Top 2014 College Football Recruits Heading to Non-BCS Programs
Alabama safety Draequon Murphy opted to attend Arkansas State. (247Sports)
The six automatic qualifier BCS conferences (American, Atlantic Coast, Southeastern, Big Ten, Big 12 and PAC-12) routinely receive the most media coverage, advertising exposure and program revenue. But when you look beyond the BCS ranks, there's an abundance of talented players and teams in every corner of the country.
High school standouts pick non-BCS programs for a variety of reasons, although it's often because those are the only offers on their table. However, significant playing time and positional concerns can sway an athlete's decision to decline an opportunity at increased limelight.
The 2014 recruiting class is deep and not every player is destined for BCS glory. Let's take a look at several recruits ready to make their mark at the mid-major level.
4-Star QB Shuler Bentley (Duncan, S.C.)
South Carolina high school powerhouse Byrnes is led by prolific passer Shuler Bentley. The 6'1", 200-pound prospect threw for more than 4,700 yards and 59 touchdowns as a junior, according to 247Sports.
He's the prized recruit in Old Dominion's first freshman class of a new era. The Monarchs move up to FBS on July 1, 2014, when the program joins Conference USA.
Bentley, ranked the nation's No. 20 pro-style passer by 247Sports, was also one of Cincinnati's top targets. He sited factors beyond the field as a main contributor to his decision during a conversation with 247Sports reporter Evan Watkins.
“I chose ODU because I felt it would be the best place for me to succeed," Bentley told Watkins. "Not only football but in getting an education and preparing me for life after football."
3-Star RB P.J. Walker (Perris, Calif.)
Versatile Citrus Hill High School running back P.J. Walker has the skill set to be a star in mid-level action. He is committed to play for San Diego State, a squad that competes in the Mountain West Conference.
Walker, a 5'11", 195-pound prospect, should be an immediate impact player for the Aztecs. He rushed for more than 1,900 yards as a junior, according to the Los Angeles Times.
The Riverside County standout can run between tackles and displays enough burst to be a dangerous weapon along the outside edge and in the passing game. Walker is listed as the nation's No. 36 running back recruit in 247Sports rankings.
He also weighed offers from UNLV and Boise State.
3-Star WR Nick Kurtz (El Cajon, Calif.)
Wide receiver Nick Kurtz ranks among the nation's top offensive junior college prospects. He holds offers from several top-tier BCS programs but decided to commit to BYU in August. The Cougars competed in the Mountain West Conference for more than a decade but became an independent program in 2011.
BYU landed a huge target in the passing game who appears polished enough to vie for serious playing time when he arrives on campus. Kurtz is a 6'6", 205-pound prospect from Grossmont (Calif.) Junior College.
By committing to BYU, he spurned offers from Oregon, Texas Tech, Kansas, California and USC.
4-Star QB Jalen Greene (Gardena, Calif.)
Los Angeles area quarterback Jalen Greene is the signal caller for an explosive Gardena Serra offensive attack that features 5-star recruit Adoree' Jackson. He's an exceptional athlete who used his rushing abilities to buy time in the backfield or sprint for large chunks of yardage.
Greene committed to Boise State in April, shortly after visiting the campus. He received interest from Florida, Arizona State, Georgia Tech, and Arizona, among others.
The 6'3", 195-pound playmaker is listed as the nation's eighth-best dual-threat quarterback by 247Sports. Through five games this season, Greene has passed for 14 touchdowns and nearly 1,200 yards, per MaxPreps.
He has also rushed for 425 yards and five scores. Expect him to vie for the Broncos' starting job at an early stage in his Mountain West Conference career.
3-Star S Draequon Murphy (Montgomer, Ala.)
Draequon Murphy ranks among the premier defensive prospects in talent-laden Alabama. The 6-foot, 200-pound Carver High School standout warranted substantial interest from a variety of programs, including an offer from the Alabama Crimson Tide.
The talented safety committed to Arkansas State in September, joining the Red Wolves in the Sun Belt Conference. Murphy, who also drew interest from Auburn, Clemson and Vanderbilt, is likely to contribute as a freshman in Jonesboro.
Listed as the nation's 36th-best safety by 247Sports, Murphy makes an impact in multiple facets on defense. He's excellent in pass coverage and can step up into the box, providing blitz capabilities and run support.
3-Star QB Chance Stewart (Sturgis, Mich.)
Big pocket passer Chance Stewart had multiple opportunities to compete in the Big Ten, but ultimately opted to take his talents to the Mid-American Conference. The 6'5", 210-pound Sturgis High School star committed to Western Michigan in April, brightening the Broncos' future at quarterback.
Stewart, who is listed as the No. 23 pro-style passer in 247 Sports national rankings, was originally committed to Wisconsin. He broke his verbal pact with the Badgers in March.
He attended a Junior Day at Illinois this spring and received an offer from the Illini shortly after. The promise of playing for first-year head coach P.J. Fleck at Western Michigan was a major draw for Stewart, a subject he discussed with 247Sports reporter Steve Wiltfong.
When I talk to Coach Fleck, I see how committed he is and how dedicated he is to Western Michigan football. He has such a passion for football and it seemed like a perfect fit. I really enjoy everything they’re doing, it’s a unique offense, and I decided to pull the plug on recruiting.
Steward began his senior season with 4,525 career passing yards and 39 touchdowns, per 247Sports.