How did the Sun Belt teams stack up with their respective recruiting classes? Who had the strongest-looking haul of talent, and who struggled a bit?
2018 Sun Belt Recruiting Class Rankings
So how do the 2018 Sun Belt 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?
10. Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin’ Cajuns
New head man Billy Napier was able to land a few big bodies for the line, signing big guard Max Yarbrough and DTs Timaje Porter and Ole Miss transfer Garrald McDowell – they’re among the three strongest signings in the Sun Belt. This isn’t a big class, but it’s not awful, with a few good linebackers – helped by JUCO transfer Chauncey Manac – and some decent defensive backs.
9. South Alabama Jaguars
The coaching change was a problem, with Steve Campbell having no time whatsoever to work. Even so, the Jaguars were able to land a deep class of running backs, and a possible quarterback for the future in Desmond Trotter. The defensive side didn’t get much of anything for the pass rush, but JUCO transfer Jordan Beaton should be ready to go right away on the interior, and corner Travis Reed needs to find a home at one starting spot.
8. ULM Warhawks
How quickly can WR Malik Jackson get on the field and become a playmaker? How fast can Dayonte Roberts be the defensive tackle to gum up the works? There are plenty of pass rushers around a few good prospects for the interior and there are lots and lots of defensive backs, with the idea to move around the big athletes where needed on both sides of the ball.
7. Coastal Carolina Chanticleers
It’s a solid class, and it’s a really, really big one.
The coaching staff was able to bring aboard a true No. 1 receiver in Isaiah Likely out of Massachusetts, and will find a spot somewhere for speedster Tyrese Johnson-Fisher. The running backs are solid – helped by getting JUCO transfer Torrance Marable – and between the three good-sized tight ends and all the decent receivers, the passing game should be better with a little time.
6. Appalachian State Mountaineers
It’s surprisingly mediocre. After doing a great job last year and coming up with one of the Sun Belt’s best classes, there aren’t enough stars signed on. With several interesting tight ends, a whole lot of linebackers, and enough defensive ends to come up with a decent rotation of pass rushers down the road. There’s nothing for the defensive interior, and more skill options will have to come in, but there’s hope in a strength in numbers sort of way.
5. Troy Trojans
Last year’s class was massive – there wasn’t a lot of room for a bulk. As long as Gunnar Watson turns into the quarterback of the near future, everything else should turn out to be okay. The defensive backs are solid, but the line gets most of help with an interesting array of pass rushers. The biggest group coming in is for the interior, with Will Choloh and Jake Andrews the two best prospects to potentially build around.
4. Texas State Bobcats
Eventually, the positives made on the recruiting trail will matter on the field. Texas State has been awful under Everett Withers, but he loaded up with the Sun Belt’s best class last year, and this one isn’t terribly far off. Landing QB Tyler Vitt was a good grab for the future, and the receiving corps he landed – led by Blake Aragon and T.J. Graham – is among the best in the conference. There’s nothing for the running game, and the D line could use more help in the near future, but there are plenty of good athletes and lots of speed to play around with.
3. Georgia Southern Eagles
Head coach Chad Lunsford had a half a year to get started, and it mattered. He was able to sign on a few excellent cornerback prospects, and he got a running back in Andrew Cunningham to make the option offense go. Helped by the big get of LB Quin Williams, there are a few nice parts for the defense. The offense will still be based on the ground game – QB Justin Tomlin is a smallish, lightning quick prospect – and a few receivers are joining in, too.
2. Arkansas State Red Wolves
After going big in the JUCO world last year, the coaching staff is jumping back in, especially for the defensive line with three interesting tackles ready made to fill in the gaps. The secondary is loaded, too, landing safeties Derrick Bean and Jemarcus Burrell as the best of a huge bunch. There’s just enough skill talent signed on to provide decent depth options for the near future.
1. Georgia State Panthers
It’s interesting. The Panthers already have some quarterback options, but Swift Lyle might be good enough to start once he hits campus – if it’s not JUCO transfer Diondre Ellington – and WR Cornelius McCoy might be too talented to keep off the field. Throw in RB Destin Coates, and the offense might have its weapons for the near future. There’s not a lot of bulk for the D line, but the pass rushers and defensive backs are there in numbers.