The second-to-last rankings update for the 2018 class is over and now it’s time to examine its impact on the Rivals.com Team Recruiting Rankings. Take a closer look at the storylines and changes that have occurred in team rankings since the last update in August.
MOVEMENT AT THE TOP
We have to start with the new team at the top of the team rankings. The Buckeyes sat in third place after the rankings release in August but a combination of commitments from four-stars Blue Smith and Antwuan Jackson and five-star Tyreke Johnson and regression from Miami and Penn State helped Urban Meyer’s program move up to No. 1.
Miami’s upgrade at quarterback with Rivals250 prospect Jarren Williams and a couple other commitments helped the Hurricanes keep essentially the same point total. They currently sit at No. 2 in the team rankings but Penn State’s class got a little smaller during the season. The Nittany Lions slid down two spots to No. 4 in the team rankings.
Georgia’s season on and off the field created plenty of headlines over the last few months. The Dawgs added three five-stars, two four-stars, and a three-star commitment since August and rose from No. 25 all the way up to No. 3 in the team rankings.
Georgia wasn’t the only team to see a big bump in the team rankings. Auburn and Alabama both rose at least 20 spots since the August rankings update. Auburn landed commitments from six four-stars highlighted by Rivals100 running back Asa Martin and Rivals250 defensive tackle Coynis Miller. Not to be outdone, Alabama picked up commitments from Rivals100 defensive back Nadab Joseph, four-star junior college defensive back Saivion Smith and flipped Rivals250 offensive lineman Emil Ekiyor from Michigan.
The Big Ten is surging as well. Michigan State, Iowa and Indiana are three notable risers in the team rankings. The Spartans landed their highest-ranked commitment this past Saturday with a commitment from Rivals250 defensive back Kalon Gervin. Iowa’s two highest-ranked commitments, four-stars John Waggoner and Julius Brents, also came during the season. Indiana loaded up on three-star prospects that have a lot of potential and fit its schemes.
Washington State, Arizona and West Virginia each rose more than 30 spots in the team rankings. The Wildcats gained more spots in the team rankings than any team out there by picking up more than 10 commitments. All of those commitments are from two- and three-star prospects. Headlined by Rivals250 wide receiver Drue Jackson, Washington State added nine commitments since August. West Virginia’s impressive move is in part because of a pair of four-star commitments from Kwantel Raines and TJ Banks, both from the Pittsburgh area.
COACHING CAROUSEL SHOWING UP IN THE TEAM RANKINGS
The ripple effects of the coaching turnover at high profile programs have been felt in the team rankings. Eight of the 11 programs that have taken the biggest hits in the team rankings are in the process of hiring or have already hired a new head coach. Florida State, Nebraska, Tennessee, Arkansas and UCLA have all dropped at least 26 spots in the team rankings since August with Florida State and Tennessee going from inside the top 10 to No. 42 and No. 35, respectively.
Florida and Texas A&M have seen significant drops as well. Dan Mullen’s new team was inside the top 10 in August when Jim McElwain was the head coach but now the Gators sit at No. 24. Jimbo Fisher took over the Texas A&M program, now No. 28 in the team rankings, earlier this week and he’ll be trying to erase the 15 spots the Aggies have dropped since the last rankings update in August. Scott Frost and Chad Morris have their work cut out for them. Frost’s Cornhuskers sit at No. 82 and Morris’ Razorbacks are No. 81 in the team rankings while Chip Kelly’s UCLA Bruins are at No. 43.
Willie Taggart just left Oregon for Florida State and now the Ducks are looking for a new head coach. Oregon hasn’t seen a big drop yet but the longer there is uncertainly, the worse their team ranking could get. The Seminoles should be showing signs of life on the recruiting trail soon
The team rankings for Mississippi State, Arizona State and UCF have essentially been unaffected by the coaching changes they have gone through. Joe Moorhead’s Mississippi State squad rose from No. 17 to No. 11 behind the success the team had this season and a pair of four-star commitments. Arizona State (No. 65) and UCF (No. 60) both saw marginal gains in the team rankings.
CFB PLAYOFF RANKINGS MIRROR RIVALS.COM TEAM RECRUITING RANKINGS
The College Football Playoff field is set and, for the first time ever, the SEC has two teams in the four-team tournament while the ACC and Big 12 got one each. The balance within the playoff is obviously tilted towards the SEC and it is the same way in the top 25 of the team rankings. Eight - more than half - of the SEC teams are in the top 25 of the team rankings.
The Big 12 and Big Ten each have five teams in the top 25 of the team rankings while the ACC has four, the Pac-12 has two and Notre Dame is the one independent school. The only College Football Playoff team that isn’t in the top 25 of the team rankings is Clemson (No. 31). The Tigers will be taking a small class this recruiting cycle, so that is keeping their recruiting ranking down right now, but they are in line for some big commitments as the early signing period and Signing Day approach.
POWER FIVE CONFERENCE RANKINGS
With the regular season having come and gone, now is as good a time as any to take a look at how the Power Five conferences stack up against each other on the recruiting trail. Unsurprisingly, the SEC once again has the best average recruiting ranking. The Pac-12 has the worst average recruiting ranking but since August no conference has risen up the recruiting rankings like the Pac-12. Those teams have improved their recruiting ranking by an average of seven spots. On the other hand, the recruiting ranking of the teams in the ACC got worse by an average of five spots.
The ACC and SEC are tied with the most five-star commitments but the SEC has 32 more four-star commitments than the second place Big Ten. The SEC also has the best average star rating per commitment. The Big 12 is last or tied for last in all three of these categories, but leads the nation in average Rivals Rating points per team and has the second best average team ranking.