National Signing Day 2019: Highlights and Lowlights From Day 1's Biggest Decisions

Eric Single
Sports Illustrated
National Signing Day 2019: Highlights and Lowlights From Day 1's Biggest Decisions
National Signing Day 2019: Highlights and Lowlights From Day 1's Biggest Decisions

After years of preparation and countless phone calls, letters, DMs and visits from coaches across the country, the class of 2019’s top recruits got the chance to sign a national letter of intent on Wednesday. The early signing period runs from Dec. 19 to Dec. 21, by which point the majority of the class of 2019's best players will have made their college destinations official, and for all three days we will be tracking all the action right here on our 2019 National Signing Day live blog.

Below, a look back at which schools closed strong, which players made headlines and all the other memorable moments from a busy day in college football. For more, read Andy Staples's exploration of how the early period has scaled back the circus of signing day to everyone's benefit and Laken Litman's piece on how Alabama restored order after finishing outside of the top spot in the recruiting rankings for the first time since 2010.

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4:30 p.m. ET: Press conference roundup

• Florida State coach Willie Taggart had some telling quotes about the Seminoles’ quarterback situation in the signing day wrapup press conference he held after FSU lost four-star Sam Howell to North Carolina. Let the Justin Fields/Jalen Hurts speculation begin.

• Yes please, South Carolina.

• Herm Edwards has landed four-star twins to bolster an Arizona State recruiting class that looks like it’ll end up in the national top 30.

• USC has signed four-star wideout Drake London—in both football and basketball.

3:45 p.m. ET: Best players available

• All of the five-stars who were planning to sign today have announced their decisions, which allows us to reset the top of the recruiting board somewhat and look ahead to the February signing day, when the rest of the class will be sorted out. According to the 247Sports composite rankings, here are the top 10 unsigned players:

1. Five-star WR Jadon Haselwood (Ellenwood, Ga.)
2. Five-star ATH/WR Bru McCoy (Santa Ana, Calif.)
3. Five-star DT Ishmael Sopsher (Amite, La.)
4. Five-star OT Darnell Wright (Huntington, W.V.)
5. Five-star WR Kyle Ford (Orange, Calif.)
6. Four-star CB Tyrique Stevenson (Homestead, Fla.)
7. Four-star RB Quavarris Crouch (Charlotte, N.C.)
8. Four-star CB Chris Steele (Bellflower, Calif.)
9. Four-star LB Henry To'oto'o (Concord, Calif.)
10. Four-star DE Khris Bogle (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.)








• Ohio State has already had its post-signing day press conference, but the Buckeyes are still adding players. Three-star Wake Forest (N.C.) defensive tackle Jaden McKenzie just picked Ohio State over finalists UNC and Wake Forest.

• Three-star St. John Bosco outside linebacker Ralen Goforth signs on with USC, as does three-star Grace Brethren (Calif.) LB Stanley Taufoou.

• Kevin Sumlin’s first full class at Arizona lands its second four-star prospect.

3 p.m. ET: Mack Brown making moves

• The Day 1 early period is drawing down, but the new coaching staff in Chapel Hill just got a huge win. Mack Brown flipped four-star quarterback Sam Howell, the No. 5 QB recruit in the class according to the 247Sports composite rankings, from Florida State to North Carolina. Howell cited the departure of FSU offensive coordinator Walt Bell for the head coaching job at UMass as one of the factors that caused him to reconsider the Seminoles.

• Florida’s other ACC school that has struggled to build momentum this week. Former four-star QB Jarren Williams will transfer from Miami after one year in Coral Gables, according to 247Sports's Steve Wiltfong.

• USC and embattled head coach Clay Helton currently sit fourth in the Pac-12 and 28th overall in the class rankings, but there are still some big decisions ahead.

• ESPNU’s live coverage of signing day signed off with another win for Alabama, as massive offensive tackle Evan Neal picked the Tide over Miami, Florida State and Georgia. Neal stands 6'7.5" and 360 pounds.

2:30 p.m. ET: Raydarious Jones Signs With LSU, Nakobe Dean picks UGA

• One Horn Lake, Miss. signing down: four-star cornerback Raydarious Jones is heading to LSU, and his high-school teammate, five-star LB Nakobe Dean, picks Georgia.

