Recruits to watch for every Way-Too-Early Top 25 team

Cameron Rising could help Oklahoma attract other top playmakers. Tom Hauck for Student Sports

Every team in Mark Schlabach's 2017 Way-Too-Early Top 25 is also looking toward the future for the next star or the player who can fill a big need. Here is the recruit worth watching for every Top-25 team.

1. Alabama

While schools such as Georgia, Clemson and Florida are in the mix for Christian Tutt, it's Alabama and FSU that stand at the top for the fourth-ranked cornerback prospect in the ESPN Junior 300. The 5-foot-11, 193-pound athlete is planning to make his decision late in the spring, and the Crimson Tide would love to add Tutt's playmaking ability to Alabama's defensive backfield, especially with All-American Minkah Fitzpatrick potentially turning pro after next season. -- Derek Tyson

2. Florida State

Penn State quarterback commitment Justin Fields has quickly risen to the top of the Florida State quarterback board. Fields stopped by FSU for a quick unofficial visit while in town for 7-on-7 on April 9, and the Seminoles offered three days later. While Florida State likely has Deondre Francois for two more seasons (although draft-eligible following the 2017 season), the next man up for the Seminoles is very much in question. Jimbo Fisher inked a pair of signal-callers in 2017 in ESPN 300 lefty Bailey Hockman and three-star James Blackman. Of the two, Blackman has the higher ceiling, but will need a solid two years of development. In No. 7-ranked Fields, the Seminoles are recruiting a dual-threat prospect with the ability to be a true difference-maker. -- Gerry Hamilton

3. USC

The Trojans are after several top-10 prospects in this class, but there likely won't be a more important addition than inside linebacker Palaie Gaoteote, who committed to USC in February. The Trojans need to add multiple linebackers in this 2018 class, so a commitment from the nation's No. 2 inside linebacker, No. 41 overall player and a prospect capable of seeing immediate playing time is an important asset for USC coaches as they continue building this class. -- Erik McKinney

4. Ohio State

Offensive lineman Jackson Carman, an Ohio prospect, recently visited Clemson and named Clemson his leader after the trip. He clarified that Clemson is 1A and Ohio State is 1B, but the Tigers are going to put up stiff competition for the 6-foot-6, 349-pound lineman. He won't be making a decision in the near future, but this is a battle Ohio State would like to win in the end. -- Tom VanHaaren

5. Penn State

Quarterback Justin Fields, who committed to Penn State in December, would be a huge signing for coach James Franklin and his staff. The Georgia prospect would be the highest-ranked quarterback for Franklin and would give the Nitaany Lions an outstanding replacement for current starter Trace McSorley to go along with 2017 signee Sean Clifford. Defensive end commit Micah Parsons could fall in this category as well, since Parsons has been taking visits and will be tough to hang on to. Similar to Parsons, other programs are still coming after Fields heavily. If he signs with Penn State, it could be one of the most important of Franklin's tenure. -- VanHaaren

6. Clemson

When No. 1-ranked overall Xavier Thomas committed to the national champions on April 8, the Tigers won out earlier than expected for the "must get" recruit in the 2018 class. The reason Thomas has the tag is simple, it keeps archrival South Carolina from regaining any meaningful momentum and keeps Clemson as the now-dominant force in the state and nationally. With Thomas having grown up as a Gamecocks fan watching former ESPN 300 No. 1 overall Jadeveon Clowney, Thomas provided South Carolina with a chance to grab national headlines and begin flipping the momentum in the Palmetto State. Instead, the 6-foot-3, 263-pound Thomas will have an impact on an already loaded Clemson defensive front. -- Hamilton

7. Washington

While most programs will take just one quarterback in each recruiting class, Washington has the luxury of holding commitment from two ESPN Junior 300 signal-callers, and that could be an important part of this class. The Huskies have not signed an ESPN 300 quarterback since Jake Browning in the 2015 class, and this could be Browning's last year in Seattle. If Washington loses Jacob Sirmon and holds on to ESPN Junior 300 quarterback Colson Yankoff in this class, it certainly wouldn't be considered a failure at the position, but Sirmon is the No. 2 pocket passer in the country, the nation's No. 16 overall recruit and a potential five-star quarterback. He was also the first commitment for Washington in this class and could have an opportunity to take over for Browning as a true freshman. The Huskies have done extremely well recruiting Washington under head coach Chris Petersen, but they missed the No. 1 pocket passer in the 2016 class, Jacob Eason, and they couldn't reel in five-star offensive tackle Foster Sarell in the 2017 class. -- McKinney

