10 CFB Programs Who Are Screwed in Class of 2020 Recruiting Window

Joel Reuter@JoelReuterBRFeatured ColumnistJanuary 28, 2020

10 CFB Programs Who Are Screwed in Class of 2020 Recruiting Window

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    Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

    Every team goes into the recruiting cycle with different expectations.

    For blue-blood programs like Alabama and LSU, it's a battle for the nation's top high school talent, and anything short of a top-10 class full of 5-star and 4-star recruits is a failure. For other Power Five programs trying to build toward that level of success, it's about incremental improvement and continuing to stock the roster with quality talent year in and year out.

    Even with those varying levels of expectations, every school is susceptible to some level of disappointment.

    Ahead we've highlighted 10 college football programs from Power Five conferences who have missed the mark during the 2020 recruiting cycle.


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    Kevin Sumlin
    Kevin SumlinChristian Petersen/Getty Images

    National Rank: 62 (165.95 recruiting points)

    Class Size: 17

    Top 3 Recruits

    • CB Alphonse Oywak (3-star, No. 639 recruit)
    • APB Frank Brown (3-star, No. 688 recruit)
    • RB Jalen John (3-star, No. 826 recruit)

    After two seasons, Kevin Sumlin has a 9-15 record since replacing Rich Rodriguez as head coach at the University of Arizona.

    Without better recruiting, it's hard to see how the program will take a step forward, and this year's 17-player class does not include any of the nation's top 500 recruits.

    The best of the bunch, 3-star and No. 47-ranked cornerback Alphonse Oywak has yet to sign his letter of intent, and a late offer from Washington State has raised some eyebrows about his long-term plans.

    After a 4-1 start to the 2019 season, the Wildcats lost seven in a row to close out the campaign, and a disappointing recruiting class has done little to alter the program's momentum.


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    Arkansas coach Sam Pittman
    Arkansas coach Sam PittmanWesley Hitt/Getty Images

    National Rank: 46 (188.86 recruiting points)

    Class Size: 16

    Top 3 Recruits

    • S Myles Slusher (4-star, No. 150 recruit)
    • WR Darin Turner (4-star, No. 203 recruit)
    • SDE Blayne Toll (3-star, No. 441 recruit)

    Former Georgia offensive line coach Sam Pittman was hired as the new head coach at Arkansas in December, and he has his work cut out for him rebuilding a Razorbacks football program that has hit rock bottom.

    On the heels of back-to-back 2-10 seasons and in the midst of a coaching change, it's no surprise that recruiting has been a challenge, and this year's class currently ranks 12th in the SEC.

    Myles Slusher is the No. 10 safety prospect in the nation, and he had offers from Alabama, Georgia, LSU, Michigan, Nebraska, Notre Dame, Oregon, Texas and Texas A&M, among others. Landing him was a nice win for the program.

    Still, after it finished with the No. 23 recruiting class in the nation a year ago, this recruiting cycle has been a disappointing step backward for a program trying to rebuild from the ground up.


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    Baylor coach Dave Aranda
    Baylor coach Dave ArandaChris Graythen/Getty Images

    National Rank: 54 (176.38 recruiting points)

    Class Size: 16

    Top 3 Recruits

    • WDE James Sylvester (4-star, No. 312 recruit)
    • CB Jahdae Barron (4-star, No. 345 recruit)
    • RB Taye McWilliams (3-star, No. 418 recruit)

    In three years steering the ship, Matt Rhule took Baylor from 1-11 during the 2017 season to 11-3 and No. 13 in the final AP poll this past campaign. Now that he has moved on to the NFL, former LSU defensive coordinator Dave Aranda will be tasked with building off that surprising success.

    There's still a chance he can salvage what is currently the worst recruiting class in the Big 12.

    The Bears are the crystal ball favorites to land 4-star dual-threat quarterback Malik Hornsby (No. 253 recruit) and are also among the top contenders for 4-star defensive end Princely Umanmielen (No. 244 recruit).

