Recruiting is the lifeblood of any program. Consistent College Football Playoff contenders such as Alabama, Georgia and Ohio State have shown the importance of elite high school talent that can be developed from within.
Not everyone can take the same path, though, and many roads can lead to success on the field.
The transfer portal has changed how programs build rosters. Some schools have gone all-in looking to overhaul and infuse their roster with experienced talented via transfers, while others lean more heavily on traditional prep recruiting using the portal more sparingly.
So we rank the top 25 groups of newcomers -- recruits and transfers combined -- based on who could see the most impactful immediate returns for 2023.
1. USC Trojans
Top impact newcomers: WR Zachariah Branch (No. 7 recruit in the ESPN 300), RB MarShawn Lloyd (South Carolina transfer), DT Bear Alexander (Georgia transfer), WR Dorian Singer (Arizona transfer)
2023 recruiting class ranking finish: 10th
The Trojans' blend of high-level recruiting and utilizing the portal could propel them into their first playoff appearance. They added more potential offensive firepower with a pair of five-star WRs, led by Branch, a dynamic speedster (10.33 100-meter) who can quickly contribute on offense and in the return game, while a healthy Makai Lemon only adds to the riches in their receiver room. They brought in two RBs to complement second-leading returning rusher Austin Jones by adding South Carolina's top rusher from last season, Lloyd (573 yards), and four-star signee Quinten Joyner, whose strong spring is creating buzz.
A question for the Trojans coming out of the signing periods was the strengthening of the trenches, but they addressed that concern well via the portal. On the defensive front Kyon Barrs (Arizona) and Jack Sullivan (Purdue) bring Power 5 starting experience. Alexander (Georgia) and Anthony Lucas (Texas A&M) were both highly touted prospects in the 2022 class who possess a wealth of ability and have time on their side. Samuel Greene was an underrated signing with a good explosiveness who could contribute right away at rush end.
Long-term overview: Sustained playoff contention. This program inserted players to win now, but unlike the Los Angeles Rams, USC is not built for all or nothing. Returning Heisman winner Caleb Williams, we may not even see the Trojans' top signee in 2023, but No. 1 QB Malachi Nelson gives them an elite heir apparent who can benefit from time to learn and physically develop. On defense, ESPN 300 LB Tackett Curtis and safety Christian Pierce are already creating buzz and display promising futures. Several portal transfers have limited eligibility, but big additions such as Alexander and Lucas are coming off freshmen seasons.