Three-Point Stance: No. 1 class, first-year coaches, recent commits
Rivals national recruiting director Adam Gorney has thoughts on whether a Midwest program can win the team recruiting title for the first time in company history, on unsubstantiated concern over first-year SEC coaches and their recruiting ability and on five weekend commits in today’s Three-Point Stance.
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1. A MIDWEST TEAM COULD WIN IT
SEC programs, especially Alabama and Georgia, have dominated the team recruiting rankings and have by far the majority of No. 1 classes in Rivals’ history since 2002. USC has put up a good fight with five recruiting titles but it isn’t even close as SEC programs have run the show with top-ranked classes.
This year could prove different as Notre Dame currently has the No. 1 overall class and Ohio State is second with Alabama, Texas and Georgia rounding out the top five. No Midwest program has ever won the team recruiting title and now two programs from that area in the country lead the team recruiting rankings heading into the season - and staving off a big run by the Crimson Tide recently.
The summer has been extremely productive for Alabama with 15 of 18 commitments in the class coming from June 20 to present day.
This gets extremely interesting, though, with Notre Dame as the Irish are hanging on to five-star defensive end Keon Keeley, who is being targeted by Alabama, and then high four-stars Brenan Vernon, Drayk Bowen, Christian Gray and others lead the way.
Ohio State has the highest average star ranking in the country as the Buckeyes are led by five-star receivers Carnell Tate and Brandon Inniss along with high four-stars Luke Montgomery and Jason Moore.
History is not on Notre Dame’s or Ohio State’s side. SEC schools will inevitably load up. But the Irish and the Buckeyes are battling hard and have impressed so far.
2. UNFOUNDED CONCERN OVER NEW COACHES
Brian Kelly has more wins than Knute Rockne had at Notre Dame, yet there is a segment of the LSU fan base and the media that could have a quick trigger on Kelly in Baton Rouge and stories have been written asking how long Kelly has to get the Tigers to the playoff.
Florida fans are a nervous bunch to begin with but the lukewarm reception to Billy Napier prompted him to write a letter to the Gators faithful that everything was on plan and the vision was intact. An excellent summer of recruiting has soothed some concerns. Napier’s 40-12 record and reputation for being as thorough a coach as anyone out there still has some with guarded optimism heading into the season.
The Tigers and the Gators have been recruiting really well this summer which might further calm some unfounded fears at this point. Big wins for LSU should have the fans in Baton Rouge excited as a bunch of elite defensive ends are now on board and a lethal duo at wide receiver in Shelton Sampson and Jalen Brown. Four-star RB Kaleb Jackson is a truck.
At Florida, the Gators flipped four-star DL Isaiah Nixon from UCF, got four-star DB Sharif Denson on board although Alabama is trying to flip him, secured four-star Treyaun Webb, flipped QB Marcus Stokes from Penn State and then went on a stellar run late in the month getting offensive weapons and defensive standouts. All but two of Florida’s commits are in-state prospects, the others are from Georgia as Napier and his staff try to win local battles.
There is already consternation about Kelly and Napier. Maybe it’s just the offseason and not much to talk about in those college towns. I just don’t get it. LSU and Florida upgraded and the results should show up soon.
3. THOUGHTS ON FIVE RECENT COMMITS
Arvell Reese, Ohio State - Last season was the first time Reese played linebacker and he only was in a handful of games but the new Ohio State commit is someone who will be discussed as a four-star prospect. He has outstanding athletic ability, he’s fast and covers ground and I don’t see any reason why he wasn’t in the four-star discussion already. Maybe it’s because Reese hasn’t played many games at his projected position and Cleveland (Ohio) Glenville does line up in some funky defensive formations but as an outside linebacker or a possible edge rusher down the line, Reese makes a huge impact on the field.
Shelton Sampson, LSU - This was not unexpected but it’s still a big win for coach Brian Kelly and his staff because Florida State and others were putting on significant pressure down the stretch. At one time, the Baton Rouge (La.) Catholic receiver was a five-star prospect and that conversation is not over, Sampson just needs to be seen more and be seen dominating regularly. He has all the physical tools and if anyone can get his full potential out, it could be Kelly and his coaches.
Braylan Shelby, USC - This is a huge recruiting victory for USC because, quite honestly, under the Clay Helton regime this was basically never going to happen. Shelby is one of the best-looking outside linebacker/edge rushers in this class and the Trojans beating Texas for an in-state prospect makes a big statement.
Dylan Edwards, Notre Dame - The question of whether Edwards could be Deuce Vaughn 2.0 at Kansas State now won’t be answered but the high three-star who was very good at Future 50 will bring similar attributes to Notre Dame’s offense. The Derby, Kan., standout is not big but that might be one of his best attributes since he’s so difficult to tackle, to chase down and to catch in the open field. That type of explosiveness is what Notre Dame - and Kansas State, frankly - needs in the offense.
Derion Gullette, Texas - Here’s what I love about Gullette - he’s played multiple sports and brings that athletic ability from basketball and track to the football field where he mixes it with physical dominance and aggression. As a future edge rusher or outside linebacker, the Teague, Texas standout is just itching to make a difference each time he’s on the field and he has natural abilities not many others have in the class.