With the 2017 season almost here, teams will not only be focused on playing their season, but making sure their programs look attractive for potential recruits. Here’s where each Conference USA school stands entering the season.
*All rankings are from 8/17/17 from 247Sports
The Hilltoppers are at the top of yet another list in Conference USA, and attracting top talent is something that could keep them there. Going into his first season with Western Kentucky, Mike Sanford looks like he could keep the spotlight on the Tops with 18 commitments, 11 of which are three-star recruits. One commit includes Terez Traynor, a three-star receiver who received P5 offers from Kentucky and Purdue, which will hopefully keep the offense’s wheels turning.
Frank Wilson has heads turning towards San Antonio and other rankings have the Roadrunners’ recruiting class ranked #1 in the C-USA. With 15 commitments, eight of which are three-star recruits, UTSA will have plenty of talent joining them on offense. One of their top commits, receiver Tykee Ogle-Kellogg, a three-star player that holds offers from University of Tennessee, Virginia Tech, Ole Miss, Mizzou, and South Carolina. If the Roadrunners can keep the top talents they have committed currently, look for UTSA to become a future powerhouse in C-USA West. The Wilson Era is off to a great start and the Roadrunners should be in good hands in the future as seen by the talent they’ve been attracting.
Louisiana Tech (77)
With 10 out of 12 recruits being ranked as 3-star talent (again, according to 247Sports), the Bulldogs’ winning tradition seems to be an attractive draw for the top players in Louisiana and its surrounding states. With the Bulldogs trying to pull up their less than perfect defense off of the ground, they’ve been sending offers to talent on both sides of the ball, which could turn them in to a more well-rounded team. Commitments to Tech come from players fielding offers from P5 schools too. If Skip Holtz can bring home the C-USA trophy, expect the Dawgs to rise even further in the rankings.
As David Bailiff and the Owls failed to get much of anything going last season, it comes as a glimmer of hope that they finish the preseason rankings in the top four. While only five of 15 total commitments are from three-star recruits, things could turn around if Rice has a decent season. Though Bailiff and his team had a rough 3-9 season in 2016.
North Texas (95)
Coach Seth Littrell has had a fair first season with the Mean Green, though recruits are having a hard time seeing that. With three out of 13 commitments having three stars and only one having a P5 offer, UNT is going to have to build on last year (and get into a bowl game via six wins this go-round) in order to go up in the recruiting rankings. If Littrell can do this and make their presence known in Texas, he should be able to get a few more three-star recruits by Signing Day.
Southern Miss (96)
Coming just after the Mean Green, the Golden Eagles only have nine commits so far, but five are three-star recruits. After his first season with Southern Miss, Jay Hopson scraped together a 7-6 season and has those in Hattiesburg believing that this could be a season where they could return to the C-USA championship game. If he can pull this off, expect Southern Miss to skyrocket in the recruiting rankings by the time National Signing Day rolls around.
Old Dominion (99)
Going from FCS to a 10-3 season in just three years in the FBS is a huge accomplishment, and Bobby Wilder needs to rise in the recruiting rankings in order to make Old Dominion a future powerhouse in Conference USA. With 10 commitments (four of which are three-stars), the Monarchs may see more commits if they make a serious run for the conference championship this season.
Doc Holliday has seen some highs and lows with the Herd, and he’s definitely on an unexpected low, which has hurt Marshall’s recruiting prestige. With only one out of eight commitments being a three-star recruit, Holliday could have a rough Signing Day class if he can’t impress recruits in 2017.
Florida International (110)
Although FIU is in a hot state for FBS recruiting, being picked 6th in the C-USA East preseason poll doesn’t exactly make FIU look like a place where top talent wants to play, but Butch Davis is looking to turn things around for the Panthers. One standout commit (who has two of seven total three-star commits to FIU) is receiver Ivan Thomas, who is fielding offers from Iowa and Indiana. If Davis can use his experienced offensive corp to turn things around at Florida International, he may take the Panthers up in the rankings by Signing Day.
After their two-year hiatus, expectations are low for Bill Clark and his Blazers as they all look to rebuild. With two out of six recruits being three-star, making a solid statement that UAB can rebuild and continue to rise this season could mean good things for Clark and his Blazers.
Going into the third season ranked last in C-USA East doesn’t make Brad Lambert and Charlotte a great team to play for. With only three commits thus far and not a single three-star recruit, Lambert may have to surprise C-USA again in order to make recruits turn to the 49ers as a team they want to play for in 2018.
Middle Tennessee (123)
Though we gave Middle Tennessee a decent NCAA Football recruiting prestige, recruiting has been slow for the Blue Raiders. The Blue Raiders have one three-star commitment out of four total, but if recent success for Rick Stockstill and MTSU continues this year, a lot more recruits may join the Blue Raiders for the 2018 season.
Florida Atlantic (147)
With the Lane Kiffin hype still ongoing in Boca Raton, the Owls enter the 2017 with only one three-star recruit, CB Dabarre Jenkins, who is currently fielding offers from schools like Iowa State. If Kiffin can show success in his first season at FAU (and not recruit only middle schoolers), FAU miiiight even be able to pull in a four-star recruit by Signing Day.
The Miners finish at the bottom of the list with Sean Kugler getting only one two-star commit. It’s hard to see the Miners getting ranked much higher if they cannot get anything going in 2017, especially without Aaron Jones present.