College Football

12 Teams Recruiting Well Enough to Compete in the College Football Playoff Era

Alex SimsCorrespondent IIIJanuary 23, 2014

12 Teams Recruiting Well Enough to Compete in the College Football Playoff Era

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    Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images

    As the College Football Playoff era begins, the door to a national championship will be opened just a little bit wider.

    And as the four-team playoff allows two more teams an opportunity to win it all at season's end, it still might be open to just several select teams.

    Those teams will be the ones that have dominated on the recruiting trail. Alabama, Auburn and Florida State have made the national conversation for a reason—all three schools clean up in high schools across the nation.

    We'll take a look at why those three contenders will continue to contend, and we'll also look at nine other schools poised to compete for spots in the new playoff system in 2014 and beyond.

     

    All class and player rankings based on the 247Sports' composite ratings, unless otherwise noted.

Notre Dame Fighting Irish

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    Jaylon Smith (right) made an immediate impact in South Bend, and more help is on the way.
    Jaylon Smith (right) made an immediate impact in South Bend, and more help is on the way.Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    2014 Class Rank: 8

    Brian Kelly landed the No. 5 recruiting class in the nation in 2013 and saw immediate contribution from its top recruit, Jaylon Smith.

    The former composite 5-star was No. 3 on the team with 67 tackles, 6.5 of which were tackles for a loss. He also pulled in an interception while forcing and recovering a fumble.

    The Irish are loading up again in 2014 on both sides of the ball.

    Their class includes 4-star quarterback DeShone Kizer, 4-star receiver Justin Brent and several touted offensive linemen.

    If Kelly keeps bringing in skilled recruits, he'll have his club right in the national title conversation.

Tennessee Volunteers

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    RB Jalen Hurd is the key piece of a deep 2014 class for Tennessee.
    RB Jalen Hurd is the key piece of a deep 2014 class for Tennessee.Mark Humphrey/Associated Press

    2014 Class Rank: 6

    Tennessee's 2014 class is nothing short of incredible.

    The Volunteers boast 34 commitments, including 15 4-stars and several junior college recruits who could contribute right away.

    In-state 4-stars running back Jalen Hurd and receiver Josh Malone highlight the deep class.

    The whole class shows that Butch Jones not only understands what he needs to do to compete in the SEC; he has what it takes to keep up—at least on the recruiting trail.

    He's already off to a great start for 2015 with seven commits.

USC Trojans

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    Top USC target Adoree Jackson could close out a playoff-caliber class.
    Top USC target Adoree Jackson could close out a playoff-caliber class.USA TODAY Sports

    2014 Class Rank: 24

    USC has managed to recruit well even under sanctions. The team has pulled in several key 5-stars, including safety Su'a Cravens and quarterback Max Browne.

    Steve Sarkisian has kept up the strong recruiting for the Trojans since his recent arrival; USC already has a top 25 class and is poised to finish strong.

    Adoree Jackson and John Smith, both 5-stars, and 4-star Damien Mama might become Trojans by national signing day.

Texas A&M Aggies

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    Is Kyle Allen Johnny Manziel's heir at A&M?
    Is Kyle Allen Johnny Manziel's heir at A&M?Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

    2014 Class Rank: 5

    Much of Texas A&M's recent success has come thanks to the incredible play of Johnny Manziel, but Kevin Sumlin has been on the recruiting trail making sure that prosperity will continue.

    A&M's 2014 class is outstanding, highlighted by No. 2 overall prospect 5-star defensive end Myles Garrett, No. 1 quarterback Kyle Allen and No. 1 receiver Speedy Noil.

    The Aggies finished with the No. 9 class in the nation last year and are already carrying their momentum through 2014 and over to 2015.

    The 2015 class includes five commitments: four 4-stars and one 5-star, defensive tackle Daylon Mack.

Auburn Tigers

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    Could Racean "Roc" Thomas be the next Tre Mason for Auburn?
    Could Racean "Roc" Thomas be the next Tre Mason for Auburn?247Sports

    2014 Class Rank: 7

    Auburn made it to the 2013 national title game because of its past efforts on the recruiting trail. It will stay in the conversation thanks to its current work.

    The Tigers' 2014 class features the No. 1 JUCO prospect, receiver D'haquille Williams, 5-star running back Roc Thomas and 5-star linebacker Tre Williams.

    Their 2013 class has already started to pan out as well. They saw enormous contributions from defensive linemen Carl Lawson, Montravius Adams and Elijah Daniel—not to mention quarterback Nick Marshall.

    They also already have quarterbacks for the future, including Jeremy Johnson from the 2013 class and Sean White from the 2014 class.

Georgia Bulldogs

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    Sony Michel will immediately compete for time in the Georgia backfield.
    Sony Michel will immediately compete for time in the Georgia backfield.247Sports

    2014 Class Rank: 10

    Georgia might have the deepest running back corps in the country next year. It will be led by current backs Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall.

