Three-Point Stance: Eight-team Playoff, 2017 5-stars, top 2021 classes
National Recruiting Director Mike Farrell’s Three-Point Stance is here with the CFB Playoff that he would like to see, a look at an amazing crop of five-stars and 2021 class rankings by position groups.
FACT OR FICTION: Texas A&M deserved to be in playoff
CLASS OF 2021 RANKINGS: Rivals250 | Position | Team | State
CLASS OF 2022 RANKINGS: Rivals250 | Position | Team | State
COVERAGE: Rivals Transfer Tracker | Rivals Camp Series
1. HERE'S HOW THE CFB PLAYOFF SHOULD LOOK THIS YEAR
We knew heading into the 2020 season that things would be a little bit wonky, including the playoff selections. But I never expected the Big Ten to change its rules in order to allow a 5-0 football team to play for the conference title after coming out with such strict regulations for their return to play.
Now we have an issue. The No. 3 seed in the College Football Playoff has played five fewer games than the other three teams in the field and has a clear advantage when it comes to wear and tear. It won’t matter as Clemson should bomb Ohio State but the Buckeyes are in and there’s nothing anyone can do about it. Sorry, Texas A&M.
Conferences and programs were extremely flexible throughout the 2020 season as teams dealt with COVID-19 outbreaks and shuffled their schedules on the fly. Why couldn’t they extend that flexibility to the CFB Playoff this year and expand the field to eight teams? It makes sense, especially with the differences in games played and the fact that Group of Five teams, for the most part, weren't able to play big out-of-conference games against Power Five opponents.
Here’s what I would have liked to have seen this year:
No. 8 Ohio State vs No. 1 Alabama
No. 5 Oklahoma vs. No. 4 Texas A&M
No. 7 Florida vs. No. 2 Clemson
No. 6 Cincinnati vs. No. 3 Notre Dame
Ohio State only played six games. Let the Buckeyes be the eighth seed and make their path to a championship games against Alabama, the winner of Oklahoma-Texas A&M and then, most likely, Clemson. Let’s watch Florida and Clemson in a shootout. Let’s see if the Aggies are for real against a surging Oklahoma team.
Sure this may set up some rematches like Clemson and Notre Dame or Alabama and Texas A&M but it’s better than leaving the Aggies out altogether for the Buckeyes.
I know this won’t happen, but it’s pretty cool, right?
2. REVISITING THE 2017 FIVE-STARS
This weekend, as I watched Alabama running back Najee Harris toy with the Florida defense, I couldn't help but think back to the class of 2017. I wondered how many more elite five-stars from that class still remained in college football and how many have already moved on to the NFL. Harris was the No. 1 prospect in the country that year and his career speaks for itself, but look at some of the others. It’s a great group.
No. 2 DT Marvin Wilson, Florida State — Wilson didn’t have an exceptional season but he’s had a solid career and some have him with a first-round grade.
No. 3 RB Cam Akers, Florida State — Akers is already the starting running back for the Los Angeles Rams.
No. 4 OT Alex Leatherwood, Alabama — The Alabama left tackle will certainly be a first-rounder in April.
No. 6 DE Jaelen Phillips, Miami — After starting his career at UCLA and medically retiring he came back at Miami and now has first round potential.
No. 7 OT Walker Little, Stanford — Little has been great except when banged up and will at the latest be a second-rounder in April.
No. 8 DE Chase Young, Ohio State — Young was the No. 2 overall pick in the NFL Draft last year and is already an NFL star.
No. 12 WR Donovan Peoples-Jones, Michigan — His career at Michigan was average but he’s making some noise with the Browns in the NFL.
No. 13 DB AJ Terrell, Clemson — Terrell was a first-rounder in the NFL Draft like we projected out of high school.
No. 15 WR Tee Higgins, Clemson — Higgins slid to the second round of the draft and is already the top receiving option for the Cincinnati Bengals.
No. 16 DB Jeffrey Okudah, Ohio State — Okudah was drafted No. 3 overall by the Detroit Lions.
No. 17 OT Isaiah Wilson, Georgia — Wilson was a late first-rounder for the Tennessee Titans last April.
No. 19 WR Jerry Jeudy, Alabama — Jeudy was a first-rounder for Denver last April.
