football Edit Top 25 recruiters

Football recruiting for many is all about the prospects and how they project to college and beyond, but to those who cover the process, it's just as much about the coaches recruiting the players.
This year the battle for our coveted National Recruiter of the Year title was a good one, with at least four strong candidates making a case. In the end, Mario Cristobal had the best year for a top program and was easily Alabama's top recruiter, while that title was shared at USC, Florida State, Tennessee and Clemson. And, for the first time ever, a fired head coach makes the list as a key contributor to an amazing Auburn recruiting class, setting up even more battles between the Tigers and Crimson Tide.
USC, the nation's No. 1 in our team recruiting rankings, boasts two top recruiters -- and it could have easily been three, while Cristobal is the lone representative for Alabama, the No. 2 team in the nation. The Seminoles, Clemson Tigers and Volunteers all boast two top recruiters on the list, as does Auburn.
Georgia and LSU, No. 7 and 8, respectively, have one each who stood out clearly above the rest. At No. 29, Missouri is the lowest-ranked team to have a representative on the list although coaches from N.C. State (No. 34) and Illinois (No. 44) came close to making it.
As usual, the rich get richer for the most part and many of the recruiters on this list have been honored previously, including former Recruiter of the Year Frank Wilson (LSU), as well as last year's winner, Tommy Thigpen (Tennessee).
But there are also many new names on the board, which is exciting. Some new, young talent is emerging. All in all, 18 of the 34 five-stars in 2015 were recruited by coaches on the list, but it was the depth of each of their classes that ultimately led to their inclusion. And, unlike some other formulas, we take into account out-of-state recruiting very seriously in many instances.
Rivals' Recruiter of the Year and 24 other top recruiting assistants make up our national top 25.
Recruiter of the Year
Mario CristobalClick Here to view this Link.
Rivals recognized Alabama's Mario Cristobal as the nation's top recruiter.
Buzz: OK, so recruiting to Alabama in 2015 isn't exactly selling ice to Eskimos. Still, the haul Cristobal lured to Tuscaloosa is impressive. The Tide offensive line coach played a major role in landing five-stars Minkah Fitzpatrick, Daron Payne and Calvin Ridley. In short, the Florida native was responsible for building the foundation of the nation's No. 2 class and the top class in the powerful SEC. He also added four stars Lester Cotton and Shawn Burgess-Becker. Landing three-star prospect Matt Womack is an afterthought, but it certainly wasn't simple, as even in that instance, Cristobal had to fight off other SEC programs that could offer a better chance at playing time. Cristobal's Recruiter of the Year title was certainly earned. Despite what fans may think, the Alabama program doesn't magically recruit top talent by itself.
-- Rob Cassidy, Southeast Recruiting Analyst
More top recruiters
Tony AlfordClick Here to view this Link.
Buzz: Before leaving for Ohio State to assume responsibilities as the running backs coach under Urban Meyer (as well as an assistant head coach position), Alford left quite the mark with the Fighting Irish. Four-star running back Dexter Williams and four-star linebacker Tevon Coney were big grabs out of Florida, assuring that Notre Dame maintained a footprint in the Sunshine State for the seventh consecutive year. Alford also went into Pennsylvania to beat Penn State, Pittsburgh and Stanford for three-star running back Josh Adams. And if that wasn't enough, Alford helped with one of the biggest flips of the cycle, getting four-star tight end Alize Jones to back off his longtime pledge to UCLA.
-- Blair Angulo, West Recruiting Analyst
Kerry CoombsClick Here to view this Link.
Buzz: It may sound like an easy task to recruit to the reigning national champs, but Coombs did most of his work in the 2015 class before the Buckeyes made their run through the postseason and hoisted the national championship trophy. Coombs, Ohio State's cornerbacks coach, did his most impressive work in the Buckeyes' archrival's backyard, landing three-star defensive lineman Joshua Alabi and Rivals100 running back Mike Weber from Detroit Cass Tech. He landed another Rivals100 prospect in linebacker Justin Hilliard from familiar territory in Cincinnati -- where he spent 16 years as a head coach at Colerain High. Of course, Coombs also had a hand in the majority of Ohio State's defensive back signings, most notably playing a part in three-star Damon Arnette flipping from South Carolina two days before National Signing Day.
-- Josh Helmholdt, Midwest Recruiting Analyst
Lawrence DawseyClick Here to view this Link.
Buzz: Nowadays, multiple coaches from a staff are often involved in the recruitment of a given prospect, but Dawsey played a major role in getting some of the best players in Florida State's class. As the wide receivers coach in Tallahassee, Dawsey made sure the Seminoles reloaded on the outside. Five-star George Campbell, Rivals100 prospect Da'Vante Phillips, Rivals250 recruit Auden Tate and three-star Nyqwan Murray will make sure Florida State's next quarterbacks have a great arsenal of weapons. On that note, Dawsey was the lead recruiter for four-star signal-caller De'Andre Johnson. Adding offensive weapons wasn't Dawsey's only focus, however. He helped make sure Florida State got four-star offensive tackle Abdul Bello, as well. Dawsey's efforts will help make sure Florida State's offense continues to run like a well-oiled machine.
