Power Ranking the Top 20 College Football Recruiting Head Coaches Right Now
For most schools, recruiting is very fluid. They can be hot one year, like California was in 2012, and then cold the next year as the Bears are now. I've always said that the key people in recruiting for a program are the assistant coaches, because they perform most of the grunt work and build the relationships that attract recruits to campus.
With that said, there are many head coaches who love recruiting and really seal the deal on prospects. Bobby Bowden was legendary at closing on a recruit in home visits, and Pete Carroll was also an outstanding recruiting head coach.
In this piece, we're going to rank the top 20 recruiting head coaches as of right now, today, this moment. Some big names may be low in the rankings while other coaches may be high due to their performance right now on the recruiting trail. Let's get this fired up and running!
20. Larry Fedora
Fedora has a top 25 class right now, says ESPNU. When he got the UNC job, I felt that his enthusiasm and energy could ignite the program, and based on his recruiting, he's done just that.
Fedora wants to keep North Carolina prospects home and then venture out around the East Coast for selected talent. He clearly understands that he's not at Southern Miss anymore and has gone big-game hunting already.
19. Chip Kelly
Kelly is one of the better overall recruiting head coaches in the country, but Oregon's class is lacking right now. Despite commitments from studs like RB Thomas Tyner, RB Dontre Wilson and OL Evan Voeller, there isn't much popping with the Ducks right now.
However, Oregon is hustling to set up trips from several big name prospects at the moment. With the combination of Kelly's wacky offense, Oregon's great facilities, the college town of Eugene and, of course, the uniforms, Kelly should pick up more pledges as we move forward.
But for now, he is ranked here.
18. Hugh Freeze
It's amazing for Freeze to even be considered on this list because before he came to Oxford, not many prospects were jumping to be a Rebel. Things got off to a good start when Freeze came on board last year, as he convinced Channing Ward to stay home.
This year, Freeze is convinced he could land prospects like DE Robert Nkemdiche, S Antonio Conner and even take RB Kailo Moore from Mississippi State.
Don't be shocked if OT Laremy Tunsil trips to Oxord just to kick the tires on Ole Miss, which is an accomplishment in itself for Freeze. Tack all that on along with Ole Miss having a top 25 class per ESPNU and you see why Freeze's ranking may be ascending soon.
17. James Franklin
Freeze may be the hotter recruiting head coach right now, but I rank Franklin slightly ahead of him because it's almost a miracle that Vanderbilt has flirted with finishing with top 25 classes in the past two cycles under Franklin.
He's a tireless worker and has done a terrific job so far with Vanderbilt. ESPNU ranks them with the No. 19 class overall.
Think about that folks: Vanderbilt is a serious contender for a top 25 class. That would have been an insane thought just a few years ago, and it's all thanks to Franklin.
16. Steve Sarkisian
Sark has taken the USC way to Seattle, added his spices and touch to it and has slowly added more talent to the Washington roster.
Right now he's on a top 25 pace and is recruiting very effectively, as evidenced by his getting QB Troy Williams to pledge to U-Dub even though the Huskies signed two great QBs last year.
Sarkisian has even beaten his old school out for a prospect this year as he got WR Darrell Daniels to commit to Washington. Using California as his main base, Sarkisian is on track to turn things around in the Pac-Northwest.
15. Brian Kelly
Kelly's done fine recruiting at Notre Dame, if you ask me. He has the Irish consistently among the top 10-15 classes in the country and will go after big-time talent, getting his share.
Notre Dame has a few more targets they are eyeing before they wrap up this year's class. Kelly has done a very good job of getting prospects from the Midwest while also reaching out nationally for talent.
Adding more speed and athleticism to the roster continues to be imperative in Kelly's classes.
14. Bob Stoops
Stoops has been his normal steady self on the recruiting trail this year. Oklahoma is lurking just outside the top 10 recruiting ranks on most lists and surely will be among the final top 20.
Stoops is a quiet assassin in recruiting and while he may not have the approach with the most sizzle, he still nets results. This year has been no different and the only reason he isn't higher is due to Oklahoma not being in enough pots of big name prospects.
13. Steve Spurrier
The Ol' Ball coach has done a very good job in Columbia over the years. Getting big time prospects like Alshon Jeffrey, Marcus Lattimore and Jadeveon Clowney are all awesome coups.
This year there isn't one clear-cut diamond, but Spurrier has his fair share of jewels. South Carolina likely will finish somewhere within No. 10 and No. 20 overall in the recruiting rankings and that proves that even to this very day, Spurrier is a great recruiting head coach.
12. Kevin Sumlin
Give Sumlin credit, he held together a good Aggie class last year that many said was all Mike Sherman's doing, then came back this year with a vengeance.
Sumlin has done extremely well this year, as he convinced Kohl Stewart to come to College Station as if Matt Davis and Johnny Manziel don't exist. Derrick Griffin is still committed as of now and LaQuvionte Gonzalez is one of the fastest players in the country.
If he can get Ricky Seals-Jones, we may be talking top 10 here.
11. Les Miles
Some may feel this is a little low for Miles, as his charisma really is infectious. The Tigers are lurking around the top 10 recruiting class rankings both on my board and at ESPNU.
If they land WR Ricky Seals-Jones and DE Tim Williams, then they certainly will nestle into the top 10 and maybe higher.
