Which New Head Coaches Had Best 2013 College Football Recruiting Classes?
After the 2012 college football season, many coaches began playing musical chairs, resulting in a number of new guys roaming the sidelines entering the 2013 offseason.
The first task for these new head coaches was the recruiting process, as they were challenged with selling their programs to prospective recruits.
Some coaches were blessed by going to programs that basically sell themselves, while other guys had to put sleep and family on the back burner to make miracles happen. Recruiting is never easy, and it is even tougher for guys who are at new schools.
With the 2013 national signing day behind them, let's take a look at the new head coaches who flexed their muscles during the recruiting process.
5. Sonny Dykes, California
ESPN Ranking: No. 30
Scout Ranking: No. 28
Rivals Ranking: No. 30
247Sports Ranking: No. 40
I'm not sure anybody expected Sonny Dykes to do so well in his first year recruiting in the Pac-12. With only three seasons of head coaching experience, Dykes is still fairly new to the whole process and still has a lot to prove before he can be considered an elite coach or recruiter.
Even though the class is a lot better than expected, Dykes is expecting to sign an even better group next year, as he told Jeff Faraudo of the Mercury News.
"Next year's class will probably have a little more star power," Dykes said Wednesday. "To me, we addressed exactly what we needed in this class, which is depth on the offensive and defensive lines."
No matter what Dykes may think of the class, he certainly did what he needed to do to get Cal back on track.
4. Butch Jones, Tennessee
ESPN Ranking: No. 29
Scout Ranking: No. 35
Rivals Ranking: No. 20
247Sports Ranking: No. 25
Butch Jones had limited time to gain recruits' trust, and when you don't have a lot of time, there is a good chance you could end up losing some of your top players. This was the case with 5-star safety prospect Vonn Bell, who ended up signing with the Ohio State Buckeyes.
However, as you can see by the rankings, all wasn't lost for the Volunteers. The team picked up two elite players in wide receiver MarQuez North and defensive end Jason Carr. Linebacker Corey Vereen should also develop into a stud once he gets a few reps under his belt.
Quarterbacks Joshua Dobbs and Riley Ferguson are two guys who could be competing for the starting position as early as this season. Jones spoke to Jerry Hinnen of CBS Sports about the new signal-callers:
Riley Ferguson is extremely competitive. I believe he's only lost one high school game as a quarterback. He's really athletic. Josh Dobbs is really cerebral and these guys have the skill set that can bring a lot of competition to the position. As you know, you can never have too many quarterbacks.
Tennessee is slowly but surely making progress under the former Cincinnati coach.
3. Bret Bielema, Arkansas
ESPN Ranking: No. 31
Scout Ranking: No. 32
Rivals Ranking: No. 26
247Sports Ranking: No. 22
Bret Bielema estimated that he has only slept 15 days in Arkansas since being hired as the new Razorbacks coach two months ago. The time spent recruiting on the road really paid off, however, as the class he put together is one of the most surprising in all of college football.
He has taken a fierce approach to the recruiting process, telling the AP (via AL.com) that he came here to win the SEC.
"We came to Arkansas for all the same reason," Bielema said. "We didn't come here to play in the (Southeastern Conference); we came here to win the SEC. And that's what we're going to do."
This confident and somewhat cocky approach obviously won recruits over this season. All-purpose back Alex Collins finally signed his letter of intent and will immediately become the go-to guy within the offense. Hunter Henry is easily one of the best tight ends of 2013, and the Razorbacks got a surprise when offensive guard Denver Kirkland also announced he was heading to Arkansas.
Bielema was a solid recruiter at Wisconsin, and he obviously hasn't missed a beat in his new home.
2. Mark Helfrich, Oregon
ESPN Ranking: No. 26
Scout Ranking: No. 17
Rivals Ranking: No. 21
247Sports Ranking: No. 19
If there was any school in the country that was in danger of taking the biggest step backward, it was Oregon.
Having become spoiled with BCS bowl appearances over the years, Oregon lost head coach Chip Kelly in the offseason to the NFL. Former offensive coordinator Mark Helfrich, who doesn't have any head coaching experience, replaced him.
If you were one that expected Oregon's recruiting to tank, you can think again.
Overall, Oregon held its own, and Helfrich told Matt Walks of the Daily Emerald that this was a program that was always bigger than one guy:
I don’t know how much concern there was (about Chip leaving). I don’t know what degree we had to convince (recruits). Oregon football is certainly bigger than me, certainly bigger than any one guy.
Looks like the Ducks will continue to fly after all.
1. Gus Malzahn, Auburn
ESPN Ranking: No. 11
Scout Ranking: No. 14
Rivals Ranking: No. 8
247Sports Ranking: No. 11
Gus Malzahn pulled out all of the stops to bring elite talent to Auburn. Folks knew the offense was going to improve with him being a master on that side of the ball, but it was surprising that the defense was what drew the majority of his recruiting attention.
Was there a better defensive line recruited this season than one that includes Montravius Adams, Carl Lawson and Elijah Daniel? I think not. Auburn can put those three guys on the field right now, and they would be one of the scariest lines in the country.
Malzahn told Ryan Wood of the Opelika-Auburn News that he couldn't be any more excited about the talent his staff helped get in a short amount of time:
From a head coaching standpoint, you worry about the defense and the special teams and the offense and everything that goes with that. The fact that we didn’t have a full year to recruit against a lot of these guys that had a full year to recruit, and to get the players signed like we did, I’m just very pleased and tickled to death with our staff.
Auburn was a huge winner in the 2013 recruiting process. Malzahn had the best class of all the first-year head coaches.