Rivals top 25 recruiters for the 2021 cycle
The 2021 class has made it through two signing days, and now it is time to count the receipts. Alabama has the nation’s top overall recruiting class, and no surprise that the Crimson Tide also boast three of the best recruiters, including Recruiter of the Year Charles Huff. We now reveal the rest of our Top 25 recruiters for the 2021 class.
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RECRUITER OF THE YEAR: Charles Huff, Alabama
This year’s Recruiter of the Year accomplished a feat only one other team managed: sign four prospects in the top 38 of the Rivals250. Now the head coach at Marshall, Charles Huff helped Alabama sign the No. 1 overall recruiting class by not just reeling in elite prospects, but going across the country to do it. He won a tough battle for the No. 2 overall player, JC Latham, and reeled in a second five-star from Florida when he got linebacker Dallas Turner.
Four-star wide receiver Jacorey Brooks was a big get for Huff, and then he went up north, landing Michigan defensive tackle Damon Payne and flipping four-star cornerback Devonta Smith from a commitment to his home-state school. Huff also gave an assist to Jeff Banks in the difficult recruitment of five-star running back Camar Wheaton.
THE REST OF THE TOP 25
EPHRAIM BANDA, Miami
Ephraim Banda has since gone on to take over the defensive coordinator position at Utah State, but he cemented his recruiting legacy at Miami before departing earlier this year. Manny Diaz’s staff signed the No. 12-ranked group in the 2021 class, and Banda was responsible for bringing many of the Hurricanes’ top recruits to Coral Gables. That included the lone five-star in the class, safety James Williams, who is Miami’s highest-ranked recruit in the last three classes. Banda also held off several SEC programs to keep Rivals100 defensive tackle Leonard Taylor at home, and did the same with Miami natives Brashard Smith, Kamren Kinchens and Tyler Johnson.
JEFF BANKS, Alabama
When you consider the amount of talent Jeff Banks brought in for Alabama in this 2021 class, he would have been the ace on just about every other staff in the country. That is the level of dominance the Crimson Tide recruited with in this cycle.
Banks stayed the course on a very difficult recruitment and landed five-star running back Camar Wheaton before taking a job with Texas. He was the primary recruiter for three additional Rivals100 prospects to sign with the Crimson Tide – wide receivers Christian Leary and Agiye Hall, and quarterback Jalen Milroe, who flipped from his home-state school. Banks also pulled linebacker Kendrick Blackshire out of Texas, giving him five prospects ranked in the top 125 overall.
TIM BANKS, Penn State
After a slow start, Penn State was able to salvage a top 30 class when it looked like it may be one of the teams hardest hit by the COVID-19 shutdown. One of the unexpected keys to Penn State’s 2021 class was its success in Detroit. The Nittany Lions have recruited off and on in Detroit, but in this class co-defensive coordinator Tim Banks, who graduated from Detroit’s Martin Luther King High School, outbattled in-state Big Ten schools for four-stars Kalen King, Kobe King and Jaylen Reed, as well as three-star linebacker Jamari Buddin. Banks also played a big role in getting four-star safety Zakee Wheatley and assisted in the recruitment of four-star defensive end Davon Townley.
JAY BATEMAN, North Carolina
Mack Brown has signed a top 15 class in each of his first two full recruiting classes. Several assistants were responsible for bringing in top players in this class, including Dre Bly, Tommie Thigpen and Lonnie Galloway. But co-defensive coordinator Jay Bateman gets credit for the best haul in 2021 and a top 25 recruiting effort overall.
Bateman was responsible for North Carolina signing Rivals100 prospects Keeshawn Silver and Raneiria Dillworth. He also orchestrated the recruitments of three-stars Tymir Brown and Caleb Hood, and gave assists in the recruitments of four-stars Gabe Stephens and Dontavius Nash.
CHRIS BEATTY, Pittsburgh
Chris Beatty’s short time as wide receivers coach at Pittsburgh has already come to an end as he accepted an NFL job last month, but while he was in the Steel City, Beatty helped secure the foundation for a Pitt class that finished in the Top 25.
Coming over from Maryland, Beatty used his ties to expand Pitt’s recruiting presence in Virginia. He landed three-star running back Rodney Hammond more than a year ago, then add fellow Virginia three-stars Myles Alston and Malik Newton last spring. The final, and biggest, contribution from Beatty came when he flipped Rivals250 linebacker Naquan Brown from LSU just before the Early Signing Period.
