2024 college football recruiting: Schools trending up, downESPN PLUS $ MATERIAL
The college football season is still young, but the early signing period is not too far away. Teams are running out of time to strengthen their recruiting classes with the end of the cycle rapidly approaching and 90 percent of the ESPN 300 currently committed.
Programs like Georgia, Alabama and Ohio State remain a consistent presence near the top of the 2024 class rankings as we venture into the final months. Several others can feel good about the foundation they built. Conversely, there are other programs with quite of a bit of work to do. Here is a look at five classes that have exceeded expectations and five with concerns that still need to be addressed:
Five schools with 2024 classes trending up
Current rank: No. 7
The Seminoles haven't finished with a top-10 class since 2017. It's clear, after winning several big recruiting battles, that Mike Norvell is restoring Florida State as a national power on the field and in recruiting. One of the most notable wins came when they beat out programs like Georgia and Ohio State for five-star K.J. Bolden, a versatile athlete who projects to the secondary. The Seminoles will need to work to keep his commitment, but Bolden projects to be their first five-star signing since 2017. They've also flipped some key prospects such as Landen Thomas, the top tight end in the nation out of Georgia and pulled high three-star OL Manasse Itete from USC in an overall down year for offensive line prospects.
Current rank: No. 36
The ranking differential is negligible, but the Wolfpack are moving in the right direction with a class headlined by a pair of ESPN 300 prospects. The recent addition of three-star LB Joshua Ofor serves as a reminder that this is a good, underrated class. He lacks ideal measurables at 6-foot, 205 pounds, but posted excellent testing numbers this offseason and is an active defender on film and can bend and use his hands well. The class also includes Jonathan Paylor, a nice in-state win that brings game-breaking speed, posting multiple 100-meter times under 11 seconds and one of the five fastest posted 40-yard dash times on the camp circuit this offseason. Some might use the ESPN 300 as a line of demarcation, but NC State has added great value beyond the rankings. QB Cedric Bailey enters with plenty of experience and success as a multi-year starter for South Florida power program Chaminade-Madonna. The Wolfpack also landed a verbal from Brody Barnhardt, who is arguably the best and most versatile player on a Providence Day (NC) squad that includes Michigan QB commit Jadyn Davis and 2025 five-star David Sanders. Barnhardt could develop in the mold of former Wolfpack standout defender Tanner Ingle. NC State's class might not end up in the top 25, but the pieces are here to make this program better.
Current rank: No. 23
Texas Tech is moving up off the strength of the addition of five-star WR Micah Hudson. When Joey McGuire, a successful, former Texas high school coach with strong networking skills, took over the Red Raiders program, the expectation was he would succeed on the recruiting trail. That showed with their top-25 class last cycle, but the program made a statement with this latest addition. Hudson, a target with big-play speed, excellent high-point ability and great ball skills, is the Red Raiders' highest-ranked commit in the ESPN 300 era. He gives the program an elite receiver and can be a building block going forward to further strengthen current and future classes. Hudson elevated the class, but he's not the only strength. ESPN 300 Edge defender Cheta Ofili and QB Will Hammond have proven to be excellent early evaluations and additions. They have only seen their stock rise since committing.
Current rank: No. 6
The Vols currently sit on the cusp of the top five and are in great position to sign their first top-10 class in nearly a decade (2015). It can be easy to forget this program was in disarray in recent years. From its bungled coaching search after the 2017 season to its parting with the previous staff due to NCAA violations, Josh Heupel took over a proud program that was hardly at its peak. In a short time, he and his staff have managed to push those missteps into the rearview and formulated success on the field and in recruiting. After a five-year span where the top prospects in the state left, the Volunteers are set to sign the No. 1 player in Tennessee for the second year in a row in DB Kaleb Beasley. They also pulled five-star athlete Mike Matthews out of Georgia and added rangy edge defender Jordan Ross of Alabama.
Current rank: No. 24
UCF is no longer recruiting like an overachieving Group of 5 program. Instead, it's recruiting with the top programs in the country and is positioned for a big jump in the rankings and competing for the top class in the newly realigned Big 12 Conference. UCF hasn't needed to go far for talent. Eight of their nine four-star commits are from either Florida or Georgia, including No. 2 safety Jaylen Heyward, who at one point was committed to top-ranked Georgia. Gus Malzahn's tenure at Auburn had its highs and lows, but it's unsurprising to see the success he is cultivating with the Knights after speaking with high school coaches across Florida and Georgia. Coaches have said that when UCF recruits their players, they see a more relaxed version of Malzahn leading this program who is enjoying the process more. It's certainly netting positive results, as this program is poised for its highest finish, by a wide margin, in the ESPN 300 era.