Future Power Rankings: Stacking the top 25 teams through 2026

NCAA Football

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After an active winter and spring of coach and player movement, rosters are more or less set for the 2024 season. The Future Power Rankings series wraps up with the team rundown, designed to provide the most complete forecast for both the short term and the seasons that will follow.

As a reminder, FPR is not a one-year projection, but sets out to predict the best in college football during the next three seasons (2024, 2025 and 2026). The personnel picture will continue to fluctuate, but FPR must take into account what is known at the moment, both with current players and committed recruits, while also noting track records for coaches, units and overall teams.

The 2024 season will be historic for its realignment entries, as the SEC (Texas, Oklahoma), Big Ten (USC, UCLA, Oregon, Washington), Big 12 (Utah, Arizona, Arizona State, Colorado) and ACC (SMU, Cal, Stanford) all add new members. Teams moving leagues typically struggle in Year 1, but a three-year projection looks beyond the immediate.

There’s also significant change in college football’s upper crust, as Nick Saban, considered the greatest coach in the sport’s history, retired in January after winning seven national titles, six at Alabama. Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh left for the NFL after leading the Wolverines to their first national title since 1997. Of the teams in the final four-team College Football Playoff, three (Alabama, Michigan and Washington) had coaching changes and the other (Texas) is set to move conferences.

The previous FPR rankings for quarterbacks, defenses and offenses inform the comprehensive team rankings, but so do other factors such as coaching continuity and recent record. Oklahoma State didn’t appear in any of the first three top 25s but made the team rundown. Finally, here’s a look at the most recent FPR team rankings.

Let’s get to the new top 25.

2024 Future QB ranking: 4
2024 Future defense ranking: 1
2024 Future offense ranking: 3
2023 Future team ranking: 1

Scouting the Bulldogs: Georgia retained the top spot in the team rankings and the choice wasn’t very difficult. If the Bulldogs had stayed healthier down the stretch last season, they might have claimed a third consecutive national title after being ranked No. 1 for most of the fall. They will enter 2024 as one of the frontrunners for a championship, led by Heisman Trophy contender Carson Beck at quarterback and a deep and talented defense. Georgia also has more stability than many perennial top-five teams, as coach Kirby Smart is signed through 2033 and the team is still viewed as the one to beat in the SEC. The team signed ESPN’s top-rated 2024 recruiting class, headlined by cornerback Ellis Robinson IV, inside linebacker Justin Williams and three other defenders ranked in the top 26 nationally.

Georgia’s defensive setup is unmatched, as a front seven loaded with depth and emerging star power, including linebackers Jalon Walker and Mykel Williams, will lead the 2024 team. Notable senior returnees include linebackers Smael Mondon Jr. and Chaz Chambliss, and interior linemen Nazir Stackhouse and Warren Brinson. All-America safety Malaki Starks is back, and if Georgia can fortify the cornerback spot in the short term, the unit seemingly has no weaknesses. The Bulldogs also recently added a commitment from outside linebacker Zayden Walker, ESPN’s No. 15 recruit in the 2025 class.

The quarterback rankings were compiled before Jaden Rashada, an ESPN top-35 recruit in 2023, transferred from Arizona State to provide another capable option following Beck’s exit next season. Rashada will compete with Gunner Stockton and Ryan Puglisi and should keep the offense on a strong trajectory. Despite losing Brock Browers, Georgia has the nation’s best tight end setup with junior Oscar Delp, Stanford transfer Benjamin Yurosek, incoming freshman Jaden Reddell (ESPN 300 No. 51) and the nation’s top two 2025 tight end recruits in Elyiss Williams and Ethan Barbour.

Running back depth also jumps out with Florida transfer Trevor Etienne, Roderick Robinson II, Branson Robinson and others, including freshman Nathaniel Frazier, ESPN’s No. 3 running back and No. 62 overall recruit. Senior guard Tate Ratledge, a second-team All-America selection in 2023, is back to lead an offense that should remain a team strength, as tackle Earnest Greene III and others will play through 2025. Wide receiver is the one iffy spot. Although Dominic Lovett provides short-term leadership, Rara Thomas and Miami transfer Colbie Young should help.

2024 Future QB ranking: 1
2024 Future defense ranking: 5
2024 Future offense ranking: 1
2023 Future team ranking: 3

Scouting the Buckeyes: A team with no league titles since 2020 and just one CFP win since 2014 typically wouldn’t occupy the No. 2 spot in FPR. But questions around other contenders, plus the Buckeyes’ pedal-down personnel approach this offseason, has them poised to end their national title drought soon. Coach Ryan Day must deliver notable results this season, as Ohio State retained several NFL draft hopefuls on defense and made its strongest portal push yet, adding Ole Miss running back Quinshon Judkins, Alabama safety Caleb Downs, Kansas State quarterback Will Howard and others.

Day has brought historically strong quarterback play to Columbus, which must continue this fall with Howard or another candidate from a loaded room. The Buckeyes have options with Devin Brown, Alabama transfer Julian Sayin and others to carry them through 2026. Emeka Egbuka leads a wide receiving corps that should remain among the nation’s best, especially with non-seniors such as Carnell Tate and incoming freshman Jeremiah Smith, as well as 2025 commits such as Quincy Porter. The short-term running back outlook is excellent with Judkins and TreVeyon Henderson. Ohio State needs more from its offensive line, both in recruiting and development, although senior Donovan Jackson is a cornerstone piece. The Buckeyes added Alabama center Seth McLaughlin and bring back veterans such as tackles Josh Simmons and Josh Fryar.

Despite falling short of the CFP in 2023, Ohio State’s defense continues on a promising path under coordinator Jim Knowles. Few pegged ends JT Tuimoloau and Jack Sawyer — both former top-five national recruits are back alongside tackles Tyleik Williams and Ty Hamilton — forming a line with massive expectations. The secondary also projects very well, both in 2024 and beyond, as Downs will play at least two more seasons. The back end features experience and talent with Denzel Burke, Jordan Hancock, Lathan Ransom and Davison Igbinosun.

Linebacker depth is a mini concern, although moving junior safety Sonny Styles to the group should help. Veteran Cody Simon is back alongside junior C.J. Hicks. The Buckeyes have ESPN’s top-rated 2025 recruiting class, which includes decorated defensive back prospects Na’eem Offord and Devin Sanchez, both top-12 prospects, safety Faheem Delane, ESPN’s No. 52 overall recruit, and defensive end recruits London Merritt (No. 36) and Zahir Mathis (No. 51). Ohio State has commitments from five defenders ranked among ESPN’s top-60 recruits, and quarterback Tavien St. Clair (No. 48).

2024 Future QB ranking: 2
2024 Future defense ranking: 8
2024 Future offense ranking: 2
2023 Future team ranking: 15

Scouting the Longhorns: Texas didn’t even appear in these rankings two years ago but has rapidly risen under coach Steve Sarkisian and a premier personnel approach. The Longhorns finally have genuine stability after making their first CFP appearance, and are set up well on both sides of the ball for 2024 and beyond. Sarkisian has turned a corner in his career and views Texas as a long-term destination. My only hesitancy is the move to the SEC, which could bring some initial turbulence. But Texas returns enough to compete right away, including quarterback Quinn Ewers, offensive tackle Kelvin Banks Jr. and defenders Anthony Hill Jr., Alfred Collins and Barryn Sorrell. The team also made several portal splashes, including UTSA pass-rusher Trey Moore, Clemson safety Andrew Mukuba, Louisville defensive lineman Jermayne Lole, Alabama tight end Amari Niblack and wide receivers Matthew Golden (Houston), Isaiah Bond (Alabama) and Silas Bolden (Oregon State).

Ewers will have a largely new-look receiving corps, while Texas has big expectations for young wideouts like Ryan Wingo, ESPN’s No. 33 recruit in the 2024 class. The offense has lost elite running backs in each of the past two years, but sophomore CJ Baxter and junior Jaydon Blue, as well as decorated incoming freshman Jerrick Gibson, should maintain the trajectory. Texas’ offensive line is once again a strength with Banks, Jake Majors and others back and several good options for after 2024. The quarterback setup is excellent with Ewers for 2024 and then Arch Manning set to take over next season. Texas continues to recruit well behind Manning.

Sarkisian was hired in part to upgrade Texas’ offense, but his defense also finds itself on a promising trajectory. The short-term priorities are replacing standout interior linemen Byron Murphy II and T’Vondre Sweat, both top-40 picks in the NFL draft, and improving a secondary that struggled against the pass at times last season. The additions of Lole and Arizona’s Tiaoalii Savea and Bill Norton will help, especially alongside seniors Alfred Collins and Vernon Broughton. Texas should excel in the pass rush with Moore joining Sorrell and junior Ethan Burke.

