SportsPulse: Miss college football action already? Well, Trysta Krick and Paul Myerberg tell us what to look forward to next season.
The critical national signing day is now in December – in what was supposed to be an early signing period – but the first Wednesday in February is when it’s time to close.
The problem? Almost all of the top prospects are gone, meaning that coaches and teams that had a mediocre December have to scramble to boost their respective final classes. Coaches just getting comfortable in their new jobs will have to try to close strongly with what is available.
But even with a trickle of players still coming in, even two decent prospects can take things to another level.
Here are five coaches who could use – and should make – a wee bit of a surprise or splash on Wednesday.
1. Ryan Day, Ohio State
No, no, no … you’re Ohio State. If your recruiting class isn’t universally considered among the top five, it’s not a good year.
Are top prospects not quite into the Ryan Day experience yet? Maybe, but probably not.
Now that the dust has settled after the end of the Urban Meyer era, get ready for Day and the Buckeyes to make a whole lot of noise on Wednesday.
A few great players joined in December, and as is it’s a class that most schools would dream of, now it’s time to push to be among the elite.
Ohio State only signed 16 players in the early signing period, and there was little waste. DE Zach Harrison is special, Garrett Wilson should be an excellent receiver, and Cade Stover will be a leader of the linebacking corps.
The problems so far? 1) That lack of bulk prospects, and 2) the five-star guys need to come in.
Both should change on Wednesday.
2. Clay Helton, Southern California
It’s not an awful class from the December haul, but it’s not the top five-caliber class of last year … yet.
Helton has a way of loading up late. Last recruiting season, he had QB JT Daniels early, but five-star defensive backs Olajiah Griffin and Isaac Taylor-Stuart signed in February, and Palaie Gaoteote was a huge linebacker get late in the process.
Again, this year’s class isn’t all that bad. It’s rock-solid with good prospects, but Helton hasn’t landed the true superstars yet. The down 2018 might have something to do with it, and the uncertainty at offensive coordinator was a wee bit of an issue.
DE Drake Jackson should be a star with a little bit of time, and Nick Figueroa is right behind him, but as long as WR Kyle Ford signs, and if there can be a few big Wednesday signings, everything will change.
So far, though, you could recruit at USC and get something close this class – because it’s USC. After Wednesday, Helton has to take this fringe top 20 class and move it into the top 10.
3. Chip Kelly, UCLA
Criticize Jim Mora Jr. all you want, but he came up with some fantastic top 15-caliber recruiting classes – and the recent NFL drafts have proved it. Chip Kelly was able to keep a slew of Mora’s recruits when he took over last year, and he brought on a few terrific options.
He was able to keep QB Dorian Thompson-Robinson, and he landed a nice receiver in Michael Ezeike and safety Rayshad Williams last February. In all, he brought up his 2018 class with 10 February signings.
But this year, Kelly’s class so far is … meh. That could quickly change.
To be very fair, he has a young team with a whole lot of talented players growing into their respective spots, but that shouldn’t matter. The great programs recruit great players to push the current guys, but so far, his class is just average.
4. Kevin Sumlin, Arizona
The mediocre class of 2018 was understandable considering the coaching change and the lack of time for Kevin Sumlin to operate. But now he has had a year to work.
The Rich Rodriguez classes were never anything amazing, but the 2017 haul was among his stronger ones. Sumlin – considering he was able to make so many big splashes at Texas A&M – didn’t come up with a killer class this season.
It’s not just that Arizona’s class is going to be ranked around the 50s without anything amazing happening on Wednesday, but Herm Edwards and Arizona State were able come up with just enough good talents to be ranked higher.
5. Dino Babers, Syracuse
It’s an fine class for the offensive side, but the defense looked good with the early haul in December. But in terms of building off of the big season and getting one or two big names to get the recruiting world to buzz, that hasn’t happened. At least not yet.
The offense was addressed last year with a huge recruiting season for receivers and running backs, so the idea might be to make 2020 the time to capitalize on the success of 2018. But this year’s class got two terrific-looking linebackers in Lee Kpogba and Mikel Jones, and it went big on defensive ends.
It was a solid early signing period class, and it might have been a wee bit underwhelming because of some speculation that Babers might bolt for a bigger gig. But he’s a great motivator who’s making something happen at Syracuse.
The program should be better than the 50s in the recruiting rankings.