2018 College Football Recruiting Top 10 Initial Classes
As anyone who follows the cutthroat world of college football recruiting will tell you, attracting top players early in the process is important, but keeping that talent in the fold until signing day is quite another feat. With teenage recruits prone to frequent changes of heart during the courtship for their talents, there's really no guarantees until the dotted line has been graced with a signature. Coaches, for their part, are also wont to indecision.
In many instances, a recruit who was promised a scholarship early in the process is told months later that the school and its coaching staff are pursuing other targets. While the entire process is based on provisional and tenuous promises and characterized by upheaval, it's still great fodder for college football fans during the offseason. Here's a look at who's winning the early battle.
College Football's Early Recruiting Top 10
10: Louisville Cardinals
Head Coach Bobby Petrino looked to have things going in a big way in 2016 with a top 5 ranking and eventual Heisman winner in QB Lamar Jackson. Then the wheels came off in the Cardinals last three games with blowout losses to Houston and LSU bracketing an embarrasing home loss to arch rival Kentucky. Louisville addressed deficiencies on its offensive line to complete the 2017 recruiting class and has a jump start on its 2018 commits led by highly touted cornerback Trenell Troutman from Fort Lauderdale, FL. The Cards will need to address expected departures along the defensive front, so look for them to pursue DL's with great gusto over the next several months.
9: Alabama Crimson Tide
Like we said in the intro, it's early, so look for Nick Saban and company to ascend to its customary position at the top of this list. Alabama has four quality commits led by Xavier Williams, a freakish athlete from Hollywood, FL. Akial Byers, a 6'4, 275 lb junior college commit looks to be another disruptive specimen in the trenches in the long line of Bama defensive lineman who fit that mold.
8: Ohio State Buckeyes
Another titan in the recruiting game, Urban Meyer and staff have three commits so far including a pair of prodigious talents in five-star dual-threat QB Emory Jones and safety Jaiden Woodbey. Look for the Buckeyes to assemble their usual array of top-flight talent that fit its needs. With a young team already in Columbus, the Buckeyes will likely sign fewer players than most of the other programs on this list.
7. Clemson Tigers
Expect the defending national champs to recruit well again and they are already on their way with five commits led by five-star QB Trevor Lawrence. Dabo Swinney will have to replace a program-changing QB in DeShaun Watson, but the Tigers are at the point where they simply reload.
6. LSU Tigers
While the jury is sort of still out on Ed Orgeron's coaching ability, the guy has always been able to recruit at the highest level. The Tigers finished 2016 strong on the field and signed a solid class in 2017. They'll look to carry that momentum forward with a 2018 class topped by defensive backs Kelvin Joseph and Caden Sterns. Known for a nasty defense, LSU looks poised to continue making life difficult on opposing offenses.
5. USC Trojans
With tradition and mystique on its side in addition to finishing 2016 with a Rose Bowl win, USC is once again, a sexy destination for recruits. The 2018 Trojan class is led by five-star prostyle QB Matt Corral could be the next Sam Darnold. If things continue the way the are in Los Angeles, Corral will be a one-year understudy to Darnold before taking over the reins... Great news for Trojan fans.
4. Texas A & M Aggies
It's no secret that everything is bigger in Texas - including the high school football talent. With the University of Texas still reeling from the Charlie Strong era, Texas A & M and Kevin Sumlin are cleaning up on the recruiting trail in 2018, landing prized recruits from the Lonestar state such as OT Colten Blanton, Safety Jordan Moore, WR Montel Parker and massive DT Dominic Livingston.
3. Florida State Seminoles
Jimbo Fischer was rumored to be a hot replacement for the LSU job last fall after Les Miles was canned, but stayed in Tallahassee much to the delight of Seminole fans. FSU's recruiting wasn't harmed in the least by the rumors in a class that features James Cook - the heir apparent and younger brother to departed star RB Dalvin Cook.
2. Miami Hurricanes
Coach Mark Richt has Miami trending upwards after recording a 9-4 record in 2016 and the school's first bowl win in a decade. Richt already has nine commits - all from the Sunshine State in the 2018 class and Coral Gables looks like a prime destination once again. Five-star RB Lorenzo Lingard from Orange City, FL is a big-time talent.
1. Penn State Nittany Lions
When current Penn State head coach JamesFranklin was coaching at Vanderbilt, he mused that he only hired assistant coaches with pretty wives because of the correlation in skill it takes to land an attractive spouse and high school recruit. While he took some heat over that one, Franklin as long been considered an ace recruiter and he's doing in at a very high level in Happy Valley. The 2016 season saw Penn State return to prominence for the first time since Joe Pa's heyday, and Franklin appears to be gaining serious momentum from the school's Rose Bowl appearance with commits from a pair of five star athletes in DE Micah Parsons and athlete Ricky Slade.
Best Places to Bet College Football
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The book lists national championship odds for all Power 5 conference teams. The site also lists Heisman Trophy odds with USC QB Sam Darnold listed as the favorite at +400 and 2016 Heisman winner Lamar Jackson posted as a +650 shot to repeat. Considering Jackson was a +7500 shot this time a year ago, it's easy to see the value in such wagering opportunities.
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