NCF Nation: 130208-signing-day-wrap
Let’s face it. Nobody ever has a bad signing class.
Can you imagine a coach standing up at his post-signing day news conference and proclaiming that that particular class simply didn’t measure up?
However, according to the ESPN Recruiting team, none of the 14 SEC schools finished with lower than a B- this year. Not only that, but seven schools received an A or A-.
So, somebody’s doing something right in this league.
Here’s a look back at a few superlatives from signing day:
Biggest winner: Six SEC schools finished in the top 10 of ESPN’s class rankings, but right there at the top was Alabama … again. The rich keep getting richer. The Crimson Tide have now finished with a top-3 class nationally in each of the past six years. They reeled in several coveted prospects early in the process, then closed like you’d expect a program that’s won three of the past four national championships to close. Getting linebacker Reuben Foster, the state’s top player and No. 1 inside linebacker in the country, punctuated what was another talent-laden class for Nick Saban and Co.
Best closer: When is the last time anybody has closed the way Hugh Freeze and Ole Miss did this year? The Rebels haven’t won an SEC championship since 1963, but they went out and recruited this year like they plan on winning one in the near future. The big catch was defensive end Robert Nkemdiche, the No. 1 overall prospect in the country, but the Rebels were just getting started after he announced Wednesday morning. They also landed Laremy Tunsil, the No. 1 offensive tackle in the country, and Antonio Conner, the No. 2 safety in the country, later in the day. All told, the Rebels got the No. 1 defensive end, the No. 1 receiver, two of the top three offensive tackles and the No. 2 safety.
Biggest surprise: It’s hard to knock Georgia’s recruiting when you look at the caliber of prospects the Bulldogs have consistently brought in under Mark Richt. But what was surprising this year was to see Georgia strike out on so many of the top in-state players. Only one of the top 10 prospects in the state, according to ESPN’s rankings, signed with the Bulldogs -- cornerback Shaq Wiggins of Tyrone, Ga. Don’t feel too badly for the Dawgs, though. They’re still ranked No. 10 nationally in ESPN’s class rankings.
Who flipped/biggest loss: There were a couple that stood out. Defensive end Tashawn Bower of Somerville, N.J., initially committed to Auburn, then looked like he was going to flip to Florida at the last minute before eventually signing with LSU. Auburn did a little flipping of its own by getting defensive end Elijah Daniel of Avon, Ind., away from Ole Miss on signing day. Losing Tunsil to Ole Miss was a blow for both Alabama and Georgia, while Tennessee couldn’t keep safety Vonn Bell (who lives in Chattanooga, Tenn.) at home. The Vols’ first-year coach, Butch Jones, recruited Bell hard, but former Tennessee coach Derek Dooley had dropped the ball with Bell, and Ohio State’s Urban Meyer was able to swoop in and get the No. 4 safety in the country.
February, 8, 2013
Here's a quick look back on the ACC's signing day highlights:
Best closer: Clemson coach Dabo Swinney. The Tigers reeled in their top prospect, CB Mackensie Alexander, on Wednesday. The five-star recruit should be able to contribute immediately, and it’s a position in which Clemson is thin. Swinney also beat Georgia for ESPN 150 OG Tyrone Crowder, who also announced on Wednesday. Swinney came into signing day with a reputation as a closer, and he added to his résumé Wednesday with two more elite recruits.
Biggest surprise: Alexander. He had taken visits to Mississippi State and Auburn in January, leading some to think the SEC had the edge. His twin brother sat there wearing his Auburn hat as Alexander announced his decision. He had been very quiet during his recruiting process, though, so nobody was really sure which direction he was leading. He added to the drama when he pulled out a Mississippi State hat, then a Clemson hat, before revealing his choice with a second Clemson hat.
Biggest winner on signing day: Florida State won big-time on signing day, getting four ESPN 300 prospects -- three of them in the top 150. The Seminoles won two of them over in-state rival Miami, making those signings even bigger. The day started with the No. 6 overall player in the nation, Matthew Thomas, announcing for the Noles. They then got the No. 4 cornerback in the nation, Jalen Ramsey, to flip from USC. ESPN 150 defensive tackle Keith Bryant chose Florida State over Miami next. ESPN 300 linebacker E.J. Levenberry rounded out the day.