    The Bulldogs will add two more 5-stars—Sony Michel and Nick Chubbat the position, as well as 4-star quarterback Jacob Park.

    Last year's class was ranked No. 11 nationally, and next year's already features three blue-chip prospects.

    With the addition of defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt—one of the nation's best recruitersGeorgia could become even more of a force on the recruiting front than it already is.

Michigan Wolverines

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    Jabrill Peppers is a star in the making for Michigan.
    Jabrill Peppers is a star in the making for Michigan.Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

    2014 Class Rank: 15

    Jabrill Peppers, a 5-star athlete, is one of the most intriguing prospects in the 2014 class. He has the talent to immediately see the field at Michigan and make an enormous impact.

    The Wolverines brought in the nation's No. 4 class last year, which added several talented offensive linemen and future stars at quarterback and running back.

    Michigan didn't have the greatest season in 2013, but it is poised to make it back on track in the coming years.

    If Brady Hoke can keep that up, he'll keep UM on the national scene.

Florida Gators

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    Is Will Grier the answer to Florida's QB struggles?
    Is Will Grier the answer to Florida's QB struggles?Eric Gay/Associated Press

    2014 Class Rank: 9

    It was a dreadful 2013 season for Florida, thanks to a plethora of injuries.

    UF was able to keep up for a while, thanks to depth from strong recruiting, but no team can endure that many losses and still win in the SEC.

    Even after a disaster on the field, though, Will Muschamp was able to keep recruits focused on the future of the program.

    The Gators boast a Top 10 class for the third straight season. 

    Cornerback Jalen Tabor, a 5-star, will keep the UF secondary elite, and 4-star quarterback Will Grier could be the answer to its offensive issues.

LSU Tigers

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    Meet LSU's next great back: No. 1 overall recruit, Leonard Fournette.
    Meet LSU's next great back: No. 1 overall recruit, Leonard Fournette.247Sports

    2014 Class Rank: 3

    It's always good to pull in the No. 1 overall recruit—and LSU has that for this year and next.

    The Tigers have 2014's top prospect Leonard Fournette, who could start next year at running back. They also already have a commitment from the top composite prospect for 2015, cornerback Kevin Toliver II.

    Keeping up with LSU tradition, the Tigers also have several other 5-star defenders joining the fold, including safeties Edward Paris and Jamal Adams and linebacker Clifton Garrett.

    LSU also might have an interesting quarterback battle ahead. Vying to replace Zach Mettenberger will be 4-stars Anthony Jennings and Brandon Harris.

Florida State Seminoles

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    RB Dalvin Cook could make an immediate impact in the FSU backfield.
    RB Dalvin Cook could make an immediate impact in the FSU backfield.247Sports

    2014 Class Rank: 4

    Florida State has always been able to attract top recruits, and winning the national title has only helped that.

    FSU has already suffered several losses, and more will come next year.

    Conveniently, the Seminoles will be reloading with several highly touted recruits, including 5-star running back Dalvin Cook, 4-star receiver Travis Rudolph and 4-star linebacker Kain Daub.

    Their 2013 class was excellent as well. Jalen Ramsey, a 5-star corner, ended up being one of the best young defensive backs in the nation.

    Don't look now, but the 2015 class is already looking great as well.

Ohio State Buckeyes

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    5-star LB Raekwon McMillan is already enrolled, ready to bolster the OSU D.
    5-star LB Raekwon McMillan is already enrolled, ready to bolster the OSU D.247Sports

    2014 Class Rank: 2

    Urban Meyer has brought SEC-caliber recruiting to the Big Ten, and because of it, Ohio State will be in the national title conversation for years to come.

    The Buckeyes' 2014 class is ranked second in the nation and features 5-star linebacker Raekwon McMillan and 15 4-stars.

    They also finished No. 2 nationally last year with 5-star safety Vonn Bell and 19 4-stars.

    As long as Meyer is winning at OSU, the blue-chip recruits will keep coming to Columbus.

Alabama Crimson Tide

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    QB David Cornwell could be the future for Alabama.
    QB David Cornwell could be the future for Alabama.Steve Dykes-USA TODAY Sports

    2014 Class Rank: 1

    Alabama's 2015 class currently is No. 2 in the nation behind Texas.

    If the Crimson Tide end up in that place, it'll be the first time since 2010 that they finished anywhere other than No. 1, provided they finish first in 2014, where they are currently ranked.

    Nick Saban and his team of recruiters are the best in the business, as evidenced by their No. 1 classes in 2011, 2012, 2013 and (most likely) 2014.

    UA has too many top recruits to name, and there's a great chance they'll add another batch and end up with the top class for 2015.

    There's no mystery as to why Alabama is always a national title contender: Becoming one starts on the recruiting trail.

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