247Sports lists 10 college football teams with National Championship potential
National Signing Day wrapped up an eventful 2023 recruiting cycle with tons of intriguing storylines.
2023 featured one of the most talented quarterback classes in recent memory led by Arch Manning and Nico Iamaleava, Alabama reclaiming the No. 1 spot atop the rankings and Deion Sanders pulling another blue chip player with him to Colorado.
While TCU turned some heads with its remarkable season, most recent history shows that recruiting success directly translates to competing for championships.
The Georgia and Alabama of the world stay on top by consistently having the elite talent to develop. The players signing in the cycle are the future of college football.
247Sports put together a list of 10 college football teams with “National Championship potential” following National Signing Day. The list features the usual suspects, such as Alabama, Georgia and Ohio State along with a few teams hoping to crash the playoff party, like Texas, USC and Penn State.
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Head coach Dabo Swinney knows how to win national championships, guiding the Tigers to titles already in 2016 and 2018. Factor in new offensive coordinator Garrett Riley with the existing talent at Clemson, and the Tigers have potential to become an offensive juggernaut with 5-star quarterback Cade Klubnik taking the snaps. Riley, the younger brother of USC head coach Lincoln Riley, won the Broyles Award in 2022 as college football’s top assistant after TCU rode one of the most productive offenses in the country to a national title game appearance.
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The margin for error in any national title pursuit will be razor thin if the defense fails to show significant improvement, but Riley’s offense carried Oklahoma to three playoff appearances despite defensive troubles in Norman. Of note: USC won’t get any rest in the regular season, playing 12 straight games before its open date comes Thanksgiving Weekend.
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Not only has Florida State cleaned up in the portal for the 2023 recruiting cycle, but the Seminoles were one of the nation’s hottest teams exiting the season and got great news with quarterback Jordan Travis along with top defender Jared Verse announced their respective returns. That gives Florida State a pair of All-American candidates on both sides of the football, not to mention impressive talent elsewhere in the skill spots. The Seminoles will be one of the nation’s most hyped teams in 2023 and already rank in the top-five of our way-too-early rankings for 2023.
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On paper, this looks like it could be James Franklin’s most talented team in Happy Valley and is one of three Big Ten squads inside 247Sports’ way-too-early top 5, joined by Michigan and Ohio State. All three starting linebackers return and three NFL hopefuls on defense opted to return for another season. The Nittany Lions might have a stout one-two combo at running back with Kaytron Allen and Nick Singleton,and they’ll run behind an offensive line that returns six players with at least five starts last season.
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Remember when LSU was quietly mentioned as possibly be one of the SEC’s surprise teams last summer under Brian Kelly? All that positive stock was sold following the season-opening loss to Florida State before folks started coming around again. The Tigers would go on to win the SEC West and now get transfer quarterback Jayden Daniels back for another campaign, strengthening the SEC’s deepest room at the position. Linebacker Harold Perkins is the SEC’s top returning defender and it’s not particularly close.
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If there’s a Big 12 team capable of not just making the playoff but actually winning it all, it’s the Longhorns. TCU made the national title game with a roster nowhere remotely on the same area code as Texas in 2022 — the Horned Frogs had 17 players with a 4-star rating or higher while Texas boasted 59(!) — so there’s no reason why the Longhorns can’t manage the Big 12 slate the way TCU did with the proper coaching.
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Don’t be stunned if we get the first national championship three-peat of our generation in 2023. Georgia’s 65-7 demolition of TCU the 2022 title game showed just how big the talent gap is between most of the Power 5 and the small, elite class of teams Georgia sits in. And what’s scary is that Georgia returns far more talent in 2023 than it did this past season (yes, quarterback Stetson Bennett is among the departures).
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There’s bound to be some fatigue with national title talk around the Wolverines after Michigan made the playoff for a second straight year, only to get bounced in the semifinals. And most recently, it was at the hands of a TCU team in a game where Michigan had just about every edge one could ask for on paper. But maybe the third time is the charm for Jim Harbaugh and company? The offense sees the return of what will be an only stronger and more experienced version of J.J. McCarthy at quarterback, and both top rushers — Blake Corum and Donovan Edwards — are also back to create what should be one of the most fearsome tandems in the nation at running back. The defense takes some notable talent losses via the NFL Draft, but defensive back Mike Sainristil and linebacker Michael Barrett check in among key returners.
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For all of Ryan Day’s critics, the way Ohio State was able to go toe-to-toe with Georgia for four quarters in the College Football Playoff semifinals this past New Year’s Eve should restore any lost confidence in the Buckeyes’ national title potential. Losing quarterback and Heisman finalist C.J. Stroud certainly hurts, but whoever wins the quarterback battle in 2023 — Kyle McCord and Devin Brown will battle during spring camp and given Ryan Day’s history, that competition won’t be decided until fall — will have elite targets to work with. Emeka Egbuka and Marvin Harrison Jr. headline the receiving room. Factor in the return of other skill players such as running backs TreVeyon Henderson and Miyan Williams, and the offense will still produce.
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Alabama had every edge necessary to win a national title in 2022, only to learn that “potential” is a nasty word. The Crimson Tide won 11 games, including a rout of Big 12 champion Kansas State in the Sugar Bowl, but inconsistencies in the regular season ultimately led to two losses that locked Alabama out of the playoff and even the SEC title game. Alabama does lose key players including quarterback Bryce Young and linebacker Will Anderson to the NFL Draft, but Nick Saban teams never have issues reloading, and Alabama tracks to once again have one of the game’s best rosters in 2023.