Rivals' top 25 recruiters of 2019
With the addition of an Early Signing Period and official visits now starting in spring of prospects’ junior years, the recruiting landscape in college football has changed dramatically over the last two years. Some coaches and programs have fared better than others in adapting to those changes, and now that the class of 2019 is done and signed we are able to identify which assistant coaches did the best job in the most recent cycle. Led by National Recruiter of the Year Drew Mehringer of Texas, Rivals.com presents the Top 25 recruiters for the 2019 class.
NATIONAL RECRUITER OF THE YEAR: Drew Mehringer, Texas
The 2019 Rivals.com National Recruiter of the Year was partly responsible for a brand new recruiting rule being implemented. The “Bru McCoy Rule” applies to a prospect who signs in the Early Signing Period only to be released from his letter of intent and sign with a new school before the Late Signing Period. Even in this new era of recruiting it is a rule that is not expected to be exercised often, but it was in 2019 because McCoy flipped from USC to Texas between the signing periods. McCoy and his father have acknowledged that it was Mehringer who was responsible for the five-star ending up at Texas in the end, but the Longhorns' wide receiver coach also added numbers to the No. 3-ranked recruiting class.
Mehringer went into St. Louis to get Rivals250 wide receiver Marcus Washington and was part of a contingent of Texas staffers who worked on bringing Rivals100 athlete Jake Smith to Austin from Arizona. Back in the Lone Star State, Mehringer fended off top programs to keep Rivals100 athlete Jordan Whittington and three-star receiver Kennedy Lewis at home.
Harlon Barnett, Florida State
Florida State is no stranger to impact defensive backs, but the group brought in at the position in 2019 is one of the Seminoles’ best in recent memory. One of the reasons for that could be the addition one year ago of defensive coordinator Harlon Barnett, who was a top recruiter at Michigan State during his 10-year tenure in East Lansing. The Seminoles’ defensive backs coach, Barnett helped secured five-star Akeem Dent and four-star Travis Jay, then assisted Raymond Woodie, Odell Haggins and Telly Lockette in the recruitments of four-stars Nick Cross and Jarvis Brownlee as well as three-star Renardo Green.
Bobby Bentley, South Carolina
South Carolina is starting to find more success in the state of Tennessee, and the Gamecocks have tight ends coach Bobby Bentley to thank for that. The Gamecocks landed two players out of the Volunteer State in 2019, which equals the total number they signed from Tennessee in the previous 12 classes combined. Both of Bentley’s additions from the state of Tennessee, athlete Keveon Mullins and defensive end Joseph Anderson, rank in the Rivals250. Bentley’s haul also included Kevin Harris, the No. 38 running back prospect overall, out of Georgia, and Charlotte-based offensive lineman Jaylen Nichols.
Darrin Chiaverini, Colorado
Holding dual titles as recruiting coordinator and wide receivers coach, Darrin Chiaverini was one of three assistants held over from Mike MacIntyre’s staff when Mel Tucker took over the Buffaloes’ program in December. The task in any coaching turnover is retaining those commitments you want, and finding new targets to fill holes on the roster. Chiaverini expertly helped Tucker achieve both and sign a full class. The gem of Chiaverini’s haul was four-star wide receiver La’Vontae Shenault, who Colorado landed on the first day of the Late Signing Period. Chiaverini was responsible for at least six others, including the next-highest rated recruits after Shenault in receiver Braeden Huffman-Dixon and linebacker Jashua Allen.
Mike Elston, Notre Dame
Notre Dame is still the team that comes to mind when you think of a program that can recruit nationally, and Mike Elston flexed those muscles in compiling his five-man defensive line class. From Isaiah Foskey in California to Howard Cross in New Jersey, the defensive linemen headed to South Bend in 2019 represent a cross-section of the country. In each case, Elston had to out-recruit the local schools as well as national programs, and none of the five he signed had fewer than a dozen offers. Foskey and Cross, along with defensive tackle Jacob Lacey out of Kentucky and Hunter Spears from Texas, are four-stars, so Elston has infused his position group with talent as well as depth.
