Let's not skirt around the truth: The lifeblood of college football is recruiting. In high school recruiting and junior college recruiting — and with the wild transfer situation existing these days — it's all about the Jimmys and the Joes before you get a chance to teach the X's and the O's. So let's take a look at Group of Five football recruiting.
While JUCO players and transfers are a bit older and have experience — and can plug holes in the dam for a couple of years worth of eligibility — they don't come to your program with five solid years to take a natural redshirt and grow on the field for four years as a player under your program's guidance. Nothing beats a top high school recruit who pans out when he's heading out with a degree and a stellar resume? on the field as an early 20-year-old. That's really the foundation any stable program has.
Some serious standouts are bypassing offers from Power Five programs to get an early opportunity at the Group of Five level. Jayden Bradford, the No. 1 quarterback in the country in the Group of Five rankings, is pumped about heading to Liberty, he told FanBuzz this week.
"What really stood out to me was the chance to build something special and do something that's never been done (at Liberty) before," Bradford told FanBuzz. "I liked that as well as the coaches and facilities were the same as any P5 (Power Five) school I've been to, if not better."
LET'S TALK RANKINGS
Here we are in the middle of July, with the early signing period still six months away and February 2024 (the final signing day) even further down the calendar. Yet several Group of Five programs have already begun crushing it on the recruiting trail. Not surprisingly, after the stellar season Tulane is coming off, its class truly stands out. And Southern Miss leads the way in the Rivals.com team ranking overall, coming in ahead of many Power Five programs in the early rankings. Some of the other standout G5 programs in the early Rivals rankings are South Florida, Colorado State, Miami-Ohio, East Carolina and UNLV.
But when it comes to the elite recruits, who is getting the early four-star guys? Well, the entire top 5 below sit on that perch — but only seven total commitments at the G5 level can say that so far (as of July 11).
Presenting, the G5 top 5, powered by our partners at Rivals.com:
THE TOP FIVE
1. Jordan Ross, Wide Receiver
The school: Colorado State
The lowdown: Jay Norvell and his staff worked some serious magic to lure Jordan Ross away from the Power Five schools that were pursuing him. Considered an immediate-impact star in 2024 as a true freshman, the 5-foot-11 receiver from Downey, Calif. sure likes the program's offense. With the team's air raid-style offense, this four-star pass target will get his opportunities to do exactly that.
2. Rodney Hill, Linebacker
The school: Tulane
The lowdown: There was a time when many in the know thought Rodney Hill might go to Tennessee — that's how highly thought of he is. Tulane is no slouch program, though, and obviously it made things interesting in the national Top 25 last season — and the Green Wave have a solid class already. Hill, a 5-foot-11 212-pounder from Dayton Beach, Fla., had 181 tackles and 14 tackles for loss as a junior.
3. Jayden Bradford, Quarterback
The school: Liberty
The lowdown: At one point considered to be Louisville-bound, Jayden Bradford is an absolute gem pickup for Liberty. The four-star signal-caller is the No. 1 quarterback in the Group of Five, according to Rivals.com. Last year at the elite IMG Academy in Bradenton, the 6-foot-1, 202-pound passer threw for 1,071 yards and 19 TDs.
4. Zavier Hamilton, Linebacker
The school: South Florida
The lowdown: Zavier Hamilton spent all spring and the early part of summer checking out schools, including multiple visits to Tallahassee to the Florida State Seminoles. But his June trip to Tampa Bay, Florida, to check out South Florida sealed the deal. The 6-foot-2, 218-pound linebacker from Walton Beach, Fla., is staying in-state.
5. Rod Gainey, Running Back
The school: Charlotte
The lowdown: Rod Gainey had a superb junior season for Tampa Bay Tech in Tampa, Fla., rushing 258 times for 1,518 yards and 14 touchdowns. The 5-foot-11, 180-pound rusher holds 14 scholarship offers, reporting Power Five offers from Georgia Tech, Indiana, Louisville, Maryland, Mississippi State and West Virginia.
THE NEXT 10
|6||Tyler Aronson #||QB||Vero Beach, FL||6'1"||202||SMU|
|7||Christopher Jones #||LB||Flowood, MS||6'1"||220||Southern Miss|
|8||Kenyan Kelly||S||Denison, TX||6'2"||170||UTSA|
|9||Caleb Moore||DT||Hattiesburg, MS||6'3"||250||Southern Miss|
|10||Joshua Jackson||WR||New Orleans, LA||6'4"||190||Tulane|
|11||Geordan Guidry||DE||Ruston, LA||6'3"||235||Tulane|
|12||Brandon Jones||LB||Dallas, TX||6'1"||190||North Texas|
|13||Aaron Travis||DE||Grenada, MS||6'5"||245||Southern Miss|
|14||Jalen Dupree||RB||Malvern, AR||6'1"||220||Colorado State|
|15||Gavench Marcelin||DE||Miami, FL||6'3"||215||Florida Atlantic|
# - 4-star recruit
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