How the new Power Five coaches fared with 2022 class
Just as the transfer portal has led to unprecedented changes in the college football recruiting landscape over the past year, this year's coaching carousel has brought an unprecedented level of change at the Power Five level.
Few could have predicted that we would see changes at the top for traditional big-name programs such as Notre Dame, USC, Florida, Miami, Oklahoma, Oregon and others during the same cycle, but in today’s football world this almost seems to be the new normal.
There were 14 new Power Five head coaching hires during this coaching and recruiting cycle. With each new hire there are ingrained expectations based on tradition and history.
Today, we take a look at how each of this year’s Power Five hires fared during the 2022 recruiting class, and then grade them based on the program's expectations, circumstances of the hire and hurdles that they overcame or failed to clear.
NATIONAL SIGNING DAY INTERVIEWS: Oklahoma's Brent Venables | Rutgers' Greg Schiano | Clemson's Dabo Swinney | Vanderbilt's Clark Lea | Illinois' Bret Bielema | West Virginia's Neal Brown | Virginia's Tony Elliott | Indiana's Tom Allen | Utah's Kyle Whittingham | South Carolina's Shane Beamer | Arizona's Jedd Fisch | Stanford's David Shaw | Notre Dame's Marcus Freeman | Florida State's Mike Norvell | Michigan State's Mel Tucker | Missouri's Eli Drinkwitz
CLASS OF 2022 RANKINGS: Rivals250 | Position | Team | State | JUCO
CLASS OF 2023 RANKINGS: Rivals250 | Position | Team | State
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RIVALS CAMP SERIES: Info for 2022 series
Duke: Mike Elko
Class rank: 50
Elko was hired days before the Early Signing Period and was largely able to keep the class intact. That is a testament to the previous staff for recruiting the right guys for Duke, but you also have to give credit to Elko for giving the recruits enough confidence in him to sign on the dotted line. With the addition of high three-star RB Travis Bates during the Late Signing Period, the Blue Devils ended up signing the No. 50 class in the nation. That makes Elko’s first class the highest-ranked class that Duke has had since 2019.
Florida: Billy Napier
Class rank: 24
Napier’s first Florida recruiting class comes in at No. 24 in the nation, and although the ranking is respectable, it is not where the Gators want to finish if they are going to compete for SEC titles. All of that being said, you have to respect the fact that Napier and staff did it their way. Instead of taking the low-hanging fruit of already committed players they chose to build a class of players that fits their vision for the future of Gator football.
They would have liked to have held on to committed players like Isaiah Bond and Julian Humphrey, and then they struck out on their biggest targets in five-star safety Jacoby Matthews, four-star linebacker Harold Perkins and four-star running back TreVonte Citizen. On the bright side they were able to secure the class headliner in five-star LB Shemar James, they flipped four-star DB Devin Moore and got a late pledge from four-star DE Jack Pyburn.
LSU: Brian Kelly
Class rank: 14
Kelly’s first LSU class comes in at a very respectable No. 14 in the nation, but at the same time finishes as the lowest-ranked Tiger class since 2018. Just like the 2018 class, which produced future NFL stars Ja’Marr Chase and Terrace Marshall Jr., this class also has a lot of star power. LSU fans have to be encouraged by a class that includes five-star players in Harold Perkins and Quency Wiggins, but at the end of the day the group as a whole is not what it could have been. You cannot go 3-for-11 on in-state players in a talent rich state like Louisiana.
Kelly and staff looked to be in good shape with highly touted prospects like Danny Lewis, who ended up signing elsewhere. What looked to be a promising class shortly after Kelly’s hire turned out to be less than spectacular by LSU standards.
Miami: Mario Cristobal
Class rank: 34
Cristobal has proven to be more than capable as both a coach and recruiter by being the only Power Five head coach to play for a conference championship the past three years. His inaugural class finishes with a pedestrian ranking of No. 34 overall, but when you consider the circumstances and timing it could have been much worse. With little time to sign a full class going into the Early Signing Period, it is the finish that Cristobal and his staff will be judged off of most.
While the class is low in numbers it is high in quality with eight of their 14 signees coming in at four-stars, and their average star rating of 3.57 slotting them at No. 13 overall in that metric. There were some wins in four-star TE Jaleel Skinner (a former Alabama commit), four-star Ahmad Moten and four-star RB Trevonte’ Citizen, as well as some losses, including five-star DE Shemar Stewart, who opted to sign with Texas A&M.
Notre Dame: Marcus Freeman
Class rank: 7
Freeman did a great job of keeping an already impressive class intact as well as adding to the recruiting momentum the Irish had going for them. While Freeman had the advantage of taking over a team for which he already had an integral recruiting role, I cannot remember the last time a new coach came in and signed a class that ranks as high as this 2022 Notre Dame class, which finished No. 7 overall in the rankings. There were some bumps along the way, such as losing four-star recruits CJ Williams and Devin Moore, but Freeman was able to hold on to headliners Tyson Ford and Jaylen Sneed while plucking four-star OL Billy Schrauth out of Wisconsin less than a week before the early signing period.