The back seven includes experience with seniors Jahdae Barron, David Gbenda and Morice Blackwell Jr., and transfers like Mukuba and San José State cornerback Jay’Vion Cole should help. Hill is only a sophomore, and Texas has recruited very well with defensive end Colin Simmons and cornerback Kobe Black, both ESPN top-15 national recruits, as well as safety Xavier Filsaime (No. 39). Lineman Lance Jackson, ESPN’s No. 70 recruit for 2025, is committed to Texas. At linebacker, Hill and Gbenda are joined by veteran Morice Blackwell Jr. Texas has a 2025 commitment from ESPN 300 prospect Elijah Barnes and a 2026 commitment from No. 9 prospect Dia Bell.

2024 Future QB ranking: 6
2024 Future defense ranking: 6
2024 Future offense ranking: 5
2023 Future team ranking: 2

Scouting the Tide: Alabama certainly could have slid more following Saban’s departure, and would be lower in a one-year projection. But Kalen DeBoer has quickly established himself as a nationally elite coach and would have been on the wish list for every program of Alabama’s caliber. He could endure a few bumps this fall but will have the Tide competing for the CFP and the national title in most seasons. DeBoer showed at Washington what he could accomplish with inherited talent, which he got in Tuscaloosa with players like quarterback Jalen Milroe and safety Malachi Moore. Alabama hired a strong defensive staff led by Kane Wommack, most recently South Alabama‘s coach, who will face some Year 1 challenges in the secondary and elsewhere but has a lot of young talent to mold alongside veterans like Moore, lineman Tim Smith and linebackers Deontae Lawson and Jihaad Campbell.

Given the secondary losses to the NFL and the portal, Alabama’s development of younger players like Jaylen Mbakwe, ESPN’s No. 2 overall recruit for 2024, and its recruitment for 2025 and beyond will be key. The 2024 class includes Mbakwe, Zay Mincey and Zabien Brown, both top-65 recruits. There’s enough experience up front, where Texas A&M transfer LT Overton joins Smith, Tim Keenan III and others. Lawson and Campbell stabilize the linebacker group, and both can play through 2025. Senior Quandarrius Robinson also is back, and Alabama is recruiting well with 2025 commitments from top-35 prospects Darrell Johnson, Jaedon Harmon and Abduall Sanders Jr.

DeBoer transformed a Washington offense that ranked 107th nationally in scoring the year before his arrival to a unit that supplied three of the first 20 picks in the 2024 NFL draft. He gets Milroe for at least another season, and has other 2025 options in Ty Simpson, Washington transfer Austin Mack and redshirt freshman Dylan Lonergan. Earlier this month, Alabama flipped SMU quarterback commit Keelon Russell, ESPN’s No. 81 overall prospect in the 2025 class. Offensive tackle Kadyn Proctor’s return — after he briefly transferred home to Iowa — should help stabilize a line going through some transition but brings back junior guards Tyler Booker and Jaeden Roberts this coming season and adds Washington transfer Parker Brailsford.

DeBoer brought assistant JaMarcus Shephard, who oversaw the nation’s top wide receiver group at Washington in 2023. Shepherd gets a familiar face in Washington transfer Germie Bernard, but will need to develop others, including Ryan Williams, ESPN’s No. 3 recruit for 2024. Running back is another spot with some short-term questions, although Milroe (531 yards, 12 touchdowns in 2023) will help and junior Jam Miller was solid in limited work. Alabama has a commitment from ESPN top-100 recruit Anthony Rogers for 2025.

2024 Future QB ranking: 19
2024 Future defense ranking: 3
2024 Future offense ranking: 10
2023 Future team ranking: 4

Scouting the Wolverines: The defending champions are oddly one of the harder teams to project because of who departs Ann Arbor, both on the field and on the sidelines. Michigan would be lower in a one-year projection after saying goodbye to a team-record 13 players selected in the NFL draft, as well as Harbaugh and several vital assistants, like defensive coordinator Jesse Minter and strength and conditioning coach Ben Herbert. New head coach Sherrone Moore played a huge role in Michigan’s rise the past three seasons, but he has never led a program and only became a coordinator in 2021. Moore’s first team is fascinating, as it includes several higher-level draft prospects — cornerback Will Johnson, tight end Colston Loveland, defensive linemen Mason Graham and Kenneth Grant — but significant questions at quarterback, offensive line and other spots.

Moore’s short-term work with the offense he oversaw will be critical, as Michigan must support an unproven quarterback — Alex Orji or another candidate — this fall. Myles Hinton is the only returning offensive lineman with significant starting experience at Michigan, although Northwestern transfer Josh Priebe should help immediately. Michigan’s track record up front under Moore suggests success in the future. The same goes for spots like tight end and running back, where Donovan Edwards gets his chance to be the featured ball-carrier in 2024. Veteran Kalel Mullings is back to play behind Edwards, and Benjamin Hall or incoming freshman Jordan Marshall which will help beyond this season. Tight end Brady Prieskorn, ESPN’s No. 72 recruit for 2024, is set to take over for Loveland. A revamped wide receiver room is worth watching, especially multiyear players like Semaj Morgan and Fredrick Moore, and Amorion Walker, who transferred back to Michigan from Ole Miss. The team’s recruiting at receiver will be worth watching.

Michigan will be led by its defense, at least initially, as the front seven projects well with Graham, Grant, Josaiah Stewart, Derrick Moore, Rayshaun Benny and others up front, as a linebacker group featuring holdover Ernest Hausmann and adding Maryland transfer Jaishawn Barham. The Wolverines have been targeted in the portal with a strong hit rate, and added four defensive back transfers in the spring — Aamir Hall (Albany), Ricky Johnson (UNLV), Wesley Walker (Louisville) and Jaden Mangham (Michigan State). They join holdovers like Will Johnson and safeties Makari Paige and Quinten Johnson in a unit now being overseen by veteran NFL coordinator Wink Martindale.

Michigan’s recruiting under Moore is worth monitoring, as the team hasn’t been nearly as splashy as other perennial contenders. After a slower start to the 2025 class, Michigan made a recent surge with four ESPN 300 commitments, including four-star safety Kainoa Winston, the No. 42 overall player. Michigan also must develop its younger linemen to take over in 2025, especially if both Graham and Grant make expected jumps to the NFL. Michigan also got a commitment recently from Brady Hart, ranked 120th in the 2026 ESPN 300 and is the No. 8 pocket passer in his class.

2024 Future QB ranking: 3
2024 Future defense ranking: 13
2024 Future offense ranking: 4
2023 Future team ranking: 11

Scouting the Ducks: I’m tempted to rank Oregon even higher, as the team boasts rosy personnel outlooks on both offense and defense and a committed coach in Dan Lanning, whose approach in traditional recruiting and the portal has been very impressive. Oregon has a nice mix of returnees and transfers on both sides of the ball, coming off of a year where it finished in the top-10 nationally in both scoring offense and scoring defense. The main hesitancy is the move in conferences, which could bring challenges for Oregon and its West Coast brethren. Also, Lanning hasn’t delivered a conference title yet despite having arguably the most talented roster in the Pac-12 in each of the past two seasons.

Oregon returns a team capable of reaching the 12-team CFP this fall, and likely in 2025 and 2026. The defense returns familiar names like Jordan Burch and Jeffrey Bassa, and brought in a portal haul that includes defensive backs Jabbar Muhammad (Washington), Kam Alexander (UTSA), Brandon Johnson (Duke) and Kobe Savage (Kansas State), and linemen Derrick Harmon (Michigan State) and Jamaree Caldwell (Houston). Lanning has recruited well with nine defensive recruits ranked in ESPN’s top 150 in the past two classes, including 2024 headliner Elijah Rushing at end, and a top-40 prospect committed for 2025 in outside linebacker Nasir Wyatt. The Ducks also have plenty of intriguing multiyear options like lineman Matayo Uiagalelei and edge Teitum Tuioti.

The offense has surged under Lanning’s watch, despite two different coordinators in Kenny Dillingham, now Arizona State’s coach, and current play-caller Will Stein. Oregon is set up well at quarterback through its work in the portal, adding multiyear starter Dillon Gabriel from Oklahoma (previously UCF) and Dante Moore, ESPN’s No. 2 recruit in the 2023 class, who started games last fall at UCLA. Austin Novosad remains on the roster and Oregon has recruited well behind him with Akili Smith Jr., a top-100 recruit in 2025 and the son of the former Oregon quarterback. Despite losing Troy Franklin to the NFL, Oregon’s wide receiver room remains strong with holdovers Tez Johnson and Traeshon Holden, and Texas A&M transfer Evan Stewart, a former top-15 national recruit, entering the mix.

The Ducks also recruited very well in 2024, and have a 2025 commitment from Dallas Wilson, ESPN’s No. 31 overall prospect. They return tight end Terrance Ferguson for one more year, and Jordan James is set to step in for Bucky Irving at running back. A talented offensive line returning Josh Conerly Jr., Ajani Cornelius and Marcus Harper II, and adding transfer Matthew Bedford (Indiana) should ease the Big Ten transition. Oregon has recruited well with top-60 national prospect JacQawn McRoy, 2025 recruit Ziyare Addison and others.

