Skip to main content

5 teams with surprisingly great recruiting classes in the 2023 cycle

sddefault

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_single_image source="featured_image" img_size="large"]

Intro

With the first weekend of June in the books, the 2023 recruiting cycle is getting ready to enter its most active stretch. Most recruits are expected to announce their college decisions before the high school football season kicks off in a few short months. Many schools have already secured several commitments from key targets leading to this pivotal time for recruiting and college visits for recruits. In this article, we will look at some of the great classes that teams have put together so far. Specifically, we will focus on teams who have highly underrated classes.

Criteria

The criteria for determining how underrated a recruiting class is will include factors such as average recruit rating, total class ranking, how this class compares to prior cycles, and the media attention dedicated to this cycle. To ensure an even comparison, any time I refer to average ratings, team class rankings, or player rankings, the data will be sourced from the 247 sports composite team rankings. I also factor in the standard expectations for each given team in this list. A team like USC, which has had an excellent recruiting cycle compared to recent years, isn't on this list. This is because the public expectations for USC's recruiting classes are much higher now with a recruiting-oriented coach like Lincoln Riley than they were under Clay Helton. Now that the criteria is clear let's begin.

5. UCF

The first team on this list is the UCF Knights. UCF has outperformed expectations on and off the field by entering the second offseason under the Gus Malzahn era. Following a successful year one culminating in a bowl victory over in-state flagship Florida, UCF has made multiple solid additions in their 2023 class and are competitive in recruiting recruits that may not have considered them this time a few years ago. As of June 9th, UCF has the 35th ranked recruiting class in the 247 recruiting rankings. This is an impressive class for a school that is not yet in a power five conference. Now, recruiting at this level will allow UCF to develop players and be competitive in year one in the big twelve.

So far, the headliner in this class is top 200 EDGE Isaiah Nixon out of Lakewood High School in St. Petersburg, Florida. Five of the six commits currently rank inside the top 1000 in the 247 sports composite, including two inside the top 500. If UCF were already a member of the big twelve, this would be good for the eighth-ranked class in the conference. Additionally, this is significantly better than any other class in the AAC, other than Cincinnatti. Depending on how the months of June and July shake out with visits, UCF could move further up the rankings with some of the other high-level recruitments they are in on.

4. Texas Tech

Texas Tech may be one of the only teams in the entire recruiting cycle that may not need to add many more players in the summer months. Currently, the Red Raiders sit with the 2nd ranked class overall with 20 commits. The average player grade in the class sits at 87.76/100. Currently, 16 of 20 commits sit inside the top 1000 in the composite rankings. Furthermore, five are amongst the top 500 recruits nationally. Two of their commits are currently unevaluated, so these numbers could be subject to change once they are evaluated.

Since arriving in Lubbock, Head Coach Joey McGuire has made a concerted effort to build relationships with high schools and coaches in the state of Texas. Given that 19 of their commits are homegrown prospects, it would be safe to state that McGuire has successfully won in-state recruiting battles. The staff trusts their evaluation process and hasn't been afraid to offer kids early in their recruiting process. This method of recruiting has paid dividends for the Red Raiders.

With the class mostly full, the coaching staff can be more selective with the recruits they take with their final spots. Essentially, the coaching staff has the green light to swing for the fences in hopes of adding a couple more possible headliners to the class. If it doesn't happen, they can take a few flyers and still feel great about the class they bring in.

Scroll to Continue

Recommended Articles

3. Baylor

Baylor is easily one of the most slept-on recruiting teams in the country. Head Coach Dave Aranda has a unique way of going about recruiting. He is brutally honest with recruits and players about their projected roles on the team. This honesty comes from a real place. As Aranda stated during an interview with Andy Staples a few months ago, his honesty is to empower his athletes to make decisions that are in their best interest.

The best example is when Aranda announced his QB1 for next season at the end of spring football this year. Soon after the announcement, former starter Gerry Bohanon entered the transfer portal and transferred to USF. While Baylor fans were quite upset with Aranda for announcing his decision so early, it is undeniable that this decision was in the best interest of both of his quarterbacks, as it gave them plenty of time to decide their future. This kind of transparency is extremely rare amongst power five coaches. In my opinion, it is one of the reasons Baylor can recruit so well. Athletes and their families value honesty, and there isn't staff in college football more publically honest with their players than Baylor. This honest and competitive culture that Coach Aranda has built is a strong selling point for recruits.

