Three-Point Stance: Low-key programs, 2021 NFL Draft, commits
National Recruiting Director Mike Farrell’s Three-Point Stance is here with a look at some under-the-radar programs recruiting well, the top 10 2021 NFL Draft prospects in order and a recap of some big recent commitments.
FACT OR FICTION: Will Shipley is the next Christian McCaffrey
CLASS OF 2021 RANKINGS: Rivals250 | Position | Team | State
CLASS OF 2022: Top 100
1. PROGRAMS LANDING UNDER-THE-RADAR KEY PROSPECTS
We all know that Ohio State, Clemson, LSU and other high-profile programs are recruiting well. The big boys will eat. We get it. Even a program like Tennessee, which is rebuilding, is expected to recruit well. But what about programs landing some key players without the national attention. Don’t they deserve love, too? Here are a few of them.
Boston College — Jeff Hafley is doing a solid job at Boston College as he tries to overcome some average recruiting of the previous regime. The Eagles won’t finish in the top 25 in recruiting but they should have a solid class that could place in the top 35, led by long DB commit Jalen Cheek.
Iowa — I’m going to continue to pump up the Iowa recruiting efforts because the Hawkeyes are doing a very good job and continue to add talent. With 15 commitments and not a two-star in the mix, Kirk Ferentz is doing one of his best jobs ever.
Minnesota — PJ Fleck can recruit and we are learning how well this year. He’s doing well at home but also landing key players like DB Steven Ortiz from Arizona and WR Lemeke Brockington from Georgia. A top-10 class at this stage is impressive.
Wisconsin — The Wisconsin recruiting approach doesn’t change much from year to year as Paul Chryst targets high profile players but also finds great fits. In-state recruiting has been very good and the linebackers are talented, including a huge get from Florida in Jake Chaney.
Maryland — Mike Locksley is a great recruiter and has taken things to the next level for the Terps in recruiting. The last two commitments have been in-state four-stars many programs wanted. That’s key.
Cincinnati — The Group of Five never gets enough love in recruiting and Luke Fickell has it going at Cincinnati. Eleven of the 13 commitments in the Bearcats' class are three-stars. That’s very solid.
Rutgers — Greg Schiano was the perfect choice for a second run at Rutgers and he’s doing a solid job in-state. There is an uptick in talent in this class so far from the last few years.
Virginia — Bronco Mendenhall has been known as a coach who finds and develops talent and his national recruiting approach is paying off, led by West Coast end Josh McCarron.
Michigan State — Mel Tucker is on a roll after his late move from Colorado to Michigan State and I like what the Spartans are doing. Charles Brantley, the latest commitment from Florida, is the best so far and all 10 commits are three-stars or better.
Missouri — I’ve said a few times I like what Eli Drinkwitz is doing so far at Missouri and the in-state recruiting has been good, led by Travion Ford. Taj Butts is a sleeper in this class.
2. EARLY TOP 10 FOR THE 2021 NFL DRAFT
The NFL Draft has come and gone and we named some players to watch for the 2021 draft already. But what about the order? Do I have Justin Fields ahead of Trevor Lawrence? Here’s my early, early top 10 in order.
QB Trevor Lawrence, Clemson — Lawrence is ahead of everyone else in this class. He’s No. 1 and will go No. 1.
QB Justin Fields, Ohio State — This is clearly a year where QBs will go 1-2 and both will have a magnificent career in the NFL.
OL Penei Sewell, Oregon — Sewell would have gone No. 1 at OL In this draft and he’s so good that there will be some who rank him ahead of the QBs based on overall talent.
LB Micah Parsons, Penn State — Parsons is a do-everything linebacker with size who can blitz and get after the quarterback. Simply put, he’s this year’s Isaiah Simmons.
WR Ja’Marr Chase, LSU — Chase is the lead dog in another very good receiving class and would have been first or second off the board at the position this year.
DE Greg Rousseau, Miami — It’s not an elite year for pass rushers so Rousseau will be in demand, especially if he continues to fill out and get stronger.
WR Jaylen Waddle, Alabama — Waddle or Chase? Or Devonta Smith? Or someone else. I like this wide receiver class a lot.
CB Patrick Surtain, Alabama — This is also a very good year at cornerback but Surtain will hold off Shaun Wade as No 1.
DT Marvin Wilson, Florida State — Is this high for Wilson? To me he’s the best DT in the draft and is so active and good in pursuit, he’ll go in the top 10.
RB Najee Harris, Alabama — Harris is in competition with Chuba Hubbard and Travis Etinenne for top running back honors but his size and speed and receiving skills will make him the top back.
3. RECENT COMMITMENTS AND THE PROGRAMS THEY STUNG MOST
And finally, some big recent commitments to talk about including the team it hurt the most.
RB Will Shipley, Clemson — Shipley is the top all-purpose back in the country for a reason and he should be dynamic in the Clemson offense. This hurts Notre Dame the most as they had a real shot at stealing him.
DB Phillip Riley, Notre Dame — Riley is a Florida transplant but it’s still a big deal to land him from the Sunshine State. He’s long with a high ceiling as a corner but could also play safety. Washington gets bit on this one as Riley is from that state and the Huskies wanted him.
DT Victory Vaka, Texas A&M - The big lineman from California is a nice get for Jimbo Fisher as he continues to recruit well nationally. It’s hard to say who this hurts but probably Oregon as they were the west coast team he liked the best.
QB Garrett Nussmeier, LSU — The Texas gunslinger is a great addition for LSU and will keep the Tigers' quarterback room loaded with depth and talent down the line. Miami gets stung a bit here as he really liked the ‘Canes coaches.
RB Cody Brown, Tennessee — Brown is a powerful and shifty running back commitment who could also bounce things outside and outrun you. Georgia wanted him as one of two backs in this class, so it’s huge for the Vols to go into the Peach State and land him.
DT Marcus Bradley, Maryland — Bradley pulled the head fake not including the Terps in his final three, but many saw through that. The athletic defensive tackle is a huge get for the Terps as a mobile pass rusher from the interior. Tennessee coveted him, so this hurts them a bit.