The race for conference crowns and BCS glory is underway again across the country. While the wins and losses will add up into January, a contentious yearlong battle is taking place between teams beyond the playing field.
Class of 2014 recruiting efforts are at a fevered pitch as coaching staffs aim to bring top freshmen talent to campus next year. National signing day looms large, so the pressure is on each team to assemble a quality class before Feb. 5 arrives.
As squads continue to acquire key commitments, let's take a look ahead and predict the programs primed to land an outstanding group of high school seniors.
Recruit rankings and information courtesy of 247Sports.com.
Louisiana's 2014 class is absolutely stacked with elite talent. It's imperative Les Miles and LSU use in-state recruiting resources to full advantage to ensure several of these playmakers stay close to home.
The Tigers currently hold firm commitments from some of the state's top recruits. Quarterback Brandon Harris (Bossier City), wide receiver Trey Quinn (Lake Charles), guard Garrett Brumfield (Baton Rouge), tight end Jacory Washington (Westlake) and guard Will Clapp (New Orleans) are each 4-star recruits and could convince others to stay put in Louisiana.
LSU is still targeting several in-state stars, including 5-star players like tackle Cameron Robinson, running back Leonard Fournette and receivers Speedy Noil and Malachi Dupree. LSU will soar up recruiting rankings if Miles is able to land two of these standouts.
He already locked in commitments from a pair of top-tier safety prospects from beyond state borders. 4-star Arlington, Texas product Edward Paris and 4-star Mississippi thumper Devin Voorhies highlight a strong defensive class.
The Gators continue to grab players from throughout the Sunshine State, an annual recruiting hotbed. Quincy Wilson (Fort Lauderdale), J.C. Jackson (Immokalee), Duke Dawson (Cross City) and Chris Lammons (Plantation) are 4-star secondary prospects capable of competing on the offensive end if needed.
Jackson, a wide receiver and cornerback, decommitted from Florida State in June.
Khairi Clark (Hollywood, Fla.) is listed as the nation's ninth-best defensive tackle prospect, according to 247Sports composite rankings. Tavin Bryan, an intriguing 6'5", 250-pound defensive end from Wyoming, brings toughness to the Gators edge rush.
The Gators gain a trio of 5-star recruits on offense. North Carolina quarterback Will Grier, south Florida receiver Ermon Lane and Miami running back Dalvin Cook could all potentially do damage as freshmen.
Texas always seems to take care of business early in the recruiting process, solidifying many commitments before recruits' junior seasons. It helps that the Longhorns are an iconic squad in a state packed with All-Americans.
Mack Brown bolstered his 2014 class back in August 2012 by landing 4-star in-state recruits Jerrod Heard (quarterback, Denton), Derrick Roberson (defensive end, San Antonio), wide receiver Lorenzo Joe (Abilene) and Donald Catalon (running back, Houston). The impressive haul of rising juniors set the tone for another outstanding crop of incoming freshman in Austin.
Texas has already accumulated 23 commitments for its 2014 class, according to 247Sports, but the effort isn't finished yet.
Florida State secured commitments from three of the top linebackers in the state, continuing a tradition of excellent defensive classes. Kain Daub (Jacksonville), Jacob Pugh (Tallahassee) and Delvin Purifoy (Pensacola) are each 4-star recruits and provide Jimbo Fisher with tremendous depth at the position.
4-star defensive tackles Dexter Wideman and Demarcus Christmas are capable of anchoring the Seminoles' front four for years to come. Florida State is still searching for a premier pass rusher in this class and that's certainly a point of concern.
Florida State can anticipate an influx of quality offensive talent as well, thanks to the commitments of Pittsburgh-area passer JJ Cosentino and versatile Mississippi receiver Markell Pack. Both playmakers are consensus 4-star recruits.
The Bulldogs have built a perennially powerful recruiting department under head coach Mark Richt. The 2014 class features a pair of elite running back prospects—4-star Nick Chubb and 5-star Sony Michel—and coveted quarterback Jacob Park, who is considered the nation's fifth-best pro-style passer according to 247Sports composite rankings.
