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Dallas JacksonClick Rivals.com Team Recruiting RankingsHere to view this Link. is the National Columnist for Rivals.com. Email him your comments or story ideas to DallasJ@Yahoo-Inc.comClick Rivals.com Team Recruiting RankingsHere to view this Link. and follow him on TwitterClick Rivals.com Team Recruiting RankingsHere to view this Link..
There are plenty of variables when playing the recruiting numbers game.
Since late July -- the last time Rivals.com ran an analytic to determine its projections as to how the top 25 teams will finish in recruiting -- a multitude of shifts have happened to the data points.
There was a re-ranking of the Rivals250 presented by Under Armour and updated positional rankings.
Five players added a fifth-star and the bonus points that go with a 6.1 ranking.
The number of unassigned points dwindled as uncommitted players from inside the prestigious ranking dropped from 140 to 82.
Nearly 100 players committed, and many added to the point totals of programs inside the top of the charts.
The movement caused Boston College, Penn State and Michigan State to drop out of the top 25, while Arizona, Oklahoma State and Stanford moved in.
With a new Rivals.com formula for ranking teams more objectively (view the new formula here), we will look at the top 25 monthly -- from July until January -- and see where they project to finish.
The number of remaining spots, offers being extended, positional needs and historical references were factored in to determining the results.
TOP 25 RECRUITING CLASSES
No. 1 -- ALABAMA -- 19 commits, 2,318 points, 3.68 average
Click Here to view this Link.Since last time: Alabama has added four commitments and nearly 600 points, jumping from No. 7 to No. 1. The numbers in July said the Crimson Tide would be narrowly edged in the recruiting race this season but was a near lock for one of the top three spots.
What Mike Farrell says: "It is no surprise to see Alabama back at the top. I suppose the only thing that stands out from the norm is that there isn't a five-star player in the class yet. For Crimson Tide fans, the best may be yet to come because the program is heavily involved with some major players and still has room to add in this class. I would put this as a class that is certain to finish in the top three spots, and it isn't smart to bet against it being No. 1 again."
What the numbers say: Not much has changed in the projections for Alabama, and the numbers still say this class will go down to the wire for the top spot. What has changed is that the number of competitors for the top spot has dropped, with Notre Dame being the main faller. It looks like LSU may be the only program left that can knock off Alabama, with Texas A&M, Florida and Michigan giving chase.
No. 2 -- TENNESSEE -- 24 commits, 2,311 points, 3.5 average
Click Here to view this Link.Since last time: Tennessee has added three commitments and 171 points. The major change for the long-term viability of the class is the increase in average star from 3.38 to 3.5. The projections in July put Tennessee in the No. 8 to No. 14 range, and that has been tightened up.
What Mike Farrell says: "Tennessee took a very strong start to the class and has kept building. What really has been good for the class is that this evaluation period saw Jalen Hurd gain his fifth star and Daniel Helm move to the top spot among the tight ends. This is a very talented class, and each time we get to see the kids in the group we are pretty impressed."
What the numbers say: The boost in the current prospects within the class and the elimination of a few lower-ranked players raised the floor of the class, and it seems like a No. 14 finish is out of the question. The top end has not changed much, and the numbers look like this class has a No. 7 finish to it with a floor of No. 9. The more variables that can be eliminated, the more clear this becomes.
No. 3 -- FLORIDA STATE -- 24 commits, 2,131 points, 3.33 average
Since last time: The Seminoles have added six commitments and 379 points, they have made a marginal increase from 3.28 to 3.33 in their star rating. FSU climbed from No. 6 to No. 3 in the ranking but did not change much of its projection for the future.
Mike Farrell says: "I think this is about the same as last time for Florida State. The star ranking is a little low, but that can change because there are still two more evaluation periods before it is all over. I think this is a fringe top 10 class but maybe just outside of it when it is all over. There is still some talent on the board here for Florida State, but this class will likely be defined by its defensive line and linebacker groups."
What the numbers say: The class is in more danger to finish in a clump of ACC teams that it had been running ahead of. Some of that is due to projections for other programs, and some is that this group hasn't done much to increase its long-term stock. It figures to close behind Clemson and in a battle with Miami, North Carolina and possibly N.C. State. Now that North Carolina added Elijah Hood it gives the Tar Heels the boost they needed and the same could happen if N.C. State gets Kentavius Street. Florida State looks good to settled around No. 13 to No. 16, much like the last run indicated.
