After 2 ½ months on the road, most college football coaches are probably eager for the start of the dead period Monday in which coaches are prohibited from any in-person contact with recruits. That goes through July 10.
The rest of July is a quiet period, which prevents off-campus in-person contact.
But a lot has happened over that 2 ½ months, especially a full June of satellite camps for coaches and unofficial visits for recruits.
Here’s our look at the good, the bad, the really bad (hello, Baylor) and everything in between on the recruiting trail for FBS schools with help from Brandon Huffman from Scout.com and Mike Farrell from Rivals.com.
King of the hill …
Ohio State. That list has to begin with Buckeyes, who could finish with six five-star players in 2017 and already have a healthy jump on 2018. Some recruiting sites say the Ohio State class for 2017 could be the best ever recorded. Urban Meyer and Ohio State have 14 commitments, with 11 of them earning invitations to The Opening Finals in Oregon next month. Of the 14 commitments, all but one are five- or four-stars with the lone exception a three-star kicker. The Buckeyes could add more before The Opening.
The Buckeyes already had the No. 1 offensive tackle in Josh Myers and added the No. 1 guard in Wyatt Davis on Friday. Of course, a key addition in June was Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas) quarterback Tate Martell, who has become a Pied Piper of sorts and working to add other recruits.
“Ohio State has been on an insane level,” Huffman said. “Right now, they’re just picking guys.”
Said Farrell: “Ohio State continues to move up and show everybody that Urban is the guy. Tate Martell couldn’t be a better fit. If you have told me after Tate Martell decommitted from Texas A&M that he would end up at Ohio State, I would have said they was going to stay closer to home out west, but Urban got him on campus.”
Southern migration …
Notre Dame. The Irish have a top-10 class and 13 commits for 2017, but the interesting note is that four of those players are from Florida. That includes commitments from wide receiver Jordan Pouncey and defensive end Jonathan MacCollister from the Orlando area on consecutive days in late June.
“They’re continuing to put their imprint on Florida, which is extremely important,” Farrell said. “That’s why they signed the ACC deal.”
Numbers game …
Tennessee. The Volunteers opened eyes by hauling in eight commits in the span of about 24 hours during and after its Orange Carpet Day event. That gives the Vols a total of 17 commits for 2017, but 13 are three-stars or less. The word is “upside.” Are these players who play better than their rankings suggest? Or players whose rankings will rise once senior year is evaluated?
“Butch Jones is one of the best recruiters in the business when it comes to head coach recruiting and among the best talent evaluators,” Farrell said. “This is guy who found J.J. Watt and Antonio Brown. … Are these guys that they like, and when we evaluate them during their senior season and see them project upwards? I can’t say that’s going to happen, but it wouldn’t surprise me.”
Said Huffman: “Tennessee has not had a problem recruiting. What they have to do is get it done on the field to take that next step.”
Arizona. The Wildcats have the top class in the Pac-12 right now, largely based on volume: Arizona has 18 commits. There are three four-star prospects in the group, 14 three-stars and a two-star. They added nine prospects in June and two in May.
“The top class in the Pac-12 would not be surprising for basketball, but it is quite surprising for football,” Huffman said. “A lot of schools will start filling up their class and then their class is done and they are not adding higher rating kids to their class. That’s why you might see power programs not in top 10 right now but will see them later on. They know it’s a marathon, not a sprint.”
Who needs satellite camps …
Florida State. Jimbo Fisher has taken the position that he is not sending coaches to satellite camps and instead will get players on campus at Florida State camps. That’s worked well so far. The Seminoles have 10 commits for 2017, eight from Florida, one from Georgia and one from Massachusetts. The group includes three future stars in the defensive backfield, led by five-star Sanford Samuels III and four-star Daniel Wright, who both committed in June; and four-star Cyrus Fagan.
“Jimbo just did his thing,” Farrell said. “They don’t have a lot of commitments, but they’ve got some real talent … Look at them to be very excited in the way they finish out this class.”
Watch out for …
Georgia. Kirby Smart gets his first full recruiting cycle and the Bulldogs already have 10 in-state prospects among their 11 commitments for the Class of 2017. The most recent is massive four-star offensive tackle D’Antne Demery from Brunswick, Ga., who made his decision in mid-June.
“Kirby has brought a new energy,” Farrell said. “They’re set to finish very, very strongly with so much talent in state as usual. He also has ties to two other SEC schools. Down the stretch, it’s hard to bet against Alabama, but the question is how do you push them?”
Worry about …
Georgia Tech. The Yellow Jackets entered June with one 2017 commit; they now have six, but two of them are kickers. Their highest-ranked commit is cornerback Jaytlin Askew from McEachern (Powder Springs, Ga.), who is No. 506 in the 247Sports Composite rankings.
“Georgia Tech has been pretty disappointing,” Huffman said. “They have different academic requirement so it might be tougher for them, but you’re in the state of Georgia, and there’s no reason to have so few commits. And it’s not like Georgia Tech has been in a downward spiral. Two years ago, they were in a playoff bowl. Given where they are located, it’s surprising to see where recruiting is.”
Purdue. The Boilermakers also entered June with only one commit – dual-threat quarterback Griffin Alstott, son of legendary Purdue player Mike Alstott. They now have five with three additions in the last week, led by pro-style California quarterback Nick Sipe. None of their five commitments are from the state of Indiana.
And then there’s …
Baylor. Football recruiting doesn’t even belong on the list of the issues at Baylor, but since this is a piece about that subject, we’ll include the beleaguered program in Waco. In the aftermath of Art Briles’ departure, Baylor lost five of the six recruits it had for 2017. That includes four-star quarterback Kellen Mond, a Texas native playing his senior year at IMG Academy (Bradenton, Fla.) who is likely to end up at Auburn. It is possible that Baylor could retain the other players who had committed, but right now, it’s hard to see how. This follows six members of the Class of 2016 departing – five were granted their releases and one was free to sign elsewhere after a paperwork issue with his letter of intent.