If your college football program aspires to win the College Football Playoff National Championship they’ll almost have to sign a five-star player in every class. Does a program win because they have five-star kids or do five-star kids sign because the programs wins is a chicken or egg question that would be tough to delve in to.
However, the proof is in the pudding. Alabama, Clemson, Oklahoma, and Georgia all sign their annual five-star prospect, outside of an outlier recruiting class here and there. The Tigers signed five (5) five-star prospects per 247Sports in 2018, yet not a single five-star in 2019. The Crimson Tide landed a pair of five-star prospects in 2019, and a pair in 2018. The Georgia Bulldogs signed seven (7) five-star prospects in 2018, and three more in the 2019 class. Notre Dame hasn’t signed a five-star since offensive tackle Tommy Kraemer in 2016 and while they made the semi-final they were easily handled by the Tigers. The Sooners nabbed two five-stars in 2019, and one in 2018. Oh and if things hold up for 2020, THE Ohio State Buckeyes will have signed around seven five-stars in three classes.
Alabama has signed five-star quarterback Tua Tagovailoa who helped the Tide win a title in 2017 and guided them to the big game in 2019 (for the 2018 season). Clemson’s title winning quarterback in 2018- a freshman in Trevor Lawrence. Oklahoma’s dual-threat dual-sport Heisman Trophy winning quarterback Kyler Murray- yes, another five-star prospect coming out of high school.
Recruiting is a big business driven by massive cattle call camps like The Opening, Elite 11, and 7on7 tournaments played all over the country. Recruiting gurus like SB Nation’s Bud Elliot and 247’s Brandon Huffman make their living (I assume, anyway) via their keen eye and perceptive ability to track and analyze talent. Trust me, I’m the first person to say ‘stars don’t matter, people do,’ but in the world of college football, they’re a big deal. Coaches receive bonuses based on recruiting rankings and it’s obvious that the best players win the most games.
The Hurricanes finally got back on the five-star map in 2018 with the signing of Lorenzo Lingard. Lingard, the talented tailback from University High School in Orange City looked promising before going down with a season ending injury. The youngster should be able to bounce back under Dan Enos and split touches with Deejay Dallas and Cam’Ron Harris*. Before Lingard the reeling Hurricanes last five-star was defensive end Chad Thomas. Thomas was part of Al Golden’s 12th ranked class in 2014.
Do the Hurricanes need to sign a five-star prospect in their 2020 class? Yes, they probably do. In order to hang with the elite programs like Alabama, Georgia, Clemson and Oklahoma they’ll need elite level talent. There’s truly a monopoly on the four playoff spots and until the field widens to six or eight it will more than likely require a five-star prospect somewhere on the roster.
As of February 15th, 2019 there are only 33 five-star prospects per 247 Sports in the 2020 recruiting class. With the recent fake recruit Blake Carringer receiving three-stars, the validity of the recruiting websites has taken a hit but the truth remains- it’s important for both the talent level and public perception to win recruiting wars. Of the 33 available five-stars three are listed as Florida prep players. Yet, Miami may be more likely to pull a kid from D.C., Las Vegas, or California as they are from Florida.
Which five-stars does Miami have a shot at? How about six-foot-seven, 235 pound tight end Darnell Washington from Las Vegas. With Miami currently having a trio of Bishop Gorman (LV) stars the ‘Canes could land this blue chipper from the desert. St. Thomas Aquinas wide receiver Marcus Rosemy is another five-star that hasn’t committed yet. The two Florida kids coming in at 32 and 33 in the rankings are Gator locks.
Miami’s 2020 class is sitting currently at 3rd in the country, even ranked ahead of the defending national champion Clemson Tigers. But Miami doesn’t have a single five-star locked in yet for that class, yet Alabama, LSU, Florida, Ohio State and Oklahoma all do. If the ‘Canes want to return to the elite recruiting and performance standards they set in the early 2000’s as well as in the 1980’s and 1990’s elite prospects will have to be signed and it’s not easy when the five-star pool is only .01% of a signing class per Alex Kirshner’s research.
I believe SB Nation’s Bill Connelly coined the phrase that football programs are built in three phases: acquisition, development, and deployment. That means your program has to have the best players, has to develop them into winners, and has to deploy them with great scheme and poise for 60 minutes for 15 games in order to win the College Football Playoff National Championship. That’s a tall ask for anyone and there’s a reason why only a handful of active coaches have a championship ring- it takes a special person to master all three phases.
Can The New Miami pull off a recruiting coup and land one of 33 five-star prospects in the 2020 class? Most definitely. If anyone can do it, it is Miami head football coach Manny Diaz with the fire he’s bringing to Coral Gables. However, the ‘Canes will have to prove they can play ball with programs like Alabama, Clemson and Florida who have SEC-like recruiting strategies thoroughly in place heading into the next recruiting cycle.