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The 5 College Football Programs Whose Recruiting Class Rankings Tanked The Most In 2014

UConn had a tough year.

Earlier Thursday afternoon, we showed you the 15 teams that saw the biggest jumps in recruiting rankings from 2013 to 2014. Now, here are five teams that struggled to maintain the level at which they were recruiting in 2013.

Here are the top five programs whose recruiting class ranking dropped the most in 2014.

5. Houston
2013 Average = 56
2014 Average = 78.5
Difference = -22.5

The enduring presence of Texas, as well as the ever-improving programs at Texas A&M, Baylor, and Texas Tech cannot be good for Houston. Kevin Sumlin did great things while the head coach at Houston, including a 13-1 season in 2011, his last before leaving for the Texas A&M opening. Current coach Tony Levine improved on a 5-7 campaign in 2012 by winning eight games in the program’s first year in the AAC, but that did not seem to help land many of the state's best players.

It will be interesting to see how the AAC impacts Houston. While the league is better than Conference USA, it can be argued that having to fly across the country for most road games may be detrimental for UH’s recruiting efforts. One telling issue—the vast majority of Houston’s commits are from Texas, but only two have Texas Tech offers, and none were offered by Texas, A&M, or Baylor.

4. Michigan
2013 Average = 3.5
2014 Average = 29
Difference = -25.5

A ranking of 29th is not bad at all, but coming from where Michigan was in the recruiting landscape in 2013, it is a bit disappointing. In 2013, the Wolverines pulled in four five-star recruits according to Scout.com, including the nation’s top running back and guard in Derrick Green and Patrick Kugler, as well as an eye-popping 15 four star recruits.

This year, Michigan landed the nation’s top cornerback in Jabrill Peppers, and seven four-stars, but it just doesn’t quite stack up to the 2013 class, at least in terms of rankings. Michigan also had a down year in 2013, with a 7-5 record and a fifth place finish in the Big Ten Legends division.

3. Illinois
2013 Average = 44.5
2014 Average = 71
Difference = -26.5

Michigan may have taken a big hit, but the Wolverines still recruit like a top program. On the other hand, the school's Big Ten rival Illinois truly fell off a cliff this season. In 2013, the Illini class ranked similarly to those of Michigan State, Penn State, and Wisconsin. This year, Illinois’ peer group includes Temple, Colorado State, and Western Kentucky. The size of the two classes may play a part in this—in 2013 the Illini brought in 27 players, while this year’s class is only 18 deep. 2013 included 18 players who were rated three stars or better, while 2014 only has 10.

2. Vanderbilt
2013 Average = 19
2014 Average = 50
Difference = -31

James Franklin giveth, and James Franklin taketh away. In 2013, Franklin broke through with a huge class by Vanderbilt standards after doing the virtually unthinkable and going to three straight bowl games and winning nine games in back to back seasons. Losing a coach like Franklin would hurt any team, but he didn’t help matters when he flipped five players to his new school, Penn State, and caused others to switch their commitments elsewhere.

New head coach Derek Mason was able to somewhat salvage the class, holding on to four-star recruits Nifae Lealao, Emmanuel Smith, and Trent Sherfield, but with every other SEC school finishing around the top 40 classes, and seven SEC schools finishing in the Top 10 of our averaged rankings here, it may be tough sledding for Vanderbilt over the next few years.

1. UConn
2013 Average = 62.5
2014 Average = 116.5
Difference = -54

Ouch. Paul Pasqualoni was no great recruiter, and firing him was absolutely necessary, but it is surprising to see UConn finish this low after hiring Bob Diaco, a very good recruiter with the necessary Northeast ties to make the Huskies competitive. The gap between UConn and Vanderbilt is the same as that between Vanderbilt and Kansas, who would have finished 37th on this list had it extended farther.

UConn brings in a fairly small class of 18, with only four total three-star players between Scout and Rivals’ rankings. Only ten players who verballed to Pasqualoni ended up signing with UConn yesterday, which put Diaco in a fairly deep hole late in this recruiting cycle. On the bright side, Diaco’s profile as a recruiter should help UConn down the road, and the Huskies have a ton of room to move up for the 2015 edition of this post.