One Dream Scenario for Every 2019 Top 10 CFB Recruiting Class
College football recruiting classes for the 2019 season are just starting to come together—UCLA only has one committed player thus far, for instance—so all of the 10 teams with the top classes still have plenty of time to dream bigger.
We're not reaching for unobtainable stars, though. We're looking for realistic dream scenarios.
Not every school is in the running for the best players available, nor does every team necessarily need to add a player at every position. In other words, not all home runs are created equally.
Whether it's signing a specific player or two, filling a positional need, recruiting a specific market or simply shooting for its best class in over a decade, each of these programs has at least one major goal in mind for the next seven-plus months before national signing day.
Rankings on the following slides are based on 247Sports' 2019 composite team rankings as of Monday morning.
10. Oregon Ducks
Dream Scenario: Hit the jackpot with Kayvon Thibodeaux
Even when Chip Kelly had Oregon competing for titles on an annual basis, Eugene was never a popular destination for the nation's top talent. The Ducks have signed neither a top-10 recruit nor a top-10 class in more than a decade. In total, they have signed five 5-star players in the last 10 years—Lache Seastrunk, De'Anthony Thomas, Arik Armstead, Thomas Tyner and Canton Kaumatule—none of whom were in the same recruiting cycle.
Yet, there's a realistic chance that new head coach Mario Cristobal gets the No. 1 overall recruit in the 2019 class, Kayvon Thibodeaux.
Per MaxPreps, Thibodeaux had 14 sacks in 10 games as a sophomore and tallied 20 sacks in 15 games this past season. The weak-side defensive end from California has been the highest-rated player for several years and is going to be a nightmare for opposing quarterbacks regardless of where he lands.
Thibodeaux had the Ducks among his 12 finalists in late February, and he was at Oregon for the spring game April 21—the same day as the spring games at Alabama, Georgia and LSU, for whatever that's worth. If he chooses Oregon over USC, it could shake up the Pac-12 in a big way.
9. Miami Hurricanes
Dream Scenario: Beef up the offensive line with some combination of Darnell Wright, Evan Neal and William Putnam
Miami whiffed on just about all of its offensive line targets in the 2018 class, including in-state top-100 recruits Nicholas Petit-Frere (Ohio State), William Barnes (North Carolina) and Richard Gouraige (Florida).
As a result, the Hurricanes have had to make the O-line an even bigger focal point in this go-around.
In last year's class, 18 of their 23 signings were from Florida, and three of the other five were from neighboring Georgia. But head coach Mark Richt and his staff need quality linemen so badly that they have been going all the way up to West Virginia in hopes of landing the top offensive tackle in this year's class, Darnell Wright.
If it doesn't pan out, the good news is there are still a pair of more local 4-star guys who could be a huge help—both literally and figuratively. Evan Neal is a 6'7 ½", 391-pound offensive tackle who will be almost impossible for defensive linemen to move around. William Putnam isn't nearly that big (6'4", 280 lbs), but he's one of the top interior linemen in the nation.
Florida State is also pursuing both of those linemen, which eliminates Miami's home-state advantage. The Hurricanes will just need to hope they can find a different edge to make sure they get the guys they need.
8. Notre Dame Fighting Irish
Dream Scenario: Continue dominating the 4-star sweet spot
Notre Dame is a far cry from the annual title contender that it used to be, which has made it next to impossible for the Fighting Irish to sign top-25 recruits. In fact, offensive tackle Tommy Kraemer (No. 26 in 2016) is the only 5-star player they have added in the last five years.
And yet, head coach Brian Kelly keeps putting together top-15 classes by loading up on low-to-mid 4-star recruits with the occasional top-75 player peppered in.
If it ain't broke, don't fix it, right?
Notre Dame has already signed more 4-star recruits (nine) than every team other than Alabama (13). 247Sports doesn't list a single 5-star recruit as one of Notre Dame's top 60 targets, but it does have the Fighting Irish marked as "warm" on 13 4-star players—which doesn't include the nine already committed.
Four of those 13 "warm" targets are wide receivers, two are cornerbacks and two are athletes, so it seems the primary goal for the next few months is to lock down some quality speed. Signing both CB Max Williams and WR Donavon Greene would be a nice step toward yet another top-15 class.
