How did the Conference USA teams stack up with their respective recruiting classes? Who had the strongest-looking haul of talent, and who struggled a bit?
2018 Conference USA Recruiting Class Rankings
So how do the 2018 Conference USA recruiting classes stack up? Here’s how the rankings are figured out.
1) Bulk. Who gets the most talent? Sometimes, getting lots of good prospects is better than getting a few great ones.
2) Superstars. Yeah, getting the elite guys matters. Who got the supposedly best players?
3) The needs and hole filling. How do the programs manage to do what’s needed to get their types of players, at least compared to the others in the conference?
14. Rice Owls
The Mike Bloomgren got off to a rocky recruiting start, coming with commitments from tackle Jake Syptak and future WR Jacob Doddridge, but there’s not a whole lot else to go off of. As always, Rice has to recruit to a type – a very smart type – and it all starts by beefing up a horrendous offensive line.
13. Old Dominion Monarchs
It’s shaky. The wide receivers have to be a big part of the puzzle right away, and QB A.C White has to be a factor as soon as possible, but this is a true recruit-to-a-type class. There’s not a lot for any one spot, but safety is being addressed, and the running back combination of Elijah Davis and William Knight is promising.
12. UAB Blazers
JUCO, JUCO, JUCO. The Blazers have plenty of players already in the mix, but they’re going after the ready-made players with JUCO transfer for the offensive line and getting two for the receiving corps. Ole Miss transfer Jarrion Street will help the running back situation, and Dylan Hopkins will be in the quarterback mixing the near future, but besides the guys from the lower-level, this class is big on safeties. C.D. Daniels is the strongest prospect, but several other are signing on.
11. Charlotte 49ers
Brad Lambert was able to get a few nice parts, but not enough of them. JUCO transfer Dantrell Barkley out of Kansas needs to be an anchor right away, and RB Terrick Smalls and WR Chris Wiggins will be factors early on, but there’s a lot of hope coming from the bulk. The defensive ends are the deepest position, and keep an eye on the tight ends, starting with Moss Saccomanno from the JUCO ranks.
10. UTEP Miners
New head man Dana Dimel was able to land JUCO transfer Kai Locksley – a former Texas Longhorn – and went the transfer route for Kansas State RB Winston Dimel and DE C.J. Reese. Start from there, and then hope for the best from the other spots starting by cranking up the offensive line. There’s not too much for the D, the O needs to get rolling.
9. Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders
Can Luke Shiflett be the quarterback of the near future? Will Jarek Campbell work on the receiving corps? The secondary is getting the most high-end help – led by corner Greg Grate out of Miami – but the offensive line gets the most bodies, starting with guard prospect Marcus Greer out of St. Louis.
8. North Texas Mean Green
It’s not all that bad, but it’s not deep with high-end prospects. Safety Alex Morris and LB Larry Nixon are the main gets, but the focus is on the secondary with the defensive backs the deepest and best signings by far. Seth Littrell also wants quarterbacks to develop, and he got three of them. There’s not a lot for the defensive line, but if the pass defense is better from this class, it works.
7. Florida Atlantic Owls
Lane Kiffin didn’t exactly crush this class, but there’s help for the right now with seven JUCO transfers. The offensive line gets the most big bodies, including two JUCOers, and Charles Cameron is a defensive tackle who’ll see plenty of action right away. Cordel Littlejohn is the quarterback for the near-future, and Nero Nelson is a good enough receiver to be a No. 1 soon.
6. Florida International Golden Panthers
It might not be amazing, but the class got a few real, live factors in the second year under Butch Davis in JUCO transfers Tayland Humphrey and Teair Tart – there’s your defensive interior for the next few years. Landing local products Ivan Thomas and Zahir Turner for the receiving corps is a huge help, and two quarterbacks and a load of linemen will boost the offensive depth.
5. Louisiana Tech Bulldogs
There’s a lot to like from Skip Holtz’s class, starting with QB Aaron Allen as a smallish baller, and with a whole lot of solid defensive back prospects to try out. There’s not a whole lot of bulk for any one position – the offensive linemen, though are solid – with the running backs the likely stars. Elijah Hines is the smallish scatback, and others brought in to complement the always high-powered passing game.
4. UTSA Roadrunners
Frank Wilson continues to crank it up on the recruiting trail with another fantastic haul of solid talents. There might not be any sure-thing stars, but ultra-quick Sheldon Jones and the receivers are solid. JUCO transfer Cordale Grundy out of Oklahoma might take over the quarterback job right away, and fellow JUCOer T.J. King leads a very deep, very strong group of defensive ends to throw into an already good mix.
3. Western Kentucky Hilltoppers
Head coach Mike Sanford went to work, and the year to put this together showed with some nice commitments late in the process. He got some likely starters in WR Spencer Gaddies, along with running backs Gino Appleberry and Trey Urquhart. Finding parts to stop the pass was Job One, loading up on a slew of good defensive backs and great-looking pass rushers.
2. Marshall Thundering Herd
Marshall had a great 2016 recruiting season, a down 2017, and roared back this year, starting with the receiving corps. Landing Jaqaun Webb, Corey Gamma and Artie Henry might bring an instant fix, and RB Jalynn Sykes will be a good one. While wide receiver got the most attention, the defensive line got a little bit of help, too, with DT Aaron Morgan out of Miami and Arak McDuffie out of Louisville two good pieces to build around.
1. Southern Miss Golden Eagles
It might not have a whole slew of top talents, but there are a bunch of really good ones. The defensive side got the best talents, especially in the secondary, and DE Deuntra Hyman should be a factor. It’s not just quality among the defensive backs; it’s jacked with quantity. Receivers Neil McLaurin and DeMichael Harris are good ones.