The recruiting calendar has officially flipped to 2014, and in typical Texas fashion, the Longhorns are off to a hot start currently sitting on the nation’s top recruiting class.
A new recruiting philosophy in Austin has led to faster results for Texas coach Mack Brown and his coaching staff.
What may also be becoming typical is how well Texas A&M has been recruiting under new head coach Kevin Sumlin. After finishing with the nation’s No. 10 recruiting class in 2013, the Aggies are currently sitting at No. 2 in this year’s national rankings.
247Sports takes a look at what each school has done to build fast momentum on the recruiting trail.
The first Texas junior day after National Signing Day was always one of the biggest days in recruiting across the country.
Head coach Mack Brown and his staff would be handing out the first wave of offers to prospects in the next class, and many of them would commit on the spot.
That’s how it worked until now.
Brown and his staff decided it would be more advantageous to start handing out scholarships to rising juniors back in the summer, and they ended up seeing even faster results. This past Sunday was the Longhorn’s first junior day after last Wednesday's National Signing Day, and Brown went into it already had seven 2014 commits in the fold. Outside linebacker Cameron Hampton made it eight at junior day.
Coming off an 11-2 season, Aggies head coach Kevin Sumlin plans on going national to look for a few top recruits.
While some philosophies have changed, trying to own the state of Texas obviously hasn’t. Every commit is an in-state prosect, with Top100 offensive guard Demetrius Knox leading the way. Also in the boat are fellow Top247 prospects in quarterback Jerrod Heard, defensive end Derick Roberson, running back Donald Catalon and fullback Daniel Gresham.
Moving forward, Texas in good shape to land several more touted in-state prospects in 247Composite five-star defensive end Solomon Thomas, Top100 safety Jamal Adams, Top247 safety John Bonney and four-star center Terrell Cuney.
Just like the Longhorns, all seven Texas A&M pledges hail from the Lone Star State, led by Top247 prospects, linebacker Hoza Scott, cornerback Nick Harvey, all-purpose back Varshaun Nixon, outside linebacker Josh Walker and cornerback Cedric Collins.
The Aggies aim to have their recruiting class halfway done heading into the start or middle of summer, and could have two more big-time in-state pledges on the way in defensive end Myles Garrett and safety Dylan Sumner-Gardner.
Outside of Texas, Louisiana is a state that traditionally treats A&M well, and Sumlin and company are in on several targets including Top100 prospects receiver Speedy Noil and defensive end Gerald Willis.
From there, Texas A&M plans to take this positive momentum from an exciting 11-2 season and go national on the recruiting trail. Five-star offensive guard Braden Smith, Top247 legacy defensive end Qualen Cunningham are two out-of-area recruits that have the Aggies among their early leaders.
Since taking over in 2010 at Florida State, Jimbo Fisher has reeled in consecutive Top10 recruiting classes with no signs of slowing down in 2014.
The Seminoles are off to a faster Sunshine State start than their in-state rivals Florida and Miami, securing six verbals from home-state talent.
Bradenton (Fla.) Manatee defensive tackle Demarcus Christmas is arguably the top player in the state at his position, and fellow four-stars linebacker Delvin Purifoy and cornerback/receiver J.C. Jackson round out a great start to this class. Yearby, Robinson, Whorton and Jackson all camped at Florida State last summer, giving the Seminoles staff an opportunity to get an early start on them.
Head coach Jimbo Fisher has seen Florida State land Top10 recruiting classes every year since he took over in 2010, and that trend will likely continue with some of the names the Seminoles remain in on including five-star linebacker Kain Daub, who has already visited twice this year and Top100 defensive end Justin Thornton, who was close to committing to Florida State earlier this month. The Seminoles are also near the top of the list for 247Composite five-star receiver Ermon Lane.
Arguably the top closer in college football recruiting, Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer typically starts a new recruiting cycle fast as well.
A few members of the Ohio State coaching staff have developed the mantra of planting the flag while on the road recruiting.
That Buckeyes flag is certainly waving in Detroit.
As expected, the Buckeyes are also doing very well at home, reeling in the state’s top two offensive linemen in Marcelys Jones and Kyle Trout, along with speedy running back/receiver Parris Campbell. Perhaps Campbell’s teammate in Top100 outside linebacker Dante Booker will soon join the fold as well.
Ohio State finished with the nation’s No. 2 class in 2013 and there are no signs of slowing down in the next recruiting cycle. Among the many other touted prospects the Buckeyes lead for or are near the top of list includes five-star linebacker Raekwon McMillan, five-star athlete Jabrill Peppers, four-star athlete Marshon Lattimore, four-star linebacker Clifton Garrett, four-star offensive tackle Jamarco Jones, four-star receiver Drake Harris and four-star linebacker Kyle Berger.
Dabo Swinney and his staff appear to be way ahead of the curve every year, finding potential blue-chippers and then becoming one of the first programs to extend a scholarship.
Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney and his staff are typically ahead of the curve recruiting.
According to his 247Sports timeline, Clemson was the first program to offer Top100 running back Dalvin Cook out of Miami (Fla.) Central and he committed back in June. The Tigers were also first to make a move on Top247 legacy tight end Cannon Smith, and he gave his verbal in late-July. Gainesville (Ga.) High quarterback Deshaun Watson has become one of the more sought-after signal-callers in the country. Clemson has been on him for two years and got him in the fold last February. In-state all-purpose back Jae’lon Oglesby offered and committed back in June. One of Taylor Hearn’s first visits was to Clemson in early September and the in-state offensive tackle pulled the trigger Super Bowl weekend.
While Swinney and his staff will now fight to keep both Cook (watch Florida) and Watson (watch Auburn, Georgia, North Carolina, Ohio State and Oregon) in the class, they’re also in good shape with several other prospects including former Florida State commit Jacob McCrary, Top247 receiver Demarre Kitt, four-star tight end Milan Richard and running back Johnathan Vickers.