The head coaches receive the big salaries and the National Signing Day press conferences, but the heavy lifting on the recruiting trail is done by the position coaches. The balance of power in college football ultimately shifts in the high school hallways, hotel hopping and lonely drives that populate the recruiting grind from college assistants around the country.
1. Brian Hartline, Ohio State wide receivers coach: A young coach with NFL pedigree that’s just getting going in the college game, Hartline looks like a rising star. He landed one of the best wide receiver crops we’ve ever seen featuring three of the top five pass-catchers in the country in the eyes of 247Sports analysts. He also pitched in on the recruitment of critical quarterback signee CJ Stroud. As someone that has already proven himself as a strong teacher, Hartline made a statement in the 2020 cycle as an ace recruiter as well.
2. Todd Bates, Clemson defensive line coach: Clemson’s defensive line haul is the one position group in the 2020 cycle that could mount an argument as matching that Buckeyes wide receiver group as it featured the 247Sports Composite’s No. 1 player in the country in Bryan Bresee. Bates was the lead recruiter on Bresee, and also on top-10 defensive lineman Demonte Capehart. Four-star defensive tackle Tre Williams out of Washington D.C. also goes on the resume, and Bates is largely responsible for Clemson reloading on the defensive line in a national championship manner.
3. Karl Scott, Alabama cornerbacks coach: Leaning on his Texas roots, Scott was able to help Alabama dip into Texas once again to secure two of the top six players in the state in linebacker Drew Sanders and running back Jase McClellan. He was also critical in landing talented in-state defender Quandarrius Robinson and getting some JuCo help at his cornerback position in four-star Ronald Williams.
4. Rodney Garner, Auburn defensive line coach: If you want a position that has powered Auburn’s success as much as any other, it’s defensive line, and Garner played a critical role in reloading at that spot once again. He was the primary recruiter for four-stars Zykeivous Walker, Jay Hardy and junior college product Deandre Butler, all three of whom could impact the 2020 team. He also helped out in securing a key running back pledge out of four-star Tank Bigsby.
5. Dell McGee, Georgia running backs coach: McGee has been as effective as any individual coach in the country in consistently landing elite running backs, and this cycle he led the way on California native Kendall Milton and in-state product Daijun Edwards. He was also critical in securing five-star Broderick Jones late in the process.
6. Dennis Johnson, Baylor defensive line coach: When you recruit well, you get opportunities. Johnson may be on the Baylor staff now, but it’s his work at LSU that lands him on this list. He gets lead recruiter credit for a pair of Top100 defensive linemen in Jaquelin Roy and Jacobian Guillory leading the charge on LSU’s 2020 in-state efforts.
7. Donte Williams, USC cornerbacks coach: Another highly-coveted assistant, in part because of his recruiting efforts, Williams was hired away from Oregon after signing day but his parting gift to Mario Cristobal was one of the best cornerback classes in the country. He landed Dontae Manning all the way from Missouri, beating the likes of Georgia and Texas A&M, and went across the country to get Luke Hill from Washington D.C. He also did work in southern California as the lead recruiter on five-star linebacker Justin Flowe.
8, Tim Beck, NC State offensive coordinator: Beck was demoted by Tom Herman at Texas based off on-field results, but the off-field results were there. Beck was the lead recruiter on Bijan Robinson, the No. 1 running back in the country, and he also signed arguably the nation’s best quarterback class with Top100 talents Hudson Card and Ja’Quinden Jackson before departing for Raleigh.
9. Elijah Robinson, Texas A&M defensive line coach: Robinson gets most of the credit for one of national signing day’s biggest wins when he beat Nick Saban and Alabama for McKinnley Jackson out of Mississippi. The Camden, New Jersey, native was also critical in sneaking out of his home state with two of the New Jersey’s top prospects in Fadil Diggs and Isaiah Raikes.
10. Jeff Hafley, Boston College head coach: Newly hired as the head coach at Boston College, Hafley earned that job by his performance on the recruiting trail for Ohio State as much as what he did on the field. He landed New Jersey talents Cody Simon and Luke Wypler for the Buckeyes, and loaded up Ryan Day’s secondary with a national list of talents like Lathan Ransom out of Arizona, Ryan Watts out of Texas and Lejond Cavazos out of Florida.