National Signing Day 2020: Grading Every Top 25 Team's Recruiting Class

Joel Reuter@JoelReuterBRFeatured ColumnistFebruary 4, 2020

National Signing Day 2020: Grading Every Top 25 Team's Recruiting Class

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    Logan Riely/Getty Images

    With national signing day fast approaching, the end of the 2020 college football recruiting window is in sight as teams look to put the finishing touches on their latest recruiting classes.

    Ahead, we've taken a closer look at the 25 teams that found their way onto the final AP poll of the 2019 season to see how they are doing on the recruiting trail.

    Each team was given a grade based on a combination of their placement in the 247Sports composite team rankings and the recruiting expectations of each individual program.

    For example, Cincinnati received an A for the nation's No. 53 recruiting class, and Oregon received a B for the nation's No. 12 class. Those schools have vastly different expectations when it comes to recruiting.

    Let's get started.

Nos. 25-21

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    Evan Prater
    Evan PraterLogan Riely/Getty Images

    25. Texas Longhorns: B+

    After securing the nation's No. 3 recruiting class in 2018 and 2019, with multiple 5-stars both years, the Longhorns have taken a step back with the No. 11 class in the country. There is plenty of reason for excitement with 5-star running back Bijan Robinson (No. 15 recruit) and 4-star dual-threat quarterbacks Hudson Card (No. 57 recruit) and Ja'Quinden Jackson (No. 73 recruit) leading the incoming crop.

        

    No. 24: UCF Knights: C-

    Despite reaching double-digit wins for the third straight season, the Knights were once again unable to land a top-50 recruiting class. Their 20-player haul is made up entirely of 3-star recruits and checks in at No. 72 nationally, which is on par with where they ranked in 2018 (62nd) and 2019 (60th). Ja'Cyais Credle is their top recruit, and he ranks No. 813 overall and No. 126 among wide receivers in the 2020 class.

       

    No. 23: Boise State Broncos: D

    For the first time since 2017, the Broncos have slipped outside the top 60 with a class that currently ranks No. 63 nationally. Wide receiver LaTrell Caples (No. 647 recruit) headlines a class of 18 3-stars as the Broncos look to continue a streak of 21 straight seasons with at least eight wins.

        

    No. 22: Air Force Falcons: B+

    After ranking 122nd in 2018 and 110th in 2019, the Falcons have the No. 97 class in the 2020 recruiting cycle. With 14 3-star recruits among a 31-player class, they should be well-positioned to build off an impressive 11-2 season that landed them in the AP poll for the first time since 2010.

        

    No. 21: Cincinnati Bearcats: A

    The Bearcats have the top class in the AAC and the No. 53 class nationally, which represents a significant improvement over a year ago when they ranked 79th in the nation and seventh in the conference. Dual-threat quarterback Evan Prater (No. 176 recruit) is the highest-rated recruit the program has landed since 247Sports began grading prospects in 2010, and outside linebacker Jaheim Thomas (No. 337 recruit) gives them a second 4-star in this cycle.

Nos. 20-16

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    A.J. Henning
    A.J. Henning247Sports

    No. 20: Navy Midshipmen: C

    The Midshipmen, like the other service academies, are never going to pull in a top-tier recruiting class. That said, they were able to improve from 124th in 2019 to 115th in the 2020 national rankings. With just 12 3-star recruits among their 39-player class, though, they check in at the bottom of the AAC rankings.

        

    No. 19: Appalachian State Mountaineers: B

    It's been a steady climb for the Mountaineers from 113th in 2018 to 99th in 2019 to 80th during the 2020 recruiting cycle. A 13-1 season made it five straight years with at least nine wins, but they will also have their third head coach in as many years after Eli Drinkwitz took the Missouri job. Promoting assistant Shawn Clark should help maintain some level of continuity.

        

    No. 18: Michigan Wolverines: A-

    With 14 4-star recruits among a 26-player class, the Wolverines rank 10th nationally and second only to Ohio State in the Big Ten. Despite the impressive depth of this year's class, they do not have a single recruit who ranks in the top 100 overall. Wide receiver A.J. Henning (No. 101), defensive end Braiden McGregor (No. 122) and running back Blake Corum (No. 128) represent the cream of the crop.

