10 Bold Predictions for 2014 College Football Recruiting Class
Nobody ever truly knows what it going to happen in the recruiting world. You can listen to what the recruits say, and predict which schools are the best fits, but you will always be surprised by some of the decisions that are made.
Truthfully, there is never a prediction that is too bold when it involves recruiting. Nobody thought Ole Miss was going to tear things up last season. Nobody thought wide receiver Dorial Green-Beckham would turn down offers from prestigious schools to attend Missouri.
It's all part of the madness.
The 2014 class will include a top-tier quarterback picking a school nobody expected, a Big Ten school competing with the big boys and Da'Shawn Hand ending up at an underdog SEC school.
D'haquille Williams Picks Auburn
You are going to have options when you are widely considered the top JUCO wide receiver. D'haquille Williams could either bolt for the NFL or pick pretty much any school of his choice. Williams already told 247Sports that the next level isn't an option just yet.
"That ain't an option any more," Williams said. "I want to experience college for a year."
He also decommited from LSU about a month ago. However, his 247Sports page still has LSU as the favorite with the crystal ball predictions. But Williams will eventually pick the other Tigers program. He will commit to Auburn.
Baton Rouge is where wide receivers go to die, while Auburn is going to become that fun offense under head coach Gus Malzahn. Big play receivers simply don't go to LSU. Per 247Sports, Williams mentioned that the Auburn offense is intriguing.
"I'd be on the field first down through fourth down," Williams said. "They'd basically give the ball to me when they need a play to be made."
Playmakers want the ball. Auburn is in the driver's seat for this quality recruit.
Joe Mixon Picks Oregon
Some players look like they belong at a certain school. The big and physical guys usually commit to an SEC school, while the fineness and speed players tend to lean in the direction of the Pac-12, particularly Oregon.
Joe Mixon isn't a tremendously fast player, but he is shifty in the open field, has unbelievable athleticism and will shake you out of your shoes if you aren't careful. He would fit well in Eugene.
Steve Lorenz of 247Sports reports that Mixon will officially visit Oklahoma and Georgia. Considering he is from Oakley, California, scheduling an official visit to Oregon wouldn't make much sense. However, you better believe the Ducks are in the race along with USC and Cal.
Mixon looks like an Oregon player and would continue the tradition of flashy running backs.
Miami Proves That It's Back
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Miami has continued to put together respectable classes over the years. A program this popular will never completely fall off the wagon. However, the Hurricanes have lost a little bit of their luster, and haven't had a class that has rocked the college football world. Miami used to be a team that would always snag the headlines, but that hasn't been the case recently.
Miami is back.
Currently sitting with the seventh-best class, according to 247Sports, Miami has a solid 15 commitments. That includes an elite running back in Joseph Yearby, a pair of offensive linemen in Kc McDermott and Trevor Darling, as well as a terrific outside linebacker in Juwon Young. The Hurricanes also picked up three commitments last weekend.
The scandal with the NCAA has provided a light at the end of the tunnel. With the success of head coach Al Golden and the emergence of players like Duke Johnson, it seems like Miami is slowly getting its swagger back.
This year's class will wake folks up.
North Carolina Builds a Class for the Ages
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Another ACC team that is looking to turn the corner is North Carolina. Although there have been eight wins in four of the last five years, the Tar Heels have struggled to consistently reach a bowl game and transcend being a middle of the road team.
Thanks to head coach Larry Fedora and great recruiting, this will change.
North Carolina has 15 early commitments, many of whom are impact players. Caleb Henderson is the quarterback of the future, safety Allen Artis will be an early contributor and Avery Edwards is a massive tight end who will be a solid player.
This class will provide the building blocks to begin competing for an ACC title.
Northwestern Has a Top Three Class in Big Ten
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Northwestern is soon to become a college football powerhouse. Okay, well, maybe that is a stretch. But head coach Pat Fitzgerald is doing incredible things with the program and a 10-win season has really earned the recruits' attention.
Northwestern has the 22nd best recruiting class, according to 247Sports. These aren't your typical recruits who nobody else wanted. Athletes Justin Jackson and Dareian Watkins had offers from numerous BCS programs, including Michigan, Arizona State and Louisville, among others.
