We are only five months away from college football’s early signing period in December.
For the glass-half-full person, there are still 97 ESPN 300 recruits who are uncommitted. For the glass-half-empty person, 203 of the top 300 prospects are off the board and committed.
Either way, there isn’t a lot of time left to fill classes and convince top targets to make a decision. Ohio State is currently leading the way with the No. 1-ranked class overall, which is not out of the ordinary.
There are quite a few programs, however, that have been recruiting above their average and are outperforming past rankings. On the other side, there are teams that are not recruiting to their typical standards and have a lot of work left to do.
Here is a look at some of the teams that are overperforming and some that are currently underperforming.
Teams that are overperforming
The Nittany Lions are ranked No. 3 in the class rankings and had one of the best Julys in the nation. The staff landed five ESPN 300 commitments last month and has a chance to move up even further than No. 3.
The class is led by wide receiver Kaden Saunders, the No. 29 recruit overall; quarterback Drew Allar, ranked No. 41; and offensive tackle Drew Shelton, who is the No. 61 prospect in the class. Penn State has 12 ESPN 300 commitments in the 2022 class, compared to just four in 2021. The coaches have had a tremendous bounce-back class after finishing outside the top 25 in the last cycle.
The Nittany Lions had the No. 12 class in 2020 and No. 13 in 2019. The staff finished with the No. 4 class in 2018, the only time Penn State had finished inside the top five in the past 10 recruiting cycles, after signing the No. 17 class in 2017.
The coaches now have a very real shot of making that twice in five years with this 2022 cycle as they continue to add outstanding prospects to the class. At the moment, the Nittany Lions are tied with Notre Dame for the most ESPN 300 commitments.
Similar to Penn State, Notre Dame has had only one recruiting class ranked inside the top five in the past 10 years, when it finished No. 4 in 2013.
The staff has recruited well over those 10 years, averaging a class ranking of 11.7, which has helped the team reach the College Football Playoff multiple times. It hasn’t, however, gotten the Fighting Irish that elusive national championship.
The program needed to take a step up in recruiting to try to reach that next level, and the Irish have done it this cycle. A big part of that push has been the addition of defensive coordinator Marcus Freeman, who has been instrumental in landing quite a few recruits already for the Irish.
Among those names include the class’ top two commits: linebackers Jaylen Sneed and Niuafe Tuihalamaka. Notre Dame is currently at No. 2 in the class rankings, just behind Ohio State. These rankings are likely going to change quite a bit between now and December, but this start is exactly what Notre Dame needed.
The Scarlet Knights currently have the No. 14-ranked class in the country and the fourth-best class in the Big Ten behind Ohio State, Penn State and Michigan.
How surprising is that? In 2020, Rutgers finished with the 60th-ranked class. The team finished No. 66 in 2019 and No. 59 in 2018. Much of the turnaround has to do with head coach Greg Schiano.
He has seen success at Rutgers before and is bringing his culture back to the program. He utilized the transfer portal when he was hired to try to turn the roster around quickly. The team finished 3-6 in 2020 with wins against Michigan State, Maryland and Purdue, and three losses by seven or fewer points.
Schiano and his staff currently have four ESPN 300 commitments, which is one more than the program had in the past seven classes combined. The class is led by ESPN 300 quarterback Gavin Wimsatt, the No. 7 dual-threat quarterback and the No. 143 recruit overall.
This class alone probably isn’t going to make Rutgers a contender for the conference title in a few years, but it’s a great start to reshaping the roster and adding more talent and competition across the board. If Schiano can consistently recruit at this level, he might be able to get Rutgers back to where it was before he left the first time.
Tom Allen and the Hoosiers are using the momentum from the last season on the recruiting trail. The Hoosiers went 6-2 last season with a seven-point loss to Ohio State and a six-point loss to Ole Miss in the Outback Bowl.
Allen is widely viewed as a players’ coach and someone who has built a family atmosphere at Indiana. Recruits and players point to his honesty and genuine personality, and now Indiana is producing on the recruiting front.