So far in 2023, Baylor has the 13th ranked recruiting class, containing 10 players in the 247 composite top 1000. Nine out of the ten in the class are from Texas. The headliner of the class is the top 300 is four-star quarterback Austin Novosad out of Dripping Springs High School in Dripping Springs, Texas. Novosad recently received an offer from Ohio State, so there is no guarantee he will stay committed. If Baylor can keep him committed, then he easily projects to be the Bear's star QB of the future.

During June, the Bears coaching staff will have several high three and four-star prospects on campus for official visits. A few names to watch include Jaylon Braxton, DK Kalu, Isaiah Robinson, TayShawn Wilson, and Marjayvious Moss. If they can close on some of these prospects, Baylor will have a great chance of finishing with a top 20, possibly pushing for a top 10 recruiting class by the end of the cycle.

2. Louisville

Following up a prep recruiting class in the 2022 cycle which ranked 54th nationally, Head Coach Scott Satterfield has hit gold early on in the 2023 cycle. Currently, Louisville has the 8th-ranked class in the nation. This is largely due to the inroads that the Cardinals have made in the state of California. Half of the 10 commits in the class are from the golden state. Furthermore, three of the five are from high school powerhouse St. John Bosco in Bellflower, California. St. John Bosco is known for producing top-end talent, and the prospects in the 2023 class are no exception. The Cardinals have at least three legitimate headliners in top 200 prospects, cornerback Aaron Williams, QB Pierce Clarkson, and receiver DeAndre Moore Jr. Williams and Clarkson. Both play at St. John Bosco.

On June 17th, the Cardinals coaching staff will have 19 recruits on campus, including 9 of the 10 commits. Other highly rated recruits the Cardinals will try to close on include three stars Jordan Church, Jeremiah Telander, Raymond Pulido, Koby Keenum, and Luke Burgess. Four stars prospects include Dontavius Braswell, Jaybron Harvey, and Madden Sanker. Lastly, they will also host Five-star runningback, Rueben Owens. They aren't the favorite to land Owens, but a good visit could help. Overall, if Louisville can manage to land a handful of the three and four-star visitors, they could have a real chance at a top 15 finish in this recruiting cycle. Assuming they develop the talent they land, this could position the Cardinals to be competitive a few seasons from now in a winnable conference like the ACC.

1. Arkansas

The top team on this list, Head Coach Sam Pittman, has worked miracles in his first few seasons in Fayetteville. In the first few seasons under Coach Pittman, the Razorbacks have finished with overall classes in the 20-30 range. Before coach Pittman, the Hogs were more in the 30-50 range. Following a tremendous season that saw the Razorbacks finish 9-4, the coaching staff has capitalized on the momentum, picking up some huge wins on the recruiting trail. For the first time in decades, the Arkansas staff is winning recruiting battles for kids with other extensive options. Currently, the Razorbacks have the 7th overall recruiting class in the nation.

In April, the staff landed a commitment from a four-star quarterback in Malachi Singleton. Arkansas also has secured commitments from other four stars, including TE Luke Hasz, TE Shamar Easter, IOL Luke Brown, and TE Jaden Hamm. To land these kids, the Razorbacks coaching staff beat out schools like Oklahoma, Texas, Texas A&M, Tennessee, Auburn, Alabama, and Florida. Historically, Arkansas hasn't had good luck recruiting against other conference opponents.

Arkansas is now able to compete for big-time recruits, and they are beating traditional powers for them. Over the next few months, they will host several blue-chip recruits on official visits. Names include WR Joshua Manning, Connor Stroh, IOL Madden Sanker, OT Charles Jagusah, S Cameron Upshaw, CB Jeremiah Hughes, CB Rickey Gibson, RB Javin Simpkins, and ATH Robert Stafford. With the strong start, the Hogs have a real chance to finish with a top 20 recruiting class for the first time since 2011.