2024 Future QB ranking: 9
2024 Future defense ranking: 7
2024 Future offense ranking: 12
2023 Future team ranking: 14

Scouting the Irish: Notre Dame hasn’t been to the CFP since 2020 and boasts only a 19-8 record under coach Marcus Freeman. So why are the Irish so high in the team rankings? They continued to produce stifling defenses, excel at certain offensive positions such as line and tight end, and have the clout to elevate the quarterback spot, which has held back the Irish from consistently competing nationally. There’s also good stability with Freeman and coordinators Al Golden and Mike Denbrock. Notre Dame finally has a quarterback outlook that many national contenders would envy. Duke transfer Riley Leonard should be an upgrade from Sam Hartman, if he can stay healthy, while Steve Angeli is a very capable backup who passed for 232 yards and three touchdowns in the Tony the Tiger Sun Bowl against Oregon State. Angeli, Kenny Minchey and C.J. Carr, ESPN’s No. 36 recruit in the 2024 class, are set to lead the offense through 2026.

Notre Dame projects very well at its other traditionally strong offensive positions — line, running back and tight end — despite losing Joe Alt, Blake Fisher and Audric Estime to the NFL. The line goes through a short-term transition, especially at tackle and center, and will lean on guards Pat Coogan and Rocco Spindler for the next few seasons. Sophomore Ashton Craig could be a multiyear replacement for Zeke Correll at center. Notre Dame has multiple talented non-senior options at running back, including Jeremiyah Love and Jadarian Price, and Mitchell Evans and Eli Raridon are set to lead the tight ends. Wide receiver is the big question, although Notre Dame returns some experience with Jayden Thomas, Jaden Greathouse and Jordan Faison, and added transfers Beaux Collins (Clemson) and Kris Mitchell (Florida International). Tyler Buchner, the former Irish starting quarterback who played last fall at Alabama, has rejoined the team as a walk-on wide receiver.

The defense has been very good in two seasons under Golden and might take another step in 2024. Notre Dame will have one of the nation’s most decorated secondaries with safety Xavier Watts, the 2023 Thorpe Award winner, and cornerback Benjamin Morrison leading the group. A mix of transfers and younger players, like Christian Gray and Adon Shuler, should stabilize the back end for multiple seasons. Interior defensive line also projects as a significant strength with Howard Cross III, Rylie Mills and others.

The pass rush is a short-term question, although Duke transfer R.J. Oben will help there. Jack Kiser will lead a young linebacker group through a transition season, but Notre Dame has recruited well there and elsewhere. In 2023, the team signed linebackers Jaiden Ausberry and Drayk Bowen, both ESPN top-80 recruits. The Irish also had two ESPN top-100 prospects in their 2024 class (Kyngstonn Viliamu-Asa and Bryce Young). Cornerback Ivan Taylor, ESPN’s No. 35 recruit for 2025, headlines Notre Dame’s commitments for the class.

2024 Future QB ranking: 8
2024 Future defense ranking: 24
2024 Future offense ranking: 7
2023 Future team ranking: 5

Scouting the Tigers: LSU certainly has the potential to be higher and should rise, especially if the defense gets fixed under new coordinator Blake Baker and a decorated staff. The team hired coach Brian Kelly to win championships, and if LSU doesn’t land one in the next three years, the pressure will rise. The defense undoubtedly is in the spotlight, as Baker inherits a group with a few notable players, like outside linebacker Harold Perkins Jr., safety Major Burns, linebacker Greg Penn III and versatile defensive back Sage Ryan. But the overall talent in the secondary isn’t what LSU expects, and Baker and his staff will need to develop young players like cornerbacks Ashton Stamps and Javien Toviano, and hit on transfers like Jyaire Brown (Ohio State) and Austin Ausberry (Auburn).

Both the secondary and defensive front return some experienced players, like senior linemen Bradyn Swinson and Sai’vion Jones, but need better overall performance from them. LSU adds lineman Dominick McKinley, ESPN’s No. 17 recruit in the 2024 class, and two other defenders who are top-150 prospects. The Tigers have a commitment from Jaboree Antoine, a top-50 prospect, but most of their big 2025 recruiting hits are coming on offense.

A moderate upgrade on defense might be enough to get LSU back to the CFP. LSU has become an offense-driven program, boasting two Heisman Trophy-winning quarterbacks since 2019 and two of the top six picks (QB Jayden Daniels, WR Malik Nabers) in the 2024 NFL draft. The Tigers have shown they can reload at quarterback, where Garrett Nussmeier has patiently waited for his chance. Nussmeier could lead the offense through 2025, but LSU has other options with redshirt freshman Rickie Collins, incoming freshman Colin Hurley, Vanderbilt transfer AJ Swann and 2025 commit Bryce Underwood, ESPN’s No. 2 recruit in the class. The Tigers return one of the nation’s most talented offensive lines for the 2024 season, although tackles Will Campbell and Emery Jones Jr., along with others, will be gone in 2025. They must develop center DJ Chester and lean on a talented batch of recruits.

Despite losing two NFL first-round draft picks in Nabers and Brian Thomas Jr., LSU’s wide receiver outlook is strong with returnee Kyren Lacy leading a group that includes transfers Zavion Thomas (Mississippi State) and CJ Daniels (Liberty). Top tight end Mason Taylor could play through 2025, and LSU’s long-term running back forecast looks strong with Caden Durham joining this year and a commitment from Harlem Berry, ESPN’s top-rated 2025 running back and No. 20 overall recruit.

2024 Future QB ranking: 13
2024 Future defense ranking: 11
2024 Future offense ranking: 13
2023 Future team ranking: 10

Scouting the Seminoles: Florida State has the ability to rise under coach Mike Norvell, who is 23-4 the past two seasons and remained in his role despite interest from Alabama in January. Norvell guided FSU to a 13-0 record and its first ACC title since 2014 before the program was snubbed in the final four-team CFP field. Playoff appearances should pile up under Norvell, who has had strong continuity on his staff. FSU also has maneuvered the transfer portal about as well as any program, hitting on players such as defensive linemen Jared Verse and Braden Fiske, both top-40 picks in the 2024 NFL draft. The Seminoles have been a volume portal team, adding key transfers this offseason like quarterback DJ Uiagalelei (Oregon State), edge rusher Marvin Jones Jr. (Georgia), defensive lineman Sione Lolohea (Oregon State) and cornerbacks Earl Little II (Alabama), Davonte Brown (Miami) and Omarion Cooper (Colorado).

My concern with FSU, and why the team isn’t higher, is whether it can make similar gains in high school recruiting, where recent signing-day flips have stung. The defense projects well, especially if it can replace NFL departures up front. Jones and Lolohea join a returning group featuring non-seniors like Patrick Payton, Joshua Farmer and Darrell Jackson Jr. Senior DJ Lundy will lead the linebackers, which add Alabama transfer Shawn Murphy and return non-seniors like Omar Graham Jr. and Blake Nichelson. FSU can lean on a secondary that returns veterans like Fentrell Cypress II and Shyheim Brown and adds the transfers. Recruiting at cornerback has surged with four 2024 recruits ranked in the national top 140.

The offense is in good hands with Norvell but will go through some significant turnover in 2024 after NFL departures. Uiagalelei returns to the ACC still seeking a true breakthrough season. FSU then could turn to Luke Kromenhoek or perhaps another transfer in 2025. The wide receiver and tight end rooms will be different as the Seminoles added wideout transfers Malik Benson (Alabama) and Jalen Brown (LSU). Senior Kyle Morlock should lead the tight ends, which added Landen Thomas, ESPN’s No. 52 overall recruit.

The offensive line is no longer a red flag group, but FSU must replace a lot from the 2023 team and will rely on tackle Robert Scott Jr. this fall, as well as Florida transfer Richie Leonard IV. Line recruiting is on the rise under coordinator Alex Atkins, as five-star recruit Solomon Thomas (No. 14 nationally) headlines FSU’s 2025 class. The running back group has veteran depth with senior returnees Lawrance Toafili and Caziah Holmes, and adds Alabama transfer Roydell Williams. Incoming freshman Kameron Davis, ESPN’s No. 85 recruit for 2024, should have a significant role after 2024.

2024 Future QB ranking: 16
2024 Future defense ranking: 9
2024 Future offense ranking: 14
2023 Future team ranking: 8

Scouting the Lions: Penn State is among the programs that should benefit most from the 12-team CFP, as it should contend in most seasons if it maintains its current trajectory. Despite continued struggles against Michigan and Ohio State in 2023, Penn State had eight players selected in the 2024 NFL draft, continuing its streak of five or more draft picks every year since 2018. The team has coaching continuity with James Franklin, who hired two notable new coordinators in Tom Allen (defense) and Andy Kotelnicki (offense). Kotenicki’s work will be closely watched this fall, especially whether he can get more from quarterback Drew Allar, a decorated recruit who needs to consistently challenge defenses. Allar can play multiple seasons in Kotelnicki’s innovative scheme, and Penn State has a solid QB depth chart with Beau Pribula and incoming freshman Ethan Grunkemeyer, an ESPN top-80 recruit.

