The teams that improved their College Football Playoff chances through 2021 recruiting

Plans for college football were drawn in 2021, and many of those plans were adopted early. This means more freshmen will have an immediate impact, allowing teams to move up the rankings quickly.

How will this recruiting cycle affect the 2021 College Football Playoff? For the handful of teams that failed to make the playoffs last season, the 2021 acquisitions could lead to a top four ranking.

The Aggies just missed the playoffs last year and finished the season in 5th place. But despite the loss of quarterback Kellen Mond, the Aggies were able to break through this year with the return of several starting offensive linemen and key defensive linemen Bobby Brown and Buddy Johnson, as well as the continued strong recruiting of Jimbo Fisher and his staff.

Under Fisher, the Aggies have recruited talent on the defensive line. The class of 2021 includes versatile DL Shemar Turner, a rookie hitter who will arrive at the student post in June. Turner, along with January starters Tunmise Adeleye and Elijah Jeudy, will be three ESPN 300 defenders who can provide immediate help.

ESPN 300 athlete Shadrach Banks is an interesting early acquisition for Fisher and his team. The 6-foot-3, 230-pounder currently plays for the Aggies at the H and slot positions and has the ability to add another dangerous element to the offense if he stays on that side of the ball.

Four-star running backs L.J. Johnson and Amari Daniels should provide plenty of depth and talent in the backfield.

Tennessee transfer Jahmir Johnson will bring much needed experience on the offensive line, but another name to keep an eye on is Katy Taylor High strong OG Bryce Foster.

Kirby Smart continues to recruit at an elite level, signing a Class 3 national number in February. Despite some key defensive losses after the 2020 season, including Eric Stokes, Richard LeConte, D.J. Daniel and Mark Webb on the secondary, the Bulldogs return a talented team to start the season 8-2, while adding a few key players.

Sixteen of Georgia’s 20 classes are already enrolled in Athens, which could have a big impact in 2021.

Offensive tackles Amarius Mims and Micah Morris (ESPN 300) can acclimate to a strength training program and spring training where they can now play for time. The same goes for ESPN 300 all-purpose aspirants Xavian Sorey and Smael Mondon, who were among the top three athletes in the country with big-play ability and are now playing outside linebacker.

CB Nyland Green (ESPN 300) and S David Daniel (ESPN 300) might get a chance to see the field sooner rather than later, as both are in Athens for spring ball. The third guard in the class who is already on campus is CB Javon Bullard, who was a senior at Peach State.

In 2020, the Sooners used freshman quarterback Spencer Rattler and showed a very different face in the second half of the season, finishing 9-2. The return of Rattler and some key young players on both sides of the ball, along with the number 13 recruiting class and some key acquisitions via the transfer portal, mean Sooners fans can once again look forward to the 2021 season with playoff aspirations.

Lincoln Riley and his staff changed Norman to Knoxville West, while former Vols Vanya Morris, Eric Gray and Key Lawrence moved to the Sooners. Morris, who is 6-foot-9 and weighs 90 pounds, is expected to be the starting point guard and play one season before leaving for the NFL, while Gray will bring more than 1,300 yards in two seasons to the talented backfield.

The Sooners have re-contracted a talented captain in Caleb Williams, who will be ready with a strong right arm should Rattler falter.

Marvin Mims excelled as a freshman catcher last season. In 2021, it could very well be Mario Williams, who is already on campus this spring. Cody Jackson is another talented receiver who is already on campus. EDGE hope Clayton Smith is also on campus and can help fill a need as a throwback. Defender Calvin Gilliam won’t be here until the summer, but he has a bright future and could be called up early.

Isaiah Coe’s junior college defense isn’t expected to have the same impact as Perrion Winfrey a season ago, but his presence on campus provides immediate depth.

The Trojans signed the No. 8 overall pick in February, and with a few key transfers, Clay Helton and his staff could be considering putting him in the crosshairs in 2021.

While the top 10 class is not to be sneezed at, it is the transfer portal that could be the most important asset to the program. The Trojans have struggled to run the ball at times, so Texas transfer Keontay Ingram is a huge boost. The Under Armour All-America Game-tone has over 1,800 yards rushing and 500 yards receiving with 17 touchdowns in three seasons in Austin and that might be different in Los Angeles.

The transfer of former WR K.D. Nixon from Colorado will bring much needed experience after the loss of Amon-Ra St. Louis. Brown and Tyler Vaughns as the talented 2021 receiving corps comes together. Four-star player Kyron Ware-Hudson is a name to remember as a receiver, as is four-star player Michael Trigg as a tight end.

USC will suffer significant losses on the defensive front with Jay Tufele and Marlon Tuipulotu, but the commitment of five-star linebacker Korea Foreman will help mitigate the internal losses.

Another Texas transfer, safety Xavion Alford, could play from day one and help offset the loss of Talanoa Hufanga.

Manny Diaz signed his 11th national contract in February, which will bring more talent to a team that is coming off an 8-3 season.

Miami has suffered many losses on the defensive line over the past two seasons, but with the acquisition of five-star DT Leonard Taylor, Diaz and his team have something that can make a difference from day one. Defensive end Jabari Ishmael keeps pace with former Miami recruits who have the ability to throw to the rim, but only need physical development to become a force.

With star Brevin Jordan headed to the NFL, Elijah Arroyo will get his chance. The six-foot vertical threat is already on campus.

The transfer window has also been beneficial for the Hurricanes. Oklahoma City transfer Charleston Rambo is expected to be a playmaker at the receiver position and score three times. Former CB Tyreek Stevenson and LB Deandre Johnson (ESPN 300) returned from Georgia and Tennessee, respectively, with high expectations.

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