JAMAR CAIN, Oklahoma
It was a smaller class in 2021 for Oklahoma, which meant the Sooners had to maximize value with the spots they had. First-year outside linebacker/defensive ends coach Jamar Cain came through with two of the most difficult pickups for the Sooners in this class, bolstering their 16-man class.
Oklahoma fans knew Cain possessed the chops to recruit the Lone Star State when he went into a Texarkana High School, which is known to be a University of Texas pipeline, and landed five-star linebacker Clayton Smith. Cain then went to the Great Northwest to land big edge rusher Nathan Rawlins-Kibonge, who was a top target of many Pac-12 schools. Throw in an assist on Rivals100 defensive tackle Kevin Gilliam Jr., and Cain had an outstanding debut showing for the Sooners.
ERIK CHINANDER, Nebraska
Defensive coordinator Erik Chinander played a big role in Nebraska signing its third-straight top 20 recruiting class. Chinander gets recognition for going into opponents’ backyards and beating the home-state schools for several prospects. Most notably is defensive end Ru’Quan Buckley, who picked Nebraska over Michigan State. Chinander also went into Iowa to land linebacker Seth Malcom and offensive lineman Henry Lutovsky over competition from home-state schools, and pulled in do-it-all prep school product Marques Buford. He helped the Cornhuskers win a tug-of-war with Iowa for border prospect Thomas Fidone, the highest-ranked player in Nebraska's class, while also staying the course, along with Tony Tuitoti, to reel in four-star Hawaiian linebacker Wynden Ho’ohuli.
KERRY COOMBS, Ohio State
Kerry Coombs is back at Ohio State after a stint in the NFL, and the former Rivals Recruiter of the Year (2017) proved the NFL did not dull his recruiting skills. Coombs is now the Buckeyes' defensive coordinator and defensive backs coach, and much of his success was at the defensive back position.
St. Louis four-star Jakailin Johnson, the No. 2 cornerback in the class, pledged not long after Coombs returned to Columbus. He was soon joined by four-stars Andre Turrentine and Jantzen Dunn. Four-star Arizona native Jordan Burke also committed last spring, and Georgia cornerback Jordan Hancock added his name to the list last summer, giving Coombs five defensive backs all rated four-stars.
KEVIN FAULK, LSU
There are two layers to Kevin Faulk’s recruiting efforts. As LSU’s running backs coach, Faulk was responsible for bringing in ball carriers for the 2021 class, and he got two of the best. First he went up to Cincinnati and landed four-star Corey Kiner, who would go on to win Mr. Ohio honors. Then, Faulk further stocked his running back room by adding former Auburn commit Armoni Goodwin on the first day of the Early Signing Period. But, Faulk also helps recruit his hometown of Lafayette, La., which means he gave key assists in the recruitments of five-star Sage Ryan, four-star tight end Jack Bech and four-star wide receiver Malik Nabers.
BRIAN HARTLINE, Ohio State
After the group of receivers Brian Hartline brought in last year, the second-year Ohio State assistant had a lot to live up to in 2021. He may not have signed four Top 60 overall recruits at the position like the year before, but Hartline continued to stock the cupboard with this group. Headlining the wide receivers who will be freshmen at Ohio State in 2021 is five-star Emeka Egbuka, who chose to attend school 2,000 miles from home in a year without any official visits. Rivals100 Philadelphia wide receiver Marvin Harrison Jr. and in-state four-star Jayden Ballard round out another impressive crop of receiver additions for Hartline.
JOSH HENSON, Texas A&M
Texas A&M was the assumed team to beat from the very beginning with guard Bryce Foster, but the five-star took his recruitment all the way until the opening of the Early Signing Period. It is tough to be the team every other school is gunning for over a long time period, but offensive line coach Josh Henson kept the Aggies at the top and eventually pulled out the win. It capped an offensive line haul for Henson that also included Rivals100 offensive tackle Ruben Fatheree, four-star offensive center Remington Strickland, four-star offensive tackle Trey Zuhn and three-star offensive tackle Matthew Wykoff.
