Despite what the residents of Tuscaloosa would have you believe, there are more teams that can celebrate in the offseason than just Alabama. Recruiting is where teams can build their foundation to catch up to the Crimson Tide in 2013.
As we look toward the future and national signing day on February 6. A lot of the top recruits have already made their intentions known, but there are still a few big decisions that will shape the college football landscape.
Looking at the early recruiting rankings, as well as what could be in store over the next two weeks, here are the teams that should be throwing a party after the final decisions are made.
Player and recruiting information courtesy of 247Sports.com, unless otherwise noted.
The big fish that is going to drop, at some point, is star defensive end Robert Nkemdiche finally deciding where he wants to play. First it was Clemson. Then he thought about it, decommitted and has been tight-lipped about his decision for the last three months.
Since Mississippi has been at the top of his list for a long time, it would be an upset if the Rebels came up short in their quest to land the best pure talent in this year's recruiting class.
Frankly, with five SEC teams already ahead of them in the recruiting rankings, the Rebels need one more impact player. Head coach Hugh Freeze and his staff have done a remarkable job so far, landing Laquon Treadwell and Lavon Hooks, among others.
To make this a truly special class for the Rebels, the Nkemdiche shoe has to drop. If everything goes as expected, there will be a reason to celebrate in University, Mississippi.
Penn State Nittany Lions
After the NCAA hit Penn State with the most severe sanctions that most of us have ever seen, not to mention nearly losing Bill O'Brien to the NFL before he decided to stay, we all thought that the end of this program was coming very soon.
Instead, after putting together a strong 8-4 record in 2012, the Nittany Lions are looking at a very good recruiting class. As things stand, they have the 21st-best class in the country.
Quarterback Christian Hackenberg is the prize of the group, but O'Brien and his staff are doing an excellent job at bringing in depth to the program.
Perhaps the Penn State eulogy we were all writing after the NCAA brought down the hammer on the program was premature. By all accounts on the field and in recruiting, things are going well for the Nittany Lions right now.
If ever there were a time to strike in the Big 12, it is right now. Oklahoma and Texas are still the class of the conference, but Kansas State figures to take a step back with Collin Klein graduating.
Two years ago, Baylor was the talk of the college football universe thanks to Robert Griffin III. That kind of national attention has made them a solid player in the recruiting game, as the Bears currently rank 28th in the country.
Oklahoma and Texas have done well for themselves, ranking 12th and 14th, respectively. But those two programs used to easily rank in the Top 5. The bloom appears to be off the rose, at least right now, for those traditional powers.
Oklahoma State is sitting at 26th in recruiting, just ahead of Baylor. The Bears proved in 2012 that they could be a consistent bowl threat by going 8-5, defeating Kansas State and Oklahoma State. Also, their two losses to Oklahoma and Texas were by a total of 14 points.
If this program can just find some semblance of a defense, like outside linebacker Brian Nance, Baylor should have no problem competing for a Big 12 championship in the near future.
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