Rivals Roundtable: Predictions, position changes, future coaches
This week's #RivalsRoundtable looks at the race to finish No. 1 in the Rivals.com Team Recruiting Rankings, position changes that have worked and assistant coaches that should be in line for promotions.
1. Who is your prediction as of right now to win our 2018 team recruiting rankings?
Rob Cassidy (Southeast/Florida): I think Miami and a few others have a shot, but the smart money is on Ohio State. Ohio State seems less vulnerable to decommitments than some of the other teams near the top.
Mike Farrell (National): I'll go with Ohio State because I think they are in play for so many highly ranked prospects and their class is already very impressive. If they close out on guys like Anthony Cook, Jackson Carman, Micah Parsons and some others, watch out.
Adam Friedman (Mid-Atlantic): Ohio State will very likely win the team rankings championship. They're averaging four-stars per commitment and there is still room for them to take a few more commitments. Top targets like five-stars Micah Parsons, Jackson Carman and Anthony Cook are still uncommitted and they should help keep the Buckeyes top the rankings.
Adam Gorney (National/West Coast): This is the boring pick but I'm going with Ohio State. The Buckeyes already are in the top spot with 18 commitments and more five-stars than any other team. My prediction is Ohio State keeps loading up with five-stars and holds off late comers like Alabama, Miami, Penn State and others to be crowned the recruiting national champs. Five-star Anthony Cook is an Ohio State lean, five-star defensive end Micah Parsons will probably end up in Columbus and five-star offensive tackle Jackson Carman could end up in Columbus as well. That's six right there.
Josh Helmholdt (Midwest): It seems a scary proposition betting against Alabama, but if not this year, then when? The Crimson Tide are well down in the team rankings, and even though their per-recruit average is top five, there are others who are in much more commanding positions heading into the stretch run. The strongest is Ohio State, who currently sits No. 1 with a higher per-recruit average than Alabama and still in the hunt with several five-stars, including Jackson Carman and Micah Parsons. I'm going to pick the Buckeyes.
Chad Simmons (Southeast): Ohio State is on top as I type this and the Buckeyes have a good shot to stay there when February rolls around. They have 18 commitments and three of those are five-stars, 12 others are four-stars. This class is only going to get stronger. They are in play for numerous Rivals100 prospects and they sit in a good spot with four-plus months to go this cycle.
Woody Wommack (Southeast): I really think Ohio State is in a great position to finish with the No. 1 class. They already sit at the top and still have a few big fish that they're in a great position to reel in before now and Signing Day. Urban Meyer has proven himself a terrific recruiter over the years and this year is no different.
2. What's one position change you didn't see coming that has worked out for the player who is now in college?
Rob Cassidy (Southeast/Florida): Man, this is tough. Collin Klein, who became a Heisman candidate at Kansas State, flipped around between wide receiver and quarterback. I don’t think many saw him as a high-level quarterback when he was coming out of high school in Colorado.
Adam Friedman (Mid-Atlantic): This isn't a pick that is going to draw a lot of eyeballs but I'm going with Maryland cornerback Tino Ellis. Ellis was a Rivals250 wide receiver in the 2016 class that had no problems getting open on short and intermediate routes because of his crisp routes and explosiveness out of his breaks. Now at Maryland, he's flipped over to the other side of the ball and is thriving as one of the Terps' top young defenders.
Adam Gorney (National/West Coast): Caleb Wilson played quarterback at Gardena (Calif.) Serra and, how do I put this nicely, he was an average quarterback. I didn't think he had potential on the college level at that position but luckily for him he switched to tight end and it's worked out really well. A transfer from USC, Wilson is now second on the Bruins with 21 catches for 280 yards and a touchdown so far this season. It was wise for Wilson to be open to the position change, he accepted it and looks to have a lot of potential in UCLA's offense.
Josh Helmholdt (Midwest): Trent Sherfield committed to James Franklin at Vanderbilt as a safety, and we liked the four-star at that position as well, inviting him to the prestigious Rivals100 Five-Star Challenge presented by adidas. Franklin would eventually leave for Penn State, but Sherfield stayed committed to Derek Mason and the Commodores. His career track took a different path, however, and he is now Vanderbilt's leading receiver.
Chad Simmons (Southeast): Jeffery Simmons left Macon (Miss.) Noxubee County at around 260 pounds. He was projected as a strong-side defensive end due to his ability to set the edge and to rush the passer. He was viewed as someone who could slide inside on passing downs, but after two years, he is over 300-pounds and playing nose guard with speed for Mississippi State. He is playing it at a very high level too. He is being talked about as one of the top defensive players in the SEC this season and Simmons is looking like a future first round pick in the NFL Draft
Woody Wommack (Southeast): Anthony Ratliff was a talented quarterback coming out of high school but he was moved to tight end when he got to North Carolina. I always liked his potential at quarterback but he's really flourished as a tight end and looks like he made the right move by switching positions.
3. Which current assistant coach is most deserving of a shot at running a Power Five school in 2018?
Rob Cassidy (Southeast/Florida): I have no idea how Clemson defensive coordinator Brent Venables doesn’t have a head coaching job. It’s long overdue. His defenses are consistently dominant and he has deep recruiting ties to Florida and the larger South.
Adam Friedman (Mid-Atlantic): There are a lot of names you could plug in here but I'm going with Penn State offensive coordinator Joe Moorhead. The guy can flat out coach and players love him. He was offered jobs last offseason and he will surely get offered jobs this offseason after directly Penn State's high-powered offense.
Adam Gorney (National/West Coast): Penn State offensive coordinator Joe Moorhead. This one makes so much sense. He has completely revolutionized the Penn State offense, helped lead the Nittany Lions to a conference championship last season, is well-respected and liked by his players and he has previous head coaching experience. For so long, Penn State was known to have average and boring offenses. Moorhead has completely changed that - with the help of quarterback Trace McSorley, running back Saquon Barkley and others. But if you're an AD watching a miserable, dull offense every Saturday, go out and hire Moorhead. He's a big-time winner.
Josh Helmholdt (Midwest): I believe it is time for Greg Schiano to get his own program to run again. What he did at Rutgers is under appreciated by most, and overshadowed by a less-than-stellar two-year run in the NFL with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The only question I have is whether he has the passion to be a head coach again, but if I am an athletic director and Schiano's agent contacts me, I'm scheduling that meeting.
Chad Simmons (Southeast): I know, last week did not go very well for Dave Aranda, or anyone for LSU for that matter with their 37-7 loss at Mississippi State. But Aranda has been very successful at Wisconsin, his defense was very strong at LSU in 2016 and he seems to have the make-up to be a head coach in the near future. His name came up a little this past off-season, it has already come up a little this season, and if he gets his defense going like we expect, his name will be up at or near the top when this season comes to an end. He is young, he is sharp, he can recruit and he will likely become a hot name in the coming months.
Woody Wommack (Southeast): I think you can pick either one of the coordinators at Clemson, defensive coordinator Brent Venables is more than qualified and ready to earn his first head coaching job and co-offensive coordinator Jeff Scott is the type of young offensive mind that we've seen thrive when given the opportunity. The same can be said the for the pair of co-offensive coordinators at Oregon, Marcus Arroyo is a rising star in the coaching scene and Mario Cristobal already has experience as a head coach on his resume and deserves another shot.