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Predicting How Current Top-Ranked Recruiting Classes Will Finish the 2015 Cycle

Tyler DonohueNational Recruiting AnalystMarch 14, 2014

Predicting How Current Top-Ranked Recruiting Classes Will Finish the 2015 Cycle

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    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    National signing day 2015 is still nearly 11 months away, but this recruiting cycle is already entering a crucial stretch. By now, college coaching staffs have dedicated countless hours to watching junior season game tape, extending scholarship offers to prospects who graded well within the program's scouting system.

    Most FBS programs are in the process of planning an on-campus junior day or have already hosted one. Spring practice presents an opportunity for recruits to spend time on the sidelines and gain an understanding of how each program prepares for the upcoming campaign.

    Summer camps also loom large on the horizon. When players put pen to paper on signing day, this is a stage of their recruitment that carries significant weight.

    Several squads are well on their way to securing impactful 2015 recruiting classes, while others are still searching for momentum. We break down the country's current top 10 classes in 247Sports' composite rankings and look at what lies ahead for each team.

     

    *All recruit information and statistics courtesy of 247Sports unless otherwise noted.

Clemson

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    Offensive tackle Mitch Hyatt
    Offensive tackle Mitch HyattCredit: 247Sports

    Current National Ranking: No. 10 (eight players, one 5-star, two 4-stars)

     

    Key Commits

    Mitch Hyatta 5-star prospect, committed to Clemson last month on signing day, providing head coach Dabo Swinney with a foundation to build on next February. The Georgia standout is America's top-ranked offensive tackle and spurned offers from several national title contenders, including Auburn and Ohio State.

    Fellow Peach State product Shadell Bell is the latest in a long line of talented receiver prospects to pick he Tigers. The 4-star pass target pledged in November.

    Van Smith is a versatile 4-star athlete capable of playing on both sides of the ball. Quarterback Tucker Israel of Orlando, Fla., committed to the Tigers in early February.

     

    Potential Pickups

    Clemson would like to pull another prospect out of Orlando with a pledge from 4-star tight end Garrett Williams, a frequent campus visitor. If the team opts to sign multiple quarterbacks, Texan Chason Virgil is a strong possibility.

    Clemson looks to find continued success in Florida, where the team is also pursuing coveted 5-star athlete George Campbell and elite offensive tackle Jake Fruhmorgen, who could bookend Hyatt on the line for years to come.

     

    Projected Final Ranking: Top eight

    Swinney is a proven closer on the recruiting trail. An exciting Orange Bowl victory over Ohio State supplied late momentum for the 2014 cycle, and another successful season would do wonders as well.

Arkansas

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    Defensive tackle Hjalte Froholdt
    Defensive tackle Hjalte FroholdtCredit: 247Sports

    Current National Ranking: No. 9 (six players, four 4-stars)

     

    Key Commits

    The Razorbacks have really addressed issues in the trenches so far with this class. Defensive linemen Hjalte Froholdt and Jamario Bell, both 4-star prospect, are physically imposing and ready to battle with SEC offensive attacks.

    Top in-state target Ty Storey gives Arkansas another option at quarterback. Zach Rogers is a ferocious 4-star offensive guard from Texas.

     

    Potential Pickups

    The team is hunting for skill players, particularly in the passing game. Tight end Will Gragg and wide receiver Deon Stewart rank among Arkansas' top high school players.

    Jashon Cornell, a 5-star defensive end, can make a case as the best pass-rusher in America. He's built a solid relationship with the Razorbacks coaching staff during his recruitment.

     

    Projected Final Ranking: No. 20-25

    Arkansas needs to show serious improvement against SEC opponents in order to carry recruiting momentum through the fall. Players like head coach Bret Bielema, but his success at Wisconsin won't help him if the team stumbles again during his second season in Fayetteville.

Penn State

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    Running back Andre Robinson
    Running back Andre RobinsonCredit: 247Sports

    Current National Ranking: No. 8 (seven players, four 4-stars)

     

    Key Commits

    Head coach James Franklin is off to a strong start recruiting within Pennsylvania. He landed 4-star in-state running backs Andre Robinson and Saquon Barkley in February, when Penn State also picked up a pledge from offensive tackle Ryan Bates.

    Athlete Kamonte Carter ranks among the top recruits in Maryland.

     

    Potential Pickups

    The Nittany Lions have enjoyed immense recruiting success in New Jersey. Franklin can continue that trend by signing quarterback Brandon Wimbush and athlete Juwan Johnson.

    Penn State hopes to pick up additional offensive line help, particularly pushing for commitments from Pittsburgh prospect Sterling Jenkins and Washington D.C. tackle Richie Petitbon.