• Talk about a tough break: Auburn signee Luke Deal, a three-star tight end, arrived on campus on Sunday and was going through bowl practices with the team when he suffered a torn ACL in his left knee. Deal is having surgery on the day his national letter of intent is formally sent in, reports 247Sports’s Brandon Marcello.

• I agree with this, but at the same time, the look is working:

2 p.m. ET: Nebraska sneaking up on top 20

• Higley (Ariz.) four-star defensive end Ty Robinson has chosen Nebraska over USC, Oregon and Alabama. Scott Frost's first full recruiting class now has six four-stars, including the latest McCaffrey son, quarterback Luke McCaffrey. The Cornhuskers are protecting a slight lead over Purdue and Wisconsin for the Big Ten West’s best class in the 247Sports composite rankings.

• Ryan Day takes the podium to break down an Ohio State class that has dropped to 14th in the 247Sports rankings but is headlined by three five-stars, second only to Alabama and tied with LSU.

1:15 p.m. ET: Trey Sanders makes a splash

• After committing to Alabama as a freshman, then leaving things wide open in the lead-up to signing day, IMG Academy (Fla.) RB Trey Sanders has picked Alabama over Florida, where his older brother plays, and Georgia. Sanders followed up the announcement with some confident talk, vowing to win the Heisman his freshman year—or at the very least make it to the ceremony in New York—and wearing the loudest sweater possible.

• Four-star athlete/defensive end and Auburn commit Derick Hall signs with the Tigers, who are holding strong in the top 15 of the 247 class rankings.

• Among the many post-signing day assistant hires still to come, this would be a fascinating one.

12:45 p.m. ET: Zach Harrison picks scarlet and gray over maize and blue

• The nation’s No. 1 strongside defensive end Zach Harrison has committed to Ohio State over Michigan. Harrison is the No. 4 overall prospect in the class according to the 247Sports composite rankings.

• A midday signing day progress report confirms that the recruiting cycle’s action is officially completely centered around the Wednesday of the early signing period, not the first Wednesday in February.

• Tua’s brother Taulia Tagovailoa makes his commitment to Alabama official.

• Another son of a Steelers coach is heading to the Big Ten East: Four-star corner Joey Porter Jr. picks Penn State.

Five-star end and Oregon signee Kayvon Thibodeaux kept it loose on a recent hit on ESPNU’s signing day special, extolling the virtues of playing Madden over playing Fortnite: “Fortnite is terrible.”

11:45 a.m. ET: Florida gets a trio of teammates

• Three Lakeland High School top prospects made their decisions on ESPN2, and all three signed onto Dan Mullen’s first complete class in Gainesville: four-star guard Deyavie Hammond, who picked Florida over FSU; end Lloyd Summerall, who chose the Gators over Miami; and tight end Keon Zipperer, who chose UF over Miami, LSU and Alabama.

• 247Sports’s No. 7 running back Noah Cain has picked Penn State over Georgia, Texas and Auburn on ESPN2.

• Here’s one reason why Oregon has been the only Pac-12 power making a lot of noise today.

• Rutgers could not pull off the upset of Michigan State in late November, but the Scarlet Knights got some payback today when three-star Coatesville (Pa.) RB Aaron Young flipped to join Chris Ash and the Big Ten’s 12th-ranked class.

11 a.m. ET: Aggies Holding Strong in the Top Three

• Newly-inked Texas A&M quarterback Zach Calzada stuck with the Aggies despite a late push from Georgia, sticking with a loaded class that reflects a successful first cycle on the recruiting trail for Jimbo Fisher and his staff. A&M’s class is ranked third on 247Sports but second on ESPN, which would be the highest ranking in the ESPN300 era.

• Urban Meyer addressed some of the shuffling within Ohio State’s class and the need to stock up on offensive linemen on Big Ten Network.

• Oregon has locked in the best name of the class of 2019: four-star all-purpose back Sean Dollars. Sean. Dollars.

