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Mind of Mike: Takeaways from National Signing Day 2018

The Mind of Mike is a dangerous place. Here are some random thoughts from Rivals.com National Recruiting Director Mike Farrell regarding National Signing Day 2018.

MORE: Georgia wins recruiting title | NSD Announcement Guide | 2018 team recruiting rankings | Social media mania: Power Five announcements

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

Tyson Campbell
Tyson Campbell (AP Images)

Georgia tied a record for five stars as Tyson Campbell jumped on board. The Bulldogs have now tied USC for the most five stars in one class, as the Trojans landed eight in 2004. Georgia’s class is one of the top two or three on paper I’ve ever seen, along with that USC class and last year’s Alabama class. Adding linebacker Otis Reese, a flip from Michigan, and Quay Walker, a flip from Alabama, just adds to the amazing depth of the class. Walker flipping from Alabama is not the surprise, but going to Georgia is. Maybe it shouldn’t be, with the ridiculous amount of talent assembled in this class, but Tennessee was thought to be the heavy favorite here. His relationship with coach Jeremy Pruitt was thought to have put the Vols in a great position, but taking his last official visit to Georgia seems to have changed everything. Texas wide receiver Tommy Bush was the icing on the cake for the best class in the nation. I can’t express how impressed I have been with this staff during this cycle.

*****

Alabama was the talk of the day heading in and started off well, landing five star defensive back Patrick Surtain, stealing him away from his long-time leader LSU and once again proving that Nick Saban gets what Nick Saban wants, in many cases. However, the rest of the day wasn’t a great one for the Crimson Tide, as they struck out on a few additional targets, including in-state wide receiver Justyn Ross and didn’t make the push up toward the national top 3 as I expected. I’m so used to seeing Alabama at No. 1 or No. 2 that anything below that feels like a very bad year. This is a very good class, but the expectations at Alabama have clearly become hard to live up to. Even with the addition of five-star wide receiver Jaylen Waddle it feels just a little bit off for Alabama this year, despite the average star ranking and talent in the class.

*****

Florida State started the day strong with a flip from Tennessee ATH commitment Anthony Grant in what was a bit of a surprise, at least to me. I pegged FSU to finish strong and push toward the top 10, but I didn’t think Grant would be part of that surge. Grant was the last remaining Butch Jones recruit who did not sign with Tennessee. The new staff at Tennessee never seemed to push very hard for his signature, so after taking additional official visits to Florida State, North Carolina and Virginia Tech, Grant ending up signing with the ‘Noles. One new staff’s decision is another new staff’s victory, and Grant is a great addition to the class. FSU followed up with four- stars Tre’Shaun Harrison and Malcolm Lamar, as well as three-star Jamarcus Chatman for a busy day. The Seminoles also stole away another Tennessee commitment in wide receiver Jordan Young.

*****

Defensive back Mario Goodrich really seemed to have fallen in love with LSU and its long history of producing top level defensive backs, so losing him to Clemson on NSD will sting. But give plenty of credit to coach Dabo Swinney, who once again has proven himself as an elite closer and also stole the state of Alabama’s top prospect, wide receiver Justyn Ross, away from Alabama. Clemson’s class is ridiculous and you could easily make a case for the Tigers having the class with the most quality in the country.

*****

Texas A&M started the day with a huge flip from Bobby Brown, as Jimbo Fisher stole one away (or back) from Nick Saban and Alabama. After all the questions about whether Fisher would be a good fit as a recruiter at A&M after the Early Signing Period, a strong day was needed and Brown started that off. Marcus Jenkins followed, a four- star offensive lineman, which is a key positional need, and the Aggies added quarterback James Foster, which was a surprise to some. One of the bigger commits was from defensive end Jeremiah Martin out of California as well. This was a good day for Jimbo and company.

*****

Texas quietly had a big day by signing early commitments Keondre Coburn and Keaontay Ingram, as well as adding defensive end Joseph Ossai, who will be key as a pass rusher. The Longhorns have put together the best class in the Big 12, and one of the top classes nationally. I said Tom Herman would kill it on the recruiting trail, and he has done just that. The year 2019 will be fun to watch with so much in-state talent and so many teams coming into Texas to steal prospects.

*****

Miami had a great class already signed from the Early Signing Period, but adding wide receiver Marquez Ezzard was key. He’s a physical receiver with very good hands and adds to a great collection of skill position players for The U. But perhaps the most important news for the 'Canes was keeping defensive tackle Nesta Silvera in the class after a run from Florida.