-- Adam Friedman, Mid-Atlantic Recruiting Analyst
Tony ElliottClick Here to view this Link.
Buzz: Clemson's 2015 class was historic, and their success wouldn't have been possible without Elliott. Getting a commitment from Rivals100 offensive tackle Mitch Hyatt on Signing Day in 2014 really jump-started Clemson's 2015 recruiting efforts. From there, Elliott turned his focus to locking up a commitment from another Rivals100 offensive lineman, Jake Fruhmorgen. Armed with two major pieces of Clemson's offensive line of the future, Elliott's next task was to secure major playmakers for quarterback Deshaun Watson. Elliott achieved that goal, as well. He assisted in the recruitment of five-star wide receiver Deon Cain and was the lead recruiter for five-star athlete Ray-Ray McCloud III. The players Elliott was able to bring in will help Clemson keep its high-powered offense on track for the next few years.
-- Friedman
Cornell FordClick Here to view this Link.
Buzz: Ford was lauded for landing defensive tackle Terry Beckner Jr., who seriously considered more traditional powers such as Florida State. He deserved every congratulatory message he received on that front, and he also landed four-star junior college back Chase Abbington along with Rivals250 member Natereace Strong. The commitments of wide receiver Ronnell Perkins, defensive end Nate Howard, and athlete Cam Hilton can also be chalked up to Ford.
-- Cassidy
Tony HughesClick Here to view this Link.
Buzz: Mississippi State's highest-ranked class since 2003 was built on the back of Hughes, who landed his share of prized prospects, the most notable of which was Rival100 linebacker Leo Lewis, a one-time Ole Miss commit. Hughes also played a role in the commitments of four-stars Jamal Peters and Donald Gray. Class of 2015 signees Johnathan Calvin, Dontea Jones, Mark McLaurin and Jonnas Spivey were also Hughes' targets.
-- Cassidy
Brian Jean-MaryClick Here to view this Link.
Buzz: Texas secured the top recruiting class in the Big 12 in large part thanks to Jean-Mary. In fact, he was the lead recruiter for the only five-star prospect to sign with a Big 12 program in linebacker Malik Jefferson. He was the lead recruiter for two four-star linebackers as well, Anthony Wheeler, and Cecil Cherry, and he gave an assist on three-star linebacker Cameron Townsend. Jean-Mary also led the way as the Longhorns inked four-star tight end Devonaire Clarington and three-star athlete Deandre McNeal. Healso helped swing wide receiver Ryan Newsome to Texas on Signing Day.
-- Jason Howell, Mid-South Recruiting Analyst
Terry JosephClick Here to view this Link.
Buzz: Joseph put in impressive work this cycle despite being in a difficult situation. Texas A&M needed to add depth on defense and Joseph found a way to do just that despite working without a defensive coordinator in place for the stretch run. Regardless of the uncertainty, he was able to ensure that the Aggies signed five defensive backs, including four-stars Justin Dunning, Roney Elam and Larry Pryor. Still, his biggest splash came late in the cycle, when he was able to flip four-star running back Kendall Bussey from SEC foe Tennessee.
-- Cassidy
Adrian KlemmClick Here to view this Link.
Buzz: Klemm has traditionally been one of the top recruiters in the Pac-12 and the 2015 class was no different. UCLA's running game coordinator and offensive line coach really helped out his own cause by keeping Oklahoma and Ohio State off four-star guard Josh Wariboko from Oklahoma. He also did an outstanding job keeping in-state lineman Tevita Halalilo from flipping to Arizona State late in the process. Klemm was also instrumental in locking up top-five center Fred Ulu-Perry when friends were trying to get him to flip to Texas Tech and other places, and he played a big role in getting JUCO offensive lineman Zach Bateman, a 6-foot-7, 320-pound recruit. Klemm was also heavily involved with keeping four-star lineman Andre James in the class.
-- Adam Gorney, West Recruiting Analyst
Chip LongClick Here to view this Link.
Buzz: Long went across the country to nab four-star running back Jaason Lewis from Virginia not long after the big-time athlete had de-committed from UCLA. He also held off Pac-12 South rival USC for four-star safety Jay Jay Wilson, whom the Trojans wanted as a blueshirt candidate. Long did work in the junior college ranks with four-star linebacker Davon Durant, who flipped from South Carolina, and three-star tight end Raymond Epps. The Sun Devils also have Long to thank for three-star tight end Thomas Hudson, and the coach also assisted in landing four-star quarterback Brady White, a midyear enrollee who had a very productive senior season. Long was in contention for national recruiter of the year for his relentlessness with Utah-based prospects Porter Gustin and Osa Masina, too, nearly stealing them from USC.
