.
I took a look at 247 Sports composite recruiting rankings from 2010 to 2013 and then compared that to this years rankings to see which schools made the biggest jump from their four year average to this season. Not surprisingly this list features coaches who are still new to their teams (three are entering their second year and two are entering their third year) and are changing the culture of their schools. Watch out for these teams in the next few years because they should be on the rise.
North Carolina State Wolfpack
Four Year Average: #55
2014 Ranking: #34
An 0-8 ACC record and 3-9 overall wasn't the way Dave Doeren wanted to kick off his ACC career in 2013. But, the fact that he put up those numbers and still finished with the Wolfpack's highest ranking recruiting class in recent memory is impressive. Overall, the Pack signed 30 players and landed two four-star prospects (DE Kentavius Street and QB Jalan McClendon. After finishing 14th in the ACC in recruiting in 2011 and 10th in 2012, Doeren is starting get the talent back in Raleigh.
Arizona State Sun Devils
Four Year Average: #43
2014 Ranking: #23
One-time nomad Todd Graham is starting to make his mark in Tempe now that he's settled down. After finishing an impressive 8-1 in the Pac-12 in 2013, Graham took full advantage this off-season. The Sun Devils finished fifth in the Conference in recruiting which might not look impressive on the surface but that's their highest finish since 2008 (when they also finished fifth).
Four Year Average: #42
2014 Ranking: #22
In our SEC re-cap, we talked about the coup of having Matt Elam commit to the Cats over Alabama but he wasn't the only jewel in this class. Overall, Mark Stoops snatched six four-star prospects including early enrollees QB Drew Barker and WR Thaddeus Snodgrass (put him on the All-Name team).
Four Year Average: #48
2014 Ranking: #33
Wisconsin has been very successful over the last few years without having a "big time" recruiting class so seeing them on this list could be a bit scary for their Big Ten foes. Under second-year coach Gary Anderson the Badgers landed three four-star prospects (OT Jaden Gault, QB DJ Gillins and ATH Dareian Watkins).
Texas A&M Aggies
Four Year Average: #19
2014 Ranking: #5
The Johnny Manziel era has officially ended in College Station but Kevin Sumlin is loading up with weapons to take his place and is building a more well rounded team. The Aggies finished this class with three five-star recruits and eleven four-star recruits. For comparisons sake, the entire Big 12 landed two five-star recruits and 29 four-star recruits. The Aggies look like they will be a factor in the SEC West for a long-time, Manziel or not.
@pathumphreys28 I didn't factor in how bad a team was on the field. I looked at their last four years of recruiting success (which for the Vols was an avg of 16.5) and compared it to how they finished this year (7th for the Vols, using the 247 Sports composite team rankings). Impressive but not in the top 10 based on the criteria (would have also been behind K State, Zona, UCF, Stanford, Ole Miss, Northwestern and Duke).