National Signing Day 2014: Programs on the Rise with Latest Recruiting Class

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National Signing Day 2014: Programs on the Rise with Latest Recruiting Class
Jae C. Hong/Associated Press

With the passing of national signing day, it is a good time to measure the direction of programs. 

Now, projected talent doesn't always project, and a class that looks dynamic on paper may fizzle in reality. Still, that doesn't change the fact that recruiting classes are a great representation of any program's current power in the college football landscape. 

With that in mind, I found three programs that haven't been where they want to be in the rankings and standings but appear to be in the process of changing that. 

 

USC

Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

Lane Kiffin was quickly destroying the proud USC program. The Trojans were underwhelming on the field, and the team appeared fractured and divided. 

Ed Orgeron was able to turn around the play on the field when he took over for Kiffin on an interim basis, but it wasn't until Steve Sarkisian was named as head coach that this program had the stability it needed to thrive in recruiting. 

That is exactly what happened. Despite dealing with the last year of sanctions and limited scholarships, USC's 2014 recruiting class is ranked 11th by 247Sports. Sarkisian's impact in recruiting is well represented in that ranking. 

USC's final push bumped it up 15 spots. Sarkisian and his staff did some work on national signing day. 

The Trojans appear to have landed Adoree' Jackson and John "JuJu" Smith. 

Smith, listed as a safety and receiver, ranks as the No. 20 overall prospect in the nation, according to 247Sports' composite rankings, and he's not even as highly regarded as Jackson. 

Jackson was the only top-10 recruit left undecided for NSD. USC, however, is still waiting for his letter of intent: 

Listed as the No. 7 overall recruit in 247Sports' composite rankings, Jackson stands 5'9.5" and 182 pounds. He has great cover skills and is a dynamic returner. 

This isn't a recruiting class as powerful as those from the Trojans' most recent heyday, but it is a great start. Sarkisian is ready to hit the ground running at USC. 

 

Florida 

John Raoux/Associated Press

I don't get Florida's recruiting success this past season. I mean, on the one hand, Florida is always in a good position for recruiting success. The Gators hail from one of the biggest hotbeds of football talent in the nation, and they certainly have the pedigree and reputation to impress recruits. 

That said, did any of the recruits who committed to Florida watch any of the Gators' games the previous season? 

Florida went just 4-8 last year, and it was a boring 4-8. The Gators flashed signs of a good defense last year, but with injuries setting in and an abysmal offense, the Gators lost their last seven games of the season. 

No matter, the Gators still sit in ninth in 247Sports' class ranking, and their class received a boost on NSD:

Head coach Will Muschamp is certainly excited: 

Florida's class proves the Gators aren't going to make a habit of having down seasons. 

 

Washington 

Ted S. Warren/Associated Press

It was not my intention to have this list largely revolve around Steve Sarkisian, but the Washington Huskies deserve a mention. 

The Huskies' 2014 class finished ranked 37th nationally by 247Sports. Washington doesn't want to get used to that kind of ranking, but for this year, it can be more than content with it. 

As USC benefited from Sarkisian's recruiting skills, the Huskies suffered from his leaving. 

This left new coach Chris Petersen with a tough task. But 247Sports pushed the Huskies up 19 spots after national signing day. Of course, as former Husky great Brock Huard points out, it doesn't hurt that Seattle is the home to the best football team on the planet: 

Although this ranking is lower than the Huskies were getting used to under Sarkisian, it is better than Petersen was getting at small-school Boise State. It is exciting to see what this masterful coach can do with more talent. 

Petersen was able to reestablish some momentum around this program after Sarkisian left. This was a fantastic start to the Petersen era. 

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