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Rivals' top 50 recruiting teams of the past five years

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Mark Pszonak contributed to this report.

Recruiting success doesn’t always translate into on-field success, but it sure doesn’t hurt. We decided to take a look at the top 50 programs in recruiting over the last five cycles and determine whether they have achieved, over-achieved or under-achieved based on their record from 2013-2016.

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1. ALABAMA

Recruiting rankings
2017 2016 2015 2014 2013 Average

1

1

2

1

1

1.2


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If you have paid attention to recruiting at all over the last decade, this should come as no surprise. The only minor bump on the road over the last five recruiting seasons was back in 2015, when the Tide were beaten out by UCS for the top spot. Otherwise, Alabama is the king of the castle in the current recruiting world and shows no signs of slowing down.

Judge Farrell: ACHIEVED. Being No. 1 overall every year except the year it finished second, Alabama had a lot to live up to on the field, but a national title and two other playoff appearances in the four-year span is good enough for me.

2. OHIO STATE

Recruiting rankings
2017 2016 2015 2014 2013 Average

2

3

9

3

2

3.8

The only Big Ten program in the top 10, and only one of two schools in the Midwest, Ohio State takes the runner-up position to Alabama. While the Buckeyes have failed to earn the top spot, they have been remarkably consistent since 2013 with two second-place finishes and two third-place finishes.

Judge Farrell: ACHIEVED. A national title and another playoff appearance means that Urban Meyer has his team playing on the level at which it recruits. No surprise there.

3. FLORIDA STATE

Recruiting rankings
2017 2016 2015 2014 2013 Average

5

2

3

4

10

4.8

Surprisingly, Florida State is the only ACC program in the top 10. Coming in at third, the Seminoles have long been considered one of the elite recruiting programs in the country, and have obviously continued that trend over the last five years. Only a No. 10 finish in 2013 kept FSU from possibly leapfrogging Ohio State into second place.

Judge Farrell: ACHIEVED. A national title in 2013 and a playoff appearance mean the ‘Noles are playing up to their recruiting level and Jimbo Fisher is one of the top recruiters in the game.

4. LSU

Recruiting rankings
2017 2016 2015 2014 2013 Average

8

5

8

2

6

5.8

Under coach Les Miles, LSU firmly established itself as a recruiting juggernaut. Now with Ed Orgeron taking over, it is hard to imagine this changing, as the Tigers are always in the chase for many of the top prospects in Louisiana, Texas and other talent-rich Southeast states such as Georgia and Florida.

Judge Farrell: UNDERACHIEVED. With such an amazing home state advantage and such amazing recruiting classes, LSU should have at least made a playoff appearance or made a run at the national title.

5. GEORGIA

Recruiting rankings
2017 2016 2015 2014 2013 Average

3

11

6

7

12

7.8

The Bulldogs pulled in their best class over the last five years in 2017, finishing third. The transition from Mark Richt to Kirby Smart seemed to spark recruiting for the Bulldogs just enough to help them reach this lofty achievement. Now it will be interesting to see if Georgia is able to continue to high standard in the coming years under Smart.

Judge Farrell: UNDERACHIEVED. Has any team done less with more than Georgia over the last decade or more? The best class here is under Smart, but he will have to prove he can take the on-field success to the next level.

6. USC

Recruiting rankings
2017 2016 2015 2014 2013 Average

6

12

1

10

13

8.4

The Trojans are the only West Coast and Pac-12 program in the top 10. As mentioned above, they are also the only program that has been able to dethrone Alabama for a year, when they took the top spot in 2015. USC has long thrived in Southern California, but also not afraid to go national in search of elite talent.

Judge Farrell: UNDERACHIEVED. The Rose Bowl this past season was good for the program, but before that it was below expectations for the amount of talent it keeps home.

7. AUBURN

Recruiting rankings
2017 2016 2015 2014 2013 Average

14

9

7

9

9

9.6

Auburn’s success on the field has been inconsistent in recent years, but its recruiting continues to be consistently impressive. While never finishing higher than seventh since 2013, the Tigers have brought in the level of talent necessary to compete in the SEC, which should show dividends on the field in the coming years.

