There have been 20 years of Rivals Recruiting Rankings and while Alabama has dominated the last decade-plus under coach Nick Saban, the Crimson Tide have not had the best average finishing class in the company’s history. That’s hard to believe – but it’s not beyond thinking the SEC has dominated the top of the rankings.
Here’s a look at the top 10 teams over the last 20 years by average class finish and then a list of the remaining Power Five schools with their average finish shown in parentheses.
1. GEORGIA (6.45 average class ranking)
The Bulldogs have been on an incredible run under coach Kirby Smart with three-straight No. 1 classes before finishing sixth in 2021. Georgia finished with five five-stars in 2020 led by a tremendous West haul of RB Kendall Milton, TE Darnell Washington and CB Kelee Ringo.
In 2019, Georgia held off Alabama in the slimmest of margins for the top spot and in 2018 the Bulldogs had eight five-stars in one of the best classes in Rivals’ history. Consistency has been key for Georgia as it has never finished lower than No. 15 in the team rankings.
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2. LSU (7.35)
Except for a few years here and there where LSU finished No. 18 or No. 22 in the team rankings, the Tigers might have earned the top spot here because their recruiting has been so dominant and so consistent over the years.
The last three recruiting cycles, LSU has finished third twice and fourth once. In 15 of 20 cycles, the Tigers have finished in the top 10 nationally which is an incredible run. Dominating in-state recruiting, hitting Texas and the Southeast hard and winning some national battles has kept LSU in elite status for two decades.
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3. ALABAMA (8)
Nick Saban’s dominance can be measured in so many ways – national championships, NFL Draft picks – but maybe Alabama’s team rankings pre-Saban to the Saban years is the best illustration. In the five years before Saban took the Alabama job, the Crimson Tide never finished in the top 10. They ended up 30, 48, 15, 18 and 11, numbers that aren’t even fathomable in the Saban era.
After Saban’s first class (signed a month after his hiring that finished No. 10), Alabama has nine No. 1 classes and two second-place finishes, and has never been outside the top seven.
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4. FLORIDA (8.95)
Consistency is also key for Florida as the Gators have not always been in contention for the No. 1 overall class but over the last 20 years they’ve also never had a disappointing finish that would drop them much lower in the team rankings.
Florida’s only No. 1 finish came in 2007 when the Gators signed Cam Newton, Carlos Dunlap, Torrey Davis and James Wilson and then had six other players on the cusp of five-star status. Urban Meyer had some great classes over the years and even recently the Gators have finished in the top 20 for six straight cycles.
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5. USC (9.3)
During the glory years, the Trojans finished with the No. 1 classes in 2004, 2005 and 2006 and then again in 2015. Along the way, USC always has had solid recruiting classes for long stretches and continued to land the elite players in Southern California..
USC could be even higher on this list if it did not inexplicably collapse in the 2020 recruiting class where it missed on numerous high-end players in its own backyard and finished No. 71 nationally. A bounceback occurred last cycle though as five-star DE Korey Foreman and others signed with the Trojans.
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6. FLORIDA STATE (9.4)
It’s hard to believe that Florida State has never had the No. 1 recruiting class in 20 years of Rivals Rankings history but the Seminoles have been close numerous times. They finished second, third or fourth multiple times over the years and that’s why the Seminoles’ average-class finish is still so high despite some lean years and struggles on the recruiting trail recently.
Second-year coach Mike Norvell is trying to turn things around but FSU has finished outside the top-15 for three-straight classes, the first time that has happened to the ‘Noles in Rivals history.
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7. OHIO STATE (9.45)
Given Ohio State’s success on the field (Urban Meyer went 83-9 there and won a national title and Ryan Day is 23-2 in two seasons) the Buckeyes should arguably be even higher on this list. But this is another national powerhouse that has never won a team recruiting title despite numerous second-place finishes and a few choppy years in the early- to mid-2000s where the Buckeyes finished No. 40, No. 12 twice and No. 15.
In three of the last five recruiting cycles, though, Ohio State has finished second overall as the Buckeyes continue to dominate the Big Ten.
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8. OKLAHOMA (10.25)
In 20 years of recruiting classes, Oklahoma has never finished outside the top 20 in the team recruiting rankings, a credit to Bob Stoops and Lincoln Riley because the Sooners don’t have a great recruiting base in-state and have to battle Texas and many others for players in the Lone Star State.
Still, Oklahoma is one of the most attractive places, especially for offensive players to go, and the Sooners have capitalized. Strangely, the last two classes have finished lower than many others (Nos. 13 and 16, respectively) but Oklahoma is regularly in the top-10 and one could argue many of its classes have actually been underrated.
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9. TEXAS (10.95)
The initial team rankings title back in 2002 went to Texas but it was the first and only time the Longhorns have claimed the top spot in Rivals’ history. Since then it has been a mixed bag of impressive top-five finishes but also more than a handful in the 20s as well, which knocked down their average class finish.
After back-to-back No. 4 placements, Texas has finished No. 16 and No. 14 the last two recruiting cycles. A breath of fresh air came to town with new coach Steve Sarkisian but competition for state of Texas talent is as fierce as ever.
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10. AUBURN (11.65)
As has been the case with Auburn for long stretches, the Tigers never do poorly in the team recruiting rankings but also never do as well as Alabama or other SEC schools. New coach Bryan Harsin will try to crack the trend but it’s been a long one as Auburn has numerous top-10 finishes in the team rankings but only one top-five in the 20 signing classes.
Auburn’s No. 25 finish in 2021 with a coaching change underway was the worst finish in Rivals’ history and the Tigers haven’t finished inside the top 10 in five classes.
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THE REST OF THE POWER FIVE
11. Tennessee (13.4 average class ranking)
12. Michigan (14.25)
13. Miami (14.7)
14. Notre Dame (14.9)
15. Texas A&M (15.45)
16. Clemson (18.25)
17. Oregon (20.2)
18. South Carolina (21.4)
19. Nebraska (23)
20. Ole Miss (25.05)
21. Penn State (26.05)
22. UCLA (26.15)
23. North Carolina (26.85)
24. Arkansas (29.9)
25. Washington (29.9)
26. Mississippi State (31.15)
27. Virginia Tech (31.6)
28. Cal (32.1)
29. Michigan State (32.85)
30. Oklahoma State (32.85)
31. Arizona State (33.85)
32. Maryland (33.95)
33. Stanford (34.6)
34. Missouri (35.75
35. West Virginia (38.65)
36. Pitt (38.95)
37. Virginia (40.05)
38. Wisconsin (40.4)
39. NC State (40.5)
40. Iowa (41.5)
41. Arizona (41.75)
42. Kentucky (44)
43. Texas Tech (44.2)
44. Louisville (45.05)
45. Colorado (46.35)
46. TCU (48.35)
47. Rutgers (49.25)
48. Minnesota (49.4)
49. Georgia Tech (49.5)
50. Utah (49.65)
51. Illinois (50.85)
52. Boston College (51)
53. Baylor (51.55)
54. Kansas State (51.85)
55. Oregon State (52)
56. Kansas (52.25)
57. Purdue (54.1)
58. Iowa State (55.75)
59. Vanderbilt (57.6)
60. Washington State (59.95)
61. Syracuse (60.1)
62. Duke (61.65)
63. Wake Forest (62.05)
64. Indiana (62.1)
65. Northwestern (62.25)