Examining where teams rank in terms of talent heading into the season
Recruiting is the foundation for winning national championships, competing for CFB Playoff berths or performing at a high level in college football. While recruiting rankings aren’t 100 percent accurate, there is plenty of truth in the rankings and evaluations by the experts. Additionally, with advances in technology to watch more prospects, along with more offseason camps, the rankings for prospects and classes as a whole are more accurate than they were just a few years ago. Since the start of the CFB Playoff era, all five champions have come from teams ranked inside of the top eight in overall roster talent. It’s no secret what a program needs in order to win big at this level. Great coaching, support staffs, state-of-the-art training facilities and luck certainly helps, but talent on the roster (and player development) provides a significant head start in the race to win it all each season.
Just how important are recruiting rankings and the overall talent evaluation? Alabama (No. 1) has won five national championships since 2009. Additionally, the Crimson Tide, Georgia and Ohio State - the top three teams in this metric - have all played for or won a national title in the CFB Playoff era. Three teams from the SEC rank inside of the top four for 2019, with Ohio State (No. 3) and USC (No. 5) rounding out the top five.
Below are the national recruiting ranking averages for the Power 5 schools, Notre Dame and BYU over the last five classes according to 247Sports Team Composite rankings and each team's record over the last five seasons. Obviously, this doesn't take into account attrition. However, with a five-year window in place, this should be considered relatively even across the conference.
Ranking College Football's Rosters for 2019
|13T||Penn State||Big Ten||13||5||15||19||15||13.4||45-21||27-16|
|26||Michigan State||Big Ten||30||32||35||22||22||28.2||43-22||27-16|
|37T||Oklahoma State||Big 12||37||33||38||44||39||38.2||44-21||27-18|
|55||Iowa State||Big 12||48||53||53||52||66||54.4||24-38||15-30|
|Conference||Avg. Class Rank||Teams in Top 25*|
|37.9 (14 teams)||3|
|39.8 (10 teams)||2|
|36.9 (14 teams)||4|
|34 (12 teams)||5|
|19.2 (14 teams)||10|
|* Top 25 classes also include Notre Dame|
Takeaways from Roster Rankings
* The SEC claims three out of the top four teams in the roster rankings for 2019.
* Additionally, seven other SEC teams rank inside of the top 25 in roster rankings, including Auburn (No. 7), Texas A&M (No. 11) and Florida and Tennessee tied for No. 13.
* Alabama has signed the No. 1 class in four out of the last five years (2015-19).
* Georgia was No. 5 in the roster rankings prior to the 2016 season. However, thanks to elite recruiting by coach Kirby Smart, the Bulldogs have climbed to No. 2 overall. Georgia has not inked a class lower than third nationally over the last three years.
* Florida State ranked No. 3 among rosters prior to the 2016 season but has slipped to No. 6. Additionally, the gap between the Seminoles and Clemson has decreased. The Tigers ranked No. 12 prior to ’16 but are No. 8 nationally headed into ’19.
* USC is the only Pac-12 team ranked inside of the top 15 for the roster rankings. The Trojans No. 20 class in 2019 is the lowest over the last five hauls.
* Texas and Oklahoma are the only teams from the Big 12 inside of the top 25 of the roster rankings.
* Assuming Michigan signs a class in the top 10-15 next season, coach Jim Harbaugh’s team should jump in this ranking. The Wolverines have averaged a 9.75 finish over their last four hauls. However, the overall average is dragged down by a No. 37 class in 2015.
* Notre Dame has not inked a class lower than No. 15 in each of the last five years. The Fighting Irish have yet to sign a class ranked higher than No. 10 in that stretch.
* Oregon’s No. 7 class in 2019 helped coach Mario Cristobal’s team jump from No. 20 nationally in the roster rankings last fall to No. 17 this season.
* Since inking the No. 6 class in 2016, Ole Miss’ last three hauls have averaged a No. 28 finish.
* UCLA has fallen from No. 13 in roster rankings prior to the 2016 season to No. 20 going into ’19.
* According to the numbers, TCU and Wisconsin consistently outperform their recruiting rankings. The Horned Frogs are tied for 30th but are 47-19 overall since 2015. The Badgers are tied for 34th but are 53-15 since ’15. Only four teams – Alabama, Ohio State, Clemson and Oklahoma – have more wins than Wisconsin over that span.
* Washington State is another team that continues to outperform its recruiting ranking. The Cougars are 40-24 since 2015 and rank No. 48 in terms of roster talent.
* Minnesota ranked No. 56 in this article prior to the 2016 season but has climbed to No. 47. That’s due to improved recruiting by coach P.J. Fleck, as the Golden Gophers reeled in the No. 36 class in 2018 and the No. 42 haul in ’19.
* Duke has been on a steady climb up this list over the last few years. After ranking No. 54 prior to the 2016 season, the Blue Devils are up to No. 45.
* Virginia inked the No. 39 class in 2019, which is the best of coach Bronco Mendenhall’s tenure and the program’s highest rank since a No. 32 haul in ’14.
* Only one team (Michigan State) has ranked outside of the top 25 in roster rankings and earned a trip to the CFB Playoff.
* The roster rankings indicate Utah is fourth in talent among teams in the Pac-12 South, but coach Kyle Whittingham’s program has outperformed Arizona State and UCLA in conference play from 2015-18. Additionally, the Utes have more overall wins (44) than USC (43) in that span.
* Since the start of the BCS Era (1998), no team ranked lower than 18th (Miami) has claimed a national championship.
* Purdue averaged a No. 72 finish from 2015-17 but has improved that total to No. 37 over the last two years.