Rob's Rankings: Teams that should be concerned about 2019 class
Recruiting rankings are fickle. They can be impacted by any number of things. But while things will certainly change between now and the end of the 2019 cycle, it’s not too early to take a look at a few programs that should be at least a little concerned with how things are going on the trail. Below are five schools off to troubling starts that should begin to raise a red flag or two with their respective fan bases.
Current ranking: 77
Why it’s troubling: Any hope that Chip Kelly would turn UCLA around by simply showing up and installing his offense is officially dead. The Bruins’ 0-2 start that includes a loss to Cincinnati in Kelly’s debut put that line of thinking in a closed casket.
It’s now clear UCLA will need to undertake a full rebuild, which must include an overhaul of talent on the roster. The Bruins finished 19th in the recruiting rankings last cycle despite Kelly having limited time to assemble the class. This time around, however, things seem more distressing. UCLA currently ranks 77th overall and boasts an average star ranking of 3.0, a number good for eighth in the Pac-12.
It’s early in his tenure, but Kelly was brought in to compete for titles and will have a hard time accomplishing that unless something changes on the talent front.
Current ranking: 60
Why it’s troubling: Louisville has lived in or around the top 30 for the last few seasons and done relatively well with that level of talent. The issue is that the 2019 class looks to be in for a steep drop. The Cardinals’ average star ranking of 2.75 ranks third from last in the ACC behind such schools as Wake Forest, Duke and North Carolina. It’s highly unlikely that Louisville finishes outside the top 50 nationally, but a class that ranks in the bottom half of the ACC would be a significant blow to a team that looks like it may be in for a long season on the field.
3. TEXAS TECH
Current ranking: 40
Why it’s troubling: The Red Raiders appear to be at an impasse of sorts. Head coach Kliff Kingsbury was almost fired last season but saved his job and his team’s season with a win over Texas to end the final regular season game. The uncertainty surrounding him has impacted this recruiting class, which currently ranks second-to-last in the Big 12 (ahead of only Kansas) when it comes to average star ranking.
That’s all to say that the current state of Texas Tech recruiting isn’t built to survive a coaching change, which could be coming later this year. Should the current class incur any attrition due to a coaching change or anything else, this cycle could end in complete disaster.
4. KANSAS STATE
Current ranking: 92
Why it’s troubling: K-State has never recruited at an elite level, and Bill Snyder has earned his reputation for doing more with less. He’s also been better at evaluating his classes than we here at Rivals.com.
The issue here is the fact that the Snyder Era will likely come to a close sometime in the next few years and signing a class that ranks near the bottom of the Big 12 won’t be doing the next guy in line any favors. K-State, on occasion, looks out-gunned when it plays a team that recruits at a higher level (see last week’s 31-10 home loss to Mississippi State).
The difference in talent is likely to become more obvious when somebody other than Snyder is pushing the buttons. Nobody is expecting the Wildcats to finish in the top 15, and they don’t have to do that in order to be successful. Still, their ceiling is worlds better than this.
5. WASHINGTON STATE
Current ranking: 96
Why it’s troubling: Washington State has won eight or more games in each of the last three seasons, and the Cougars are off to a 2-0 start this year, so maybe it’s not time to sound any major alarms just yet.
Still, boasting the last-ranked class of any FBS team is more than a little concerning. Washington State currently sits at No. 96, five spots behind Kansas State, which ranks second-to-last among Power Five schools. The fact that Mike Leach’s program has only five total commits is both reason for alarm and reason to think the class ranking could improve quickly down the stretch.
It’s not always doom and gloom around here, so this week we counter the five most concerning recruiting starts with four encouraging ones. Below, in the overtime section, we take a look at the programs that seem to be taking a step forward on the recruiting front.
Current ranking: 4
Why it’s encouraging: Turning your program over to a guy that has never been a head coach at the Power Five level is a risk, but Mario Cristobal’s reputation as an ace recruiter preceded him in Eugene. So far, the new Ducks head man has lived up to his billing.
Oregon was once known for extending late offers and getting off to slow starts in recruiting, but that reputation now seems to be dead and gone. Cristobal has re-energized the school’s strategy and has his team ranked first in the Pac-12 and fourth nationally. The Ducks’ best recruiting finish came in 2009, when they landed the nation’s No. 9 class. That mark now seems extremely beatable in 2019.
Current ranking: 6
Why it’s encouraging: Oklahoma’s best ever effort in the recruiting rankings is a fourth-place finish that took place back in 2002. The Sooners have finished in the top five just once, but have a shot to do so for a second time this cycle. Currently, the Sooners rank sixth in the team rankings but boast an average star ranking of 3.88, a number that ranks second nationally.
Regardless of how OU finishes the cycle, the start is encouraging. Lincoln Riley has injected a dose of youth into the program’s recruiting tactics and has already proven it on the field. It’s nearly impossible to follow a legend in the coaching world, but Riley seems to be doing incredibly well in a tough situation. The Sooners are once again a certified recruiting heavyweight.
Current ranking: 10
Why it’s encouraging: On the field, the start of the Willie Taggart era has been uneven at best. Things on the recruiting trail, however, are much more encouraging. FSU’s class currently ranks 10th nationally and second in the ACC behind only Clemson. When you look at the average star ranking, however, the Seminoles hold the country’s third-ranked class. Taggart already has one five-star in the fold and there are plenty of other big names left on the board for an FSU team that now has early playing time to sell.
Current ranking: 17
Why it’s encouraging: The Arkansas job was always going to be a bit of a project. So while the start of the Chad Morris era has had some rough moments already, things in Fayetteville are more about the future than the present. The low points of the season ahead will be easier to choke down as long as Morris maintains his current momentum on the recruiting trail, where Arkansas currently boasts the nation’s No. 17 class.
The Razorbacks have not finished in the top 20 since 2009 and have spent the last decade hovering around the back end or just outside of the top 25. Rebuilds are accomplished by improving talent levels and Morris seems to be on track to do just that.