Judge Farrell: UNDERACHIEVED. A trip to the national title game is great, but the seasons since haven’t been pretty at all, which is why they fall below ACHIEVED. Gus Malzahn is on the hot seat a bit and needs a big year.

8. NOTRE DAME

Recruiting rankings
2017 2016 2015 2014 2013 Average

13

13

11

11

3

10.2

After an impressive third-place finish in 2013, the Irish have been either 11th or 13th the following four years. If you consider their inconsistent level of play on the field in recent years, their recruiting accomplishments can be seen as impressive, or if you choose to consider their history and high expectations, it can also be seen as a disappointment by others.

Judge Farrell: UNDERACHIEVED. There have been some good years since the national title game run in 2012 but last season’s 4-8 record puts them down below ACHIEVED because of how dismal it was.

9. TEXAS A&M

Recruiting rankings
2017 2016 2015 2014 2013 Average

10

17

10

6

11

10.8

For years, it would have likely been Texas on this list, but for now it is Texas A&M that takes the title as the top recruiting program in the Lone Star State over the last five years. The move into the SEC has sparked the Aggies' recruiting efforts, as they have consistently signed top 15 classes since 2013.

Judge Farrell: UNDERACHIEVED. Great starts and awful finishes have been the staple of Kevin Sumlin’s last few seasons. With this high rating, the Aggies should have broken through at least once.

10. FLORIDA

Recruiting rankings
2017 2016 2015 2014 2013 Average

9

14

23

8

4

11.6

The sixth and final SEC program in the top 10 is Florida, which peaked in 2013 at No. 4 and sunk as low as No. 23 in 2015. Gators’ fans expect big things from the program both on the field and in recruiting, so while an 11.6 average is not a reason to panic, it also is not at the level that most are accustomed to seeing from Florida.

Judge Farrell: UNDERACHIEVED. Back-to-back SEC East titles are nice under Jim McElwain, but the horrid 2013 and 2014 seasons offset that. Florida has gone 30-21 in the last four seasons and that’s well below expectations based on recruiting success.

11. CLEMSON

Ranks last five years: 22, 6, 4, 13, 14 -- 11.8 average

Judge Farrell: OVERACHIEVED. For a team outside the top 10 to appear in the national title game and win it the next year, you can only say that Clemson achieved more than expected, although this is a close call. You could easily say ACHIEVED here as well.

12. TENNESSEE

Ranks last 5 years: 15, 15, 5, 5, 21 -- 12.2

Judge Farrell: UNDERACHIEVED. Back-to-back nine-win seasons is nice at Tennessee, but no SEC East title for a team that is 12th on this list is below what we expected.

13. OKLAHOMA

Ranks last 5 years: 7, 16, 14, 15, 15 -- 13.4

Judge Farrell: ACHIEVED. Three 11-win seasons and a playoff appearance make this an easy call for the Sooners.

14. UCLA

Ranks last 5 years: 21, 10, 13, 16, 8 -- 13.6

Judge Farrell: UNDERACHIEVED. A couple of 10-win seasons was a nice start for UCLA, but 4-8 last season was horrendous.

15. MIAMI

Ranks last 5 years: 11, 21, 26, 12, 19 -- 17.8

Judge Farrell: UNDERACHIEVED. A 32-20 record isn’t horrible, but it isn’t great either for being 15th here. Zero ACC divisional titles for the Canes in the last four seasons isn’t good either.

T16. OLE MISS

Ranks last 5 years: 39, 8, 21, 19, 7 -- 18.8

Judge Farrell: ACHIEVED. This past season was awful, but eight wins, nine wins and 10 wins from 2013-2015 matches up with this lofty and surprising ranking for Ole Miss.

T16. TEXAS

Ranks last 5 years: 31, 7, 12, 20, 24 -- 18.8

Judge Farrell: UNDERACHIEVED. A pretty easy call here. This ranking is low for Texas as you’d expect the Longhorns to be in the top 10. But even tied at No. 16, they shouldn’t be coming off a third losing season in a row.

