Five schools where outside factors impacted recruiting
Among the factors impacting the Early Signing Period in this unique recruiting season was the tenuous coaching situations at several programs. From LSU to Michigan to Texas, coaches were recruiting prospects while also facing uncertainty about their own futures. Here is a look at five schools most impacted by the current status of their coaching staffs.
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The 2020 national championship seems a long way away right now for LSU fans. The Tigers have stumbled to a 4-5 record this season and they were hit with accusations of mishandling sexual assault allegations against members of the football program last month. It is that latter point that was expected to have an impact on LSU’s 2021 recruiting class. Several prospects and/or parents of prospects were reportedly worried about the fallout from those allegations affecting the future of the program, but the effects of those concerns seem inflated based on LSU’s success this week.
Ed Orgeron and his staff were able to secure the No. 1 player in 2021, defensive tackle Maason Smith, as well as four-stars Armoni Goodwin and Damarius McGhee. LSU also flipped four-star wide receiver Malik Nabers from Mississippi State, but had four-star JoJo Earle and three-star Keanu Koht flipped from their commitment list, suggesting the allegations had at least some impact on this 2021 class.
Jim Harbaugh is sitting on one of the hottest seats in college football right now. Reports of an extension in the week leading up to the Early Signing Period were discussed, but nothing got hammered out and that set the stage for a potential shake-up of Michigan’s recruiting class. A shake-up did occur, but it was not as dramatic as it could have been.
The Wolverines did lose four-stars Branden Jennings and Quinton Sommerville to Maryland and UCLA, respectively, but were able to keep wide receiver Xavier Worthy and cornerback Ja’Den McBurrows after strong, late pushes from other schools. Harbaugh also won his biggest recruiting battle of the day for an uncommitted prospect, beating the likes of Georgia and Notre Dame for Rivals100 running back Donovan Edwards.
The seat under Scott Frost is not as hot as some others on this list, but things will warm up quickly if the native son does not start putting winners on the field soon. That challenge was made more difficult by a global pandemic that did not allow for official visits – something that impacts Nebraska, located far away from many metropolitan areas they recruit, more than others.
All things considered, Frost and Co. did a very admirable job, signing what is currently a top 20 class. The Early Signing Period did not see any new additions to that list, but it did not feature any departures either. There are a few recruitments still to be hammered out, specifically with Las Vegas four-star defensive end Tiaoalii Savea, who is down to three schools, and Omaha four-star cornerback Avante Dickerson, who is committed to Minnesota but announced Wednesday he would not sign in the early period.
The last few weeks have given us reports that Texas wants someone other than Tom Herman leading its program, and Herman wants to lead a program somewhere other than Austin, Tex. Whether any of it is true or leads to a coaching change remains to be seen, but it is among the shakiest coaching situations in the country and that makes it awfully hard to recruit.
When it comes to the Early Signing Period, though, it was pretty quiet around Longhorn headquarters. All but one of their 18 commitments signed on the first day of the early period, and the one commit who did not sign was unrelated to any coaching concerns. Additionally, Texas added New Orleans defensive lineman Barryn Sorrell on signing day. But did Herman’s hot seat affect Texas’ chances with additional prospects down the stretch?
Virginia Tech was one of the coaching situations that really started to heat up in recent weeks, but it appears the Hokies are going to hang on to Justin Fuente a little longer. His coaching staff looks to stay mostly intact as well, based on Fuente’s comments from Wednesday. In the meantime, Virginia Tech fans face a winter without a bowl game for the first time in 28 years.
The drama continued on signing day, but Virginia Tech ended up a net two prospects in what is currently the biggest class of any Power Five school. They lost Texas offensive tackle Canon Boone to Mississippi State after he was committed to the Hokies for the last four months, but got their own flip when former Wake Forest receiver commit DJ Sims signed on Wednesday. The class was also bolstered by signing day pledges from two-star safety Da’Shawn Elder and three-star defensive tackle Desmond Mamudi, but targets Markevious Brown and Ian Mathews both opted for SEC schools.