8 Programs Who out-Performed 2013 Recruiting Expectations
When you're a program like Alabama, Florida, USC, Texas or Notre Dame, you come into a recruiting cycle with the expectation of landing an elite class. Programs like that are just powerhouses on the recruiting trail and we all expect them to land top classes.
Other programs come into a recruiting year "hoping" for a good class. Those programs may land a stud or two, but it's not expected for them to construct an upper echelon recruiting class. For this read, I'm going to give you eight programs that have exceeded their recruiting expectations in 2013.
These programs have done better than expected during this recruiting year and figure to be all smiles through National Signing Day (Feb 6.).
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Cal's class fell apart last year when known recruiting guru Tosh Lupoi left.
The Bears had pretty much no momentum when the 2013 cycle started and even fired Jeff Tedford after the 2012-13 season.
Yet, somehow, new coach Sonny Dykes has Cal flirting with a top 25 class ranking. ESPNU sits the Bears' group just outside it's top 25 rankings and that is a win for Cal when you consider where they where coming into 2013 recruiting.
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Big Red didn't have the best recruiting year in 2012, but has rebounded quite well in 2013. ESPNU ranks the Cornhuskers' class at No. 22 right now and it's a good one.
I like outside linebacker Josh Banderas, who leads a 25-man class that also has recruits like quarterback Johnny Stanton, JUCO defensive end Randy Gregory and linebacker Marcus Newby among others.
Head coach Bo Pelini did a good job this year and exceeded 2013 recruiting expectations.
3. Oklahoma State
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Usually, it's the team in Norman that dominates the recruiting headlines in Oklahoma, but this year Oklahoma State has closed the recruiting gap considerably.
Head coach Mike Gundy has a 23-commit class right now and ESPNU ranks it No. 25 overall. Wide receiver prospects Fred Ross, Marcell Ateman and Ra'Shaad Samples lead the way.
JUCO DE Sam Wren and defensive tackle Vincent Taylor will upgrade the Pokes' defensive line unit right away.
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Ok, last year head coach James Franklin hauled in a Top 25 class at Vanderbilt and many felt it was just a one year surge for the Commodores.
Not many expected Franklin to do it again, especially those who don't live in Nashville.
Well, Franklin is on the verge of repeating last year's success and has the No. 21 class in the country, per ESPNU. I think it's safe to say that expectations have been surpassed at Vandy on the recruiting trail.
5. Virginia Tech
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Head coach Frank Beamer has 22 commitments at the moment and his class is in the middle of the ESPNU Top 25 recruiting rankings.
Va-Tech isn't known to be a recruiting powerhouse, so this has to be a delightful joy of around Blacksburg.
With future starters like cornerback Kendall Fuller, safety/OLB Holland Fisher, QB Bucky Hodges and athlete Cequan Jefferson coming to ball for the Hokies, this class has a little more star power than the typical Beamer recruiting class.
6. Texas A&M
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We figured the Aggies would have a good recruiting class and things would go well for head coach Kevin Sumlin this year.
But not this well.
Boy, have the Aggies enjoyed a recruiting run this year or what? They have a huge class of 32 commitments and it's full of talent up and down the list.
From WR Ricky Seals-Jones to DT Justin Manning to S Kameron Miles to QB Kohl Stewart to WR Derrick Griffin and more. Texas A&M's class is way better than I'm sure many expected.
7. Penn State
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Once the sanctions Penn State received were announced last Summer, it wasn't far fetched to wonder if any recruit would sign with them.
However, somehow head coach Bill O'Brien has a Top 25 class according to ESPNU and is on the verge of signing maybe the best QB in the country in Christian Hackenberg, an elite tight end in Adam Breneman and other notable prospects like offensive guard Brendan Mahon and DE Garrett Sickels.
The recruiting job that O'Brien and his staff have done this year easily will go down as one of the best in history. Penn State makes this list as a no-brainer.
8. Ole Miss
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Ole Miss wasn't even on the powerhouse recruiting radar when the 2013 recruiting cycle opened up. The Rebels' were a drowning program and we had no expectation of them landing in the Top 25 recruiting rankings.
I figured head coach Hugh Freeze would land a solid recruit or two this year, and only make a little progress. I was wrong, as Freeze could end up with the top recruiting class in the country.
He has 23 commitments right now and ESPNU ranks his No. 12. Even if he doesn't add anyone else and finishes at that slot, Freeze still will the best recruiting class in school history.
But, there's a few other big fish that he's working on reeling in and should push his class into the Top Five. Expectations have been exceeded three times over in Oxford.
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.