College Football Teams That Will Dominate Headlines During 2015 Recruiting Cycle
The 2015 recruiting period is already gaining steam as the nation's rising seniors step under the microscope. Campus visits, mountains of mail and verbal commitments will continue to pile up between now and next national signing day.
There remains plenty to be sorted out, but it's clear in some cases to see how things are trending for certain teams. Several squads seem headed for an excellent recruiting haul, while others command attention due to intriguing storylines.
Here's a sneak peek at programs primed to steal the national spotlight during the upcoming recruiting process.
Al Golden arrived in Coral Gables after the 2010 season but his abilities as a head coach have been inhibited by looming penalties stemming from an internal university investigation into the activities of booster Nevin Shapiro. The school self-imposed a two-year postseason ban, which prevented Miami from competing in the 2012 ACC championship game.
The NCAA concluded a lengthy look-over of the program in October, opting to avoid future bowl bans and stick with a mild scholarship reduction through 2016. The decision brought a much-needed conclusion to the ordeal for Golden, who had to recruit players despite uncertainty swirling around the severity of punishment that ultimately awaited Miami.
The Hurricanes have made strides on the playing field with Golden at the helm. Now the coach can finally sell the program on his own terms, as he explained in a recent team documentary film.
We really feel like now we are moving from a phase that we were just trying to survive and stabilize to now we are entering a phase where we can thrive and we can go recruit. I can’t tell you how refreshing it’s been to be able to go out and talk about what a great place the University of Miami is, and talk about our campus, our tradition, our world renowned academics, and talk about what we can afford young people that really, very few places in the world of college athletics can. That’s what’s been missing for the better part of two-and-a-half years. It’s great to be back talking about The U.
Miami has the advantage of recruiting in the heart of a high school talent hotbed and its coaching staff is no longer burdened by unclear pending punishment. The Hurricanes have managed to land impressive classes during Golden's tenure but now the grey area is gone and it's time for this proud program to regain its footing in Florida recruiting.
The Hurricanes currently hold commitments from Sunshine State wide receivers Charles Perry and Emonee Spence, along with New Jersey offensive tackle Kevin Feder. Miami would love to build its 2015 offensive class around 5-star Fort Lauderdale quarterback Torrance Gibson.
The Aggies currently sit atop 247Sports composite rankings for the 2015 class. Texas A&M ended up near the top of 2014 rankings with a recruiting haul that featured three 5-star prospects.
Kevin Sumlin will keep things rolling in the right direction after the departure of team catalyst Johnny Manziel thanks to a significant infusion of young talent. The program continues to gain traction in Texas and is off to a successful early start toward signing day 2015.
Five-star defensive tackle Daylon Mack (Gladewater, Texas) and coveted running back Rodney Anderson (Katy, Texas) are committed. The Aggies already hold seven pledges and each prospect is from the Lone Star State, carrying at least a 4-star rating.
Texas A&M is also targeting 5-star wide receiver Damarkus Lodge, who is also on the wish list of LSU and Alabama. The Aggies lose a Heisman Trophy winner but continue to draw some seriously talented reinforcements.
USC enjoyed a late surge during the final stages of the 2014 recruiting cycle, securing an impressive incoming class just months after new head coach Steve Sarkisian accepted the position. His hiring punctuated a tumultuous 2013 campaign for the Trojans, who fired Lane Kiffin early last season.
The program is now recruiting prospects who spent the early portions of their childhood watching the likes of Matt Leinart, Mike Williams and Reggie Bush dominate college football. USC is primed to recover from an era defined by scholarship sanctions and return to an era when the program competed for America's premier prospects on an annual basis.
The Trojans remain on the upswing in this new cycle.
USC flipped top-ranked quarterback Ricky Town from Alabama. The Ventura, Calif., native is rated No. 1 overall among all 2015 recruits in 247Sports rankings.
"I chose USC because of the tradition, the academics and the incredible coaching staff," Town told 247Sports reporter Scott Schrader. "This is an amazing opportunity to be a part of something really special."
We've seen several special recruiting classes start with an exemplary passer, and there's an early indication that could be the case for Sarkisian and company.
Urban Meyer has made it a point to recruit SEC territory in a manner that few Big Ten coaches would dare. The two-time national champion flourished at Florida and has refused to cut ties with those fertile high school football areas despite his new setting.
The Buckeyes brought in three 2014 early enrollees from Florida and Georgia, highlighted by top-rated inside linebacker Raekwon McMillan (Hinesville, Ga.). Meyer has established an outstanding offense built on speedy options in Columbus, suffering just two losses in two seasons at the helm.
He now aims to assemble a complementary defense that can match the quickness and athleticism of a dynamic offensive attack. His 2014 recruiting haul was outstanding, but there is still room to grow as Meyer aims to create a new dynasty at Ohio State.
The team can make significant strides with an improved defensive unit, particularly in the secondary.
The Buckeyes already hold commitments from impressive Florida defensive backs Jamel Dean and Ben Edwards. Ohio State's top offensive target could be former Michigan commit Damien Harris, a 5-star running back who visited Columbus earlier this month.
Crimson Tide coach Nick Saban continues to have the magic touch on the recruiting trail. The four-time national champion has compiled four consecutive national No. 1 recruiting classes, according to 247Sports composite rankings.
Alabama is off to a strong start in Georgia, where Saban secured a commitment from 5-star defensive end Mekhi Brown. The Tide also found 4-star prospects Jonathan Ledbetter (defensive tackle) and Dallas Warmack (offensive guard) in Georgia.
Saban kept Tuscaloosa guard Lester Cotton close to home with a verbal pledge and also picked up outstanding in-state running back recruit Desherrius Flowers. Alabama landed elite safety Deionte Thompson from Texas.
The Tide continue to look to Louisiana for offensive talent. Four-star receiver Daylon Charlot is already committed.
Expect the Tide to roll in recruiting yet again this year.