11 Underperforming Teams Turning Their Program Around with Recruiting
Every program goes through a rough patch and hard times. It's just how things go in college football. Whether a coach leaves, a couple subpar recruiting classes add up, a rival rises up from the ashes to overtake you or just momentum leaves, each program hits a down time at some time.
The best way to get out of it is to hire the right coach, who hires the right staff and they both attack the recruiting trail with relentless force and develop the talent to start winning on the field. In this 2013 recruiting cycle, I have identified 11 schools that I see who are on that type of pace.
These schools have been under-performers on the field in recent seasons, but appear to turning things around via a solid recruiting class this cycle. Good recruiting can be the cure almost everything in college football!
The Wildcats are 12-13 over the past two years, but went 8-5 this last season under Rich Rodriguez's new leadership. The highlight of their season was the beating USC and the dramatic New Mexico Bowl win.
Rich-Rod has used his energy and momentum to assemble a solid 26-man recruiting class.
While he likely won't boast an elite 5-star prospect, Rodriguez has the type of players that fit his system who should help continue turning things around in Tucson.
The Wildcats haven't exactly looked like a dominant program in recent years; however, I have high expectations for new coach Mark Stoops.
Stoops has the experience of recruiting at big-time programs, most recently Florida State, and will bring in a wide-open spread offense that is surely to attract skill position talent. An impact may not be really made this year, but I'll go on record and say watch out for Kentucky on the recruiting trail in the coming years.
9. Oregon State
Oregon State had a solid year in 2012, going 9-3. Yet it's still just 12-12 in the past two seasons and needs to continue the upwards trend it enjoyed this season.
Landing CB Dashon Hunt is a great start and this year Scout.com ranks the Beavers' class 41st in the country. While they may not impress you, considering where Beaver recruiting has been ranked in the past recent classes, it's good progress.
Paul Chyrst went 6-7 during his initial season with Pitt this past year. However, ESPNU ranks his 2013 recruiting class in its top 40.
Chryst has 28 commitments and his class is led by OT Dorian Johnson, ATH Tyler Boyd and QB Tra'von Chapman. With RB Rushel Shell looking to take over the running game full time in 2013, keep your eye on the Panthers.
U-Dub is 26-25 in four seasons under Steve Sarkisian, but its recruiting the past two seasons should help increase Sark's win total.
Last year, Sarkisian pried Tosh Lupoi from Cal to help him sign a class led by stud OLB/S Shaq Thompson. This year, Washington will also finish in the top 25 with a solid class led by WRs Darrell Daniels and Damore'ea Stringfellow.
With the young talent, the Huskies will be turning things around as soon as 2013.
Al Golden is 13-11 in two seasons as the head coach at Miami. For the Hurricanes' standards, that is not going to cut it.
Yet, Golden has done pretty well on the recruiting trail, including a class that ESPNU ranked in its top 10 last year. This year, Golden has also signed a solid group and could find Miami in the top 25 recruiting rankings again.
With back-to-back solid recruiting hauls, even though sanctions are coming to Coral Gables, there will be good talent for Golden to work and win games with.
Charlie Weis is not going to just sit back and accept going 1-11 last year. He's going to try to turn things around immediately in 2013, and that's obvious from the 16 JUCO recruits he is bringing in this year.
Weis went heavy on the JC trail and also has another nine prospects coming in from the high school ranks. Scout.com lists his class in the top 50 overall, which is a leaps-and-bounds improvement over recent Jayhawk rankings.
I doubt Kansas wins only one game in 2013, thanks to good recruiting by Weis and his staff.
Kyle Whittingham is a good football coach, but Utah went 5-7 last year. Whittingham has not been hiding in his office, as he has been recruiting and recruiting pretty well.
Scout.com rankings his class of 30 commits No. 35 on its current board. That's improvement from last year, and combined with Whittingham's ability to coach, Utah won't be down for too long.
Sonny Dykes runs a passing offense that can score points. He proved that at Louisiana Tech.
If he can strike up the relationships around the state, with the skill position talent that almost grows on trees in California, he could be hitting recruiting dynamite.
The Bears' program turned a little stale towards the end of Jeff Tedford's tenure and didn't win much. Dykes' current class of 28 commitments is ranked just outside of the top 25 by ESPNU.
Cal should be able to turn things around soon.
James Franklin has lit up Vandy recruiting, as he is on the verge of bringing in a second consecutive top 25 class. That's insanely positive for the Commodores, who have been a lowly SEC program for a very long time.
Things are changing in Nashville, and Franklin is at the center of it all. The Commodores showed dramatic improvement this past season by going 9-4 and winning the Music City Bowl.
Based on how Franklin is recruiting, more of that is to come at Vandy...until a bigger named program opens its checkbook for Franklin's services.
1. Ole Miss
What school fits the No. 1 spot of this list better than Ole Miss? Hugh Freeze is going to turn things around in Oxford and the Rebels' quality of play was even better this past season, their first under Freeze.
Ole Miss has a top-25 class right now with stud national-level prospects such as WR Laquon Treadwell, DE Elijah Daniel and JUCO DT Lavon Hooks.
The Rebels also look good for the nation's best prospect in DE Robert Nkemdiche, along with top-level prospects like S Antonio Conner, RB Jordan Wilkins and OT Austin Golson.
Talent is coming to Oxford and Ole Miss is going to start winning a lot of football games pretty soon.
Edwin Weathersby is the College Football Recruiting Analyst for Bleacher Report. He has worked in scouting/player personnel departments for three professional football teams, including the New York Giants, 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 (formerly 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.