football Edit

Arizona, Maryland among teams exceeding recruiting expectations

The team rankings are constantly in flux, especially this time of year, and will look very different on Signing Day than they do today as teams round out their classes. However, there are some obvious surprises, both good and bad, as the rankings currently stand.

We break down five teams performing better than expected in 2017 recruiting below.

Mark Pszonak contributed to this report.

MORE: Farrell: Predicting commitment destinations


South Carolina safety commit Hamsah Nasirildeen
South Carolina safety commit Hamsah Nasirildeen

The skinny: While the Gamecocks did finish 17th, 19th and 27th in the team rankings the last three seasons, it is still surprising to see them on the verge of having a top-10 recruiting class with less a month to go until Signing Day after finishing 6-7 during the 2016 season. Seven four-stars headline the group, including a trio of Rivals250 recruits from Georgia, defensive end MJ Webb, athlete Jamyest Williams and wide receiver Chad Terrell, and two Rivals100 recruits, wide receiver OrTre Smith and safety Hamsah Nasirildeen.

Farrell’s take: With an average star ranking of 3.32, South Carolina should expect to finish in the 17-25 range. It is higher than some others now because they have already reached the magic number 20 (we rank the top 20 prospects in a class), but this has still been an impressive cycle for Will Muschamp. The season results were also a surprise given that Muschamp inherited a 3-9 team. He and his staff have done a really good job in Georgia as well as landing some key recruits in the Carolinas. Other teams are charging for some of their big names, so they need to hold on.


Maryland safety commit Deon Jones
Maryland safety commit Deon Jones

The skinny: Unlike South Carolina, which is used to a higher level of recruiting success, Maryland is treading in uncharted territory. Having finished 48th, 55th and 39th during the last three recruiting cycles, and after a 6-7 campaign in 2o16, the Terps are on the outskirts of having a top-10 recruiting class. Head coach D.J. Durkin has impressed in his first full recruiting year at Maryland by the grabbing top local talent like safety Deon Jones, offensive lineman Marcus Minor, quarterback Kasim Hill and defensive tackle Breyon Gaddy, who are all four-stars.

Farrell’s take: Under Randy Edsall the Terps were a mediocre recruiting program struggling to get a foothold in the Big Ten. Durkin has changed the culture, and even with the flip of five-star Josh Kaindoh, this class is still impressive, especially in state. With a 3.1 star average, they should finish either inside the top 25 or just outside of it, not bad for a program in disarray when he arrived. Like South Carolina, reaching 20 commits early has helped their ranking.


The skinny: After having the 41st and 45th ranked recruiting class the last two seasons, an outsider would think that the Wildcats are coming off a successful year to currently be in the top 20. However, that is not the case. Arizona went 3-9 season after going 17-10 the previous two seasons. Leading the way for the Wildcats is the four-star trio of athlete Nathan Tilford, quarterback Braxton Burmeister and athlete Drew Dixon. The Wildcats have also recruited California well, with 10 three-stars coming from the Golden State.

Farrell’s take: Arizona has a three-star average ranking so they will slide some, but they should still finish ahead of their last two classes if all goes well. That’s impressive coming off such an awful season, and they might have found their quarterback of the future in Burmeister.


The skinny: Considering the Buffaloes won the Pac-12 South, played in the Alamo Bowl and finished 10-4, it should be expected that they have a top-25 recruiting class this year. While all of that is true, it is their recent recruiting and on-field history that puts them on this list. It is not the norm for the Buffaloes to be in this position, and for the most part they have taken advantage of it. Four-stars K.D. Nixon, who was once committed to Tennessee, and Jake Moretti, who was once committed to Ohio State, lead the way for the Colorado recruiting class.

Farrell’s Take: Colorado, like Arizona, is sitting on a three-star average, so they will likely slide outside the top 25 depending on how they close, but it will certainly be better than 66th last year and 72nd the year before. Their work in Texas has been especially impressive, and flipping guys from the Vols and Buckeyes would be unheard of before this cycle.


Rutgers OL commit Micah Clark
Rutgers OL commit Micah Clark

The skinny: New head coach Chris Ash and the Scarlet Knights struggled on the field in 2016, finishing a dismal 2-10 in the powerful Big Ten East. One thing that needs to improve quickly for Rutgers is its recruiting, and considering its performance on the field last fall, having a top-30 class should be applauded. Keeping in-state four-stars Micah Clark and Bo Melton home was huge, and grabbing four-star Tyshon Fogg from Maryland was another nice recruiting victory for the staff.

Farrell’s take: Rutgers' first season on the field under Ash was a disaster, but recruiting hasn’t been shabby at all for a 2-10 team. The two in-state four-stars are big, and they have a quarterback commit in Johnathan Lewis who has a lot of upside. Ash has hit some big programs in state and done a good job in New York as well as he works his way from a tight recruiting circle to a larger scope next year and beyond.