With National Signing Day a mere two months away, the latest update to the Rivals.com prospect rankings caused some movement in the team recruiting rankings. While a familiar school is still on top, it is no longer a one-horse race.
We have a race again
Not long ago, USC had a commanding lead in the team recruiting rankings, with 18 commits, each in the Rivals250. On Nov. 1, the Trojans led No. 2 Notre Dame by 554 points -- more than the value of two Robert Nkemdiches.
But since then, Eldridge Massington and Max Redfield decommited from the Trojans, Florida landed Rivals100 safety Marcell Harris and a four-star JUCO prospect, and Alabama and Notre Dame won big in the recent prospect re-rankings.
USC is still on top (2,731 points), but now it has work to do to remain No. 1. Florida (2,576), Alabama (2,575) and Notre Dame (2,559) are not far behind and are in on enough top-ranked kids to surpass USC.
Here are the top 25 in team rankings, and the points gained or lost. Because players are still being assigned RR for the first time, most schools still managed to gain points, especially as you move further down the team rankings.
1. USC: Down 30 points
2. Florida: Down 39 points
3. Alabama: Up 123 points
4. Notre Dame: Up 61 points
5. Michigan: Up 48 points
6. LSU: Down 28 points
7. Texas A&M: Up 128 points
8. Georgia: Down 19 points
9. Ohio State: Down 7 points
10. Auburn: Up 49 points
11. South Carolina: Up 13 points
12. Texas: Down 70 points
13. Florida State: Up 4 points
14. Vanderbilt: Up 72 points
15. Washington: Up 14 points
16. Virginia Tech: Up 12 points
17. Clemson: Up 21 points
18. UCLA: Up 31 points
19. North Carolina: Up 60 points
20. Virginia: Up 5 points
21. Oklahoma State: Up 30 points
22. Arizona: Up 161 points
23. Ole Miss: Even
24. Tennessee: Up 73 points
25. Baylor: Up 19 points
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Looking for a total point number to shoot for? Alabama, the 2012 recruiting champion, would have had 2,929 points if the new formula was applied to last season's rankings. USC can still easily get past that number this year. My hunch is Alabama has the best chance of the other schools to go beyond 2,900 points.
Alabama gets full credit for its next commit, because the Tide are still under the top-20 cap. In fact, a commit from any prospect rated 6.0 or higher would be enough to put Alabama ahead of USC. The Tide are in on Laremy Tunsil (219 points), and who knows what happens to Auburn's highly ranked class moving forward. If the Tide can land Tunsil and a high-four star type, they'll be in business.
What is the 20-cap?
The Rivals.com team rankings are based on the top 20 players in each school's class. So if a school already has 20 or more commitments, at first glance it may look as if they are not getting full credit when they get another.
For instance, Notre Dame and Florida are over the 20 cap. So any new commit is going to add only its points minus the points of the now-21st-best prospect in the class who was bumped out of the formula.
Notre Dame is in a strong position for five-star Max Redfield and Rivals100 DE Al-Quadin Muhammad. Those two would add 249 points to the Irish's class. If the Irish land a top RB as well, such as Greg Bryant or Tarean Folston, we could be looking at the first Rivals recruiting national championship for Notre Dame.
Florida is going to take three or four more prospects, and given their history of closing strong, the Gators' current standing at No. 2 poses a threat to USC.
Getting Jalen Ramsey to switch from the Trojans would be huge for Florida on both fronts. Otherwise, the Gators' path to 2,900 points is not as clear at this time as Alabama's or Notre Dame's.
USC could silence this debate by rebounding to 18 commits with a pair of Rivals100 types. The Trojans are still in the driver's seat, but their recent de-commitments have made the race for the recruiting national championship interesting.
Rivals doesn't hate your school or team
Every re-rankings we hear the same thing from pretty much every fan base: "Rivals hates us." Fans complain about the smallest "drops" in the Rivals250, even just one spot. The fact is, 177 of the 250 prospects in August's Rivals250 either fell at least one spot or dropped out of the rankings completely.
Despite the natural flow of prospects in the Rivals250 to fall a bit in each re-ranking, let's take a look at the top point-gainers.
INSIDE LOOK: RIVALS.COM TEAM RANKINGS
Total points gained: 208
Rivals250 points: 28. Hunter Henry accounts for all of this with his jump to a high four-star (6.0).
Outside the Rivals250: 180 points. A couple of newly assigned 5.5 ratings to their class added 120 points, plus bumps up for RB Kaleb Blanchard to a 5.8 and QB Tyler Cogswell to a 5.7.
Impact: The 208 additional points moved Arkansas from No. 44 to No 35 in the team rankings.
Total points gained: 161
Rivals250 points: 41. Jarrett Solomon's move from outside the Rivals250 to No. 131 is huge for the Wildcats.
Outside the Rivals250: 120 points. The Wildcats had six other prospects move up in Rivals Rating, including DeAndre Miller (previously unrated), who was assigned a 5.7 rating, moving him well within the top 20 commits in their class, adding a difference of 45 points to their total.
Impact: Arizona moved from No. 27 to No. 22 in the team rankings.
Total points gained: 135
Rivals250 points: No prospects in the Rivals250.
Outside the Rivals250: 135 points. The Cougars have a trio of running backs who made jumps in RR, including Olito Thompson, who was bumped from a mid- to high three-star. JUCO prospect Vincent Mayle was assigned a 5.5 rating, adding 60 points.
Impact: The Cougars were the lowest-ranked BCS program with 17 or more commits, but the points gained moved them up four spots, ahead of a few other BCS teams with a similar-sized class.
Total points gained: 128
Rivals250 points: 83. 28 for Kenny Hill's move up, plus Laquvionte Gonzalez and Kyrion Parker are newbies to the Rivals250. Tavares Garner fell out, but only costs three points.
Outside the Rivals250: 45. A few small bumps among the Aggies' large class.
Impact: The Aggies moved from No. 9 to No. 7 in the team rankings due to Hill's move up.
Total points gained: 123
Rivals250 points: 93. Tyren Jones, Jonathan Allen, Demarcus Walker, Adarius Stewart, and Maurice Smith made jumps of 25 points or more. It wasn't all good for the Tide, as Cooper Bateman lost 30 points, and Josh McNeil fell out of the Rivals250, losing 34 points.
Outside the Rivals250: 30 points. Darius Page moved from a 5.6 to 5.8.
Impact: The Tide's 19 commits were good enough for No. 6 before the rankings, but the 123 extra points moved them to No. 3, a single point behind Florida at No. 2, and well within striking distance of USC.
Total points gained: 83
Rivals250 points: 38. Jon Reschke moved into the 250 at No. 149.
Outside the Rivals250: 45 points. Current teammates QB Damion Terry and ATH Delton Williams are two of three Spartans commits who got slight bumps.
Impact: Just a slight move up from No. 40 to No. 39, but watch out for Michigan State, at 14 commits it has room to move way up.
Total points gained: 73
Rivals250 points: 13. Jason Carr moved up 51 spots, and Jalen Reeves-Maybin entered the 250 at No. 214. The Vols lost seven points on Paul Harris' fall out of the 250.
Outside the Rivals250: 60 points. Joe Sanders, previous unranked, was assigned a 5.5.
Impact: New coach Butch Jones has an outside shot at a top-20 class. The Vols moved up one spot to No. 24, and with just 18 commits, they have room to pile on more points under the top-20 cap.
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