How L.A. stole National Signing Day

Dan WetzelColumnist
Yahoo Sports

Snoop Dogg is throwing away his underwear – or at least that's what he promised in what had to be the highlight moment of Wednesday's National Signing Day.

Well, it was either that or when the nation's top cornerback – from Long Beach Poly, Snoop's old high school no less – announced his intention to attend Southern California via a slick music video.

Or maybe it was when a Texas running back tweeted lyrics from the artist Childish Gambino in announcing his decision: "Asian girls everywhere … UCLA."

And, yes, a highlight can exist from this annual celebration of teenage self-indulgence and middle-aged fan excess when top high school talent signs with various college teams.

No need to scold or declare it's the end of Western civilization. It's not exactly America at its best, but huffing and puffing about it isn't changing a thing, so, hey, just go with it.

It is, if nothing else, entertaining, especially this year when NSD had a decided L.A. flair as area schools USC and UCLA cleaned up.

"I'm here to stay, L.A.," said five-star cornerback Iman Marshall, his words set to music at the end of the 2½-minute video which included drone video of the area. "I love this city."

Click to see the best moments from National Signing Day.
Click to see the best moments from National Signing Day.

On Wednesday, a lot of really good high school football players shared his opinion.

USC, finally freed of scholarship reductions from the Reggie Bush scandal and powered by energetic coach Steve Sarkisian, bested perennial power Alabama for the top spot in the Rivals.com national team rankings.

The Crimson Tide, which finished first in each of the past four years, came in second this time, with Nick Saban getting his usual array of talent wrapped up early. There was little action, good or bad, on signing day. "We had very little drama today," Saban said.

The drama was out near Hollywood.

Getting the chance to sign a full allotment of 26 players, including Rivals five-stars Marshall, Utah linebacker Porter Gustin and a pair from Gardena, Calif. – defensive end Rasheem Green and linebacker John Houston – made the difference for the Trojans. All but Gustin made their decisions known on Wednesday.

"It is great to be able to sign a full class this year," Sarkisian said. "Had this been last year, many of the players we signed today would have had to go somewhere else."

About the only guy USC didn't get Wednesday is why Snoop, a lifelong Trojans fan, is tossing out "my USC drawers," as he said on ESPN.

His son, Cordell Broadus, a four-star wide receiver out of Las Vegas Bishop Gorman, announced he was headed to UCLA rather than USC, as his dad wished.

The Doggfather relented, though, even promising to rid himself of all Trojan undergarments that he otherwise said he might secretly wear while showing Bruin blue-and-gold on the outside.

"I'm throwing all my USC drawers away, I'm going UCLA 100,000 percent," Snoop said.

It was that kind of day in L.A.

For UCLA coach Jim Mora, it represented an impressive close to the recruiting season, extending the Bruins' reach nationally. The Bruins finished 13th nationally despite signing just 19 players.

In addition to Broadus, the Bruins landed commitments on Wednesday from five-star Texas running back Soso Jamabo (the apparent fan of UCLA coeds), mammoth four-star offensive lineman Josh Wariboko out of Oklahoma and tight end Chris Clark from Connecticut.

Each one of those decisions was televised nationally.

"This class had more oomph because there were kids pulling out UCLA hats on national television," Mora said. "I'm not going to lie to you, that feels pretty good."

Five-star running back SoSo Jamabo committed to UCLA on signing day. (Getty)
Five-star running back SoSo Jamabo committed to UCLA on signing day. (Getty)

The power of the L.A. schools, most notably the return to full strength of USC, could alter the competitive balance of the Pac-12, which in recent years has tilted to North Division schools Oregon and Stanford.

With their proximity to talent, their weather, academics, tradition and any number of other factors, both USC and UCLA are potential juggernauts – the Trojans, in particular, are just trying to return to recent glory.

The Bruins, meanwhile, have made major strides under Mora and officially signed the nation's No. 1 quarterback, Josh Rosen of Bellflower, Calif., who has long been verbally committed.

Not all the action was out West, of course.

Teams in the Southeast loaded up with 11 SEC schools ranking in the national top 25. Throw in Florida State (3) and Clemson (4) of the ACC and Texas (12) of the Big 12 and the best players mostly remained in that area of the country.

Ohio State (9), Note Dame (11) and Penn State (15) represented the Midwest.

While the SEC had its traditional back-and-forth battles, this was a signing day when the absurdity was centered on the two L.A. schools that landed pickup after pickup, from hat choices to videos, on this, perhaps the strangest, and most amusing, of sporting holidays in America.

Now we find out who can actually play.

 

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