Florida State is recruiting extremely well this year, putting the finishing touches on a class that could finish anywhere from No. 2 to No. 5 (Alabama's lead as No. 1 has been insurmountable since about July). Florida State also managed to land eight early-enrollees, a big victory for a team that loses half of its starters and most of its best players. The Seminoles have 21 commitments and 14 blue chips, which should keep FSU winning a lot of games. With the limited amount of time coaching staffs get to spend developing players due to NCAA rules, recruiting is much more important than many acknowledge. More on Florida State's tremendous class can be found here.
But what about Florida State's three main rivals, the Gators, Hurricanes and Tigers?
The Gators' current class is awful (10 commitments, 2 blue chips), and it can be directly traced to the program electing to keep Will Muschamp on after the 2013 4-8 campaign in which FSU won the BCS National Title. Florida State signed a number of players who may have otherwise been Gators had Florida not been in such a down cycle. A
six five-loss campaign in 2014 and a new coaching staff didn't help matters, either.
Ultimately, Florida is going to get criticized for this small and lowly ranked class, but not taking a full class is likely the smart choice for Jim McElwain. Florida has some positions where it needs bodies for depth (like offensive line, where the Gators have three committed and need one or two more to get to a bare minimum number of 12 or 13 scholarship linemen). And a QB is certainly necessary. But taking a lot of lesser-rated players who won't help the Gators win big SEC games solely to fill out the class for depth isn't a smart strategy. Florida will likely finish out with around 17 commitments and four or five blue-chips. McElwain's future at Florida won't be determined by this 2015 class, but he does need to hit a home run with the 2016 crop.
Miami seems to have lost some of the momentum that it had last recruiting cycle, perhaps due to a 6-7 season and constant calls coaching changes. The Hurricanes have 19 commitments, including six blue chippers (safety Jaquan Johnson and running backs Mark Walton and Jordan Scarlett stand out), but this class is not moving Miami closer to competing for National Championships. Roughly a third of the players Miami has signed over the last four classes have been blue-chips, and that trend continues here, while the elite programs are signing more than half (some at 60 or 70 percent). The Hurricanes could close strong with blue-chips like DB Marcus Lewis, DL Rasheem Green and WR Antonio Callaway, but Miami's recruiting is not close to competing at the level its fans want to be.
While Florida and Miami are at differing levels of disappointing, Clemson has basically wrapped up one of its best signing classes in recent memory: 25 commitments, 12 blue chips, and 14 of the 25 commitments have already enrolled early. But the Tigers didn't just load up on skill players. In a significant departure from some recent trends, Clemson signed a bunch of linemen, and good ones -- six rated four- or five-stars. Clemson has won 42 games over the last four seasons, and that success, combined with elite commitment (facilities, spending), has really helped in recruiting. Clemson is putting distance between itself and the No. 3-14 ACC schools. The Tigers are very close to being at a National Championship level of talent.