NO. 4 -- MIAMI (Fla.) -- 26 commitments, 2,117 points, 3.31 average
Since last time: The addition of five pledges came with a boost of 342 points to the 20 prospects who count in the class. It boosted the average from 3.2 to 3.31 and helped eliminate some of the lower-ranked players in the process.
What Mike Farrell says: "I think based just on the numbers this is a group that can battle with Florida State down the stretch but will likely not overtake the Seminoles. I think that Al Golden has done a tremendous job on the offensive line and the one-two punch at running back is impressive. The defensive line group is good but when talking about the program overall it needed to be tougher and the guys on that offensive line are attitude changers."
What the numbers say: This class is in line with what Miami has done historically because the team has averaged 2,111 points over the last six classes. If nothing changes, its 2,117 have been good enough to be in the No. 14 to No. 16 range during the same span. As it did for Tennessee, adding players has moved the floor up from July, when it could have dropped to No. 23. The class seems to be a much safer bet for top 20.
No. 5 -- OHIO STATE -- 17 commitments, 2,054 points, 3.59 average
Since last time: Urban Meyer and staff added three more players to the list and gained 528 points, jumping from No. 13 to No. 5. It has been in line with the projection that Ohio State would fall in the range from No. 4 to No. 8.
What Mike Farrell says: "This is yet another really good class under Meyer, and with the star ranking right now it looks like it has staying power. What I like is the balance that the class has with its offensive line and dynamic players on the defensive side of the ball. It is probably a safe bet for a top 10 finish."
What the numbers say: Ohio State is traveling its normal trajectory, and even with limited spots in the class it should be a top 10 finisher if it rounds out a full group of 20. A class with a 3.59 average usually has been good for a No. 7 finish, but if Ohio State doesn't add another commitment it is likely to fall just below Miami and near that No. 16 spot.
No. 6 -- GEORGIA -- 16 commitments, 2,013 points, 3.81 average
Since last time: Georgia saw a big boost in the re-ranking as it added only one commitment but improved by 368 points and jumped its average from 3.4 to 3.81. The floor for Georgia was never that low because it figured to have a range of No. 8 to No. 12, but that may have been elevated.
What Mike Farrell says: "Having the highest star rating in the country is not something that is generally associated with a class at Georgia, but this group is really, really good. I think people often overlook how good Georgia has recruited because it has missed on some in-state guys, but the program is an elite recruiting unit. It is still in on some top, top players this year and could finish in the top five."
What the numbers say: Consistency has been the name of the game for Georgia, and the projections are giving a limited upside in saying the Bulldogs have moved their ceiling to No. 5 and their floor to No. 10. Even if the team adds just four three-star players to round out its 20, that should be enough to ensure another top 15 finish.
No. 7 -- KENTUCKY -- 23 commitments, 1,958 points, 3.35 average
Since last time: The Wildcats added four pledges and 222 points. The recently completed evaluation process saw the a couple of boosts for this group, and its average improved from 3.21 to 3.35. The boost in average player and the moderate increase in total points confirm what the initial projection had for Kentucky.
What Mike Farrell says: "I think it is fairly obvious that this class will continue to slide despite having a few key targets remaining. Last time I think I said that top 25 should be a goal, and now I think that is a safe bet. Top 20 should be the goal now, and a top 15 finish would be a major push but isn't out of the realm of possibility."
What the numbers say: In July, the high end for Kentucky was No. 13 with a low end still in the top 25. As with some other programs, the bottom has been lifted and a No. 20 finish is probably the low end. The difference here is that unless there are major boosts to players in the class, the ceiling has come down and made a high point of No. 16. There are still targets on the board, but not many elite players project to go to Kentucky and that is based largely on the historical influence of the model.
No. 8 -- TEXAS -- 23 commitments, 2,003 points, 3.35 average
Since last time: This has long been a fast-starting, crawl-to-the-finish program under Mack Brown, and that looks like it will continue. Texas has added one commitment and just 74 points in the last month. Its average changed slightly from 3.19 to 3.22.
