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20 college football teams that recruited way better than usual in 2015

Recruiting ratings look pretty similar from year to year. But throughout the rankings, there are teams that really stepped it up this time.

Alabama had the country's No. 1 class, as usual. USC, the last non-Bama program to have consecutive No. 1 classes, is back at the top as well. The rest of the top 10 looks about the same as it does every year.

But which programs brought in potentially game-changing recruiting classes? Here's the simplest way to figure this out: compare each program's average 247Sports Composite finish over the previous four years to its 2015 finish. Voila, two lists of top-10 teams each.

Power conferences

10. Washington State

Previous four-year Composite average: No. 61.25

2015 Composite ranking: No. 49

One big reason: Don't be fooled by Wazzu's epic final-week-or-so collapse amid coaching turnover, which included half a dozen painful decommits. The other 51 weeks of recruiting went really well, as the Pullman program is now just about fully Mike Leach's.

9. Tennessee

Previous four-year Composite average: No. 16.25

2015 Composite ranking: No. 4

One big reason: True coaching stability for the first time in almost a decade, as Butch Jones looks set to have the Vols competing for SEC East championships within the next year or two. Jones' staff treated the cities of Atlanta and Charlotte as if they're part of the state of Tennessee.

8. Duke

Previous four-year Composite average: No. 63.25

2015 Composite ranking: No. 50

One big reason: Nineteen wins in David Cutcliffe's last two seasons. That's how many games Duke won in the 11 seasons combined before Cutcliffe arrived in 2008. Recruits see evidence they can go to Duke and win.

7. Wake Forest

Previous four-year Composite average: No. 66.5

2015 Composite ranking: No. 53

One big reason: Head coach Dave Clawson described the Demon Deacons' 23-man class as the best in program history, and he's right. Clawson attributed the high ranking to his staff's second year with the program, saying last year his team had to try and recruit everyone in sight.

6. Georgia Tech

Previous four-year Composite average: No. 56.5

2015 Composite ranking: No. 43

One big reason: Beating up on Mississippi State in the Orange Bowl on New Year's Eve couldn't have hurt. The Yellow Jackets also showed recruits last year that they deploy talent extremely well.

NSD's biggest winners


Previous four-year Composite average: No. 22

2015 Composite ranking: No. 7

One big reason: A loaded year of California talent, a monstrous close on National Signing Day, and an impending offseason of hype for the 2015 season have the Bruins on fire.

(If committed-but-unsigned four-star LB Roquan Smith heads elsewhere due to a coaching change, then UCLA would finish just outside the top 10 on this list, replaced by Illinois.)

4. Missouri

Previous four-year Composite average: No. 42.5

2015 Composite ranking: No. 25

One big reason: Two straight SEC East titles make Mizzou the most consistent program of late in half of the country's most unavoidable conference. The Tigers took advantage by owning their region. And keeping ace defensive line coach Craig Kuligowski despite an Illini offer had to help keep five-star East St. Louis defensive end Terry Beckner Jr. local.

3. Penn State

Previous four-year Composite average: No. 33.25

2015 Composite ranking: No. 14

One big reason: Two big reasons. NCAA sanctions are basically over, and James Franklin is one of the country's best recruiters. Simple.

2. Arizona State

Previous four-year Composite average: No. 41.75

2015 Composite ranking: No. 20

One big reason: Two straight 10-win seasons for the first time since the 1970s have ASU as visible as ever, and Todd Graham's staff appears to have strong California connections, bringing in six Composite four-stars from the state.

1. NC State

Previous four-year Composite average: No. 54.75

2015 Composite ranking: No. 30

One big reason: A perhaps surprising five-win improvement to 8-5 in Dave Doeren's second year, plus in-state dominance: of North Carolina's top seven blue chips, four signed with the Wolfpack.

Non-power conferences

10. Western Michigan

Previous four-year Composite average: No. 89

2015 Composite ranking: No. 75

One big reason: P.J. Fleck is a recruiting animal, following up on a shocking No. 69 finish in 2014 -- itself a 43-spot improvement from 2013 -- and a seven-win improvement to 8-5 with the MAC's best class for the second year in a row. If Fleck stays another couple years, the MAC is in trouble.

9. Ohio

Previous four-year Composite average: No. 107

2015 Composite ranking: No. 91

One big reason: Much of the MAC stepped it up this year, actually, with four teams on this list. Could that weeknight #MACTION exposure be paying off? The Bobcats also had a lot of playing time to offer.

8. Northern Illinois

Previous four-year Composite average: No. 101.25

2015 Composite ranking: No. 85

One big reason: Mid-major recruits know that if they want to win a few football games a year on national TV, they can do so at NIU, one of the country's most consistent programs. The Huskies were also able to bring in a giant, 30-man class.

7. Old Dominion

Previous four-year Composite average: No. 110.75

2015 Composite ranking: No. 93

One big reason: For the first time, ODU coaches were able to tell recruits they'll be playing their entire careers as full FBS members with bowl chances every season.

6. Louisiana Tech

Previous four-year Composite average: No. 95.75

2015 Composite ranking: No. 78

One big reason: I don't know, TBQH. You tell me.

The country's hardest jobs

5. South Alabama

Previous four-year Composite average: No. 107.75

2015 Composite ranking: No. 88

One big reason: The end of UAB's football program has most benefited USA, which has added nine Blazers transfers in addition to seeing a key recruiting rival eliminated. The Jaguars also just nearly won in their first-ever bowl game.

4. Georgia Southern

Previous four-year Composite average: No. 115

2015 Composite ranking: No. 95

One big reason: Full FBS membership is here, and showing off a Sun Belt championship alongside all those FCS national title banners gives GSU an edge over so many of its peers. And the Eagles aren't quite done yet.


Previous four-year Composite average: No. 119

2015 Composite ranking: No. 98

One big reason: While the Roadrunners limped to 4-8, somehow everyone remembers them taking eventual Pac-12 South champion Arizona to the wire on Thursday night TV in front of 33,472 people. Bet recruits do, too! UTSA had a horde of playing time to sell, as it lost one of the most experienced senior classes ever.

2. Miami (Ohio)

Previous four-year Composite average: No. 104.5

2015 Composite ranking: No. 81

One big reason: Chuck Martin's staff was able to beat conference rivals for several top locals. Seems like that's about the size of it.

1. San Jose State

Previous four-year Composite average: No. 107.75

2015 Composite ranking: No. 58

One big reason: I have no freaking idea. That big a leap is inexplicable. SJSU went 3-9 last season. One recruit, a four-star who'd claimed a USC offer, said he picked the Spartans because he likes their jerseys. Let's go with that. Incredible jerseys.