The Lions also return one of the nation’s best running back tandems in juniors Kaytron Allen and Nicholas Singleton, and have recruited very well behind them with Quinton Martin and 2025 commit Alvin Henderson. Tight end also should continue to thrive with Tyler Warren and others, including decorated freshman Luke Reynolds. PSU also seemingly has turned a corner with its offensive line. Junior Drew Shelton and other experienced linemen return, and the team added Wisconsin transfer Nolan Rucci to complement a strong group of 2024 recruits, which includes ESPN’s top center (Cooper Cousins) and No.s 3 and 4 guards (Liam Andrews, Donovan Harbour). Franklin has had good wide receivers before but needs more from a group adding Ohio State transfer Julian Fleming, and returning non-seniors such as Harrison Wallace III and Kaden Saunders.

Allen, the former Indiana coach, takes over a defense losing NFL first-round draft pick Chop Robinson and others, but bringing back several elite-level players. Junior Abdul Carter shifts from linebacker to defensive end, where he joins Dani Dennis-Sutton and others in a formidable pass rush. PSU has some senior depth in the interior line, and will lean more on junior Zane Durant through 2025. Despite Carter’s shift, the Lions’ linebackers project well with Kobe King, Dominic DeLuca, Tony Rojas and others.

Penn State is off to a promising start for 2025 linebacker recruiting with D.J. McClary, Alex Tatsch and others. The secondary should be a strength if the cornerback spot can be fortified beginning this fall. PSU added two cornerback transfers in A.J. Harris (Georgia) and Jalen Kimber (Florida), who join returnees like Cam Miller. The safety spot looks very strong with Kevin Winston Jr., Jaylen Reed and Zakee Wheatley (Winston and Wheatley both are juniors). PSU also signed ESPN 300 safety Vaboue Toure in the 2024 class.

2024 Future QB ranking: 5
2024 Future defense ranking: Not ranked
2024 Future offense ranking: 6
2023 Future team ranking: 6

Scouting the Trojans: After two interesting, but ultimately unsatisfying, seasons under coach Lincoln Riley, USC enters the Big Ten with great ambition but also a degree of uncertainty. Riley oversees an offense that is tied with Oregon for the national lead in points per game (41.6) during his tenure, and ranks fifth in yards per game (487.3 ypg). But the unit is replacing quarterback Caleb Williams, the 2022 Heisman Trophy winner and No. 1 overall pick in the 2024 NFL draft, as well as running back MarShawn Lloyd and wide receivers Tahj Washington and Brenden Rice. Riley always produces potent offenses, but USC must navigate a league that features more elite-level defenses. Junior Miller Moss is the somewhat surprising successor to Williams after patiently waiting his turn. After a brilliant DirecTV Holiday Bowl performance, Moss could lead the offense through 2025, although USC also picked up talented UNLV QB transfer Jayden Maiava and has a 2025 commitment from Julian Lewis, ESPN’s top-rated recruit.

The running back room projects well with Mississippi State transfer Woody Marks joining returnees Quinten Joyner and A’Marion Peterson. Sophomore Zachariah Branch is set to become USC’s lead wide receiver, alongside sophomore Duce Robinson, junior Kyron Hudson and transfers Jay Fair (Auburn) and Kyle Ford (UCLA). Incoming freshman WR Xavier Jordan, ESPN’s No. 80 overall recruit, adds to the long-term outlook. USC’s offensive line development and recruiting will be critical as it enters the Big Ten. Jonah Monheim, Emmanuel Pregnon and other veterans are back for 2024, and USC needs non-seniors like Elijah Paige to continue its growth. Junior Lake McRee leads the tight end group, which adds two ESPN 300 recruits (Walter Matthews, Joey Olsen) to the mix.

The defense will ultimately determine USC’s path for the next three seasons. Riley never got the unit fully right at Oklahoma, and saw the Trojans bottom out last season, forcing a coordinator change. USC invested heavily in an impressive staff, led by coordinator D’Anton Lynn from UCLA, and picked up notable transfers like safeties Kamari Ramsey (UCLA) and Akili Arnold (Oregon State), cornerback John Humphrey (UCLA), linebacker Easton Mascarenas-Arnold (Oregon State) and end Nate Clifton (Vanderbilt). The Trojans also bring back leading tackler Mason Cobb at linebacker, sacks leader Jamil Muhammad at end, productive cornerback Jaylin Smith and gifted lineman Bear Alexander.

Lynn wants more size and depth up front, where USC is lacking in the middle. He will ask more from junior end Anthony Lucas, sophomore end Braylan Shelby and others. USC has recruited well up front with 2024 prospect Kameryn Fountain (No. 71) and 2025 commit Justus Terry (No. 7). There’s experience at linebacker with Mascarenas-Arnold, Cobb and senior Eric Gentry, although USC will need to build for 2025 and beyond with incoming four-star recruits Elijah Newby and Desman Stephens II. USC’s transfer hit rate in the secondary will be key for 2024 and, in Ramsey’s case, most likely beyond. The performance of holdovers like Smith and Jacobe Covington also will resonate, but USC must plan ahead with non-senior defensive backs Anthony Beavers Jr. and Christian Pierce, and cornerback Marcelles Williams.

2024 Future QB ranking: 24
2024 Future defense ranking: 4
2024 Future offense ranking: Not ranked
2023 Future team ranking: 7

Scouting the Tigers: The next three seasons will be fascinating for a Clemson program that finds itself an unfamiliar spot, outside of the FPR top 10. Clemson is coming off of its first four-loss season since 2011 and has just one CFP win since its most recent national title in 2018. The transfer portal era has been bumpy, in part because of coach Dabo Swinney’s resistance to adding transfers. Clemson’s high school recruiting remains strong — its 2025 class ranks No. 5 in the latest rundown — but upgrades are needed, especially with an offense that ranks 45th nationally in scoring since the start of the 2021 season.

The offense is in the spotlight under second-year coordinator Garrett Riley, who gets quarterback Cade Klubnik back with two years of eligibility left. Clemson has some insurance with Christopher Vizzina, an ESPN top-50 recruit in 2023, but lacks a ton of overall depth. Swinney is hoping to upgrade the offensive line with former Ole Miss head coach Matt Luke now in charge. Clemson returns experience with seniors Marcus Tate and Walker Parks, and solid overall depth with non-senior options Tristan Leigh, Blake Miller and others. The team also has two ESPN 300 linemen committed for 2025. Clemson brings back notable skill players like running back Phil Mafah, tight end Jake Briningstool and wide receiver Antonio Williams. The key is building out the depth, especially at wideout, which has gone from a nationally elite group to a questionable one. If Williams and Cole Turner are healthy, they provide a strong multiyear tandem alongside Tyler Brown. Two top-50 national recruits should help in Bryant Wesco and T.J. Moore. Clemson needs a second back behind Mafah, and has a 2025 commitment from Gideon Davidson, ESPN’s No. 50 recruit.

The defensive outlook is why Clemson still finds itself close to FPR’s top 10, as Clemson continues to pump out NFL players and recruit and develop top talent. There are some short-term questions up front and in the secondary, but Clemson has potential stars ready to step in, like sophomore linemen Peter Woods and T.J. Parker, and sophomore defensive backs Khalil Barnes and Avieon Terrell. The unit also brings back linebacker Barrett Carter, a two-time All-ACC selection set to lead a group also featuring non-seniors like Wade Woodaz and Kobe McCloud.

Veteran safety R.J. Mickens also returns for his final season, and will help lead a secondary featuring several promising non-seniors like Jeadyn Lukus, Shelton Lewis and Kylon Griffin. Clemson signed four ESPN 300 defensive back recruits in 2024, to go along with headliner Sammy Brown (No. 13) at inside linebacker. The team’s 2025 class features four defensive commits ranked among ESPN’s top 85, led by end Ari Watford (No. 32). Clemson’s big unknown is whether Swinney will ever warm up to the portal or keep digging in on a personnel approach that, until 2021, had worked brilliantly but now falls under scrutiny.

2024 Future QB ranking: 12
2024 Future defense ranking: Not ranked
2024 Future offense ranking: 8
2023 Future team ranking: 9

Scouting the Vols: Tennessee is 20-6 since the start of the 2022 season and is poised to be a more realistic CFP contender with the field expanding to 12. Coach Josh Heupel’s offense has surged under different transfer quarterbacks, and he now gets one of his recruits at the helm in redshirt freshman Nico Iamaleava, who will play at least through 2025. Iamaleava, a top-25 prospect in 2023, flashed his athleticism in limited work last season. There’s not much proven depth behind him, but Tennessee has recruited well by signing Jake Merklinger, a top-200 recruit in 2024, and landing a commitment from top-60 prospect George MacIntyre for 2025.

The receiver spot looks strong with junior Squirrel White back alongside Bru McCoy, the sixth-year player coming off of a major leg injury. Tulane transfer Chris Brazzell II gives the team a productive multiyear option, and top-25 recruit Mike Matthews headlined the Vols’ 2024 class. The line is an area that should continue to improve, including this fall, as Tennessee returns a lot of senior experience with Cooper Mays, John Campbell Jr., Javontez Spraggins and Andrej Karic, who returns from injury. LSU transfer Lance Heard gives the Vols a talented multiyear option up front. Other key post-2024 options include Shamurad Umarov and three incoming recruits ranked in the ESPN 300. Junior Dylan Sampson could lead the run game through 2025, and incoming freshman Peyton Lewis also will help. Tennessee hit the portal for tight ends Holden Staes (Notre Dame) and Miles Kitselman (Alabama).

