This week's #RivalsRoundtable looks at which programs rely on victories in the fall for wins on the recruiting trail year-round, and which teams can score big in recruiting regardless of what happens on the field.
1. Which team's success or lack of success this year on the field is going to impact its recruiting the most?
Rob Cassidy (Southeast/Florida): Well, I think it might just be Baylor. A loss to Liberty combined with all the other factors that surround that program’s reputation is going to be hard to press through. Matt Rhule is in a difficult situation.
Mike Farrell (National): I’ll say LSU because of the hire of Ed Orgeron and the fact that many felt they would make a bigger hire. LSU has the best home-state recruiting advantage in college football and should always finish near the top five or eight, but right now the state of Louisiana is up for grabs with Tom Herman at Texas and of course the job Nick Saban does recruiting the state for Alabama. Orgeron isn’t on the hot seat like Brian Kelly and some others, but he needs a really good first year or he will start to lose more in-state kids.
Adam Friedman (Mid-Atlantic): More so than last year, Notre Dame's recruiting class seems to hinge on this season. If the Fighting Irish have a great season, they could end up signing some players most view as long shots right now. If the season goes the other way and they lose a bunch of games, there could be more staff changes and this top 10 recruiting class could fall apart.
Adam Gorney (National/West Coast): I'm going with LSU. Right or wrong, there are already questions whether Ed Orgeron was the right choice for that job and if the Tigers really struggle on the field this season it's going to impact recruiting in a big way as other SEC teams smell blood in the water. It's hard enough for LSU to compete against Alabama and others for the top players in Louisiana and elsewhere. A poor season - and more questions about Orgeron - could make things even tougher.
Josh Helmholdt (Midwest): There are a lot of teams in the Midwest for which this is the case, including Notre Dame. The Fighting Irish have signed top 15 classes each of the last five years and they are in that range again for 2018. If the on-field product does not improve over 2016's 4-8 showing, however, the seat is either going to get very hot under Brian Kelly or he will be out, and that will, obviously, impact recruiting.
Nick Krueger (Texas): Texas A&M put together a nice class last season and has the makings for another so far in 2018. A&M also has gotten off to an encouraging start with its 2019 class as well, but the cards were put on the table this summer by athletic director Scott Woodward when he said publicly that head coach Kevin Sumlin is expected to take Texas A&M to another level this season. If the Aggies aren't able to do that and Sumlin is fired as a result, that will make it tough for Texas A&M to recruit as competitively as it has been in recent seasons.
Chad Simmons (Southeast): Mark Richt and the Miami Hurricanes are off to a great start this cycle, but they at times, have a hard time closing and hanging onto their top commitments. They need to show progress and the record could play into their success come signing day 2018.
Woody Wommack (Southeast): I think a team like Kentucky can really benefit from another good season when it comes to recruiting. After finally breaking through and making a bowl game in 2016, if the 'Cats can have an even better year in 2017 and prove to elite recruits that they're headed in the right direction it could lead to a few big wins on the trail. On other side of the coin, a step back to results of past seasons might lead prospects to believe that last year's success was an aberration.
2. Which program's results on the field in 2017 have the least impact on recruiting, as they can recruit at a high level no matter how they play this fall?
Rob Cassidy (Southeast/Florida): I don’t think any program’s recruiting is immune to poor on-filed performance but I feel like Oklahoma can suffer a few losses and bounce back on the recruiting trail because of a late coaching change and having a new, young head coach in place.
Mike Farrell (National): The obvious answer is Alabama but I won’t go there. I will say Michigan because everyone knows how much talent it lost from last year’s team, Jim Harbaugh has as much job security as anyone and everyone knows that the Wolverines will be in competition for the playoff in 2018 if they don’t push this year. Ohio State is in there as well but expectations are higher in Columbus this season so I’ll say Michigan.
Adam Friedman (Mid-Atlantic): The easy answers here are Alabama and Ohio State. Ohio State has the No. 1 recruiting class in the nation right now and its recruiting class won't fall apart if it falls short of expectations. The same goes for Alabama. Everybody expects the Crimson Tide to finish with a top 10 recruiting class even though they sit at No. 33 in the team rankings right now. No matter how this season goes, Alabama should end up with its fair share of top recruits.
Adam Gorney (National/West Coast): Texas. Texas. Texas. The reason I say the Longhorns is because first-year coach Tom Herman has recruited so extremely well even before coaching his first game in Austin. Texas has the fourth-best recruiting class in the country and the Longhorns have landed three of the top four players in the state already. The other is five-star Anthony Cook, who's basically focused on Texas and Ohio State. Herman has done a phenomenal job recruiting the state and elsewhere. If Texas struggles in his first season, I don't see a lot of players de-committing. If the Longhorns contend for a Big 12 title, watch out.