        

    No. 17: Memphis Tigers: D

    Despite their recent success on the field, which includes six straight seasons with at least eight wins, Memphis is still struggling to land top-tier recruits. This year's 16-player crop of newcomers is exclusively comprised of 3-star recruits, and that lands them 71st nationally, a downturn from last year's 67th-ranked class. The departure of head coach Mike Norvell, who took the Florida State job, doesn't help.

       

    No. 16: Utah Utes: A+

    The Utes made a significant jump from 42nd in the recruiting rankings last season to 28th this year, and that should help them continue to push toward the top of the Pac-12 heap. Cornerback Clark Phillips lll (No. 50 recruit), defensive ends Van Fillinger (No. 175 recruit) and Xavier Carlton (No. 266 recruit) and safety Nate Ritchie (No. 347 recruit) give this class four 4-star headliners.

Nos. 15-11

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    Michael Mayer
    Michael Mayer247Sports

    No. 15: Iowa Hawkeyes: B

    Despite landing just one 4-star recruit in defensive tackle Logan Jones (No. 235 recruit), the Hawkeyes have enough overall talent in their 33-player class to rank 33rd nationally. That's an improvement over last year's No. 41 showing and is good enough for eighth-best in the Big Ten. The stability longtime head coach Kirk Ferentz brings to the program goes a long way.

        

    No. 14: Auburn Tigers: A+

    The Tigers fell just outside the top 10 in 2018 (12th) and 2019 (11th), but they are back with a stocked recruiting class that claims the No. 7 spot in this year's rankings. Running back Tank Bigsby (No. 39 recruit), defensive end Zykeivous Walker (No. 77 recruit) and linebacker Wesley Steiner (No. 97 recruit) headline a group of 16 4-star recruits from a 25-player class.

        

    No. 13: Baylor Bears: F

    Matt Rhule took Baylor from 1-11 during the 2017 season to 11-3 and No. 13 in this year's final AP poll. Now that he has moved on to the NFL, it will be up to former LSU defensive coordinator Dave Aranda to build off that momentum. A recruiting class that ranks 56th nationally, dead last in the Big 12, and is without a single player ranked among the top 300 recruits will make that considerably more difficult.

        

    No. 12: Notre Dame Fighting Irish: B

    For the second consecutive year, the Fighting Irish check in with the nation's No. 16 recruiting class, as head coach Brian Kelly continues to recruit well. This year's crop of incoming talent is led by 5-star tight end Michael Mayer (No. 31 recruit), 4-star wide receiver Jordan Johnson (No. 36 recruit) and 4-star all-purpose back Chris Tyree (No. 69 recruit), who represent the next wave of impact performers on the offensive side of the ball.

         

    No. 11: Wisconsin Badgers: B+

    The Badgers enjoyed a nice recruiting surge last year, jumping from No. 45 to No. 29 in the rankings, and they were able to maintain that level of talent infusion with a class that ranks 25th nationally this year. Offensive tackles Trey Wedig (No. 82 recruit) and Jack Nelson (No. 103 recruit) are the headliners of this year's class along with 4-star running back Jalen Berger (No. 135 recruit), who will be asked to help ease the loss of Jonathan Taylor.

Nos. 10-6

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    Bryce Young
    Bryce YoungLogan Riely/Getty Images

    10. Minnesota Golden Gophers: B+

    Following his first year as head coach, P.J. Fleck took Minnesota from No. 59 in recruiting in 2017 to No. 38 in 2018. He's continued to recruit well since and is set to bring in his best class yet this year with a group that ranks 35th nationally. It includes a pair of 4-stars in wide receiver Daniel Jackson (No. 305 recruit) and linebacker Itayvion Brown (No. 309 recruit), as well as a potential running back of the future in 3-star Ky Thomas (No. 405 recruit).

        

    9. Penn State Nittany Lions: B

    The Nittany Lions failed to land a 5-star recruit, but they have 11 4-stars, including outside linebacker Curtis Jacobs (No. 35 recruit) and tight end Theo Johnson (No. 71 recruit), who both rank among the top 100 players in the country. All of that adds up to the 13th-best recruiting class in the country, which trails only Ohio State and Michigan among Big Ten schools. James Franklin has done a tremendous job rebuilding the program.

