12 Teams Recruiting Well Enough to Compete in the College Football Playoff Era
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
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.
If Kelly keeps bringing in skilled recruits, he'll have his club right in the national title conversation.
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.
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.
2014 Class Rank: 24
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.
Texas A&M Aggies
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
With the addition of defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt—one of the nation's best recruiters—Georgia could become even more of a force on the recruiting front than it already is.
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.
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.
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.
Florida State Seminoles
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.
Don't look now, but the 2015 class is already looking great as well.
Ohio State Buckeyes
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.
As long as Meyer is winning at OSU, the blue-chip recruits will keep coming to Columbus.
Alabama Crimson Tide
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.