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January 17, 2013

Ups and downs: Team rankings risers, fallers


MORE: Kelly to NFL: What's the recruiting impact?

Dallas Jackson is the National Columnist for Rivals.com. Email him your comments or story ideas to DallasJ@Yahoo-Inc.com and follow him on Twitter.

Good riddance, Chip.

That might not be the reaction of Oregon fans who appreciate the four straight BCS bowls Chip Kelly shepherded. But, the bottom line is, his departure to the NFL gets the program one step closer to some stability, and that might be best for the Ducks' recruiting.

Oregon finished with the No. 16 class in the Rivals.com 2012 rankings. But with just three weeks until National Signing Day, the Ducks sit at No. 44 for 2013. The drop is not the steepest of FBS-level automatic qualifiers, but it raises issues as to why certain schools are underperforming.

Rivals.com national recruiting analyst Mike Farrell said that while Kelly had been the reason kids came to Oregon, the rumors of his departure were starting to hold the program back.

"Last year it started to hurt a little when he was dealing with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers job, and it just got worse this year," Farrell said. "I don't think the assistants would admit it, but I think that everyone was laying low on the recruiting front because they didn't have the answers.

"Now that Chip has left, it will be interesting to see if kids buy back in or wait and see. The uniforms and the facilities are things that kids look at as bonuses, but that offense is a place to showcase ability, and Oregon will need to prove it can still be that place."

The Ducks waded through the coverage of Kelly's decision and rumors about recruits' de-commitments without any actual losses, but many high-profile players are considering their options.

Beaverton (Ore.) Aloha five-star running back Thomas Tyner said that he was planning on staying put, but other top prospects were not as willing, saying they would test the waters.

Twins Tyree and Tyrell Robinson of San Diego (Calif.) Lincoln said that Notre Dame and USC were immediately in the mix, and just after the Kelly announcement the pair tweeted that Ohio State had offered them.

DeSoto (Texas) High running back Dontre Wilson said that he was staying committed but would visit Ohio State as well as Clemson and that Notre Dame could be in play.

Wilson's coach, Claude Mathis, said that it has been overwhelming dealing with all of the calls.

"I can tell you everybody from the Midwest to the East Coast to the West Coast has contacted me today about Dontre Wilson. It's been a crazy day today," Mathis told Rivals.com. "Even the coaches at Texas. Everyone in states close to Texas have contacted me as well. It's one of those things where he's a hot commodity, which it should be. He can get the job done. I know anyone will be very fortunate to have him right now."

Farrell said that holding those guys will be the key to ensuring that the bottom doesn't fall out for Oregon.

"This is a very top-heavy class and not a very deep one at that," he said. "Oregon has to keep Tyner, Wilson and the Robinsons -- and I don't know if they can or not -- to not have what some could consider a wasted class."

Oregon is not alone in the fall from grace as compared to 2012, but of course there are others on the rebound. Here's a look at five other teams on the slide, followed by five who are making a surprising surge:

