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Five programs that jumped up the recruiting rankings this cycle

CLASS OF 2019 RANKINGS: Rivals250 | State | Position | Team

CLASS OF 2020 RANKINGS: Rivals250 | State | Position

Trey Knox was a big get for Arkansas.
Trey Knox was a big get for Arkansas. (Nick Lucero/

Mark Pszonak contributed to this report.

Many teams improve from one recruiting cycle to the next, but these five programs made the biggest leaps from 2018 to 2019.

MORE: Five storylines to watch for the class of 2020 | Ranking the flips from NSD


Improvement: +41 (61 to 20)

The skinny: Coming off of a 2-10 season, which included zero wins in the SEC, the Razorbacks put together an amazingly successful class. With plenty of early commitments, the impressive part is that they were able to keep a majority of the class together throughout the disappointing season. The class contains an impressive 13 four-stars and is spearheaded by four-star Tennessee WR Trey Knox and four-star in-state WR Treylon Burks, who officially signed Wednesday. Two other four-star receivers, Shamar Nash and T.Q. Jackson, further strengthened the position, while the defensive back position quickly grew stronger with the addition of three four-stars: Jalen Catalon, Devin Bush and Gregory Brooks, Jr.

Farrell’s take: Chad Morris did a great job this recruiting cycle, one of the best in the country - if not the best. If he continues to recruit at this level, Arkansas will make some noise in the SEC, and he’s made things tough on some other programs trying to recruit Arkansas, Texas and other states.


Improvement: +34 (57 to 23)

The skinny: Part of Stanford’s No. 57 finish last season was their small class (15), so it is not surprising to see the Cardinal back in the upper tier. As usual, Stanford was able to bring in top-level recruits from across the country, including four-star WR Elijah Higgins and OL Branson Bragg from Texas, four-star OL Walter Rouse from D.C., and four-star DE Stephon Herron from Kentucky. The Cardinal also found success in California, as four-star DE Joshua Pakola and four-star RB Austin Jones added depth and talent on both sides of the ball.

Farrell’s take: This Stanford class is a solid but not spectacular one, but it’s bigger than last year and will be an important one for David Shaw. A few of the signees will be stars, like Higgins and Herron, and this is a physical class that will help Stanford continue its style of play moving forward.


Improvement: +30 (69 to 39)

The skinny: The Cavaliers quietly put together an impressive season in 2018, and followed that up with a much-improved recruiting class. The diamond of the class is definitely four-star DT Jowon Briggs out of Ohio, but four-star D.C. LB Hunter Stewart and four-star Pennsylvania OL Ja’quay Hubbard also have the potential to be early contributors in Charlottesville. The Cavs also took a national, and even international approach, with only four of their commitments coming from Virginia. With recruits also signing from Utah, Louisiana, Tennessee, Texas, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida and two from Germany, it will be interesting to see if they continue to branch out to new areas.

Farrell’s take: Briggs is the big catch here, but this is a solid class for a staff that a year ago didn’t have much local pull. This is still a very national class, more than you’d expect from Virginia, but that may be a good thing as it continues to branch out and make contacts all over the country.


Improvement: +23 (49 to 26)

The skinny: Purdue showed plenty of potential during the 2018 season on the field, and that has translated nicely with this recruiting class. First, the Boilermakers did a very nice job in-state by landing four-star WR David Bell and four-star DE George Karlaftis. Additional important pieces arrived from other parts of the Midwest with four-star DB Marvin Grant coming from Michigan and four-star ATH Mershawn Rice and four-star DT Steven Faucheux coming from Ohio. While the offense received more attention on the field last season, Purdue made it priority to fill some holes on the defensive side of the ball in this class, with both the defensive line and defensive backfield gaining important talent and depth.

Farrell’s take: Purdue had a very strong class, and the Boilermakers can thank Rondale Moore and the national attention he helped bring them for that. They seemed to take a step forward on the field, and that will continue if they recruit like this. Bell and Karlaftis could make very early impacts.

5. DUKE 

Improvement: +18 (65 to 47)

The skinny: Duke has become a consistent winner in the ACC, and after a down recruiting year in 2018, rebounded nicely in 2019. While the Blue Devils' only four-star was in-state DB Tony Davis, they loaded up on quality recruits throughout their region. Three-star DT DeWayne Carter Jr. could be a force in the interior defensive line, Ron Carr and Jacob Monk bring toughness and athleticism to the offensive line, and the defensive end trio of R.J. Oben, Christian Rorie and Ahmad Craig should help the Blue Devils’ pass rush in the future.

Farrell’s take: With the academic restrictions they face, the Blue Devils always have an uphill battle like Stanford does, especially with all the competition in North Carolina for prospects. They did especially well in the trenches, which will pay dividends down the line and this class is an excellent rebound class from a disappointing 2018.