Tuesdays with Gorney: Checking in on the first-year Power Five coaches
The recruiting dead period is here and after a flurry of commitments around the July 4 holiday, the pledges are should slow down in the coming days as well. In today’s Tuesdays with Gorney, Rivals national recruiting director Adam Gorney looks at the first-year Power Five coaches and ranks them in order of recruiting success so far:
MORE GORNEY: Five thoughts on the 2023 QB class
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Marcus Freeman, Notre Dame
Class rank: 1
Freeman is doing a phenomenal job loading up with top talent as the Irish currently have the No. 1 class in the country following the commitments of four-stars WR Rico Flores and DB Micah Bell in recent days. Notre Dame is also piling up elite offensive linemen with Charles Jagusah, Elijah Paige, Joe Otting, Sullivan Absher and Sam Pendleton in the class. After the SEC came calling hard for five-star DE Keon Keeley, the Tampa (Fla.) Berkeley Prep standout has stuck with the Irish. It looks like Notre Dame won’t get five-star QB Dante Moore or five-star WR Carnell Tate but this class is loaded. The addition of four-star DB Christian Gray on July 4 was another big win for the Irish.
Joey McGuire, Texas Tech
Class rank: 8
The new Texas Tech coach has leveraged a lot of long-standing relationships in the state to win recruiting battles and there’s no hiding that the focus is local prospects first. Twenty of 23 commitments are from the state of Texas and on July 4 the Red Raiders scored big again by landing high three-star receiver Kelby Valsin. Losing commitments from four-star DB Calvin Simpson-Hunt (Ohio State) and three-star RB LJ Martin (Stanford) was a recent setback but McGuire couldn’t be doing much better in recruiting.
Lincoln Riley, USC
Class rank: 14
A renewed excitement and level of professionalism has taken over at USC with Riley’s arrival and recruiting is looking strong as well. Five-star QB Malachi Nelson and WR Zachariah Branch provide a lethal combination and then four-star WR Makai Lemon and Nelson have incredible chemistry since they play together at Los Alamitos, Calif. The four-star Texas running back duo of Quinten Joyner and A’Marion Peterson could be special. Four-star DE Matayo Uiagalelei remains uncommitted and he’d be a major addition for the Trojans.
Mario Cristobal, Miami
Class rank: 15
If June and the start of July are what Miami fans should expect from Cristobal then the Hurricanes faithful are going to be very happy. Known as a fantastic recruiter during his time at Oregon before leaving for Miami, Cristobal has landed three tight ends since the start of June led by four-stars Riley Williams and Jackson Carver, two quarterbacks with high four-star Jaden Rashada being the big fish, he flipped four-star WR Nathaniel Joseph from Clemson, flipped 2024 four-star DB Antione Jackson from Georgia and landed high four-star OL Francis Mauigoa over Tennessee, USC and others on July 4. It’s been an incredible run for Cristobal and it might only be the start.
Mike Elko, Duke
Class rank: 17
With 22 commitments, Duke has surged into the top-20 of the team recruiting rankings and whether the Blue Devils will end up there remains to be seen but there’s no question Elko and his staff have been aggressive and done an exceptional job so far. Duke beat Utah and others for high three-star RB Marquise Collins out of College Station, Texas, in recent days and two Mid-Atlantic pledges from ATH Kevin O’Connor and WR Leon Griffin started off July with a bang. High-end in-state recruiting remains a challenge but three-star DE Semaj Turner has special abilities.
Brian Kelly, LSU
Class rank: 24
The positive side here is that Kelly has used his vast contacts throughout the Midwest to win some recruiting battles that LSU might not have even been engaged in under the previous regime - four-star TE Mac Markway and four-star DEs Jaxon Howard and Joshua Mickens being those examples. But it’s a concern LSU does not have a quarterback commitment in this class even though top in-state prospects Arch Manning, Eli Holstein and Rickie Collins are pledged elsewhere, and three of the top four players in the state are committed to out-of-state schools. Kelly is a winner, though, and is doing things his way and the last few days, the Tigers have loaded up. More should definitely be on the way.
