1 Nightmare Scenario for Every Top 10 CFB Recruiting Class
College football recruiting never sleeps. And if a coaching staff is caught snoozing, that program is probably waking up to a nightmare on the trail.
Decommitments are commonplace in 2019, and protecting a star-studded class is a daily process that must be exhausting. The regular fight for coveted prospects—often regardless of their status—only adds to the difficulty.
Not even the highest-ranked teams are immune to the struggles—well, outside of Clemson and its remarkable "no decommits since 2016" streak. People change their minds. It happens.
But for programs with top-10 classes for 2020, what would a nightmare look like?
Team and prospect rankings reflect 247Sports' composite rankings as of June 24.
10. North Carolina Tar Heels
Nightmare scenario: On-field results affect the 2020 class
Head coach Mack Brown is selling the promise of a brighter future, touting a revamped offense and renewed energy at the program.
What happens, though, if the present continues to look really bad?
North Carolina holds commitments from top-250 prospects Malik Hornsby (144th overall), Cameron Roseman-Sinclair (233rd) and Josh Downs (241st) and are contending for several more. The most notable is 5-star Desmond Evans, the top-rated player in the state.
The normal caveat of "recruiting rankings don't define players" applies, but the most successful teams also regularly land top-rated classes. UNC isn't an exception to the rule because of Brown.
9. South Carolina Gamecocks
Nightmare scenario: Fail to stock up on receivers
South Carolina knows it must replace the versatile Deebo Samuel and will lose Bryan Edwards following the 2019 campaign. But if the Gamecocks have a solid year, there's a decent chance Shi Smith will declare for the NFL draft.
They need to prepare for that possibility.
Four-star wideout Mike Wyman (175th) is their top wide receiver commit, and South Carolina also has 3-star Da'Qon Stewart. But the Gamecocks are pursuing 4-stars Ze'Vian Capers and Rico Powers Jr., as well as 3-star Deajaun McDougle.
If South Carolina is to contend in the SEC East, the coaching staff cannot afford to whiff at receiver this cycle.
8. Florida Gators
Nightmare scenario: Attrition at receiver
One of Florida's biggest priorities for 2020 was bolstering the depth at receiver. So far, head coach Dan Mullen and Co. have done a terrific job.
Since December 2018, the Gators have added Leonard Manuel (67th nationally), Jaquavion Fraziars (211th) and Jeremiah Johnson (434th). The trio provides a sturdy foundation, but Florida is still looking for more star power with Xzavier Henderson (98th).
If the Gators can't fend off those charges and are unable to land other top prospects, receiver will be a glaring hole in 2020.
7. Miami Hurricanes
Nightmare scenario: Keep losing top commitments
If you compiled a 2019 recruiting class that included only the 17 players who backed off verbal pledges to Miami, that haul would've ranked 31st nationally. Already in 2020, the 11-man group of decommitments would be 13th.
Sure, a player who decommits sometimes rejoins the class; Miami already has three such prospects in 2020. But the coaching staff must stop recruiting twice within one cycle.
6. Notre Dame Fighting Irish
Nightmare scenario: Needing late replacements
Notre Dame is relatively limited on available spots in 2020, so this cycle required a selective approach from the staff.
With nine top-250 commits on board, the Irish are sitting in a comfortable spot. And ideally, they'll enjoy a drama-free approach to the early signing period in December.
Should some pledges back off—no matter the reason—will Notre Dame have the right contingencies in place?
Given the pressure on players to sign in December, the Irish could be thin on Plan B options similar in quality.
5. Ohio State Buckeyes
Nightmare scenario: Another cycle thin on defense
Led by No. 12 overall player Zach Harrison, Ohio State signed a handful of 4- or 5-star defenders in the 2019 class. That's the positive outlook for a class that included just seven total defenders.
Until mid-June, that trend hadn't changed much. Four-star safety Lejond Cavazos (253rd) was the only non-offensive commit.
Should fans of Ohio State be worried? Probably not. The Buckeyes are involved with a bunch of top-250 defenders, and 4-star safety Lathan Ransom and defensive tackle Darrion Henry are among them. But until they're officially in the class, nerves will be prevalent.
4. Georgia Bulldogs
Nightmare scenario: Big swings and misses at tight end
The latest news, however, isn't as promising. Rusty Mansell of 247Sports notes Tennessee is a clear factor for Gilbert. Losing a long-time lean would be crushing for Georgia.
Yes, the Dawgs are also in the running for 5-star Darnell Washington. But they're battling a larger group for his signature, and his commitment isn't expected to come until after December. Georgia must secure an official visit from the 11th-best prospect.
Otherwise, UGA will be scrambling to fill a position of need.
3. LSU Tigers
Nightmare scenario: Barely improve offensive line
One outing doesn't necessarily define a season. Still, the trend of Alabama destroying LSU on the line of scrimmage has resulted in an eight-game skid for the Tigers against their rivals.
Dating back to the 2011 national championship, LSU has failed to average even two yards per rushing attempt four times.
Although stocking the lines is a stated priority for 2020, the Tigers only hold a commitment from 3-star Marlon Martinez (654th) on the offensive side of the ball. Four-star Courtland Ford (346th) backed off his pledge in mid-June.
Late targets will emerge, and rankings may improve. But LSU is thin on top-rated uncommitted targets outside of 4-star Marcus Dumervil (128th). This margin for error is getting precariously trimmed.
2. Alabama Crimson Tide
Nightmare scenario: No quarterback in class
Let's be serious. Short of head coach Nick Saban retiring and a portion of the class leaving along with him, what actually qualifies as a nightmare?
Alabama has addressed its biggest needs at wide receiver, linebacker and in the secondary. The Crimson Tide aren't immune to decommits, yet only an improbable mass exodus would be a real problem.
So considering the number of transfers in college football today, it's always wise to take a quarterback.
Top-100 talent Carson Beck decommitted in February, and Alabama isn't considered a favorite for any other top prospects at the position. If the Tide don't add a signal-caller, they absolutely must keep 4-star 2019 signees Taulia Tagovailoa and Paul Tyson for a few years.
1. Clemson Tigers
Nightmare scenario: No prized wideout in class
Again, let's not get carried away. Six months before the early signing period, Clemson has a mind-numbing five 5-star commits with a handful of 4-stars ranked in the top 100.
Right now, though, 3-star tight end Sage Ennis (569th) is the only pass-catcher in the class.
The Tigers are expected to lose junior wideout Tee Higgins to the NFL draft after 2019, so one massive void will open. While they signed top-60 players Frank Ladson and Joe Ngata in the last cycle, a continued stockpile at the position would be wise.