The performance on defense likely will determine whether Tennessee is a legitimate CFP contender in the coming years, or just a tough out on the SEC schedule. The Vols showed clear improvement in 2023 and return several notable players, including end James Pearce Jr., a projected top-five pick in the 2025 NFL draft. Pearce anchors an experienced line that includes seniors Omari Thomas, Elijah Simmons and Bryson Eason in the interior. The group should turn over significantly in 2025, which makes the development of non-seniors like Tyre West, Joshua Josephs and Caleb Herring significant.

Tennessee adds Jordan Ross, ESPN’s No. 24 recruit for 2024, and Jamal Wallace, ESPN’s No. 18 junior college transfer, to the end spot. Stanford transfer Jaxson Moi also can play through 2025. Tennessee gets linebacker Keenan Pili, a BYU transfer, back from injury for a final season. He will join a group of non-seniors that includes Jeremiah Telander, Kalib Perry and Arion Carter. The secondary largely turns over in 2024, as Tennessee added transfers Jermod McCoy (Oregon State) and Jalen McMurray (Temple) at cornerback, and Jakobe Thomas (Middle Tennessee) at safety. They join returnees like juniors Andre Turrentine and Jourdan Thomas, and sophomore Rickey Gibson III. Tennessee also brings in ESPN 300 recruit Kaleb Beasley.

2024 Future QB ranking: 14
2024 Future defense ranking: 10
2024 Future offense ranking: 16
2023 Future team ranking: 13

Scouting the Utes: Utah has a solid case to be even higher, given the team’s championship success (2021, 2022) and remarkable consistency (nine or more wins seven times since 2014). The only uncertainties around the Utes are their upcoming move to the Big 12 and the longevity of future Hall of Fame coach Kyle Whittingham. The Big 12 move should be less turbulent than Utah’s shift from the Mountain West to Pac-12, which led to consecutive losing seasons in 2012 and 2013. A bigger factor could be Whittingham, who turns 65 in November and has said he doesn’t want to coach beyond that age. Utah has a clear successor in defensive coordinator Morgan Scalley, but Whittingham (162-79 at Utah) will be tough to replace.

Scalley’s defense should continue to be the team’s catalyst, as Utah must replace most of its secondary and top pass-rusher Jonah Elliss. Zemaiah Vaughn’s return helps in the back end, and Utah went to the portal for cornerbacks Kenan Johnson (Georgia Tech) and Cameron Calhoun (Michigan), and safety Alaka’i Gilman (Stanford). The post-2024 outlook could come down to a sophomore class that includes defensive backs Smith Snowden, Nate Ritchie and Johnathan Hall. Utah’s front seven projects well both in 2024 and beyond with non-seniors like linebacker Lander Barton and tackle Keanu Tanuvasa. Senior linemen Connor O’Toole, Van Fillinger and Junior Tafuna will lead the front this fall, and the Utes added Utah State end Paul Fitzgerald in the portal. Utah’s defensive recruiting doesn’t often pop, but the team consistently develops NFL players and has become a bigger factor in the portal.

Despite an injury-filled and uneven 2023 season, Utah’s offense has a promising outlook, mainly because of the stability under coordinator Andy Ludwig. Quarterback Cam Rising, who missed all of last fall as he recovered from a knee injury, is back for a final season to ease the Big 12 transition. Rising, who helped Utah to consecutive Pac-12 titles, could then give way to Brandon Rose or Isaac Wilson in the coming years. Utah also picked up former Washington and Cal Poly quarterback Sam Huard in the portal, and has 2025 commitments from ESPN 300 recruit Wyatt Becker and three-star Shaker Reisig.

The line goes through some turnover but returns several players — tackle Spencer Fano, guard Michael Mokofisi, center Jaren Kump — who can boost the group for multiple seasons. Several contributors return from injury, and Utah brings in freshman tackle Isaiah Garcia, ESPN’s No. 114 overall recruit. Rising will be throwing to veteran wideout Money Parks, and Utah went to the portal for Dorian Singer, a former All-Pac-12 selection at Arizona who comes in from USC, as well as Damien Alford (Syracuse) and Taeshaun Lyons (Washington). Standout tight end Brant Kuithe returns from injury, and Utah added UCLA transfer Carsen Ryan, a junior, and former Baylor basketball player Caleb Lohner. The running back outlook is solid with junior Jaylon Glover and senior Micah Bernard both returning, and Utah added productive Idaho transfer Anthony Woods, a junior.

2024 Future QB ranking: 7
2024 Future defense ranking: 19
2024 Future offense ranking: 11
2023 Future team ranking: 25

Scouting the Rebels: Ole Miss would be firmly in the top 10 in a one-year projection, as the team is all in on the 2024 season after an incredible winter/spring personnel surge. Coach Lane Kiffin is coming off of his best season in Oxford, and the Rebels retained most of their stars, including senior quarterback Jaxson Dart, while adding portal standouts such as defensive lineman Walter Nolen (Texas A&M), edge rushers Princely Umanmielen (Florida) and Chris Hardie (Jacksonville State), cornerback Trey Amos (Alabama), wide receiver Juice Wells (South Carolina), linebacker Chris Paul Jr. (Arkansas), running backs Logan Diggs (LSU), Henry Parrish Jr. (Miami) and Rashad Amos (Miami of Ohio) and offensive linemen Nate Kalepo (Washington), Diego Pounds (North Carolina) and Julius Buelow (Washington). But who will still be in Oxford in 2025 and 2026? Will Kiffin still be at the helm, or somewhere else like Florida?

Ole Miss is set up well for beyond 2024 at spots like quarterback, where Walker Howard, a former ESPN top-50 recruit, or Austin Simmons could replace Dart. The Judkins loss is offset by the return of Ulysses Bentley IV and the transfer haul. Ole Miss also has a 2025 commitment from Akylin Dear, ESPN’s No. 27 overall recruit. The line returns a solid core of veterans, although the transfers likely will shape the group’s performance this fall, and Pounds can play multiple seasons. Kiffin’s wide receiver room could be among the nation’s best with Wells and junior college additions Deion Smith and Marquis Willis joining seniors Tre Harris and Jordan Watkins. Ole Miss gets productive tight end Caden Prieskorn and adds Dae’Quan Wright, a junior.

Coordinator Pete Golding and others have upgraded the personnel outlook on defense, both in recruiting and through the portal. Portal arrivals like Nolen, Umanmielen, Hardie, Paul, Amos, safety Yam Banks (South Alabama) and cornerbacks Isaiah Hamilton (Houston) and Brandon Turnage (Tennessee) will help right away. But the Rebels also signed five ESPN 300 defenders in their 2024 class, headlined by linemen Kamarion Franklin and Jeffery Rush. Umanmielen and Hardie join senior Jared Ivey to trigger a formidable pass rush, while Nolen will play alongside veteran JJ Pegues on the inside. They’ll buy time for Franklin, Rush and others to develop. Paul, who had 136 tackles the past two seasons, can play through 2025 and will join fellow non-senior Suntarine Perkins.

The secondary is extremely transfer-heavy, although senior safeties Trey Washington and John Saunders Jr. both return. Ole Miss must develop cornerback Chris Graves Jr., incoming freshman Travaris Banks and others who can play beyond 2024.

2024 Future QB ranking: 11
2024 Future defense ranking: Not ranked
2024 Future offense ranking: 9
2023 Future team ranking: 12

Scouting the Sooners: Lincoln Riley’s jarring exit from Norman took place 933 days ago, but Oklahoma still seems to be finding its way forward. The transition phase could last a bit, as OU enters the SEC with a new starting quarterback (Jackson Arnold), new primary coordinators on both sides of the ball (Seth Littrell on offense, Zac Alley on defense) and a notable group of transfers, which includes wide receiver Deion Burks (Purdue), edge rusher Caiden Woullard (Miami of Ohio), defensive lineman Damonic Williams (TCU), tight end Jake Roberts (Baylor) and offensive linemen Branson Hickman (SMU), Geirean Hatchett (Washington), Michael Tarquin (USC) and Febechi Nwaiwu (North Texas).

Oklahoma also returns some familiar names, especially on defense, where all-conference players like Danny Stutsman and Billy Bowman Jr. are back for their final seasons. Bowman will join veteran Woodi Washington in a secondary that will lean on Robert Spears-Jennings and needs better health from players like senior Justin Harrington and sophomore Peyton Bowen, a top-20 national recruit in 2023. Williams joins a line that returns sacks leader Ethan Downs, sixth-year end Trace Ford, senior Da’Jon Terry and others, including freshmen David Stone, ESPN’s No. 6 recruit in the 2024 class, and Jayden Jackson. Stutsman leads a linebacker group filled with non-seniors, including Kip Lewis and Lewis Carter. OU signed five ESPN 300 defenders in its 2024 class and has two committed for 2025.

