Three-Point Stance: Early starts, under-the-radar stars, odds and ends
Rivals.com National Recruiting Director Mike Farrell’s three point stance is here with some teams helping and hurting themselves in recruit with the start to their season, some college football players who don’t get the recognition they deserve and some recruiting odds and ends.
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1. WHOSE START IS HELPING OR HURTING RECRUITING?
Don’t think that a good start or a rough start to the season can help or hurt recruiting? You’re wrong. Well, at least when it comes to my subjective thinking. After all, the best recruiting tool is winning and the best repellent is losing. These teams are helping and hurting themselves so far and it’s showing. These aren’t the blue bloods like Clemson and Alabama I’m talking about….
North Carolina – I can’t remember the last time North Carolina was involved or being mentioned by so many highly rated players not only in-state but up and down the East Coast as well as in spots around the country. Mack Brown is a great recruiter and two early wins will only help his efforts.
Virginia – What? The Hoos have a bunch of two-stars in their class, but they also have three elite players from Louisiana and are starting to make some headway in state as they continue to win. I don’t expect them to recruit to the level they did under Al Groh or Mike London, but the new staff apparently doesn’t need to. They develop players so well.
Iowa – The Hawkeyes rely on winning to draw attention from recruits because they don’t have a great home base for talent and compete in some very hard areas for recruits.
Arizona State – Herm Edwards can’t coach college football. Herm Edwards is too far removed to recruit good players to Arizona State. Remember all these comments, some of them by me? Well with the Pac-12 wide open these days, Edwards is starting to see more interest from recruits and the fast start is only helping.
Oklahoma State – The Cowboys will never out recruit Oklahoma and are in a tough spot with Texas, LSU, Texas A&M and the Sooners recruiting so well, but the Pokes continue to win and do a great job evaluating talent. The fast start will help even if they don’t finish with a top-25 class.
Illinois – Lovie Smith is on the hot seat and the start has not been a good one for Illinois. Recruiting hasn’t been bad at all the last couple of years but if this season continues this way recruiting will take a hit. There are only eight commits in this class and a wait-and-see approach has begun it seems when it comes to recruits willing to jump on board.
UCLA – The Bruins are an absolute disaster and even if they were recruiting the biggest names out west, it wouldn’t be going well. But oddly, Chip Kelly continues to recruit solid players but isn’t in the mix for the big boys and that won’t change with an 0-3 start.
Tennessee – The Vols are still involved with some big names, but interest is falling off a bit when it comes to some of the top players (e.g. Rakim Jarrett and Arik Gilbert) after an awful start. The ship needs to be righted and quick.
2. UNDER-THE-RADAR STARS
Tua Tagovaiola, Jalen Hurts, Trevor Lawrence, Jerry Jeudy, Jonathan Taylor and others. These are the guys that get all the national attention. But what about players who are outstanding that don’t get the national attention they deserve. Here are some names you should know…
RB Chuba Hubbard, Oklahoma State – Haven’t heard of Hubbard? You will. The former four-star athlete out of high school is off to a great start this season with 521 yards through three games with seven touchdowns and could break out nationally this weekend against Texas. He’s a stud and only a redshirt sophomore.
QB Anthony Gordon, Washington State – Mike Leach is a genius (more below) as Gordon wasn’t ranked out of high school or JUCO and yet is already a star in his first year as a starter replacing Gardner Minshew. He’s already thrown for 1,324 yards and 12 touchdowns with only two picks and could be the best quarterback in the country you’ve never heard of.
WR Justin Jefferson, LSU – Oooops, Jefferson was a late addition to the 2017 class and only a two-star mainly because he fell off the radar due to academic issues and many schools backing off. But after 875 yards and six scores last year he already has 374 yards and four scores in three games this season. A throw-in in the 2017 class has turned into a star.
RB Zack Moss, Utah – I remember Moss well out of high school because he was a standout at one of our camps and was a former Miami commitment who ended up all the way out in Utah as a mid-level three star. After a good season last year that ended in injury, Moss is on his way to his third straight 1,000-yard season for the Utes with 373 yards and four touchdowns in three games.
LB Evan Weaver, Cal – Weaver, a mid-level three-star out of high school, has been the leader of the Cal defense and a big reason why the Bears are undefeated so far this season. Simply put, he’s been a tackling machine.
DE Curtis Weaver, Boise State – No relation here, but Weaver has been a beast. Coming out of high school as a low three-star, he has grown into one of the best pass rushers in the country with seven sacks through three games.
DE Kenny Willekes, Michigan State – It seems Willekes has been around forever and he’s been very good for years. He’s the backbone of the Michigan State defense and already has six tackles for a loss and 3.5 sacks through three games. Another walk-on gaining success at Michigan State.
3. RECRUITING ODDS AND ENDS
Some recruiting odds and ends...
... Why wouldn’t a quarterback look at Washington State as long as Leach is there? Anthony Gordon is lighting it up, Gardner Minshew is the love child of the NFL, Luke Falk is now starting for the NY Jets, Kliff Kingsbury and his offense is off to a pretty good start with the Arizona Cardinals, Graham Harrell is the offensive coordinator at USC and Sonny Cumbie is the offensive coordinator at TCU. None of these quarterbacks were big-time recruits coming out of high school except for Harrell, so maybe Leach doesn’t want big names interested in his program. But can you imagine what he could do with a five-star? It’s scary to think about.
... Offensive tackle Aaryn Parks may be committed by the time you read this and it’s most likely going to be Oklahoma over North Carolina and Alabama for the former Penn State commitment. Why? Bill Bedenbaugh is one of the best recruiters and developers of offensive line talent in the country and everyone knows it. In fact, I’d put him up there with Sam Pittman at the top of the list in the country of offensive line coaches that just make recruits want to play for them. If Parks does indeed pick Oklahoma, that will be linemen from Texas, Oklahoma, Maryland, Washington D.C. and Arizona in this class.
... Rico Powers, a four star from Atlanta, is the latest commitment for South Carolina and Will Muschamp has done a solid job recruiting especially considering the power of Clemson in his own state and how heavily recruited the southeast is. Powers joins fellow four-star wide receiver Michael Wyman as a guy who wants to catch passes from freshman quarterback Ryan Hiliniski who has the promise and potential to be a great one.
... Here's another example of how North Carolina is recruiting well: Virginia wide receiver KeAndre Lambert is deciding soon and is down to North Carolina and Penn State with Virginia Tech having an outside chance. Lambert is a four-star receiver and a kid who likely wouldn’t have looked at the Heels prior to Mack Brown arriving. If Virginia Tech loses out on this one, and not getting an official visit isn’t a good sign, it’s an example of how things have fallen in Blacksburg as Lambert is former Virginia Tech legend Kam Chancellor’s cousin and has a teammate committed to the Hokies.