Prized defensive tackles Dontavius Russell and Lamont Gaillard are both listed among the top 15 players at the position, per 247Sports composite rankings. The Bulldogs are also set to bring in 4-star offensive targets Jeb Blazevich (tight end, Charlotte, N.C.) and Shakenneth Williams (wide receiver, Macon, Ga.).
Brady Hoke landed lauded New Jersey star Jabrill Peppers, a 5-star prospect and the country's third-best player, according to 247Sports composite rankings. Peppers can play a variety of positions and his commitment could still pay dividends on the recruiting trail.
Ohio recruit Michael Ferns is also in the fold. He is the sixth-ranked inside linebacker in the country in 247Sports composite rankings. 4-star defensive linemen Lawrence Marshall and Bryan Mone provide the Wolverines with skilled pass rushers.
Marshall, a weak-side end prospect, dropped an earlier commitment to Ohio State.
Butch Jones brings in an abundance of talent with this class. The group is brimming with athleticism, especially in the defensive department.
Linebackers Chris Weatherd, Kevin Mouhon and Dillon Bates are each outstanding prospects at the position. Weatherd, a 6'4, 225-pound Texas product, is considered the consensus No. 1 outside linebacker in the nation, per 247Sports composite rankings.
Nashville's Rashaan Gaulden is an intriguing safety recruit, while Knoxville cornerback Todd Kelly selected the Volunteers over Alabama and Arkansas. Kelly is listed as the 2014 class' sixth-best safety prospect, according to 247Sports composite rankings.
Tennessee picked up the top player in the state, per 247Sports, by securing a commitment from 5-star athlete Jalen Hurd. The Volunteers' remaining top targets include electrifying Los Angeles-area athlete Adoree' Jackson and 5-star Illinois linebacker Clifton Garrett.
Miami has been mighty on the recruiting trail yet again. Al Golden gained commitments up front from 5-star offensive tackle KC McDermott and 4-star Florida defensive linemen Travonte Valentine and Chad Thomas.
The Hurricanes have also landed a lot of talent at skill positions, particularly Miami native Joseph Yearby, who is the sixth-ranked running back in 247Sports composite rankings. California 4-star quarterback Brad Kaaya is a highly-capable pro-style passer.
Miami is intent on punctuating its 2014 recruiting class with a big push on defensive prospects. The team is currently pursuing 4-star Fort Lauderdale defensive takle Anthony Moten and 4-star Palm Beach Gardens defensive back Johnnie Dixon.
Damon Webb, a 4-star cornerback, and elite Virginia defensive end Jalyn Holmes are also instant-impact defenders. The Buckeyes spread-option offensive attack is set to make strides with an infusion of young talent.
4-star Brooklyn standout Curtis Samuel could excel at wide receiver or running back. Chicago offensive tackle Jamarco Jones is the fourth-ranked player at the position, per 247Sports composite rankings.
The Buckeyes would love to bring 5-star Georgia linebacker Raekwon McMillan into the mix, and have sights set on Texas cornerback Tony Brown, who would instantly become one if the top defensive back newcomers in the Big Ten.
Linebackers Shaun Dion Hamilton, Zach Whitley and Christian Miller comprise a linebacker corps that drew interest from schools throughout the country. Miller, a ferocious South Carolina run stuffer, is listed as the second-best outside linebacker in the country, according to 247Sports composite rankings.
Whitley and Hamilton are both among the top 10 inside linebacker prospects according to 247Sports composite rankings.
4-star running back Bo Scarbrough could be the next Crimson Tide ball carrier to become a household name. Quarterback David Cornwell is listed as the fourth-best pro-style passer in the country, according to 247Sports composite rankings.
Alabama's class would reach even another level if the team lands Louisiana offensive tackle Cameron Robinson, regarded as the consensus No. 1 player in America, per 247Sports. The Tide are also firmly in the mix for 5-star Hoover, Ala. cornerback Marlon Humphrey.