8. Oklahoma

While the Sooners might sign higher-ranked recruits in the 2018 class, none will be as impactful as ESPN Junior 300 quarterback Cameron Rising, who committed to the Sooners last August. The 6-foot-2, 209-pound Rising is the leader of this class and will be an important tool the Sooners use to attract other offensive playmakers. So far it's working, as OU has picked offensive commitments from ESPN 300 offensive tackle Brey Walker and elite running back T.J. Pledger. -- Jeremy Crabtree

9. LSU

Patrick Surtain Jr., the son of former NFL defensive back Patrick Surtain, is already starting to make a name for himself and is being recruited by just about everyone in the Southeast. While schools such as Clemson, Florida, Ohio State and Miami are still under consideration, it's LSU and Florida State that have appeared to jump to the top of the top-ranked defensive backs list. LSU has done a tremendous job of recruiting elite cornerbacks from Florida, such as Patrick Peterson and recent five-star prospect Kevin Toliver II. Landing Surtain, especially over teams like Florida, FSU and Alabama, would certainly help LSU's claim of DBU. --Tyson

10. Oklahoma State

One thing that Mike Gundy has always had at Oklahoma State is an elite quarterback, and the 2018 class will be no different as signal-caller Spencer Sanders is already on board. Sanders committed last fall and is the heralded type of prospect that will help draw in more top offensive weapons. Sanders is also a perfect fit for the Oklahoma State style of offense. -- Crabtree

11. Auburn

Joey Gatewood, a talented 6-foot-4, 232-pound prospect, has been committed to the Tigers since December 2015. While Gatewood could probably play a few positions at Auburn, quarterback is where he would like to start off in college. Auburn beat out the in-state Florida State Seminoles to land Gatewood, and many schools are still pursuing the four-star prospect. Auburn has done well recruiting in the Sunshine State, and keeping Gatewood in the fold would help continue that tradition. --Tyson

12. Wisconsin

Wisconsin has one quarterback committed, but Carter Bradley is visiting for the Badgers' spring game and is seriously considering Wisconsin. Bradley would be a big get for coach Paul Chryst and his staff. Competition at quarterback is never a bad thing, and if Wisconsin can add Bradley to the mix, the coaches would have a good option for the future. -- VanHaaren

13. Georgia

While Jamaree Salyer doesn't officially have a top list of schools, the four-star guard prospect admitted Georgia and Clemson would be in his final group of schools when he does trim his list. Clemson is already off to a great start with a commitment from the top-ranked quarterback in the ESPN 300 and Georgia native, Trevor Lawrence. The Bulldogs, however, are making Salyer a priority and do not want that physical 6-foot-4, 342-pound lineman leaving the state. Georgia struggled on the offensive line a year ago and has made offensive line recruiting a priority. Landing Salyer would be a big step in the right direction for the Bulldogs. -- Tyson

14. Michigan

Dorian Thompson-Robinson is the main target for Michigan at quarterback, and his decision should be coming in the near future. It is believed Thompson-Robinson is down to Michigan and UCLA, and the dual-threat quarterback has visited both programs. Thompson-Robinson most recently took in Michigan for its spring game, and it could be a benefit to have the last visit before his decision. However, the Bruins have new offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch, who was hired from Michigan. If he chooses UCLA instead of Michigan, it could cause the Wolverines to target Joe Milton or Tyler Shough as the quarterback for the 2018 class. -- VanHaaren

15. Stanford

Stanford has its sight set on wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown after having signed his brother Osiris in the 2017 class. (Oldest brother Equanimeous is a wide receiver at Notre Dame). Amon-Ra could wind up as the most heavily recruited of the three, as the nation's No. 72 overall prospect holds offers from elite programs across the country. While the Cardinal will always be in the mix for talented offensive linemen and a potential quarterback of the future is already committed in Jack West, St. Brown is the kind of electric playmaker on the outside who could make an instant impact. -- McKinney

16. Miami

The Hurricanes already have 12 ESPN Junior 300 commitments and the top early class in the country. While Miami remains in on more than a handful more, it's No. 59-ranked Al Blades Jr. who remains the must-get. It's not because Blades is the most highly ranked prospect in the class or on the board for Mark Richt and staff, but because the Under Armour All-America Game versatile defensive back has been on the radar since his freshman year, is a one-time Miami verbal, a legacy and very popular with other prospects in the Miami area. Blades would represent a prospect coming full circle and the ultimate sign for prospects that the Hurricanes are headed in the right direction under Richt. -- Hamilton

17. Kansas State

Recruiting successfully in Kansas City has always been a big key for the Wildcats, and cornerback Mario Goodrich is the top prospect in the city in the 2018 class. The Wildcats are one of Goodrich's top schools, but early on it is Nebraska that sits on top of his list, and K-State knows it has a real battle to lure him away. The good news is the Wildcats are going to get a fair shot at Goodrich, and he's already been on campus a few times over the past year. -- Crabtree

