Georgia seizes the day, wins second straight recruiting title
College football success tends to breed further success, and on signing day nobody has to squint to see why. Successful seasons tend to open doors on the recruiting trail, so the factors that led to Georgia capturing its second consecutive recruiting championship on Wednesday are cyclical. The Bulldogs have played in the SEC title game in back-to-back seasons and now have a brand new batch of spoils to show for their on-field efforts.
“Kirby Smart has done it again, beating his mentor Nick Saban and pushing ahead of Alabama to win the recruiting title,” said Rivals.com recruiting director Mike Farrell, who has been covering recruiting for more than two decades. “The job they have done in stepping it up since (previous head coach) Mark Richt left has been nothing less than amazing. They have turned into a recruiting juggernaut and can now recruit any player in any state in the country.”
On top of assembling the nation’s top class, the Bulldogs were responsible for one of National Signing Day’s biggest stories when they flipped five-star wide receiver Georgia Pickens from Auburn early in the afternoon. And while Smart and company did most of their work during the early period, it was today’s surprise flip that ultimately captured the crown.
The Bulldogs highest-ranked 2019 recruits are Pickens, five-star linebacker Nolan Smith and five-star offensive lineman Clay Webb. Georgia’s day was especially important on a macro level, as Smart and company continue to swing with the SEC heavyweights. UGA’s momentum doesn’t appear to be going anywhere, which isn’t particularly good news for the rest of the SEC East.
The winners of five of the last nine on-field national championships, Alabama remains one of the most desirable landing places for elite college prospects. And while some sense of concern managed to creep in when the Tide finished seventh in the recruiting rankings last year, most of that doubt was erased on Wednesday afternoon. Saban’s second-ranked 2019 class is led by five-star prospects Antonio Alfano (DT), Evan Neal (OL) and Trey Sanders (RB), but the depth is just as impressive, as 24 of the program’s 27 signees are ranked as four-stars or higher. On Wednesday, the Tide added Rivals100 defensive linemen Byron Young and Ishmael Sopsher to finish things off.
Ed Orgeron has a reputation as an ace recruiter for good reason, and the LSU head coach has once again backed it up by signing a class that includes a whopping four five-star prospects. The crown jewel of the Tigers’ class is, of course, No. 1 overall player Derek Stingley Jr, who will likely contribute in the secondary immediately. Fellow five-stars Kardell Thomas (OL), Marcel Brooks (LB) and Trey Palmer (ATH) all have college-ready builds and will compete for playing time this fall. Seven of the Tigers’ top 10 recruits are from the state of Louisiana, which is key for a program that relies heavily on securing its borders.
The momentum the Longhorns built last season is apparent on the recruiting trail, as their Big 12 championship game appearance has now given way to the nation’s No. 4 recruiting class. The “Texas is back” mantra certainly applies here, as the 2019 class is the program’s best since 2012, when the Horns landed the second-best haul in America. This year, Tom Herman’s staff landed six Rivals100 prospects, including versatile athletes Bru McCoy, Jordan Whittington and Jake Smith. Texas was also responsible for one of this classes' most interesting storylines, as McCoy signed a letter of intent with USC in the Early Signing Period before deciding to transfer to Texas roughly a month later. This is Texas’ second consecutive top 5 class, which suggests the Longhorns may not be going anywhere when it comes to challenging Oklahoma for Big 12 supremacy.
Most of Oklahoma’s work was done in the Early Signing Period, but that matters not to the strength of its impressive class. OU’s collection of talent is highlighted by a trio of truly elite wide receivers in Jadon Haselwood, Theo Wease and Trejan Bridges. The pass-happy Sooners also managed to land the No. 1 dual-threat quarterback in the country in five-star Spencer Rattler. Seventeen of OU’s 24 signees are ranked as four- or five-star prospects, and there may not be a better collection of offensive weapons in the country.