     

    Projected Final Ranking: No. 10-15

    Franklin has a promising squad primed to make strides this season in an expanded Big Ten Conference. Bill O'Brien laid the groundwork for a rebound from Paterno-era sanctions, and this class should produce impact players ready to help lead the team back into bowl competition.

Tennessee

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    Linebacker Cecil Cherry
    Linebacker Cecil CherryCredit: 247Sports

    Current National Ranking: No. 7 (eight players, three 4-stars)

     

    Key Commits

    The Volunteers have enjoyed success recruiting top receivers in recent years. Preston Williams, the country's sixth-rated player at the position in 247Sports' composite rankings, pledged to Tennessee early in his junior season.

    The team convinced in-state offensive tackles Jack Jones and Zach Stewart to stay home. Georgia defensive end Andrew Butcher and Florida linebacker Cecil Cherry provide the Volunteers with a solid start on defense.

     

    Potential Pickups

    Tennessee is in the mix for Chuma Edoga, a Georgia product who might be America's most dominant offensive tackle. Defensive end Kyle Phillips, a 4-star prospect out of Nashville, Tn., is a key in-state priority.

    If the Volunteers can come away with an elite defensive tackle like Trent Thompson or Shy Tuttle. it would provide a significant boost against fearsome SEC rushing attacks.

     

    Projected Final Ranking: Top 10

    Volunteers coach Butch Jones turned heads by bringing in a highly rated class after his first season in Knoxville. Though the team finished under .500, his recruiting results showed a freshly charged effort to keep top players in Tennessee. Expect another impressive haul in 2015, setting the stage for a serious rise in SEC standings.

Mississippi State

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    Wide receiver Donald Gray
    Wide receiver Donald GrayCredit: 247Sports

    Current National Ranking: No. 6 (nine players, one 4-star)

     

    Key Commits

    Mississippi State picked up a commitment from top-ranked junior college wide receiver Donald Gray last summer. The Bulldogs hope he helps bolster the passing attack with in-state target Dontea Jones.

    The program fended off SEC foes for local 4-star defensive end Timothy Washington. Georgia running back Kentavious Thomas is Mississippi's top pledge from beyond state borders.

     

    Potential Pickups

    Head coach Dan Mullen has his sights set on more Mississippi talent, including offensive guard Javon Patterson, athlete Malik Dear and linebacker Leo Lewis. The Bulldogs will attempt to reach into Alabama for commitments from running back Bradrick Shaw and linebacker Amonte Caban.

     

    Projected Final Ranking: No. 25-30

    Mississippi State is certainly making up ground in SEC recruiting competition but will once again finish near the bottom of the conference on signing day. Still, a top 25 recruiting class is within reach if Mullen can make inroads with recruits in neighboring states.

Florida State

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    Safety Derwin James
    Safety Derwin JamesCredit: 247Sports

    Current National Ranking: No. 5 (seven players, one 5-star, three 4-stars)

     

    Key Commits

    Derwin James, a 5-star safety commit, has been the catalyst for this class since he committed as a freshman. He's joined on defense by fellow Florida standouts Tyrek Cole and Calvin Brewton, who both excel in the defensive backfield.

    The Seminoles secured a pair of premier Jacksonville prospects in dual-threat quarterback De'Andre Johnson and offensive guard Kendrick Norton. Head coach Jimbo Fisher reached north into Georgia for talented linebacker Brian Bell.

     

    Potential Pickups

    Florida State is in a solid situation with Georgia defensive tackle Trent Thompson, who is the No. 1 overall prospect in 247Sports' composite rankings. The Seminoles are also sitting pretty with 5-star New Jersey cornerback Minkah Fitzpatrick.

    Fisher can fill offensive slots by signing Orlando, Fla., standouts Jacques Patrick (running back) and Garrett Williams (tight end), who is the son of a former Florida State player. Miami receiver Da'Vante Phillips is a pivotal prospect near the top of the team's board, while Tallahassee pass target John Burt would also boost the aerial attack.

     

    Projected Final Ranking: Top three

    Florida State has an incredible amount of momentum and swagger in the recruiting spectrum these days. The reigning national champs will remain front and center in the public spotlight with reigning Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston returning as the sport's most recognizable player. Fisher will capitalize on the constant exposure.

West Virginia

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    Safety Kendrell McFadden
    Safety Kendrell McFaddenCredit: 247Sports

    Current National Ranking: No. 4 (10 players, two 4-stars)

     

    Key Commits

    The Mountaineers continue to sustain success in the Sunshine State, highlighted by defensive backs Kendrell McFadden and Sheldrick Redwine. Wide receiver Jovon Durante out of Miami committed months before his junior season.

