College Football Recruiting: Using The 2012 Season To Impress The 2014 Class

By Chris Hengst

Aside from a riser in his senior year, the current college football season–great or terrible–usually doesn’t sway the graduating recruiting class. There are exceptions like anything else, normally where campus turmoil (Penn State), NCAA sanctions (pick any recent school) or a fired head coach is involved, but that’s the baseline I’m utilizing.

While Alabama, LSU and USC won’t have any trouble convincing prospects to flock to their athletic departments, which programs stand to gain the most during the 2012 season on the 2014 class?

Stanford Cardinal:

Fresh off a home upset of second-ranked Southern Cal, David Shaw’s staff presumably plans to use the bye week to sell their future to area players. Stanford sports five commits in their 2013 class, but it’s this year’s juniors where Shaw can stamp his post-Jim Harbaugh legacy. The 2012 class, a payoff from Andrew Luck’s success and an Orange Bowl victory, placed seventh in the country. If Stanford continues ascending this fall, there’s no reason the 2014 class can’t finish similarly.

Vanderbilt Commodores:

James Franklin, who never shied away from a headline in the offseason, has been curiously silent in the national media in September. Vandy’s 1-2 record doesn’t help and if the Commodores are to take another step forward in the SEC, their performance in October and November is paramount. Franklin’s amassed a very un-Vandy-like collection of talent in 2013 and a 3-9 season potentially halts that momentum. Posting consecutive 6-6 campaigns means he can sell the 2014 class on simply needing better players to be a competitor in the SEC East. Early playing time on a campus devoid of much history isn’t the worst pitch.

Baylor Bears:

Ten wins in Waco and the Heisman Trophy altered expectations. Should Art Briles prove that he’s capable of managing with Nick Florence before unearthing his next quarterback project, there’s a window of opportunity. Baylor boasts the second-ranked 2013 Big 12 class at the moment and surpassed Texas Tech in the line of recruiting choices in-state. With an 8-9 win season in 2012, the Bears can land a foundation class for Briles in 2014 intent on competing annually for conference championships. The way that’s accomplished is by sewing up the second-tier prospects in full and stealing elite players formerly guaranteed a spot at Texas, Oklahoma or Texas A&M.

Chris Hengst is a College Football writer for Rant Sports. You can follow him on Twitter @ShootyHoops.

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