Three-Point Stance: Sleepers, Texas' big run, five-stars on the bubble
Rivals.com National Recruiting Director Mike Farrell’s Three-Point Stance is here with thoughts on some sleeper teams in each Power Five conference, the Texas Longhorns' impressive recruiting run and a few five-stars with something to prove this season.
ASK FARRELL: What did we learn from Florida's win over Miami?
1. SLEEPER TEAMS IN EACH POWER FIVE CONFERENCE
OK, let’s jump into it. We know Clemson is expected to win the ACC, Alabama is the choice of many to win the SEC and so on. But what about a sleeper team in each Power Five conference to watch out for?
Big Ten – Nebraska – OK, I’m not buying into the Nebraska hype fully, as many have Adrian Martinez as a sleeper Heisman candidate and some even have the Huskers as a candidate to win the Big Ten West. I still think there are teams, especially Wisconsin, that should be deeper and better in the division but I do expect a big improvement in Scott Frost’s second season. Can they the Huskers live up to the hype of some that have them going 9-3? They are certainly the sleeper team to watch in the Big Ten.
SEC – Texas A&M – Quarterback Kellen Mond will dictate how well the Aggies do this season and he’s been up and down in his career. However, he had some of his best games against top teams last year and his ceiling is very high. Everyone expects Alabama and Georgia to face off in the SEC title game and most have LSU as a sleeper to mix things up, but I’m watching the Aggies.
ACC – Boston College – Clemson is going to win the ACC. But instead of Miami or Florida State, I’m looking at Boston College as a team that can have a big year. It would be safer to pick a team outside of the Tigers' division, but Boston College could surprise.
Pac-12 – Arizona State – I’ve seen people forecast Utah, Washington, Oregon and, yes, even USC to win the Pac-12, but keep an eye on Arizona State. Yes, this comes from the guy who was one of many making fun of the Herm Edwards hire, but this team has a bell cow in Eno Benjamin and a potential superstar in freshman quarterback Jayden Daniels.
Big 12 – Iowa State – Texas or Oklahoma will win the Big 12, right? Iowa State begs to differ, and with quarterback Brock Purdy at the helm you never know. I don’t see the Cyclones pulling off this big upset in the conference, but some people smarter than me think it could happen.
2. LONGHORNS ON AN IMPRESSIVE RECRUITING RUN
How impressive have Tom Herman and the Texas Longhorns been this summer? More impressive than Mack Brown ever was.
Huh? That’s certainly saying something when you consider Brown won a national title, went to another title game and consistently finished in the national top-10 in recruiting every year. However, Herman is doing it in a different way. Brown, who is a great recruiter and is showing that at North Carolina, held early junior days and was able to pick and choose from the top kids in the state, finishing the majority of his classes by June. Herman, meanwhile, is picking up big, meaningful commitments during the summer.
The summer is a very underrated time when it comes to competitive recruiting battles thanks in part to official visits being allowed earlier. More and more kids in Texas have a chance to see other programs before the season starts now, and with Lincoln Riley recruiting so well at Oklahoma and Jimbo Fisher and his recruiting prowess at Texas A&M, things are ultra competitive in the Lone Star State. Throw in Alabama, LSU, Ohio State and others that have come into the state and you have a very popular region for big-time recruiting.
Herman has landed in-state prospects Prince Dorbah, Jerrin Thompson, Princely Umanmielen, Quentin Johnson and Joshua Eaton all since July 4. But what’s even more impressive is Texas reeling in prospects from Florida, Arizona and Utah during this span, led by five star running back Bijan Robinson. Texas is ranked No. 6 in the nation now with a gaudy average star ranking and if the Longhorns continue to recruit at this clip, then Big 12 titles and possibly a national title could be in the cards.
3. FIVE-STARS WITH SOMETHING TO PROVE
Five-stars are five-stars, right? By that I mean they are elite prospects with little to prove heading into a senior year where they will likely dominate the competition as they look ahead to college. Wrong. There are many five-stars in this class that have something to prove to us to retain that status. Here are five off the top of my head…
DE Sav’ell Smalls – How could the No. 9 prospect in the country have something to prove? There is at least one analyst on the team, and I’m not naming names, who isn’t convinced of Smalls dominance and wants to see him be much more physical. He’s a versatile kid for sure, but can he take that next step of being powerful at the point of attack and all over the field? We'll see.
WR Rakim Jarrett – The talented wide receiver doesn’t have a ton of fans on the analyst team, but he had the votes needed to retain his spot at No. 17 in the country this past ranking. Some think he’s too small and others don’t think he’s explosive enough, so he needs a big year on the field to bring some additional votes to his side.
RB Kendall Milton – Milton is a big and talented back, but we want to see him take that next step when it comes to quickness and breakaway speed as there are some question marks there. He’s one I’m certainly keeping an eye on.
LB Mekhail Sherman – How will he rebound from injury? Sherman missed much of his junior year with a knee injury, so it will be key to see that he hasn’t lost a step, especially as a big linebacker who uses his speed in the open field and rushes the passer.
LB Antoine Sampah – Sampah, like Sherman, is coming off a knee injury and won’t be ready until game three as he had ACL surgery in January. He’s another big-time talent who relies on his ability to change direction and was a quick twitch athlete before surgery. Can he get all that back?