Small College Football Programs That Recruit the Best

Edwin WeathersbyAnalyst IMarch 28, 2013

Small College Football Programs That Recruit the Best

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    You don't always have to be at Alabama, USC, Florida, Texas or Ohio State to do well in recruiting. As a program, if you hire good recruiting coaches who evaluate talent well and who hit the bricks and back roads hard, you can have some solid recruiting years.

    Programs, especially the mid-major schools, can't and don't get caught up in the recruiting rankings on Signing Day too much. They keep their heads down, recruit players that fit their schemes, coach 'em up and go win games on Saturdays each fall.

    For this read, how about we take a look at some mid-major programs who do a solid job in recruiting? These programs aren't the most high-profiled, highly-covered and nationally-featured schools, but rather programs who aren't too big but still find a way to get the job done on the recruiting trail.

    Here are some of the better mid-major recruiting programs.

Northern Illinois

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    I'm projecting a bit here, but NIU has a chance to become a pretty good mid-major recruiting program. I know it lost Corey Winfield late in the 2013 cycle, but the Huskies have some good things going for them.

    For starters, they're not far from Chicago, which is a solid hotbed for talent in the Midwest.

    Rod Carey brought in two 3-star prospects last year, per ESPNU. If he can land a 4-star prospect soon with the momentum of playing in the Orange Bowl, that could open up an adequate floodgate for the Huskies. 


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    In 2012, Maryland landed Stefon Diggs, who was a 5-star recruit according to several publications. In that same cycle, 4-star RBs Wes Brown and Albert Reid also signed with the Terps.

    In 2013, 4-star OT prospect Derwin Gray signed with Randy Edsall and this year, 5-star OT Damian Prince is the apple of Edsall's eye.

    Maryland, which sits in a rich hotbed of talent, is starting to recruit at a higher rate. Edsall may need to show better results on the field, but he is building Maryland's recruiting momentum on the trail. 

Boise State

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    Chris Petersen has a good thing going in Boise, and he clearly knows it. He's been courted by bigger programs, but he's yet to leave the Broncos and appears content.

    One of the reasons for that sentiment is because Petersen wins, and he wins with recruits he brings in who fit the mold of a Bronco. Petersen and his staff don't go after too many 5-star and 4-star recruits, rather relying on other methods.

    They rely heavily on evaluating players that they deem smart, instinctive and coachable. The system and approach Petersen and his staff have towards recruiting has netted big results.


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    The Horned Frogs are very similar to Boise State, as they have a head coach who has heard his name linked to bigger jobs but seems content where he's at. 

    Gary Patterson is one of the country's top coaches pound for pound, and his staff does an excellent job of evaluating talent. Sure, TCU may not get many 5-star and 4-star recruits because Texas, Texas A&M, Oklahoma and other national schools raid their grounds for elite recruits.

    However, the Horned Frogs routinely bring in versatile, heady and athletic players who they coach up and mold into teams that allow them to compete with bigger programs.

    Recruiting isn't always about landing as many 5-star recruits as you can. You have to bring in players who fit what you do, and that's what Patterson and his staff do.


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    I know the Scarlet Knights are headed to the B1G very soon, yet they're still not on the level of Ohio State or Michigan.

    Rutgers is pretty much a mid-major program, but somehow it has routinely convinced a good recruit or two to come to Piscataway over bigger offers.

    Players like Kenny Britt, Savon Huggins, Anthony Davis, Berkeley Hutchinson, Manny Abreu and Marquise Wright have all chosen Rutgers over higher-profile programs over the years.

    The Scarlet Knights land a couple 4-star recruits each cycle and have gotten some 5-star prospects in the BCS era. They're one of the better recruiting mid-major programs. 

    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, Cleveland Browns and the Las Vegas Gladiators of the Arena League. He spent a year evaluating prep prospects and writing specific recruiting and scouting content articles for Student Sports Football (formerly ESPN Rise-HS). A syndicated scout and writer, he's also contributed to, and Diamonds in the Rough Inc., a College Football and NFL Draft magazine.