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Three-Point Stance: Heisman contenders, top freshmen, recruiting boosts National Recruiting Director Mike Farrell’s thought-provoking Three-Point Stance is here with some thoughts on teams that have helped themselves in recruiting so far this season, his Farrell Freshman Five and his Heisman list after Week 4 of the college football season.

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I’ve always said that winning on the football field is the No. 1 recruiting draw to high school prospects, and that will probably never change. You can have the best facilities, put the most players in the NFL, have the best recruiters on staff and all of that jazz, but kids want a chance to be on a winner.

So, early this football season, here are five teams that have been impressive enough on the field to potentially see a recruiting boost when we head to crunch time for the 2018 class.

1. Oklahoma: You’ll notice a few schools not on this list that are highly ranked at first glance – mainly Alabama and USC – because those programs have either established themselves as recruiting juggernauts (Bama) or have an amazing in-state advantage (USC). Oklahoma is winning, they are playing true freshmen and remain the king of the Big 12 - and recruits will take even more notice as they continue to win.

2. Georgia: So why is Georgia on here with such an in-state recruiting advantage and being a juggernaut in recruiting (constant top-10 finishes)? Because they haven’t won it all in forever, and the play on the field this year and this staff has kids believing they will soon enough. Like Oklahoma, true freshmen are all over the field.

3. Penn State: Some, like myself, felt last season might have been a bit of a fluke for Penn State, but so far it clearly hasn’t been. How can a team that has had two five-star decommitments be on this list? Because James Franklin is one of the best head coaching recruiters around and Penn State is a hot commodity able to compete with Ohio State, Michigan and others.

4. Clemson: Clemson’s recruiting has taken off in the last many years, but the national title and now a great start to 2018 with a clear shot at winning the ACC again will bring even more talent. They will reap the benefits more in the 2019 class than most on this list.

5. Michigan: Jim Harbaugh can’t replace all those starters, right? No way he can compete for the Big Ten and a playoff berth, right? There’s not a defensive player being recruited by Michigan right now who isn’t at least considering them, that’s how impressive they have looked with a young group on that side of the ball. Player development is off the charts.


Clemson RB Travis Etienne
Clemson RB Travis Etienne (AP Images)

It’s time for my Farrell Freshman Five again, the best true freshmen I saw this week. Keep in mind that I didn’t see every game or every play, but these are the players that stood out to me…

1. Travis Etienne, Clemson: Nine carries for 113 yards and two scores and averaging an amazing 12.7 yards per carry, Etienne impressed in Clemson's win over Boston College last weekend.

2. Kellen Mond, Texas A&M: He had a long touchdown run stolen from him, he threw the game-winning pass in overtime, and he’s starting to feel much more comfortable in the pocket. His accuracy is still an issue, but that will come with time.

3. Jake Fromm, Georgia: He only threw 12 passes but had two touchdowns and managed the game nicely in a huge win. He’s made it impossible for Jacob Eason to replace him upon his return, at least if he continues to play like this.

4. Stephen Carr, USC: He didn’t have his best game, but I’ve ignored him so far and that’s on me. He’s been arguably the best freshman running back in the nation from game one and is a great complement to Ronald Jones II.

5. Morgan Ellison, Indiana: Who? A steal out of Ohio, that’s who. Georgia Southern isn’t great at all, but 186 yards and two scores while leading his team in rushing already is a nice start.


Baker Mayfield
Baker Mayfield (AP Images)

My Week 4 Heisman list looks very different from Week 2 as players box out for position. Here’s how it stands…

1. Baker Mayfield, Oklahoma (last week No. 1): It wasn’t his biggest game, but he still threw for three scores and he hasn’t thrown a pick all season. He’s still my No. 1, but its close.

2. Saquon Barkley, Penn State (last week No. 2): He’s on pace to break Christian McCaffrey’s record for all-purpose yards, but even when McCaffrey broke that record he didn’t win it. That shows how hard it is for a running back to win it, but 2,000 yards and 1,000 receiving is certainly possible, and that would do it, right?

3. Sam Darnold, USC (last week No. 7): Darnold threw another pick and now has seven on the season against nine touchdowns, but he is still completing 67 percent of his passes and makes a few plays that make you shake your head.

4. Josh Rosen, UCLA (last week NR): With how horrible his team is, Rosen won’t come close to winning, but he leads the country in passing yards and touchdown passes and is pretty much the only weapon UCLA has.

5. Lamar Jackson, Louisville (last week No. 3): Jackson threw two picks and was held in check on the ground against Kent State, so he’s slipping.

6. Christian Wilkins, Clemson (last week No. 6): The stats won’t impress you on paper, but he’s still the most dominant defensive player in the country. Just ask opposing offenses.

7. Mason Rudolph, Oklahoma State (last week No. 2): His two interceptions and one fumble game in the loss to TCU kill his chances unless they run the table and he puts up monster numbers in every game.

8. Rashaad Penny, San Diego State (last week NR): The Aztecs will make a New Year's Six Bowl game and Penny will end up leading the nation in rushing, just watch. But he won’t come close to winning it either.

Fell off: Royce Freeman, Oregon, Jalen Hurts, Alabama