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January 25, 2013

Team Rankings: Mapping the path to No. 1


MORE: Rivals100 | Rivals250 | Team Rankings Formula

The final prospect rankings are complete. That means each recruit's team rankings point value will not change between now and National Signing Day.

Therefore, recruiting fans can draw up scenarios in an attempt to calculate their teams' final points at the end of signing day.

Alabama won the 2012 recruiting national championship under the old formula. The Tide would also have won with our new formula implemented this year, ending with 2,929 points.

By our analysis, we think five teams have a shot to reach 2,900 points this time arond: No. 1 Florida, No. 2 Notre Dame, No. 3 Alabama, No. 4 Ohio State and No. 7 USC.

In an effort to paint a somewhat clear picture of the path to the Class of 2013 Rivals.com recruiting national championship, we have gone over each team's recruiting board and considered various commitment scenarios for the five teams above.

Alabama is in strong contention for several top prospects and has the easiest path to get past last year's winning total of 2,929 points.

For this exercise, we'll use that point value as the mark teams likely need to surpass.

Here's how we handicap the race for No. 1:

RACE FOR 2013
1. ALABAMA
Current class rank: No. 3
Current point total: 2,721
Spots remaining: Up to six
Breakdown: Dee Liner, Vonn Bell and Eddie Jackson can be conservatively considered to have solid chances to end up in Tuscaloosa. If all three sign with Alabama, the Tide would finish with 2,947 points. Even if Alabama loses Bell to Ohio State or Tennessee, the Tide have proven to show a lot of muscle down the stretch. They are soundly in the game for Alvin Kamara. A Liner-Kamara combo would give Alabama 2,928 points -- right at last year's mark. A quartet of five-stars, Laremy Tunsil, Eddie Vanderdoes, Montravius Adams and Reuben Foster are all long shots, but Nick Saban has closed hard on five-star prospects before.
Title shot: Alabama has a better shot than any school to end at No. 1. If the Tide don't lose anyone, get who they are supposed to get and pull one other big-name surprise, this race is over. Even the most conservative scenarios seem to place Alabama in a near-unbeatable position.

2. FLORIDA
Current class rank: No. 1
Current point total: 2,777
Spots remaining: Could take up to seven
Breakdown: The Gators have plenty of room, but don't look for them to take anywhere near seven prospects. Kennard Swanson is their most likely commit, but won't alter their point total. The Gators' two best shots at high-value prospects are Jalen Ramsey and Quinton Powell. We'll call it 50-50 at best for each prospect. Getting Ramsey alone would give Florida 2,909 points -- short of Alabama's total last year and short of what we are thinking will be needed to win this year. Landing Powell alone would give Florida 2,807 points. If the Gators land both, they would end with 2,939 points -- enough to win last year's title, but no guarantee to win this year's title.
Title shot: The Gators might be No. 1 now, but to stay there they'll need to flip Jalen Ramsey from USC and pull some sort of surprise. The Gators are still sniffing around five-star prospects Montravius Adams and Robert Nkemdiche and four-stars Alex Collins and Mackensie Alexander. It's safe to call each of those long shots. To win the recruiting national title, the Gators must land Ramsey and Powell, hope Notre Dame doesn't hit a home run this weekend with their visitors, and then pray Alabama is unable to land the trio Bell, Liner and Jackson and fails to pull a major surprise with anyone else.

3. NOTRE DAME
Current class rank: No. 2
Current point total: 2,774
Spots remaining: Up to three
Breakdown: The good news is that Notre Dame has been extremely effective when it can get prospects on campus for an official visit. The Irish will get their crack at Eddie Vanderdoes and a couple of four-star prospects visiting this weekend -- Deon Hollins Jr. and Kylie Fitts. Rivals250 DE Torrodney Prevot is scheduled for next weekend. Durham Smythe could be the next commit, but he would not change Notre Dame's total points. There are a couple of scenarios where the Irish could reach 2,900 points and make a strong bid for the title.
Title shot: First, Notre Dame must keep its current list of commits. Unless the Irish expect to get Hollins, Fitts and Prevot, landing Eddie Vanderdoes is an absolute must to win the national recruiting title. Vanderdoes alone would give them 2,893 points, a strong number, but Notre Dame probably needs Vanderdoes and two of the three four-star prospects to get to where we think Alabama will end up -- which is near 2,950 points. With James Hearns' de-commit from Florida Thursday, Notre Dame could easily be argued as the second-most likely to win. Let's call the chances for Florida with Ramsey and Notre Dame with Vanderdoes a wash. After that, Notre Dame has a solid chance with more four-star guys than Florida does. But Florida has more of a history with surprises and surges on National Signing Day. We'll keep Florida at No. 2 for now, but this is going to be interesting to watch.

4. USC
Current class rank: No. 7
Current points total: 2,420
Spots remaining: Four
Breakdown: On Nov. 1, USC had 18 commitments and a commanding lead in the team recruiting rankings with 3,067 points. The Trojans now have 13 commitments. But those 13 have largely either maintained or increased their individual rankings, which has helped keep USC in the hunt. The Trojans are in a different scenario than other contenders. They still are under the Top-20 cap used to calculate a team's total points. Therefore, they get full credit for each new commit. USC still has a legit shot at Eddie Vanderdoes, Quinton Powell and Matthew Thomas. If the Trojans land those three, they would have 2,964 points while ending Notre Dame's chance at the title. USC still has two weekends to turn long shots such as Tyree Robinson and Tyrell Robinson, A'Shawn Robinson, Kylie Fitts and Jermaine Kelly into commitments.
Title shot: USC must first hold onto what it has and then close well with a large group of highly ranked prospects. The Trojans probably need at least Vanderdoes and Thomas, then either win out on Powell or pull a surprise with another Rivals250 type. It's possible, but not likely. Regardless, it is amazing that a class with just 13 commitments -- and one that will probably take no more than 17 pledges -- still has a shot at the recruiting national championship.

5. OHIO STATE
Current class rank No. 4
Current points: 2,684
Spots remaining: At least three
Breakdown: Ohio State is not a clear leader for any prospect who is going to move their point total much. To have a shot at No. 1, the Buckeyes need Dontre Wilson, Vonn Bell and Cameron Hunt. But those three together would only get Ohio State to 2,888 points. Dan Skipper and Ryan Timmons are the Buckeyes' two most likely commits, and neither would push their class forward. As far as the race for No. 1, landing Bell would be more relevant to hurting Alabama's chances and opening the door for Florida and Notre Dame.
Title shot: Ohio State's chances boil down to Urban Meyer's history of closing hard and pulling surprises around National Signing Day. But even if the dream scenario above works out, the Buckeyes would still need to land a highly ranked prospect who is not currently on the radar. They have little chance at No. 1, but they do have a slight chance to put a total point number near 2,900, meaning they make this list, long shot or not.



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