Pete Golding, Alabama
Some of the most memorable SEC recruiting battles of the last decade have come down to Alabama and LSU for state of Louisiana prospects, highlighted by a disagreement between Landon Collins and his mother on national television. Currently, the state of Louisiana is tasked to co-defensive coordinator Pete Golding, and he had two major successes in the 2019 class. Ishmael Sopsher is a former five-star prospect who was a priority for both Alabama and LSU in the Late Signing Period and chose the Crimson Tide on signing day. Rivals250 linebacker Christian Harris flipped from Texas A&M to Alabama back in November. Throw in four-stars Byron Young and Brandon Turnage, and it was a strong haul for Golding.
Cortez Hankton, Georgia
Georgia does not sign the No. 1 class in 2019 without the big flip of five-star George Pickens on the first day of the Late Signing Period, and the credit for that success goes to wide receiver coach Cortez Hankton. Adding Pickens soothes the loss of another five-star wide receiver, Jadon Haselwood, from earlier in the process. Under Georgia’s position-specific recruiting responsibilities, Hankton also got four-star Makiya Tongue out of Louisiana, and while he was landed after Rivals100 receiver Dominick Blaylock had committed, Hankton managed to keep that commitment intact.
Mike Hart, Indiana
The biggest commitment flip in the Big Ten was Indiana taking Rivals250 running back Sampson James away from Ohio State back in October. In the immediate aftermath some questioned if Ohio State let James go, but that was not what happened. Hoosiers running back coach Mike Hart just flat out won that recruitment. Not long removed from being the No. 6-ranked all-purpose back in the 2004 class, Hart knows what the other side of the recruiting process looks like, and he has used that to become a rising star in the coaching ranks. He also pulled in three-star Ivory Winters to help build the highest-ranked Indiana class since 2014.
Ryan Held, Nebraska
When Scott Frost accepted the Nebraska position in November of 2017 but continued on as UCF’s head coach through its bowl game, it was Ryan Held who held the Huskers' 2018 class together in the interim and allowed Nebraska to sign 13 in that Early Signing Period. Unlike Dexys Midnight Runners, though, Held is no one-hit wonder. His encore performance with the 2019 class included getting Rivals100 receiver Wandale Robinson to de-commit from his home-state school just before the Early Signing Period and sign with the Cornhuskers. Other big gets for Held in this cycle were four-stars Jamie Nance and Dedrick Mills as well as high three-star Demariyon Houston, who committed on Feb. 6.
Mickey Joseph, LSU
Ed Orgeron has built a strong recruiting staff in Baton Rouge, and one of his stars in a 2019 class that finished No. 3 overall was wide receivers coach Mickey Joseph. A former high school coach and player in New Orleans, Joseph had to fight some of the toughest battles in the boot, and he won more than his fair share. The headliner of Joseph’s haul is five-star athlete Trey Palmer, but Joseph was also the lead on four-stars John Emery, Devonta Lee and Donte Starks, each of whom earned a 5.9 Rivals Rating or higher and ranked among the top 161 players in the 2019 class.
Jimmy Lake, Washington
Washington checks in with the Pac-12’s third-best class in this cycle with a group that ranks top 20 overall. Although the Huskies did not sign any five-stars in 2019, they did sign 13 four-stars, a number that was bested by only six other schools. Defensive coordinator Jimmy Lake was responsible for a good share of those four-star prospects. Washington largely has assistant coaches recruiting their positions, and for Lake that is defensive backs, where he landed four-stars Asa Turner, Trent McDuffie and Kamren Fabiculanan, while also getting former Oregon commit Cameron Williams out of California. Outside of the defensive back position, Lake also played a large role in getting Rivals250 defensive tackle Jacob Bandes.
Mike Locksley, Alabama
The single greatest recruiting effort of the 2019 class might have been that of Mike Locksley, but head coaches are not included here, so his efforts at Maryland do not count. Just based on what Locksley did as an assistant coach for Alabama, though, makes him a shoo-in for this list. Locksley was with the Crimson Tide through the national championship game, and he did not pursue those prospects he recruited to Alabama when he took over at Maryland. It was a talented group, too, that starts with five-stars Trey Sanders and Evan Neal out of IMG Academy and also includes Rivals100 prospects DeMarcco Hellams and Shane Lee.
