Just as on any given fall Saturday, there are clear winners and losers on national signing day. You know that team elated over its five-star recruit? While one coaching staff is overjoyed, another dozen-plus are devastated over its inability to seal the deal with one of the nation’s best prospects.
BOle Miss was the story of the day, one that began with defensive end Robert Nkemdiche, the nation’s top recruit, choosing the Rebels over offers from nearly every power in college football. The day continued with another pair of five-star prospects, wide receiver Laquon Treadwell and offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil. By the afternoon, Ole Miss had one of the nation’s 10 best classes. Not bad for a school that failed to win an SEC game from Oct. 2, 2010, through Oct. 13, 2012.
Texas A and M (No. 10): The Aggies made only one big splash on Wednesday, pulling defensive end Daeshon Hall, a longtime Washington commit, away from the Huskies. Texas A&M made its day long before Wednesday, using a strong recruiting effort and its newfound SEC credentials to bring in 16 four-star recruits, according to Rivals.com. Among those prospects are a slew of wide receivers, giving Johnny Manziel even more toys to play with on offense.
Auburn (No. 11): Gus Malzahn hired a star-studded staff, but it wasn’t until the last 10 days that the rest of the SEC saw just what Auburn’s new assistants could do on the recruiting trail. The Tigers closed with a flash, sealing up the commitment of five-star defensive end Carl Lawson and adding fellow linemen Elijah Daniel – a flip from Ole Miss – and Montravius Adams. What can Malzahn and this staff achieve over the next 12 months?
Clemson (No. 14): Dabo Swinney and his staff failed to pull in one of four premier defensive line recruits, including Nkemdiche – who was once verbally committed to Clemson – but were able to land an elite defensive prospect in five-star cornerback Mackensie Alexander. “It’s been a great day for us,” Swinney told ESPN. “Today’s just another step in the direction we’re going to take this program.” Clemson’s class also touched the map: Swinney signed players from the Southeast, of course, but also players from Brooklyn, N.Y., and Hawaii.
Ohio State (No. 2): The Buckeyes followed up a 12-0 record in Urban Meyer’s first season with one of the nation’s top three classes. Meyer’s best signing day coup was Vonn Bell, a five-star safety from Tennessee who chose the Buckeyes over the in-state Volunteers. In the week leading up to signing day, OSU also took running Dontre Wilson away from Oregon and nabbed running back Ezekiel Elliott out of Missouri.
Missouri (No. 38): The good news? Missouri’s class was still within the top 40 in the country. The bad news? It came in dead last in the SEC, according to Rivals.com, well behind teams like Arkansas and Kentucky, which made coaching changes in the offseason. While the class would fit in nicely in the Big 12, Missouri failed to make any major move into SEC country after its first season as a member of the league. In the future, the Tigers need to make greater inroads in states like Georgia, Florida and Louisiana.
USC (No. 13): You can’t nitpick with USC’s star power, not when all 12 of the Trojans’ recruits earned either four or five stars from Rivals.com. In all, USC’s average star ranking of 4.42 is the highest by any team in Rivals’ history, dating back to 2002. But the class could have been better: USC lost several players to rivals near and far over the last few weeks. The Trojans do have potential stars like quarterback Max Browne, safety Su’a Cravens and defensive tackle Kenny Bigelow, however.
Louisville (No. 41): Like USC, Louisville’s class was limited by a lack of numbers – the Cardinals simply didn’t have a tremendous number of scholarships to offer. Nevertheless, Charlie Strong and his staff didn’t capitalize on the team’s Big East championship and Sugar Bowl victory as some might have expected. Rivals.com ranked Louisville’s class as the fourth-best in the Big East, counting Pittsburgh and Syracuse, two teams set to join the ACC over the summer.
Oklahoma (No. 15) and Texas (No. 16): Call it the Texas A and M effect. For the first time in years, neither the Sooners nor the Longhorns were able to dictate which prospects to take out of Texas. Instead, prospects flocked to College Station, leaving OU and UT as the second shows in town. Texas signed 15 recruits, losing star defensive tackle A’Shawn Robinson to Alabama on the eve of signing day. Oklahoma’s class lacks the power of the recent past.
Cincinnati (No. 58): Rivals.com ranked Cincinnati’s class as the worst of any automatic-qualifying team in the FBS. If the Bearcats have an excuse, it’s that new coach Tommy Tuberville was forced to work out a recruiting class on the fly after he was hired following the regular season. While UC had a few additions on signing day, it might not be until 2014 that Tuberville and his staff bring in the sort of talent Cincinnati needs to reach another major bowl.
Ultimately only time will tell. Everyone is very excited about their new additions to their teams. Recruiting rankings at the end of the day mean nothing until those individuals step between the white lines. They are just numbers and stars after a day of rejoicing.