Michigan, USC, Penn State among Joel Klatt’s biggest recruiting surprises

How college football With National Signing Day wrapping up on Wednesday, it was no surprise to see Alabama and Georgia occupy the top spots for the 2023 class.

Nick Saban and the Crimson Tide have returned the top-ranked recruiting class in seven of the last 10 years, while Georgia has posted a top-10 class every season over the past decade, including the No. 1 class both in 2020. and 2018, per 247Sports.com.

While Alabama and Georgia cleaned up again during this year’s recruiting cycle, the same can’t necessarily be said for USC and Michigan.

College Football Analyst for FOX Sports Joel Klatt released a list of programs that surprised him during the 2023 recruiting cycle on a recent episode of his podcast, “The Joel Klatt Show,” with Lincoln Riley and Jim Harbaugh’s programs leading the way.

Let’s go!

*All rankings are from 247Sports.com.

The “not so good” surprises.


Class of 2023 Ranking: No. 12 overall (second in Pac-12)
Average Player Rating: 91.33

Klatt’s thoughts: “To see them where they were in the recruiting rankings was mind-boggling. I look at USC and I thought, ‘Lincoln Riley, in this state, should be able to have a top-five recruiting class easily.’ It wasn’t even close.” When I look at what you have to do if you’re USC, you have to put a fence in the state of California because if you do that, you’re going to have a good class. Basically, there were about 20 players in California . in the top 300, and USC got three. It’s not enough. They should do a lot better with these players in their own backyard.”


Class of 2023 Ranking: No. 18 overall (third in Big Ten)
Average Player Rating: 88.97

Klatt’s thoughts: “Michigan was ranked No. 18, despite two straight playoff appearances, despite two straight Big Ten titles, despite two straight wins over the rival Ohio State Buckeyes. That should translate into more momentum. We have seen that they have much better classes than this one below. [Jim] Harbaugh. It’s a little weird.”

The biggest surprises of National Signing Day

The biggest surprises of National Signing Day

Penn State brought in a good class of 2023 and was a “pleasant surprise” for Joel Klatt, while USC and Michigan were “not so nice surprises.”

The “pleasant” surprises.

Penn State

Class of 2023 Ranking: No. 13 overall (second in Big Ten)
Average Player Rating: 91.15

Klatt’s thoughts: “They’ve started to own their own state, and I think that’s really imperative for any program. Even if you’re not going to get great players from your state, you’ve got to get the best players from your state. They were struggling in this sense in 2021 and 2020. They lost the best player in their state in those years to Ohio State. They’ve fixed that. That was a positive from Penn State’s perspective.”


Class of 2023 Ranking: No. 4 overall (second in Big 12)
Average player rating: 91.48

Klatt’s thoughts: “I thought Oklahoma had a really good class. … This is their best high school class since 2005, so Brent Venables did a great job. Six of their top seven recruits are defensive players or offensive linemen. How do you do well going in. the SEC? You better play good defense and you better play good at the line of scrimmage. I loved what Oklahoma did.”

[Oklahoma, Texas load up on prospects ahead of final Big 12 season]


Recruitment Classification: No. 19 overall (third in the Big 12)
Average Player Rating: 88,81

Klatt’s thoughts: “TCU signed a really good class, and they did well on the transfer portal as well. They were down a little bit in recruiting, and then they’re coming back after this big year they’ve had. They jumped up there and they’re recruiting at a high level. building on the momentum of that big year for Sonny Dykes.”

Texas Tech

Recruitment Classification: No. 26 overall (fourth in Big 12)
Average Player Rating: 87.67

Klatt’s thoughts: “Joey McGuire is working on it. I really love what he’s doing. They hadn’t finished higher than seventh in the conference in six … seven … eight years. When you finish fourth in the Big 12 now, that means that when Texas and Oklahoma leave, you’re finishing second in the Big 12. They’re recruiting on par with TCU.”


Recruitment Classification: No. 30 overall (fifth in Pac-12)
Average Player Rating: 87.56

Klatt’s thoughts: “I know we shouldn’t be surprised by what Deion [Sanders] is and what he’s doing, but this was a 1-11 team that just entered a top-30 class. This is pretty special. That’s a quick turnaround. Colorado hasn’t been very relevant for two decades. A year where they won a division and played for a Pac-12 title, that’s it. That Deion is doing what he’s doing is pretty amazing. This guy can walk into any living room in the country. He lands a five-star transfer and a five-star high school recruit. That’s pretty special.”

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