National Signing Day is tomorrow. Earlier, we looked at a few prominent players with decisions to make. Here is a brief preview of a few of the major team storylines before the kids begin lining up hats.
Rich Getting Richer… Florida State won the BCS title. That helps with top-tier recruits. The Seminoles flipped five-star running back Dalvin Cook from rival Florida. They have the fifth-ranked 247 Composite class and remain in the mix for five of the Top 100 recruits. The Noles could end up with three of the nation’s top six wide receivers. However, even a vigorous close won’t catch perennial recruiting champions Alabama. Nick Saban has sprung a couple surprises and the Tide have five of the nation’s top 16 recruits committed. With some Wednesday fortune, they could end up with the best statistical recruiting class of all-time. It’s going to be a rough spring for disappointing upperclassmen wasting scholarship spots in Tuscaloosa. Welcome back, D.J. Pettway!
Tennessee…Tennessee, Tennessee… The Vols have the nation’s sixth-ranked 2014 class. That’s in large part because it contains 34 kids, including 14 who enrolled in January. Tennessee has verbals from five of the top six recruits in-state, including touted four-stars Josh Malone, Jalen Hurd and Todd Kelly. They took just one of the top six in 2013 and one of the top 24 under Derek Dooley in 2012. How they adjust the roster numbers may become an issue, but Butch Jones clearly has momentum building.
Reloading… Gus Malzahn is building for the future. But he’s also restocking the bus for an immediate SEC title run. The Tigers have three of the top 11 JUCO recruits, including No. 1 overall D’haquille Williams, a wide receiver who is already on campus. They have two consensus five-stars with RB Roc Thomas and LB Tre Williams. They could get a third if No. 15 overall Rashaan Evans, a LB from Auburn, commits.
Fighting On… Kiffin stink and uncertainty cost USC some recruits in the 2014 class. The Trojan list ranks an unfamiliar 28th in the 247 Composite. Steve Sarkisian could rectify that quickly. The Trojans are presumed leaders for three top 40 overall recruits from LA: Adoree Jackson (CB – No. 7 Overall), Juju Smith (ATH – No. 20) and 370-pound Damian Mama (G – No. 39). Sark was a strong recruiter at Washington. It will be interesting to see how he plays a better hand at USC.
Spartying On… The Spartans have been poster children for the “stars don’t matter” brigade. A Big Ten title and Rose Bowl win may reset their sights. Last season’s success should be a bigger deal for 2015 and 2016. However, the Spartans have made a late push in 2014, landing two out-of-state four-stars since the regular season ended, including DT Craig Evans who had committed to Wisconsin. The big prize, though, is defensive end Malik McDowell, the No. 1 overall player in Michigan. Brady Hoke has never lost a kid to Michigan State. McDowell, if he doesn’t follow his parents’ advice, may be the first.
Established Power… Stanford has reached four-straight BCS games. That, a prime location in California, a track record of player development and a quality education will get them in the door. The Cardinal already have a top 15 247 Composite class for 2014. They are the presumed favorite for five-star Texas defensive end Solomon Thomas, if they can withstand a late push from Arkansas, which would be Stanford’s fifth recruit in the top 100.
[Photos via USA Today Sports]