National Signing Day 2017 Wrap: SEC
Another National Signing Day is in the books, so Rob Cassidy and Woody Wommack now look back at the good and bad for each SEC team's 2017 class.
2017 NSD WRAP: Big Ten
STANDING OVATION: GEORGIA
Kirby Smart was hired at Georgia to help lock down the Peach State borders and, after his first full recruiting class, it’s safe to say he’s well on his way to achieving his goal.
The Bulldogs landed nine of the top 17 players in the state, including five-star quarterback Jake Fromm and Rivals100 prospects Richard Lecounte, Andrew Thomas, Nate McBride, Netori Johnson and Jaden Hunter. Landing massive five-star offensive lineman Isaiah Wilson was also a major stunner for Georgia.
The Dawgs may have missed on some players in-state they really wanted but when you add in prospects such as D’Andre Swift and Mark Webb from outside the region, it’s clear the school is recruiting at a very high level.
Will the influx of talent and Smart having more of “his guys” on campus lead to more wins when it matters most? Georgia fans are hoping to start seeing returns this fall.
SURPRISE PARTY: FLORIDA
Florida fans won’t be thrilled with the class. The Gators expect to be ranked closer to the top five. Still, you gotta respect the frantic close.
The two most important and contested National Signing Day additions were C.J. Henderson and Brian Edwards, both of whom seemed bound for Miami not so long ago. The Gators mixed that with a pair of four-stars, each coming with some semblance of risk.
On NSD, UF took both running back Adarius Lemons and wide receiver James Robinson, both of whom had small off-field incidents in the recent past. That said, both are talented players and could help the Gators should they keep things away from football in order.
It all added up to a strong close for Jim McElwain and a memorable National Signing Day for the UF faithful.
HANG YOUR HEAD: OLE MISS
It’s not as though Hugh Freeze forgot how to recruit. There are certain circumstances in play here. The looming possibility of NCAA sanctions has held back the Rebels significantly in recent months and the 39th-ranked class it signed is the manifestation of those struggles.
Five-star running back Cam Akers, an in-state product that chose Florida State, would have likely landed at Ole Miss if it were not for the uncertainty that surrounds the program. There’s no telling how many other players had similar outlooks.
Ole Miss landed just four four-star prospects in 2017, an unacceptable number for a program that was getting used to standing with the big boys on the recruiting trail. The Rebels had to go to Kansas City to land their only Rivals250 prospect, which came in the form of defensive end Chester Graves, the No. 227 player in the class.
RANKING THE LEAGUE
The Good: Pick something. I mean, The Tide won another recruiting title and used National Signing Day to land two of the state’s top prospects in defensive lineman LaBryan Ray and wide receiver Henry Ruggs. Oh, Nick Saban also signing the No. 1 player, Najee Harris, and six other five-stars.
The Bad: The Tide failed to retroactively land Tom Brady? It’s hard to find much to say here. Bama failed to flip five-star defensive back Shaun Wade from Ohio State despite a heavy effort.
The Good: The Bulldogs reeled in 14 four-stars and two five-stars in a class that will go down as one of the best in years.
The Bad: If there’s one negative about Georgia’s signing day it was losing five-star defensive tackle Aubrey Solomon to Michigan. While it stings, it won’t make or break the class.
The Good: The Tigers finished the 2017 class with three five-star commitments, including a stunning flip of five-star linebacker Jacob Phillips a week before NSD. Overall, it’s a class loaded with talent and the Tigers coaches believe several of the three-star signees have potential to outplay their rankings as well.
The Bad: Most people had the Tigers as the odds-on favorite to land five-star defensive tackle Marvin Wilson on signing day, so when he picked Florida State it was a big blow to the school.
The Good: Florida’s close was fast, furious and pleasing to Gators fans. UF landed a handful of four-stars, including two that seemed destined for Miami. The Gators' close did a lot to help erase some of the mediocrity of the cycle as a whole.
The Bad: Florida still isn’t where it needs to be and was a non-factor for a lot of the state’s truly elite recruits. There’s plenty of work to be done if the Gators hope to challenge for five-star prospects.
5. TEXAS A&M
The Good: Signing a five-star quarterback is no easy task and Texas A&M did just that when it landed Kellen Mond. The fact that the Aggies landed the top class in the state of Texas is also significant.
