Perhaps more than any in recent memory, this recruiting cycle has been impacted by coaching changes. More specifically, assistant coaches, who in most cases take the lead in the recruitment of talented players, leaving have had a big impact in the decisions of multiple top prospects.
D.C. native Mike Locksley has had an instant impact on Maryland's recruiting efforts in the Beltway.
Above all things, this shows that as far as acquiring talent in college football, is not all about the head coaches any more. So with that, here’s a look at the most significant “recruiting” hires made thus far this offseason.
Please note that these are ranked in terms of potential long-term impact. Our national Recruiter of the Year and Top Recruiters will be released later this week
1- Tosh Lupoi, Washington
When it comes to the top recruiters in the country, Lupoi is an absolute rock star. His hiring by Steve Sarkisian at Washington away from Cal, his alma mater, should give a boost to the Huskies recruiting efforts and derailed a promising Golden Bears class (Arik Armstead likely would have committed to Cal, not Oregon, had Lupoi still been in Berkeley). Lupoi was a downright magical recruiter in Berkeley and in Seattle, the hope is that he continues to work it.
2- Mike Locksley, MarylandThe hiring of Locksley as the Terps’ offensive coordinator was seen as a move that could potentially revolutionize Maryland’s recruiting efforts, particularly in the D.C. Beltway. If the Terps can land a chunk of the talent within a 40-mile radius of their campus in College Park, that's an outstanding foundation to work from. Locksley had big recruiting wins at Illinois as an assistant and also at New Mexico as a head coach and immediately puts Maryland in the game for many top area prospects in the coming years.
3- Larry Johnson, Penn State
Obviously Johnson was a retention and not a fresh hiring, but it was absolutely critical for new Nittany Lions head coach Bill O’Brien. Johnson has been one of the top recruiters in the country for years, particularly with regards to prospects in the state of Maryland, which is vital recruiting territory for Penn State.
4- Demetrice Martin, UCLA
New Tennessee running backs coach Jay Graham recruited Marcus Lattimore when he was an assistant at South Carolina and has deep ties to the state of North Carolina.
Martin, who was at Washington previously, has a reputation as being one of the top recruiters on the West Coast and had an instant impact after his hiring by new UCLA coach Jim Mora Jr., landing four-star defensive tackle Ellis McCarthy. Martin is one of several dynamic recruiters hired by Mora Jr. and will have a huge impact in the coming years.
5- Sal Sunseri, Tennessee
The Vols hired Sunseri as their new defensive coordinator and it gives them an instant boost on the recruiting trail, particularly on the Atlantic Coast- an area of the country that is important for Tennessee to sign players. The Vols have to recruit nationally because the state of Tennessee does not produce enough in-state talent on a yearly basis for the program to compete at a high level in the SEC and nationally, so having great recruiters on staff is a must. Sunseri was 247Sports National Recruiter of the Year for the 2011 class when he was at Alabama.
6- Mike Vrabel, Ohio State
Vrabel was hired in July by interim head coach Luke Fickell and was retained by new head coach Urban Meyer as the Buckeyes’ defensive line coach. He is credited with helping keep the class in Columbus together during the transition and went right out and landed five-star defensive end Noah Spence.
7- Jay Graham, Tennessee
Graham is one of the most successful running backs in Vols history and his arrival in Knoxville gives Tennessee an instant staff upgrade from a recruiting standpoint. Historically, the Vols have been able to recruit Graham’s home state of North Carolina (he’s from Concord) and his presence makes them instantly competitive in that state, particularly in the Charlotte area. Graham was the recruiter of record for running back Marcus Lattimore at his previous stop, South Carolina.
8- Adrian Klemm, UCLA
Klemm returned home to Los Angeles as part of Mora Jr.’s Bruins staff and his presence was immediately felt as he could end up having a hand in as many as nine signees for UCLA in this class. He did an excellent job at SMU as part of that staff, too, in this recruiting cycle, particularly with Los Angeles-area prospects. The former NFL player is a rising star in coaching circles.
Texas A&M defensive line coach Terrell Williams was a big retention by new Aggies head coach Kevin Sumlin and has helped Texas A&M hold on to and even add to what is now the No. 3 class in the Southeastern Conference.
9- Lance Thompson, AlabamaThe Crimson Tide replaced Sal Sunseri with a familiar face in Lance Thompson, who returns to Tuscaloosa from Tennessee. Thompson has long been known as one of the top recruiters in the Southeast, particularly along the Gulf Coast, a crucial area for most SEC programs, including the Crimson Tide.
10- Brent Venables, Clemson
Venables, who comes to Clemson from Oklahoma, is an energetic recruiter and coach being added to an energetic and good-recruiting coaching staff under Tigers head coach Dabo Swinney. Former Clemson defensive coordinator Kevin Steele was known as a great recruiter himself, so Venables will certainly be an excellent replacement in that area.
11- Terrell Williams, Texas A&M
Williams, who was retained by new Aggies coach Kevin Sumlin, held together a recruiting class that currently rates third in the Southeastern Conference. Texas A&M also is in a position to land a few more top players down the stretch.
12- Tim Kish, Oklahoma
Kish had an excellent reputation on the recruiting trail while he was an assistant at Arizona and should step right in and do a great job on the Sooners’ staff. Oklahoma recruits at a high level every year and he should only help.