BRIAN JOHNSON, Florida
Florida just missed out on a top 10 class in 2021, but offensive coordinator Brian Johnson did his part to bring in top talent. Johnson played a role in four of Florida’s top five ranked prospects in this 2021 class, including being the lead recruiter with five-star safety Corey Collier. Johnson also assisted the defensive side of the football by continuing to work his South Florida connections to bring in Rivals100 cornerback Jason Marshall and help land Fort Lauderdale defensive end Tyreak Sapp. Doubling as the Gators’ quarterbacks coach, Johnson shored up the most important position on the field by adding a pair of passers in four-star Carlos Del Rio and three-star Jalen Kitna.
MATT LUKE, Georgia
Georgia was unable to pull off a fourth straight recruiting rankings title in 2021, but the Dawgs did sign the nation’s sixth-best class, which featured a ton of top talent. Top-ranked among the prospects headed to Athens is five-star offensive tackle Amarius Mims, the No. 4-ranked prospect overall in 2021. Offensive line coach Matt Luke was responsible for delivering Mims for the Bulldogs, and he did not stop there, landing big offensive tackle Micah Morris, who is the fourth-highest ranked prospect in this Georgia class, and four-star offensive guard Dylan Fairchild. Three-star offensive guard Jared Wilson rounds out Luke’s offensive line recruiting haul in this 2021 class.
VINCE MARROW, Kentucky
A mainstay on this list, Vince Marrow impresses not only with his ability to sign top prospects to a Kentucky program that did not sign many four-stars prior to his arrival, but also the sheer number of prospects he signs in each class. It is no wonder head coach Mark Stoops made him recruiting coordinator and why Stoops assigned Marrow to defend the Commonwealth when the Wildcats were seeing out-of-state programs stealing their state’s top prospects. That effort paid off, with six of the top eight in-state prospects signing with the Wildcats, including No. 1 overall, four-star Jager Burton. Marrow still did his usual work in Ohio this year as well, bringing in linemen David Wohlabaugh, Paul Rodriguez and Jamarius Dinkins.
ALEX MIRABAL, Oregon
There are several positions of strength in Oregon’s No. 3-ranked recruiting class, and one is definitely offensive line. The Ducks signed one of their two five-star prospects in this class at offensive line, and four prospects at the position in total.
Offensive line coach Alex Mirabal was responsible for strengthening the Ducks’ offensive line, starting with five-star Kingsley Suamataia, a prospect Mirabal landed over competition from USC and others. Mirabal had picked up another Utah native, four-star center Jackson Light, early in the process and added four-star tackles Bram Walden and Jonah Miller back in May.
SHERRONE MOORE, Michigan
Jim Harbaugh’s staff at Michigan has undergone significant turnover this off-season, and Sherrone Moore is one of just two assistants that has been on staff for more than two years. During his tenure, Moore has established himself as an ace recruiter, and he was responsible for landing two of the Wolverines’ Rivals100 prospects in this class: quarterback J.J. McCarthy and tight end Louis Hansen. Moore also took the lead in the recruitment of Chicagoland linebacker Tyler McLaurin, then was a key assist on many of the Wolverines' toughest recruitments, helping outbattle in-state rival Michigan State for four-star Rayshaun Benny and three-star Andrel Anthony. Moore also was heavily involved in helping get New Jersey defensive lineman George Rooks to commit and sign in the late period.
CHRIS PARTRIDGE, Ole Miss
One of Jim Harbaugh’s top recruiters at Michigan in recent years, Chris Partridge is now the co-defensive coordinator at Ole Miss, and he has not forgotten how to recruit. The Rebels signed eight four-star prospects in this 2021 class, and Partridge was responsible for half of them.
It was not just the number of players landed, but also the wide net he cast across the country. Partridge got Tysheem Johnson and Taleeq Robbins from Pennsylvania, cornerback Kyndrich Breedlove from Nashville, linebacker Dink Jackson from Florida and cornerback Demarko Williams from Atlanta. Finally, Partridge went back to his home state of New Jersey to land Rivals100 DT Tywone Malone on National Signing Day.
TERRY PRICE, Texas A&M
Texas A&M signed a top-five class in 2021, and the Aggies landed two assistant coaches on the top 25 recruiters list. Defensive ends coach Terry Price is obviously comfortable recruiting to his alma mater, having been on the Aggies’ staff as an assistant since 2012. The group he brings in for 2021, though, may be among his best.
