February 24, 2024

National Signing Day 2024: Michigan, Washington among teams needing to improve recruiting in 2025 cycle


The proverbial bow has been placed on the college football recruiting Class of 2024 as both the early signing period in December and now the traditional National Signing Day have passed. While the traditional signing day on Wednesday was void of much drama, some surprise coaching changes early in 2024 certainly had an impact on how teams capped their 2024 recruiting efforts. 

With the 2024 classes now finalized, there’s no better time than the present to look ahead at what’s to come in the next wave. With that in mind, instead of focusing on the usual suspects finishing at or near the top of the recruiting heap, let’s have a look at some teams that need to step up their recruiting game during the 2025 cycle — beginning with the reigning national champions who are set to enter a new era. 

Michigan: The Wolverines were a developmental powerhouse under coach Jim Harbaugh with players consistently outperforming their recruiting rankings as the program climbed to a College Football Playoff National Championship. Well, Harbaugh is gone now, and so are a bevy of those key names that developed into stars. For Michigan’s 2024 class to fall outside the top 10 nationally, taking fourth place in the Big Ten behind the likes of conference newcomer Oregon and Penn State fresh off a national title is concerning. Matters are compounded when you look at what rival Ohio State is doing on the trail and the fact that Michigan is at the center of two separate NCAA investigations. First-year coach Sherrone Moore should be able to get a lot out of the players Michigan has signed, and he did a really good job of keeping the class together amid so much turnover and controversy, but the Wolverines are falling behind a bit in the arms race. That might eventually catch up to them if they aren’t careful. 

Washington: Yes, the Huskies went through an unexpected coaching change in January, but even their December class wasn’t the caliber of which you’d tie to a team about to play for a national championship as Washington had been emphasizing the transfer portal under Kalen DeBoer. New Huskies coach Jedd Fisch rejuvenated the recruiting efforts at Arizona, and he’ll need to do the same in Seattle, especially with so many players lost to graduation and the portal. For a team that is 25-3 over the last two seasons, perhaps the 2025 class will see that bump.

UCLA: UCLA finished No. 17 in the Big Ten and No. 92 nationally. Chip Kelly has never prioritized prep recruiting, instead choosing to use the portal. But with a move to the Big Ten on tap, you’d assume Kelly would have ramped up efforts in the high school ranks.  Well, that assumption would have been grossly incorrect. Only Northwestern — who fired its longtime coach over the summer — had a lower-rated class in the Big Ten. UCLA could have ended with a bang on Wednesday by landing three-star DL Keona Wilhite, but the rumors of Kelly interviewing for NFL offensive coordinator jobs was the final nail in the coffin for a miserable 2024 recruiting effort.

Northwestern: Now that David Braun is the full-time head coach in Evanston, Illinois, the Wildcats need to step up their recruiting efforts. Sure, they’ll always face the academic hurdles that most of their Big Ten brethren don’t, but schools like Stanford and Duke have out-kicked their coverage when it comes to that area. Pat Fitzgerald’s firing happened in mid-July, right when most players were getting ready to make decisions, so that did no favors to this class. The delay in removing Braun’s interim tag also put Northwestern in a tough position. The hope now is that there’s some stability moving forward, but finishing No. 18 in the new-look Big Ten isn’t necessarily inspiring at the moment.

Houston: Speaking of coaching changes, Houston made the move to fire Dana Holgorsen after its first season as a Big 12 member. In comes Willie Fritz to work with a deeper talent pool than he had at Tulane (this despite the plethora of talent in Louisiana). Fritz evaluated and developed players among the best in college football during his time with the Green Wave, but now he has the resources to really step up in recruiting with a power conference program; Houston enjoys deep pockets and as fertile a recruiting base as any school in the Big 12. So, there is no reason for the Cougars to not finish among the top five in the Big 12, especially with Oklahoma and Texas gone. Finishing No. 13, as they did in this cycle, is simply unacceptable moving forward. 

Virginia: Cavaliers coach Tony Elliott has his way of doing things in Charlottesville and in a very deliberate manner. But with the ACC expanding to add the likes of Stanford and Cal — esteemed academic institutions in their own right — there needs to be a fire lit under the Hoos. They finished No. 15 in the ACC; only Boston College — a program currently without a head coach — and SMU — a school who didn’t achieve power-conference status until late in the cycle — were behind them. Virginia has a great recruiting base and attractive education, so finishing in the 60s means improvements must be made.





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