Another notable name in the Ducks’s class: tight end Patrick Herbert, the younger brother of quarterback Justin Herbert.

• There are great names back east too, like new UNC cornerback Storm Duck.

• New Kansas State head coach Chris Klieman making moves. SI’s Ross Dellenger wrote earlier this month about the challenges head coaches face when they jump from the FCS to the FBS. It's not all bad, though: They don’t have to chase wild hogs off their fields.

10 a.m. ET: Another Ohio State-to-SEC flip

• Four-star QB Dwan Mathis, who committed to the Buckeyes in June, is heading to Georgia after all. With Ohio State one of the early rumored frontrunners for the services of outgoing Bulldogs QB Justin Fields, there are some key open seats in the quarterback room in Athens.

• Four-star safety Jeremiah Criddell kicks off ESPN2’s signing day show by picking Oklahoma over Oregon. The Mater Dei (Calif.) product shrugged off any uncertainty about the Sooners’ defensive direction, with 2019’s defensive coordinator not publicly announced.

9:30 a.m. ET: The Ink Dries for Oklahoma and the Nation's No. 1 QB

• Oklahoma made things official with Phoenix Pinnacle (Ariz.) High School QB Spencer Rattler, the only five-star at his position according to 247Sports composite ratings. Rattler’s story is a somewhat complicated one: He was ruled ineligible for the remainder of his senior season in mid-October for violating a district code-of-conduct policy that nobody has publicly elaborated on, though his father told the Arizona Republic that nothing will be on Rattler’s permanent record.

Rattler had been committed to the Oklahoma program since his junior season and was MVP of the Elite 11 at The Opening in Texas this past summer. He threw for 1,863 yards with 23 touchdowns and three interceptions this season for Pinnacle and has passed for over 11,000 yards in his high school career, setting the state record.

• LSU is currently working on the fourth-best class in the SEC ... which also happens to be the fourth-best class in the country. The Tigers landed massive four-star defensive tackle Siaki Ika, the No. 1 player in the state of Utah. Ika, who checks in at 6'3", 351 pounds, took his final official visit to Florida but ultimately chose to ride with Ed Orgeron over the Gators, Oregon and Utah.

• Maryland’s search for a strength coach continues...

• No one’s going to catch Syracuse signee Cooper Dawson for the honor of Best Moment of Signing Day:

Meanwhile on Dino Babers’s timeline, congratulations to the Orange staffer who came up with these one-liners for every signee.

9 a.m. ET: Oh, hey, Clemson signed a defensive lineman

• Clemson gets one of the top uncommitted defensive tackles on the board with the signing of Tyler Davis, a four-star tackle out of Apopka, Fla., who sits as 247Sports’s No. 30 defensive lineman. Ohio State and Florida State were in the mix late for Davis.

• Auburn has made it official with four-star Bo Nix, the No. 2 quarterback in what is considered by experts to be a thin class at the position. Nix won two Alabama state championships at Pinson Valley High School.

• Slap a permanent “Your mileage may vary” sticker on all discussions of recruiting rankings at this point, but ESPN recruiting guru Tom Luginbill is monitoring these early movers.

• Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin’s son Dino, a three-star wide receiver, is heading to Maryland.

Geoff Collins may be off to Georgia Tech, but Temple still knows how to turn the recruiting game into a great show. The caricatures the Owls have drawn up for every signee are awesome (h/t The Athletic’s Bruce Feldman):

8:15 a.m. ET: Off and Running

• Michigan opens the day with a bang, flipping five-star safety Daxton Hill back from Alabama. Hill, the nation’s top safety and the 247Sports composite rankings’ No. 8 overall prospect, had been a Wolverines pledge before the SEC title game but then flipped to the Crimson Tide. Jim Harbaugh and his staff did enough in the ensuing weeks to reel him back in.

• Oklahoma is the early leader for the coveted title of coolest official signing day promotional material, which customized vinyl album sleeves for each signee. The Sooners’ recruiting staff will be on the 1s and 2s ushering in a top-10 class all day.

