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The 10 most important things to watch on signing day 2016

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No. 1 recruit Rashan Gary's on his way to Ann Arbor (0:27)

Rashan Gary, the No. 1 recruit on the ESPN 300, announces his intent to play college football at Michigan. (0:27)

ESPN's RecruitingNation was with you throughout national signing day with a running reset on the day's biggest storylines, from the emergence of the first faxed letter of intent to the crowning of 2016's top class.


1. Rashan Gary commits to Michigan

The final destination of Gary, a dominant defensive lineman and the nation's No. 1 recruit, was the top storyline heading into signing day. Gary announced he would attend Michigan from ESPN HQ in Bristol, Connecticut, picking the Wolverines over Clemson, Ole Miss and others.


2. The early signings (and the rest)

Brandon Burton committed to UCLA on the midnight ET SportsCenter on Tuesday night, but the major names really started flying off the board just before the Wednesday workday began on the East Coast.

Linebacker Brendan Ferns (Saint Clairsville/Saint Clairsville, Ohio) got things started with a commitment to West Virginia at 7 a.m. ET, the first of 20 members of the ESPN 300 who made their announcements before noon ET.

Find all the committed and remaining uncommitted ESPN 300 players HERE.


3. Flip watch

Players changing their commitment on signing day is a foregone conclusion, and the madness started early on Wednesday when ESPN 300 wideout Tyrie Cleveland flipped from Houston to Florida and Erick Fowler flipped from LSU to Texas.

Other big flips included safety Jamel Cook from Florida State to USC; Aaron Robinson flipped from Florida to Alabama; Shavar Manuel from Florida to Florida State, and David Marshall from Auburn to Georgia.


4. First-year head coaches

Mark Richt's first class at Miami and Kirby Smart's inaugural group at Georgia will be heavily scrutinized going forward -- though there's evidence to suggest the first class will mean less than next year's for all the new head men. Smart and Georgia had the country's No. 7 class, and Richt and Miami are at No. 14 heading into signing day.

Georgia has held form at No. 7, but Miami has slipped to No. 19 in the latest rankings.

USC's Clay Helton (No. 11), South Carolina's Will Muschamp (No. 29) and Virginia Tech's Justin Fuente (No. 38) were other first-year coaches who put together top-40 classes.


5. Florida State overtakes LSU in race for No. 1 class

LSU had the nation's top class heading into signing day, but Florida State vaulted the Tigers Wednesday afternoon.

The Seminoles picked up Wednesday commitments from ESPN 300 players in cornerback Carlos Becker (No. 46), tackle Landon Dickerson (No. 64), linebacker Dontavious Jackson (No. 123) and defensive end Brian Burns (No. 160).

LSU dropped all the way from No. 1 to No. 3, while Alabama moved up to the No. 2 spot. The Crimson Tide started the day at No. 9.


6. The madness of King Harbaugh

Jim Harbaugh's shenanigans on the recruiting trail were well-documented, but don't let the quirkiness of his approach obscure the quality of Michigan's class. The Wolverines group finished at No. 6.


7. The resurrection of Charlie Strong?

After scarcely being mentioned for much of the 2016 recruiting cycle, Texas has made serious strides in recent weeks and had a huge day Wednesday, moving all the way up to No. 10.

The Horns got off to a good start Wednesday when Brandon Jones, the No. 2 safety in the ESPN 300, signed with Texas over Texas A&M and others. Defensive tackles Chris Daniels and Marcel Southall later followed suit, and Jeffrey McCulloch and Jordan Elliott were huge gets as well.


8. Don't sleep on the Tide

Alabama's streak of five consecutive No. 1 recruiting class ended -- the Crimson Tide finished second -- but they have still managed a huge day, moving all the way up to No. 2 after starting the day at No. 9.

Cornerbacks Shyheim Carter, Jared Mayden and Aaron Robinson came off the board to the along with defensive end Terrell Hall and linebackers Ben Davis and Mack Wilson.


9. Derrick Brown signs with Auburn

Apart from Gary, Brown was the only top-15 member of the ESPN 300 who had yet to commit entering signing day. The massive defensive tackle and Georgia native chose Auburn over home-state UGA, Alabama and Tennessee.


10. Houston uprising

Amid all the typical fanfare over the established, top programs on signing day, don't lose sight of the work being done by Tom Herman and Houston, who established a new standard for what non-Power 5 programs can accomplish on the recruiting trail. Five-star defensive tackle Ed Oliver became the first five-star player to commit to a non-Power 5 school during ESPN's era of star ratings.