A smooth quarterback handoff from Dillon Gabriel to Arnold sets up the offense for the next few seasons, although OU added veteran Casey Thompson for short-term insurance. The Sooners added two freshman quarterbacks and have a 2025 commitment from Kevin Sperry, an ESPN top-120 prospect. Top rusher Gavin Sawchuk can play three more seasons, and OU has backfilled well with several solid reserves and freshman Taylor Tatum, ESPN’s top-rated running back and No. 38 overall recruit for 2024.

Decorated offensive line coach Bill Bedenbaugh must find the right mix for 2024 with a largely new group, although juniors Jacob Sexton and Troy Everett are both back. Nwaiwu and Hickman both can play through 2025, and the development of non-seniors like redshirt freshman Joshua Bates will be significant. The wide receiver and tight end outlooks are very strong. Burks joins a wideout group that features sophomore Nic Anderson and seniors Andrel Anthony and Jalil Farooq. OU signed two ESPN 300 receivers for 2024 and has two more committed for 2025. Roberts and Southeastern Louisiana transfer Bauer Sharp lead a tight end group that adds Davon Mitchell, ESPN’s No. 68 overall recruit.

2024 Future QB ranking: 22
2024 Future defense ranking: Not ranked
2024 Future offense ranking: 25
2023 Future team ranking: 16

Scouting the Huskies: Washington’s recent FPR odyssey might never be replicated, from being outside the rankings in 2021, to rapidly rising behind an explosive offense and a transcendent coach in Kalen DeBoer. Now, a mass exodus of players and coaches after the national title game has left Washington in a unique spot, especially with its upcoming move to the Big Ten. Washington still has good players on its roster, and few coaches are better suited to the challenge ahead than Jedd Fisch, who revived an Arizona program in much worse shape when he took over, and finished No. 11 nationally last year. Fisch and his staff have been predictably active in the portal, adding key skill players like running backs Jonah Coleman and Jordan Washington, quarterback Demond Williams Jr. and a host of linemen on both sides of the ball.

The staff also retained key offensive transfers like quarterback Will Rogers, a record-setting player at Mississippi State, wide receiver Jeremiah Hunter (Cal) and tackle Drew Azzopardi (San Diego State), who is just a sophomore. Paki Finau, a top-200 recruit who briefly entered the portal, withdrew and should be part of Washington’s line rotation for multiple seasons, alongside sophomore center Landen Hatchett, junior guard Gaard Memmelaar and others. Williams, who had an excellent spring, should fortify the quarterback spot through 2026, while Coleman, senior Cameron Davis and Washington headline the run game. Senior Giles Jackson brings starting experience to a new-look wide receiver group, which includes sophomore Denzel Boston, Hunter and other transfers. Senior tight end Quentin Moore is back, and Washington added Nevada transfer Keleki Latu.

Like DeBoer, Fisch is known for offense, but his success at Arizona in 2023 could be tied to a much-improved defense. Washington is largely starting over under new coordinator Steve Belichick and will need to hit on several transfers, including linemen Isaiah Ward and Russell Davis II, who joined the staff from Arizona, and Sebastian Valdez from Montana State. In addition to Ward and Davis, cornerbacks Ephesians Prysock and Jordan Shaw followed the coaches from Arizona to Washington, and the team also picked up linebacker Bryun Parham (San José State), safety Cameron Broussard (Sacramento State) and Miami edge rusher Jayden Wayne, a Tacoma, Washington, native ranked No. 89 among ESPN’s 2024 recruits.

Senior linebacker Carson Bruener, one of few returning contributors from the 2023 team, will lead the unit along with senior safety Kamren Fabiculanan, senior linebacker Alphonzo Tuputala and junior cornerback Elijah Jackson. Senior lineman Jacob Bandes and junior safety Makell Esteen are among Washington’s returnees who should step into bigger roles. UW’s defensive recruiting should be closely monitored, although the portal should remain an asset.

2024 Future QB ranking: Not ranked
2024 Future defense ranking: 2
2024 Future offense ranking: Not ranked
2023 Future team ranking: 20

Scouting the Hawkeyes: Make your jokes about Iowa, but most programs would love to swap records with the Hawkeyes, who are 81-34 since the start of the 2015 season, despite an offense that ranks 104th nationally in scoring during that span. The Hawkeyes’ formula likely isn’t sustainable in the new Big Ten, but consider what the program could become with a functional offense under coordinator Tim Lester. Iowa must re-establish itself at the line of scrimmage, where the team returns veterans in tackles Mason Richman and Gennings Dunker, center Logan Jones and guard Connor Colby. Seniors Nick DeJong and Tyler Elsbury, and junior Beau Stephens also have starting experience, giving Iowa the chance for much-needed depth. The arrival of ESPN four-star recruits Cody Fox and Will Nolan should help beyond 2024. Iowa also returns experience at running back with senior Leshon Williams, junior Kaleb Johnson and sophomore Jaziun Patterson.

Tight end Luke Lachey‘s return from injury provides a big boost for 2024, and junior Addison Ostrenga provides a solid second option. Iowa also brings in ESPN four-star recruit Gavin Hoffman this fall. Quarterback is a significant question, as Cade McNamara‘s injury issues precede his time with the Hawkeyes. Iowa got some insurance with Northwestern transfer Brendan Sullivan, who started games the last two seasons. Lester’s offense should help a wide receiver group that has fallen off considerably. Kaleb Brown and Seth Anderson both are back with multiple years of eligibility, and Iowa added Northwestern transfer Jacob Gill. But the team must find more capable options.

The Hawkeyes defense deserved the No. 2 FPR placement after carrying the team in recent seasons. Iowa has shown it can overcome NFL losses, like Lukas Van Ness and Jack Campbell in 2023, or Cooper DeJean earlier this year, and continue to produce at high levels. Iowa should be excellent in its back seven, at least through 2024. Seniors Jay Higgins and Nick Jackson will be arguably the nation’s best linebacker tandem, while senior safety Sebastian Castro leads a playmaking secondary.

Castro and seasoned defensive backs Jermari Harris and Quinn Schulte depart after this coming season, but Iowa could have junior safety Xavier Nwankpa on the field through 2025, and cornerback Deshaun Lee through 2026. Iowa will use the 2024 season to develop younger DBs like John Nestor, TJ Hall and Deavin Hilson. Iowa will have significant turnover at linebacker in 2025 but has recruited well with incoming four-star prospects Preston Ries and Cam Buffington, among others. Seniors Deontae Craig, Yahya Black and Ethan Hurkett lead a strong defensive front, which will turn to junior Aaron Graves and others, including Max Llewellyn, for 2025.

2024 Future QB ranking: 20
2024 Future defense ranking: 21
2024 Future offense ranking: 17
2023 Future team ranking: 18

Scouting the Wildcats: Kansas State finds itself around the same spot as it did a year ago, but the opportunity to move up in a reshaped Big 12 very much exists for coach Chris Klieman’s team. The 2022 Big 12 champions will enter the fall as one of the top contenders to win the league. K-State has good offense-defense balance, continuity on the coaching staff and the ability to land transfers, bringing in running back Dylan Edwards (Colorado), wide receiver Dante Cephas (Penn State) and others. The defense returns mostly intact under coordinator Joe Klanderman, and features productive players such as linebacker Austin Moore, safety Marques Sigle, end Brendan Mott and cornerback Jacob Parrish, who can play through 2025.

The secondary sets up well for multiple seasons with Parrish, junior safety VJ Payne, sophomore safety Colby McCalister and others, including recent Rice transfer Jordan Dunbar. Ball State transfer Jordan Riley adds some depth for 2024. Defensive line projects as a strength for the Wildcats, although there will be significant turnover in 2025, as Mott and others will depart. The team must accelerate non-seniors like tackle Damian Ilalio, end Chiddi Obiazor and tackle Malcolm Alcorn-Crowder, ESPN’s No. 5 junior college transfer. Linebackers Desmond Purnell and Jake Clifton will lead the group once Moore departs next fall, and Austin Romaine has three years of eligibility left.

The buzz around quarterback Avery Johnson is real, as he steps in for Will Howard and could lead the Wildcats’ offense through 2026. Johnson had seven rushing touchdowns in limited work last season and is eager to show he can complement his legs with a consistent arm. If so, Kansas State should have one of the Big 12’s best offenses in the years ahead. Wide receivers Jayce Brown and Keagan Johnson both are back and can play multiple seasons, while Cephas is a former first-team all-league player at Kent State. ESPN four-star recruit Trae Davis enters the mix. Edwards, a former ESPN top-150 recruit who initially committed to Kansas State, adds to a running back room that returns starter DJ Giddens, a junior who rushed for 1,226 yards and 10 touchdowns last fall.

Tight end is a short-term concern after Ben Sinnott‘s departure, but sophomore Garrett Oakley and others are set to step in. Offensive line play is a strength under Klieman and Conor Riley, now the team’s new offensive coordinator. Guard Hadley Panzer and tackle Carver Willis both bring key experience, and North Dakota tackle transfer Easton Kilty will have a significant role in his lone season with K-State. A priority will be developing non-seniors for 2025 and beyond, including incoming four-star recruits Gus Hawkins and Navarro Schunke.

