Our Top 10 Sleeper College Football Recruiting Classes From 2016
Now that National Signing Day is over, it’s easy enough to identify the clear winners. National Champion Alabama earned the No. 1 spot with some great last-minute deals, while teams like Florida State, Michigan, Georgia and LSU made some solid additions to finish in the top ten. A pretty typical recruiting season, the rich get richer.
Still, the rankings don’t always tell the whole story. There are quite a few schools who made some very exciting under-the-radar deals and aren’t being regarded as highly as the favorites. Today, we’ll have a look at ten sleeper classes who could spring a few surprises next season.
Arizona State had a mixed campaign last year, with an overall record of 6-7. The Sun Devils will want to improve on that record in 2016 and have added some exciting recruits to their ranks. The No. 1 rated player in the state, N’keal Harry, is a particular highlight. The WR has plenty of potential and can make an immediate impact for his new team. 4-star rated players Chase Lucas, Dougladson Subtyl and J’Marcus Rhodes can also develop into big players for Arizona State and shouldn’t take long to adapt to their new surroundings.
Bret Bielema has continued his trend of recruiting a good blend of exciting offensive players and strength in defense. The head coach is particularly excited about RB Devwah Whaley, with the 4-star rusher set to be an important player for the Razorbacks. 5-star defensive lineman McTelvin Agim is another excellent addition. Agim, along with his fellow new linemen including Austin Capps, Terrance Malone and Jake Heinrich, should ensure that Arkansas remains a tough nut to crack for any opposition next season.
Kentucky’s recruiting class might not have made the headlines, but head coach Mark Stoops has added plenty of talent all around the field and is very pleased with his new recruits. 4-star rated linemen Drake Jackson and Landon Young provide plenty of solidity, while JUCO star Kayaune Ross could prove to be a very exciting addition for the Wildcats. Overall, the team has added a good balance of offensive and defensive players that should help them to push for success over the next few years.
Despite dealing with plenty of issues behind the scenes, including the loss of potential superstar QB Dwayne Haskins Jr., Maryland has still done a good job in its recruitment. The team’s new staff quickly identified the weak points of the team and found some solid reinforcements. 4-star offensive guards Terrance Davis and Richard Merritt will certainly add something to the team, while lots of hope is being placed in young signal caller Tyrell Pigrome.
The Big Ten champions didn’t make too many signings, but went for quality over quantity, with half of their class being given 4-star ratings. The team was clearly in need of WRs and added four of them, with Donnie Corley and Cameron Chambers being particular highlights. QB Messiah deWeaver is one to watch for the future, while the team also recruited some strong defensive prospects in Josh King, Naquan Jones and Mike Panasiuk. This class ultimately ranked outside the top twenty, but it’s easy to see that Michigan State did a very impressive job here.
Mississippi State fans will have been overjoyed at the dramatic signing day announcement that 5-star defensive end Jeffery Simmons would be signing with the team. Again, we’re looking at a team who focused on recruiting high quality players for important positions. Head coach Dan Mullen was particularly glad to have added a set of recruits that should work well for him and the team. The Bulldogs’ defense should remain strong thanks to the additions of Simmons, Kobe Jones and Marquiss Spencer, while the team also recruited a high number of versatile athletes.
TCU coach Gary Patterson has developed a reputation for turning low-ranked players into game-changers, so it’s always worth taking a second look at their latest set of recruits. The latest Horned Frogs class won’t have turned too many heads lately, but it features some really exciting players. 4-star athlete Sewo Olonilua is very versatile and could fill a number of roles with ease, while 4-star WRs Isaiah Graham and Taj Williams can make a big impact straight away. The team also added some solid defensive linemen in the form of Ross Blacklock and Isaiah Chambers.
Texas Tech’s recruitment was all about defense. The team has simply too weak in that department and the staff went to great lengths to find some solid reinforcements. The team recruited a grand total of 14 defensive-minded players, so defensive coordinator David Gibbs will have plenty to work with next season. At the same time, Texas Tech didn’t forget about the offensive side of the game. 4-star WRs T.J. Vasher and Derrick Willies should fit in nicely with the Red Raiders’ style of play.
USF’s class is probably ranked so low because of the relatively low quantity of recruits, but once again we need to focus on the quality of those players. USF made 16 signings, all of which were ranked with at least 3-stars. 4-star WR Darnell Salomon was a big commitment for the school, along with 4-star safety Craig Watts. The team also captured some impressive defensive recruits like Tramal Ivy and should be well set for a good season.
Washington’s class isn’t the biggest either, but this school saw plenty of success in its recruitment battles. Washington managed to prize Byron Murphy away from Arizona State, with the highly-rated cornerback being a big prospect for the future. The team really focused on defensive talent, with 4-star linebackers Camilo Eifler and Brandon Wellington joining 4-star defensive end Levi Onwuzurike at the Huskies. In attack, lightning-fast Sean McGrew could make a big difference to Washington’s prospects over the next couple of years.