Ten traditions that continued in 2021 class
Tradition in college football is important, and maintaining that tradition through recruiting is a crucial piece to the puzzle. Here is a look at 10 traditions that were renewed through the 2021 recruiting cycle.
1. AN ELITE QB GOES TO OKLAHOMA
Overview: The Sooners have signed two five-star quarterbacks in recent recruiting cycles with Spencer Rattler in the 2019 class and now Washington (D.C.) Gonzaga’s Caleb Williams will make Oklahoma’s offense even more dangerous. The Big 12 power had back-to-back Heisman winners in Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray, three- and four-stars respectively. Now Rattler is a Heisman frontrunner for next season. Williams could be next in line.
Farrell’s take: Whether it’s a transfer or a high school star, OU always does well landing quarterbacks, and Williams will follow Rattler as a five-star set up for success in Norman. And remember, the Sooners landed Brock Vandagriff before he flipped and then rebounded with an even higher-ranked player in Williams.
2. A FIVE-STAR QB HEADS TO GEORGIA
Overview: Four of the five five-star quarterbacks that have signed with Georgia during the Rivals era dating back to 2002 have done so since the 2016 recruiting class, with Matthew Stafford being the only exception. There is an argument that the Bulldogs mismanaged using those players because Jacob Eason and Justin Fields transferred as Jake Fromm had the starting job, but now five-star Brock Vandagriff comes to Athens with a whole lot of potential. A former Oklahoma pledge, Vandagriff is a local kid who has all the tools to be special for the Bulldogs.
Farrell’s take: We’ll see how Kirby Smart handles this situation, but you can bet he learned from the Eason-Fromm-Fields situation and Vandagriff will be given every chance to follow JT Daniels and be the guy.
3. OHIO STATE LOADS UP AT DEFENSIVE END
Overview: Zach Harrison. Chase Young. Nick Bosa. Noah Spence. Adolphus Washington. Robert Rose. And now Jack Sawyer. Those are the seven five-star defensive ends in the Rivals era that have signed with Ohio State, and that list doesn’t even count Joey Bosa, who was a four-star but ended up as the third overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft. It’s funny the Bosa Bros. are mentioned here, because Sawyer has been compared to them with his physical nature and athleticism off the edge. He hasn’t played since the 2019 season because of a knee injury, but Sawyer could be special.
Farrell's take: Defensive line coach Larry Johnson is not only a great coach but he’s a great recruiter as well - and he develops freaks. Sawyer has a great chance to be next.
4. A UTAH OL STAR WILL HEAD TO OREGON
Overview: Penei Sewell, from St. George (Utah) Desert Hills, finished in the 2018 recruiting class as the fifth-best offensive tackle and one notch below five-star status, which was clearly a miss as he should be the first player at that position taken off the board in the NFL Draft and a probable top-five pick. Next up at Oregon is another elite Utah lineman in Orem’s Kingsley Suamataia, who might even be more athletic than Sewell, if not as physical or massive. Still, Suamataia follows Sewell on Oregon’s offensive line and there’s a good chance he could be the next big-time tackle for the Ducks.
Farrell’s take: Sewell turned out to be one of the best linemen in the last decade and the tradition continues with Suamataia, who has the potential to follow in his footsteps. This is becoming a thing for Mario Cristobal at Oregon.
5. A TOP FLORIDA WR WILL HEAD TO ‘BAMA
Overview: Jerry Jeudy, Calvin Ridley and Amari Cooper are the three biggest names of receiver prospects from Florida who picked Alabama, but there have been others and three big ones picked the Crimson Tide this recruiting cycle. Three of the top four receivers in the state (Mario Williams to Oklahoma being the exception) have picked Alabama, with Jacorey Brooks, Christian Leary and Agiye Hall going there. None of the top seven Florida receivers picked an in-state school, a problem that needs to be fixed by Florida, Miami and Florida State.
Farrell’s take: This has become ridiculous, and this year Nick Saban is taking three? There is zero doubt the tradition will continue with at least one of them, if not all three.
