With National Signing Day in college football less than a week away, the battle is on in full force nationwide to grab the best of the available noncommitted players and fill out the rest of the open spots in hopes of assembling the best possible recruiting class for the new season in the fall.
When you examine the team rankings published and updated regularly throughout the calendar year by the various national research services that assess and rank the talent level of the high school and junior-college recruits every year, it seems, the rankings at the top look strikingly familair. That’s because the same teams are listed and in relatively the same order in which they appeared in the final national polls just a couple of months before.
For example, Texas and Oklahoma, for many years considered the cream of the crop in Big 12 football, generally are right there on National Signing Day boasting one of the top-10 recruiting classes. This is not to say that the other Big 12 schools don’t do well with their football recruiting; just that the Sooners and Longhorns tend to do better than the rest because of their strong heritage and the popular appeal of their brand based on a long history of success on the field and in the national spotlight.
The same is true for Alabama and LSU in the Southeastern Conference and Ohio State and Michigan in the Big Ten. Anything is possible between now and next Wednesday, when all of the nonbinding verbal commitments that all the schools have been reporting the past 12 months must be signed and sent in to the designated schools before they becomes official.
For the most part, though, the way things stand now, less than a week out, is pretty much the way the final bidding is expected to end up in terms of where the top recruits are going and the general list of the schools that put together the recruiting classes deemed to be among the best in the country.
The list of schools perceived to have scored well in recruiting this past year is generally consistent with what it has been in the recent past. What is strikingly different, however, at least in the view of this writer, is the overwhelming presence of SEC schools among the recruiting classes currently ranked in the top 10, according to Rivals.com
You may recall that six SEC teams (Alabama, Georgia, Texas A&M, South Carolina, Florida and LSU) were ranked in the top 12 of the final USA Today coaches’ poll at the end of last season. Guess what? Rivals.com has Florida (1), Alabama (3), LSU (5), Texas A&M (8), Georgia (10) and Mississippi (11) all ranked in the top 12 recruiting classes of 2013 with five days to go before National Signing Day.
That pretty much seals the deal for the SEC not only as the best football conference – how do you argue with seven consecutive national championships? – but as the conference with the best 2013 recruiting class – and by a long shot. Stands to reason, doesn’t it?
How about the other so-called BCS conferences. How is the Big 12 expected to fare in this year’s recruiting war. I’m afraid I don’t have good news on this front to report to the fans of Big 12 Country. Again, based on the data reported by Rivals.com. Oklahoma has the highest ranked recruiting class among the Big 12 schools, at No. 12 currently. Texas is next at No.17, West Virginia is positioned at No. 24 and Oklahoma State is 26th.
As a conference, the Big 12 is a distant fourth behind the SEC, Pac-12 and Big Ten and barely ahead of the Atlantic Coast Conference.
How well a team or a conference does in attracting and signing quality football recruits does not necessarily dictate where you will end up in the league standings the following fall or over the next several seasons. It does, however, reflect a commitment to getting better, rejecting complacency and investing in top talent with which to get the job done.
For more news and information on Big 12 football and all 10 conference teams, go to Big12Sports.com.