*****

Notre Dame quietly put together a very successful NSD, adding D.J. Brown, Jarrett Patterson, Lawrence Keys, Noah Boykin and C’bo Flemster. All were priorities for the Irish, so credit much be given to coach Brian Kelly and his staff for finishing strong and filling several positions of need.


*****

Scott Frost
Scott Frost (AP Images)

Nebraska landed a key commitment from the Southeast in linebacker Caleb Tannor, who the Huskers stole away from Florida and Auburn. Scott Frost continues to recruit the Southeast well and is building momentum for 2019 and beyond in the region. The Huskers also added a few other key players, including running back Maurice Washington on national television, for this transition class, which is one of the best in the country when it comes to new coaches with limited time to put things together.

*****

LSU had a rough day at defensive back, losing both Patrick Surtain and Mario Goodrich, two players they led for throughout the process. The DBU reputation took a big hit on Wednesday and Ed Orgeron, hired for his recruiting prowess, is taking it on the chin as well. Wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase was a great pickup but that was also very much expected - and one for three isn’t so great.


*****

Amazing job by Ohio State in landing offensive tackle Nick Petit-Frere, who was considered a Gators lean for a while and took his last official to Columbus. After losing Jackson Carman, the Buckeyes pushed hard for another elite tackle and pursued Petit-Frere relentlessly. This is another example of why Urban Meyer is one of the best recruiters in the nation. Adding Javontae Jean-Baptiste was also key, as Greg Schiano decided to stay at Ohio State, which kept him in the fold.

*****

Michigan has taken a step back in recruiting this year with the loss of Otis Reese, zero five-star recruits and a class that is ranked outside the national top 15 after two straight top 5 classes under Jim Harbaugh. If I’m a Michigan fan I’m not panicking, but I am a bit worried.

*****

The Hokies have put together a very nice class and Dax Hollifield was a key addition. This kid is a leader, a sure tackler and he’s excellent in space. Stanford was expected to be the choice, but distance became a factor. Virginia Tech’s staff worked tirelessly to get Hollifield. Despite serious challenges from Clemson and North Carolina, as well as the Cardinal, all of their work finally paid off Wednesday. While some of the other schools tailed off for various reasons, the Hokies were persistent from the start, with defensive coordinator Bud Foster leading the charge. It’s also an important get, as it fills a position of need, which should give Hollifield an opportunity to contribute immediately.

*****

While North Carolina missed out on in-state four-state linebacker Dax Holifield, the Tar Heels did pick up four-star offensive lineman William Barnes from Florida. Barnes looked like a long shot for the Tar Heels a couple of months ago, but when Florida underwent its coaching change, the UNC staff slid in and did a fantastic job courting the powerful offensive lineman. UNC has a good history of recruiting in the Sunshine State, so this just continues that trend. UNC also added Florida wide receiver Antoine Green, who could end up being a sleeper.

*****

Penn State needed to get one player on National Signing Day to make it a successful day, and that was offensive lineman Rasheed Walker. He’s a huge pickup for James Franklin and company at a key position and Ohio State became a real threat here down the stretch. He’s the cherry on top of a very good class.

*****

Getting quarterback Brock Purdy is a huge recruiting win for Iowa State. The Cyclones seemed to turn the corner during the 2017 season, so grabbing their potential quarterback of the future was a nice follow-up to that. Coach Matt Campbell is one of the hotter names in coaching, and if he can also continue to improve the Cyclones’ recruiting, Iowa State should continue to improve.


*****

As usual, USC closed strong with commitments from Solomon Tuliaupupu, Olaijah Griffin, Devon Williams and Isaac Taylor-Stuart, giving the Trojans the class with the highest average star ranking in the country. USC hit so many needs and has so many instant impact guys that I think they could be an improved football team next year, based on young talent alone - if the quarterback play is figured out.

*****

Big get for South Carolina in defensive tackle Rick Sandidge, who should contribute early. He was their key to National Signing Day for sure, and helped the Gamecocks with what should end up as a top 20 recruiting class.

*****

Florida struggled early but rallied late in the day, landing in-state wide receiver Jacob Copeland and Alabama defensive end Malik Langham after striking out on a few key targets early in the day. The Gators also landed Andrew Chatfield, a four-star linebacker, to push their class into the Top 20 nationally. They also managed to hang on to offensive lineman Richard Gouraige, who had taken official visits to Auburn, Clemson and Ole Miss in the last month, with Auburn emerging as a very viable threat. For a short while during the day it looked to be as disappointing a close as it had been in the past under Jim McElwain but Dan Mullen, a much better recruiting head coach, righted the ship.