6. UGA LANDS ANOTHER FIVE-STAR OL
Overview: Georgia - and especially coach Kirby Smart in recent years - has done an outstanding job signing five-star offensive linemen, and Amarius Mims is the latest one as the Bulldogs held off Tennessee, Auburn and others for his signature. It’s been a massively promising run for Georgia when it comes to offensive linemen, as Mims joins Tate Ratledge, Broderick Jones, Clay Webb, Cade Mays, Jamaree Salyer, Isaiah Wilson and John Theus as five-star offensive linemen who have signed with Georgia since 2012.
Farrell’s take: Aside from Alabama, no one recruits offensive linemen better than Smart and UGA. Recently it’s been ridiculous, and Mims is just the next in line everyone tried to steal.
7. CLEMSON DIPS BACK INTO GEORGIA
Overview: Georgia has signed three times as many five-stars from the state than Clemson has during the Rivals era, which is expected since those are in-state recruits. But one could argue the Tigers have landed more impactful players over the years with their seven of Myles Murphy, Andrew Booth, Trevor Lawrence, AJ Terrell, Tre Lamar, Deshaun Watson and now Barrett Carter, who is the top-rated inside linebacker in the 2021 class. He picked the Tigers over Georgia, Auburn, Alabama and many others.
Farrell’s take: Clemson has recruited the state of Georgia as well as anyone, including UGA, over the last few years and Carter is the next star in line. This is a massive reason for the Tigers' success - obviously with Watson and Lawrence.
8. NOTRE DAME LANDS AN ELITE LINEMAN
Overview: Blake Fisher is the latest elite lineman from a northern state to sign with Notre Dame as the Irish - maybe more than any other team - have done an excellent job landing offensive linemen from that region over the years. Fisher is an in-state kid from Avon and the No. 1 player in Indiana, so it’s no surprise he picked Notre Dame. But others over the years from cold-weather states that also went to South Bend are big-timers like Quenton Nelson (New Jersey), Mike McGlinchey (Pennsylvania) and Robert Hainsey (also from Pennsylvania). Notre Dame has also landed a bunch of players from Michigan and Ohio.
Farrell’s take: Developing offensive linemen is what Notre Dame does and the Irish get the tough guys from the cold weather. Fisher should be the next one in line.
9. WISCONSIN WILL LOAD UP ON OL
Overview: In all the years of dominant Wisconsin offensive linemen, in all the players that have played across those positions and gone on to the NFL, the Badgers have signed only two five-stars: Josh Oglesby in 2007 and now Nolan Rucci in the 2021 class. Rucci picked the Badgers over Penn State and others and it was a big victory for Wisconsin to pick him up out of Lititz (Pa.) Warwick. For years, the Badgers have taken undervalued or under-recruited prospects and developed them into superstars. It will be interesting to see what coach Paul Chryst and his staff can do with elite ones like Rucci.
Farrell’s take: Rucci is the rare five-star for Wisconsin, but it makes sense as the Badgers produce and develop linemen so well. The power offense at Wisconsin will continue as the Badgers continue to recruit angry offensive linemen.
10. OKLAHOMA LANDS TOP OUT-OF-STATE WRS
Overview: Oklahoma has pilfered almost all of its top receivers from the state of Texas over the last few years, with Marvin Mims, Theo Wease, Austin Stogner, Charleston Rambo, Trejan Bridges, CeeDee Lamb and Lee Morris being some of the big ones recently. Now the Sooners are going elsewhere for top talent, led by five-star Mario Williams out of Plant City, Fla., this recruiting cycle. He leads the way but let’s not forget four-star Jalil Farooq from Maryland or four-star Cody Jackson from Texas (surprise!) in this class. And high four-star Billy Bowman, also from Texas, could play offense as well, since he’s a dynamic two-way athlete.
Farrell’s take: The Sooners again here? Yep. And this is why their roster and offense will always be loaded. Williams follows Hollywood Brown from Florida and the Sooners also kill it in Texas.