Rival Views: Which 2019 class is the most surprising?
National Recruiting Director Mike Farrell and National Recruiting Analyst Adam Gorney don’t always see eye to eye. In this edition of Rival Views, the two discuss which 2019 class is the most surprising.
FARRELL'S VIEW: NEBRASKA
To me, it’s Nebraska checking in as a Top 15 class after a rough first season under Scott Frost. Many people don’t understand how hard it is for Nebraska to recruit because the Huskers don’t have much talent in their home state or in bordering states. That means they have to go on the road and pull top prospects out of other programs' back yards - and that’s not easy. So for Frost, whose team showed improvement throughout the season but still failed to make a bowl game, it is quite a challenge. And he’s risen to that challenge.
This is a big class. It has a very solid star ranking and there are some difference-makers on offense and defense such as Wandale Robinson, Noa Pola-Gates, Ty Robinson, Bryce Benhart, Nick Henrich and others. And only Henrich is an in-state commitment. For Nebraska to be in the national Top 15 in recruiting this close to the February Signing Day is very impressive, and the coaches deserve a lot of credit.
GORNEY'S VIEW: MICHIGAN
The first four years under coach Jim Harbaugh have been relatively lackluster, if not downright disappointing - even if some die-hard Michigan fans won’t admit it.
The Wolverines finished third in their own division in the first three seasons and then looked to be on the path toward a College Football Playoff berth before getting walloped - again - by Ohio State and then getting downright embarrassed by Florida in the Peach Bowl.
Can anyone seriously explain how the Buckeyes beat them 62-39, and then the Gators, hardly an offensive juggernaut, took Michigan down 41-15?
Harbaugh is 26-9 in Big Ten play in four seasons. That’s only one win better than Penn State’s James Franklin, and far worse than former Ohio State coach Urban Meyer’s record in that same span, during which he went 30-4. In four seasons, Harbaugh has never had a better record than 10-3, which is admirable but not to the level of expectations when he took the job.
Still, Michigan has been recruiting really well this cycle and is ranked first in the Big Ten and ninth overall despite having little success with in-state recruits. None of the top six players in the state signed with Michigan (the first time that’s happened since 2007), but Harbaugh and his staff went to Georgia for five-star Chris Hinton and flipped back five-star DB Daxton Hill away from Alabama. Those successes were huge.
Michigan has a diverse class from all over the country - a high four-star running back from California, a four-star quarterback from Reno, it went to Connecticut for a few top players - and it’s propelled them to the top of the Big Ten rankings despite another underwhelming season. The coaching staff deserves credit for being able to accomplish that.