7. Ohio State Buckeyes
Dream Scenario: Get that elusive No. 1 spot
Ohio State always recruits well, but it never quite recruits best in the nation.
The Buckeyes ranked No. 2 in the 2018 recruiting cycle, as they did in 2017 and 2013. They were No. 3 in 2014, No. 4 in 2016, No. 5 in 2012, No. 6 in 2011 and No. 7 in 2015. So that's eight straight years in the top seven, but none at No. 1.
To be fair, we're still talking about a program that brings in at least 15 4-star and 5-star recruits on an annual basis. The Buckeyes also had the top class in the Big Ten in all eight of those seasons, and they are well on track to extending that streak to nine years.
But it would be a huge bragging right for this team and this conference to finally knock the SEC from the No. 1 spot in recruiting.
Head coach Urban Meyer has already landed three top-70 recruits in 2019 and is the favorite to sign the nation's No. 4 player, Zach Harrison from Lewis Center, Ohio. It's going to take a lot more to finish at No. 1, though. The Buckeyes probably also need top-15 tackles Darnell Wright and Devontae Dobbs from nearby West Virginia and Michigan, respectively.
6. South Carolina Gamecocks
Dream Scenario: Finish top-five in the SEC
One doesn't need to look far to understand why South Carolina hasn't won its division since 2010. The Gamecocks have consistently lost the conference recruiting battle, ranking sixth or worse in the SEC in each of the last 11 years. The last time they were either top-five in the SEC or top-10 in the nation was in 2007, when they ranked fourth and seventh, respectively.
Head coach Will Muschamp and Co. are off to a great start in the 2019 cycle, though, beefing up both their passing game and their pass rush.
The pride and joy of this class is Zacch Pickens. The 5-star defensive end chose South Carolina over Clemson—perhaps in part because the Tigers already have a backlog at that position. Pickens is one of four defensive ends already committed to South Carolina, joining Joseph Anderson, Rodricus Fitten and JUCO transfer Devontae Davis.
To remain top-five in the SEC, South Carolina is going to need at least one more big splash. Quavaris Crouch might be that guy. Powerhouses like Alabama, Clemson, Georgia and Michigan are working hard to get the 5-star athlete from Charlotte, North Carolina, but the Gamecocks are also hot in their pursuit.
South Carolina hasn't signed a 5-star recruit since Jadeveon Clowney in 2011. Getting two such talents in one class would be a major development for this program.
5. Georgia Bulldogs
Dream Scenario: Let the good times roll
Everything on the recruiting trail is already coming up Georgia, so the dream scenario is simply that nothing changes.
With help from a trip to last season's national championship game, head coach Kirby Smart put together the No. 1 class in 2018. The Bulldogs ended up with seven of the top 23 players in the country, including dual-threat quarterback Justin Fields, who could challenge Jake Fromm for playing time immediately.
And Georgia is well on its way to leading the nation in 5-star commitments for a second straight year.
Only two of the top eight recruits in the 2019 class have chosen a school, and they are both—No. 2 Nolan Smith and No. 6 Jadon Haselwood—slated to suit up for the Dawgs. Haselwood is one of two 5-star wide receivers already committed, as Georgia also has a pledge from No. 23 Dominick Blaylock.
This could just be the beginning too. 247Sports lists Georgia as warm on 5-star recruits Trey Sanders, Clay Webb, Crouch, Andrew Booth, Travon Walker, Devontae Dobbs and Nakobe Dean.
Both Booth and Walker play high school ball in Georgia, which should give Smart and Co. the hometown edge. UGA did sign five of the top six players from Georgia last year as well as 11 of the top 16 in 2017, so it's clear that keeping the best guys in state has been a successful focal point for this staff.
4. Clemson Tigers
Dream Scenario: Build on a monster 2018 class
After three straight years in the College Football Playoff, Clemson has finally become a recruiting powerhouse. The Tigers have consistently had top-20 classes under head coach Dabo Swinney, but they climbed all the way to No. 7 in 2018, despite signing just 17 players—the fewest of any team in the top 35. That's because five of those players were 5-star recruits, including No. 1 overall Trevor Lawrence and No. 3 Xavier Thomas.
So what's next?
