Re-ranking the recruiting classes of 2014: Who actually got the best class

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Re-ranking the recruiting classes of 2014: Who actually got the best class

Recruiting rankings get ripped a lot this time of year . Whether its a college coach trying to rationalize a lower ranked class or a potential first-rounder who fell through the cracks as a high-schooler, recruiting rankings are easy targets.But the truth is that in the aggregate, recruiting rankings do a decent job of determining which programs have a chance to play for the national title.Article continues below ...Still, the most accurate way to rank recruiting classes remains hindsight. Thats why every year, we look back three years to determine which programs evaluated and developed players better than their peers. Why three years and not four Because its more fun when most of the players are still in college So here are the new team rankings for the classes of 2014…1. ClemsonRecord since 2014 385Conference titles 2Playoff appearances 2National titles 1Original 247Sports composite ranking 17Major contributors QB Deshaun Watson, WR Artavis Scott, DE Richard Yeargin, RB Adam Choice, LB Kendall Joseph, OG Taylor Hearn, K Greg HuegelAlabamas class produced more starters, but this class brought the player who made the biggest impact on college football each of the past two seasons. Watson elevated Clemson from ACC contender to nationally elite program, and the Tigers appear in position to stay in that echelon for the foreseeable future. Also, one of the most important members of this class wasnt included in the rankingswhich only count scholarship players. Receiver Hunter Renfrow walked on in 2014. As Alabamas secondary will attest after facing Renfrow in two national title games, hes a quite valuable member of this class.2. AlabamaRecord since 2014 404Conference titles 3Playoff appearances 3National titles 1Original 247Sports composite ranking 1Major contributors OT Cam Robinson , CB Tony Brown, CB Marlon Humphrey, LB Rashaan Evans, OG Ross Pierschbacher, OT Dominick Jackson, LB Shaun Dion Hamilton, DT Jarran Reed, DE D.J. Pettway, P JK Scott, RB Bo ScarbroughAs weve come to expect in coach Nick Sabans tenure, this class filled a multitude of needs. Robinson stepped in immediately at left tackle and manned the position for the next three seasons . Reed, a junior college transfer, was a critical component of the defensive line on the 2015 national title team. Scarbrough didnt play for the Crimson Tide in 2014. Academic issues kept him from joining until January 15, but he played a huge role in Alabamas playoff run in 16. Scott, meanwhile, has been a major field position weapon for Alabama since he set foot on campus. This class also included DE DaShawn Hand, the top-ranked player in the nation according to Rivals. Hand hasnt been bad at Alabama; hes simply been waiting his turn. He should step into a big role as a senior in 17.Why a coachs second recruiting class may be his most important one of all3. StanfordRecord since 2014 3010Conference titles 1Playoff appearances 0National titles 0Original 247Sports composite ranking 13Major contributors RB Christian McCaffrey, DE Solomon Thomas, QB Keller Chryst, TE Dalton Schultz, LB Bobby Okereke, LB Joey Alfieri, OT A.T. Hall, DT Harrison Phillips, C Jesse Burkett, CB Alameen Murphy, FB Daniel MarxThis class only had 20 members, but 11 of them started for the Cardinal last season. That includes McCaffrey, who led the nation in all-purpose yards as a sophomore and as a junior. That also includes Thomas, the reigning Pac-12 defensive player of the year. Thats an incredible hit rateeven for a coach whose hit rate has been excellent since he took over the program Ohio StateRecord since 2014 374Conference titles 1Playoff appearances 2National titles 1Original 247Sports composite ranking 3Major contributors LB Raekwon McMillan, CB Marshon Lattimore, OT Jamarco Jones, RB Curtis Samuel, DE Sam Hubbard, WR Noah Brown, S Malik HookerIf we re-ranked these classes again next year, this one might move up higher. The recruiting machine that Urban Meyer has built in Columbus has made it so that some very good players have had to sit and wait their turns. Hooker, for example, would have started for three years at most programs. He started for one at Ohio State and is headed to the NFL. There may be more members of this class who will become