Ole Miss and Kentucky were two programs that have become popular with recruits due to more success on the field. Northwestern appears to be the next in line. This recruiting class will be one of the most shocking.
Kentucky Finishes with a Top Five Class
Is it safe to say Kentucky is no longer just a basketball school? Maybe not. But if Mark Stoops and the coaching staff can continue to hit home runs, John Calipari will have some competition.
Right now, Kentucky has the eighth-best recruiting class in the country, according to 247Sports. Nope, this is not a misprint. Kentucky has snagged 4-star players such as defensive end Denzel Ware, quarterback Drew Barker and safety Darius West.
It doesn't stop there.
Highly recruited defensive tackle Matt Elam is interested in the home team. Cornerback Marshon Lattimore is also considering joining the SEC program that nobody was even mentioning last season. The more recruits who jump on the bandwagon, the more who will consider doing the same.
Kentucky is beginning to look like Ole Miss from last year. Seeing this class land a few elite players wouldn't be surprising as national signing day inches closer.
Speedy Noil Picks Texas A&M
It isn't very often when LSU loses out on an in-state recruit. Wide receiver Speedy Noil is from New Orleans and is expected to stay close to home.
But if the Tigers were so confident that his commitment was a slam dunk, why in the world are they pushing hard for so many other receivers? The obvious choice would be for Noil to go with the home school, but Texas A&M has been playing in the background and is a school he unofficially visited in January.
The Aggies have become one of those trendy schools recently with all of the hype surrounding the SEC and Johnny Manziel. More and more recruits have no problem leaving home to play in College Station.
Noil would fit the spread offense and would be a highly productive player at Texas A&M. Manziel will soon have yet another weapon.
Keller Chryst Picks Any School Besides Stanford
Look at the crystal ball predictions on Keller Chryst's 247Sports page. You'll notice that all 22 predictions have him going to Stanford.
If it was that unanimous, why hasn't he made his decision already? Crazy enough, Chryst is the only Top 10 pro-style quarterback who has yet to make a decision. What is he waiting for? Just go ahead and announce the obvious.
Maybe it isn't as clear cut as most think.
Chryst has also shown love to USC and even visited Alabama in April. While he will likely stay close to his home in Palo Alto, California, the Trojans and even Pittsburgh aren't completely out of the running. The delayed commitment always leaves the door open for the possibility of an upset. Stanford already has a top quarterback recruit in Ryan Burns of the 2013 class.
Chryst will end up at a school that nobody was expecting.
UCLA Has the Best Class in the Pac-12
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UCLA only has five early commitments, but it has been quality over quantity with this group. Jermaine Eluemunor and Dominick Jackson are elite offensive linemen, while wide receiver Barry Ware is going to be a treat to watch.
Still, the Bruins have the sixth-best class in the Pac-12, according to 247Sports. The rankings will soon change once the recruits begin to fall.
Offensive lineman Demetrius Knox is nearly a lock to end up in UCLA. The list of top prospects who are giving UCLA a hard look is quite lengthy. Tight end Bryce Dixon, defensive end Malik Dorton, cornerback Adoree' Jackson and safety Mattrell McGraw are all heavily considering the Bruins.
The Bruins may have gotten off to a slow start, but they will end up with the top spot in the conference when the marathon is finished.
Da'Shawn Hand Picks Florida
Da'Shawn Hand may be the top prize of the 2014 recruiting class. Although every school you can think of would like a shot at him, he recently released his top three, according to Kevin Scarbinsky of AL.com.
Hand has always been high on Michigan and Mike Farrell of Rivals said that it is clearly the program to beat. It would also be foolish to count out Alabama and Nick Saban, who seems to always get the recruits he wants.
However, Hand has yet to visit Florida, which gives the school a late last impression whenever a trip is scheduled. Depending on how things go, the Gators could quickly become the favorite for his services. Florida always puts together elite recruiting classes and was loaded defensively last season.
Florida will remain in the national championship conversation for years to come. It also has a great defensive coaching staff led by defensive line coach Brad Lawing, who most recruits become very fond of when meeting.
The Gators will pull off the upset for the nation's top recruit.