18. Louisville

Quarterback is a must-get in the 2018 class for the Cardinals. Coming off a four-interception spring game performance, there are serious questions if Jawon Pass has any shot to be the next starting quarterback after Heisman Trophy-winner Lamar Jackson departs. Having gone without inking a signal-caller in the 2017 class, the need in 2018 is a major one. With ESPN Junior 300 Justin Rogers looking at TCU, LSU and North Carolina almost exclusively, that puts pressure on Bobby Petrino and staff to win out for fellow ESPN Junior 300 Jalen Mayden out of the Dallas area. The Cardinals are in the top five along with Mississippi State, Baylor, Tennessee and Nebraska with a decision expected in late May. --- Hamilton

19. Colorado

Early on it looks as though outside linebacker Adrian Jackson could head out of the state for college -- Ohio State and USC are a couple of schools in the mix -- but the same could have been said last year for Jake Moretti, who committed to Ohio State early in the process before flipping to the Buffaloes in November. Colorado took a significant step forward on the recruiting trail with the 2017 class and landing the state's lone ESPN Junior 300 prospect in Jackson -- the nation's No. 208 recruit overall -- would make another strong statement. -- McKinney

20. South Florida

Charlie Strong badly wants to win out close to home on prospects with Power 5 offers, and in the 2018 class, defensive line and playmakers are key. While the Bulls already have transfer running back Jordan Cronkrite on campus and sitting out the 2017 season, the losses of seniors-to-be D'Ernest Johnson and Darius Tice make the running back position a key need in 2018. Area prospect Patrick Jolly continues to fly under the radar nationally, but the versatile running back who can also play receiver has North Carolina, Iowa, Iowa State and UCF on an offer list that includes South Florida. For the Bulls, this would be an impactful close-to-home win at a position of need. -- Hamilton

21. Washington State

It all starts with the quarterback for a Mike Leach offense, so even after signing ESPN 300 signal-caller Connor Neville in the 2017 class, the Cougars are looking for another quarterback in this one. Tyler Shough has been hot this spring, grabbing offers from Ivy League programs as well as Michigan, Missouri and a recent one from Washington State. With Luke Falk likely off to the NFL following this season, Shough could join a quarterback competition where the reward is throwing the ball almost as much as humanly possible. With the recent offer, it will be interesting to see how quickly the Cougars can get in the mix and if they, as his only Pac-12 offer to this point, can keep him relatively closer to home rather than letting him escape to the Wolverines, Tigers or another program. -- McKinney

22. West Virginia

It's not too often that the state of West Virginia produces a ranked prospect, but the 2018 class features blue-chip defensive tackle Dante Stills from Fairmont (W.Va.) High School. Stills is being heavily recruited by national programs from coast to coast, but with the Mountaineers needing defensive help and Stills being right in their backyard, there might not be a more important recruit for WVU in this class. The Mountaineers are in good shape, but Louisville, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Penn State and Virginia Tech are also high on his list. -- Crabtree

23. Texas

Tom Herman is definitely swinging for the fences in the 2018 class. A big get at a key position early on is ESPN Junior 300 dual-threat quarterback Casey Thompson out of Oklahoma, but no recruit is more important than Anthony Cook, an ESPN Jr. 300 cornerback out of Lamar High School in Houston. Cook is the most important because he's at a key position of need for Texas, but he's also one of the first true in-state recruiting battles for Herman since he's arrived in Austin. Texas' staff will have a full year to recruit Cook, and the question will be can they beat out Clemson, LSU, Ohio State and a host of other national programs. -- Crabtree

24. Boise State

Cammon Cooper is one of several quarterbacks across the country who have seen their stocks rise and offers pour in this spring. The lefty quarterback has several Pac-12 offers but took an unofficial visit to Boise State recently. The Broncos can usually hold their own when it comes to quarterback recruiting, but pulling Cooper, the nation's No. 286 prospect, away from Power 5 offers such as Arizona State, Missouri, Ole Miss, Tennessee and Washington State would be a big deal. -- McKinney

25. Virginia Tech

No. 12 overall Teradja Mitchell represents another chance for the Hokies to keep the best in the "757" area home. Like recent No. 1-ranked prospects in the state Josh Sweat, Levonta Taylor and Khalan Laborn, Under Armour All-America Game linebacker Mitchell can call the likes of Florida State, Clemson, Alabama and Ohio State and commit. And like the past three headline-makers from the "757," the Hokies enter the spring evaluation period as the underdog. Continuing to fight to create optimal in-state recruiting momentum makes Mitchell a "must get." -- Hamilton