What Mike Farrell says: "There are some very talented wide receivers in this group, among some others offensively that I like, but it is still not a very Texas-like class at least in terms of historical context. There are no players ranked as a 6.0 and no five-stars in the group. Also, there are a lot more three-stars than we are used to seeing at Texas."
What the numbers say: Not much has changed from the projections in July, and Texas looks like it is coursing for a No. 20 finish nationally -- up slightly from its No. 22 projection earlier. The moderate bump in per-recruit average was partially responsible for that slight uptick, but de-commitments also gave the Longhorns the additional spot. A finish below Kentucky would be stunning, but it is statistically probable.
No. 9 -- OLE MISS -- 20 commitments, 1,779 points, 3.15 average
Since last time: The Rebels added two commitments and 212 points. The average per recruit stayed at the low end of the team rankings, moving up from 3.11 by .04. Ole Miss moved up a few spots in the team totals, climbing to No. 9 from No. 12, but the staying power is not there.
What Mike Farrell says: "This is not the class of 2013, and that is obvious. I don't think there is the momentum carrying over, and I don't think Ole Miss can get anything like Robert Nkemdiche, Laquon Treadwell or some other players it closed with. This class looks like it will be just inside that top 25 but in the middle to bottom of the SEC."
What the numbers say: The Rebels look to be on a collision course with the No. 23 spot at best, with a bottom of No. 29 -- depending on re-evaluations. This class figures to be an easy 500 points off the total from last year and much closer to its normal 1,900-point average than the 2,496 it closed with last season. Regression was going to be the case here, and the curious part is to see how far it falls from No. 7
No. 10 -- NOTRE DAME -- 16 commitments, 1,763 points, 3.69 average
Since last time: The Irish gained one cumulative commitment and added 11 points. What the big news here is that they lost five-star running back Elijah Hood and slid from the No. 5 class to No. 10. The loss of Hood crushed their projection of No. 3 to No. 6 and moved it back into the pack.
What Mike Farrell says: "When a team loses a guy like Hood but maintains or actually improves on its average star rankings, that speaks to the overall quality of the class. I think that the offensive line group is going to continue to carry this group and keep the numbers solid. I think the area for concern is quarterback, and it may be too late to address it unless the staff feels good about a flip."
What the numbers say: The raw numbers are still pacing for less than the class of 2013, but there is still optimism in the number that this group can climb back into the top five. Logically, it doesn't look good for that to happen now that Hood is removed from the group. The top end still has No. 3 potential, depending on how the rest of the commitments come together, but the safe range here is No. 6 to No. 10.
No. 11-- NORTH CAROLINA -- 21 commitments, 1,761 points, 3.1 average
Since last time: The Tar Heels added three commitments and 354 points, and they boosted their per-recruit average from 2.94 to 3.1. They jumped from No. 16 to No. 11 nationally but that was largely on the back of a Tuesday night commitment from Elijah Hood. Prior to that commitment, the program has slid to No. 18 but jumped to No. 11 instantly as he provided 201 of the 354 points the program gained. There are several factors working for North Carolina in the long term, but the biggest is the change of heart that five-star prospect Hood had in decommitting from Notre Dame.
What Mike Farrell says: "Hood changing his mind and re-opening his recruitment changed the outlook for North Carolina. I didn't know if North Carolina would be able to add enough to stay in the top 25, but with Hood it would be close. I think Larry Fedora is doing a good job of identifying players he wants to revamp the system, as well as going after some very talented kids."
What the numbers say: North Carolina has surpassed its 1,460 point total from last season and, with the Hood commitment, it is out of the woods for a potential finish inside the 30s. Adding Hood to the process pushed the team over 1,750 points and likely secures a spot at the bottom of the top 25. Either way, the class is shaping up to be one of the school's best since 2009.
No. 12 -- TEXAS A&M -- 14 commitments, 1,710 points, 3.64 average
Since last time: The Aggies did not add a commitment but gained 51 points and bolstered their average from 3.5 to 3.64 in the re-rankings. They slid down the rankings from No. 8 to No. 11, but that did not affect the long-term potential. It actually boosted the expectations.
What Mike Farrell says: "Having Kyle Allen become the No. 1 quarterback and a five-star player boosted the class, and with the defensive backfield commits that the team has there is a lot of great things to like. There are still some questions for Texas A&M because Hoza Scott has some off-the-field issues and Cedric Collins has become a little injury prone. This is still one of the hottest and -- for better or worse -- most talked about teams in the country, and I think it takes advantage and closes strong."