-- Angulo
Demetrice MartinClick Here to view this Link.
Buzz: The Bruins made headlines for their strong close, but Martin was able to wrap up most of his business before the Signing Day theatrics. He led the way for three-star Nathan Meadors, who made his choice on Signing Day, and Rivals100 athlete DeChaun Holiday, who helped start the momentum with his commitment just a few days before. His first commitment of the class was Stephen Johnson III who committed to UCLA in July. He then secured the commitments of three-star linebacker Joshua Woods and three-star defensive back William Lockett over the next month. Then, in December. he was able to grab commitments from four-star cornerback Colin Samuel and three-star safety Octavius Spencer.
-- Angulo
Tee MartinClick Here to view this Link.
Buzz: USC was able to snap Alabama's stay at the top of the recruiting ranks with the strongest close in the country on Signing Day. Martin played a major role as the lead recruiter for several key late additions. Five-stars Iman Marshall, Rasheem Green, and John Houston all announced their decisions on Signing Day and Martin was the lead for each. He also led the way in securing the talents of Rivals100 offensive lineman Chuma Edoga and Rivals250 defensive back Isaiah Langley, as well as three-star standouts Christian Rector and Kevin Scott.
-- Angulo
Will MuschampClick Here to view this Link.
Buzz: Muschamp is the only coach to be fired and appear on this list in the same season. The former Florida head coach landed at Auburn shortly after his dismissal and brought a splash along with him, as the nation's No. 1 player Byron Cowart signed with Auburn in part because of his relationship with Muschamp. Ryan Davis, Jeffery Holland and Javarius Davis -- all four-stars -- were also Muschamp's work. Late in the cycle, he helped to change the mind of then-Ohio State commit Carlton Davis, who signed with Auburn instead of the national champions on Signing Day.
-- Cassidy
Jerry MontgomeryClick Here to view this Link.
Buzz: Montgomery was working overtime for the Sooners as he hit the road to secure signatures from top prospects from across the map. The biggest pickup was Canadian Rivals100 defensive tackle Neville Gallimore. Then he went to Virginia to secure the services of Rivals250 linebacker Ricky DeBerry. Next was a trip to Mississippi, where three-star defensive end Gabriel Campbell grew up an Oklahoma fan, but Mississippi State and Ole Miss definitely made Campbell's decision tough. Ultimately, Campbell chose the Sooners. Montgomery also had experience closer to home as he landed three-star defensive end Kenneth Mann and Rivals250 defensive tackle Marquise Overton. He also played an assisting role in the recruiting of four-star defensive back P.J. Mbanasor.
-- Howell
Jeremy PruittClick Here to view this Link.
Buzz: It's not a surprise to see Pruitt on this list as he's proven at three different major programs -- Alabama, Florida State and now Georgia -- that he can be an elite recruiter. Pruitt was tasked with rebuilding the Bulldogs' secondary and did so by landing Rivals100 safety Rashad Roundtree as well as Rivals250 defensive back Rico McGraw. He also added depth with ATH Shaquery Wilson, DB Jarvis Wilson, DB DeAndre Baker and DB Johnathan Abram. But Pruitt's success wasn't limited to the defensive backfield -- he also was key in landing high three-star DE Justin Young and assisted on four-star defensive ends Jonathan Ledbetter, Chauncey Rivers and Michael Barnett. He also helped land out-of-state stars like defensive back Juwuan Briscoe and linebacker Juwan Taylor.
-- Woody Wommack, Southeast Recruiting Analyst
Travaris RobinsonClick Here to view this Link.
Buzz: Robinson and Muschamp teamed up on several recruits, as Robinson was also involved with Byron Cowart, Carlton Davis and Ryan Davis, a trio of prospects that helped cement the Tigers' top-10 recruiting ranking. Robinson also landed defensive back Tim Irvin, linebacker Jeffery Holland and Jeremiah Dinson, whom Robinson stole from Kentucky down the stretch. Florida's loss was Auburn's gain -- Robinson, who was an assistant with the Gators before joining the Tigers' staff, is emerging as one of the top recruiters in the nation.
-- Cassidy
Jeff ScottClick Here to view this Link.
Buzz: Without Scott, Clemson's offense would be in real trouble and their 2015 recruiting class would be nowhere near its top five ranking. Scott played a huge role in getting eight of the 10 offensive players committed to Clemson. As the lead recruiter for five-star Deon Cain, four-star Kelly Bryant, Rivals250 Garrett Williams, three-star Tucker Israel and three-star Zach Giella, Scott made sure the future of Clemson's offense will be in good hands. He also played a key role in landing commitments from five-star Ray-Ray McCloud III and three-stars Noah Green and Shadell Bell. It is really impressive how effective Scott's recruiting efforts were with players from the Orlando and Tampa area.