FIVE TEAMS ON THE FALL
TEXAS TECH: Down 60 spots from No. 26 to No. 86
The Skinny: A disappointing season on the field combined with a coach who was never truly embraced made it tough in the early going. When Tommy Tuberville skipped town for Cincinnati, it all but stalled the process. Texas Tech is still in a tough position as it is being poached and not hitting the trails that hard.
Quotable: "A big part of the blame can be laid at the feet of Tommy Tuberville. He wasn't doing that great in the first place and then left them in a really bad spot. Kliff Kingsbury was hired at a time when it was tough for him to get in touch with recruits and he still doesn't have his staff assembled. To that end, they really haven't identified the type of player they want to recruit let alone specific players that they are going to target." -- Jason Howell, Rivals.com Midlands analyst
MIAMI: Down 49 spots from No. 9 to No. 58
The Skinny: This is a deceptive ranking as the class does have five four-star players among its 12 commits. It is purposely small and so that is going to hurt counting numbers. Al Golden is targeting players and the staff is doing a solid job in getting players it wants. Landing Al-Quadin Muhammad from Ramsey (N.J.) Don Bosco addressed the defensive line, which was necessary.
Quotable: "They are self-sanctioning, so the numbers are down which results in what looks like a bad class, when it really isn't at all. They have been waiting on the NCAA for its findings and it seems as though the NCAA is just going to drag it out as long as possible and that is hurting as well. The program could have played in the ACC title game and it could have played in a bowl game and it could have more commits, but it is hurting itself on purpose in hopes of seeing lesser official sanctions." -- Mike Farrell, Rivals.com national analyst.
CINCINNATI: Down 47 spots from No. 50 to No. 97
The Skinny: Cincinnati was in a terrible storm of negativity as it had a little bit of the Chip Kelly syndrome with Butch Jones being rumored for every opening. It was then hit with Tommy Tuberville coming to an area that he had never recruited before and basically ignoring the current class. The triple whammy is that it is in a conference that is on the outside looking in and might not be offer a spot to compete for a national title. All of that equals a predictably drastic drop.
Quotable: "Losing Butch was the beginning of it all, but it was just the start of what was much worse. Tuberville has no relationships with coaches in this region or players that were in this class, and so many didn't last long. The Big East is not a viable conference anymore and so there just isn't much to sell right now. Cincinnati is the most concerning of these teams because it could stay down." -- Mike Farrell, Rivals.com national analyst
STANFORD: Down 46 spots from No. 5 to No. 51
The Skinny: This is a small class right now with just 12 commitments, and so there is no reason to panic. There are four players with four stars in this class, including two U.S. Army All-Americans: linebacker Peter Kalambayi and quarterback Ryan Burns. The class might stay small but it will still have the quality that has been expected from the program.
Quotable: "Stanford is going to be fine. They take a long time to get kids cleared for enrollment and so from that end things just move slower. David Shaw has shown that he can close strong and you only need to look to last year when Stanford added five-stars Kyle Murphy, Andrus Peat, and Aziz Shittu on signing day. A strong finish will push the class back to a respectable ranking." - Adam Gorney, Rivals.com West Coast analyst.
PURDUE: Down 43 spots from No. 33 to No. 76
The Skinny: Purdue did not have the type of season that inspires confidence, as it finished with a 6-7 record and a new head coach. The recruiting efforts were up and down in recent years, but this No. 76 spot is low. The class, like Miami and Stanford's, only has 12 commitments, but unlike those two schools there are not multiple four-star players. The lone four-star commit is Danny Etling from Terre Haute (Ind.) South Vigo. There are nearly as many two-stars as three-star players.
Quotable: "Purdue is a team that needs to go in and mine out player from areas that other schools often overlook and it just didn't happen this year with the season they had and knowing that the coach was on his way out. I think that Darrell Hazell will get back to doing that and so going forward I am more optimistic. This was just a year with Notre Dame being elite and Indiana recruiting over its head that it was going to keep squeezing out players from Purdue and ultimately that is what happened." -- Mike Farrell, Rivals.com national analyst.
FIVE TEAMS ON THE RISE
KANSAS: up 39 spots to No. 35 from No. 74
The Skinny: Kansas suffered through a 1-11 season with its lone victory coming against South Dakota State. It was held to 17 points or fewer in seven games and Charlie Weis did not look like a coach who was ready to lead a program. All of that, somehow, made players want to come to the school and it has pushed the class into the Top 40 nationally with just three weeks left until National Signing Day.
