It’s still early in the 2022 college football recruiting cycle, and there’s still a lot of uncertainty.

Obviously, teams need a lot of money.

Whether it’s the next step to becoming a contract champion or revitalizing the program, here are five teams that need a successful year on the recruiting trail.

The Longhorns’ 2021 cycle was anything but bad, as they finished in the top 15 in the country. However, this is a new era in Austin, and expectations are incredibly high. Texas can’t afford to fall behind rival Oklahoma, a program that has won six Big 12 titles in a row and is behind in the rankings.

Texas hired Steve Sarkisian to lead the program back to the top of the conference and into the College Football Playoff race, which the Longhorns have yet to enter.

He may not appear to be that high up in the rankings, but it’s not easy to break into this elite group.

The Longhorns no longer have a stranglehold on the state’s top talent, as Texas A&M is now a formidable competitor for top prospects, and perennial national title contenders Alabama and Ohio State have also found their way to the state, also to attract their top prospects in the coming years.

After leading the Crimson Tide’s explosive, national championship-winning offense, Sarkisian comes to Texas and has made one of the fastest starts of the 2022 cycle with three of the country’s best offensive playmakers on board.

All eyes will be on the new coach to see if he can lead Texas to the top and into the national title game, but he will need to build on this promising start to take the Longhorns to the next level.

USC was expected to get back on the recruiting trail after signing the No. 54 overall pick in 2020, and the Trojans did just that by entering the top-10 class last February.

As competitors rebuild on the field and in the recruiting process, it becomes increasingly necessary for UCLA to do the same. The Bruins found themselves in the middle of the Pac-12 for 2021, but finished with some momentum.

They drafted their only two ESPN 300 prospects – DE Quintin Somerville and DT Tiaoalii Savea – late in the process, and the two talented big men can contribute quickly.

In order to keep the gap between them and the top teams in the conference from widening, UCLA will need to build on their recent success and take a bigger leap forward.

UCLA has not contracted a top-30 prospect in the state since the 2018 cycle, but Chip Kelly hopes to correct that trend with the 2022 class. Brian Rothmuller/Sportswire Icon

The building block of a more effective recruiting class is a greater presence in the home state. UCLA lives in one of the most talented areas in the country, but California hasn’t signed a top-30 player since 2018.

When UCLA hired Chip Kelly, there were some expectations because of his great success as Oregon’s head coach. Kelly will have to get the Bruins to recruit more to bring back a program that hasn’t put up 500 points since he took over.

The Gamecocks’ 2021 class fell out of the top 75 in the country and finished last in the SEC. South Carolina’s class was never really successful, and when the program fired head coach Will Muschamp, some of the top commits they had, including four-star DE George Wilson and S Bryce Steele, were eventually removed. The players did not contract a four-star prospect for the first time since 2006.

New head coach Shane Beamer wisely avoided the panic and simply signed bodies that can boost the numbers for perception. In the short term, he has looked to the transfer market to bolster his class, but going forward, this is a program that needs to take a big step forward, as the gap could quickly widen in a competitive SEC that has graduated five programs in the top 10 classes.

The 2022 class had a rough start, as ESPN Jr. withdrew its commitment in January. 300 QB Gunner Stockton. The Gamecocks currently have one commitment.

The good news is that Beamer has shown he can be a good recruiter, and in his previous stint at South Carolina he was instrumental in bringing influential players like Marcus Lattimore and Stephon Gilmore to Columbia.

Florida State has won a national title and brought in two top classes in the last decade, but those past successes seem far away now.

As the Seminoles attempt to return to the elite ranks of college football, they must regain their former recruiting dominance and get better results from their recruiting. Head coach Mike Norvell’s first season was difficult, but his first full class included a positive unit despite finishing outside the top 25, making it a good start for 2022.

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The quarterback position has been volatile in recent years, but they’ve found a promising signal-caller in Nicco Marchiol (ESPN 300), a nimble lefty with a quick release who could finally provide the consistent productive presence that has been lacking at this position until now.

They have also received preliminary information from potential defensive influences such as defensive prospects Travis Hunter and Sam McCall, as well as DL prospect Nyjalik Kelly.

All indications are that the Seminoles can make the necessary return to the top of the recruiting rankings if they can sustain and build on this good start.

The Wildcats, who finished outside the top 75 in the 2021 class, aren’t about to surpass the Pac-12, so you don’t need a big year to break through in the field.

But to become relevant after three lost seasons in the Pac-12, they need to get on recruiters’ radar. And with a new staff, it’s the perfect time to become relevant.

Arizona hasn’t had a winning season since 2017, and its highest class in the last five cycles was 45th. In contrast, rival Arizona State has emerged as a contender for the title.

New head coach Jedd Fish will have to rebuild this program, and he will first need to improve the program’s home presence, as Arizona has not contracted a top-10 prospect in the state since the 2018 class.

Seven years ago, Arizona was playing for the conference title, and currently there is no clear group of dominant programs within the conference that could make promotion unreasonable. But that won’t happen unless Fish and his team turn things around quickly.

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