College Football Coaches Who Could Become the Next Nick Saban of Recruiting

Andrew KulhaSenior Analyst IIIFebruary 20, 2013

College Football Coaches Who Could Become the Next Nick Saban of Recruiting

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    Nick Saban has set the gold standard of college football recruiting success from the perspective of a head coach.

    His presence alone has made Alabama arguably the biggest recruiting draw in all of college football, and he's respected both as a coach and a recruiter.

    Saban has the uncanny ability to recruit elite players and actually get the most out of them. That's what separates Alabama and Saban from most others in college football.

    Many coaches can recruit well, but not all can translate recruiting success into on-field success. Not everyone can take a 3-star player and turn him into 5-star talent, or take a 5-star recruit and fully utilize his potential. 

    That's the Saban difference on the recruiting trail. Recruits know they'll be coached by the best of the best, and they'll usually always be in the hunt for a national championship. 

    Such recruiting prestige is rare, but it's not impossible to achieve.

    Here are five coaches that have the potential to achieve "Saban status" as a recruiter.

Honorable Mention: Kevin Sumlin

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    It's too early to officially include Kevin Sumlin on this list, but he certainly made a phenomenal impression in 2012-13.

    Texas A&M was arguably one of the hottest programs in recruiting, and Sumlin's ability as a coach played a huge role in that.

    You could also credit Heisman winning freshman Johnny Manziel for a lot of the hype that surrounded the Aggies in 2012, so we'll have to see what Sumlin is able to do in the next year or two.

    If he can keep Texas A&M recruiting top notch talent and competing with the likes of Alabama, Florida and LSU in the SEC, he'll be well on his way to becoming one of the elite names on the college football recruiting trail. 

    The potential is there, and greatness appears to be on the horizon for Sumlin in regards to recruiting. 

Not Included: Urban Meyer

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    Urban Meyer is not on this list because frankly, I could have easily titled this "Coaches That Could Become the Next Urban Meyer of Recruiting".

    Meyer has reached the elite level that Saban is on, and I don't hesitate putting him in that same category.

    He's proven himself on the recruiting trail and he's backed that up by winning both big games and national championships.

    He looks poised to continue his dominant ways as head coach at Ohio State, and if there's one coach or program that could compete with Saban and the Crimson Tide on both the recruiting trail and football field in the next few years—it will be the Buckeyes.

    Credit: Meyer.

Les Miles

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    LSU and Alabama are constantly fighting it out for the best recruits in the region, and Miles has won his fair share of those fights.

    Much like Alabama, LSU is a major national draw on the recruiting scene, and let's not kid ourselves—the prestige of the program definitely helps.

    The Tigers are known for boasting strong defensive units and powerhouse football on the offensive side of the ball, and even though the game is transition to more high-paced spread/option looks, LSU's brand of football will always attract big-time recruits.

    Les Miles himself is a character and he's known for taking risks on the football field. You could almost equate him to being the anti-Saban in regards to his personality and approach. It may not fit everyone's style, but for recruits who may not resonate with Saban—Miles is definitely the coach to talk to instead.

    If LSU continues to have success on the field and Miles stays with the program, he could very well develop the recruiting consistently and dominance that Saban has at Alabama.

    He's already on the verge of approach that level as it is...

Jimbo Fisher

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    Jimbo Fisher is already one of the best recruiters in college football, but in order to truly reach "Saban Status" he's going to have to win big games with the Seminoles.

    The good news is, Fisher is 3-0 in Bowl games with Florida State, and the Seminole went 12-2 last season. The bad news is, the Seminoles bowl game win was against Northern Illinois and one of their losses came at the hands of N.C. State.

    Consistently winning big games and being a legitimate national championship contender on a yearly basis will take Fisher from being a good recruiter to a great one. He has a knack on the recruiting trail and he has a good staff. He also benefits from the tradition and national relevance of Florida State football.

    If he can string together a handful of elite seasons minus disappointing losses, with a national championship run or two in the mix—Fisher could easily become one of the marquee head coaches in the world of college football recruiting.

Brian Kelly

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    Brian Kelly is already a very good coach and he's a great recruiter.

    There's no doubting the fact that Notre Dame is a huge recruiting draw, but his presence as head coach has added a monumental amount of legitimacy and credibility to the football program, again.

    Notre Dame is a marquee football program, and Kelly is the coach who turned it around and brought it back to relevancy. I fully expect the Fighting Irish to be a contender for the next few seasons, and in that process Kelly has the potential to establish himself as one of the best recruiters in college football.

    Like all of the coaches on this list, Kelly's credibility will grow with wins—and by wins I mean national championship wins.

    He took Notre Dame to the doorstep in 2012, but now he has to keep it there and kick the door down in the process.

    If he can get a championship under his belt, that plus the natural draw of Notre Dame and Kelly's abilities as a coach would put him over the top on the recruiting trail. 

Will Muschamp

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    Will Muschamp has the potential to be Saban-esque as a recruiter, and he's at the right school to accomplish that at: Florida.

    The Gators are a huge football school with immense national relevance. The expectations are high at Florida, and Muschamp has lived up to those expectations for the most part.

    He put together an elite 2013 class and the future of Florida's program is incredibly bright, especially defensively. If he can get Florida over the hump again where we are talking about it in the same breath as LSU and Alabama in regards to SEC dominance and competitiveness, Florida recruiting could absolutely take off under Muschamp.

    He's already one of the better recruiters in the country, but he's going to need to start putting everything together now.

    Florida should compete for national championships on a yearly basis, and when that becomes the case look for Muschamp to become an elite recruiter.

    If there's a program not named Ohio State that has the potential to be the next Alabama, Florida would be my pick. 

    Muschamp would have the chance to be the guy at the helm.

Brady Hoke

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    Brady Hoke is a natural recruiter. It's his strong-suit as a coach and it's what gives him so much potential as a coach.

    Overall, he's the reason Michigan has so much potential, and if you've been paying attention to things over in Ann Arbor you'd see that the Wolverines are slowly but surely building a contending program.

    It's still going to take a few seasons for everything to fall into place, but Hoke has a system that he believes in, and he has the uncanny ability to convert recruits into full out "Michigan Men".

    Whether you like or dislike him, there's no denying the fact that his attitude is contagious. 

    He's the consummate cheerleader for Michigan, and that's what makes him so good on the recruiting trail. Hoke has the ability to make you believe what he believes.

    Where we'll need to see him take that next step into "Saban-esque" levels as a recruiter is by winning.

    The expectations at Michigan are high, and if he can get the program back to being one of the three or four schools that are always in the national championship conversation—Hoke has all the potential to become an elite college football recruiter.

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