With a little under a week to go before National Signing Day, there’s certainly some surprise teams out there. Both good and bad.
Obviously the Ole Miss Rebels take the cake as the biggest surprise team. They’re officially the media darlings of College Football Recruiting 2013. They’re currently ranked 11th in team rankings right now by rivals.com, and 13th by scout.com. What’s scary is the fact that they’re probably going to add the number one player in the country (Robert Nkemdiche) before its all said and done.
There’s been plenty of surprise teams (in a good way) all across the country. The UCLA Bruins have one of the best classes they’ve put together in a long time. Texas A&M might have the best class in their program’s history. The Kansas Jayhawks, despite going 1-11 this past year, have a better class than teams like the Wisconsin Badgers and Kansas State Wildcats, programs that actually win games. Give Charlie Weis credit, even though he can’t win games, the guy can recruit.
Then there’s the surprisingly disappointing teams.
The Stanford Cardinal, who had a top 5 class last year, in addition to winning the Rose Bowl exactly one month ago, has the second worst class in the PAC 12, better than only the lowly Colorado Buffaloes. You gotta put the Iowa Hawkeyes in there as well. Coach Kirk Ferentz has arguably the worst class in the Big Ten, yet still makes $3.7 million a year. Must be nice.
But the biggest disappointment, at least in my eyes, is the Miami Hurricanes, who, at this late in the recruiting process, have merely 12 commitments.
You can blame a multitude of things: horrendous facilities, high coaching turnover, lack of success on the field, NCAA Sanctions, Nevin Shapiro, etc. That’s fine, and those are legitimate excuses.
But c’mon. It’s the Miami Hurricanes. “The U”. How is this possible?
Considering the program prestige, the NFL alumni, the National Championships, South Beach, beautiful bikini-clad coeds, how in the world do they not have a top 25 class? The amount of talent that’s surrounding that school is utterly absurd. If they only took players that lived within a 20 mile radius of that campus, they’d be one of the most talented teams in the country year in, year out. Heck, that’s what Howard Schnellenberger did. He told his coaches to strictly focus on the local guys, because that’s where all the talent is. Boy was he right. Once they figured that out, it was off to the races.
Butch Davis, who coached the Hurricanes in the late 90′s, and assembled possibly the greatest team in the history of college football, knew how to capitalize on the local recruiting, in addition to bringing in a few national guys. The ’01 Hurricanes, which destroyed the Nebraska Cornhuskers in the National Championship game, produced 17 first round draft picks (think about that; more than half the entire first round from a single team). All in all, that team had nearly 40 players drafted. Guys like Bryant McKinnie, Ed Reed, Andre Johnson, Frank Gore, Willis McGahee, Clinton Portis, D.J. Williams, Vince Wilfork, Jonathan Vilma, Sean Taylor, Jeremy Shockey and Santana Moss were all on that team, and all went on to pro bowl caliber careers in the NFL. Those days seem like a long time ago now, don’t they?
These days the ‘Canes have only one player ranked in the top 100, and he’s from New Jersey. The best local player from the Miami area, Matthew Thomas (Booker T. Washington High), is close to picking the Florida State Seminoles because the Hurricanes coaching staff dropped a scholarship offer to his close friend and teammate, Denver Kirkland (who also ranks as a top 200 player nationally). What the heck is going on?
Look, I’m not at all a Miami Hurricanes fan., but I don’t like seeing them like this. I want them to be the incredibly talented, fast, athletic and cocky team that I got used to seeing and despising. When they’re good, it’s good for all of college football.
Don’t get me wrong, there’s still a few days left for the ‘Canes coaches to work some magic. They could pull a few surprises on the big day, but it’s still a far cry from where they used to be.