By Corey Long - @CoreyLong
As most high schools have started spring football and every staff has hit the road to hand out new scholarship offers and re-adjust their recruiting boards to prepare for the summer evaluation period, it's time to look back on the first few months of the 2020 recruiting cycle.
With two College Football Playoff championships in the past three years, it shouldn't be a shock that Clemson currently has the No. 1 recruiting class in the nation and is a major threat to bring the SEC lock on the "recruiting championship" come February.
Clemson's haul was already great by the end of April, but the recent commitments of quarterback D.J. Uiagalelei and running back Demarckus Bowman have put a little distance between the Tigers and the two closest programs chasing them, Alabama and LSU.
Certain things have worked in Clemson's favor this cycle. The program graduated a lot of seniors and lost a couple of underclassmen, so there are openings on the roster, and the numbers are there for a full class. The Tigers are also coming off of a dominating championship season. The fact that Trevor Lawrence, a true freshman at the time, played the majority of the season, shows that Clemson's staff isn't afraid to play the best players.
Clemson can absolutely hold on to this spot for the rest of the cycle. The Tigers still have some major blue-chip prospects on the board, and they will benefit from a pretty strong crop of in-state prospects in South Carolina this year. Alabama will come on strong, as Nick Saban always does, and don't discount some of the blue bloods that aren't in the top 10 now. It's never easy to get to the top, and it will be hard to stay there.
Penn State has really jumped out to a nice class, sitting at No. 8. The offensive line haul has been very impressive. Northwestern is just outside of the top 10, but is close and Pat Fitzgerald and his staff have stepped out this year, taking on Notre Dame, Ohio State, Stanford and others to get those high-end recruits who make a program highly competitive without compromising their academic standards. North Carolina is also doing pretty well in Mack Brown's first year back.
Cause for Concern:
Ohio State is fourth in my rankings, but as I said, the difference between fourth through seventh is minimal. And frankly, Penn State and Florida are one big commitment from making it that much closer. The Buckeyes have great quality in the class so far, but the summer is going to be very important because they've lost some key targets on their board like offensive lineman John Young, who committed to Kentucky, and wide receiver Rakim Jarrett, who committed to LSU.
Miami also bears watching. Not because Manny Diaz's staff hasn't done a good job so far in south Florida, he has. But south Florida prospects travel over the summer. They take visits; they go on recruiting bus tours, so they are going to see a lot of programs. And Miami, moreso than any other program over the past 7-8 years, has a high level of recruiting turnover in the summer. Now things have changed. Miami has improved its facilities tenfold. The Hurricanes have an indoor facility now and recently got a new weight room, locker rooms, player's lounge, offices, etc., etc. So the prospects who used to commit to Miami early and then see all these crazy new facilities in other programs in the southeast now know that Miami has similar amenities in their backyard.
Who's Looking In:
All the bluebloods will be heard from. Texas, USC, Michigan, Auburn, Oklahoma, Texas A&M, etc. are all going to bring in big-time prospects over the summer and will get their share of the recruiting market. Believe that. I wouldn't be surprised to see at least three or four changes to the top 10 by the end of the summer period in August.
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