Preseason Top 25 Rankings Post-National Signing Day
The rumors and the guessing games have come to an end, and most of the top players in the country have made their commitment official. Schools now know what the future of their program looks like, and college football fans can begin to anticipate the coming seasons.
So with national signing day now in the books, it is time to look at how the Top 25 teams stack up with the new players. A lot of the new commits will see the field next season and help their team accomplish the goals it has established.
Did national signing day change any of the positioning on the preseason Top 25?
Some of the rankings may surprise you.
This team looks lot better than it did before national signing day. With offensive line depth and a running back that could immediately help carry the load, the offense is in better shape than it was a few weeks ago. Devin Gardner still needs to prove he can be a reliable quarterback, but at least he now has Green to produce at the running back position.
I am concerned with the defensive front, particularly the defensive line, but there is enough talent on both sides of the ball for the Wolverines to sneak into the Top 25. This likely wasn't the case before the recruiting season, which is a good sign for Brady Hoke and Co.
24. Michigan State
The Spartans didn't pick up any earth-shattering recruits that are guaranteed immediate playing time. Darian Hicks has a lot of potential and will see reps as a true freshman at the cornerback position. Williams is also a playmaker who can line up all over the field and add a spark to a Michigan State offense that was dreadful a year ago.
Michigan State was going to be ranked inside the Top 25 no matter how things turned out in the recruiting world. With seven starters returning on the defensive side of the ball, the Spartans will once again have a top-25 defense, and with eight starters on offense, it should be an improved unit.
The recruiting class certainly could have been better, but this was a team that was going to compete for a Big Ten title regardless.
With running back questions for the Horned Frogs, Hicks is somebody who can step on the field right away and help contribute. The defense also added some much-needed depth, and that will be used throughout the year to keep a lot of the veterans fresh.
There are 15 starters returning from a year ago, which means TCU has the most experienced team in the Big 12 next to Texas. With nine of those returning players on the defensive side of the ball, the Horned Frogs will remain competitive with every team in the conference. However, questions at the skill positions on offense may keep this team from taking that next step in its second season in the Big 12.
22. Ole Miss
Tunsil, Nkemdiche, Conner, Laquon Treadwell and Lavon Hooks are all elite prospects. They will all see the field early and often and help add depth and talent to a team that already returns 18 starters. What's easily one of the top recruiting classes in the country will help this team out tremendously heading into the new season.
Ole Miss was in good shape without the recruiting class just because of the amount of guys that were returning. However, now that there is legitimately elite talent on this club, we are looking at a team that will compete right away in the SEC.
A conference title may not be in the cards in 2013, but a year from now, everybody should watch out. Things are changing in the SEC, and it starts with Ole Miss.
Nebraska only has four starters returning on defense, so guys such as Gregory, Marcus Newby and Josh Banderas will hit the field to help out. With the majority of the offensive line and depth at the skill positions, it will be tough for offensive players to make an immediate impact, but Terrell Newby is a talented runner and will be able to take some of the pressure off the rest of the backfield.
With a veteran quarterback and four of the starting offensive linemen coming back, Nebraska should remain one of the top rushing teams in the country. The defense had serious issues last year, and with only four starters coming back, there is a cause for concern.
However, the Big Ten is up in the air, so Nebraska will remain a contender to win the conference.
With a new head coaching staff, some would assume that the Wisconsin Badgers are done for in 2013. However, they do return 15 starters, including eight on the offensive side of the ball. This is a team that should win most of its games in the trenches and has enough talent in place to win the Big Ten once again.
Although the team does look good on paper, concerns at quarterback and in the secondary do remain. As for the recruiting, really nothing spectacular, but Clement does have the potential to be great at the running back position and should see a lot of carries as a true freshman.
Say what you want about the USC recruiting class, the Trojans still made out quite well. Sure, losing recruits is nothing to brag about, but we are still talking about a top-25 recruiting class that landed more than enough top-notch players. Bigelow adds depth to an already talented defensive line, and Cravens could start right now in the secondary.
As for the team that is returning, the backfield remains one of the best in the Pac-12, and the defensive front seven returns six starters. Also, when you have a wide receiver such as Marqise Lee on the field, the offense will continue to produce at a high rate.
As long as quarterback Max Wittek can continue to develop and Lane Kiffin stops the horrible play calls, USC will be all right.
18. Boise State
Boise State lost nearly its entire team on both sides of the ball a season ago and still managed to win 11 games. Now that the Broncos have a solid 13 starters returning, including seven from a quality defense, I think it is safe to say that college football’s favorite underdog is back on the scene.
