Five teams that improved the most from 2017 to 2018
Mark Pszonak contributed to this report.
With National Signing Day in the books, let’s take a look at five Power Five programs that improved the most from the 2017 cycle to the 2018 cycle.
Improvement: +32 (75 to 43)
The skinny: The Golden Bears put together a very solid class, and in the process moved up 32 spots from their 75th class ranking last year. A class heavy on offensive linemen and linebackers, two of the top-ranked players are actually four-star wide receiver Nikko Remigio and four-star cornerback Chigozie Anusiem, while four-star Will Craig brings plenty of athleticism to the offensive line. With 16 of their 21 signees coming from California, the Golden Bears and coach Justin Wilcox continue to try and make a deeper impact in their home state, which they definitely accomplished with this class.
Farrell’s take: Cal quietly did a very good job in state and improved greatly this year with more wiggle room and better numbers. The Bears hit key needs along the offensive and defensive line and improved themselves at the skill positions as well. The linebacker group is also very deep. They needed help at certain positions and clearly focused there.
Improvement: +27 (31 to 4)
The skinny: Plenty was expected out of Tom Herman’s first full season to recruit in Austin, and he responded by jumping an impressive 27 spots all the way to No. 4. Five-star Caden Sterns highlights the class, but overall it is very deep and talented with an impressive 17 four-stars, including 12 from the Lone Star State. Keeping four-star Keondre Coburn committed while adding four-star Joseph Ossai on Wednesday was also a nice way to end the class for the Longhorns.
Farrell’s take: An amazing class for Herman and his staff hitting a home run at many key positions. The defensive back class is arguably the best in the country, they killed it along the defensive line, landed two talented quarterbacks and also had a great haul at wide receiver. This shows how Texas can recruit with the right guy in charge.
Improvement: +21 (65 to 44)
The skinny: To compete in the difficult Big Ten Eastern Division, recruiting has to be consistently successful. Indiana made a successful leap up to No. 44 by signing a very balanced class, which was highlighted by their only four-star addition, quarterback Michael Penix Jr. While he may be the only four-star, the Hoosiers added several other quality recruits, including high three-stars Ronnie Walker, Aidan Rafferty and James Head Jr., who all have the potential to be major contributors during their time in Bloomington.
Farrell’s take: Tom Allen and his staff did a very good job in what will be a key class for his tenure. This is a big class with many positions targeted. There is good balance on defense led by a strong group of defensive ends and on offense they landed the quarterback of the future, wide receivers with size and powerful running backs and tight ends. This is also a class with versatility as many of the prospects could play different positions if asked.
Improvement: +19 (53 to 34)
The skinny: Dave Doeren has rejuvenated the Wolfpack program, which is coming off a 9-4 season and a victory in the Sun Bowl. The result is a much improved class that has some star power at the top, including four-star running back Ricky Person, four-star linebacker Payton Wilson, who both hail from North Carolina, and four-star quarterback Devin Leary. The Wolfpack finished off their class by adding three-star cornerback Taiyon Palmer on NSD.
Farrell’s take: NC State won some key recruiting battles this year and took advantage of the momentum of the first part of their season where they were a hot commodity on the field. The in-state recruiting was solid, they landed a terrific quarterback in Leary and also landed some key prospects in Florida and Georgia. There are some big-name guys that highlight this class but there is also a lot of depth here at numerous positions.
Improvement: +19 (68 to 49)
The skinny: Jeff Brohm brought an exciting style of offense to West Lafayette, and after a 7-6 record in his first season in 2017, recruits seem excited about the future of Boilermaker football. With 23 of their 24 signees being three-stars, the class is full of potential, including wide receivers Rondale Moore, Kory Taylor and Amad Anderson, which all have the potential to be game-breakers in this offense. Quarterback Jack Plummer is another big addition, who very well could be the signal caller of the future for the Boilermakers.
Farrell’s take: There isn’t a four-star in the class, but there is also only one two-star which speaks to the consistency and depth of talent in this class. The wide receivers obviously lead the way but they also did very well along the offensive line, at defensive end and signed a deep defensive backs class. Purdue, like NC State, was a hot name on the field early in the season and took advantage of a solid year on the field by landing a much improved class.