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Rob's Rankings: Programs poised to finish in top 5 of team rankings

CLASS OF 2020 RANKINGS: Rivals250 | State | Position | Team

Five-star Clemson commit Fred Davis
Five-star Clemson commit Fred Davis (Nick Lucero/

With the spring evaluation period underway and official visits being taken, the 2020 recruiting cycle should take shape in the months ahead. Things, of course, will change drastically between now and National Signing Day, as commitment flips and late decisions will ultimately dictate how things shake out. This week in Rob’s Rankings, Florida analyst Rob Cassidy ranks 10 teams by their chances of landing in the top five of the final team rankings.

MORE: Biggest Midwest official visits of the spring | Southeast | Evaluating recent commits

1. Clemson 

Current rank: 3

Number of commits: 11

Average star ranking: 4

This seems like a sure thing, as Clemson is not only the heavy favorite to land the country’s top class, but it may welcome a truly historic haul come signing day. If everything breaks correctly, Dabo Swinney could realistically tie or break the single-class record of eight five stars set by Georgia in 2018. Only one of the Tigers’ 11 commits are ranked lower than a four-star, and the program’s track record suggests none are likely to back off their pledges. Five-star defensive back Fred Davis headlines the group for now, but fellow five-stars Demarckus Bowman (RB), DJ Uiagalelei (QB), Bryan Bresse (DE), Jordan Burch (DE) and others may join him soon. Barring something totally unforeseen, like the collapse of civilization, the Tigers will finish in the top five.

2. Alabama 

Current rank: 1

Number of commits: 14

Average star ranking: 3.64

Alabama has finished outside the top five once since 2009, so let’s trust history here. The average star numbers suggest schools such as LSU and Ohio State have better chances of landing inside the top five, but Nick Saban has a way of finishing strong. He also has a way of stealing committed recruits from other programs down the stretch. The Tide may finish at the back end of the top five, but their odds of being included are good. Five-star wideout Julian Fleming recently visited Tuscaloosa, and Rivals100 names such as quarterback Bryce Young, running back Zachary Evans, linebacker Justin Flowe and many others are very much in play. Bama is a safe pick.

3. LSU 

Current rank: 2

Number of commits: 11

Average star ranking: 3.91

LSU’s average star ranking suggests a repeat of last year’s top-five finish may be in the cards. That will ultimately depend on what Ed Oregeron has in store for an encore to last year’s impressive 10-3 season, but the head coach’s reputation as an elite recruiter didn’t come without merit. Should things remain positive on the field this fall, Rivals250 prospects Ashaad Clayton, Koy Moore, Sedrick Van Pran, Jaquelin Roy and Jacobian Guillory are all possibilities.

4. Ohio State

Current rank: 6

Number of commits: 8

Average star ranking: 3.88

There are schools with more commits and higher average star rankings, but the Buckeyes seize the No. 4 spot on the list by still being a legitimate option for a laundry list of highly rated players. Head coach Ryan Day already has one five-star in the fold in offensive tackle Paris Johnson Jr. Ohio State is involved with five-star defensive back Kelee Ringo, five-star wide receiver Julian Fleming, Rivals100 offensive tackle Michael Carmody and Rivals100 defensive end Darrion Henry, to name a few. Listing off every high-profile Buckeye target would get monotonous, but it stands to reason that the program will be in the hunt for a spot in the top five come signing day.

5. Georgia 

Current rank: 10

Number of commits: 5

Average star ranking: 4

Georgia is off to a slow start when it comes to quantity, but the quality can’t be questioned. Kirby Smart’s class is tied for the country’s highest average star ranking, and the UGA head coach boasts a recent history of coming out of nowhere to push for elite prospects late in the cycle. Players such as five-star athlete Arik Gilbert, five-star linebacker Mekhail Sherman, Rivals100 offensive lineman Tate Ratledge and Rivals100 defensive end Zykevious Walker are realistic possibilities for UGA. Still, it’s the major prospects to which they are not yet strongly linked that could swing this class. Smart can close with the best of them and will likely have a surprise or two up his sleeve down the stretch.

6. Florida 

Current rank: 5

Number of commits: 10

Average star ranking: 3.6

Florida is the most stable Power Five program in the country’s most fertile recruiting ground, and the Sunshine State’s top program is always going to have a chance to land a top-five class. The Gators are by no means a sure thing, but they very well could find themselves in the race. If things on the field continue to improve under Dan Mullen, recruiting momentum will continue to build for a school that already has six four-star prospects in the fold. Florida is relevant in the recruitment of number of top-rated players in the state of Florida and beyond. The Gators’ Week One game against Miami could score UF another scoop of momentum when it comes to landing in-state players.

7. Miami 

Current rank: 4

Number of commits: 11

Average star ranking: 3.82

So far so good for Miami, which currently holds a spot in the top five and an impressive average star ranking. It’s a collection of unknowns that bump it down this list a bit, however. Nobody knows what to expect from first-time head coach Manny Diaz or from UM’s quarterback situation. The Hurricanes have had some trouble hanging on to highly touted commits as of late, so Diaz must improve on last year's 7-6 season if he hopes to hold together what is shaping up to be an impressive class. The reason UM isn’t higher on this list is because Miami is a massive wildcard that could go either way this season. If things go reasonably well in Diaz’s first year, UM should make a push for a top-five class. If not, well …

8. Texas 

Current rank: 20

Number of commits: 5

Average star ranking: 3.8

Texas has the average star ranking of a top-five team. In fact, the program finished No. 4 a year ago with an average of 3.68. The Longhorns’ issue is that with just five commits, there’s plenty of work left to do. The good news is that Tom Herman is coming of a Big 12 title game appearance and building momentum at warp speed. Texas is at or near the top of the list for five-star prospects Zachary Evans (RB) and Kelee Ringo (CB). It’s also alive in the chase for five-star linebacker Justin Flowe and Rivals100 safety Chris Thompson Jr. If Herman and company matches or improves on last year’s finish, additional doors will open. Despite their classes' current low numbers, the Longhorns have a real shot to crash the top five for a second straight year.

9. Penn State 

Current rank: 7

Number of commits: 8

Average star ranking: 3.5

James Franklin’s reputation as an elite recruiter is well-earned, as are the reputations attached to many of his assistants. That said, this average star ranking of this class will need to improve if the Nittany Lions are to land their second top-five class in three years. Highly ranked players such as tight end Theo Johnson, wide receiver Jaden Dottin and tackle Aaryn Parks, among others, remain on the board for Franklin and company. But Penn State figures to land somewhere just outside of the top five.

10. Oklahoma 

Current rank: 11

Number of commits: 6

Average star ranking: 3.5

Oklahoma is on pace to land another impressive class, but a top-five finish looks like a pipe dream. There are plenty of top-flight prospects considering OU, including Rivals100 prospects Kelee Ringo (CB), Gervon Dexter (DE), Kendall Milton (RB), Gary Bryant (WR), but the class doesn’t project to have the same depth as last year’s top-five haul. Like Penn State, the Sooners are more likely to end up in the seven-to 10 range than they are the top five.