Who flipped/biggest loss: Miami ended up losing out on some of the biggest targets it coveted: Thomas and Bryant are headed to Florida State; ESPN 300 defensive tackle Jay-nard Bostwick chose Florida; and running back Alex Collins eventually ended up at Arkansas. Bryant and Collins were one-time Miami commitments. These all were double-stings: Every single one of these players hails from South Florida; the Canes lost some to their bitter in-state rivals; and former coach Randy Shannon just so happens to be an Arkansas assistant. Miami did get ESPN 150 receiver Stacy Coley and ESPN 150 linebacker Jermaine Grace to sign, but this class could have been better.
February, 8, 2013
By David Ubben | ESPN.com
With signing day in the rearview mirror, it's time to pass out some awards for the Big 12's recruiting efforts.
Biggest winner on signing day: Baylor coach Art Briles -- Briles is capitalizing on the Bears' on-field success with some huge signees who have Baylor turning some heads. Hometown blue-chip prospect Andrew Billings gave the Bears a huge late boost on the defensive line, a position of need, and the Bears' class finished just outside the national top 25. It's Briles' best class in terms of ranking, with six four-star prospects, four of whom will be playing defense. The two offensive four-stars are both top-five nationally at their positions -- No. 3 WR Robbie Rhodes and No. 5 dual-threat QB Chris Johnson.
Best closer: Texas Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury -- The Red Raiders' class was shredded by the transition from Tommy Tuberville and lost its top commit, Devin Lauderdale. Kingsbury got Lauderdale back and pulled in a class of 24 players after sitting at just 11 players in the middle of January. It's not going to turn a lot of heads, but Tech landed four players with at least four stars.
Biggest surprise: Kansas' strong class -- As it turns out, Kansas coach Charlie Weis knows how to shop around playing time. Great shots at immediate starting positions seem to be a very valuable recruiting bait for junior college players, and Weis had a bunch to offer. You don't have to be coming off a huge season to recruit well. Weis landed five of the top 100 junior college prospects in the country, highlighted by No. 3 Marquel Combs and No. 74 Rodriguez Coleman, a receiver. We saw what Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze did in selling big-time recruits the chance to be on the ground floor of building a program. On a smaller scale, Weis did that with this class.
Who flipped/Biggest loss -- For the past year, Texas had counted on A'Shawn Robinson -- one of the nation's best defensive tackles and a native of Arlington, Texas -- as part of its recruiting class. In the months before signing day, rumors swirled that he was wavering. Finally, he made it official days before signing day, and on Wednesday, he signed with Alabama after a man in an elephant suit delivered his letter of intent. Points for creativity, but the loss was another strike for Texas on the defensive line. Strike one came when the Horns lost DE Daeshon Hall earlier in the recruiting season, and the day before signing day, Texas hit strike three when it lost Billings (see above).
Kansas State also was fired up about getting a commitment from juco linebacker De'Vondre Campbell, a 6-foot-5, 224-pounder at a Kansas junior college. Bill Snyder lost him on signing day, though, when Campbell elected to sign with Minnesota. That left a hole at a position of need for the Wildcats.
February, 8, 2013
By Ted Miller | ESPN.com
The Pac-12 had mixed results on national signing day.
No Pac-12 team ranked in the top 10 of the ESPN recruiting rankings. Just three teams ranked in the top 25. That's not good. The best player on the West Coast, defensive tackle Eddie Vanderdoes, a former USC commit, ended up signing with Notre Dame.
That said, folks at UCLA are happy. They probably feel pretty good at Washington, too. And USC fans should realize that, despite the decommitments, the 2013 class is pretty darn strong. Further, there are plenty of intriguing players in some of the other classes who scream "underrated!"
You can see where every class ranked here.
And here's a final look.
Biggest winner on signing day: UCLA addressed needs in the secondary and on the offensive line with high quality players. But the most notable takeaway is the continued positive momentum for the program. When Jim Mora was first hired, many Bruins fans were uncertain about him. Here's a guess that is no longer the case. He won the Pac-12 South Division his first season and beat USC on the field and in recruiting. There's clearly a buy rating on the Bruins.