Maurice Linguist, Texas A&M
After stints at Iowa State, Mississippi State and Minnesota, Linguist is back in his home state of Texas, where his comfort level on the recruiting trail is evident. The Aggies' cornerbacks coach was a major piece to the puzzle in a 2019 recruiting class that ranked in the top 10 nationally. His focus on building out the defensive backfield in College Station resulted in the additions of five-star Erick Young, four-stars Brian Williams and Demani Richardson, along with Elijah Blades, the No. 1-ranked JUCO cornerback prospect in the class. It was an outstanding debut performance for the first-year Texas A&M assistant coach.
Sherrone Moore, Michigan
It was not a deep group signed by Sherrone Moore in his first year with Michigan, but the Wolverines' tight ends coach pulled off one of the biggest moves of the Early Signing Period. Moore had fought off the likes of Alabama, Clemson and Georgia to get five-star safety Daxton Hill’s commitment in September, and then had to fight again for Hill when he flipped to Alabama on April 8. Right after the Early Signing Period opened, Hill sent his letter of intent to Michigan. Of course, Moore also had to look out for his own position, and he found one of the best flex tight ends in the country when he convinced four-star Erick All to sign with the Wolverines.
Brian Niedermeyer, Tennessee
Tennessee won two of the biggest National Signing Day battles when it landed four-star linebacker Henry To’oto’o over Alabama and Washington and also put the finishing touches on five-star Darnell Wright’s recruitment. For tight ends coach Brian Niedermeyer, it was the cherry on an already-decadent recruiting sundae.
Prior to picking up To’oto’o and Wright, Niedermeyer was responsible for landing four-stars Quavaris Crouch and Tyus Fields, as well as getting a couple more bodies for his tight end room in three-stars Sean Brown and Jackson Lowe. It was an outstanding debut performance for a coach who has been in Knoxville for exactly one year.
Corey Raymond, LSU
The battle for the No. 1-ranked prospect in the 2019 class did not deliver near the drama of previous No. 1 recruitments, and LSU has defensive backs coach Corey Raymond to thank for that. Five-star cornerback Derek Stingley Jr. called Raymond “the main thing” he loved about LSU when committing to the Tigers last June, and he never wavered on that commitment. Raymond would go on to add four-star Maurice Hampton out of Memphis and three-stars Cordale Flott, Raydarious Jones and Jay Ward to complement Stingley in LSU's 2019 defensive back class.
Joe Salave'a, Oregon
Oregon head coach Mario Cristobal is a former Rivals.com National Recruiter of the Year, so he understands the importance of having a strong recruiting staff. In the 2019 class, that staff was led by defensive line coach Joe Salave’a, who played a major role in at least six of the Ducks’ top additions. Salave’a was the lead recruiter for offensive tackle Malaesala Aumavea-Laulu, the No. 4 overall JUCO prospect in this class, as well as four-stars Sua'ava Poti, Mase Funa and Keyon Ware-Hudson. He also gave a key assist to Keith Heyward in bringing in five-star defensive end Kayvon Thibodeaux, and also played a big role in the recruitment of Rivals100 offensive tackle Jonah Tauanu’u.
Glenn Schumann, Georgia
Georgia’s No. 1-ranked recruiting class saw the Bulldogs meet needs across the board. The way recruiting works under head coach Kirby Smart is that each assistant coach handles his own position, so the credit for this class is spread among the staff. Linebackers coach Glenn Schumann gets a specific acknowledgement here, though, due to the nature of his contributions to this class. The first challenge was keeping Rivals250 athlete Trezman Marshall after Kevin Sherrer, who started that relationship, left for Tennessee. Schumann then went out and got Nakobe Dean from Mississippi and Rian Davis from Florida, while also assisting with five-star Nolan Smith and four-stars Warren McClendon and DJ Daniel.