        

    8. Alabama Crimson Tide: A+

    Along with Georgia and Clemson, the Crimson Tide are still in the mix for this year's No. 1 recruiting class, depending on how national signing day plays out. For now, they are slotted into the No. 2 spot by the narrowest of margins. Quarterback Bryce Young (No. 2 recruit), defensive end Will Anderson (No. 17 recruit), defensive end Chris Braswell (No. 19 recruit) and athlete Drew Sanders (No. 22 recruit) are the team's four 5-star newcomers, and they lead a class that also includes a whopping 18 4-star recruits.

       

    7. Oklahoma Sooners: A

    With the top recruiting class in the Big 12 and the No. 9 class nationally, the Sooners are well-positioned to maintain conference supremacy after running up a 58-10 record over the past five years. Lincoln Riley did not nab any 5-star recruits, but this year's class includes an impressive 15 4-stars. Nate Anderson (No. 89 recruit) and Andrew Raym (No. 92 recruit) were the top two offensive guard prospects in the country, while Seth McGowan (No. 133 recruit) was the No. 14 running back in the class.

        

    6. Florida Gators: A

    Led by 5-star defensive tackle Gervon Dexter (No. 12 recruit) and 16 4-star recruits, the Gators check in with the No. 8 recruiting class in the nation. Unfortunately, that's only good enough for the sixth-best class in the recruiting battlefield that is the SEC. It doesn't count toward their recruiting points, but the Gators also added former 5-star recruit Justin Shorter after he entered the transfer portal following his sophomore season at Penn State.

Nos. 5-1

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    DJ Uaigalelei
    DJ UaigaleleiLogan Riely/Getty Images

    5. Oregon Ducks: B

    The Ducks have put together a top-heavy class with three 5-star recruits in the linebacker duo of Justin Flowe (No. 6 recruit) and Noah Sewell (No. 13 recruit) and cornerback Dontae Manning (No. 30 recruit). Behind them are six 4-stars and 12 3-stars. That's still enough for them to rank No. 12 nationally, but this class is not as deep from top to bottom as last year's group that finished in the No. 7 spot.

        

    4. Georgia Bulldogs: A+

    Currently perched atop the national recruiting rankings, the Bulldogs took over the No. 1 spot after securing commitments from cornerback Kelee Ringo (No. 4 recruit) and athlete Darnell Washington (No. 23 recruit) in January. Those two are joined by offensive tackle Broderick Jones (No. 11 recruit) and defensive tackle Jalen Carter (No. 18 recruit) to give Georgia four 5-star recruits. The Bulldogs have had a top-three class each of the past three seasons and appear poised to make it four in a row.

        

    3. Ohio State Buckeyes: A+

    With the top class in the Big Ten and the No. 5 class overall, the Buckeyes have returned to elite recruiting form after slipping to No. 14 nationally a year ago. Julian Fleming (No. 3 recruit) is the nation's top wide receiver prospect, and Paris Johnson Jr. (No. 9 recruit) is the top offensive tackle in the class. Wide receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba (No. 28 recruit) gives the team a third 5-star, while 4-star C.J. Stroud (No. 41 recruit) is the presumptive quarterback of the future.

        

    2. Clemson Tigers: A+

    The Tigers snagged commitments from five of the 31 5-star recruits in this year's class, including defensive tackle Bryan Bresee (No. 1 recruit), defensive end Myles Murphy (No. 7 recruit) and DJ Uiagalelei (No. 10 recruit), who is this year's top pro-style quarterback. The Tigers finished with the No. 10 class last year, landing just one 5-star recruit among their haul, so this A-plus grade is well-earned with the year's third-ranked class.

       

    1. LSU Tigers: A

    While they won't bridge the gap to the top three teams, LSU sits comfortably in the No. 4 spot in this year's recruiting rankings. Tight end Arik Gilbert (No. 5 recruit), cornerback Elias Ricks (No. 14 recruit) and wide receiver Kayshon Boutte (No. 24 recruit) give this year's class a trio of 5-star newcomers, and there are 14 4-stars to round out a deep and talented haul. Replacing Heisman Trophy winner Joe Burrow will be tough, but the talent pipeline is still going strong.

          

    All recruiting rankings courtesy of 247Sports.com.