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The surprising schools that have and haven’t signed 5-star football recruits

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Most power conference teams have signed five-stars. Most non-powers have not. But there are plenty of exceptions.

So Mississippi vs Central Florida
Southern Miss receiver DeAndre Brown in 2010.
Photo by Stephen M. Dowell/Orlando Sentinel/MCT via Getty Images

Since 2000, 702 football recruits have earned five-star ratings on the 247Sports Composite. These are the best of the best college football prospects. They’re expected to be major contributors in college, if not future NFL draftees a few years after stepping on campus. They have an outsized chance of eventually starting in the Super Bowl.

In the modern time of recruiting rankings, only about 30 out of around 300,000 high school seniors playing football in a given year get five-star ratings.

But where do they go?

It’s no surprise that the best players go to the best teams, and most Power 5 schools have signed a five-star prospect out of high school at some point.

But this is the list of Power 5 schools that have never, ever done it.

  • Arizona
  • Duke
  • Indiana
  • Iowa State
  • Kansas
  • Kansas State
  • Minnesota
  • Northwestern
  • Purdue
  • Texas Tech
  • Utah
  • Vanderbilt
  • Wake Forest
  • Washington State
  • Louisville in the ACC or Big East
  • TCU in the Big 12

(More on the last two shortly.)

No P5 league is perfect, but the SEC comes closest with only one school five-starless. That’s the one school in the SEC you’d expect it to be.

I’m shocked that Arizona, Utah, and Texas Tech haven’t gotten at least one five-star, given location, number of successful seasons since 2000, and their elite players you can name. Tech’s Michael Crabtree, for instance, was a four-star, as was Arizona’s Rob Gronkowski. (Tech’s Patrick Mahomes was just a three-star in the class of 2014.)

I’m mildly surprised that Minnesota or Washington State hasn’t stumbled into signing one.

The rest make a bunch of sense either based on recruiting philosophy (Kansas State) or general program strength (Vanderbilt, Duke, Wake, Purdue, Kansas, Iowa State). When those schools have had their successes, it’s been about maximizing diamonds in the rough.

And then there are the shocking teams that have signed five-stars.

  • Louisville when it was in Conference USA
  • TCU when it was in the WAC
  • BYU
  • Houston
  • Southern Miss (!)

Also:

  • Illinois (!)
  • Oregon State (!)
  • Rutgers (!!!!!!!!!!)

Just six five-star recruits in the rankings era have signed with teams that weren’t in a power conference at the time. DT Ed Oliver signing with Houston in 2016 is the most recent. Southern Miss signed receiver DeAndre Brown in 2008. Louisville signed RB Michael Bush in 2003. BYU signed guard Ofa Mohetau in 2003 and QB Ben Olson in 2002. TCU signed RB Tyson Thompson in 2000, long before it joined the Big 12, and that’s the whole history.

Louisville hasn’t signed a five-star in 14 years in the Big East and ACC. TCU hasn’t signed a five-star in seven years in the Big 12, or several before that as a Mountain West power.

Rutgers (yes, Rutgers) has three five-star signees. Weirdly, none of them signed around the time Rutgers was really good (2006), with one coming in 2003 and the others in 2011 and ‘12. The 2003 Rutgers five-star, DT Nate Robinson, transferred to Akron before that big season under Greg Schiano. All three of Rutgers’ five-stars were from in state.

Illinois’ two five-stars are receiver Arrelious Benn (2007) and defensive end Martez Wilson (also 2007). Oregon State signed guard Isaac Seumalo in 2012.

And this is the list of schools to sign five-stars in 2019:

  • Georgia (4)
  • Alabama (3)
  • Ohio State (3)
  • Auburn (3)
  • Oklahoma (3)
  • LSU (3)
  • Texas (2)
  • Texas A&M (2)
  • Michigan (2)
  • Oregon (1)
  • Clemson (1)
  • Penn State (1)
  • Tennessee (1)
  • South Carolina (1)
  • Mississippi State (1)
  • Wisconsin (1)

Two more are committing on or around Signing Day. But 114 or so of the 130 FBS teams will have to go five-starless, including all 60 Group of 5 schools and the six independents. Even Notre Dame doesn’t have a five-star this year.