Jeff Scott, Clemson
It shouldn't come as a surprise to see Jeff Scott’s name here as the 10-year Clemson assistant always delivers on the recruiting trail for the Tigers. In 2019, Scott added a new feat to his resume, though, by going to California and landing five-star wide receiver Joe Ngata. It was Clemson’s first signing from the state of California since 1995. Scott landed a second Rivals100 wide receiver when he went down to Miami and secured the services of four-star Frank Ladson. Add in three-star legacy receiver Brannon Spector and three-star offensive tackle Hunter Rayburn and it was another laudable recruiting effort from Clemson’s co-offensive coordinator and wide receivers coach.
Ja’Juan Seider, Penn State
Each year we have to note the unique recruiting approach from Penn State football: Every coach recruits every prospect. So, choosing which staff members are candidates for the nation’s top recruiters is a difficult task. However, in 2019, running backs coach Ja’Juan Seider immediately displayed his recruiting chops in his first year on staff and played a major role in the Nittany Lions becoming a player in the state of Florida. It was a connection that yielded Rivals100 prospects Noah Cain and John Dunmore, as well as their final addition of three-star wide receiver T.J. Jones on National Signing Day.
JaMarcus Shephard, Purdue
Purdue signed its best class since 2004, and while head coach Jeff Brohm turning down his alma mater certainly deserves some credit, so does the work of several assistant coaches. Wide receivers coach and co-offensive coordinator JaMarcus Shephard gets the nod among our top 25 recruiters, thanks to an individual haul that included three four-stars, including the first No. 1-ranked in-state prospect Purdue has signed since 2005. Purdue faced stiff competition for Rivals100 receiver David Bell out of Indianapolis, as well as four-star receiver Milton Wright out of Kentucky, but Shephard reeled both in, along with four-star athlete Mershawn Rice and three-star receiver TJ Sheffield.
Dennis Simmons, Oklahoma
Oklahoma pulled off what no other school in the Rivals era has been able to accomplish: signing three five-star wide receivers in one class. The man primarily responsible for that historic haul is Oklahoma outside receivers coach Dennis Simmons. Additionally, Simmons pulled the feat off twice, because Arjei Henderson was a five-star when he was committed to the Sooners last spring before de-committing. Simmons just went out and replaced him with another five-star in Jadon Haselwood, the eventual No. 1-ranked prospect at the position, to join fellow five-stars Theo Wease and Trejan Bridges.
Justin Stepp, Arkansas
It has been a long drought for Arkansas of not landing a four-star receiver out of the high school ranks, one that stretches back almost a decade. The drought is now over, and thanks to wide receivers coach Justin Stepp it ended with a deluge of four-stars in this 2019 class. The group is led by Rivals250 prospects Trey Knox and Treylon Burks, but it also includes more four-stars in TQ Jackson and Shamar Nash, the latter of whom Arkansas was able to flip from Missouri last summer. Stepp came with Chad Morris over from SMU, and has quickly acclimated to the rough-and-tumble recruiting world of the Southeastern Conference.
Calvin Thibodeaux, Oklahoma
With all the talent that has gone through Norman, it is surprising that this 2019 class is the first top 5 finish for Oklahoma since 2005. The class will bring in depth at several positions, including defensive line, where position coach Calvin Thibodeaux finds himself with a wealth of young prospects to enter next season. Five of those additions are directly related to Thibodeaux's efforts, including four-stars Marcus Stripling, David Ugwoegbu and Marcus Hicks. Thibodeaux also mined the JUCO ranks and found three-star LaRon Stokes just before the Early Signing Period. His other addition was high three-star Kori Roberson out of Texas.
Marcus Woodson, Auburn
Although much of the attention paid to Auburn on National Signing Day had to do with losing five-star receiver George Pickens, the Tigers still had a successful day that saw four additions to the class, including Rivals100 defensive end Charles Moore, who had been a longtime Mississippi State commit earlier in the process. Moore was the handiwork of defensive backs coach Marcus Woodson, and he was one of four four-star prospects Woodson landed for the Tigers in 2019. Woodson went into the state of Mississippi to pull Rivals250 prospects Derick Hall II and Jaren Handy, then went up to Virginia to get four-star safety Cam’Ron Kelly.