T18. MICHIGAN

Ranks last 5 years: 4, 4, 51, 31, 5 -- 19.0

Judge Farrell: UNDERACHIEVED. Michigan's two good years under Jim Harbaugh don’t offset two awful years under Brady Hoke and they still don’t have a Big Ten divisional title.

T18. SOUTH CAROLINA

Ranks last 5 years: 16, 27, 19, 17, 16 -- 19.0

Judge Farrell: UNDERACHIEVED. The 2013 season was excellent, but after that it fell off into a nightmare for the Gamecocks and even a surprising season last year still ended with a losing record.

20. OREGON

Ranks last 5 years: 18, 28, 17, 23, 22 -- 21.6

Judge Farrell: ACHIEVED. Like Notre Dame, things went off the rails last season, but before that Oregon was 33-8 and made a run at the national title.

21. PENN STATE

Ranks last 5 years: 12, 23, 15, 25, 42 -- 23.4

Judge Farrell: ACHIEVED. The fact that Penn State is in the top 20 is impressive considering the NCAA nightmare. A Big Ten title helps offset some lean years.

22. NEBRASKA

Ranks last 5 years: 20, 26, 28, 32, 17 -- 24.6

Judge Farrell: ACHIEVED. Finishing 22nd on this list sounds about on par for Nebraska's three nine-win seasons despite no divisional success.

23. MISSISSIPPI STATE

Ranks last 5 years: 27, 25, 16, 38, 25 -- 26.2

Judge Farrell: ACHIEVED. A 32-20 record, isn’t great for Mississippi State, but it’s not bad in the SEC West, especially for a team outside the national Top 20 on this list.

24. STANFORD

Ranks last 5 years: 19, 19, 18, 14, 63 -- 26.6

Judge Farrell: OVERACHIEVED. A 41-13 record and two Rose Bowls for a team outside the top 20 is clearly impressive. Academics keep Stanford’s ranking down a bit.

T25. ARKANSAS

Ranks last 5 years: 24, 32, 25, 29, 26 -- 27.2

Judge Farrell: UNDERACHIEVED. Arkansas' best year has been 8-5 and the worst was 3-9, and the SEC record (9-23) is awful.

T25. KENTUCKY

Ranks last 5 years: 26, 29, 34, 18, 29 -- 27.2

Judge Farrell: UNDERACHIEVED. Kentucky is recruiting better than it is playing with one winning season and a rough conference record (8-24).

27. MICHIGAN STATE

Ranks last 5 years: 33, 18, 22, 22, 47 -- 28.4

Judge Farrell: OVERACHIEVED. This past season was brutal, but Michigan State going 36-5 before that with a playoff appearance is amazing at No. 27.

28. VIRGINIA TECH

Ranks last 5 years: 28, 42, 24, 26, 23 -- 28.6

Judge Farrell: ACHIEVED. A division title under Justin Fuente pushed the Hokies to a 32-21 record in four seasons at No. 28 on this list.

T29. NORTH CAROLINA

Ranks last 5 years: 30, 24, 29, 24, 39 -- 29.2

Judge Farrell: ACHIEVED. The bar gets lower down here on the list and a division title and a 32-21 record, just like the Hokies, is good enough at UNC.

T29. WASHINGTON

Ranks last 5 years: 23, 37, 31, 37, 18 -- 29.2

Judge Farrell: OVERACHIEVED. A playoff appearance last season and zero losing seasons in the last four led to this judgment for the Huskies.

31. ARIZONA STATE

Ranks last 5 years: 52, 30, 20, 21, 34 -- 31.4

Judge Farrell: ACHIEVED. Two good years and two bad years, ASU has been 31-21 and won a division title.

32. LOUISVILLE

Ranks last 5 years: 29, 36, 32, 36, 41 -- 34.8

Judge Farrell: OVERACHIEVED. One year in the AAC helps, but a 38-14 record is very good for a Louisville team just outside the top 30 here.

33. TCU

Ranks last 5 years: 41, 20, 35, 52, 30

Judge Farrell: ACHIEVED. Two losing seasons and two winning seasons equal a 33-18 overall record, which isn’t bad for TCU being down here.