• We have an Ohio State flip, the first 2019 defector since Urban Meyer’s retirement: Four-star cornerback Jordan Battle, 247’s No. 77 overall player in the class, is heading to Alabama instead. It's not all bad news in Columbus, as the Buckeyes secured the NLI from four-star RB commit and elite name-haver Steele Chambers.

• Nolan Smith, the nation’s No. 1 overall recruit, is locked in. The longtime Georgia commit made it official early on Wednesday morning as the first signee of the Bulldogs’ 2019 class.

• Quarterbacks rarely dominate the signing day drama, with so few spots to fill nationwide, but there are some important juco transfers worth tracking. Bailey Hockman, the former Florida State QB who left for Hutchinson Community College this fall, will step in and compete to be Ryan Finley’s replacement at NC State. And Les Miles has his first quarterback in the fold at Kansas in the form of Thomas MacVittie, who comes to Lawrence from Pitt visa Mesa C.C.

Storylines to Watch on Day 1

Second-year head coaches’ first full classes: Willie Taggart (Florida State), Mario Cristobal (Oregon), Jeremy Pruitt (Tennessee), Joe Moorhead (Mississippi State), Chad Morris (Arkansas), Dan Mullen (Florida) and Scott Frost (Nebraska) all were scrambling this time last year to pull together a recruiting class mere days after they had been hired as head coaches. Now, with the benefit of a full 12 months of recruiting, all six could finish with top-20 2019 classes (entering Wednesday, the Gators and Cornhuskers sit 21st and 23rd, respectively).

Georgia's QB shuffle: Justin Fields's reported intention to transfer would leave Jake Fromm as the Bulldogs’ only scholarship quarterback entering 2019, which has increased the importance of adding a second quarterback to the roster this offseason in addition to Oak Grove (Miss.) four-star John Rhys Plumlee. Georgia has an offer out to Mililani (Hawaii) three-star Dillon Gabriel. Meanwhile, other top teams have begun to position themselves for the Fields sweepstakes.

Alabama’s finishing flourish: The Crimson Tide have the No. 1 class all but locked up, but they almost always close incredibly strong with the final handful of uncommitted blue-chippers. After losing out on end Kayvon Thibodeaux, the No. 2 overall recruit who picked Oregon and former Bama assistant Mario Cristobal on Saturday, Alabama has turned its attention to other big fish.

Trey Sanders: Multiple five-star skill players will wait to make their college choice public until the Army All-America Bowl on Jan. 5, including top receivers Jadon Haselwood, Bru McCoy and Kyle Ford, but the commitment of No. 1 running back Trey Sanders figures to be one of Wednesday’s big highlights. Sanders is reportedly down to Alabama, Georgia, Florida, Florida State and Texas.

The SEC’s dominance: If you weren’t already sure college football’s preeminent conference takes this whole recruiting thing pretty seriously, the SEC could land 11 schools in the top 20 of 247Sports’s team rankings if everything breaks right for Florida and South Carolina.

The Big Ten’s big three: Michigan (247Sports’s No. 9 class), Ohio State (No. 10) and Penn State (No. 13) sit within arm’s length of each other as the early period opens, and the Big Ten East titan who lands five-star Olentangy Orange (Ohio) end Zach Harrison will have a very pleasant lunchtime.

Schedule of Notable Commitments

There will be a nearly constant stream of signings all day long, but if you can only pick a few, set an alarm to be near a computer when these guys make the call. All times are approximate and according to data gathered by 247Sports and ESPN.

11 a.m. hour: No. 4 RB Noah Cain (finalists: Auburn, Georgia, Penn State, Texas); No. 2 G Deyavie Hammond (Florida, Florida State); No. 13 DE Lloyd Summeral (Florida, Miami, Nebraska); No. 1 TE Keon Zipperer (Alabama, Florida, LSU, Miami)

11:30 a.m.: No. 1 strongside DE Zach Harrison (Michigan, Ohio State, Penn State)

12:20 p.m.: No. 1 RB Trey Sanders (Alabama, Georgia, Florida, Florida State, Texas)

1 p.m.: No. 5 OT Evan Neal (Alabama, Georgia, Miami, Florida); No. 1 ILB Nakobe Dean (Alabama, Georgia, LSU, Ole Miss).

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