What the numbers say: The adjustment of the rankings made clearer the potential for a No. 1 finish. Never before had a No. 1 team had a 3.5 average like Texas A&M had in July, but getting into the more historically accurate range of 3.6 to 3.8 makes it more realistic. The team needs to have the boost in playing tough or beating Alabama to make that surge possible. The floor was previously set at No. 9 and that should slide up one spot, but the ceiling remains No. 1. The Aggies are in a battle inside the top five come January.
No. 13 -- CLEMSON -- 15 commitments, 1,674 points, 3.47 average
Click Here to view this Link.Since last time: Clemson added one commitment and only 33 points. It also saw a dip in its average from 3.5 to 3.47. The projections for the class leveled out a bit, but the program has been a strong closer and has space to improve.
What Mike Farrell says: "This is an under-the-radar class, but it is still quite strong. Having five-star Deshaun Watson at quarterback is the key, and they surrounded him with talented receivers and running backs. There still needs to be work done on defense, but with the historically strong close there is hope that Clemson finishes inside the top 10 and at the top of the ACC."
What the numbers say: The battle for the ACC crown may be closer than originally anticipated because the July numbers had Clemson about 200 points clear of Florida State and it may now be too close to call. Watson falling from the top quarterback and down the list of five-stars took bonus points away, but there is plenty of potential here. A safe floor is No. 15 with an upside of No. 8, depending on how things close.
No. 14 -- FLORIDA -- 15 commitments, 1,671 points, 3.6 average
Since last time: The Gators added four pledges and gained 458 points. They went from No. 21 to No. 13 and increased their average from 3.45 to a 3.6 number that gets it into the battle for the top spot. The previous landing spot of No. 8 is still an appropriate expectation, but the team could contend for No. 1.
What Mike Farrell says: "I fully expect Florida to finish clear of Florida State and Miami within the state, and it should be an easy inclusion in the top five nationally. The team has an elite quarterback, as well as great receivers and running backs. The class has enough spots and plenty of targets to close strong. If it can land Da'Shawn Hand, Lorenzo Carter or Jamal Adams[/db] -- all three have shown significant interest -- it could take the recruiting title."
What the numbers say: Being heavily involved with multiple five-star players makes this a more fluid class to project out of the current group and it gives it a greater range. In July it was from No. 11 to No. 5, and in August it seems more comparable to the numbers aligned with Texas A&M. The Gators could finish No. 1, with a bottom of No. 7. The top five is a statistical probability.
No. 15 -- ARIZONA -- 24 commitments, 1,670 points, 3.0 average
Since last time: Arizona was not involved in July, but it added 12 commitments -- including two four-star players in the last week -- to make a major run into the national rankings.
What Mike Farrell says: "I like the class that Rich Rodriguez is putting together. He is selling an attractive and quirky brand of football that kids want to play on both sides of the ball. This is the most talent in the state that we have seen in a long time, and the program is really battling for a lot of it. The class is close to full, but there will be a battle between Arizona and Arizona State for a few more players and there could be some points to add here. I don't know if it can stay in the top 25, but right now it has done a good job to get there before the season starts."
What the numbers say: If the team does not add a few higher-profile players, it appears that Arizona will not finish in the top 25. It is ranging for No. 26 through No. 31, but that holds a lot of volatility and it could drop its floor back into the 30s. This is the best class under the new points formula for Arizona, so no matter the finish it should be a noted improvement over its six-year average of 1,519 points.
No. 16 -- MICHIGAN -- 15 commitments, 1,653 points, 3.47 average
Since last time: Michigan slid back in its projections from July. It added a commitment and 32 points but saw its average fall and its prospects with some top players falter as well. There is still a possibility this class finishes in the top spot, but it is now more likely to end behind Ohio State.
What Mike Farrell says: "This is a strong class, and even with the low commitment numbers it is still in the mix for the top 10. Its chance with Da'Shawn Hand is still there, and if Michigan can get him that would be impressive alongside Jabrill Peppers. I think what is most encouraging for Michigan fans is that the program is going into New Jersey for guys, it is going into Florida, and it isn't just sitting in Big Ten country and getting its guys."
