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K-State’s Best Class Since 2004 is a Reason to be Excited

NCAA Football: Big 12 Football Championship-Texas Christian at Kansas State

Kansas State head football coach Chris Klieman had this to say about his 2023 signing class on Wednesday, a message that he posted to Twitter after signing all 26 verbal commitments on the first day of the early signing period.

So excited for this group right here. The best in the Big 12 just got better!! Help me welcome the newest members of our @KStateFB Family! #EMAW23

Could you read a better Tweet from your head football coach? Based on his tweet, Chris Klieman feels good about K-State’s 2022 recruiting class, so I feel good about it, too. According to 247Sports, Klieman’s 29th-ranked recruiting class is the best K-State recruiting class since 2004, when they ranked 14th in the country. For all of you mathematically challenged, that is 18 years. Chris Klieman has a great thing going in Manhattan right now. Anyone who wondered if K-State could reload quickly doesn’t have to wonder anymore. As a quick refresher, here is how K-State’s football recruiting classes have ranked since the year 2000, according to 247’s composite score.

 
Year Class Rank
2023No. 29
2022No. 63
2021No. 56
2020No. 51
2019No. 63
2018No. 66
2017No. 61
2016No. 72
2015No. 54
2014No. 49
2013No. 64
2012No. 73
2011No. 51
2010No. 76
2009No. 70
2008No. 36
2007No. 35
2006No. 41
2005No. 35
2004No. 14
2003No. 33
2002No. 20
2001No. 18
2000No. 28

Back in the late 1990s and early 2000s under Bill Snyder, the Wildcats were a consistent top 10ish program, and they were recruiting well, with classes ranked in the top 20. Recruiting fell off starting in 2005 and never really recovered until this year. The quality of this year’s class puts K-State in a great position to continue to compete at the top of the Big 12 conference. It got me wondering if more Big 12 championships and maybe even a national championship are within reach for K-State if Klieman continues to recruit at this level and hopefully can improve on it.

In the last five years, K-State’s class has averaged a rating of 60.8. Klieman was able to win the Big 12 due in part because of his mastery of working the transfer portal. Now that he is getting better talent, perhaps the sky is the limit. But how close, or how far away, is this program from competing with the best programs in the nation? I was curious to see how the last ten national champions recruiting classes were ranked for the five years before their championship. , so I used 247Sports historical records as my guide.

 

First, let’s take a look at TCU, who made the college football playoff this season.

2022 TCU

Previous five years’ average recruiting ranking: 32.4
2021 – 54th, 2020 – 23rd, 2019 – 32nd, 2018 – 25th, 2017 – 28th.

High: 23rd in 2020

Low: 54th in 2021

The 54th ranking in 2021 skews the average, but TCU has recruited pretty well with a 23rd, 32nd, 25th, and 28th ranked class recently.

How have the NCAA national champions done in comparison?

2021 Georgia

Previous five years’ average recruiting ranking: 2.6
2016 – 6th, 2017 – 3rd, 2018 – 1st, 2019 – 2nd, 2020 – 1st.

High: 1st in 2018 and 2020.

Low: 6th in 2016.

2020 Alabama

Previous five years’ average recruiting ranking: 1.8
2019 – 1st, 2018 – 5th, 2017 – 1st, 2016 – 1st, 2015 – 1st.

High: 1st in 2015, 2016, 2017, and 2019.

Low: 5th in 2018.

2019 LSU

Previous five years’ average recruiting ranking: 5
2014 – 2nd, 2015 – 5th, 2016 – 2nd, 2017 – 7th, 2018 – 15th

High: 2nd in 2014 and 2016.

Low: 15th in 2018.

 

2018 Clemson

Previous five years’ average recruiting ranking: 13.4
2017 – 16th, 2016 – 11th, 2015 – 9th, 2014 – 16th, 2013 = 15th.

High: 9th in 2015.

Low: 16th in 2014 and 2017.

2017 Alabama

Previous five years’ average recruiting ranking: 1
2012 – 1st, 2013 – 1st, 2014 – 1st, 2015 – 1st, 2016 – 1st.

High: 1st in all five years.

Low: 1st in all five years.

2016 Clemson

Previous five years’ average recruiting ranking: 14
2015 = 9th, 2014 – 16th, 2013 – 15th, 2012 – 20th, 2011 – 10th.

High: 9th in 2015.

Low: 20th in 2012.

2015 Alabama

Previous five years’ average recruiting ranking: 1.6
2014 – 1st, 2013 – 1st, 2012 – 1st, 2011 – 1st, 2010 – 4th.

High: 1st in 2011, 2012, 2013, and 2014.

Low: 4th in 2010.

2014 Ohio State

Previous five years’ average recruiting ranking: 7.2
2013 – 2nd, 2012 – 5th, 2011 – 6th, 2010 – 18th, 2009 – 5th.

High: 2nd in 2013.

Low: 18th in 2010.

2013 Florida State

Previous five years’ average recruiting ranking: 7.4
2012 – 4th, 2011 – 2nd, 2010 – 8th, 2009 – 11th, 2008 – 12th.

High: 2nd in 2011.

Low: 12th in 2008.

2012 Alabama

Previous five years’ average recruiting ranking: 4.6
2011 – 1st, 2010 – 4th, 2009 – 3rd, 2008 – 3rd, 2007 – 12th.

High: 1st in 2011.

Low: 12th in 2007.

What do these numbers say?

  • No national championship team has had a recruiting class ranked lower than 20 in the five years before winning their championship.
  • To win the national championship, you must average the 14th-best-ranked recruiting class or better in the five years before winning the championship. Clemson accomplished that twice. The other eight all averaged 7.4 or better.
  • Every national champion in the last ten years has had a top-15 recruiting class average over the previous five years.

Chris Klieman has done a great job getting talented players to come to K-State. and he has done an exceptional job working the transfer portal to fill holes on his roster each season. It will be interesting to see what happens when the playoff expands to 12 teams and how that may increase the chances of other programs being able to win it all. While it is thrilling to see K-State rise in the national recruiting rankings, the possibility of a national championship still seems pretty far off on the horizon. He could get the program there, but he has to keep winning both on the field and in the recruiting wars to make the national championship dream a reality.

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