    West Virginia managed to keep Morgantown, W.V., defensive end Stone Wolfley in town, locking up its top in-state prospect. Ohio offensive tackle Matt Jones beefs up the front line.

     

    Potential Pickups

    The team remains very much in the mix for Ohio running back Larry Scott. Other possible additions to the offensive backfield include North Carolina rusher Reggie Gallaspy and Florida quarterback Lamar Jackson.

    West Virginia will attempt to pry more prospects away from the Miami area, including safety Khalid McGee.

     

    Projected Final Ranking: No. 30-35

    The Mountaineers' current placement in national recruiting rankings is based far more on quantity than quality. Expect several squads to surpass West Virginia this summer as the dominoes begin to fall. The program must improve on the field in its third season as a Big 12 Conference member in order to make significant strides on signing day. 

LSU

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    Cornerback Kevin Toliver
    Cornerback Kevin ToliverCredit: 247Sports

    Current National Ranking: No. 3 (nine players, two 5-stars, three 4-stars)

     

    Key Commits

    Heralded Jacksonville, Fla., cornerback Kevin Toliver joined this class during his freshman season. Fellow 5-star recruit Maea Teuhema, an offensive tackle, flipped from Texas in February.

    In-state offensive standouts Nick Brossette (running back) and Jazz Ferguson (receiver) are 4-star pledges. And the Tigers added dynamic New Orleans defensive end Isaiah Washington last month. 

     

    Potential Pickups

    Les Miles will likely lure another top-tier defensive back to Baton Rouge. Iman Marshall (California), Kendall Sheffield (Texas) and Tavarus McFadden (Florida) are realistic 5-star possibilities.

    LSU continues to fight for five-star Florida quarterback Torrance Gibson. In-state offensive tackle Adrian Magee may be a Tiger pledge by summer break.

     

    Projected Final Ranking: Top five

    Les Miles always manages to assemble a strong recruiting class, and his success on signing day this year solidified that sentiment. The Tigers routinely play a ton of nationally televised games and collect recruits from talent-laden Louisiana, although the state's 2015 prospect depth doesn't compare to what we saw during the 2014 cycle.

Alabama

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    Defensive end Mekhi Brown
    Defensive end Mekhi BrownCredit: 247Sports

    Current National Ranking: No. 2 (eight players, one 5-star, six 4-stars)

     

    Key Commits

    Alabama quickly addressed its running back situation with a commitment from in-state prospect Desherrius Flowers last April. Coach Nick Saban received his commitment days after 5-star Georgia defensive end Mekhi Brown pledged to the program.

    Texas safety Deionte Thompson fits the physical mold of what Saban seeks for his secondary. Daylon Charlot out of Louisiana is the latest big-play wide receiver Alabama has landed.

     

    Potential Pickups

    The Crimson Tide are firmly in the mix for 5-star defensive linemen CeCe Jefferson, Daron Payne and Byron Cowart. Expect Alabama to land one of those top targets and add a top cornerback like Minkah Fitzpatrick or Kendall Sheffield.

    Saban is still searching for receiver talent. His top targets include Florida star Calvin Ridley and Tennessee commit Preston Williams.

     

    Projected Final Ranking: Top three

    Should we expect anything less in Tuscaloosa? Saban has secured four consecutive No. 1 recruiting classes and will challenge for the top spot again in 2015. However, Alabama hits the recruiting trail without the title of defending champ for the first time since 2011.

Texas A&M

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    Defensive tackle Daylon Mack
    Defensive tackle Daylon MackCredit: 247Sports

    Current National Ranking: No. 1 (nine players, one 5-star, seven 4-stars)

     

    Key Commits

    The Aggies already hold eight in-state commits, headlined by 5-star defensive tackle Daylon Mack. Running back Rodney Anderson and tight end Jordan Davis add to the offensive attack.

    Larry Pryor, a 4-star safety, was a valued pickup in late January. Louisiana athlete Deshawn Capers-Smith is the team's lone non-Texas pledge.

     

    Potential Pickups

    Quarterback Kyler Murray is a two-time Texas state champion and is the son of former Texas A&M star Kevin Murray. Linebacker Malik Jefferson and wide receiver Damarkus Lodge are 5-star in-state prospects strongly considering careers in College Station.

    If the Aggies pull talent from beyond state borders, Arizona wide receiver Christian Kirk and New Orleans wide receiver Tyron Johnson are strong possibilities.

     

    Projected Final Ranking: Top three

    Texas A&M is clearly in control of one of America's top football states. As long as the Aggies continue to take care of business in Texas, there's no reason to anticipate a halt in momentum.

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