    Those two would give this class a significant boost. But for now, it's hard to call a group that ranks outside the top 50 nationally and at the bottom of the conference heap anything but disappointing.


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    Illinois coach Lovie Smith
    Illinois coach Lovie SmithHannah Foslien/Getty Images

    National Rank: 69 (159.21 recruiting points)

    Class Size: 13

    Top 3 Recruits

    • WR Jadon Thompson (4-star, No. 350 recruit)
    • WR James Frenchie (3-star, No. 391 recruit)
    • RB Reggie Love (3-star, No. 422 recruit)

    Illinois head coach Lovie Smith saved his job with a six-win season that included an upset of then-No. 6 Wisconsin, but he is far from safe with a 15-34 overall record in his four years on the job.

    The fact that this year's recruiting class is on pace to be his worst yet doesn't help his case.

    The trio of Marquez Beason (No. 99 recruit), Isaiah Williams (No. 116 recruit) and Shammond Cooper (No. 286 recruit) headlined a 2019 recruiting class. They played sparingly in 2019 but still provide plenty of excitement for the future.

    It's hard not to look at this year's crop of recruits as a step back from that impressive haul.


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    Indiana coach Tom Allen
    Indiana coach Tom AllenAndy Lyons/Getty Images

    National Rank: 50 (180.63 recruiting points)

    Class Size: 20

    Top 3 Recruits

    • WR Rashawn Williams (4-star, No. 347 recruit)
    • RB Tim Baldwin Jr. (3-star, No. 631 recruit)
    • DT Damarjhe Lewis (3-star, No. 674 recruit)

    An 8-5 finish in 2019 represented the first winning season for Indiana football since 2007. It was also the first time the team had reached the eight-win mark since 1993.

    After reeling in the nation's No. 36 recruiting class a year ago, including a trio of 4-star recruits in running back Sampson James, defensive end Beau Robbins and linebacker Cameron Williams, this year's group of newcomers falls at No. 50 nationally.

    The headliner is 4-star wide receiver Rashawn Williams, who drew praise from Allen Trieu of 247Sports.com while checking in as the No. 56 prospect at his position: "Projects to be a reliable, productive receiver who is likely to play outside but has the tools to move into the slot also. Should be a great red-zone weapon because of ball skills and physicality. Very competitive player who will find a way to make a difference."

    He'll be an excellent addition to the offense, but the class as a whole is a bit lacking.

Michigan State

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    Mark Dantonio
    Mark DantonioPaul Sancya/Associated Press

    National Rank: 42 (191.72 recruiting points)

    Class Size: 21

    Top 3 Recruits

    • OLB Darius Snow (3-star, No. 396 recruit)
    • OG Dallas Fincher (3-star, No. 462 recruit)
    • WR Ricky White (3-star, No. 479 recruit)

    Mark Dantonio won at least 10 games in six of his first 11 seasons as head coach at Michigan State, with the most recent coming in 2017 when the Spartans finished 10-3 and No. 15 in the final AP poll. However, after back-to-back 7-6 finishes, the program is experiencing a bit of a lull.

    A mediocre recruiting class lacking a 4-star talent that currently ranks 11th in the Big Ten does not appear poised to jumpstart things in East Lansing.

    That said, outside linebacker Darius Snow was a nice get for the program. The 6'0", 215-pound standout from Hebron High School in Carrollton, Texas, had offers from Alabama, Clemson, Georgia, LSU, Michigan, Notre Dame, Oklahoma and in-state Texas, among many others.

    While he could make an impact right away, it's fair to wonder whether more seasons hovering around .500 await the Spartans in years to come when looking at the bigger picture.


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    Missouri coach Eliah Drinkwitz
    Missouri coach Eliah DrinkwitzAssociated Press

    National Rank: 59 (170.19 recruiting points)

    Class Size: 14

    Top 3 Recruits

    • WR Javian Hester (4-star, No. 308 recruit)
    • APB Elijah Young (3-star, No. 540 recruit)
    • WR Jay Maclin (3-star, No. 549 recruit)

    Good luck, Eliah Drinkwitz.

