The first early signing day is in the books. We figured it would be weird to cover recruiting just as bowl season was getting started, but we didn’t know what to expect during college football’s early signing period.
With the first day of the three-day period done, a lot happened and most teams got signatures from a majority of their commits. Some did better than others. Let’s take a look at the winners and losers from Wednesday.
Georgia: It was an embarrassment of recruiting riches for the Bulldogs, who cleaned up on the first day of the first-ever early signing period. Georgia signed six of the top 18 prospects in the class of 2018 and all six are five-star recruits. Clemson has the second-most five-star recruits at four. Funny how both of those teams are in the College Football Playoff?
Here’s the breakdown of the five-star recruits the Bulldogs signed:
No. 2: Justin Fields, QB
No. 7: Zamir White, RB
No. 9: Jamaree Salyer, G
No. 13: Adam Anderson, DE
No. 15: Cade Mays, T
No. 18: James Cook, RB
As our Pat Forde noted, it’s now up to Georgia coach Kirby Smart to navigate the riches at quarterback. With Fields’ addition, Georgia has signed five-star quarterbacks in each of the past three recruiting classes. Freshman Jake Fromm is the team’s starter while sophomore Jacob Eason is the backup after recovering from a knee injury. Will all three quarterbacks be on the team’s active roster in 2018?
Texas’ secondary: The Longhorn secondary was one of the best in college football in 2017. And with the departure of DeShon Elliott to the NFL in 2018, it needs some replenishing. Coach Tom Herman got that.
Five-star defensive back Anthony Cook signed with the Longhorns on Wednesday, as did four other four-star defensive backs. All five of the secondary players are from the state of Texas.
Seventeen of Texas’ 20 commits signed Wednesday and the Longhorns have the No. 4 class in the country right now. That’s pretty damn good coming off a 6-6 season. And, as many UT fans would note, back to Texas standards.
Ohio State: The Buckeyes spent most of the day having the No. 1 class in the country according to Rivals and were only knocked off the top spot when four-star defensive end Brenton Cox signed with Georgia later in the day.
No. 2 ain’t a bad place to be. Ohio State has 22 commitments and 21 signed on Wednesday. That group includes five-star defensive back Tyreke Johnson, and five-star linebacker Teradja Mitchell. .
Maryland: The Terrapins were the biggest overperformer of the early signing day. Rivals’ top 20 is full of the usual suspects. And then here comes Maryland at No. 19 with a 23-person class that’s got quality in addition to quantity.
Coach D.J. Durkin got signatures from 21 of his team’s 23 recruits including five of six four-star prospects. And Rivals’ group ranking doesn’t include the addition of Byron Cowart, the No. 1 prospect in the class of 2015. After transferring from Auburn to a junior college in September, Cowart signed with the Terms on Wednesday.
Oregon: Keeping Mario Cristobal as the team’s coach and Jim Leavitt as the team’s defensive coordinator paid off with a near-top 10 class. Oregon’s at No. 11 in Rivals’ rankings, the best of any Pac-12 team.
Cristobal — considered to be an ace recruiter — was elevated from interim coach to permanent coach after a vast majority of Oregon players signed a petition to keep him as the coach. The Ducks have 20 commits in the class and have signatures from five four-star players.
If you’re looking for a downside for the Ducks, it’s that only 11 of those 20 players signed Wednesday. But that’s likely because of former coach Willie Taggart’s departure. We’re confident Cristobal can keep most, if not all, of those nine unsigned recruits in the fold.
Virginia Tech: Guess who has the No. 2 class in the ACC? Yep, the Hokies, who have a whopping 25 commitments. Nine of those 25 players are four-star recruits including wide receivers Darryle Simmons and Tre Turner. The Hokies have 23 of their 25 commitments signed and if they can keep the commitment of four-star athlete James Graham — the No. 33 prospect in the state of Georgia — that’s a heck of a haul.
Zack Jones: The current Mississippi Gulf Coast offensive lineman and McNeese State signee gave McNeese State his signature from a duck blind.
Signed from the duck blind today! pic.twitter.com/pp4h3Meqwz
— Zack Jones (@joneszack72) December 20, 2017
The craziness of signing day: As you can tell by the numbers we listed above, there were a ton of signings Wednesday. In terms of efficiency, Wednesday gets a passing grade.
But damn, it was not nearly as entertaining as the National Signing Days we’ve come to expect where recruits stage elaborate signing ceremonies and/or drama ensues when a parent gets mad at a player’s choice or a player screws up his letter of intent
So what gives? Our guess is because there was no wall-to-wall signing day coverage on Wednesday. ESPN had some signing day programming, but there was nothing in the morning. There were minimal televised signing ceremonies.
And a lot of the players who signed Wednesday were dead-set on their choices. Many of the crazy moments come from players who pick their schools at the last minute.
Maybe the craziness will return on the first Wednesday in February — there are still a few top prospects yet to make a decision. But if it does, it’ll be muted compared to previous years. Pour one out for the National Signing Days we used to remember.
Alabama’s grip at the top? Brace yourself. Alabama’s class is not currently ranked in the top five. Is the dynasty over?
Anyone with a brain should know that last question is laced with sarcasm. Alabama’s recruiting class is ranked No. 6 in the country and has signatures from about a dozen players. With 18 commitments already, Nick Saban said Wednesday that he anticipates the 2018 class to be 23 players. And those additional five players will likely be four and five-star players.
Alabama’s going to have a good class. It just may not end up being the No. 1 class in the country for the first time since 2010.
Florida State: The transition from Jimbo Fisher to Willie Taggart was evident. The Seminoles have just eight commitments — meaning FSU’s class is ranked at No. 70 in the country at the moment. That’s between Boise State and Northern Illinois and just one spot ahead of Navy.
Here’s some context: That No. 70 ranking has a lot to do with the lack of quantity in FSU’s class. While FSU can and will be able to recruit top talent, it’s going to be a mad scramble to field a full and quality class. And maybe that scramble will be a fruitful one. In the hours after we first published this post Wednesday evening, the Seminoles flipped five-star defensive back Jaiden Woodbey from Ohio State.
Kansas State: Recruits shouldn’t expect to go to Kansas State and be coached by Bill Snyder for all four years. At 78, Snyder is close to retirement even though he’s reportedly leaning towards returning in 2018.
However, that’s not definite. And, somewhat curiously, Snyder said Wednesday that he’s still deciding about his future with the school. He followed that comment up minutes later by saying he knew who his 10th assistant coach will be in 2018, but it’s still an odd thing even if 15 of KSU’s 17 commits have signed with the school.
Kansas State’s class includes 17 commitments and is ranked No. 75 in the country. K-State never is at the top of the recruiting rankings. But it’s not generally around UTSA and Arkansas State either.
Florida fans and announcers trying to keep track of linebackers named David Reese: Sophomore linebacker David Reese led the team in tackles with 102 overall and 10 tackles for loss.
Now he has some competition. From another linebacker named David Reese.
Seriously. Florida signed four-star linebacker David Reese Wednesday. The Reese of the class of 2018 is the No. 4 inside linebacker in the country and the No. 25 prospect in the state. Hopefully he gets a number much more different than current Florida linebacker David Reese’s No. 33.
– – – – – – –