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It’s hard to break out of your mold in recruiting, but these teams all did. With National Signing Day wrapped and national recruiting rankings mostly settled, seven teams finished the 2019 cycle with their highest-ranked classes in the rankings era, which goes back to 2000. Let’s meet them. 1. Texas A&M at No. 4. Jimbo Fisher’s class beats the No. 7 finish the Aggies put up in 2015 under Kevin Sumlin. The Aggies’ 2019 class included 15 blue-chips, featuring five-star defensive tackle DeMarvin Leal and the No. 1 tight end, Baylor Cupp. 2. Oregon at No. 7. Mario Cristobal’s staff out-recruited both USC and UCLA by completing the 2019 class with 12 blue-chips, including seven from the state of California, where the Ducks outshined the locals. The headliner is five-star defensive end Kayvon Thibodeaux, who signed with the Ducks during December’s Early Signing Period. 3. Wisconsin at No. 27. While the Badgers had a total of just three blue-chip guys in the 2019 class, one of them’s the highest-rated QB signee in program history, Graham Mertz. They have perpetually lived outside the top 30, so this class represents big progress. 4. Indiana at No. 38. Not bad for a Hoosier team that went 5-7 last season! Indiana managed to land three of the top in-state prospects this cycle, too. 5. Boise State at No. 49. The Broncos’ recruiting cycle was an absolute dream. Exactly three blue-chips signed with Group of 5 teams. All of them signed with Boise State. No team put more distance between themselves and their conference than the Broncos did. 6. Florida Atlantic at No. 57. Lane Kiffin’s 2017 class was briefly the Owls’ best ever, at 60th, but 2019 tops it by a bit (and the ‘17 class has risen in the time since it was finished). And to think Kiffin didn’t need an unenthusiastic promo video this time around, like he had then: 7. UL Lafayette at No. 72. The Ragin’ Cajuns ran away from the rest of the Sun Belt, a few months after winning the West division under former Nick Saban assistant Billy Napier. They’re building a talent base to keep contending there. Those aren’t the only teams that punched above their weight classes. Purdue signed the No. 25 class, its best since 2004’s No. 17 finish. Rankings were of what we can call dubious accuracy back then, and you could make the case this was the Boilermakers’ best class ever. Pretty good for them to be able to hang on to Jeff Brohm. Others that exceeded their usual spots: At No. 19, Nebraska is a decent bit ahead of its typical finish in the 20s or 30s. At No. 22, Ole Miss is well ahead of where it’s usually been in classes that did not come shortly before NCAA sanctioning. At No. 23, Arkansas might have the best class ever for a two-win team. Congrats to this year’s batch of overachieving teams! The goal now will be converting one great year into a longer-term trend of better recruiting. Usually, outlier classes remain outliers as the years go by, but not always.