    After a quick one-year stint as the head coach of an Appalachian State team that went 13-1 and finished No. 19 in the final AP poll, he takes over a Missouri program that struggled to maintain relevance during the four years in which Barry Odom was leading the program.

    After a 6-6 season that included a 1-5 finish to the conference slate, the Tigers are a work in progress heading into 2020. The fact that they are bringing in the worst recruiting class in the SEC just makes the uphill battle to come that much steeper.

    Javian Hester, a 4-star wide receiver from Booker T. Washington High School in Tulsa, Oklahoma, does have a chance to be an impact player. But first, he will need to add some strength to his 6'3½", 181-pound frame.

    Big picture? It might get worse before it gets better in Columbia.


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    Dino Babers
    Dino BabersBryan M. Bennett/Getty Images

    National Rank: 58 (170.5 recruiting points)

    Class Size: 20

    Top 3 Recruits

    • WDE Latarie Kinsler (3-star, No. 662 recruit)
    • WR Damian Alford (3-star, No. 754 recruit)
    • TE Steven Mahar (3-star, No. 821 recruit)

    After a 10-3 record and a bowl win over West Virginia in 2018, Syracuse began the 2019 season occupying the No. 22 spot in the preseason AP poll.

    Needless to say, their 2-6 showing in conference play and 5-7 record overall represented a disappointing finish.

    Now it's up to head coach Dino Babers to right the ship, or he could quickly find himself on the hot seat.

    This year's recruiting class is not far behind the one that ranked No. 56 in the nation a year ago, but the Orange were coming off a 4-8 season when they put together that group. Failing to capitalize on last year's 10-win season with a strong recruiting push is a missed opportunity for a program looking to build toward sustained success.


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    USC coach Clay Helton
    USC coach Clay HeltonSean M. Haffey/Getty Images

    National Rank: 60 (170.1 recruiting points)

    Class Size: 12

    Top 3 Recruits

    • WR Gary Bryant Jr. (4-star, No. 52 recruit)
    • OG Jonah Monheim (4-star, No. 349 recruit)
    • WR Josh Jackson (3-star, No. 428 recruit)

    For the USC football program, a recruiting class that ranks outside the top 50 nationally simply doesn't cut it.

    "You really should be able to put together a top-20 recruiting class at USC without even trying. Just say, 'OK guys, let us know if you wanna play here. Cool.' That USC is in the 70s should be impossible," Alex Kirshner of Banner Society tweeted back in December.

    The decision to retain Clay Helton as head coach, despite a 39-22 record since taking over for Steve Sarkisian, means he will have one more year to prove he's the right guy for the job.

    Top 2020 recruit Gary Bryant Jr. has a chance to be a star as the No. 8 wide receiver prospect in the country and the No. 52 recruit overall, but there's a steep drop-off from him to the rest of this year's committed talent.

    After five straight years with a top-10 recruiting class, the Trojans fell to No. 20 last year. The 2020 recruiting cycle has represented an even steeper slide down the national landscape.

Virginia Tech

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    Virginia Tech coach Justin Fuente
    Virginia Tech coach Justin FuenteMichael Reaves/Getty Images

    National Rank: 71 (158.82 recruiting points)

    Class Size: 14

    Top 3 Recruits

    • WDE Alec Bryant (4-star, No. 328 recruit)
    • WDE Robert Wooten (3-star, No. 585 recruit)
    • WR Tyree Saunders (3-star, No. 795 recruit)

    Virginia Tech has gone just 14-12 the past two seasons, and a brutal recruiting class relative to recent years does not inspire much confidence for the future.

    Here's a look at where Justin Fuente's recruiting classes have ranked during his five years leading the Hokies program:

    • 2016: 42
    • 2017: 26
    • 2018: 24
    • 2019: 26
    • 2020: 71

    It's hard to explain dropping 45 spots in the national recruiting rankings without a coaching change and multiple decommitments playing a significant role in the plunge.


    All recruiting rankings courtesy of 247Sports.com, unless otherwise noted.