2024 Future QB ranking: 17
2024 Future defense ranking: Not ranked
2024 Future offense ranking: 19
2023 Future team ranking: Not ranked

Scouting the Tigers: When Missouri lost five or more games in the eight seasons that followed SEC East Division titles in 2013 and 2014, some wondered whether the program could ever aim so high again. Coach Eliah Drinkwitz’s 2023 team provided an emphatic answer, going 11-2 with a No. 9 finish and a Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic win over Ohio State. The Tigers are set up for a potentially big encore, as quarterback Brady Cook, wide receiver Luther Burden III and others return, and will face a 2024 schedule that doesn’t include Georgia, Texas, LSU or Tennessee. Missouri would be higher in a one-year projection — the roster will turn over quite a bit in 2025 — but if the team retains Drinkwitz and continues its successful portal approach, it should compete for big goals in the coming years. Cook was one of the nation’s most improved quarterbacks in 2023, and will play one final season before Arizona State transfer Drew Pyne or another quarterback takes over. The team has a 2025 commitment from ESPN top-100 prospect Matt Zollers.

Missouri gets wideouts Burden, Theo Wease Jr. and Mookie Cooper for one more year (Burden has junior eligibility but likely will go to the draft) before turning things over to sophomore Marquis Johnson and others. The Tigers lost Cody Schrader, the SEC’s leading rusher, but added productive Georgia State transfer Marcus Carroll for 2024, along with Appalachian State transfer Nate Noel. The key will be developing post-2024 options. Missouri’s portal push also boosted the offensive line with Oklahoma transfer Cayden Green, a former top-60 recruit with three years of eligibility left, and tackle Marcus Bryant, an All-AAC selection at SMU. They join key holdovers like senior guard Cam’Ron Johnson, as well as center Connor Tollison and tackle Armand Membou, who both have junior eligibility. Top tight end Brett Norfleet is back after a 19-catch season and has sophomore eligibility.

Missouri’s defense nearly made the FPR Top 25, although replacing five NFL draft picks, including first-rounder Darius Robinson and second-rounder Ennis Rakestraw Jr., won’t be easy. The unit also had a coordinator change, as Corey Batoon succeeded Blake Baker. Missouri brings back several key pieces, including senior end Johnny Walker Jr., senior tackle Kristian Williams, senior linebackers Chuck Hicks and Triston Newson, and safeties Joseph Charleston, a senior, and junior Daylan Carnell.

The Tigers also went heavy into the portal, especially for the front seven, adding linemen Chris McClellan (Florida), Zion Young (Michigan State), Sterling Webb (New Mexico State) and Eddie Kelly (Georgia Tech). Defensive end Williams Nwaneri, ESPN’s No. 21 overall recruit in the 2024 class, will shape the line’s long-term outlook, along with redshirt freshman Sam Williams and others. Hicks and Newson headline the linebacker group, but Missouri also brought in transfers Darris Smith (Georgia), Corey Flagg Jr. (Miami), Jeremiah Beasley (Michigan) and Eddie Kelly (Georgia Tech). Despite losing three defensive backs to the draft, Missouri has good leadership at safety and added Clemson cornerback transfer Toriano Pride Jr. Incoming recruit Trajen Greco and others will factor into the 2025 and 2026 outlook.

2024 Future QB ranking: 25
2024 Future defense ranking: 12
2024 Future offense ranking: 24
2023 Future team ranking: Not ranked

Scouting the Cardinals: Louisville’s surge to the ACC title game in Jeff Brohm’s first season as head coach showed the program is on a promising path. The results both in the championship game and the Holiday Bowl, though, confirmed Louisville still has areas to clean up. Brohm has reached league title games in each of his last two seasons (Purdue went to the Big Ten championship in 2022), and should see his offense rise in FPR, especially with a predictable uptick in quarterback play. Louisville has been very active in the portal, making key additions on both sides of the ball but also losing some notable talent. Still, the Cardinals are set up to occasionally contend for the expanded CFP. Louisville won in 2023 with its defense and should continue to produce there, as stars like end Ashton Gillotte and cornerback Quincy Riley are back, along with key portal pickups like Tennessee safeties Wesley Walker and Tamarion McDonald, UCF cornerback Corey Thornton and linemen Thor Griffith (Harvard) and Jordan Guerad (Florida International).

The 2024 secondary will be both experienced and deep, as the transfers join Riley, safety Devin Neal, nickel Benjamin Perry and senior safety M.J. Griffin, who returns from injury. Louisville will have a lot to replace in 2025. The line also sets up well for 2024 with Gillotte, Griffith, Guerad and senior Mason Reiger, who had five sacks last fall. Louisville picked up several line transfers in the spring who should help beyond this season. Texas A&M transfer Jurriente Davis joins a linebacker group that returns TJ Quinn for possibly two more seasons. Stanquan Clark also will be a multiyear factor there.

Brohm will seek more from an offense that brings in quarterback transfer Tyler Shough, running back Donald Chaney Jr. (Miami), tight end Mark Redman (San Diego State), wide receivers Caullin Lacy (South Alabama) and Ja’Corey Brooks (Alabama) and linemen Pete Nygra (Northern Illinois), Monroe Mills (Texas Tech) and Jonathan Mendoza (Yale). Louisville is set up well at quarterback with veteran reserve Brady Allen and Pierce Clarkson, who could take over in 2025. Brohm hasn’t landed an elite quarterback recruit yet but will always be appealing to transfers.

Although Louiville didn’t retain running back transfer Peny Boone, it has Chaney and fellow junior Maurice Turner. Running backs Isaac Brown and Duke Watson headlined the team’s 2024 recruiting class. Lacy, Brooks and Tuskegee transfer Antonio Meeks, a junior, enter a receiver room that returns juniors Chris Bell and Jimmy Calloway. Redman and fellow transfers Jaleel Skinner (Miami) and Izayah Cummings (Kentucky) will lead the tight end group for the next few seasons. The offensive line, like most positions, is transfer heavy for 2024, although Nygra and others can play through 2025. Line coach Richard Owens praised the group’s depth and versatility this spring. Louisville’s portal prowess is undeniable, but the team needs to see an uptick in its offensive recruiting the next few years.

2024 Future QB ranking: 21
2024 Future defense ranking: 18
2024 Future offense ranking: 15
2023 Future team ranking: Not ranked

Scouting the Mustangs: SMU won’t generate as much attention as other teams making conference moves this summer, but the Mustangs will join the ACC ready to compete right away. The team has had five straight winning seasons since 2019, twice reaching 10 or more victories, and returns solid groups on both sides of the ball. SMU has positioned itself well in the portal for Dallas-area players, and can now offer the chance to compete in a major conference. Coach Rhett Lashlee has a background on offense, but SMU’s defensive surge in 2023 propelled the team to a league title.

The Mustangs return experience at all three levels of the defense, especially up front, where pass-rusher Elijah Roberts leads a group that includes a nice mix of holdovers (Kori Roberson Jr., Cameron Robertson) and transfers, including Jahfari Harvey (Miami), Jonathan Jefferson (Georgia) and Omari Abor (Ohio State). Wilson and Walker will lead the linebackers for one final season, although SMU must develop sophomore Alexander Kilgore and Utah transfer Justin Medlock, a junior. Productive safeties Isaiah Nwokobia and Jonathan McGill lead a veteran secondary that will mostly turn over in 2025. SMU did add Texas A&M cornerback transfer Deuce Harmon, a junior, and safety Ahmaad Moses also can play through 2025. Lashlee has leaned on the portal for defensive talent but should be able to access higher-level recruits because of the ACC.

The Mustangs need strong quarterback play to ease their conference transition, and they’re set up well with Preston Stone for possibly two more seasons. There’s good depth behind him with sophomore Kevin Jennings, who gained valuable experience late last season and redshirt freshman Keldric Luster. Leading rusher Jaylan Knighton is back for a final season, but SMU has options both for the fall and beyond with LJ Johnson Jr., Camar Wheaton and Brashard Smith, a Miami transfer who mostly played wide receiver for the Hurricanes but is listed as a running back.

Wide receiver should always remain a strength under Lashlee, who has Jake Bailey returning to lead a senior-laden group also featuring Moochie Dixon and Romello Brinson. Jordan Hudson has two years of eligibility after a 30-catch season in 2023, and Oregon transfer Ashton Cozart has freshman eligibility. SMU has recruited well with Derrick McFall, an ESPN four-star prospect who can play receiver or running back, and 2025 commit Daylon Singleton, an ESPN 300 selection. Star tight end RJ Maryland can play through 2025 after recording 518 receiving yards and a team-high seven touchdowns last fall. Sophomore Adam Moore provides a solid second option. SMU’s line has a nice mix of experience with returnees who can play multiple seasons and transfers who can play multiple seasons, like Savion Byrd (Oklahoma) and Andrew Chamblee (Arkansas). Veterans Justin Osborne, Jakai Clark and Logan Parr will lead the group this fall, and tackle PJ Williams can play three more seasons after starting four games in 2023.

