The biggest day of the college football offseason calendar has come and gone as recruits across the country signed their names on the dotted line to determine where they will be playing college football next season. As with any signing day, it will take a few years to truly see which players have the biggest impact. That said, a large part of the fun this time of year is debating which teams had the best or worst days with the classes that they brought in. So, with that in mind, here are three programs that “won” on National Signing Day, and three that lost.
Alabama Crimson Tide – Did you honestly expect anyone else? If it feels like you’re seeing Alabama atop the 247 Sports class rankings every year at this point, that’s because, well, you are. This is the seventh consecutive year that the Tide have signed the top class in 247 Sports rankings.
For perspective, Nick Saban has been at the program for 10 seasons. He’s had the number one class 70 percent of the time. One day we’ll look back on this era of Alabama football and be in awe of just how ridiculous the run of sustained excellence is. Perfect example of how good Alabama has gotten? Four-star defensive end recruit Jarez Parks is getting a grayshirt and won’t enroll until 2018. Yeah, that’s insane.
USC Trojans – Clay Helton and the Trojans had a phenomenal day. They earned commitments from five-star WR Joseph Lewis and four-stars offensive tackle Austin Jackson (#35), defensive tackle Jay Tufele (#41), linebacker Levi Jones (#92), and athlete Greg Johnson (#102).
Those commitments helped the Trojans jump from the number eight class to start the day to the number four ranked class by the end of the day. That gives USC a Top 5 class in two of the last three years. USC finished the year as one of the hottest teams in the country and the roll has continued into the offseason.
Maryland Terrapins – This is more based on the fact that the Terrapins finished ranked in the Top 25 when the day ended than any specific commits they picked up yesterday. That’s something that hasn’t happened for the Terps since 2004 when they signed the 17th ranked class nationally. DJ Durkin has clearly stepped up his recruiting game this year with the Terps led by four-star recruit Anthony McFarland Jr. from nearby DeMatha Catholic.
Texas Longhorns – The Longhorns are supposed to be in the Top 10 every year right? Tom Herman is a tremendous recruiter, evidenced by what he was able to do the past two seasons at Houston. He got off to a slow start in Austin this year with the Longhorns finishing with the 26th class in the country and losing a couple of big-time recruits from Texas to other programs.
That’s not to say Texas’ class is bad by any stretch with Herman bringing in the second-best class in the Big 12 with seven four-stars among the group. But, when you lose recruiting battles to LSU and UCLA for recruits in your own backyard, that’s tough to take.
Ole Miss Rebels – The Rebels signed the nation’s 30th ranked class according to 247. You might be saying: ‘Ryan, that’s not that bad, it’s still in the top quarter of all programs in FBS’. You would be correct. But, again, everything is relative. The past four years, Ole Miss has enjoyed Top 20 classes including last year’s being the 5th best class in the country. Now, they’ve dropped to 30 and signed the 12th-best class in the SEC.
Now, a large part of that probably has to do with the looming possibility of sanctions being handed down by the NCAA for various allegations of recruiting violations. Coach Hugh Freeze said the investigation certainly impacted this year’s class, even going so far as to say that this class was “a penalty” in reference to any potential penalty that the NCAA could hand down. The good news for the Rebels is they do still have plenty of talent from the previous two years of classes to rely on and they can hope that this was just a blip on the radar.
Michigan State Spartans – The Spartans under Mark Dantonio have been recruiting fairly well over the past three years as their classes improved from 25th to 22nd to 17th last year. This year, following a 3-9 season, the worst of the Dantonio era, the Spartans fell all the way to 34th. Their class ranked 6th in the Big Ten in the final rankings behind both Nebraska and Maryland. They were also part of one of the weirder stories we’ve seen on Signing Day as one of their recruits, Florida defensive end Donovan Winter, couldn’t sign his letter of intent because he had been arrested earlier in the week and charged with armed burglary. The caveat here is Michigan State has traditionally done just fine with three-star recruits, routinely turning them into key contributors and some NFL players. But, dropping 17 spots from one year to the next is a bit disconcerting to say the least.