What the numbers say: There is a remote possibility the program gets to No. 1, but it is fleeting and nearing numerically unlikely. The battle for the Big Ten title may be the new goal, and that could be starting to fade. The ranking average is a little low to factor in to the top five, but the bonus points that would come with getting Hand could add enough to make the run. The floor fell from No. 5 to No. 9.
No. 17 -- LOUISVILLE -- 25 commitments, 1,620 points, 3.0 average
Since last time: Louisville added five commitments and gained 105 points. Its per-recruit average took a little jump from 2.95 to 3.0, but nothing that changes the outlook.
What Mike Farrell says: "This is a strong class for the Cardinals but nothing spectacular by any stretch. It has one four-star, so staying power is not likely. The group is full of Florida targets, which is no shock, but it doesn't figure to stay high on the list."
What the numbers say: The July projection was for Louisville to get around 1,600 points, and that is where it is with 25 players in the class so there isn't much to change. Those numbers are good for the same range as before, which is in a jumble historically. It could be good enough to be No. 28 or as low as No. 36.
No. 18 -- RUTGERS -- 23 commitments, 1,584 points, 2.91 average
Since last time: The Scarlet Knights added three commitments and 244 points, boosting their per-recruit number from 2.8 to 2.91. It is still on the low end of the programs for this grouping, but Rutgers staved off being pushed out and managed to hold tight, unchanged at No. 18.
What Mike Farrell says: "This is another under-the-radar-type class. It doesn't have a lot of flash, but it still strong. I like the quarterback, two receivers, and it has a strong player in the middle of the defense. I think they are going to have a hard time hanging on to a top 25 placement, but the overall quality is still there."
What the numbers say: The top 25 isn't going to happen unless it is able to land a stud like Kentavius Street -- which seems unlikely. The numbers push this into that limbo territory that so many teams fall into between the mid-1,600s and high 1,400s, and that is a wide range. The landing zone from No. 28 to No. 45 is cluttered, but it is likely where Rutgers winds up.
No. 19 -- LSU -- 14 commitments, 1,575 points, 3.5 average
Since last time: LSU dropped from No. 14 to No. 17 because it didn't add a new commitment. The program gained 60 points in the re-rank but dropped from a 3.54 to 3.5 in recruit average. The forecasting did not change much, either, because of its targets and history.
What Mike Farrell says: "This is probably the lowest-ranked team I have ever seen entering the football season with a realistic chance at the top spot come February. Usually, we are talking about teams moving up from the top 10 and not from near 20. With Leonard Fournette, Cameron Robinson and Malachi Dupre, all five-stars, and Speedy Noil as a high four all being in play, landing three of the four would skyrocket this class."
What the numbers say: LSU is a near lock to finish inside the top 10, even if it misses on three of the four standout prospects. If the team can land all four, it is almost the same lock for the top spot and a historically great class. The projections remain unchanged from July, with a floor of No. 6 and a ceiling of No. 1.
No. 20 -- Baylor -- 23 commitments, 1,541 points, 2.91 average
Since last time: The Bears added three commitments and 294 points to remain at No. 19. The addition of four-star receiver KD Cannon helped to push the per-recruit average from 2.7 to 2.91. The likelihood that Baylor finishes inside the top 25 is still extremely low, but holding on for another month was not expected, either.
What Mike Farrell says: "Cannon added some firepower to the group, but it will still be sliding down. I think there are some quality players in the group, but it just doesn't pass the eyeball test of a top 25 class."
What the numbers say: Baylor should be quick to fall -- and should have been one of the teams that turned over from July to August -- but the program is fighting hard. Its projections moved up dramatically from a floor of No. 61 to a more respectable No. 44. The team has historically added a few quality players late and boosted its stock. If that happens this year, it could find itself in the high 30s for its finish.
No. 21 -- AUBURN -- 14 commitments, 1,523 points, 3.57 average
Since last time: It has been a solid month for Auburn as it gained two pledges and 317 points and boosted its average from 3.25 to 3.57. The projections do not change much because of the historical strength of the program in recruiting, but all of these are signs to buy.
