Rivals Rankings Week: Five teams that should be pleased
The storied high school football careers for the 2022 recruiting cycle are completed. The all-star games gave one last chance for five-, four- and three-star players to climb, or fall, in the recruiting rankings.
As certain players rose to the occasion in the spotlight, coupled with their senior season evaluations, five college football programs should be pleased with how their prospects landed in the final Rivals’ rankings.
RIVALS RANKINGS WEEK
THURSDAY: Defensive position rankings released | Three-star with most potential
FRIDAY: State rankings released
Chasing after Georgia for much of the 2021 calendar year for that top recruiting spot, it was Texas A&M that made a big push for the top-rated class after the Early Signing Period. But the last round of evaluations pushed Alabama to the top of the team rankings. One of the big reasons was the addition of outside linebacker Jihaad Campbell into the five-star club. Campbell was a beast for IMG Academy during the regular season and showed out in Orlando at the Under Armour All-America event, which helped Bama move up the board.
As Alabama amassed four five-stars and 17 four-stars, Clearwater Academy International defensive tackle Isaiah Hastings made it into the Rivals250, adding another heavy-hitter to Alabama’s impressive class. Other top climbers include offensive tackle Elijah Pritchett, receiver Aaron Anderson and defensive end Khurtiss Perry.
Most college football teams see a dramatic drop in the recruiting rankings when a new head coach is named, but not in South Bend. The Fighting Irish made the transition from Brian Kelly to Marcus Freeman about as seamlessly as possible.
Notre Dame posted the sixth-highest rated class with 15 four-star players. Two players jump out in helping the Irish keep a top 10 class: defensive end Aiden Gobaira and offensive tackle Aamil Wagner. Wagner rose 72 spots in the Rivals250 and Gobaira jumped an impressive 125 notches up the board into the top 100.
Notre Dame’s class was highlighted by other Rivals250 players including guard Ty Chan, linebacker Niuafe Tuihalamaka, tight end Eli Raridon, corner Jaden Mickey, guard Joey Tanona and receiver Tobias Merriweather.
Beating Ohio State, winning the Big Ten and earning a College Football Playoff berth carries weight along the recruiting trail, and Michigan cashed in on its success. The Wolverines put together the eighth-best class in the nation with a late push in player evaluations, seeing corner Zeke Berry and defensive tackle Mason Graham enter the Rivals250. The big change was corner Will Johnson earning his fifth star.
The last time the Clemson Tigers did not sign the top recruiting class in the ACC, Miami edged them out in 2018 with the sixth-best class. Since Mack Brown’s return to North Carolina in 2019, the Tar Heels have been building momentum along the recruiting trail, producing the highest-rated class in the ACC in this cycle. Slotted at No. 9, UNC signed its entire 17-man class that consisted of two five-stars and nine four-stars.
The headline grabbers are defensive tackle Travis Shaw and offensive tackle Zach Rice. But there are other prized recruits heading to Chapel Hill, such as receiver Andre Greene Jr., running backs George Pettaway and Omarion Hampton, and defensive end Beau Atkinson.
Knocking on the door of a top 10 class was Mississippi State. The Bulldogs moved from 23rd a year ago to No. 12 with a solid class built by seven four-stars and 14 three-stars. The class is distinct in that it has just one Rivals100 player in end Trevion Williams after he jumped 86 spots.