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Each Top 25 Team's Best College Football Recruiting Feature

Edwin WeathersbyAnalyst IMarch 18, 2014

Each Top 25 Team's Best College Football Recruiting Feature

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    Colin Hackley/Associated Press

    Each college football program has at least one recruiting feature to lure recruits to campus. Some programs have head coaches who cast such a big shadow that they indeed are their program's top recruiting feature.

    Other schools have great facilities, while some reside in fantastic locations. Several schools boast exceptional academics, while tradition and a history of winning are also major recruiting features.

    Looking at the final 2013 AP Top 25 Poll, each program has at least one thing about it that drew its players to the school. Florida State is a proven winner, while Notre Dame's tradition is special. Plus, a few schools in the SEC use their conference membership to entice prospects to sign with them.

     

25. Washington

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    Ted S. Warren/Associated Press

    Best recruiting feature: Husky Stadium atmosphere

    Washington is under new leadership, as Chris Petersen is now in charge in Seattle. The Huskies do an excellent job of recruiting in nearby California, plus they pull in solid talent from their own state.

    U-Dub's best recruiting feature is its game-day atmosphere. It has a great stadium that sits right by the water, and its fans can get loud when cheering for the team. Plus, the city of Seattle isn't exactly a bad place to live.

    Getting recruits to visit during home games always is a big help for Washington's recruiting efforts.

24. Vanderbilt

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    Mark Humphrey/Associated Press

    Best recruiting feature: Academics 

    Vanderbilt is another program that has a new head coach. Derek Mason is the leader of the Commodores now, as the former Stanford defensive coordinator has replaced James Franklin.

    Among the things that Franklin did to boost Vandy's recruiting is embrace the university's tough academic requirements. Vanderbilt is basically the "Stanford of the SEC," so it can be tough for coaches to get elite talent accepted into the school.

    However, the chance to obtain a degree from a school like Vanderbilt is an excellent opportunity.

23. Duke

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    Gerry Broome/Associated Press

    Best recruiting feature: Academics

    Duke head coach David Cutcliffe is one of the best quarterback coaches in the business. He does a great job of developing passers, and going 10-4 last season at Duke shows what kind of job he's done in Durham.

    However, the Blue Devils' top recruiting feature is their university's academic reputation. A degree from Duke goes a long way in the professional world, as each academic program the school offers its students is a big challenge.

22. Wisconsin

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    Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

    Best recruiting feature: Camp Randall atmosphere

    Wisconsin isn't a recruiting juggernaut, but the Badgers get more talent than many people think. Head coach Gary Andersen has been a seamless fit in Madison, coming from Utah State.

    The Badgers have an excellent stadium atmosphere during games, as their fans are not shy when it comes to voicing their support for the team. If a recruit wants to make sure he plays in front of a crowd that is going to be into each home game, signing with Wisconsin isn't a bad idea.

21. Arizona State

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    Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

    Best recruiting feature: Easygoing campus

    While Arizona State doesn't exactly have the academic reputation of Pac-12 rival Stanford, the school is still a respected university.

    However, ASU is known for its easygoing and partying campus. Sure, its students take their work seriously, but they make sure they have a good time—quite often.

    College is supposed to be fun, and recruits who sign with Arizona State assure themselves a good experience.

20. Notre Dame

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    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    Best recruiting feature: Tradition

    This was an easy pick, as perhaps no other sports organization in the world can match Notre Dame's history and tradition.

    Playing at Notre Dame Stadium, the golden helmets, the green jerseys, the Heismans, the all-time legends and the legendary coaches, the Fighting Irish have a mystique about them.

    The university also has great academics, plus there are Notre Dame fans all over the world.

19. USC

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    Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

    Best recruiting feature: Location

    USC has a tremendous history of winning, plus it boasts terrific tradition. However, its best recruiting feature is its location.

    Los Angeles is the second-largest market in the country, and the weather is exceptional. It's a big city that has a lot to do, features an array of cultures and the Trojans are treated like an NFL team due to one not being in the city right now.

    It's easy to see why USC is a recruiting powerhouse.

18. Texas A&M

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    Thomas B. Shea/Getty Images

    Best recruiting feature: Combination of location and SEC membership

    When Texas A&M joined the SEC, recruiting dynamite exploded in College Station. Sure, head coach Kevin Sumlin has the charisma to wow recruits and their parents in their living rooms, and running a high-scoring spread offense helps.

