Tuesdays with Gorney: Eight rankings storylines to watch
OHIO STATE HAS THE HIGHEST AVERAGE STAR RANKING
Georgia has the top class in the country but the Bulldogs also have six more commits than Ohio State and the Buckeyes have a slightly higher average star ranking so that could put them in a position to sneak by UGA for the team recruiting title if more high-level four-stars are added to close out the class.
If Georgia ends up holding onto the top spot, it would be no surprise because no one is recruiting better than coach Kirby Smart right now. But if Ohio State were to leapfrog the Bulldogs, it would be the first time in Rivals history dating back to 2002 that a team from the Big Ten won the team recruiting championship, believe it or not.
FLORIDA IS EDGING OUT IN-STATE COMPETITION
None of the major programs in the state of Florida - the Gators, Florida State, Miami or UCF - are recruiting poorly so far in 2024 as all those schools are on different tracks of a turnaround story but Florida is doing the best job - slightly - so far.
Despite back-to-back losing seasons, second-year coach Billy Napier has really sold his vision for the program in Gainesville and top prospects are buying in as Florida has the No. 3 class nationally behind only Georgia and Ohio State.
Florida State is doing incredibly well, too, with the fourth-best class nationally followed by Miami at No. 15 and UCF sitting at No. 24.
TEXAS A&M AT NO. 6 IS REALLY IMPRESSIVE
Texas A&M has not won double-digit games in a decade. The Aggies completely imploded last season finishing 5-7 as the offense looked lost and even though many of their games were close, a loss is still a loss. Coach Jimbo Fisher is relinquishing play-calling duties by bringing in Bobby Petrino.
After what looked like momentum after a No. 1 class in 2022, the Aggies took a step backward on the field last year although there are so many pieces that it’s hard to believe Texas A&M won’t get it right.
That’s the selling point with the Aggies’ No. 6 class so far this recruiting cycle as Texas A&M landed a huge win over Auburn for high four-star receiver Cam Coleman along with dipping into the Pacific Northwest for four-star OL Isendre Ahfua. In-state four-star receiver Dre'lon Miller is super productive and the Aggies have loaded up with top offensive linemen as well even if in-state recruiting has just been OK so far.
ALABAMA COULD STILL CLIMB HIGHER
If today was National Signing Day, Alabama finishing at No. 10 would be the lowest since coach Nick Saban’s first year in Tuscaloosa - and that class doesn’t really count because he was hired just weeks before.
Closing at No. 10 - and it being the lowest since his arrival - speaks to two things: One is that Saban and the Crimson Tide have had such an incredible run for many years and the back end of a top-10 finish is still super elite. But it also speaks to an ongoing narrative - right or wrong - that there’s the slightest bit of slippage going on within the program.
The good news for the Crimson Tide is that they have only 18 commitments, the fewest among anybody in the top 12. With a few elite additions, Alabama could climb quickly up the team rankings where they’re used to being.
NO FIVE-STARS IN THE PAC-12
The conference is disbanding so maybe this doesn’t even matter – but those schools are going elsewhere and they’re not loading up with five-star talent so far in that class.
The current Pac-12 is the only power conference without any five-star commitments (although the Big 12 only has one and the ACC only has two) but the bigger issue is that USC, UCLA, Oregon and Washington are moving to a loaded Big Ten soon and it’s certainly not going to get any easier for them.
USC led the way last recruiting cycle signing three five-star prospects in Malachi Nelson, Zachariah Branch and Duce Robinson and the conference finished with six total. Those schools have some ground to make up in the coming months as the second-place program in the Pac-12 right now (Stanford) would land eighth in the SEC when it comes to total points for its class.
SLOW START FOR RECENT BIG 12 CHAMPIONS
From 2015-20, Oklahoma won the Big 12 every year and the Sooners were recruiting well so there was never anything curious there. That is not necessarily the case for the last two conference champions - Baylor and Kansas State - when looking at those recruiting classes so far this cycle.
Baylor (the 2021 champ) is sitting at No. 57 nationally with 14 commitments, only one of them being a four-star prospect in linebacker Brock Jackson. But Kansas State is going even more slowly as the Wildcats have just seven commits total and find themselves sandwiched between Eastern Michigan and Western Michigan in the team rankings at No. 92 overall.
Both Baylor and Kansas State have unique ways of doing things - and their systems work - but a recruiting jolt from winning conference titles has not really happened.
FREEZE HAS TURNED AUBURN RECRUITING AROUND
Former coach Bryan Harsin was a pretty big mess at Auburn but he didn’t really even have significant time to put his touch on recruiting as his first class was No. 16 nationally and his only full class was No. 25 nationally. Then he got run out of town.
Hugh Freeze was hired and his first class finished No. 15 overall led by five-star flip Keldric Faulk, who went from Florida State to Auburn, and four-star cornerback Kayin Lee, a flip from Ohio State. Both are expected to see significant time this season.
Freeze’s first full class is sitting at No. 16 nationally as a huge July really sparked this group and put it among the nation’s elite. If anything, Freeze has brought a level of seriousness and vision that was not being accepted when Harsin ran the program.
ONLY 16 TOP PROSPECTS REMAIN UNCOMMITTED
With June and the rest of the summer being such a major time for commitments now, only 16 prospects in the top-100 of the Rivals250 remain uncommitted and only 33 of the Rivals250 have not picked a program yet.
That could mean one of two things: That either it’s going to be a slow, monotonous slog heading toward signing day or - much more likely – a ton of flips are coming in the next few months especially as coaching turnover inevitably happens. It’s never boring leading up to signing day so with so many top prospects already committed, flips are going to be a big part of the 2024 class.