34. OKLAHOMA STATE

Ranks last 5 years: 37, 48, 37, 27, 36 -- 37.0

Judge Farrell: OVERACHIEVED. No. 34 on this list with three 10-win seasons and no losing seasons is impressive for the Cowboys.

35. ARIZONA

Ranks last 5 years: 36, 45, 41, 28, 37 -- 37.4

Judge Farrell: UNDERACHIEVED. A division title is in the mix here, but last season’s 3-9 record brought Arizona to 28-24 overall and that’s not great, even down here.

36. WEST VIRGINIA

Ranks last 5 years: 51, 38, 33, 40, 27 -- 37.8

Judge Farrell: UNDERACHIEVED. West Virginia's 29-22 record isn’t that great, especially in the meddling Big 12.

37. MARYLAND

Ranks last 5 years: 17, 39, 55, 48, 33 -- 38.4

Judge Farrell: UNDERACHIEVED. Two losing seasons and an overall 20-28 record overall isn’t good for Maryland.

38. MISSOURI

Ranks last 5 years: 48, 46, 27, 35, 40 -- 39.2

Judge Farrell: OVERACHIEVED. Mizzou's two division titles offset two losing seasons and an overall 32-20 record at this level is good.

39. BAYLOR

Ranks last 5 years: 34, 55, 43, 34, 31 -- 39.4

Judge Farrell: OVERACHIEVED. Baylor's 39-13 record is very impressive when recruiting down at this level.

40. WISCONSIN

Ranks last 5 years: 35, 35, 44, 33, 54 -- 40.2

Judge Farrell: OVERACHIEVED. A 41-13 over four seasons and No. 40 on this list? Wisconsin could be the biggest overachiever of the bunch.

41.  CALIFORNIA

Ranks last 5 years: 75, 22, 30, 46, 32 -- 41.0

Judge Farrell: UNDERACHIEVED. Cal's 19-30 record is not good no matter where you stand on this list.

42. NC STATE

Ranks last 5 years: 53, 44, 36, 30, 46 -- 41.8

Judge Farrell: UNDERACHIEVED. With a losing record over four seasons you’d think NC State would do a smidge better being on the fringe of the top 40.

43. UTAH

Ranks last 5 years: 25, 34, 41, 67, 43 -- 42.0

Judge Farrell: OVERACHIEVED. Utah has been consistently ranked in the Top 25 the last three seasons and is 33-18 during the four-year span.

44. PITTSBURGH

Ranks last 5 years: 37, 31, 70, 45, 35

Judge Farrell: ACHIEVED. Three winning seasons out of four and an overall record of 29-23 is solid enough for Pitt.

45. VANDERBILT

Ranks last 5 years: 56, 54, 45, 51, 20 -- 45.2

Judge Farrell: UNDERACHIEVED. No. 45 brings a lot of leniency in this judgment, but aside from James Franklin’s last year, it hasn’t been pretty at Vandy.

46. TEXAS TECH

Ranks last 5 years: 47, 46, 40, 44, 53 -- 46.0

Judge Farrell: UNDERACHIEVED. A losing record over four seasons leads to no other conclusion for Texas Tech.

47. OREGON STATE

Ranks last 5 years: 45, 40, 59, 50, 38 -- 46.4

Judge Farrell: UNDERACHIEVED. Not even close here for the Beavers, 18-31 isn’t pretty.

48. VIRGINIA

Ranks last 5 years: 56, 61, 46, 42, 28 -- 46.6

Judge Farrell: UNDERACHIEVED. Recruiting hasn’t been good but the on the field play has been worse at Virginia.

49. IOWA

Ranks last 5 years: 40, 42, 59, 56, 51

Judge Farrell: OVERACHIEVED. Four winning seasons, a near miss on a playoff appearance and a Rose Bowl make Iowa a clear overachiever.

50. DUKE

Ranks last 5 years: 46, 33, 63, 59, 69 -- 54.0

Judge Farrell: ACHIEVED. This past season was bad, but 27-13 the three seasons before that puts Duke just under OVERACHIEVED.

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