major contributors as redshirt juniors or seniors.5. OklahomaRecord since 2014 309Conference titles 2Playoff appearances 1National titles 0Original 247Sports composite ranking 14Major contributors RB Joe Mixon, TE Mark Andrews, RB Samaje Perine, WR Jeffery Mead, OT Orlando Brown, CB Jordan Thomas, S Steven Parker, FB Dimitri FlowersThe offensive backfield portion of this class made huge on-field contributionsthough Mixons huge off-field transgression created a cloud over his entire Oklahoma careerbut the most important member of the class that arrived in 2014 didnt sign a National Letter of Intent. Quarterback Baker Mayfield came as a walk-on transfer from Texas Tech. He turned down a scholarship offer from East Carolina to play for the Sooners, the team he pulled for as a child. Who was the offensive coordinator at East Carolina who offered Mayfield that scholarship Lincoln Riley, who would join Oklahoma in the same role prior to the 2015 season. Two Big 12 titles later, Mayfield and Riley are saddling up for one last ride.6. Florida StateRecord since 2014 337Conference titles 1Playoff appearances 1National titles 0Original 247Sports composite ranking 4Major contributors RB Dalvin Cook, S Ermon Lane, WR Travis Rudolph, LB Jacob Pugh, DT Derrick Nnadi, OT Rod Johnson, DT Demarcus Christmas, S Trey Marshall, TE Mavin Saunders, C Alec Eberle, TE Ryan Izzo, OG Kareem Are, OT Brock RubleCook was the headliner of this class, and he didnt disappoint during his career in Tallahassee. Even with Jameis Winston still on the team, Cook was Florida States most important offensive weapon in the second half of his freshman season. He then carried the offense as a sophomore and for most of his junior season. Much of the rest of this class will peak in 17, which could be great for the Seminoles in an ACC Atlantic Division they no longer have to share with Deshaun Watson.7. Penn StateRecord since 2014 2515Conference titles 1National titles 0Playoff appearances 0Original 247Sports composite ranking 24Major contributors WR Saeed Blacknall, WR Chris Godwin, TE Mike Gesicki, S Marcus Allen, LB Koa Farmer, QB Trace McSorley, CB Grant Haley, LB Jason CabindaThis class is a mix of players who committed to play for outgoing coach Bill OBrien and for James Franklin. Even more impressive is the fact that when each of these players committed, Penn States NCAA sanctions hadnt been lifted. The OBrien and Franklin staffs did some excellent evaluation from a much smaller pool of recruits willing to go to Penn State even if they might face bowl bans and scholarship limits. The Nittany Lions got big contributions from the OBrien recruits and the Franklin recruits in this class.The five best value bets for the 2017 Heisman Trophy8. USCRecord since 2014 2713Conference titles 0National titles 0Playoff appearances 0Original 247Sports composite ranking 10Major contributors CB Adoree Jackson, WR JuJu Smith-Schuster, OG Damien Mama, DE Claude Pelon, OG Viane TalamaivaoSteve Sarkisians first class at USC didnt produce a ton of starters, but it did produce two of the best players on the team that Clay Helton would win the Rose Bowl with this past season. Jackson and Smith-Schuster came to USC during a tumultuous time and may wind up being the foundation for a Trojan renaissance.National Signing Day 2017 winners and losers USC surges, Texas flops9. WashingtonRecord since 2014 2714Conference titles 1Playoff appearances 1National titles 0Original 247Sports composite ranking 37Major contributors S Budda Baker, OT Kaleb McGary, DT Greg Gaines, S JoJo McIntosh, WR Dante Pettis, CB Sidney JonesThe commitments of all of the major contributors listed above were obtained after Chris Petersen and his staff took over the program in December 13. Thats some impressive scrambling for a new staff. Its even more impressive considering the group contains three-quarters of the nations best secondary in 16.10. WisconsinRecord since 2014 329Conference titles 0National titles 0Original 247Sports composite ranking 3Major contributors DT Conor Sheehy, S DKota Dixon, CB Derrick Tindal, OG Beau Benzschawel, K Rafael Gaglianone, LB T.J. EdwardsIt was a tough call between this class and Brady Hokes final Michigan class, which only produced three 16 starters. This one produced three starters on an excellent defense and gets extra points for identifying Gaglianones wiggle.Kicker dance!

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