Thus far, the Tigers have only one top-135 recruit in 2019. (5-star wide receiver Frank Ladson is one heck of a starting point to build around.) They are working tirelessly on a bunch of others, though. Crouch, cornerback Andrew Booth and tackle Devontae Dobbs are all 5-star recruits who are strongly considering Clemson. Hudson Henry didn't quite receive a 5-star evaluation, but the nation's No. 1 tight end had the Tigers in his top five last month.
If at least two of those four guys choose Swinney, he'll be in great shape for another top-10 class and a continued reign atop the ACC.
3. Oklahoma Sooners
Dream Scenario: Lock down the top remaining in-state targets
Thus far, head coach Lincoln Riley and Co. have done most of their work in Texas. Headlined by 5-star receiver Theo Wease, five of the Sooners' top six commitments are from the Lone Star State. The sixth is from Arizona. In fact, the Sooners haven't had a single player from Oklahoma commit.
It should come as no surprise that the Sooners usually dominate their home turf. In the most recent recruiting cycle, they signed three of the top four recruits from Oklahoma. The year before that, all five of the state's 4-star recruits committed to the Sooners.
So is it just a matter of time before they get the majority of Daxton Hill, Demariyon Houston, Marcus Major, Trace Ford and Collin Clay?
Considering Riley already has commitments from three higher-rated wide receivers in Wease, Arjei Henderson and Trejan Bridges, Houston likely isn't a priority. It also wouldn't be the end of the world if Ford and Clay got away, since Oklahoma already has three defensive ends in its 2019 class.
Keeping Hill from crossing state lines is a different story, though. The No. 8 overall recruit and No. 1 safety is the highest-rated recruit from Oklahoma in at least a decade, and he could be one heck of a difference-maker for a program that perennially struggles to shut down opposing passing games.
If Hill does sign with the Sooners, the team will at least have a shot at finishing No. 1 in the class rankings.
2. Texas A&M Aggies
Dream Scenario: Add Nakobe Dean to an already stellar class
Texas A&M inked three top-10 recruits in 2014—Myles Garrett, Kyle Allen and Speedy Noil—but that was the last time the Aggies had a top-10 class. As Kevin Sumlin's hold on the head coaching position became more tenuous, signing top talent grew increasingly difficult. Never mind top 10—Texas A&M didn't even sign a top-50 recruit in 2016, 2017 or 2018.
But with Jimbo Fisher now running the show as head coach, the Aggies are back on the right track and signing a fair number of the best players the talent-rich state of Texas has to offer. Fisher secured the commitment of 5-star safety Brian Williams less than two months after taking the job, and he got a commit from 5-star tackle Kenyon Green earlier this month.
A&M found all eight of its top-300 recruits within state lines, but could Fisher get his third 5-star player from nearby Mississippi? Standout linebacker Nakobe Dean is still considering what seems like every school in the SEC, but he recently took a visit to College Station and tweeted a video of himself in an Aggies uniform.
If Dean is still wearing those colors one year from now, it would be a huge win for Fisher. It's one thing to keep kids from Texas close to home, but beating the likes of Alabama, Auburn and LSU in a neutral state would be a nice reinforcement of the university's decision to make the coaching change.
1. Alabama Crimson Tide
Dream Scenario: Start another dynastic run at No. 1
Alabama had the sixth-best class in the recruiting cycle that ended this past February. For most schools, that would be cause for raucous celebration. But for head coach Nick Saban and the Crimson Tide, it was an undeniable disappointment, as it ended a seven-year run at No. 1 in those rankings.
Thus far, the quest to get back to that top spot is looking good. Though the Crimson Tide have not yet signed any top 25 recruits, they do have commitments from 10 of the top 150 players. And as you might expect, Alabama is one of the favorites to land most of the top uncommitted recruits.
These player rankings will change considerably in the next few months, but No. 1 Thibodeaux, No. 3 Ishmael Sopsher, No. 5 Wright, No. 7 Trey Sanders, No. 8 Hill, No. 11 Webb and No. 14 Crouch are all listed as "warm" in their consideration of the Tide. That's 50 percent of the nation's top 14 recruits who are thinking about signing with Alabama.
Saban isn't going to get all seven of those studs, but two or three should be enough to secure the No. 1 class.
When we did this list last June for 2018, the Crimson Tide didn't even have a top 25 class. The fact that Alabama is already at No. 1 is a massive step in the right direction.
Kerry Miller covers college football and men's college basketball for Bleacher Report. You can follow him on Twitter, @kerrancejames.