College Football

Signing Day 2014: Florida, Texas and Penn State Are Getting Squeezed Out In In-State Recruiting Battles

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National Signing Day is less than two weeks away. With recruiting classes starting to firm up, here are a few schools getting squeezed out in in-state recruiting battles.

Florida Gators: Florida State won the BCS title. Will Muschamp delivered an epic fail of a season. That’s showing up in in-state recruiting. The Gators, after landing nine of the Florida top 30 in 2013, the Gators have been shut out by the state’s top 16 recruits. Florida State and Miami each took four. Florida has been active up and down the East Coast and should still land a top 10 overall class. Though having five-star running back Dalvin Cook flip to Florida State and five-star wide receiver Ermon Lane decommit (and possibly follow suit to the Seminoles) may prove devastating for a team desperate for skill talent.

Penn State Nittany Lions: There’s a reason James Franklin made dominating Pennsylvania recruiting a focus during his initial press conference. Penn State has not been doing it. The Nittany Lions have just one 2014 commit from the state’s top 12 players. Five of the seven four-star recruits eschewed the Big Ten entirely. Penn State has signed just one of 12 top three players in Pennsylvania dating back to 2011. The malaise dates back well before the Sandusky scandal. Other schools have built up, by parceling out Penn State territory. A vibrant recruiter such as Franklin could be a game-changer, in future years.

Texas Longhorns: Texas recruits itself, you say? Not with SEC infiltration and a state flush with successful, charismatic coaches. The Longhorns have just two of the Texas top 15 committed. Neither is in the top eight. Five from that group went to the SEC with Texas A&M, Alabama and LSU. Two more joined Art Briles at Baylor. Things should improve with Charlie Strong replacing a flailing Mack Brown. But, the world has changed from 2010, where Mack Brown backed up the truck on Junior Day to sign nine of the state’s top 15 and 15 of the top 25. Expect Strong’s Florida connections to come into play.

Dabo Swinney Orange BowlClemson Tigers: This is a bit of a surprise, given Dabo Swinney’s reputation as a recruiter. The Tigers have just two of the top 15 after averaging 4.5 the past four classes. South Carolina has five. They are shut out of the top five, after landing at least two in every class since 2011. Dabo has made up for it outside the state though, taking five of the top 22 in Georgia and two four-stars from North Carolina. The Tigers should still land a top 15 overall class. The bigger question may be why Clemson is not doing more with the talent coming in.

Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets: The Yellow Jackets have not been a recruiting powerhouse. Georgia, talent rich, attracts sharks from the SEC, the de facto SEC and beyond. But, even factoring that in, Georgia Tech’s performance has still been profoundly underwhelming. Their highest in-state recruit in 2014 is No. 59 overall. The Yellow Jackets signed just one of the state’s top 60 recruits the class before. Tech fans can practically watch the talent to wrest itself from perpetual mediocrity fleeing across the border.

Rutgers Scarlet Knights: New Jersey high school football has improved. Rutgers has not been the beneficiary. The Scarlett Knights brought in four of the NJ top 10 in 2011 and eight of the top 14 in 2012 under Greg Schiano. Two five-star recruits stayed home. In 2013, Rutgers landed just two of the state’s top 15. Ditto for 2014, with one of those in danger of being poached. That’s with the Big Ten future to sell and without a fully functional Penn State. If Rutgers can’t keep more in-state kids home, it’s going to be a steep climb for them in the Big Ten.

Colorado Buffaloes: Colorado once competed for national titles. That’s hard to fathom now. There have been some signs of optimism under Mike MacIntyre, who still faces a substantial rebuilding job. But coming to Boulder to play football remains a hard sell. Only one of Colorado’s top 10 players is committed to the Buffaloes. They have not landed a top five player in-state since 2011. Colorado is not deep on football talent. But the Buffaloes need the few players that do emerge to stay home.

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[Photo via USA Today Sports]

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