The start of a recruiting cycle is like the start of a season—every program has high hopes to achieve its goals. Each coach feels he can bring in a top class and has great confidence in his program's recruiting plan.
However, at some programs, recruiting expectations are not very high. Sure, when you're at Alabama, USC, Florida, Ohio State, LSU, Notre Dame and other prestigious programs, you're expected to land an elite class. Other programs don't have those same high expectations. So when they recruit a good class, they exceed expectations.
Here are five programs that appear the most likely to exceed their recruiting expectations in 2014.
Arkansas didn't recruit as well as one would have hoped under Bobby Petrino. The Hogs weren't an annual top-10 recruiting team and didn't land many elite 4- and 5-star recruits on a consistent basis.
Bret Bielema and his ace recruiter, Charlie Patridge, are changing that, already having convinced stud running back Alex Collins to come to Fayetteville.
The Razorbacks want to get more involved in recruiting in Florida, and Patridge will lead the charge. Look for Arkansas to bring in a better-than-expected 2014 class.
There's a lot to love about playing at California. As a recruit, you get a good education, the weather is great, you're not far from San Francisco, the campus is gorgeous and the Pac-12 is a good conference.
Another plus for the Bears, especially if you're a skill-position player on offense, is that Sonny Dykes loves to throw the football, so you're going to make a lot of plays in the open field.
The state of California produces many skill-position recruits, so Dykes should be able to consistently haul in a class that tops those of the final Jeff Tedford years.
New Red Raiders head coach Kliff Kingsbury has busted out of the gate in 2014 recruiting, picking up nine commitments. It's not shocking that eight of those are offensive recruits.
Kingsbury has a lot of moxie, and he's going to talk a little trash in Lubbock, which will get people going. He also knows how to recruit in Texas, and there's something to be said for a first-time head coach getting his first lead job at his alma mater.
Keep your eye on Kingsbury and Texas Tech this year.
The Cavaliers have not been a juggernaut on the trail, even though they are in a state that has produced a lot of talent. But this year is going to be different for Mike London. He's going to make sure of it.
London already has a commitment from 5-star safety Quin Blanding, and the big-time DB's early commitment has made headwind for London's 2014 recruiting efforts. If the Wahoos don't pull a top-10 to top-15 class this year—which is certainly not the norm for them—I would be surprised.
The available talent in their state this year may be the best it's ever been, and London needs to capitalize on it.
Coming into this year, I felt Butch Jones would help restore Tennessee's recruiting profile, but that it would take another class or two before the Vols would be back among the nation's best.
Well, by the way things are going for Jones, Tennessee may back to its old ways already. Jones has 10 commitments, including pledges from stud running back Jalen Hurd and safety Todd Kelly Jr.
Tennessee isn't done by any means. It could bring in a top-10 or top-15 class when it's all said and done.
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 and Cleveland Browns.