-- Friedman
Zach SmithClick Here to view this Link.
Buzz: Smith is the youngest member of Urban Meyer's staff at Ohio State, but he is quickly becoming a veteran of the recruiting wars and was responsible for some of the program's most impressive out-of-state grabs in the 2015 class. Smith and the Buckeyes out-fought more than 40 schools to land Rivals250 offensive lineman Matthew Burrell Jr. out of Virginia, and then convinced four-star wide receiver K.J. Hill to vacate a commitment to his home-state Arkansas Razorbacks to play in the Big Ten. Smith also showed the persistence necessary to keep quarterback Torrance Gibson in the scarlet and gray after the four-star made several late official visits to other programs.
-- Helmholdt
Steve StriplingClick Here to view this Link.
Buzz: Defense has long been credited as a backbone of any worthy SEC contender, and Tennessee appears to be on the right path given the abundance of talent Stripling accumulated in this class. The headliner is five-star defensive tackle Kahlil McKenzie out of the Bay Area in California. But the massive interior lineman is only the start. Stripling also made a heavy push for four-star linebacker Darrin Kirkland Jr. and four-star defensive end Andrew Butcher, while also helping with four-star defensive end Darrell Taylor of Virginia. Then there's the work he did to assist with five-star defensive end Kyle Phillips, four-star defensive tackle Shy Tuttle and three-star Quay Picou. He was a busy man and very effective in his efforts.
-- Wommack
Tommy ThigpenClick Here to view this Link.
Buzz: The reigning Recruiter of the Year continued his roll in the 2015 cycle, helping Tennessee secure the No. 2 class in the SEC behind Alabama. Thigpen was the primary recruiter for five-star defensive end Kyle Phillips and four-star defensive back Justin Martin. He also got it done in Georgia with four-star linebacker Quarte Sapp and three-star defensive tackle Quay Picou, and assisted with four-star receiver Preston Williams. He also had a hand in the recruitments of four-star linebacker Darrin Kirkland Jr., four-star offensive lineman Venzell Boulware and three-star linebacker Austin Smith.
-- Wommack
Rick TrickettClick Here to view this Link.
Buzz: Trickett's unique style has attracted a lot of high-profile recruits to Florida State over the years and it was no different for the 2015 class. His top-rated recruit was five-star running back Jacques Patrick, but his most important commitment was quarterback Deondre Francois. The Rivals100 signal-caller looks like he could be the next great quarterback at Florida State. As the offensive line coach, Trickett identified and recruited players he knew would fit his system well. Four-star Abdul Bello and three-star center David Robbins committed to Florida State because of Trickett's efforts and will be ready to step into the starting lineup after a few years on campus. Trickett is also responsible for four-star defensive back A.J. Westbrook's and three-star Cole Minshew's commitments.
-- Friedman
Marques TuiasosopoClick Here to view this Link.
Buzz: Signing Day was big for USC, but Tuiasosopo played a key role in creating some big momentum in the days leading up to it for the Trojans. Utah linebackers Porter Gustin (five-star) and Osa Masina (Rivals100) helped provide a boost as Signing Day approached. He was also the lead recruiter for Rivals100 safety Marvell Tell, Rivals250 running back Dominic Davis, and four-star tight end Tyler Petite. With all the talk of the big close, it should also be noted Tuiasosopo played a big role in its strong start as the lead recruiter for Ricky Town, who was the Trojans' first pledge, in January of 2014.
-- Angulo
Chris VaughnClick Here to view this Link.
Buzz: Texas' linebacker group drew quite a bit of attention, but the defensive back class is also one of the Big 12's strongest incoming units in 2015. Vaughn led the way recruiting the group with his biggest grabs coming just a week before Signing Day. Rivals250 defensive backs Kris Boyd and Holton Hill were big gets not only because of their talents, but also because they gave the Longhorns big wins on the recruiting front over Texas A&M. Vaughn also paved the way for defensive back James Locke to flip from Oregon to Texas on Signing Day, and he secured the talents of DeShon Elliott in March. Then he went to Florida and was able to grab Rivals100 wide receiver John Burt and four-star safety DaVante Davis.
-- Howell
Frank WilsonClick Here to view this Link.
Buzz: It was all about the five-stars for Wilson, who landed three prospects rated as such for LSU. Defensive back Kevin Toliver II, running back Derrius Guice, and wide receiver Tyron Johnson were all drawn to the Tigers by Wilson, who made a strong case to be the league's recruiter of the year. Wilson also had a hand in landing Donte Jackson, David Ducre, Xavier Lewis, Isaiah Washington and Nicholas Brossette. LSU's class may have had a very different, much less attractive look had Wilson not been involved.
-- Cassidy