football Edit

Five elite recruits who signed with Group of Five schools

Tyneil Hopper
Tyneil Hopper (Nick Lucero/

Major programs from around the country were celebrating landing their top targets on Wednesday and while schools like Georgia, Clemson, Alabama and others garnered most of the headlines, there were plenty of Group of Five programs celebrating their hauls as well. Today we take a look at five players who had long lists of Power Five offers but ended up signing with Group of Five programs instead, whether it was in December or on Wednesday.

MORE: Farrell Awards | Winners and Losers | NSD Takeaways | Georgia wins recruiting title | Social media mania: Power Five announcements

CLASS OF '18 RANKINGS: Rivals250 | Team | State | Position | JUCO


A longtime Oklahoma commit who backed off his pledge to the Sooners at the end of January, Thomas found himself in a unique position. Ohio State seemed poised to get an official visit last weekend, but was scratched at the last minute. That paved the way for nearby Cincinnati to nab Thomas and add him to the Group of Five's top-ranked class.

Hopper's recruitment saw its share of twists and turns, with Auburn seeming like his likely destination once Luke Ford announced for Georgia during the early signing period. But the Tigers went in another direction, forcing Hopper to reset his recruitment entirely. He took a look at several options, including Tulane and Western Kentucky, before a late official visit to Boise helped seal the deal. Hopper is the first high school player from Georgia the school has signed since Zavior Hoxie in 2014.

Taylor was a high-priority prospect for several Power Five programs, including Louisville, Kentucky and Texas A&M. But while most programs saw him as a defensive player, he wanted a future at tight end. In order to get him in the fold, Cincinnati was willing to let Leonard start his career on offense and in the end it led to helping get his signature on Wednesday. The commitment was the second four-star the Bearcats landed on Signing Day and the third the school signed in the class.

Gilyard was already signed and sealed by the time Wednesday's second Signing Day rolled around but he's still one of the few four-stars landed by Group of Five programs in the 2018 class. Gilyard had a national list of offers, but chose to stay home and play for the Knights and committed in the middle of the team's undefeated season. Initially some thought he might get recruited by Scott Frost and company when they left for Nebraska, but Gilyard was already locked in with the Knights and never swayed from his pledge.

Reed was committed to Penn State for quite sometime before he abruptly backed off his pledge late in the fall. Reed had plenty of offers and a few major programs showed interest prior to the early signing period, but he took an official visit to Western Michigan and elected to sign a letter-of-intent with the Broncos in December. Reed is the school's first four-star signee since Doug Wiggins in 2008.