It starts with five-star Tunmise Adeleye, a one-time Ohio State commit. Price led an Aggies contingent that battled to the end to keep Adeleye at home. Price also led the recruitments of Rivals100 defensive end Shemar Turner and four-star defensive tackle Marcus Burris, while giving key assists with four-stars Jahzion Harris, Deuce Harmon and Elijah Jeudy.
JEFF QUINN, Notre Dame
Notre Dame has had great success producing offensive linemen in recent years, and that undoubtedly helps the Irish recruit the position. When you look at the collection of talent that offensive line coach Jeff Quinn is bringing to South Bend, though, it certainly deserves recognition.
Quinn slammed the door shut on the competition early with five-star in-state offensive tackle Blake Fisher. Quinn and other members of the Notre Dame offensive staff then went to battle and landed Rivals100 offensive guard Rocco Spindler and Florida four-star Caleb Johnson. Versatile Chicagoland lineman Pat Coogan and Joe Alt, who has NFL bloodlines, were also part of Quinn’s haul in 2021.
JOE RUDOLPH, Wisconsin
Wisconsin signed its highest-ranked class in the Rivals era in 2021, and that gives us a chance to shine a light on one of the Midwest’s most underrated recruiters. Offensive coordinator Joe Rudolph has been coaching alongside Paul Chryst since 2008, and he has been a key to the latter’s success at both Pittsburgh and Wisconsin.
Rudolph was responsible for bringing five-star offensive tackle Nolan Rucci to Madison, as well as a trio of four-stars: Minnesota offensive tackle Riley Mahlman, Ohio defensive end Darryl Peterson and Ohio wide receiver Markus Allen. Rudolph also landed three-star tight end Jack Pugh out of Ohio and gave an assist in the recruitment of Rivals250 offensive lineman J.P. Benzschawel.
KARL SCOTT, Alabama
The biggest threat to Charles Huff for Recruiter of the Year may have been on the same staff as Huff. Alabama defensive backs coach Karl Scott not only landed elite prospects like five-stars Ga’Quincy McKinstry and Tommy Brockermeyer, but he also pulled off some of the biggest flips in the 2021 class. Scott was able to convince three-star offensive guard Jaeden Roberts and the No. 5 wide receiver in the class, four-star JoJo Earle, to switch from rivals Auburn and LSU, respectively, and sign with the Crimson Tide on the first day of the Early Signing Period. Those efforts would have been enough to put Scott in the conversation for Recruiter of the Year, but he also added four-star linemen Tim Keenan III and James Brockermeyer for good measure.
BRENT VENABLES, Clemson
Clemson defensive coordinator Brent Venables is certainly no stranger to these lists. The longtime Tigers coach is one of the nation’s top recruiting assistants, and he posted another strong effort in 2021. He teamed with fellow Clemson assistant Mickey Conn in a winning battle for five-star linebacker Barrett Carter. Venables went on to lead the recruitments of four more four-stars who signed with Clemson. That group consisted of linebacker Jeremiah Trotter Jr., offensive guard Marcus Tate, defensive end Cade Denhoff and safety Andrew Mukaba. Bolstered by Venables' efforts, Clemson’s 19-man class finished as the seventh-best overall in 2021.
BRIAN WILLIAMS, Maryland
Maryland head coach Mike Locksley is known as one of the best recruiting head coaches, but he does not pull in a top 20 class without the help of co-defensive coordinator and defensive line coach Brian Williams. Maryland was one of just three Big Ten schools to sign a five-star, and Williams was responsible for that win, getting linebacker Terence Lewis, who was previously committed to Tennessee. Williams also flipped Rivals100 linebacker Branden Jennings from Michigan on the Early Signing Day and pulled in four-star linebacker Demeioun Robinson earlier in the process. Williams also assisted in the recruitments of defensive linemen Darrell Jackson, Taizse Johnson and ZionAngelo Shockley.
DONTE WILLIAMS, USC
One of the strongest cases for national Recruiter of the Year came from the West, where USC cornerbacks coach Donte Williams made a major contribution to the No. 8 overall class in 2021. Williams gets credit for the Trojans’ top-ranked commitment in the class, five-star defensive end Korey Foreman, as well as their last addition to the class, Rivals100 Raesjon Davis, who took his recruitment all the way down to February's National Signing Day. Other four-stars Williams was responsible for in this class were linebacker Julien Simon, cornerback Prophet Brown, wide receiver Kyron Ware-Hudson, cornerback Ceyair Wright, safety Anthony Beavers and athlete Jaylin Smith.