Biggest loser: Stanford's class ranked seventh in the Pac-12, according to ESPN recruiting, but nearly every other recruiting service rated the Cardinal 11th in the Pac-12. Most of that is numbers: 12. Stanford's roster didn't allow for a large class. But this is the Rose Bowl champion, a team that has played in three consecutive BCS games. Other than QB Ryan Burns, Stanford didn't sign any player ranked among the top 15 at his position. Last year, in a class of 22, they signed six such players, and that doesn't include Aziz Shittu, the No. 17 defensive tackle.
Best closer: UCLA added ESPN 150 defensive end Kylie Fitts (Redlands, Calif./Redlands East Valley) on Tuesday. They then landed ESPN 150 quarterback Asiantii Woulard (Winter Park, Fla./Winter Park), the nation's No. 1-rated dual-threat QB, and ESPN 150 inside linebacker Isaac Savaiinaea (Honolulu/Punahou) on signing day. That's a strong troika.
Best closer, rookie coach division: Oregon was hit hard by the loss of running back Dontre Wilson, who seemed like a perfect hybrid speed guy for the Ducks' offense, but he opted for Ohio State. Still, new coach Mark Helfrich also rallied on signing day, getting a big pair of flips: Defensive end Torrodney Prevot and offensive guard Cameron Hunt. Prevot flipped from USC and Hunt from California.
Biggest loss: Maybe the Pac-12 blog isn't recruiting savvy, but it was surprised that Vanderdoes opted to bolt the West Coast for Notre Dame. The general feeling over the past couple of weeks was if Vanderdoes didn't end up at UCLA, he would sign with Alabama. He's going to love winter in South Bend. Of course, by signing with the Irish, Stanford and USC will get to see plenty of him over the next few seasons.
Ready to go? Here's a guess at one player per team who will get playing time next season: Arizona (WR Samajie Grant); Arizona State (DT Marcus Hardison); California (DE Sione Sina); Oregon (RB Thomas Tyner); Oregon State DT Kyle Peko); Stanford (TE Greg Taboada); UCLA (CB Johnny Johnson Jr.); USC (S Su'a Cravens); Utah (DT Sese Ianu); Washington (WR Damore'ea Stringfellow); Washington State (WR Vince Mayle).
February, 8, 2013
By Matt Fortuna | ESPN.com
National signing day 2013 is in the books. Let's take a closer look at what the Irish newcomers mean for the program moving forward.
Biggest winner of signing day: We'll just go ahead and call the program a winner here. Notre Dame made it to the national title game in 2012, landed the nation's No. 4 recruiting class and returns upward of 15 starters to a team coming off a 12-1 season. All of those questions the past 24 years of whether the Irish could still succeed in today's college football climate have been put to rest, and the program is in great position to be, at the very least, a BCS-bowl contender year-in and year-out.
Best closer: Tony Alford thrived in his first year as the Irish's recruiting coordinator, helping them land Oklahoma decommit and ESPN 150 running back Greg Bryant (Delray Beach, Fla./American Heritage) and ESPN 150 athlete Tarean Folston (Cocoa, Fla./Cocoa) late in the recruiting calendar.
Biggest surprise: Five-star defensive tackle and USC decommit Eddie Vanderdoes (Auburn, Calif./Placer) chose Notre Dame over Alabama and UCLA on Wednesday night, giving the Irish ESPN's No. 1 defensive tackle, No. 10 overall prospect and one more elite talent to a recruiting class that was already the best in the Brian Kelly era.
Who flipped/biggest loss: Four-star linebacker Alex Anzalone (Wyomissing, Pa./Wyomissing) enrolled at Florida in early January during Kelly's flirtation with the NFL. Anzalone, who decommitted from Ohio State before decommitting from Notre Dame, is an elite talent who would have had the chance to compete for immediate playing time. That being said, the fact he is the only piece the Irish lost during Kelly's silence is fairly impressive and a testament to the staff as a whole.
February, 8, 2013
By Andrea Adelson | ESPN.com
Time to put a little bow on signing day coverage in the Big East. Who fared best? Worst? Read on to find out.
Biggest winner on signing day: There weren't many Big East schools waiting on decisions from ESPN 150 talent on signing day itself, so the big winner has to be Rutgers, for simply finishing with the top recruiting class in the Big East. Again. Rutgers hoped to add a few more players Wednesday, but that did not happen. Still, the Scarlet Knights put together a solid class filled with solid prospects, including four-star quarterback Chris Laviano and cornerback Nadir Barnwell.