No. 22 OL Wyatt Davis, Ohio State — Davis has first round potential.
No. 24 DB Shaun Wade, Ohio State — Wade has struggled a bit but should be a second-rounder in April.
No. 25 OT Jedrick Wills, Alabama — Willis was a top-10 pick last April for the Browns.
No. 28 ATH Jacoby Stevens, LSU — Stevens is a do-everything guy at LSU and should be a second-rounder this April.
No. 29 LB Jacob Phillips, LSU — Phillips was drafted in the third round last April by the Browns.
No. 30 DE A.J. Epenesa, Iowa — Epenesa was a second-rounder for the Bills last April.
No. 32 LB Dylan Moses, Alabama — Moses has a chance to be a first-rounder next year in a weak linebacker class.
No. 33 WR Trevon Grimes, Florida — Grimes started off at Ohio State and is now doing serious damage for Florida.
No. 34 DT Tyler Shelvin, LSU — Shelvin won a national title and opted out of this season but should be drafted in the second or third round.
3. RANKING THE BEST CLASSES BY POSITION GROUP
Finally, now that the Early Signing Period is over, let’s take a look at which programs signed the best classes by position groups. We will start with the offense.
1. Oklahoma — Multiple quarterbacks in a class are rare so the Sooners lead the way with Caleb Williams who is the highest-ranked signal caller in the country.
2. USC — I like the combination of Jaxson Dart and Miller Moss. They will push each other for the Trojans.
3. Georgia — Brock Vandagriff has a great future ahead of him as long as Kirby Smart plays the quarterback room a bit better.
4. Oregon — Ty Thompson has the highest ceiling of any quarterback in this class. His floor is lower as well, but he could be great.
5. Washington — Sam Huard reminds me a bit of Tua Tagovailoa. He could put up monster numbers.
1. Ohio State — Evan Pryor and TreVeyon Henderson are an amazing 1-2 punch in this class and will keep the running game going at Ohio State.
2. Clemson — Will Shipley is the nation’s top all-purpose back and Phil Mafah doesn’t get enough attention.
3. LSU — Corey Kiner is elite from the Midwest and the addition of versatile Armoni Goodwin is key. Will the Tigers add Logan Diggs to the mix?
4. Tennessee — The Vols did a good job at running back with Cody Brown and Jaylen Wright each bringing different things to the table.
5. Michigan — Tavierre Dunlap was a nice get in this class and then Donovan Edwards took it to the next level.
1. Alabama — Jacorey Brooks, Christian Leary or Agiye Hall could be the next great one from Florida and stealing JoJo Earle from LSU late is almost unfair.
2. Oregon — Troy Franklin is a home run hitter and they have good size from all over the country in this class.
3. Ohio State — Emeka Egbuka is the best receiver in the country and Marvin Harrison Jr. has those bloodlines.
4. Clemson — Beaux Collins and Troy Stellato will keep the receiving tradition at Clemson alive and well.
5. Oklahoma — Mario Williams is a great grab from Florida and keep an eye on Jalil Farooq as a down-the-road development guy.
1. Oregon — Two four-star tight ends for Mario Cristobal in Maliki Matavao and Terrance Ferguson makes for an amazing combination.
2. Nebraska — Thomas Fidone is the top tight end in the country and James Carnie shouldn’t be overlooked.
3. Florida — Kyle Pitts will bring tight ends to Florida and Gage Wilcox and Nick Elksnis are both well-rounded.
4. Ole Miss — Hudson Wolfe is an elite talent and a great steal for Lane Kiffin from Tennessee.
5. USC — Michael Trigg could be awesome and Lake McRree is a steal from Texas.
1. Alabama — This Alabama offensive line class led by JC Latham and Tommy Brockermeyer could be one of the best all-time on paper.
2. Georgia — Does anyone recruit offensive linemen better than Kirby Smart? He’s hit a home run in each class and Amarius Mims leads the way this year.
3. Ohio State — The rich get richer as Donovan Jackson is elite and they have two very good tackles as well.
4. Texas A&M — Bryce Foster is the key to this class but Reuben Fatherlee II and others shouldn’t be overlooked. This is deep.
T-5. Notre Dame, Oregon — Blake Fisher highlights Notre Dame’s class while Kingsley Suamataia leads the way for Oregon. These are both very deep classes.