Boise State is extremely deep at the wide receiver position and could do some incredible things on offense if quarterback Joe Southwick is able to mature and grow as a player. Defensively, there is a lot of talent up front, and this should continue to be a solid unit if the secondary can be patched up.
Chris Petersen showed that he can get the job done with whatever you give him, and with an above-average recruiting class, the Broncos will remain in good shape.
Northwestern could end up being the biggest surprise of all in the Big Ten next season. With 15 starters returning, including eight on the offensive side of the ball, the Wildcats could easily take steps forward from a season ago.
Quarterback Kain Colter is the ultimate playmaker and will continue to give the offense a boost with his dual-threat abilities. The defense also returns seven starters from a unit that wasn't too shabby, finishing in the top 50 in total yards allowed.
Many of the recruits will be given a chance to see the field early, but the success of this Northwestern team will ride on the guys that are returning from last year.
16. Oregon State
Oregon State is going to remain that feisty team that wins on the defensive side of the ball and has an inconsistent offense. With the quarterback situation up in the air, nobody really knows how the team is going to score points.
On the other hand, running back Storm Woods is easily one of the brightest future stars in the Pac-12.
The Beavers have concerns on the defensive line and will have to address losing one of their best players in cornerback Jordan Poyer. With no recruiting class to write home about, it will be worth keeping an eye on to see how this team is able to fix some of those issues.
The Sooners will basically be a no-name team next season with so many new players. With Landry Jones gone, Blake Bell will finally be able to prove if he is a true quarterback or just somebody who likes to run the football.
With only four defensive starters returning, the defense has many holes, particularly in the secondary and on the defensive line. This will allow many of the young players to prove themselves during camp and fight for playing time.
Much like last year, it may be the offense that carries Oklahoma, at least until the defense can figure itself out. Although running back isn't a position to worry about, Ford is somebody everyone should be keeping an eye on.
Texas has been down the last couple of years, but all of that should change this year. With 19 starters returning, the excuses and complaining stops for the Longhorns. Either get the job done this season or there will likely be some major changes during the offseason.
The Longhorns have experienced quarterback play, a backfield to die for and a defense that is capable of being a top-25 unit when it actually decides to get off the bus.
It really all depends on what Texas team decides to show up next season. Texas could be one of the best teams in the country, or the disappointment could continue down in Austin. One thing that won't work anymore is using lack of talent as an excuse.
13. Florida State
If Florida State were going to have a down year, it would be this one. With no proven quarterback, no veteran running back and seven starters missing on defense, Jimbo Fisher has his work cut out for him heading into 2013.
However, one thing Fisher can't be criticized for is recruiting. Not only did he load up defensively last season, but this year’s class also includes some of the best defensive players in the land. The defense should be scary good once everything begins to fall in place; it is the offense that folks in Tallahassee are concerned about.
The development of quarterback Clint Trickett will be the key to success for the Seminoles.
This is probably the most talented Clemson team we have seen in decades. We all know about the offense that returns seven starters and is led by quarterback Tajh Boyd and wideout Sammy Watkins, but the defense should be much improved with another year under defensive coordinator Brent Venables.
Not only are there six starters for Venables to work with, but he has a ridiculously talented cornerback in Alexander, who can start the moment he steps on campus. The offense will continue to light up the ACC, and if the defense can cut down on allowing the big plays, Clemson could have realistic goals of competing for a BCS title.
Dabo Swinney has done it again.
I know the Tigers will be fine once the defense is able to settle in, but we are talking about six new starters, including a defensive line that only has one starter returning. That is a lot of inexperience expected to fill the shoes of future NFL superstars.
Offensively, LSU will be fine with its ground-and-pound game, and it will be even better if quarterback Zach Mettenberger can take a couple of steps forward from a year ago.
The Tigers aren't going anywhere and will remain high in the rankings until they give voters a reason to knock them down. With another impressive recruiting class and young talent on both sides of the ball, Les Miles has a solid group of guys returning in 2013.
The 15 starters that are returning are the most in the Big East. Everybody knows quarterback Teddy Bridgewater is a Heisman candidate, but an experienced secondary that returns three starters was ranked inside the top 20 in pass defense a season ago.
Louisville should remain the favorite to win the Big East, but it has some serious issues along the offensive line and at running back. Quick is a playmaker at the receiver position and should thrive with Bridgewater throwing him the football.
The Cardinals made their mark in last year’s BCS bowl game, and the momentum should carry over for a successful season in 2013.