Best closer: UConn came on strong in the final few weeks of recruiting, flipping Boston College quarterback commit Tim Boyle, one of the highest-rated players in the class. The Huskies also got a late commitment from three-star receiver Brian Lemelle, who had offers from many other BCS schools. Only one major question mark: Quarterback Richard Lagow, committed since June, has not signed with the Huskies yet.
Biggest surprise: Cincinnati getting four-star tight end Travis Johnson. After Johnson decommitted from Miami, many believe he would end up staying close to home in Tampa and playing for USF. Ultimately, he wanted the opportunity to leave home and ended up with the Bearcats, which continued their recruiting push into Florida, signing 11 from the state.
Who flipped/biggest loss: Louisville wanted to add two more to its class on signing day, but the Cardinals missed on both. ESPN 150 linebacker Jermaine Grace chose Miami over the Cards, and three-star linebacker Lamar Robbins stuck with his pledge to USF. Still, Louisville ended up with five four-star prospects, including two excellent receivers in James Quick and Richard Benjamin.
February, 8, 2013
By Adam Rittenberg | ESPN.com
The Big Ten classes are signed and sealed. You can see ESPN's final class rankings as well as grades for all the Big Ten teams .
As we put a bow on national signing day 2013, let's take a look at some superlatives ...
Biggest winner: Ohio State. The Buckeyes took a great class and made it even better with the additions of elite safety prospect Vonn Bell and four-star receiver prospect James Clark. They also held onto running back recruit Ezekiel Elliott. Plucking Bell out of SEC country made a significant statement, as Ohio State secured the nation's No. 3 class and the best in the Big Ten. Although other Big Ten programs secured strong classes -- Michigan, Nebraska, Penn State, Wisconsin, Michigan State -- Ohio State made the most headlines Wednesday.
Best closer: Ohio State co-defensive coordinator/safeties coach Everett Withers. Although Buckeyes head coach Urban Meyer is unquestionably one of the nation's top closers, Withers merits a mention here after steering Bell to sign with the Scarlet and Gray. "I've seen some really good efforts," Meyer said Wednesday. "Everett Withers from start to finish, his effort on Vonn Bell, as good as I've ever seen." Bell's high school coach called Withers the "most proficient and professional recruiter we've ever dealt with," according to The (Cleveland) Plain Dealer. Withers played a major role in Ohio State securing five defensive backs ranked in the top 50 by ESPN Recruiting.
Biggest surprise: Indiana and Penn State. The Hoosiers have reached only one bowl game since the 1993 season and boast just five wins the past two seasons, but things are looking up in Bloomington. Kevin Wilson and his staff signed what appears to be a very solid recruiting class, especially on the defensive side, where IU has struggled for years. The Hoosiers signed two four-star defensive linemen from within the state -- Darius Latham and David Kenney III -- and bolstered the secondary with Rashard Fant and others. Penn State overcame NCAA scholarship sanctions and a multiyear bowl ban to sign the nation's No. 24 class, headlined by quarterback Christian Hackenberg, rated by ESPN Recruiting as the nation's top pocket passer.
Who flipped/biggest loss: The only notable intra-league flip on signing day -- and it wasn't a major surprise -- saw linebacker Reggie Spearman, a one-time Illinois commit, signing with Iowa. Ohio State (Taivon Jacobs) and Wisconsin (Marcus Ball) lost commits to Maryland and Arizona State, respectively, while Minnesota made a late flip with junior college linebacker De'Vondre Campbell, who was expected to sign with Kansas State. But for the most part, Big Ten teams played good defense on signing day.
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TOP 25 SCOREBOARD
Final 20 Duke 7 1 Florida State 45 Final 2 Ohio State 24 10 Michigan State 34 Final 5 Missouri 42 3 Auburn 59 Final 17 Oklahoma 33 6 Oklahoma State 24 Final 7 Stanford 38 11 Arizona State 14 Final 25 Texas 10 9 Baylor 30 Final 16 UCF 17 Southern Methodist 13 Final Utah State 17 23 Fresno State 24