Three-Point Stance: Coach grades, instant impact classes
Rivals.com National Recruiting Director Mike Farrell’s Three-Point Stance is here grading how the new coaches did in with their first recruiting classes, some offensive instant impact candidates and five under-the-radar recruiting classes.
MORE: Which 2018 prospect will be an instant start as a freshman?
1. GRADING NEW COACHES
It’s always interesting to see how new head coaches do with transition years, when they take over a program with very limited time to put together a recruiting class. Here are my grades for each of the new Power Five coaches for the 2018 cycle.
Willie Taggart – A+ – It’s hard to put together a top 10 class in a transitional year and even harder to rise from the 70s all the way up to No. 10. Florida State closed very strong leading up to the traditional National Singing Day with prospects such as Malcolm Lamar, Anthony Grant, Tre'Shaun Harrison and others. We expected Taggart to be a good fit recruiting for FSU and he’s off to a great start.
Mario Cristobal – A – it was hit or miss on Signing Day for Oregon, but overall this is a class to be excited about. Losing out on Devon Williams hurt but landing Penei Sewell, Isaah Crocker, Jalen Hall and others really makes this a well-rounded and formidable class for Cristobal.
Scott Frost – A - We all know how hard it is to recruit to Nebraska because of geography, so watching Frost land players from Texas, Georgia, Florida, California and other key states was impressive. There is a good mix of developmental players and instant impact guys in this class that should add depth for years to come.
Jimbo Fisher – B+ – I expected Jimbo Fisher to close well during the traditional Signing Day and he did just that after a lackluster Early Signing Period. Bobby Brown, Jeremiah Martin, Leon O’Neal and many others made this a very solid transitional class and he would be in the A range had he pulled an upset for Jaylen Waddle.
Matt Luke – B+ – Signing Day wasn’t that exciting but the job Luke did putting this class together despite the NCAA sanctions is very impressive. Miles Battle, Elijah Moore, Demarcus Gregory and Matt Corral will improve the offense down the line and there is a lot of defensive help here as well.
Joe Moorhead – B – Mississippi State was busy on Signing Day, landing six players led by Aaron Brule, but what makes this a very good class was the work Moorhead did before that.
Jeremy Pruitt – B – Signing Day didn’t go that well, but this is a solid class with some instant impact players led by JJ Peterson, Greg Emerson and Alontae Taylor. I really like a lot of the defensive additions.
Dan Mullen – B – Signing Day was saved by huge commitments from Malik Langham and Jacob Copeland. Keeping Richard Gouraige was crucial for Florida. This class may ultimately judged by how quarterback Emory Jones pans out, but there are some other key additions here especially at the offensive skill positions.
Chip Kelly – B- – Kelly’s class might be ranked higher than many of the coaches ahead of him but it’s also much easier to recruit at UCLA than it is at many other programs. Adding Michael Ezeike was a big get down the stretch and quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson could be a star, but there were also some reaches in the class. It will be interesting to see if he can hang with USC in recruiting.
Herm Edwards – C+ – Edwards closed strong on this class during the traditional Signing Day landing players like Aashari Crosswell and Merlin Robertson. Frankly, Arizona State's top-40 ranking was higher than I expected, but a lot of the work was done by Antonio Pierce with his Southern Cal contacts. Can Edwards become a good recruiter at the college level? Time will tell and 2019 will be very telling.
Kevin Sumlin – C – A smaller class and a later start hurt Sumlin’s chances at a higher ranked class, but I still thought he’d be able to land some big names down the stretch and he didn’t. I still think he ends up recruiting better than Edwards by a large margin when he has a full year to put a class together, but his start hasn’t been great.
Chad Morris – C- – This isn’t a very sexy class for Arkansas fans with a lot of three-stars and very little star power overall. Morris has great ties to Texas, but can be pull some of the big names while keeping key players home?
Jonathan Smith – C- – Recruiting at Oregon State is the toughest job in the Pac-12 and Smith didn’t lure any massive names during his first go around. Time will tell if he’s a guy who can develop talent, which is key for the Beavers, and overcome the recruiting disadvantage.
2. OFFENSIVE INSTANT IMPACT CANDIDATES
Look for some of these offensive prospects to be instant impact guys in college football if they pick up the playbook properly.
QB Trevor Lawrence, Clemson – I don’t care what the quarterback situation is at Clemson, this kid could compete right away.
QB Emory Jones, Florida – I’m assuming his off week at Under Armour was an aberration and he’ll be competing from the start.
QB Justin Rogers, TCU – He’s a talented kid and a great fit for the offense.
RB Lorenzo Lingard, Miami – He’s an elite running back with the speed and size to handle college right away.
RB Zamir White, Georgia – D’Andre Swift is very good but White could be better from the start if he recovers from his ACL in time to hit his stride during the season.
RB Ricky Person, NC State – He could be a franchise guy from the start with his skillset.
WR C.J. Moore, Oklahoma State – I love his size and ball skills and he could be a perfect fit for the Pokes' offense if he adds some strength.
WR Amon-Ra St. Brown, USC – He’s too talented to sit and too talented to not make a major impact.
WR Justin Shorter, Penn State – His size and body control should make him an immediate impact guy.
WR Marquis Spiker, Washington – He could jump right in and become one of the dominant wide receivers in the Pac-12.
TE Brevin Jordan, Miami – His speed and ability to beat corners or safeties out of the slot should be utilized early and often.
TE Jeremy Ruckert, Ohio State – Urban Meyer loves him and the offense could change a bit to accommodate his abilities.
OL Jamaree Salyer, Georgia – He’s a rare plug-and-play lineman who could play any position if needed.
OL Brey Walker, Oklahoma – He’s huge and ready to impact if he can improve his feet just a little bit.
3. FIVE UNDER-THE-RADAR CLASSES I LIKE
Everyone pays attention to the top schools in the team rankings, but what about those not ranked in the top 10? Here are five under-the-radar classes that I like quite a bit.
Notre Dame – This is a huge class with a lot of depth. The defensive backs and linebackers are the strength, but there really isn’t a position of weakness aside from pure pass rushers.
Auburn – This class has a lot of players who can play multiple positions. The Tigers hit it big at positions like quarterback, running back, defensive back and along the defensive line.
Washington – The offense will only get better with this class and I like the linebacker group as well. This is more of an offensive class, but there are some talents on defense as well. There are a few future stars here led by Spiker.
South Carolina – The offensive line group leads the way for me but I like what the Gamecocks did along the defensive line and at defensive back as well. There is a marquee player at almost every position.
Virginia Tech – One of the better classes in recent years for Virginia Tech, this is a big class with a lot of depth. The defense is loaded and there are some athletic kids here that can impact at different positions. This is a very well balanced class.