15 College Football Teams Whose 2014 Recruiting Class Won't Be as Good as 2013
Bringing in a good a recruiting class is a tough task. The competition on the trail is fierce. Coaches scramble for prospects all over the country, looking to sign a good group to boast about on the first Wednesday in February.
Some programs can get off to a good start and keep their pace until signing day, while others see a new staff's initial enthusiasm provide a jolt of renewed energy in a program's recruiting efforts.
Sustaining that success and energy level year-to-year is a challenge that not all programs can overcome. Many times, a coaching staff will complete a cycle with a great class only to see its next class fall short of the prior group's quality.
With the 2014 class now taking shape, some programs are learning their classes will not be as good as last year's. A program that has shocked the nation that past two recruiting cycles is falling from grace, while a Big 12 power is not on its normal pace. Several SEC surprises also are included in this rundown.
Gary Patterson, who made a name for himself as a defensive coach, is one of the best head coaches in the country. He runs a great program at TCU, and the Horned Frogs' recruiting is based on good evaluations and proper scheme fits.
TCU is finally in a BCS conference, having just completed its first season in the Big 12. Patterson used the Horned Frogs' new BCS affiliation to land the No. 35 class in the country in 2013, which is a big accomplishment at TCU.
The 2014 recruiting cycle was supposed to see TCU ascend up the recruiting pecking order, but as of now it has taken a step back.
If Patterson and his staff do not increase their efforts, their 2014 class will fall short of expectations.
Randy Edsall, who left UConn for Maryland, has fiercely attempted to put a wall around the D.M.V. area. Edsall understands how much talent is in Maryland's region and wants to keep all of the top local players home.
He struck gold with recruits Stefon Diggs and Wes Brown in 2012 and signed stud offensive line prospect Derwin Gray in 2013.
However, Edsall is not doing as well in 2014. Star local recruits cornerback Jalen Tabor and offensive tackle Damian Prince are not locks to sign with the Terps.
The recruiting fence that Edsall is trying to build around his area is crumbling.
The Beavers made a huge turnaround last season, going from 3-9 in 2011 to 9-3 in 2012. Mike Riley is a solid coach, but he has never been a dominant recruiter.
Oregon State's great 2012 season helped on the recruiting trail; the Beavers signed the No. 44 group in the country, a high ranking by their standards. With a good vibe coming into the 2013 season, one would imagine Oregon State would be recruiting better than its current ranking.
Although Riley is counting on the Beavers to play good football in the fall to help them finish strong in recruiting, he must be careful. It would be a disappointment to finish with the nation's 89th-best class.
Kevin Wilson, who was previously Oklahoma's offensive chief, is trying to change the culture in Bloomington. He is learning that the basketball program will always be top dog, but support remains for the football team.
Recruiting at Indiana is awfully tough. The Hoosiers do not have a rich history on the gridiron. However, Wilson signed a great class last year, led by athlete Rashard Fant. The 2013 class is one of the Hoosiers' best in recent history and was perceived as the foundation to future good recruiting classes.
However, Wilson has failed to sustain last year's success. His current class is hanging on by a thread to be included in the Top 80 rankings.
The Hogs chose to replace John L. Smith with Bret Bielema, and their presence on Twitter has grown with the new head coach. Bielema and ace recruiter Charlie Partridge led a late surge last year, with their crowning achievement landing running back Alex Collins.
Arkansas would like to have a better presence in Florida under this new regime, which should help it sustain last year's Top 25 success. However, that has not happened and the Hogs have one of the lowest-ranked classes in the SEC.
Bielema, Patridge and co. must get going, or they will face questions about if their 2013 class was an aberration.
Big Red has been an inconsistent recruiting program under Bo Pelini, but 2013 was a good year. The Cornhuskers signed 26 players and seven 4-star recruits, led by quarterback Johnny Stanton.
However, their inconsistency has continued this year.
Nebraska's class is ranked 40th in the country. Big Red would like to take the momentum of last year's class and run with it, but it has yet to truly take off with its 2014 group. Pelini and his staff need a surge, or they will find themselves answering more inconsistency questions.
Chip Kelly is in Philadelphia coaching the Eagles and Mark Helfrich is now in charge of the Ducks. Helfrich has been more aggressive in his early approach to recruiting than Kelly, but results have not been great.
After keeping together a 2013 class led by running back Thomas Tyner that Kelly mostly built, Helfrich seemed like he had the tools to sustain Kelly's recruiting pace. However, he has failed to crack the Top 50 of the 2014 recruiting rankings and only has seven commitments.
Oregon could be primed for a surge in the home stretch of this cycle, but right now it is not recruiting as well as it did under Kelly.
