The 2014 college football recruiting class has essentially only been ‘on the clock’ for only about two months now, but already major commitments and de-commitments are shaking the landscape. There are some surprise teams getting off to hot starts under new coaching staffs (Tennessee), and there are powerhouse programs that are off to sluggish starts (Alabama).
Yes, there’s a whole ten months until National Signing Day 2014, but it’s never too early to take a step back and evaluate the scene as a whole.
Texas, with 11 verbal commitments (five 4-stars and six 3-stars) is right about where they always are this time of year. Mack Brown and his staff are absolutely methodical in their recruiting plan, and they never stray. Their two biggest goals are simple: get the Texas boys, and get ‘em early. This year is no different as every single one of their current commits are pure-bred Texans.
The Aggies are neck and neck however, with their ‘former’ rivals in the Lone Star State. Kevin Sumlin, easily the hottest trending coach in the country not named Nick Saban, has collected ten verbal commits (six 4-stars and four 3-stars) thus far. The key to their class could be outside linebacker Hoza Scott, an Aggie commit who just might be the best linebacker in the country. To note: it seems Sumlin is taking a page out of Brown’s recruiting style, as every one of the Aggies commits are from Texas as well.
Who has been the biggest surprise so far? I’d have to say the Volunteers from Tennessee, who have seven commits so far (four 4-stars, three 3-stars). Newly minted coach Butch Jones is doing a good job of mixing in-state with out of state recruiting, with commits coming everywhere from Knoxville, Tennessee ( safety Todd Kelly) to Elkton, Maryland (receiver Neiko Creamer).
Alabama has also been a surprise so far, but not in a good way like Tennessee. After claiming yet another National Championship on the field and on the recruiting trail, the Tide are a little sluggish, with only three verbal commits (two 4-stars and a 3-star). Fear not, Tide fans, this is not indicative of things to come. I assure you, the Tide will have a top three class (if not number one) by NSD 2014.
Which conference is leading the way in the early recruiting rankings? This one is really going to shock you: the SEC. For the 2013 class, the boys from down south placed 13 of their 14 teams in top 29 of team recruiting rankings. For comparisons sake, their ‘rivals’ in the Big Ten placed 3 of their 12 teams in the top 37. So far, things are looking like the same. According to rivals.com, the SEC has five out of the top six recruiting classes for 2014: Texas A&M, Florida, LSU, Ole Miss and Tennessee.
There’s an awfully long way to go between now and NSD. Some of the teams at the top might slip down a bit, and some teams that aren’t running on full cylinders yet will make their way up. Look at Southern Cal last year. At one point, early in the season, the Trojans were assembling one of the greatest classes in the modern recruiting era. Their recruiting class, much like their season on the field, took a nose dive and they ended up have a top 15 class as opposed to the top class. Ole Miss, which started awfully slow, absolutely blew up down the stretch and ended up having a top 5 class, the best in school history.
So yes, there’s a long way to go, and a lot will most certainly change between now and then. But getting off to a hot start certainly never hurts.