What Mike Farrell says: "There are so few commits in the class and such a high average that the ranking is going to improve even if Auburn doesn't close as strong as everyone expects. There is some real energy going around the program that had been so bad on the field the last few years. Betting against Auburn to finish in or near the top 10 is not smart, and that is where I figure to see the Tigers when all is said and done."
What the numbers say: The historical range already helped to push Auburn toward the top of the rankings, and the recent boost in per-recruit average further justifies that move and helps boost the floor. The original range was from No. 16 to No. 10, and that still is reading out close to accurate. The range has moved to No. 15 to No. 10, with the same No. 12 projection.
No. 22 -- VANDERBILT -- 18 commitments, 1,488 points, 3.28 average
Since last time: The Commodores added four commitments and 349 points, and they boosted their average from 3.14 to 3.28. They moved up from No. 24 to No. 22 in the national rankings. There have been off-the-field issues that could have clouded or slowed the recruiting message, but James Franklin and his staff have kept things moving.
What Mike Farrell says: "This is a solid class and could be top 25-caliber, depending on how it closes. I don't think enough compliments can be paid to James Franklin for how recruiting is going at Vanderbilt. If he can put together another solid season and decides to stay, this could start to become the norm there and not a surprise or a story."
What the numbers say: The class is going to be in the battle for No. 23 through No. 28 as the season progresses. There are plenty of reasons to believe in Franklin but as many to naysay the history at Vanderbilt. The program needs to be a winner on the field to keep backing up what is happening. The top 25 is possible, but it may be unlikely with a few Pac-12 teams poised to make runs.
NO. 23 -- OKLAHOMA STATE -- 20 commitments, 1,374 points, 2.75 average
Since last time: Oklahoma State added eight commitments, including four-star Keenen Brown from Houston (Texas) Alief Taylor. It added three three-star players and a quartet of two-stars. The Cowboys had gone nearly a month between commitments until they went on that run.
What Mike Farrell says: "I think this is a well-rounded class but one that doesn't have top 25 potential. I think there are some guys who could blossom into players who prove to be better than their rankings, and quarterback Mason Rudolph may headline that group. The defensive line has some players I like, as does the receiver group."
What the numbers say: Oklahoma State is nearly 300 points below its average historically and could be lumped into that group of teams that falls in the No. 28 to No. 45 range. There are a lot of two-star players in this class who can be replaced in the formula as the season wears on. If Oklahoma State can flop five of those players for three-stars, it could push toward its normal average of 1,678 points.
NO. 24 -- STANFORD -- 15 commitments, 1,367 points, 3.2 average
Since last time: Nearly half of the class has come on board since the middle of July, including another four-star player in Portland (Ore.) Jesuit linebacker Joey Alfieri. Pac-12 programs are always slow to get rolling, so it is no surprise to see Stanford finally move into the national rankings.
What Mike Farrell says: "The academic restrictions at Stanford make it one of the slower recruiting programs on the West Coast. I think that we got spoiled when the team made a run to the top five a few years ago, because that simply is going to be hard to ever duplicate at that school. I think the class is hitting some needs but ultimately is failing to capitalize on the higher profile that Stanford has built in the last six or so years."
What the numbers say: Stanford has had some tricky classes to measure mathematically. Its class of 2011 was extremely higher than its norm, while the class of 2012 was so small that it skewed the numbers in a negative way. Historical accuracy is hard to gauge here because the team has varied from 1,079 points to 2,454 in a small sample size. Stanford is capable of finishing inside the top 25, but there is no safe range to project with accuracy.
No. 25 -- N.C. STATE -- 21 commitments, 1,341 points, 2.9 average
Since last time: The Wolfpack decreased by one after they lost a commitment. The point total of 1,341 did not change, but the class saw an increase in its average from 2.77 to 2.9. It also slid from No. 17 to No. 25. There are few signs to buy this as a top 25 class, but it remains for another month.
What Mike Farrell says: "This is still a good job by the staff even if it has been a stagnant period. I don't think that it will stay in the top 25 unless it can land Kentavius Street and pull a couple of upsets in the process. There are some guys I really like in this class, but it would be a surprise to see N.C. State stay inside the top 25."
What the numbers say: N.C. State needs Street if it is going to have a chance to finish anywhere near the top 25. The projection from July is nearly unchanged, and the team is likely to fall in the range of No. 29 to No. 48 but closer to the bottom of that without Street.