Signing Day has come and, for the most part, gone. Recruiting experts and message board creeps can now exhale, crack their knuckles and progress to a steaming, yet to be soiled batch of 16-year-olds. Here’s a rundown of a few major stories, not involving Twilight, Swag hats or moms on the lam.
Top Five: Seems crucial now, but ultimately meaningless. All of these teams did well for themselves. Here’s how the major services shake out, as of this writing.
Rivals: (1) Alabama (2) Ohio State (3) Florida (4) Notre Dame (5) LSU
ESPN: (1) Alabama (2) Florida (3) Ohio State (4) Notre Dame (5) Ole Miss
Scout: (1) Ohio State (2) Michigan (3) Alabama (4) UCLA (5) Notre Dame
247: (1) Alabama (2) Ohio State (3) Florida (4) Michigan (5) Notre Dame
MaxPreps: (1) Alabama (2) Ohio State (3) Notre Dame (4) Florida (5) LSU
Combining them: (1) Alabama (2) Ohio State (3) Florida (4) Notre Dame (5) Michigan
“The University of Ole Miss” Hugh Freeze reeled in an unprecedented class. He signed top overall recruit, DE Robert Nkemdiche. He also reeled in the top ranked OT Laremy Tunsil and the top ranked WR Laquon Treadwell. He inked Antonio Conner, a Rivals Top 100 safety sought by both Alabama and Mississippi State. He also added two of the nation’s top five JUCO players, DT Lavon Hooks and DB Nikolas Brassell. This class ranks 4th in the SEC according to Rivals. That’s their first top five in conference since Rivals rankings began in 2002 and just their second time finishing higher than eighth.
We knew Freeze could recruit. What remains to be seen is whether this is a one-year, Nkemdiche-induced blip or Ole Miss can build on this in coming years to alter the power balance in the SEC West. Presuming Arkansas and Auburn bounce back, things are looking very hairy for Dan Mullen, who could be in real trouble if the Bulldogs have a down year.
The Urban Difference… Urban Meyer wants to compete for BCS titles with Alabama. The best way to do that was to bring Alabama-level talent. Meyer had an exceptionally strong group, which he supplemented with a couple late coups on Signing Day. He landed five-star Georgia safety Vonn Bell, who many had signing with Tennessee. He also capitalized on Chip Kelly’s departure, flipping Dontre Wilson, a four-star running back committed to Oregon. Missouri running back Ezekiel Elliot was another solid signature.
If it is not here yet, a Big 12, Little 2 era is imminent. Michigan and Ohio State landed 36 four and five-star recruits. That is seven more than the rest of the Big Ten combined, including Maryland and Rutgers.
SEC Dominance… The SEC kicks ass. That starts on Signing Day. This cycle, the conference has compiled seven of the Rivals Top 12 classes and 13 of the Top 28 classes. The 13th team, Kentucky, stole a recruit from USC and would have the fourth best class in the Big Ten. Thirty-nine of the Rivals Top 100 thus far have ended up within the conference. Thirty of them are going to the SEC West alone. Despite losing out on a couple big names, the Alabama borg has incorporated 12 of the Rivals Top 80. Yikes.
SC Style… The positive spin for Lane Kiffin? USC has brought in a lot of high-end talent. Their 12-man class includes five five-star recruits and nine of the Rivals Top 62. The negative spin? They suffered a rash of decommitments, robbing them of some much needed depth, especially on the defensive line. Defensive ends Kylie Fitts and Torrodney Prevot left for conference rivals UCLA and Oregon respectively. Another defensive end Jason Hatcher left USC for Kentucky (Kentucky!). Five-star cornerback Jalen Ramsey also left for Florida State. This class is not bad, considering the Trojans’ uncertain circumstances. It is not great, considering USC needs to be full and flawless through the sanction years to compete.
Backyard undefended… Georgia reeled in 32 total recruits and a Top-15 class, however they lost out on a number of big-time guys in Georgia. According to Rivals, Georgia signed just one of the Top 12 prospects in state, fewer than Ohio State had. Insert Mark Richt control joke here.
Belt Buckled… The malaise has hit recruiting. Texas brought in an un-Texas-like, 15-man class, ranked outside the Rivals Top 20. The Longhorns had five decommitments, equal to the number in their last five classes combined. They lost out on a mad squatting defensive line recruit to Baylor. Kids are choosing Baylor over Texas. This is the Longhorns’ worst ranked class in ratings and numbers since the 2006 crop. That group, though, included Colt McCoy, Jermichael Finley and Jamaal Charles and went to the BCS Title Game as seniors.
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