Yet for now, Miles sits right here, which isn't a bad spot at all.
10. Jimbo Fisher
If this were last year or even two years ago, FIsher definitely would have been in the top five, yet for now he's here at No. 11
I have Fisher ahead of Miles right now because he has FSU in a couple more pots for highly touted recruits. Fisher is hunting OLB Matthew Thomas, CB Mackensie Alexander, S Leon McQuay, DE Tim Williams and RB Greg Bryant.
Those are more serious targets than Miles has right now, even though their recruiting classes both grade out the same.
9. Mark Richt
Georgia has a fantastic 2013 class and Mark Richt has put in work this year. I'm sure he's on the edge of his seat when it comes to Laremy Tunsil, but Richt should be proud of his current class.
QB Brice Ramsey could be a star down the road, Shaq Wiggins is one of the top DBs in the nation and Tramel Terry is electric as a WR and as a DB. Sure, he likely won't land Derrick Henry again but Richt has been very good in 2013 recruiting.
8. Dabo Swinney
Leveraging who he has versus who is left out there that he can seriously get, Swinney comes in at this No. 9 slot. Swinney's biggest jewel of course is Robert Nkemdiche.
Having the No. 1 prospect in the country will certainly boost your recruiting ranking both as a head coach and as a class overall. Clemson also could land studs like DT Montravius Adams, CB Mackensie Alexander and OG Tyrone Crowder.
7. Mack Brown
The only problem I have with Brown's recruiting approach is that he rarely has his staff go out of state. I love the talent in Texas and realize it's one of the super hotbeds on the trail, but I think it limits the Longhorns in their approach.
Other than that, Brown clearly is one of the best to ever do it. He could probably run for governor and win in Texas if he chose to. Players grow up around the state wanting to play for him, and he is awesome in a personal recruiting setting.
6. Urban Meyer
Meyer is up to his old tricks in Columbus and that doesn't bode well for the rest of the country. He surged the Buckeyes to a top 10 recruiting finish last year and has them back inside the top 10 this year.
With an elite class already in the books, Meyer could see names like Vonn Bell, Robert Foster, Dorian Johnson and James Quick choose to join his group.
Meyer is one of the greatest recruiting head coaches, both ever and today.
5. Gene Chizik
Auburn hasn't looked good this year and the fact they still boast a potential top 10 class speaks to the prowess of Gene Chizik. Also, when you can take Reuben Foster and pry him away from the teeth of Alabama, that's really saying something.
Chizik has a great recruiting staff around him and also really hammers home the family atmosphere on The Plains. With his eyes on prospects like Greg Bryant, Montravius Adams and Derrick Green, Chizik is certain to finish this cycle strong and solidify his ranking.
4. Will Muschamp
When he was hired at Florida, some wondered if Muschamp could continue the recruiting success Urban Meyer had established. Sure, he had run the defensive recruiting board at Texas, but this was a bigger job.
Well, based on recruiting last year, the answer is yes and this year has only strengthened Muschamp as a recruiting head coach. Florida could finish with a top five class and also still finds themselves in many different pots of several big-time uncommitted prospects.
Muschamp clearly is one of the best recruiting head coaches in the country.
3. Brady Hoke
Hoke has established the Midwest as his main grounds for high school talent. He's taking Michigan back to the old school as he moves forward, and he has the support of many in Ann Arbor.
His start this year was one of the best I've ever seen; when the first ESPNU 150 was released, Hoke had more commitments than any other head coach.
He's cooled off a bit but there are still several uncommitted prospects that he could land to challenge for the No. 1 class in the country.
2. Lane Kiffin
Like him or hate him, Kiffin has to be respected as a coach and recruiter. Facing scholarship restrictions yet again, he has USC at No.1 on many recruiting class ranking boards.
That's a phenomenal accomplishment and proves Kiffin is among the best of the best in the country. He is an excellent recruiter, is very enthusiastic about USC, identifies talent well and uses the vast resources the Trojans possess to reach out nationally for talent.
You can easily make a case for Kiffin to be No. 1 on this list.
1. Nick Saban
Saban also has many detractors but, again, you have to respect him. If you want to know how he got a middle-of-the-pack Alabama program to being a two-time BCS National Champion and a program that produces NFL talent yearly, it's because of this:
Recruiting. Simple and plain, Saban has recruited in a rare fashion over the years and this year is more of the same.
He has a top five class in the works and could land talents like Laremy Tunsil, Vonn Bell, Matthew Thomas, Mackensie Alexander, Tim Williams, Derrick Henry, Robert Foster, Kendell Beckwith, Antonio Conner and Alvin Kamara among many more.
His detailed recruiting approach has been adopted by Jimbo Fisher, Will Muschamp and Derek Dooley as they've become head coaches and he's the top recruiting head coach in the game today.
Edwin Weathersby has worked in scouting/player personnel departments for three professional football teams, including the New York Giants, the Cleveland Browns and the Las Vegas Gladiators of the Arena League. He spent a year evaluating prep prospects and writing specific recruiting and scouting content articles for Student Sports Football (now ESPN Rise-HS). A syndicated scout and writer, he's also contributed to WeAreSC.com, GatorBait.net and Diamonds in the Rough Inc., a College Football and NFL Draft magazine.