Rivals.com Five-Star Club: Top programs for five-stars
Since Rivals.com began ranking high school players in 2002, the coveted five-star prospect has been the holy grail of every college program. The distinction is reserved for players who are considered sure-fire bets on the college level and strong bets to be first-round draft picks into the National Football League. The success of the teams on the following list coincides with the number of such players each team managed to add to their classes.
1. USC: 48 Five-Stars
The Trojans win the battle for the most five-star players during the Rivals era, and it’s not close. Keyed by the success of Pete Carroll’s high-flying offensive powerhouse teams, USC caught fire on the recruiting trail in 2004 and didn’t look back. With four classes since then that have featured five or more five-star players in a class, the dominance USC has seen on the West Coast is unparalleled. Only two other schools (Texas and Alabama) have been able to pull six five-star players in a single class. Although the program hasn’t seen that success translate to national championships on the level of Alabama, in the last four classes alone the Trojans have secured 13 five-star commitments. Though USC only had 12 signees in 2013, five of them were five-stars, led by defensive backs Su’a Cravens and Leon McQuay III.
T2 ALABAMA: 34 Five-Stars
Despite landing just one five-star player from 2002-2007, Alabama finds itself as a top-three program all-time during the Rivals era for landing five-star players, thanks in large part to the success of one Nick Saban. Since 2008 Saban has never lost more than three games in a season, and in that same time frame he secured commitments from 33 five-star players. The class of 2014 was Saban’s more impressive - he landed six such players, led by the top overall player in the country, Da’Shawn Hand, and the likes of Marlon Humphrey and Bo Scarbrough.
T2 FLORIDA: 34 Five-Stars
The bulk of the Gators' success in recruiting came in an earlier stage of Urban Meyer’s career and in conjunction with the national infatuation with Tim Tebow. Tebow’s career from 2006-2009 put the Gators back on the map, and they landed commitments from 14 five-star players during that time. In the 2010 season the Gators landed another four. Since then the well hasn’t gone dry, but it’s produced far less. The class of 2012 was Florida’s best season in the years since, as it nabbed three five-stars, all of whom are currently on NFL rosters: Dante Fowler, D.J. Humphries and Jonathan Bullard.
4. FLORIDA STATE: 31 Five-Stars
The Seminoles have been one of the most successful programs in modern college football. They had only had one losing season in Bobby Bowden’s 34-year coaching tenure. Bowden retired in 2009, and during the Rivals era only failed to secure a five-star commitment in the 2007 season. His successor, Jimbo Fisher, has continued that success and has had no problem landing five-star commitments, the most of which came in a 2015 class headlined by defensive do-it-all, Derwin James. Bowden also saw a group of five five-stars in 2002, perhaps most memorable for running backs Lorenzo Booker and Leon Washington.
5. LSU: 23 Five-Stars
Since 2009, LSU had done well under former head coach Les Miles capturing five-star commitments. Reuben Randle has gone on to be the marquee name in that 2009 class, which finished second in the country. The class of 2015 was LSU’s next most successful season bagging five-stars, with another four commitments that included Derrius Guice, Kevin Toliver II, Maea Tuhema and Tyron Johnson. Leonard Fournette and Malachi Dupre were the only five-stars in 2014 but have been the names most identified with the most recent incarnation of the Tigers.
6. TEXAS: 22 Five-Stars
The first class that Rivals ranked in 2002 was the best in Texas’ history, headlined by quarterback Vince Young. Young was one of six five-star prospects committed in that class, during a time where the rankings were a little more generous in their infancy. The Longhorns' biggest success since then came in 2009, when Garrett Gilbert headlined a top-five recruiting class and was one of three five-stars committed. Texas nabbed two more five-star commitments in 2012, but in the last five seasons have only seen commitments from four such prospects overall.
7. OHIO STATE: 20 Five-Stars
The Jim Tressel years will be remembered fondly. The former Buckeye coach secured 12 five-star commitments between 2002 and 2010. In 2008 Ohio State landed Terrelle Pryor, Mike Adams, Michael Brewster and DeVier Posey, who all went on to have varying levels of success in the NFL following their time as Buckeyes. That was the largest group of five-stars that Ohio State landed at once during the Rivals era, but they pulled two per class in six other classes and have seen a resurgence in recruiting under current head coach Urban Meyer.
8. GEORGIA: 18 Five-Stars
The Bulldogs have consistently landed five-star recruits and only went without landing one in just five seasons in the Rivals era. Last season was the first time that Georgia landed three five-star commitments in a single class, led by quarterback Jacob Eason and tight end Isaac Nauta. Mecole Hardman has only played in one game this season as a true freshman but was a fan favorite before even playing a down. In six other seasons over the course of 15 years, the Bulldogs have plucked two five-stars in each class.
9. NOTRE DAME: 17 Five-Stars
Two of Notre Dame’s three five-star commitments in 2008, Michael Floyd and Kyle Rudolph, are catching passes in the NFL this season. The Irish’s biggest haul of five-star commits came in 2013, however, and that didn’t turn out nearly as successfully. Eddie Vanderdoes was released from his National Letter of Intent and joined UCLA, Max Redfield was dismissed from the team this season and Jaylon Smith is struggling to recover from nerve damage in his knee as he hopes to begin his NFL career. Running back Greg Bryant was dropped from the team in August of 2015 and was tragically shot and killed in May of this year.
10. MIAMI: 16 Five-Stars
In the 11 seasons between 2002 and 2011, Miami did pretty well to pick up at least one and more often than not two five-star players each season. Larry Coker maintained some success in the early part of his tenure following Butch Davis’ successful run and won the school’s only championship since 1991. In the years that followed, Randy Shannon and Al Golden struggled to successfully mine an area naturally rich with local talent. The Canes bagged two local five-stars in 2012 in Tracy Howard and Randy Johnson (also known as Duke Johnson), but in the three years following only saw one more five-star commitment.