Programs closing the talent gap

Why TCU, Ole Miss and Utah could be on verge of breakthrough seasons

Updated: February 19, 2013, 1:02 PM ET
By Brian Fremeau | Football Outsiders
Gary PattersonAP Photo/Matt StrasenGary Patterson's TCU program is on the rise.

Generally speaking, recruiting success goes hand in hand with on-the-field success. The Alabama Crimson Tide sit atop the college football world and pull in top-flight recruiting classes year after year. The top four teams in ESPN's 2013 RecruitingNation class rankings combined to win 48 games last season. Seventeen of the top 25 teams ranked according to our five-year drive efficiency ratings are also ranked among the top 25 in our five-year recruiting metric.

Some programs are simply looking to take the next step forward. Three of the five teams we identified this time last year as "closing the talent gap" -- Stanford, Texas A&M and UCLA -- went on to have strong 2012 seasons.

Looking ahead to 2013, the following three teams may not have assembled class after class of elite talent, but each has a recruiting profile that is on the rise. And each is expected to take a step forward on the field this season.

TCU Horned Frogs

Program FEI rating: No. 16
Five-year weighted recruiting rank: No. 39
2013 ESPN recruiting class rank: 49


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Brian Fremeau

ESPN Insider
• Has been a contributor to ESPN Insider and ESPN The Magazine since 2009
• Creator of the Fremeau Efficiency Index (FEI), a measure of college football team efficiency
• Contributor to Football Outsiders and his own site, bcftoys.com