The Top 10 Surprises so Far of 2014 College Football Recruiting Class
Recruiting is exciting to follow for many reasons. The joy of seeing college football's future stars as young prospects, the mystery and suspense of tracking their recruitment and the happiness they display when making their commitments are all part of the process.
It is also entertaining because of the many surprises that take place. The 2014 recruiting cycle has had more than a few.
A great running back prospect was a solid commitment to an ACC power but shockingly flipped to another program, a surprising recruiting resurgence is taking place at an old program thought to be on life support, and a top quarterback prospect was perceived to be a lock to head out west but opted to attempt to replace a living legend.
Kentavius Street Favoring Then Eliminating Georgia
Kentavius Street, who is one of the strongest players in the country, is a great defensive end with All-Conference potential. Street, who is from North Carolina, was a one-time strong lean to Georgia and a commitment appeared imminent (subscription required).
Mark Richt felt he had Street all but locked up in the spring only to see Street shockingly put the Dawgs on the back burner, per a May report on Scout.com (subscription required). North Carolina State is Street's new leader, and the Wolfpack are firmly entrenched on the top of his list. Playing for his in-state school with players he has close relationships with is appealing to Street.
Street has gone from a Georgia lock and a recruit many were already penciling in as a Bulldog commitment to a player the Dawgs will fail to land.
Sean White Being Named MVP at the Elite 11 Finals
The Elite 11 quarterback camp, which has an impressive list of alumni, including several NFL players, is the most prestigious camp for high school signal-callers. The finals are an invitation-only event, and it is only for the best high school quarterbacks in the country.
Although Sean White has more than 10 scholarship offers, he is not as well known as other quarterback prospects in the 2014 class. The Elite 11 Finals featured passing recruits such as Alabama commit David Cornwell, Clemson commit Deshaun Watson, Texas A&M commit Kyle Allen and Stanford commit Keller Chryst.
MVP predictions centered on one of those four quarterbacks, as White rarely received any attention prior to the event. However, he was as consistent as any quarterback on the field and elevated his play on the big stage.
White impressed coaches at the camp enough to shockingly be named MVP, and the surprise of the news lingers still.
Jim Mora, who is one of the best defensive back coaches in football, completed his first season as UCLA's head coach in 2012. He has signed two straight Top 25 classes, and the Bruins have become a well-respected Pac-12 recruiting program.
Mora and his staff were expecting their 2014 class to be their best yet, but they have not reached many of their goals. After opening with two elite classes, Mora's current group is ranked No. 80 by 247Sports. The Bruins have only four commitments, and only one prospect is a 4-star recruit.
UCLA beat USC on the field in 2012 and has the momentum in the battle for Los Angeles. So high expectations arose in Westwood for the 2014 recruiting cycle. However, the Bruins have been a disappointment.
Dalvin Cook Flipping from Clemson to Florida
Dalvin Cook, who shares his high school backfield with Miami pledge Joseph Yearby, is a fantastic running back prospect who has an NFL future. Dabo Swinney received Cook's commitment in June of 2012 and felt he was getting the next C.J. Spiller.
Tigers fans bragged about the 2014 arrival of the Florida speedster, and Cook was solid with his commitment to Clemson. However, in a stunner, Will Muschamp convinced Cook to visit Gainesville in March, and the running back flipped to the Gators in early April.
Tennessee's Earlier-Than-Expected Re-Rise on the Recruiting Trail
Butch Jones, who previously coached at Cincinnati, understands that it will take time to get Tennessee back on top of the SEC. Knoxville is behind Jones and his staff, who are the third group to coach for the Vols since the Phil Fulmer regime.
With Jones having great energy and paying extreme attention to detail, Tennessee was expected to make a gradual ascension up the SEC recruiting rankings. However, Jones' approach to recruiting has been anything but gradual, as he has a Top 10 recruiting class, says 247Sports.
The Vols are back to being a force on the trail, as their return as one of the nation's elite recruiting schools has been quicker than expected.
Boston College Is Back
Steve Addazio, who once served as an offensive coordinator at Florida, learned how to recruit from Urban Meyer. Addazio has applied many of Meyer's principles to the Boston College program, and results are coming in droves.
Boston College is not a recruiting juggernaut and it never contends for a Top 25 recruiting ranking. However, Addazio has the Eagles at No. 26, according to the 247Sports recruiting rankings,.
Addazio has 21 commitments, as Boston College is commanding respect on the trail. He serves as his own recruiting coordinator and has demanded his staff to be thorough, personable and skilled at fostering relationships.
Kentucky's Early Success
Joker Phillips, who is now the recruiting coordinator at Florida, worked hard to turn around Kentucky's recruiting. However, he could not get the job done and the Wildcats have turned to Mark Stoops.
Stoops, who is an Ohio native, has used his connections in his home state to land eight of Kentucky's 18 commitments. The Wildcats are not one of the elite schools in the SEC, and recruiting in Lexington is tough. So it is shocking to see that they have a Top 12 recruiting class.
Stoops is just getting started at Kentucky.
Kyle Allen Spurning UCLA for Texas A&M
Kyle Allen, who is from Arizona, is one of the best quarterbacks in the country. He has a long list of offers, but UCLA's coaching staff developed a close relationship with him.
Allen narrowed his list in May, and the Bruins figured to have an advantage. He could stay close to home, play in a spread offense and receive good coaching in Westwood. However, to the surprise of many, Allen spurned the Bruins and committed to Texas A&M in June.
The Aggies have several young passers on their roster, so it is not a given that Allen will be the replacement for Johnny Manziel. He could have chose other schools with more favorable depth charts, but he will play in College Station.
Leonard Fournette Announcing He Will Visit Michigan
Leonard Fournette, the nation's best running back, is expected to sign with an SEC school. From New Orleans, Fournette is wanted by LSU and Alabama, among many other schools.
However, the Tide and Tigers are expected to be his main suitors, with Texas as a dark horse. Fournette decided to add a new wrinkle to his recruitment when he informed GoBlueWolverine.com (subscription required) that he will take an unofficial visit to Michigan.
Brady Hoke has hauled in several elite prospects during his tenure in Ann Arbor, so when an a prospect of Fournette's caliber adds Michigan to his list, other schools take notice. Although LSU and Alabama are the front-runners, Fournette's interest in Michigan is a surprise.
Penn State Going Strong
With NCAA sanctions casting a dark cloud over their program, the Nittany Lions rose to the occasion last year by bringing in a Top 25 class, according ESPNU. Bill O'Brien and his staff pulled off one of the greatest recruiting jobs of all time.
Penn State was not expected to land another Top 25 class, but according to 247Sports, it is on pace to repeat last year's shocking recruiting performance. The Nittany Lions have limited depth, their recruits are not going to be playing in a bowl game for three years and O'Brien may bolt for an NFL team soon.
However, he and his staff continue to construct solid recruiting classes, and down the line Penn State will be more competitive than people think.