The Sooners have seen a significant drop from last year; they do not possess their usual recruiting clout. In years past, Oklahoma was one of the premier recruiting programs in college football. But it has not had a Top 10 class since 2010, per 247Sports.
A No. 16 recruiting is nothing to scoff at, but Oklahoma is held to a higher standard than most, which is why being ranked 29th in the 2014 rankings will not sit well in Norman. However, Bob Stoops certainly has proven he can rally the troops and finish strong on the trail.
He will need to, or Oklahoma's class will be even less heralded than its 2013 haul.
Steve Sarkisian has signed three straight Top 25 classes and has a great staff of recruiters. The Huskies are a respected recruiting program in Pac-12 country and do not back down from USC and Oregon on the trail.
Last year's class was Sarkisian's highest-ranked group since arriving in Seattle, and the Dawgs were eyeing a Top 10 finish in 2014.
However, those aspirations must be reduced, as Washington finds itself with the No. 49 class in the country.
Do not expect the Huskies to stay at this slot. They are in play for several big-name prospects. However, they will need to be flawless from this point forward for their 2014 class to be better than last year's group.
James Franklin, who has provided excitement for Vanderbilt, has made a name for himself as a tireless recruiter. Franklin understands Vandy's academic standards limit his prospective player pool, but he does not make excuses and views that as a positive thing.
He has brought in two straight Top 25-caliber classes to Nashville, and the talent level of the Commodores' roster has been upgraded. Although they are not too far outside the Top 25, the Commodores are behind the pace of their prior two recruiting classes.
It is possible that Franklin has another gear in him and increases their recruiting efforts. But, as of now, they're not going to sign a better class than what they signed in 2013.
The Trojans were hit severely by the de-commitment bug in 2013, but they still hauled in a Top 15 class. Lane Kiffin only signed 12 prospects in 2013, but all of them were 4-star-or-higher recruits.
The Trojans came into this recruiting cycle with a couple extra scholarships stemming from not filling their quota last year. The extra scholarships were supposed to help USC make a dominant return to the recruiting trail, but that has not happened.
Kiffin only has seven commitments and nearly half are 3-star prospects. While USC is being considered by elite prospects around the country, the Trojans' 2014 recruiting hopes will depend heavily on their performance during the season.
Steve Spurrier has not been as dominant a recruiter in Columbia as he was at Florida, but the Ol' Ball Coach has been solid for the Gamecocks.
SEC recruiting is tough, but Spurrier has raised South Carolina's recruiting profile during his tenure.
He put together a Top 20 class in 2013, headlined by quarterback Connor Mitch, defensive tackle Kelsey Griffin, linebacker Larenz Bryant and running back David Williams. The 21-man class is a good group and looks even better when compared to the small nine-man group currently constructed by Spurrier.
South Carolina faces stiff competition for prospects due to its conference and location. Alabama, LSU, Florida, Florida State and rival Clemson have more recruiting pizzazz, so it may be tough for the Gamecocks to get into the Top 25 rankings this year.
Alabama, the premier program in the country, signed the nation's best class in 2013 and has the No. 1 class in 2014.
So why are the Crimson Tide on this list?
The class 'Bama signed last February will go down as one of the best in ages, which is a significant statement for Alabama due to the recent classes it has signed. Nick Saban has 18 incoming freshmen who are 4-star-or-higher recruits, plus an additional nine players. That is incredible quality and will be tough to duplicate on the recruiting trail, especially a year later.
Alabama currently has the top class in the country, and it is fantastic. But it may be impossible to repeat the quality of last year's incredible class, even if its 2014 assembly is also ranked No. 1.
Jim Mora landed a Top 20 class in 2012 and followed that up with a Top 10 class in 2013. Mora's charisma works well on the trail and has helped him make great strides in Westwood.
However, the 2014 recruiting cycle has not been kind to Mora; he has just four commitments. Only one pledge is from a 4-star prospect, and the Bruins' class is only ranked 10th in the Pac-12.
Mora had high hopes for this recruiting cycle and some of his goals still are in reach, but UCLA will be taking a step back on the recruiting trail in 2014.
Ole Miss was the big surprise and main story of the 2013 recruiting cycle. The Rebels came out of nowhere to land a Top 10 class and signed elite prospects such as defensive end Robert Nkemdiche, safety Antonio Conner, receiver Laquon Treadwell and offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil.
Hugh Freeze, who is a passionate recruiter, is attempting to top his great accomplishment, but it will not happen. Freeze has good depth in this class, led by offensive tackle Andy Bauer, but he won't have the multiple superstar recruits like he landed last year.