Kalen DeBoer, Washington
Class rank: 26
The new Washington staff has brought energy back to recruiting and they’ve done an admirable job getting into California and recruiting some of the state’s better prospects. Four-star receiver Rashid Williams looked destined for Cal but picked the Huskies instead. Three-star OL Elishah Jackett has all the potential in the world to be special in the coming years. Three-star DE Anthony James had previously been committed to Texas A&M and three-star Vincent Holmes is one of those high-level athletes who could outplay their ranking in the coming years.
Brent Pry, Virginia Tech
Class rank: 33
Only three teams in the entire ACC don’t have a four-star commitment and Virginia Tech is one of them along with Virginia and Georgia Tech. That is not superb company to be in especially since Clemson has 14 four-stars alone - the total amount of players committed to the Hokies. Still, Pry has done a good job recruiting in-state and regional prospects plus the Hokies went to Indianapolis for high three-star ATH Aycen Stevens. Three-star ATH Takye Heath could be a major weapon all over the field.
Billy Napier, Florida
Class rank: 38
He has not even coached a game yet and Napier seems to already be feeling pressure from the Florida fan base, he wrote an open letter recently explaining some of his thinking and part of the reason is that other SEC schools are recruiting better up to this point. The Gators are middle of the pack in SEC recruiting and none of the top-22 in-state players have committed to them. Still, landing four-star DE TJ Searcy on July 4 was definitely a big deal and a major win for Florida and four-star CB Sharif Denson picked the Gators over Texas A&M, Miami and others. Napier is smart and focused and just needs some traction on the recruiting trail.
Brent Venables, Oklahoma
Class rank: No. 39
No. 39 nationally and seventh in the Big 12 team recruiting rankings is not usually where Oklahoma finds itself but that’s where things stand at this point. A lot can still change as five-star DE David Hicks Jr., four-star OL Cayden Green and others make their decisions. Four-star QB commit Jackson Arnold is one of the best in the class and he proved that at the Elite 11. The Sooners have never really had trouble putting together an elite recruiting class and while it’s been slow compared to other teams, Oklahoma should be fine.
Dan Lanning, Oregon
Class rank: 41
The average star ranking for this Oregon class is solid but what’s pushed down the Ducks in the national team recruiting rankings is that only nine players are currently in the class. Lanning and his staff are working on lots of things with many top prospects in the mix but waiting for them to make their pledges is the tough part now. Plus, five-star DE Jayden Wayne, from Tacoma (Wash.) Lincoln, has transferred to Bradenton (Fla.) IMG Academy and that could be good news for Miami and bad for the Ducks. Still, four-star receiver Jurrion Dickey is absolutely fantastic and deserves a big bump in the rankings plus Oregon has been loading up with top defensive players lately.
Tony Elliott, Virginia
Class rank: 52
Virginia finds itself one spot ahead of Texas A&M in the team recruiting rankings which is usually a phenomenal place to be but it speaks more now of just how early we are in the recruiting cycle. The month of June and the first day of July has been very busy for the Cavaliers but the bad news is before that there were only two commits. Virginia is now at 10 with in-state high three-star linebacker Kamren Robinson committing in recent days. But UVa is second-to-last in the ACC rankings and needs to improve on that.
Jake Dickert, Washington State
Class rank: 60
After taking three state of Washington prospects to start this class, Washington State has ventured out and hit other hotbeds like California and Texas for players. Three-star quarterback commit Sam Leavitt committed in recent days and he’s very talented. DB Warren Smith from El Cerrito, Calif., doesn’t play a lot of 7-on-7 but he’s a talented prospect who is under-the-radar good. It’s always tough to recruit to Pullman but Washington State always outplays its recruiting rankings, too.