National Recruiting Director Mike Farrell’s Three-Point Stance is here with some thoughts on the best teams of the College Football Playoff era, the best true freshmen wide receivers in the country and five programs that limped to the finish line in 2021.
1. RANKING THE TOP 10 TEAMS OF THE CFB PLAYOFF ERA
Is this Alabama national championship team the best of the College Football Playoff era? Here is how I would rank the top 10 teams over the last seven seasons.
1. 2019 LSU — It’s hard to find a better team overall than the Joe Burrow-led Tigers who destroyed everyone in its path a season ago. The offense got all of the headlines, but Patrick Queen and Derek Stingley Jr. headlined a tough defense. That LSU defense was better than this year’s Alabama defense.
2. 2020 Alabama — Mac Jones and Co. simply plowed through every team on the schedule. There wasn’t a weakness on offense and that amazing offensive line made everything look easy. Najee Harris and DeVonta Smith were the best at their positions in the country. Even though Patrick Surtain was excellent on defense, that group was a tick behind LSU’s 2019 outfit.
3. 2018 Clemson — The Trevor Lawrence-led Tigers were a thing of beauty to watch as the true freshman carved up defenses, but it’s the defense that really stood out to me led by a defensive line of Christian Wilkins and Dexter Lawrence on the inside and Clelin Ferrell and Austin Bryant on the outside. This was the most stacked defense Clemson has ever had.
4. 2016 Clemson — The Deshaun Watson Clemson team of 2016 was certainly no slouch and comes in just behind 2018. Wayne Gallman was awesome at running back and the receiving depth was off the charts. The defense wasn’t as star-studded but still had some amazing leaders like Ben Boulware.
5. 2016 Alabama — The first team to crack the list that didn’t win a national title is 2016 Alabama who lost to Watson and Clemson. Some may disagree with me that they should be this high but I loved this team despite a slight weakness at quarterback.
6. 2017 Alabama — This is the team where freshman Tua Tagovailoa hit freshman DeVonta Smith to win it all in overtime. This Crimson Tide team was loaded on defense just like it was the year before. They were deep on offense with the addition of Smith, Jerry Jeudy and Henry Ruggs but not as dynamic defensively.
7. 2017 Georgia — Despite its loss to Alabama in the title game, let’s not forget this Georgia offense was led by Nick Chubb and Sony Michel, a stacked offensive line and a very capable freshman quarterback in Jake Fromm. Defensively, Roquan Smith led the way sideline to sideline. The Bulldogs arguably should have won the title game.
8. 2014 Ohio State — This was a fun team to follow as third-string quarterback Cardale Jones stepped up and helped Ezekiel Elliott and Co. roll through Alabama and then defeated Oregon to win it all. The wide receivers were deep, and the defense was led by end Joey Bosa and a defensive backfield with a slew of first-rounders. Urban Meyer led this team through much adversity to the title.
9. 2015 Alabama — This was a national title team loaded up front on each side of the ball. Derrick Henry was unstoppable that season, but this Crimson Tide team lands lower on the list because it wasn’t a dynamic passing offense with Jake Coker and an average receiving group aside from Calvin Ridley. They won on the back of Henry and that defense.
10. 2019 Clemson — The runner-up to the LSU title team in 2019 was a loaded Clemson group led by Trevor, Travis and the gang and Isaiah Simmons on defense. This was a very good Tigers squad that wasn’t challenged much and got throttled by the No. 1 team on this list.
2. THE BEST TRUE FRESHMEN WIDE RECEIVERS OF 2020
Who doesn’t love true freshmen stars at the college football level? I know I love tracking them. Here’s a continuation of my series on the 2020 season by looking at the wide receivers.
1. Marvin Mims, Oklahoma — Mims was a huge surprise for the Sooners reeling in 37 catches for 610 yards and nine scores and became Spencer Rattler’s trusted target early.
2. Jordan Addison, Pittsburgh — With 60 catches for 666 yards and four scores, Addison immediately became the top wideout threat for Pitt.
3. Parker Washington, Penn State — Washington had six scores on 36 catches and became a huge get from Texas in this offense.
4. Kayshon Boutte, LSU — Boutte finished the 2020 season with a bang, catching 14 passes for 308 yards and three scores in the regular season finale against Mississippi State.
5. Lavel Davis, Virginia — Davis averaged an amazing 25-plus yards per catch as a true freshman.
6. Kyren Lacy, Louisiana — Lacy had 28 catches for 364 yards and four scores in his first year.
7. Quentin Johnston, TCU — Johnston’s 22 catches for 487 yards is a nice average per catch and just the start.
8. Kyle Williams, UNLV — Williams had 35 catches in just six games and flashed his speed.
9. Porter Rooks, NC State — While he didn’t score, he did have 24 catches in his first ACC season.
10. Rakim Jarrett, Maryland — He only played four games but he still had 17 catches and two scores.
3. PROGRAMS THAT STUMBLED DOWN THE STRETCH IN RECRUITING
Finally, finishing up recruiting cycle is not always pretty as some programs tend to trip and stumble down the stretch. While many of these programs finished with excellent classes, they got tangled a bit in the finish line tape.
Florida — The Gators class overall is solid but missing out on prospects like Xavian Sorey, Tunmise Adeleye, Tristan Leigh and Terrion Arnold (whether dropped or not) is not good. Florida didn’t close well.
Oklahoma — The Sooners missed on so many big names like Camar Wheaton, Bryce Foster, Emeka Egbuka and Tristan Leigh that a projected big finish fell flat.
Tennessee — The Roc Taylor situation was just an exclamation point to the Vols’ great start to 2021 going really really badly.
Nebraska — The loss of Avantae Dickerson was a tough one as he spurned the Huskers twice — first for Minnesota and then for Oregon.
Auburn — This was just a mess as the Tigers landed a few prospects but whiffed on many more and lost 2022 QB Gunner Stockton as well.