The Bad: Despite finishing above all other Texas-based schools, A&M still watched as most of the state’s top prospects crossed Lone Star boarders. The next challenge for the Aggies is convincing elite in-state players to stay home.
The Good: The two in-state linebackers in this class could be special. Both K.J. Britt and Tadarian Moultry had incredible closes to their high school careers and looked impressive during All-Star season. Landing four of the top 10 prospects in Alabama is impressive for a program going head-to-head with a dynasty. And that’s not to mention the Tigers’ highest-rated commit, offensive lineman Calvin Ashley.
The Bad: Auburn’s cycle wasn’t without its misses. The Tigers were never a player for the state’s top prospect in LaBryan Ray. The Tigers also saw defensive end Ryan Johnson pass on them in favor of Stanford.
The Good: The Volunteers built a consistent and deep class of 28 signees, highlighted by Rivals100 offensive lineman Trey Smith. The Vols signed nine total four-stars, including in-state prospects Maleik Gray, Ty Chandler and Latrell Bumphus. All three players were targeted by SEC rivals so holding onto them is a major win.
The Bad: The Vols let three five-star prospects slip out of state, something that just can’t happen. Losing five-star wide receiver Tee Higgins, a one-time commit, to Clemson coupled with JaCoby Stevens and Jacob Phillips going to LSU is a tough pill to swallow.
8. SOUTH CAROLINA
The Good: The Gamecocks built a solid class early in the process and held on to most of their priority targets when it mattered most. Landing Rivals250 athlete Jamyest Williams over Georgia is a major win and a trio of Rivals250 wide receivers gives quarterback Jake Bentley a new set of weapons heading into next season.
The Bad: The Gamecocks lost Rivals100 Hamsah Nasirildeen late in the process to Florida State and that really stings considering the early work the school did to land him.
The Good: The Razorbacks signed five four-star prospects but what makes it more impressive is that all five hailed from different states. Reaching into Tennessee, Mississippi, Arizona and Texas to land prospects doesn’t happen every year so the staff deserves credit for expanding its typical recruiting footprint.
The Bad: While the Razorbacks' class is consistent with mid three-star prospects, it ranks No. 10 when it comes to total four-stars. The SEC is a tough league to compete in and in order to win at the highest level recruiting has to follow.
The Good: The Wildcats continue to improve recruiting, mainly on the back of the state of Ohio. Five of the school’s top eight signees were from the Buckeye State, including headliner JaVonte Richardson.
The Bad: Letting five-star offensive lineman Jedrick Wills slip out of state was a tough loss for the Wildcats, especially since he’s headed to fellow SEC school Alabama.
11. MISSISSIPPI STATE
The Bad: The class is fine, but it’s not going to inspire much optimism in a fan base that is coming off a bowl appearance that only took place because of the program’s APR score. When you pair the class with a 5-7 regular season finish, its easy to come away dreading what’s to come.
12. OLE MISS
The Good: Well, the Rebels managed to land a Rivals250 prospect despite a looming NCAA investigation. So that’s something. The Rebels still out-recruited Missouri. So, you know, that’s something else.
The bad: Losing five-star running back Cam Akers to Florida State wasn’t great. Struggling to get any serious momentum in the state or region was tragic. It was a forgettable cycle for Hugh Freeze, who has shown his capability to recruit top-flight classes in the past. NCAA investigations are a pain.
The Good: The Tigers signed in-state athlete DaRon Davis and in doing so held off some pretty good programs. The class is also very diverse geographically, with prospects from Texas, Georgia, Indiana, Tennessee, New Mexico, North Carolina, Illinois, Arizona, Alabama, New York, Florida, Louisiana and Michigan all in the fold.
The Bad: The Tigers missed on the state’s top two prospects, losing out to Oklahoma and Ole Miss. And while the school has a tradition of developing players, signing six two-stars in the ultra-competitive SEC isn’t where the program needs to be at this point.
The Good: The Commodores continue to recruit nationally to identify prospects and this year’s class was once again diverse with talent from all over the country. Quarterback recruiting continues to impress and Jacob Free is the highest-ranked prospect in the class.
The Bad: The Commodores signed just one player from the state of Tennessee and seemed to shun local talent in favor of other options. With Nashville becoming a hotbed of talent, it seems like a bizarre strategy to not recruit locally.