Quotable: "Kansas is killing it with junior college kids right now, almost taking a page from Kansas State in that respect. JUCO kids are obsessed with getting to the next level and they look at Kansas and see a place with immediate playing time. They see Charlie Weis and his Super Bowl rings and think that this is a place that can get them to the next level. Being able to help some of these guys get there will likely determine if this kind of approach can be sustained at Kansas." - Rob Cassidy, Rivals.com West region analyst
IOWA STATE: up 37 spots to No. 50 from No. 87
The Skinny: One has to go back to Earle Bruce from 1973-78 to find a coach at Iowa State to leave with a winning record. Through four seasons, Paul Rhoads is as close as anyone has come being just three games under and yes, that is the good news. The combination of an improved product on the field and Iowa being down the last few seasons is starting to make its pull in recruiting. Iowa State still isn't a juggernaut but it is fighting for respectability.
Quotable: "Paul Rhoads is proving to be a really good coach and someone that kids believe in. Landing Jake Campos from an in-state power [West Des Moines (Iowa) Valley] was a big statement because he is the type of kid that either goes to Iowa or goes somewhere else. If he can keep getting guys like that on campus it will start a cycle that feeds itself." -- Mike Farrell, Rivals.com national analyst.
ILLINOIS: up 33 spots to No. 31 from No. 64
The Skinny: This is a shocker of a class for Illinois. The program was terrible on the field this year, limping to a 2-10 season with wins against Western Michigan and Charleston Southern. It is also a big of a surprise as Ron Zook was most known for being a good recruiter and losing him would have figured to hurt recruiting. Credit has to be given to Tim Beckman for the success.
Quotable: "Beckman is very energetic and if you have ever been around him, you kind of feed of his passion and that really does feed into recruiting. He picked up in some of the strongholds that Zook had and expanded his boundaries. Usually when teams such as Notre Dame, Ohio State and Michigan are recruiting well -- like they are this year -- it is usually Illinois that feels the most pain. But this class is shaping up to be pretty impressive." -- Mike Farrell, Rivals.com national analyst
KENTUCKY: up 25 spots to No. 37 from No. 62
The Skinny: Mark Stoops. Plain and simple. What Stoops has been able to do since his arrival on campus has piled onto the so-so recruiting that was being done by Joker Phillips. He has re-doubled his efforts on kids who were on the fence and has made a run at players who were not initially interest in Kentucky and got them. There is a buzz in Lexington now and this is a class that is showing it already.
Quotable: "Part of this rise is just a recent run, because before Mark Stoops got there this was a pretty down class. He got a couple of high-profile junior college players including four-star Za'Darius Smith, and then went into Ohio and got three kids, Jaleel Hytchye, Kyle Meadows and Lovell Peterson. I think that he found a perfect plan and is going after it. He didn't give up on this class and is showing he can get players into Kentucky." - Woody Womack, Rivals.com Southeastern region analyst
OLE MISS: up 23 spots to No. 17 from No. 40
The Skinny: Ole Miss is actually tied with North Carolina, Arizona and West Virginia with a 23-spot gain from last year, but the safe bet is that Ole Miss is about to skyrocket and may even end up inside the Top 10. The rumors circling Robert Nkemdiche -- the nation's No. 1 overall player -- have only helped with the interest of other major prospects. The Rebels lead for five-star receiver Laquon Treadwell who will announce his choice Thursday, and four-star Antonio Conner is also looking like a strong Ole Miss lean. Four-star defensive end Elijah Daniel could be the next in the line to fall, pushing this class toward the top of the rankings.
Quotable: "Hugh Freeze is a tremendous coach and really a good recruiter. It is impossible to underestimate the Nkemdiche effect. It doesn't even matter if Robert goes there because the buzz that he is creating is helping the staff sell the program. Two months of that kind of attention is only good. Nkedmiche isn't like Dorial Green-Beckham last year, where he was tied to a bunch of schools and none could use him to sell. People have assumed Robert to Ole Miss so Ole Miss can run with it." -- Mike Farrell, Rivals.com national analyst.

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Dallas Jackson is the High School Football analyst for Rivals.com. Email him your question, comment or story ideas to DallasJ@Yahoo-Inc.com and follow him on Twitter.



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