We're just 19 days away from National Signing Day, the holy day of college football recruiting. With just so few days left until the day that players are first allowed to sign binding National Letters of Intent, the recruiting classes from around the Mid-American Conference are beginning to take final shape.
Of course some teams are fairing better than others, and it's not surprising that for teams that recently underwent coaching changes there aren't many verbals to speak of, but still, we are starting to get an idea of who will win the MAC recruiting race.
Using the 247Sports.com composite ranking system, which takes into account the rankings of recruits from all major sites, not just 247Sports' own experts rankings, we've tossed together a power ranking of the current recruiting classes. The results might startle you.
|Team||Total||Five Star||Four Star||Three Star||Avg||Points|
Despite finishing the season 1-11 (1-7 MAC) Western Michigan is far and away the front runner for the top 2014 recruiting class in the MAC, and currently 61st in the country. P.J. Fleck has been a monster on the recruiting trail and currently has more verbals than actual scholarships. The 16 3-star verbals the Broncos have collected are more than five MAC teams have in total commits, regardless of star ranking. The prized jewels of Fleck's class are quarterback Chance Stewart and safety/wide receiver Lonnie Johnson.
Stewart, a 247Sports 3-star recruit, is regarded as the ninth best recruit in the state of Michigan, and the 26th best pro style quarterback in the nation. Johnson, a 4-star 247Sports recruit, is the No. 7 best prospect out of the state of Indiana and widely considered one of the best defensive prospects in the country. Fleck was able to flip Johnson from Ohio State to Western Michigan.
Coming in second, by a wide margin, is Ball State, which has benefited from a few recent verbals, including Vontae Diggs. But, the difference between No. 2 through No. 6 in these rankings is minuscule. The Cardinals, Huskies, Bulls and Bobcats all have six 3-stars, with only Toledo (No. 5) having less (5).
These teams are all doing a good job of not just filling immediate needs but going after areas where they will need the help two or three years from now. Take NIU for example. The Huskies have a pair of quarterbacks in their class this system, a top 50 dual-threat QB and the No. 65 pro-style QB. Makes sense considering the loss of Jordan Lynch, but how about the three wide receivers? The Huskies didn't lose anyone to graduation this year, but their top 2 guys will be gone after next season so Rod Carey is loading up now.
Bowling Green, which sits at No. 7, is keeping the trend of lackluster recruiting performances by the reigning MAC champion alive. The Falcons currently have just one 3-star recruit, dual-threat quarterback Cody Callaway, However, Dino Babers recently reeled in a controversial recruit with the commitment from embattled wideout Roger Lewis. Lewis was a 4-star recruit two years ago before a rape trial knocked his career off track. If he can stay on the straight and narrow his athleticism seems like a valuable asset to Babers' high-octane offense.
What should come as no surprise to anyone, three of the leagues' five worst teams take up the last three spots, but just how bad are their recruiting classes? Well, Miami's is not good on paper by any stretch of the imagination. The RedHawks' class is small in numbers. It doesn't attack all of Miami's immediate weaknesses (granted, there are a lot of those) and the 'Hawks aren't doing a good job of recruiting in their immediate, talent-rich, area. But still Miami's recruiting class seems like a home run compared to the last place EMU eagles. EMU's class isn't just last in the MAC, it's currently 133rd in the nation. Behind the likes of FCS teams such as North Dakota State, South Dakota State, and Missouri State.
The Eagles currently have four verbals, one of which is a 3-star—cornerback Jason Beck—but that's it. The firing of Ron English surely played a part, but EMU's class was still awful back then. Chris Creighton has his work cut out for him to not only fill the needs of this team, but to try and squeeze in some impact recruits in these final days.
But, back to the conference as a whole. Outside of the studs WMU has picked up, the next highest rated recruit is actually UMass running back J.T. Bayden, a top-50 back with a good combination of size and speed. The guy with the highest ceiling? That'd probably be a player not even listed in Ohio's class—but who has been confirmed as a verbal to the 'Cats—Canadian running back Maleek Irons. The top prospect in Canada according to Canadian scouting service TopProspects.ca, Irons is a speedy back with great size. He ran for more than 3,200 yards and 44 scores in 2012. Clearly there's massive potential in Irons, but questions about the level of competition he's faced in British Columbia make it hard to tell just how good he can be in Division I college football.
It's important to note, and yes I saved this for the end, that for all the talk of stars, rating recruits is not an exact science. As I mentioned earlier, the MAC Champion hasn't had a class in the top half of the league in sometime, but clearly the talent being brought in worked for those teams. We all know the stories of players such as Eric Fisher and Khalil Mack. Players not worthy of more than one or two stars who went on to dominate in college and in Fishers case be taken as the top pick in the draft. The point is, while these rankings are fun to look at right now, the only real way of judging a recruiting class is after it's left its legacy on the conference. But, for now we can judge away.
Only 19 days until National Signing Day.