    Yet the fact that he can tell recruits in Texas they can stay inside their home state but still play in the SEC is almost unfair to the rest of the country. The Lone Star State produces exceptional talent each and every recruiting year, and it's rare for a recruit to not want to play in the SEC.

     

17. Oklahoma State

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    Richard Rowe-USA TODAY Sports

    Best recruiting feature: Fun playing style

    Oklahoma State head coach Mike Gundy is an alum of the school, so he takes great pride in coaching the Cowboys. Gundy runs a potent spread offense that scores a ton of points.

    It also has created a fun and loose playing style in Stillwater, which is a neat attraction to recruits. The Pokes always have a great chance to win every game they're in due to their ability to score, plus their players seem to have a blast competing every Saturday.  

16. UCLA

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    Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

    Best recruiting feature: Player-friendly culture

    While UCLA's location is among the very best in the country, the Bruins' best recruiting feature is the culture head coach Jim Mora has created in Westwood.

    Mora is simply a player's coach who is understanding and loyal to each person in his program. He relates well to players, challenges them in fun, motivational ways and makes sure they're loose before games.

15. Louisville

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    Andy Lyons/Getty Images

    Best recruiting feature: ACC membership

    Louisville replaced Charlie Strong with former head coach Bobby Petrino. Petrino, who once coached the Atlanta Falcons, is a proven winner on the college level.

    He's also regarded as one of the best offensive play-callers in all of football. However, right now, the best thing the Cardinals have going for them on the recruiting trail is that they're moving from the lowly AAC to the ACC in July.

    Playing in a bigger and better conference will make Louisville more visible to recruits.

14. LSU

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    Stacy Revere/Getty Images

    Best recruiting feature: Winning

    LSU can sell a recruit on a lot of things. First, its fans are as passionate as any in America. Next, the stadium atmosphere before and during games is ridiculously electric.

    Next, the roster is always full of talent. Then, head coach Les Miles is a player's coach who is beloved by his team.

    Yet what gets LSU elite talent year after year is the fact that the Tigers win. They're always in the hunt for the SEC championship and the national title. Recruits want to win, and LSU does.

13. Baylor

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    Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

    Best recruiting feature: Rising profile

    Baylor was once one of the lower-tiered programs in the Big 12. Today, head coach Art Briles has the Bears coming off an 11-2 season looking for more.

    Baylor is a team on the rise, and that message is felt on the recruiting trail. Recruits know that Baylor is on its way to the level of conference foes Texas and Oklahoma (it'll take some time), and that's something that draws them to Waco.

12. Ohio State

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    Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports

    Best recruiting feature: Urban Meyer

    The best recruiting feature Ohio State has is its head coach, Urban Meyer. Meyer is a proven winner, and he's also among the best recruiting head coaches in the history of college football. He knows how to communicate with prospects and their families, and he does an outstanding job of selling his program.

    Sure, the Buckeyes have great tradition, excellent fans and a history of winning. Yet it's Meyer who is the top draw in Columbus.

11. Stanford

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    Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

    Best recruiting feature: Academics

    Stanford head coach David Shaw is a terrific head coach who does a great job of running his program, which happens to be his alma mater.

    Shaw knows what he wants in a recruit, and he also knows the university doesn't accept everyone into it. Academics are Stanford's best recruiting feature, but not by much.

    Stanford wins a lot of games, plus the Stanford/Palo Alto area in California is gorgeous.

10. UCF

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    David Manning-USA TODAY Sports

    Best recruiting feature: Orlando

    Playing in the AAC, UCF is coming off of a 12-1 season. Blake Bortles left for the NFL, so the Knights will be looking for a new quarterback this season.

    Among the things that will help UCF lure recruits to its campus is its location. Not only is the school in a talent-rich state like Florida, it resides in Orlando. A great city, Orlando has a lot of attractions, so recruits who sign with UCF will not be bored at any point in their time with the Knights.

9. Oregon

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    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    Best recruiting feature: Facilities

    Oregon is known for its uniforms and loud stadium. The Ducks have a new uniform on every game, and Autzen Stadium is a chore to play in for opposing teams.

    Oregon also runs perhaps the most feared offense in the country.

