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Class of 2018 Team Rankings: Top five evolving as signing day nears

MORE: Rivals.com Team Recruiting Rankings for the 2018 class

The final rankings of the 2018 recruiting cycle have been released, so it’s time to take a look at where the team rankings stand with less than two weeks to go before National Signing Day. Check out these five team rankings storylines to track.

TOP PERFORMERS SINCE THE EARLY SIGNING PERIOD

Miles Jones
Miles Jones (Greg Bishop (GregBishopPhoto.com))

Nebraska head coach Scott Frost is not messing around. The Cornhuskers have seen the most improvement in the team rankings since the early signing period after adding commitments from four-stars Miles Jones and Dominick Watt along with three other three-stars. Before the early signing period Nebraska was outside the top 60 and now they sit at No. 23.

Auburn and Michigan caused the most meaningful reshuffling in the top 15. Auburn’s additions of Rivals250 wide receiver Anthony Schwartz, four-star Harold Joiner, and three-star Roger McCreary helped move the Tigers into a tie with Notre Dame at No. 7. Michigan’s movement upwards came from the commitments of three-stars Vincent Gray and Michael Barrett. Both commitments came within the last week.

NEW COACH PROGRESS REPORT

Jeremy Pruitt
Jeremy Pruitt (AP Images)

There are 13 Power Five teams with new head coaches. Frost has done a great job at Nebraska but the school with a new head coach that has done the best on the recruiting trail since early December is Tennessee. Jeremy Pruitt and the Vols were ranked at No. 60 before the early signing period and are now at No. 16. Ten players have signed with or have committed to Tennessee since the beginning of December and six of them have been four-stars while the other four are three-stars.

Ole Miss has moved up from near No. 80 in the team rankings to No. 45 over the last two months and it is easy to see Florida and Florida State’s momentum building. Those two schools in the Sunshine State are up more than 10 spots since before the early signing period.

Arkansas, Oregon, Arizona State, Oregon State, Arizona, Mississippi State and UCLA have all seen minor movement in the team rankings despite the additions and, in some cases, subtractions, from their recruiting classes. Texas A&M has dipped to No. 50 (No. 27 before the early signing period) in the team rankings as Jimbo Fisher and his new staff get their feet under themselves.

THE EVOLUTION OF THE TOP FIVE

Tyson Campbell
Tyson Campbell (Nick Lucero/Rivals.com)

Georgia, Ohio State, Texas, Penn State and Miami have been in the top five of the team rankings since the early signing period but there are subtle hints that suggest there could be a change or two by the time the 2018 recruiting cycle closes out. Georgia and Ohio State have what looks like an insurmountable lead on the rest of the pack. The distance between No. 2 Ohio State and No. 3 Texas is greater than the distance between No. 3 Texas and No. 9 Alabama.

The Longhorns have a chance to cut into the Buckeyes' lead by potentially adding commitments from Rivals250 wide receiver Joshua Moore and four-star Joseph Ossai but Texas needs to look in their rear-view mirror. Penn State is only 31 points behind the Longhorns and could pass them if they add Rivals100 offensive lineman Rasheed Walker and four-star Solomon Ennis. Miami has major targets like five-star Tyson Campbell and Rivals250 linebacker Andrew Chatfield left on the board and they are less than 50 points behind Penn State. Only 77 points separate No. 3 Texas and No. 5 Miami and, with all three of them having a chance to land a few more highly rated prospects, the top five could be in for a shake up.

SEC PRIMED FOR STRONG FINISH

Kirby Smart
Kirby Smart (AP Images)

Only twice since 2006 (USC in 2010 and 2015) has a SEC team not finish atop the team rankings. Georgia has an excellent shot at continuing that trend this year but the rest of the SEC is still playing catch up. The Dawgs are the only SEC team in the top five while the Big Ten has two and the ACC and Big 12 each have one but there are three SEC teams between No. 5 and No. 10.

Alabama at No. 9 only has 18 players in its class right now and the Crimson Tide will likely be adding a few more which should push them upwards. No. 10 LSU could potentially land two or three more Rivals250 commitments. Auburn, which is currently tied with Notre Dame at No. 7, is almost finished with its 2018 class but could end up with one or two more additions down the stretch.

The difference between No. 5 Miami and No. 7 Auburn (243 points), No. 9 Alabama (284 points), and No. 10 LSU (440 points) isn’t that big when also considering that commitments from no more than three highly rated targets could cover that difference.

POWER 5 CONFERENCE RANKINGS

Nick Saban
Nick Saban (AP Images)

The SEC leads the Power Five conferences in multiple categories. On average, SEC teams are ranked higher, increased their rankings more, have more five-star commitments, and have the highest average stars per commitment. The Big Ten has the second-highest average ranking and these teams have increased their ranking the second-most since the last player rankings update. The Big Ten also has the most commitments followed by the ACC, but the ACC as a whole fell almost an average of two spots in the team rankings. The ACC does have the second-most five-star commitments. Even though the Pac-12 has the lowest average ranking they also have the second-highest average stars per commit. The Big 12 is last or second-to-last in most of the important categories.