Josh Helmholdt (Midwest): Michigan's recruiting will be resilient even if the Wolverines do not contend for a national, or even conference, title in 2016. Jim Harbaugh is one of the most secure head coaches in the country and the Wolverines are coming off a very good showing in the NFL Draft. Expectations are not as high for 2017 because of the loss of talent, so whatever positive they do on the field will only be counted as a bonus in the immediate recruiting future.
Nick Krueger (Texas): Tom Herman probably gets a pass this season regardless of what happens at Texas, but he still will want to come up with more encouraging performances than the one his team put together against Maryland.
Chad Simmons (Southeast): Georgia. Kirby Smart finished 8-5 in his first season at Georgia, and the Dawgs had their share of close wins and losses. With it not being a great season on the field, Smart put together what could be called Georgia's best class in the modern era. If he wants to keep up that success, he needs to show improvement in 2017.
Woody Wommack (Southeast): I think most people aren't expecting Clemson to win another national championship this year and even if the Tigers lose two, three or even four games I think it is in the zone where it is going to win a lot of the recruiting battles with the type of sustained success the Tigers have had and a ton of young contributors.
3. A couple weeks into the high school season, which prospect in your region is raising eyebrows?
Rob Cassidy (Southeast/Florida): Some of the top guys are playing well and that’s to be expected but three-star wide receiver Terrell Perriman has been great so far this year. He’s outperforming his ranking and may be in for a bump should he keep up this pace.
Mike Farrell (National): I don’t have a region as a national guy but Matt Corral’s first game was a head turner for me. If he plays like that all season, that fifth star should be coming back to the Gators commitment.
Adam Friedman (Mid-Atlantic): I've seen Zamir White (No. 1 RB in 2018), Devyn Ford (No. 1 RB in 2019) and Quavaris Crouch (No. 3 RB in 2019) so far this season and all have been very impressive but the performance that 2019 defensive back Tayvion Land turned in last weekend against Planation (Fla.) American Heritage was outstanding and somewhat surprising. Land is currently a high three-star cornerback and is clearly underrated. His physicality, anticipation, technique and ball skills helped Bishop Sullivan nearly pull off the upset over the visiting American Heritage squad.
Adam Gorney (National/West Coast): In the West, four-star LB Merlin Robertson was really impressive last week. He plays with reckless abandon, a willingness to put his body on the line and he's tireless flying all over the field to make big plays. But the standout so far for me is 2020 RB JoJuan Collins from Los Angeles Dorsey. He has star potential because he is physical, fierce, a hard-nosed runner and he's incredibly difficult to tackle. Plus, he has speed on the outside and so he's just a gifted running back who looks like he's going to be special in his class.
Josh Helmholdt (Midwest): What Johnny Adams is doing for Indianapolis Ben Davis should be opening eyes. The No. 14 all-purpose back in the 2018 class dominated the off-season, but ended up committing to Ball State in July. Most Power Five schools held off offering him because they wanted to see more on film, after a junior season in which he carried just 74 times due the the nature of Ben Davis' spread offensive attack. Through two games this season, though, Adams has 21 carries for 224 yards and four touchdowns, and he is effective in every phase of the game.
Nick Krueger (Texas): With football kicking off in Texas this week and all the Houston-area games understandably canceled, the pool of players is much smaller than it would be if this question was asked three weeks from now. That being said, Duncanville running back Keilon Elder could emerge as a name to know, after rushing for five touchdowns and nearly 250 yards. He only has one offer from Cornell, but is a strong runner that could start seeing his recruitment pick up in a hurry. Denton-Ryan wide receiver Chritauskie Dove, who only has a single offer from North Texas, opened up his season with eight catches for 108 yards. He is a big, athletic outside receiver that should grab some offers in the coming weeks as well.
Chad Simmons (Southeast): Adam Anderson is a Rivals100 prospect at No. 74, but that is likely too low. He is such an explosive athlete at defensive end, and he had three sacks against five-star quarterback Justin Fields in game one. In game two, he only played the first half, but still had a couple of tackles and a batted down pass. If he plays with this type of consistency the next few months, he will be in that five-star discussion when all is said and done.
Woody Wommack (Southeast): I've only been to a few games so far this year so it's tough for me to pin down a certain player, but I can tell you based on watching games on TV, I've been very impressed with the nation's No. 1 overall player, Trevor Lawrence. His performance in front of a national TV audience raised eyebrows across the country and the number of opposing fan bases who have praised the Clemson commit on the Rivals.com message boards in the week-plus since that game shows just how impressive he was in that performance.