Rivals.com National Recruiting Director Mike Farrell’s Three-Point Stance is here with a look at five underrated and five overrated recruiting classes, and a breakdown of the five biggest decommitments of the 2017 cycle.
1. FIVE CLASSES I'M HIGH ON
This week I’m going to give props to five programs that won’t end up as high in the Rivals.com Team Recruiting Rankings as they should and tick off five other programs that will end up with classes that are a bit overrated.
Let’s start with the props….
The reason these five programs will probably finish lower than expected is mainly because of small numbers in the class, but in some cases I just think they hit their needs moreso than some teams ahead of them.
1. Stanford – There are only a handful of classes that can match the quality of the Cardinal's class and it all starts with the trio on offense with bookend tackles Walker Little and Foster Sarell and quarterback Davis Mills. But the class is so much more than that with everything from an elite pass catching tight end in Colby Parkinson to elite and versatile athletes like Saiid Adebo and Sione Lund. This class will be small, but it could be key to Pac-12 titles.
2. Clemson – Clemson is probably 1A here with a franchise quarterback in Hunter Johnson (more below), an elite big receiver in Tee Higgins and a freaky long corner with speed in AJ Terrell. The Tigers addressed about as many needs as they could with small numbers.
3. UCLA – The Bruins had a horrible season on the field but they are bringing in some freaks in recruiting. Defensive end Jaelan Phillips would probably be No. 1 in the country overall if he didn’t have those rough and raw edges while Darnay Holmes could do what Adoree Jackson did for USC in all three phases of the game. There are also a ton of prospects that were borderline four-stars and could end up playing to that level if coached up. That’s a big 'if' based on what we saw this past season, but there is depth here.
4. Nebraska – The Huskers will likely finish outside the national top 20 barring a few surprises, but make no mistake: This class was vitally important out west. There are currently only three Husker commitments from Pac-12 country right now, but they are all massive names – Keyshawn Johnson Jr., Tristan Gebbia and especially Tyjon Lindsey – and even falling just short for some of the bigger names in California will help efforts next year and beyond. Throw in some key positional needs from around the country and you have one of the better Nebraska classes in recent years.
5. Baylor – Baylor was in ruins before Matt Rhule took over and now they are putting together a very respectable class with some true sleepers. The Bears have gone from pariah to putting together a class that will keep them competitive in the Big 12.
2. FIVE CLASSES I'M DOWN ON
And here are five teams that will likely finish in the Top 25, some in the Top 15, that I am not as high on for one reason or another….
1. Notre Dame – I’ve been critical of Notre Dame recruiting for the last few years because of some of the early takes that I felt were reaches. I’m not sure this class makes the defense much quicker, especially at linebacker, and I’m a bit concerned the Fighting Irish didn’t help themselves enough at quarterback. There are just a few too many holes at certain positions and a few head-scratchers in the class that aren’t Notre Dame level.
2. Tennessee – Some Vols fans will agree and others will freak out, but to me this class is a far cry from what we saw when Butch Jones started in Knoxville. Trey Smith was a huge in-state keep as was Maleik Gray, but too many others in-state slipped away. And I address the quarterback situation below. This was an elite, elite year in the state of Tennessee and too many guys left the state. The class lacks enough can’t-miss guys on defense.
3. Florida – The Gators have a high average star ranking and will obviously make a push into the top 15 or 20 before all is said and done, but I can’t remember the last time I compiled a final Rivals100 in mid-January with zero Gators in the upper half. The defensive side of the ball was strengthened, but I worry that they didn’t add enough speed at wide receiver and running back and might not have found the answer at quarterback. These are things Gators fans have been concerned about for years.
4. South Carolina – The Gamecocks could slide outside of the top 20 before all is said and done but a top 25 finish isn’t bad for a team that was a 3-9 disaster a season ago. However, losing Hamsah Nasirildeen to Florida State hurts as he is one of a very small handful of very elite athletes in the class. Some key areas were addressed, but the speed in this class tends to come in small packages and the size in many cases isn’t at the elite athletic level.
5. Texas – The Longhorns make this list because of my expectations when Tom Herman was hired. The Longhorns will close well enough to push near or into the top 15 and linebacker Gary Johnson is an instant-impact guy, but I expected a few more big-time guys to show interest down the stretch. I wasn’t expecting miracles, like a Marvin Wilson commitment, but maybe landing Houston five-star OT Walker Little or receiving more interest from some of the in-state top 15 was expected. It is very likely Texas will strike out on the top 10 in-state players for the first time ever. That’s not all on Herman of course, but still unexpected.
3. THE FIVE BIGGEST DECOMMITS IN THE 2017 CLASS
Who have been the biggest, seismic-level decommitments so far during the 2017 recruiting cycle? I’m not including former Baylor commitments for obvious reasons. Here they are….
1. QB Hunter Johnson from Tennessee to Clemson – The Vols need an elite quarterback badly, someone who can lead the offense and complete passes with consistent accuracy. Perhaps Jarrett Guarantano is that guy, but it sure would have been nice to have Johnson there to compete and push for the job. Instead, Clemson just adds another weapon to its arsenal.
2. DE Josh Kaindoh from Maryland to Florida State – The Terps needed Kaindoh as badly as any player in the country and the Seminoles just swooped in and stole him away. Florida State has hurt Maryland in the DMV area for years. The 'Noles just added another freak athlete to their defense while Maryland was hoping to build around the defensive end.
3. DT Aubrey Solomon from Michigan to ? – Michigan could get him back, so this one wouldn’t be a big deal if that happens, but if Jim Harbaugh loses Solomon after a mistaken snail mail incident and after wooing him with go-kart rides, it will hurt. Gap-shooting defensive tackles from the Southeast are hard to land in Big Ten country. Just ask Urban Meyer, who hasn’t done it yet.
4. WR Tyjon Lindsey from Ohio State to Nebraska – This should be higher right? It would be if Ohio State didn’t recruit at such a high level. I expect Ohio State will find a dynamic slot receiver in 2018 if they don’t land one down the stretch. That being said, the Buckeyes need wide receivers who can play that Curtis Samuel role in Meyer’s offense and Lindsey would have been a perfect fit. Losing him hurts.
5. LB Dylan Moses from LSU to Alabama – LSU fans won’t agree with this as most feel Moses is overrated (of course) and is closer to his ceiling than most other prospects since he burst on the scene so young. But losing a Baton Rouge linebacker, a key position of need, to Nick Saban hurts no matter what excuses are made.