Each Friday in Take Two, we delve deeper into some of the stories of the week in
college football and recruiting to examine how things might change moving
forward. Rivals.com West recruiting analyst Adam Gorney will set the stage and
then get takes from National Director of Recruiting Mike Farrell and a local
expert from the Rivals.com network of team sites.
This will be the last Michigan-Notre Dame meeting for the foreseeable future and
that is only one reason why this year's rivalry matchup is important.
Tevon Coney will be one of several big-time prospects
visiting Notre Dame this weekend.
The recruiting implications are humongous for both programs but especially the
Irish who are hosting four-star inside linebacker Tevon Coney,
four-star outside linebacker Porter Gustin and four-star running back
Soso Jamabo on official visits.
There are extensive lists of unofficial visitors in the 2015, 2016 and 2017
classes as well so a Notre Dame victory could be a tremendous step in the right
direction for coach Brian Kelly's recruiting efforts. The Irish
currently have the No. 13 class by Rivals.com.
For Michigan the stakes are enormous as well. After blasting lowly Appalachian
State last weekend, coach Brady Hoke will be in the national spotlight
against the Irish. A win could help cool the hot seat a little bit for the
embattled coach. A loss, well, turn up the stove because Michigan fans have
grown increasingly impatient.
And when prospects hear about coaches on the hot seat or even a possible
coaching change then that cannot be good for recruiting efforts. Especially in
such a highly publicize game as this.
"Playing Michigan for what appears to be the final time in a good while provides
Notre Dame the ultimate recruiting platform. The Irish will have a chance to
impress three top targets in four-star linebacker Tevon Coney, Rivals100 running
back Soso Jamabo and Rivals250 outside linebacker Porter Gustin. Plus they will
bank return trips from a slew of elite juniors, most notably five-star
quarterback Malik Henry. Beating one of its biggest rivals will help
Notre Dame in its pursuit of not only finishing off the current recruiting haul
but also building an elite group in the Class of 2016." -- Jake Brown,
"It's obviously a big game because it's the last one for quite some time. They
recruit the same type of kids, they recruit the same territories, it's a big
visit weekend for Notre Dame early in the recruiting process. They need a big
victory here to impress the recruits at home and Michigan can use one because it
can continue to further their national imprint. They're starting to get kids
from North Carolina, Virginia, New Jersey, they're trying to go national and a
big win on national television would help that." -- Mike Farrell, Rivals.com National Recruiting Director
The No. 1 player in the 2015 class, five-star defensive end Byron Cowart, is
waiting to see Florida this season. So are other five-star prospects. And
four-stars and top 2016 and 2017 prospects.
Byron Cowart lists Oregon as his leader.
There seems to be a wait-and-see approach in and around Gainesville this season.
A lot of highly-rated recruits like the Gators but if things go south again this
year for the Gators and if coach Will Muschamp is fired, then recruits
don't want to be left hanging or searching for a new school come the new year.
Everybody is waiting. Even the current players and coaches who in the most
unusual of circumstances had their first game against Idaho cancelled after a
lightning storm and heavy downpours made the field unplayable.
It's not going to be easy for Muschamp. Recruits -- uncommitted ones and even
prospects who are committed to Florida and other schools -- will be
watching. The waiting game is on to see how the fall plays out in Gainesville.
This could turn out to be a blockbuster recruiting haul and the turnaround of
Florida's football program under Muschamp. Or it could be another disappointing
season and time for athletics director Jeremy Foley to conduct another national
"There is no doubt that a large portion of Florida's 2015 class weights
heavily on their performance on the field this season. Guys like
CeCe Jefferson and Byron Cowart like the fact that Will Muschamp is a
defensive-minded head coach and are waiting to see if this season full of
questions will take some of the head off of Muschamp's chair. A multitude of
offensive guys are waiting to see if there is success in the new look up-tempo
offense Kurt Roper has installed. Five-star offensive tackle
Martez Ivey grew up a fan of UF and likely would have already committed to Florida
had the 4-8 season not happened and questions arose of the staff being on their
way out. Florida fans are also hopeful of a strong offensive season in hopes of
grabbing the attention of Tampa standouts Ray-Ray McCloud
III and Deon Cain, who are committed to Clemson but still
are keeping tabs on the Gators. If Florida comes out of the gates this season
and lights it up offensively the recruitment of those two Rivals100 prospects
could get interesting." -- Blake Alderman,
"They have to see that the offensive improves. They have to see improvements all
across the board. They have to see stability among the coaches. If you look in
the Southeast, he's the only one on the hot seat, like really on the hot seat.
If you look at Auburn, Alabama, Georgia, Clemson, all the big players, Florida
State, even Miami, Golden is more secure. He has to show they can win some games
and show marked improvement. If they do that, they can get some kids. If they
don't, the kids can quickly turn elsewhere." -- Farrell
In a roundabout way, Michigan State could still be studying Stanford game tape
even though it's been months since the Spartans beat the Pac-12 power in the
Kyonta Stallworth committed to Michigan State in
That's because Stanford has beaten Oregon twice in a row and
the Spartans head to Eugene this weekend for one of the best, if not the best,
early-season showdown in college football.
Michigan State and Stanford have similar playing styles -- tough,
grind-it-out, take-no-prisoners and so there could be tremendous value in
evaluating what the Cardinal have done to be so successful against their
This is a national showdown of regional powers. It's big for many reasons and
one is so Michigan State can further solidify itself as not only the state's
best team but also a legitimate contender on the national stage.
The playing styles of Oregon and Michigan State couldn't be further apart. Their
recruiting ways are similar, though. Both go after prospects not solely based on
recruiting rankings but what fits their respective system best. And it's paid
off in a big way.
Michigan State currently has the sixth-best class in the Big Ten by Rivals.com,
an average star rating of 3.15, hardly the stuff of world beaters. Oregon has
moved up to No. 3 in the Pac-12 but has no in-state commits, always a difficulty
for the Ducks who are isolated from major pockets of football talent.
These two teams do things their own ways. It works. But this weekend is an
opportunity for both of them, on a national stage, to solidify their status and
that could only help in their recruiting efforts.
"Michigan State has already shown the ability to take advantage of their growing
brand on the national college football scene, grabbing several commits in this
class from Texas -- a state they have not recruited heavily in the past -- and
getting their quarterback of the future from Arizona. A win in Oregon, though,
almost certainly will strengthen their brand nationally and regionally. The
regional part may be most profound. Pulling off back-to-back wins against
Stanford and Oregon in the Pac-12's backyard shows local recruits not only that
they will be able to play in big, national games, but they can win them, and
expect to win them, consistently." -- Josh Helmholdt, Rivals.com Midwest recruiting analyst
"Michigan State has the opportunity here to really take the next step. Oregon is
Oregon. Everybody knows they play fast, they have great facilities, they're in
the corner of the United States so geography is difficult for them but they're
used to be being Oregon over the past few years. Michigan State has a chance to
win a big game on the road and send a message that the program in the state of
Michigan is Michigan State. They were better last year, they won the Big Ten and
this is a huge national game for them to take it to the next step. I don't
understand why more kids aren't seriously looking at Michigan State. There
should be numerous four-stars around the country looking at this program because
the coaching is so good." -- Farrell