One of the core pillars of a successful college football program is a strong recruiting staff. While there is much discussion around the best coaches in terms of Xs and Os, these operators on the road can often be overlooked.
247 Sports has an annual ranking of the best recruiters in college football. These rankings are based off the commits each coach is personally responsible for bringing to their program. However, these rankings fail to consider that recruiting is often a function of a program’s past success. Thus, coaches from schools like Alabama will routinely rise to the top, as they generally have one of the top classes each season.
When discussing the top recruiters, it is important to put these circumstances into context. Rather than focus on which coaches secured the best class, the question should be: Which coaches most improved their school’s recruiting class? To measure the level of recruiting class, the average 247 Sports Composite Score for the recruits in the class was used. In finding the amount a program’s class improved, the average of the 247 score over the first three seasons of a coach’s tenure was compared to the average of the three seasons before he arrived.
Each of the coaches in the top 200 of 247’s recruiter rankings were scored in this way, comparing their program’s recruiting performance before they arrived to the performance during their tenure. Coaches who were hired to a new program in 2021 were judged off their performance at their previous school. Below are 10 coaches who scored particularly high using this methodology.
Top 10 College Recruiters
Dell McGee – Georgia, Run Game Coordinator
Coach McGee began his tenure at Georgia in 2016 and was first responsible for recruiting the 2017 class. The 2014-16 classes ranked eighth, sixth and sixth, respectively. While he joined an already strong Georgia recruiting program, McGee’s addition pushed their recruiting to new heights. They finished with the No. 3 class in 2017 and their 2018 class ranked No. 1 in the nation, the same season McGee was named as the National Recruiter of the Year by Rivals.com.
Terry Smith – Penn State, Associate Head Coach
Smith arrived in Happy Valley in 2014, when the program was still recovering from the wake of the Jerry Sandusky scandal. The three seasons before his first class in 2015, the Nittany Lions finished 47th, 33rd and 24th in recruiting. Smith helped to follow up these tough seasons with three top-20 finishes and the No. 6 overall class in 2018.
Oscar Giles – Texas, DL Coach
Prior to Giles’ first recruiting class at Texas in 2018, the Longhorns had the 25th-ranked class in the country. They followed up this performance with rankings of third, third and eighth from 2018-20, respectively. Hired during the Tom Herman regime, Giles will be retained by new head coach Steve Sarkisian and will be a big part of building recruiting classes for the future.
Lonnie Galloway – North Carolina, WR Coach
Galloway was one of the main contributors to 2020 and 2021 classes that both finished in the top 14 nationally. Two of UNC’s three classes immediately prior to his arrival finished outside the top 20, even with the signing of QB Sam Howell. Galloway’s WR group finished 12th in the nation in total offense and included third-round pick Dyami Brown.
Randall Joyner – Ole Miss, DL Coach
The one new hire on the list, Joyner’s performance as a recruiter at SMU lands him in the rankings. In the three seasons prior to his tenure, the Mustangs ranked 75th, 80th and 87th nationally in recruiting. Since then, they have finished in the top 70 every season, with the 51st overall class in 2021. It will be interesting to see how he can continue to contribute in the SEC.
Dennis Simmons – Oklahoma, Assistant Head Coach/Passing Game Coordinator
Simmons is one of two coaches to coach two Biletnikoff winners — Michael Crabtree and Dede Westbrook — and the Sooners’ passing game has been one of the nation’s best during his tenure. Prior to his first recruiting class in 2016, Oklahoma had not ranked in the top 10 in recruiting since 2010. Two of Simmons’ first three classes ranked ninth or higher.
Alex Mirabal – Oregon, OL Coach
Mirabal helped coach a top 10 draft pick in Penei Sewell and helped recruit potentially another in EDGE Kayvon Thibodeaux. Two of the Ducks’ three classes since his arrival have ranked in the top seven nationally, while the highest mark the three years prior was 13th.
Bill Johnson – LSU, DL Coach
Johnson’s history in the NFL may have helped him on the recruiting trail, as he coached Aaron Donald to two Defensive Player of the Year awards. While winning a national championship certainly helps, the two recruiting classes under Johnson have both ranked in the top four nationally. The last LSU class to crack the top four previously was under Les Miles in 2016.
Elijah Robinson – Texas A&M, DL Coach
The three seasons prior to Robinson’s first class with the Aggies in 2019, their recruiting never ranked above 13th. During the three seasons since, Texas A&M has finished in the top eight nationally every year, with a high mark of fourth in 2019. Prior to joining A&M, he coached DL for current Carolina Panthers head coach Matt Rhule at both Baylor and Temple.
Brian Callahan – Minnesota Run Game Coordinator
Callahan was brought on board in P.J. Fleck’s first season as the Gophers’ head coach. Their three classes prior to his addition finished 63rd, 46th and 59th. Two of the next three seasons, Minnesota finished in the top 40 in recruiting and added first-round pick Rashod Bateman. Five of Callahan’s OL group were recognized as All-Big Ten honorable mention or better, and several are expected to be drafted in 2022.