Oklahoma: Brent Venables
Class rank: 8
Venables took a situation that could have gone downhill quickly after the departure of Lincoln Riley and put together an impressive class that finished No. 8 overall. Much like Marcus Freeman at Notre Dame, it is hard to find many new coaches that had their first recruiting class rank this high in recent memory. Ahmad Moten was the miss, but overall there were more wins. Venables and staff landed four-star DE Gracen Halton, who had previously been committed to Oregon, flipped three-star DE R Mason Thomas, who is probably underrated, and stole three-star Kevonte Henry, who was once a Michigan commit.
Oregon: Dan Lanning
Class rank: 45
When you consider the timing of Lanning's hire and other extenuating circumstances, the nation’s No. 45-ranked class is a lot better than it sounds. Lanning was hired only days before the Early Signing Period, so this is a class that should be judged on the finish rather than the start. While losing a player like five-star WR Tetairoa McMillan to a team in your own conference is a killer, there were some big wins, such as landing four-star RB Jordan James, who had been a longtime Georgia commit. The Ducks were able to get four-star cornerback Jahlil Florence to pick the Oregon over USC and secured four-star OL Dave Iuli, who many thought would follow Cristobal to Miami.
TCU: Sonny Dykes
Class rank: 56
Dykes' first recruiting class at TCU isn’t going to blow anybody away, as it finishe No. 56 in the nation, but part of that ranking is due to the limited number of players the Horned Frogs signed. And it was still better than the previous year’s class, which finished No. 63. There were some big wins in signing four-star recruits WR Jordan Hudson, DE Michael Ibukun-Okeyode and DB Chace Biddle, who had previously committed to Dykes at SMU, and three-star DT Connor Lingren, who saw a late push from USC. TCU is also looking to do a lot of work in the portal, which is not represented here.
Texas Tech: Joey McGuire
Class rank: 37
McGuire was hired to make the state of Texas a recruiting priority and certainly showed his desire to do so, with all but four of the Red Raiders' signees coming from the Lone Star State. McGuire had a unique advantage with his first class as he was named head coach midway through the season and was able to set up shop on campus with the sole purpose of recruiting. This led to some big wins in four-stars Maurion Horn and Joseph Adedire, as well as three star players Bryson Donnell and Sincere Massey who could easily outplay their rankings.
USC: Lincoln Riley
Class rank: 59
Riley’s first class at USC is low on numbers but high on stars, with five of the Trojans' eight signees coming in at four-stars or better. This class was all about quality over quantity as USC took more players from the transfer portal than it did from the high school ranks. Five-star signees Raleek Brown and Domani Jackson should compete for early playing time (and although this is about high school recruiting, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the Trojans landing QB transfer Caleb Williams). While the sample is limited, you have to be impressed with the few players that USC did sign from the high school level.
Virginia: Tony Elliott
Class rank: 64
Elliott was officially hired five days before the Early Signing Period, and with the help of outgoing coach Bronco Mendenhall was able to keep a number of the Cavs’ high school commitments in the boat. Elliott still had plenty of work to do in order to fill out the 2022 class and wasted little time extending offers to players that were a great fit for the Virginia program while also filling team needs. In a little more than a month and a half Virginia was able to add seven more high school prospects to the class, with the most notable being massive OL prospect Tapuvae Amaama from Utah.
Virginia Tech: Brent Pry
Class rank: 38
Pry’s inaugural class at Virginia Tech isn’t going to blow anyone away from a rankings perspective, coming in at No. 38 overall, but this is the best class the Hokies have had since 2019. The Hokies made the home state a priority by inking 12 prospects from Virginia as well as signing the biggest class in all of the ACC. Tech lost RB Ramon Brown to Maryland and QB Alex Orji to Michigan, and it was also one of only three teams in the ACC not to sign a four-star player, but Pry and staff used this class to lay the groundwork for future classes.
Washington: Kalen DeBoer
Class rank: 96
DeBoer has an incredible head coaching record of 79-9, with three of those losses coming as a new hire at Fresno State during a limited COVID season. There is little question about DeBoer’s ability to win games, but his first class as a Power Five head coach ranked a less-than-stellar No. 96, and leaves some questions about his ability to recruit on the big stage. DeBoer and staff walked into a situation with a number of immediate needs that had to be filled and they largely looked to the transfer portal to do so. Washington was able to find some underrecruited gems like three-star defensive lineman Armon Parker and Jayvon Parker out of Michigan, but this class lacks the star power we expect from the Huskies. The limited class, combined with one of Washington’s top targets - five-star OL Josh Conerly - still being in play makes giving a grade here difficult.
Washington State: Jake Dickert
Class rank: 74
Dickert took the reins of the Washington State program in October when Nick Rolovich was dismissed for not complying with a state vaccination mandate. Dickert was able to overcome midseason adversity and win three of the four conference games in which he was the head coach. But his early success on the field didn’t seem to transition to the recruiting front. Although there were some big wins in signing high three-star TE Andre Dollar and LB Taariq Al-Uqdah the class as a whole didn’t live up to Washington State’s traditional standards and finished as the lowest ranked class since 2010.