The staff currently has the No. 19 class, and that ranking is likely going to improve soon. The staff has four ESPN 300 commitments, which is the most Indiana has had in one class since ESPN started its rankings in 2006. They’ve had only one other year in that span with three ESPN 300 commits, in the 2013 class.
This is a really good defensive class for Indiana, starting with linebacker Dasan McCullough, who flipped from Ohio State after his father, Deland, was hired as Indiana’s running backs coach. McCullough is ranked No. 45 in the class and is the No. 4 outside linebacker overall.
Teams that are underperforming
The Gators have recruited well under coach Dan Mullen, but as the class stands right now, there are only five ESPN 300 commitments on board. Twelve other teams have more. The Gators are tied with USC, Missouri and UCLA.
This isn’t to say it’s doomsday for Florida or that things won’t get better, but at the moment, it’s not at the level Florida should be. The staff has the No. 18-ranked class overall, which is behind Alabama, Georgia, Texas A&M and Missouri in the conference. It’s also behind Florida State, which has the No. 9 class.
There are a number of elite recruits still listing the Gators who have yet to make commitments, which could help. Five-star defensive tackle Walter Nolen still has Florida in his top list along with Alabama, Georgia, Michigan and Tennessee. Five-star defensive end Shemar Stewart is also still considering the Gators with a handful of other schools.
If Florida can reel in some of its bigger targets, there’s no need to worry. The team went 8-4 last season, though, with losses to Texas A&M, LSU, Alabama and Oklahoma. That was after going 11-2 in 2019, so if Florida can put up some big numbers on the field, it could go a long way with their remaining targets.
The Trojans have been up and down in recruiting with coach Clay Helton. It looked as though the trajectory was headed up after the 2021 class, when USC signed 10 ESPN 300 commitments, including seven from California, making a push to “Take back the West.”
That was after signing only one ESPN 300 recruit, wide receiver Gary Bryant Jr., in the 2020 class and finishing outside the top 50. Coming off a 2021 class that ranked eighth, the staff is now sitting at No. 17 overall with five ESPN 300 commits.
That’s not terrible, but it isn’t up to USC’s customary standards. In 2015, USC had the No. 3-ranked class, followed by No. 11 in 2016 and No. 7 in 2017. There’s no reason why the Trojans shouldn’t be fighting for a top-10 class each year given the talent in the state and the school’s brand recognition.
The staff needs to continue pushing forward in recruiting, keeping Oregon at bay among California recruits and adding playmakers to try to get some consistency on the field.
It has been a rough go on the recruiting trail for the Vols over the past year. The old staff lost commitments from ESPN 300 recruits Terrence Lewis, Dylan Brooks, KaTron Evans, Damarius McGhee, Hudson Wolfe, J’Marion Gooch and Darrell Jackson, among a handful of others.
Their 2021 class quickly went from one of the best in the country (starting at No. 5) to one with only four ESPN 300 commitments on signing day (finishing at No. 19) and a new staff hired by the program.
It’s difficult to put the blame on new head coach Josh Heupel for the results of this 2021 class with so many decommitments and nearly as many transfers from key contributors, such as Wanya Morris, Eric Gray, Henry To’o’ To’o, J.J. Peterson and Key Lawrence.
As it stands, Tennessee has no ESPN 300 commitments in the 2022 class and 11 commits overall. There are only three commitments ranked as four-stars: quarterback Tayven Jackson, wide receiver Cameron Miller and offensive lineman Maurice Clipper Jr.
It is likely going to be tough sledding for this new staff until it can get things stabilized on the field and within the program.
Auburn is in a similar situation as Tennessee — a coaching change threw recruiting on tilt. The Tigers are at the bottom of this list, but the staff has made a push over the past month to improve.
The Tigers added six commitments in July and the first day of August, namely ESPN 300 defensive end Caden Story, the No. 255 recruit. Story is the second ESPN 300 commit for the Tigers, joining quarterback Holden Geriner.
Even with those additions, though, Auburn still has only eight total commitments in the class. Coach Bryan Harsin and the staff are still in their first go-round in Auburn, but at some point there has to be an urgency to fill the class with some of their top targets.