3. David Shaw, Stanford
All you need to know about this class is that the one outstanding prospect isn’t even going to be on campus for at least two years.
And as hot as Shaw is as a coaching talent, he might not even be around when star QB recruit Tanner McKee comes back from his church mission.
There’s almost no star power in this class, and the recruiting services aren’t going to like it because there isn’t a lot of bulk – a totally valid concern.
More players and prospects means more of a chance to find a decent player among those who get caught up in the college life of drinking beer, sleeping, occasionally going to class, and chasing coeds – in a mutually agreeable and politically acceptable way, of course.
But that doesn’t mean Stanford can get by with a mediocre class.
As is it’s always a tough world for Shaw and the Cardinal. The program has to go national, it has to recruit to a really, really smart type, and it can’t allow anyone with a big brain and at least four stars to go anywhere else.
More than that, this was the down moment. Next year, UCLA (Brian Kelly), Arizona (Kevin Sumlin), Oregon (Mario Cristobal), and potentially Arizona State (Herm Edwards) are going to be recruiting powerhouses, to go along with what USC and Washington are doing.
There can’t be another talent dip like there was this year.
– Stanford Recruiting Class Breakdown
2. Lovie Smith, Illinois
At the same time, it was the big hope and the big concern when Illinois landed Lovie Smith as the new head coach.
Could a guy famous for being an outstanding leader of NFL men really dive into the non-stop daily life of sucking up to teenagers?
Having a coach who could and should be in the pros right now hasn’t translated into big talent coming to Champaign, and he certainly didn’t this time around.
No one was asking for a Ron Zook-level shocker of a recruiting season, but there’s no real identity. So far, Illinois isn’t winning anything on the field, or a lot of battles for talent because of its head coach.
And now there’s a massive problem with – in the Illini’s division – Scott Frost coming rocking right out of the gate, and with P.J. Fleck starting to rev up the boat up in Minneapolis.
Smith’s 2018 class is all about five players. He needs one of the two quarterback gets – M.J. Rivers and Coran Taylor – to be a factor right away. DT Calvin Avery and the offensive tackle pair of Verdis Brown and Reuben Unije out of IMG Academy can’t be anything less than all-star starters.
And then it comes down to the hope that the class can quickly mesh with the really, really young team that’s still finding its way in the Big Ten world.
– Illinois Recruiting Class Breakdown