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Five programs that surprised during the Early Signing Period

Travis Shaw
Travis Shaw (Rivals.com)

All the success on the college football gridiron can be traced back to one thing, recruiting. The label "blueblood" is attached to certain programs because of their conference and national championships, and all those teams are landing top prospects year after year. During the Early Signing Period for the 2022 class, the top programs like Alabama, Georgia and Ohio State shined yet again, but some other teams turned in surprising noteworthy efforts.

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NORTH CAROLINA

During the 2020 season, Mack Brown turned in an 8-4 season showing what can be done in Chapel Hill. This fall, coach Brown's third season of his second stint with the Tar Heels, was a setback on the field going 6-6. But the messaging to the recruits came through with the ninth-rated class as the Early Signing Period drew to a close. Nine four-star prospects were added with the headline grabbers being five-star defensive tackle Travis Shaw and offensive lineman Zach Rice.

At the conclusion of the 2021 class, North Carolina's recruiting class was rated No. 16. If the Tar Heels can hold on as a top-10 recruiting team, their push up the team rankings from a year ago will be an impressive feat.

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KENTUCKY

Kiyaunta Goodwin
Kiyaunta Goodwin

The Wildcats' coaching staff scoured the country putting together their class landing 10 prospects from other states. Currently slotted at No. 10, Kentucky amassed 11 four-star recruits highlighted by offensive lineman Kiyaunta Goodwin. Diving deeper into the class, Kentucky won key recruiting battles in Tennessee, Michigan, Indiana, Pennsylvania and Ohio.

The recruiting jump for the Wildcats is massive, from No. 37 in 2021 into the top-10.

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ARKANSAS

Isaian Sategna
Isaian Sategna (Nikki Chavanelle)

For the Razorbacks to be successful, they have to own the Natural State; and that they did. Arkansas landed eight of the top-10 players in-state flipping receiver Isaian Sategna away from Oregon along the way. Head coach Sam Pittman continued his pipeline back to Georgia pulling three from the Peach State. If there is one geographic area that can be improved upon for the Hogs, it is finding success in Texas. Three-star linebacker Jordan Crook was the only Texas talent signed during the early period.

The Hogs are doing it right, and relationships are being built. Their consistent messaging took the talent level from No. 25 to No. 13 thus far.

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MISSOURI

Luther Burden
Luther Burden (Rivals.com)

The Tigers jumped inside the top-20 thanks to five-star East St. Louis receiver Luther Burden. Missouri secured six four-star talents, including two in-state standouts. Eliah Drinkwitz's program did an excellent job addressing offensive needs as seven of the Tigers' top-10 signees are slotted to play on that side of the ball. To take that step from a top-20 to top-15, or better, Mizzou has to secure the borders keeping teams like Iowa State and Notre Dame out.

From one year to the next, the level of talent signed has stayed the same at No. 20. Their 2022 class has more "star" power but the other teams around them pushed ahead.

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INDIANA

Trevell Mullen
Trevell Mullen (Nick Lucero/Rivals.com)

One could argue that the best recruiting job done in this cycle was by Tom Allen and his staff. Putting together a top-20 class may not impress some but, for a Hoosiers program coming off a 2-10 season, that is exceptional. Indiana has seven four-star prospects coming their way with a nice balance between offense and defense. In the mix of the class, defensive coordinator Charlton Warren did a fantastic job down in Florida signing safety Trevell Mullen, end Vinson Sneed and tackle Nick James.

Adding to the high marks for Indiana, the jump in talent heading to the Hoosiers' roster from one year to the next was drastically better. Indiana had the 67th-ranked class in 2021.

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