7 College Football Programs Who Will Surprise on 2015 Recruiting Trail
Much time is still left in the 2015 recruiting cycle, which means a lot more surprises will happen. Several programs figure to have a trick or two up their sleeves on the recruiting trail, which is nonetheless always full of twists and turns.
A Big Ten school has returned to power quicker than expected, while an ACC school known for basketball has a surprisingly solid class in the works.
Plus, there's a team in the SEC flying under the radar.
Syracuse is not a program that receives a ton of attention in recruiting. It doesn't sign elite classes, and not many high-end prospects give the school a long look.
However, things are a bit different this year for some reason. 'Cuse has 15 commitments, and all of them are surprisingly 3-star recruits. While other programs routinely sign 5-star and 4-star recruits, Syracuse having a class full of 3-star prospects is actually terrific according to recent standards.
Its class is currently ranked No. 29 in the 247Sports Recruiting Rankings. While it likely will not stay at that slot, do not be surprised when Syracuse signs its best class in recent memory next February.
Head coach Kliff Kingsbury has the charisma, intelligence and energy to turn his program into a recruiting powerhouse. He already has a commitment from elite 4-star quarterback Jarrett Stidham, plus he plucked 4-star pass-rushing defensive tackle Breiden Fehoko all the way from Hawaii.
However, Kingsbury is going to really open everyone's eyes when he gets 5-star uncommitted receiver Tyron Johnson.
All 14 commitments are 3-star prospects, with guard Wyatt Knopfke leading the way. If head coach Steve Addazio can convince 4-star defensive tackle Christian Wilkins and 3-star receiver A.J. Alexander to join his program, the Eagles will definitely be a surprise recruiting program in 2015.
It's simply shocking to see Duke at No. 28 in the 247Sports Recruiting Rankings. The Blue Devils are generally among the worst recruiting schools in the nation year in and year out, and not many top recruits give them much consideration.
Yet, head coach David Cutcliffe has 12 3-star recruits in his 13-man class. Duke is also still in the mix for 4-star recruits such as safety Rashad Roundtree, tight end Tyler Petite, running back Johnny Frasier, defensive lineman Darian Roseboro and running back Nyheim Hines.
If there's a surprise school to keep an eye on, it's the Dukies.
Hines told the following to Patrick O'Brien and Adam Powell of TarHeelIllustrated.com (subscription required) on June 17:
A lot of schools are coming after me. Most of them that have offered are still coming after me. But the hardest ones are probably Duke or (N.C.) State. There's a lot of other schools, but those are probably the hardest two (that are recruiting me most).
Michigan State is No. 51 in the 247Sports Recruiting Rankings, but that is going to change over time. The Spartans have too much going for themselves to not surge up the rankings as this cycle moves forward.
Look for the Spartans to win fierce recruiting battles for prospects such as 4-star athlete Brian Cole, 4-star running back Michael Weber, linebacker Anthony McKee, running back Darrin Hall and elite 4-star defensive end Jashon Cornell.
When Penn State hired James Franklin as head coach, many expected him to eventually turn the Nittany Lions into a sexy recruiting school.
However, no one expected that to happen this soon. Penn State has gotten off to a surprising start to the 2015 recruiting cycle, as its 17-man class is No. 4 in the 247Sports Recruiting Rankings.
Franklin has 10 4-star recruits in his class, and he certainly is not done. Cornerback John Reid, defensive tackle Christian Wilkins, cornerback Jordan Whitehead and linebacker Josh Smith are all 4-star prospects who could end up in Happy Valley.
It's safe to say not many figured at the start of this year Penn State would be a contender for the nation's No. 1 recruiting class.
Don't tell anybody, but Mississippi State is quietly having a great recruiting cycle so far. The Bulldogs sit at No. 12 in the 247Sports Recruiting Rankings, and they're not done acquiring top-tier talent for 2015.
Head coach Dan Mullen has 18 commitments, and 14 of them have come this year. A trio of 4-star recruits are the headliners right now in athlete Malik Dear, JUCO receiver Donald Gray and defensive end Timothy Washington.
The Bulldogs are on pace to crash the SEC and national recruiting rankings party.