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Three-Point Stance: Hot teams in 2020 recruiting, intriguing QBs

CLASS OF 2020 RANKINGS: Rivals250 | State | Position | Team

Rivals.com National Recruiting Director Mike Farrell’s thought-provoking Three-Point Stance is here with some surprising teams to start 2020, the 10 most intriguing quarterbacks for next season and thoughts on what the heck is going on in Los Angeles.

MORE FARRELL: Five NFL prospects that could be busts


1. Five surprise teams in recruiting

Marcus Harper
Marcus Harper (Rivals.com)

As usual, some teams you wouldn’t expect are off to strong starts early in the recruiting cycle. Here are five that stand out to me.

IllinoisLovie Smith is getting the job done and while the Illini only have three commitments, two of them being four-stars is astonishing in some ways. Running back Reggie Love and wide receiver Jadon Thompson believe in the direction of the program and offensive lineman Marcus Harper is a mauler.

North Carolina – How about that Mack Brown? We knew he could recruit, especially considering the job he did at Texas, but he’s really doing one of his best jobs already at UNC. This program was a disaster last year on the field, so to have eight early commitments led by four-stars Joshua Downs, Ray Grier, Ethan West and Cameron Roseman-Sinclair is very impressive.

Iowa – Haven’t heard much about Iowa recruiting? That’s okay, it’s kind of how the Hawkeyes roll. It’s like the product on the field – it’s not flashy but it gets the job done and with eight commitments and all of them rated as three-stars, that’s a great start for the Hawkeyes. Quarterback Deuce Hogan is the best of the bunch early and that’s a good sign.

Georgia Tech – I like what Geoff Collins is doing so far for the Jackets. DB Miles Brooks from Florida is the headliner and a great commitment for Georgia Tech, but it also landed some nice fits in Jalen Huff, Billy Ward and Tucker Gleason. As hot as UGA is in recruiting, it’s important that Georgia Tech steps it up a bit in the Southeast and so far it is doing just that.

NC State – Wide receiver Porter Rooks is the headliner but there is other talent in here especially defensive tackle Jaylen Smith and quarterback Ben Finley, the younger brother of Ryan Finley. With UNC stepping up, NC State has to do the same and it is so far.

2. Farrell's intriguing QBs

Tate Martell
Tate Martell (Scott Stuart/BuckeyeGrove)

My most intriguing quarterbacks I’m excited to see next season:

1. Tate Martell, Miami – Why Martell at No. 1? Because I’ve been waiting to see him run a college offense forever and I can’t wait to see how his skills translate. He was so fun to watch in high school; he’ll be the same way in college.

2. Justin Fields, Ohio State – Fields is replacing Martell, so to speak, at Ohio State, but is really filling the shoes of Dwayne Haskins, which is tough. But this is a talented kid who can do big things in his first year if Ryan Day lets him loose.

3. Shea Patterson, Michigan – This will be Patterson’s second year in the Michigan offense and it’s expected to be up-tempo, which plays to his strengths. He could have a huge year.

4. Trevor Lawrence, Clemson – We already know how great he is and no sophomore slump is expected, but can he take it to yet another level? He can, and he’s my Heisman pick.

5. Sam Ehlinger, Texas – Leadership is key and Ehlinger is a great leader, but he’s also a terrific talent. The Big 12’s Tim Tebow this year? He could be.

6. Tua Tagovailoa, Alabama – Can Tagovailoa shake off the rough championship game and get back to the near perfection he showed all last season? He can and he’ll have Bama back in the playoff.

7. Jalen Hurts, Oklahoma – Hurts is not the passer that Kyler Murray is, but he can run and keep defenses off-balance. He’s replacing back-to-back Heisman winners so the pressure is on, but Oklahoma is still the team to beat in the Big 12.

8. Adrian Martinez, Nebraska – He matured so much last year, it was fun to watch. I think he takes a huge step forward this season. By his junior year he’ll be one of the best quarterbacks in the country and this year he’ll be one of the tops in the Big Ten.

9. JT Daniels, USC – His freshman year was up and down, but with a new offense that will play to his strengths, he can have a huge season and get USC back to winning. The question is – can he save Clay Helton’s job?

10. Feleipe Franks, Florida – Can he take Florida to the next level offensively? Can he hold onto his job? It’s boom or bust for Franks, which is always interesting. No Jake Fromm on my list? Nah, I’d rather see guys like Franks where you just don’t know what you’re going to get.

11. Kellen Mond, Texas A&M – Can Mond become a Heisman candidate at A&M under Jimbo Fisher and take a huge next step or will he continue to be great one game and struggle the next?

12. Justin Herbert, Oregon – He could have been the No. 1 pick in this year’s draft, so big things are expected and he has a ton of talent around him.

3. What the heck, L.A.?

Adarius Pickett (left) and Clay Helton (far right)
Adarius Pickett (left) and Clay Helton (far right) (AP Images)

So what’s going on in L.A.? LeBron James can’t make the playoffs, Magic Johnson is giving up and USC and UCLA are dumpster fires. Obviously my focus is on the college programs and someone asked me a very interesting question this week. Which program, USC or UCLA, is in worse shape?

I’m only including football and basketball for my answer because that’s what pays the bills and trust me, it’s a tough call. Now I’m no basketball expert, so I’ll give my uneducated synopsis of the two programs quickly. USC went 16-17 last year in hoops and 8-10 in conference, far from its projected No. 5 finish in the conference. UCLA disappointed even more with a 17-16 record and 9-9 in conference record after being in most of the media’s pre-season Top 25. Most casual college basketball fans don’t know who USC head coach Andy Enfield is and his tenure has been average at the very best. However, everyone knows who Steve Alford is and the fact that he was the first UCLA head coach fired during the season speaks volumes about the different expectations and the disappointment this season for the Bruins.

The bottom line in hoops – UCLA is supposed to be a national power and USC is supposed to be good here and there. Add in the fact that around five or six coaches turned down the UCLA job recently, a job that used to be one of the most coveted in college basketball, and the UCLA hoops program gets the nod over USC when it comes to national embarrassment.

Moving to football, it’s the opposite.

USC is expected to be a national power every year and UCLA is expected to push every few years in the Pac-12. So for USC to go 5-7 this past season and miss a bowl game with all that talent is an absolute joke. Clay Helton probably should have been fired and will be this year if USC doesn’t win its division and return to national prominence.

At UCLA, Chip Kelly took over a bad program and went 3-9 last season with some embarrassing losses. What’s worse is that UCLA recruiting appears to be at a low that it hasn’t seen in years. However, that doesn’t compare to the embarrassment of USC football finishing No. 19 in the country in football recruiting for 2019 and out of the bowl picture. That is hard to fathom.

So the bottom line is this – UCLA hoops is much more of a mess than USC hoops but USC football is a bigger embarrassment than UCLA football based on expectations and recent success. So which is the bigger dumpster fire? USC wins, but it's close. In the meantime, recruits continue to flock away from California and will do so until this is fixed.