Early Signing Period: Winners and losers from the first day
The first day of the 2018 Early Signing Period is in the books and while about 75 percent of the prospects in the 2019 class signed, there was still 100 percent of the usual Signing Day action.. While most schools are putting on a smile to celebrate their classes, not every fan base has a reason to celebrate following the day’s proceedings.
Here’s our breakdown the winners and losers from Wednesday’s proceedings.
When are the Tide not winners on signing day? Well, after losing the SEC recruiting crown to Georgia in February, some wondered if Nick Saban had lost his recruiting fastball. Turns out, that’s not the case, and Alabama once again reeled in several big fish. The day started off well when The Tide flipped Rivals250 defensive back Jordan Battle from Ohio State, and continued to roll as the school beat out Georgia and others for five-star running back Trey Sanders and five-star offensive tackle Evan Neal. The Bulldogs got the best of Saban and company by landing five-star linebacker Nakobe Dean, but that was basically the only blemish on a very good day for the Tide.
While Florida State and Miami saw several targets slip out of or though their fingers, the Gators were celebrating after landing a trio of in-state four-stars. Tight end Keon Zipperer, defensive end Lloyd Summerall and offensive lineman Deyavie Hammond all made their announcements on national TV, only furthering the perception that it was a strong close by Dan Mullen and company. Florida would have loved to have landed Sanders and missing him hurts. But all and all, it was a good day for the Gators and definitely better than their “Big Three” counterparts.
The Sooners started the day by landing Jeremiah Criddell, the California defensive back who was once committed to Oregon, and things only continued to roll from there. The school also reached into Texas for more defensive help, landing Rivals250 defensive end Marcus Stripling, and capped it off by flipping three-star athlete Ty DeArman from Arizona State. The moves were enough to put the Sooners into the No. 1 spot in the Big 12, passing archrival Texas and putting them into pole position to win the conference recruiting crown.
The Bulldogs may have missed on Sanders and Neal, but many schools weren’t even in the discussion to land either elite talent and pulling Dean away from LSU, Alabama and others is a big enough win for the school alone. But after news broke that former five-star Justin Fields might be transferring, the Dawgs suddenly had a need for a quarterback. Enter Rivals250 Ohio State commit Dwan Mathis, who flipped his pledge from the Buckeyes to the Bulldogs and signed Wednesday. It was the fourth commitment of Mathis’ recruitment, but for Georgia fans it was the most important. Georgia could add even more talent as things unfold at the major all-star games in January, so its winning ways might not be done just yet.
The Orange had one of the most moving commitment announcements of all-time, when three-star defensive lineman Cooper Dawson solicited the help of a classmate to deliver the news of his commitment to the Orange. Dawson and high school classmate and friend Kingsley Feinman, who suffers from cerebral palsy, came together to deliver the news in a moment that quickly went viral and can be seen below.
This is one of the greatest signing days you will ever see. Hanahan’s Cooper Dawson picks Syracuse- but does it by first telling close friend Kingsley Feinman. Kingsley announces the decision- Dawson adds that Kingsley taught him the only disability is a bad attitude. @ABCNews4 pic.twitter.com/3OGJzJmlXg— Scott Eisberg (@SEisbergWCIV) December 19, 2018
There were plenty of jokes about Jimbo Fisher’s large price tag when he left Florida State for Texas A&M, but so far he’s been a pretty good investment for the Aggies. Texas A&M currently sits at No. 3 in the team recruiting rankings, just behind the Tide and the Bulldogs, the clear top two schools in the SEC at the moment. Both of those programs were built by elite recruiting classes, and thanks to a late flip of Derick Hunter from Florida State and official signings of five-stars Kenyon Green and Erick Young, it was a great day for Texas A&M.
What’s up with The U? It was a brutal day for the Hurricanes as they saw prospects like Zipperer and Summeral - once all but locks to sign with the school - end up with the rival Gators. It capped off a nightmarish week for Miami, which also saw several Class of 2020 de-commitments, as well as the rumored transfer of 2018 Rivals100 quarterback signee Jarren Williams. The Canes can rebound and are still in it for uncommitted prospects such Tyrique Stevenson and Jaden Haselwood, but their standing at No. 43 in the Rivals.com team rankings is basically unheard of at this stage in the game.
OLE MISS/MISSISSIPPI STATE
Each of these schools is coming off a forgettable day on the recruiting trail. Both programs saw elite players from the state of Mississippi bolt for other opportunities, with Derick Hall spurning the Bulldogs for SEC-rival Auburn, and Dean leaving the Rebels high and dry to sign with Georgia. Add in the fact that three-star defensive back Raydarious Jones elected to head south to LSU to play defensive back rather than stay in state and that Brandon Turnage also decided to stick with Alabama rather than flip to Ole Miss and it was an all-around forgettable day for the two rivals.
The Trojans are used to being at or near the top of the Rivals.com team rankings when signing day rolls around, but this year the team isn’t even at the top of the Pac-12 Conference. In fact, USC sits 17 spot behind conference-leader Oregon and barely inside the Top 25 in the country. So what went wrong? It’s a culmination of factors for the Trojans, including the fact that uncommitted five-star Bru McCoy has yet to announce, and the same goes for elite wide receiver Kyle Ford. If both end up with the school things will be salvageable, but it’s still incredible to see USC ranked so low and with very little buzz on the national scene.
The Seminoles are actually ranked higher than Florida in the Rivals.com team rankings, so how do they end up in the loser section while the Gators are celebrated as winners? Well, it’s all about momentum and perception. Florida State fans were left watching as longtime quarterback commit Sam Howell announced his flip to North Carolina, only to be followed up quickly by the news that current Seminoles quarterback Deondre Francois wouldn’t be returning to school next year. Add in the loss of Hunter to the hated Fisher and the Aggies and it was a day to forget for Willie Taggart and company.