Texas Tech landing a verbal commitment from blue-chip quarterback Jarrett Stitham on Friday came as a massive win for Kliff Kingsbury, but it also represented a bit of a trend in recent years.
Stitham isn’t the nation’s No. 1 overall recruit, nor is he rated by Rivals as a five-star prospect. But for Texas Tech, earning the verbal commitment of an in-state quarterback with scholarship offers from Texas and Texas A&M is just about unheard of. Not even Graham Harrell wasn’t offered by Texas or Texas A&M back in 2004.
Consider this, though: In three of the last four recruiting cycles, the nation’s top prep player has gone to a non-traditional power. South Carolina (Jadeveon Clowney), Mizzou (Dorial Green-Beckham) and Ole Miss (Robert Nkemdiche) all landed No. 1-rated, program-altering players in 2011, 2012 and 2013.
Granted, that streak ended this year when Da’Shawn Hand signed his National Letter of Intent to play for Alabama. But in the Rivals era (2002-present), no No. 1 player had gone to a non-traditional power program until Clowney committed to South Carolina. The Gamecocks have had four seasons of 10 or more wins in program history; three came with Clowney on the team.
2015′s No. 1 recruit, defensive tackle Trenton Thompson (Albany, Ga.) seems like a good bet to wind up at a traditional power. But that a good number of these highly-rated recruits, No. 1 or otherwise, are winding up at Ole Miss or Texas Tech or Virginia (which landed 2014′s No. 5 overall recruit) perhaps speaks to the success programs can have in the digital/social media age, making in-roads with high schoolers that weren’t possible 10 years ago.