    However, what seals the deal with recruits is the facilities in Eugene. Recruits are routinely blown away when they visit Oregon, as the campus and athletic buildings are palaces.

8. Clemson

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    Tyler Smith/Getty Images

    Best recruiting feature: Community

    Head coach Dabo Swinney and his staff at Clemson are great recruiters who do an impressive job of recruiting in Florida, as well as reaching into other states for prospects.

    The best thing the staff does is sell the family atmosphere of the campus and community. Clemson isn't the biggest town in the world, but the people there support the team through thick and thin.

    It's a great place for a recruit to get away from distractions, focus on getting his degree and play big-time college football.

7. Alabama

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    John David Mercer-USA TODAY Spor

    Best recruiting feature: Nick Saban

    While Alabama has a winning tradition and roster full of NFL players to attract recruits, the Crimson Tide's best recruiting feature is head coach Nick Saban.

    Saban has more power in the football business than many NFL head coaches, and he's a winner. He does a good job of developing players, is a brilliant in-game tactician and puts players in the NFL.

    There's a good chance Saban may go down as the best college head coach and recruiter of all time. His stature in the game is a magnet for elite talent.

6. Oklahoma

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    Richard Rowe-USA TODAY Sports

    Best recruiting feature: History of winning

    Oklahoma went 11-2 in 2013, which is around a typical season for the Sooners. Oklahoma wins a lot of games, and it is always in the hunt for the Big 12 title.

    Head coach Bob Stoops is one of the best in the business, and his staff does a solid job of developing players. If a recruit wants to play for a winning program, it doesn't get much better than Oklahoma, as seven national titles and 44 conference championships speaks for itself.

5. Missouri

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    Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

    Best recruiting feature: SEC membership

    Missouri is not among the nation's top recruiting schools, but it does have a lot to offer. Head coach Gary Pinkel and his staff are great at what they do, the players stick together and Mizzou is coming off a 12-2 season.

    Yet the best recruiting feature for the Tigers is their SEC membership. Pinkel can sell a recruit in the Midwest on the idea of staying in his native region while still playing on the biggest stage in college football.

4. South Carolina

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    David Manning-USA TODAY Sports

    Best recruiting feature: Steve Spurrier

    Head coach Steve Spurrier has won 77 games at South Carolina, and he's done it his way. Spurrier isn't too keen on spending a ton of time in the office, which has led to somewhat of a laid-back culture in Columbia.

    While the Gamecocks do work hard, the program isn't as demanding as others in the SEC. Yet they still win a lot of games under Spurrier's guidance.

3. Michigan State

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    Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY

    Best recruiting feature: Physical brand of football

    Coming off a 13-1 season that includes a Rose Bowl victory, Michigan State is feeling good. Head coach Mark Dantonio is a defensive-minded coach who has built his program on toughness.

    The Spartans do not recruit as well as Big Ten foes Michigan and Ohio State. However, they attract recruits by playing a physical brand of football that's not for the faint of heart. 

    There may be faster teams than Michigan State, but not many punch people in the mouth like the Spartans.

2. Auburn

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    John Reed-USA TODAY Sports

    Best recruiting feature: Family-feel community

    Auburn fell just short in the national title game, but the Tigers are not going anywhere. They signed a fantastic recruiting class in February and should follow that up with another great year on the trail.

    Head coach Gus Malzahn takes advantage of many things his school has to offer. Auburn has a solid history of winning, good facilities and Malzahn is a bright coach.

    However, its top recruiting feature is its small-town community that has a family feel to it.

1. Florida State

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    Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

    Best recruiting feature: History of winning

    The champs will return Heisman-winning quarterback Jameis Winston in 2014, and he's not the only talented player on the roster.

    Head coach Jimbo Fisher has signed outstanding recruiting classes over the past several years. Fisher knows he doesn't have to leave the state of Florida often for top-notch talent, and winning a national title is the ultimate recruiting-booster.

    However, recruits still know that Florida State is a winning program that has a history of being dominant. That is the Seminoles' best recruiting feature.

    Winston told Britton Lynn of Scout.com upon signing with FSU in 2012, "When I went on the visit it was like there was something different about it there."

     

    Edwin Weathersby is the College Football Recruiting Analyst for Bleacher Report. He has worked in scouting/player personnel departments for three professional football teams, including the New York Giants and Cleveland Browns.

     

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