9. South Carolina
South Carolina is going to remain the team it has been the last couple of seasons under head coach Steve Spurrier. The defense is going to continue to keep the team in games with an experienced secondary and Jadeveon Clowney coming off the edge, and the offense will remain conservative with inconsistent quarterback play.
The Gamecocks remain a legitimate threat in the SEC East but will have to find some playmakers on offense to truly get over the top. The good news is that Bryant fills an area of need at linebacker, as South Carolina lost every starter from the position a year ago.
This will be an interesting year for the Gamecocks.
Much like LSU, Florida has a ton of questions on defense. The talent is there due to remarkable recruiting, but the youth and inexperience will cause some growing pains early on.
The good news is that the three names mentioned above are elite recruits and will be given every opportunity to see the field early on. Taylor is a playmaker at the running back position and will finally give head coach Will Muschamp that guy that can help open things up offensively.
When you have talent, your team is going to receive love from the voters. The Gators are one of the most talented in the country, but inexperience may come back to bite them if certain guys can't grow up quick enough.
7. Notre Dame
Besides getting a surprise signing from Eddie Vanderdoes, Notre Dame didn't do much on national signing day, but that largely had to do with many of the top recruits already committing to the school. Redfield and Smith are two players who could start immediately on the defensive side of the ball for the Irish.
As for the rest of the team, Notre Dame already had five starters from the front seven returning, including one of the top defensive lines in the country. The offense will get a nice boost from running back Greg Bryant, but a lot of the points will be determined on the improvement of quarterback Everett Golson.
The Irish need to improve in a few areas, but this team shouldn't be taken lightly.
6. Ohio State
We know the offense is going to run through quarterback Braxton Miller, but he needs playmakers around him to really thrive. Could either Jalin Marshall or Corey Smith become that Percy Harvin-type player to put the offense over the top?
Ohio State hit the recruiting jackpot last year on the defensive side of the ball, and this season was no different, as the top three recruits on this team will play defense. Many of the 2012 recruits will have an expanded role this season, and with a unit so young, many of this year’s recruits will also see the field.
Ohio State ran the table last season, and no matter how many questions there may be, you never underestimate an Urban Meyer-coached team.
Georgia could in fact be one of the first SEC teams to win the conference with offense. With a total of 10 starters returning, the Bulldogs will have no problems scoring points this upcoming season.
Defense is where there are issues, and the team received a big boost with the commitment of Floyd at linebacker. But even that doesn't completely help the fact that there are eight starters from that side of the ball no longer on the team.
The Bulldogs have their questions like most teams, but with a veteran offense, this is yet another SEC team that should be respected.
4. Texas A&M
With Johnny Manziel still running the Aggies offense, it was all about putting the pieces around him and getting a few elite prospects on defense. The Aggies did just that and are well on their way to seriously competing with Alabama for the SEC crown.
It will be interesting to see how the Texas A&M defense that lost all of its starting linebackers will look. But besides that question mark, this team should be just fine. The weapons are all over the place with many receivers in this class that can contribute right away and an underrated running game with returning starter Ben Malena.
Texas A&M did what it had to do and will remain in the Top Five of the preseason poll.
Was there a bigger disappointment in the Top 25 than Stanford as far as recruiting is concerned? For a team that has been as successful as the Cardinal, you would think the recruiting class would have been better than what it was.
So why such a high ranking?
Because Stanford was a great team regardless of what the recruiting process showed us. The Cardinal have seven starters returning from one of the top defenses in the country and four of the five offensive linemen still on the roster.
As long as quarterback Kevin Hogan can become a threat on offense, this is a team that could seriously compete for a national title.
The Ducks have 15 starters coming back, including eight on the offensive side of the ball. As long as new head coach Mark Helfrich doesn't tweak the game plan too much, those boys know what to do when the ball is in their hands. But while the offense gets the majority of the attention, the defense should be much improved, especially with three of the four starters returning in the secondary.
As for the recruiting class, Oregon added just enough speedy players to help fit the mold of classic Ducks football.
Many were quick to write off this team once Chip Kelly left for the NFL, but there are more than enough pieces in place for the Ducks to be in the national championship hunt at the end of the season.
Alabama was in the best position to win next year’s national championship, and that was without any recruits committing to Tuscaloosa. With arguably the best recruiting class in the country, it is truly just the cherry added to the sundae.
The Crimson Tide has a reliable quarterback in A.J. McCarron, a loaded backfield and a defense that returns seven starters from a unit that ranked No. 1. This team did not need a single recruit, but just to be greedy, it added many guys that could come in and help contribute at a high level.
They say the rich get richer, and that is exactly what happened with Nick Saban's club.