2024 Future QB ranking: Not ranked
2024 Future defense ranking: Not ranked
2024 Future offense ranking: Not ranked
2023 Future team ranking: Not ranked

Scouting the Cowboys: Team FPR must consider individual position rankings and overall personnel trajectory, but also the big-picture results on the field. Oklahoma State might not be elite in any area, but the results under longtime coach Mike Gundy are undeniable. Since 2020, Oklahoma State ranks 14th nationally in win percentage (.712), right behind rival Oklahoma. The Cowboys have made two of the past three Big 12 title games, and return a veteran-heavy squad poised to contend again this fall. Gundy wants to become the Big 12’s new top boss, and another strong season would set up Oklahoma State well. Despite questions on both sides of the ball, the Cowboys return star power, including the nation’s top running back in junior Ollie Gordon II, as well as dynamic pass-rusher Collin Oliver and prolific linebacker Nick Martin, who had 140 tackles, including 16 for loss and six sacks, last fall. Martin, Oliver, junior safety Kendal Daniels, senior safety Trey Rucker and others are back to lead a defense that returns almost entirely intact, and should improve in year 2 under coordinator Bryan Nardo.

Ten players who started games are back, although Oklahoma State needs to fill some production gaps along the defensive line, and added Obi Ezeigbo, who played under Nardo at Division II Gannon University. The Cowboys will be replacing a good chunk of starters after 2024, although Martin, Daniels, cornerback Cam Smith and others can play through 2025. Five of Oklahoma State’s top seven 2024 recruits play defense, although all are three-star prospects.

Oklahoma State typically has a higher ceiling on offense, a unit that must become more consistently dynamic in the next few seasons. Gordon, who rushed for 1,732 yards and 21 touchdowns in 2023, leads a ground game that added transfers AJ Green (Arkansas) and Trent Howland (Indiana) for depth but must develop options for 2025 and 2026, including freshman Rodney Fields. Quarterback Alan Bowman is back for a seventh and final college season, before giving way to sophomore Garret Rangel or another player. Oklahoma State has a 2025 commit from ESPN 300 prospect Adam Schobel.

The team returns a distinctly experienced offensive line, led by tackles Dalton Cooper and Jake Springfield, and also featuring guard Preston Wilson and versatile senior Cole Birmingham. Oklahoma State has seven linemen with starting experience, and still added Arizona State’s Isaia Glass from the portal. Glass can play through 2025 and will be integral in limiting a dropoff after this fall, as will sophomore Austin Kawecki and others. Top receivers Brennan Presley and Rashod Owens are both back, but only for 2024, as the Pokes will rely more on and De’Zhaun Stribling, Talyn Shettron, Oklahoma transfer Gavin Freeman and others for the years ahead. Ohio tight end transfer Tyler Foster provides a one-year solution, but Oklahoma State will need to identify others for 2025 and 2026.

2024 Future QB ranking: 18
2024 Future defense ranking: Not ranked
2024 Future offense ranking: 18
2023 Future team ranking: Not ranked

Scouting the Hurricanes: Miami’s FPR projection is a lot like the famous Alonzo Mourning GIF: the results make you shake your head, but the success with personnel suggests a turnaround could be coming soon. The team is just 12-13 under coach Mario Cristobal and boasts only one 10-win season since joining the ACC in 2004. But Miami continues to thrive with personnel, the foundation for FPR. The Hurricanes landed the top portal offensive backfield combination in quarterback Cam Ward (Washington State) and running back Damien Martinez (Oregon State), as well as wide receiver Sam Brown (Houston) and key transfer defenders like linemen Tyler Baron (Tennessee), Marley Cook (Middle Tennessee), C.J. Clark (NC State) and Simeon Barrow Jr. (Michigan State).

Miami also hit the portal for defensive backs like Washington’s Mishael Powell, Vanderbilt’s Savion Riley and Arizona’s Isaiah Taylor. There are some key returnees like cornerback Daryl Porter Jr., and multi-year options like Jadais Richard and Damari Brown. Other than the transfers, Miami’s line will feature sophomore pass-rusher Rueben Bain Jr., and gets junior Ahkeem Mesidor back from injury. Productive senior Francisco Mauigoa will lead the linebackers alongside junior Wesley Bissainthe, while Louisville transfer Jaylin Alderman, a junior, enters the mix. Miami’s defensive recruiting also is heating up, as the team signed eight ESPN 300 defenders in the 2024 class, led by three top-50 prospects (Justin Scott, Armondo Blount, Booker Pickett Jr.).

Ward and Martinez headline the 2024 offense, which also gets 1,000-yard wide receiver Xavier Restrepo back for another year. Restrepo, senior Jacolby George and Brown, who can play through 2025, headline a wide receiver group that should be a team strength. Sophomores Isaiah Horton and Ray Ray Joseph will be factors beyond 2024, and Miami adds two of ESPN’s top 10 wideout recruits in Joshisa Trader (No. 25 overall) and Ny Carr (No. 43). Sophomore Mark Fletcher Jr. could be Miami’s lead running back for multiple seasons, although the team will want more depth there with sophomore Ajay Allen and others.

The tight end position is fairly wide open with sophomore Riley Williams and others in the mix for 2024, and two ESPN 300 recruits (Luka Gilbert, Brock Schott) committed for 2025. Cristobal’s offensive lines have historically thrived, and Miami brings back a talented group of non-seniors, led by All-ACC selection Jalen Rivers, a junior. Indiana transfer Zach Carpenter steps into a key role at center, and Miami will lean more on former top 25 nationally recruits Francis Mauigoa and Samson Okunlola, ESPN’s top tackle and top guard in the 2023 class.

2024 Future QB ranking: 10
2024 Future defense ranking: Not ranked
2024 Future offense ranking: 21
2023 Future team ranking: Not ranked

Scouting the Wildcats: The final spot in team FPR always sparks debate. I could have gone with a strong Group of 5 team, like Liberty, Tulane, Air Force, Memphis, James Madison or South Florida, which is on the rise under coach Alex Golesh. Power conference candidates included Kansas, frequent FPR staple Wisconsin, NC State and even Texas A&M, which made a strong coaching hire with Mike Elko. Arizona ultimately is the pick, despite a coaching change, as the team returns a non-senior star quarterback in Noah Fifita, and a depth chart not overly packed with seniors. Brent Brennan is a sensible choice to succeed Jedd Fisch and should continue to make Arizona an appealing choice for recruits and transfers, especially on the West Coast. Arizona would be higher in a one-year projection, especially with an offense returning Fifita, who can play through 2026, wide receiver Tetairoa McMillan and a solid line anchored by NFL prospect Jonah Savaiinaea at tackle. Savaiinaea is a junior but could move onto the pros in 2025, and Arizona also will lose starting center Josh Baker. Still, the line will get at least two more years with both tackle/guard Raymond Pulido and guard Wendell Moe. Arizona also went heavy on offensive linemen in the portal, adding Oregon’s Michael Wooten, Northwestern’s Alexander Doost, San Diego State’s Jonah Rodriguez and others.

Wide receiver looks solid in 2024 with McMillan, senior Montana Lemonious-Craig and Old Dominion transfer Reymello Murphy. The group will have significant turnover in 2025, though, and reinforcements are needed. Running back also is a bit of a mystery following portal departures. San Jose State transfer Quali Conley (842 rushing yards, nine touchdowns in 2023) followed the staff to Tucson, and Arizona also added Ole Miss transfer Kedrick Reescano. The team will need to develop returnees like junior Rayshon Luke. The tight end spot also feels wide open with returnees Keyan Burnett and Roberto Miranda, and transfer Sam Olson (San Jose State). Brayden Dorman, an ESPN 300 recruit in 2023, provides insurance at quarterback behind Fifita.

Arizona’s improvement on defense truly fueled its rise from an improving team to one that won 10 games and finished No. 11 nationally in 2023. Brennan and defensive coordinator Duane Akina now must maintain the success with a unit that returns a bona fide star in junior linebacker Jacob Manu and other solid complementary players. Junior Dalton Johnson can help lead the defense through 2025, while safety Gunner Maldonado is back for his senior season. The short-term concern is a defensive line with no returning starters after Bill Norton transferred to Texas. Junior Ta’ita’i Uiagalelei leads a group of returnees that includes redshirt freshman Dominic Lolesio.

Arizona also went to the portal for Chubba Maae (UC Davis), Kevon Darton (Syracuse) Stanley Ta’ufo’ou (USC), Jarra Anderson (Memphis) and others. Arizona needs several to pan out, ideally for multiple years, before younger players can step up. Manu and Justin Flowe could lead the linebackers through 2025, along with sophomore Kamuela Ka’aihue and others. Johnson and Maldonado provide a nice foundation in the secondary, where junior cornerback Tacario Davis is also back. The development of sophomore Jai-Ayviauynn Celestine and others is significant, and Arizona also added Demetrius Freeney (Miami), Jack Luttrell (Tennessee) and Jordan Shaw (Indiana), who all have multiple years of eligibility left.

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