National Signing Day recap: Grading new Power Five coaches
With National Signing Day in the books the large majority of the recruits in the 2022 class have signed with their college of choice. It's a very challenging time of year for college coaches, and it can be even harder for a head coach just beginning his tenure at a new school.
This year, there were 14 Power Five schools with new head coaches. Take a look at how each of them did as the Early Signing Period comes to a close.
MORE NATIONAL SIGNING DAY: Winners and losers | The Gorney awards | Travis Hunter spurns Florida State, signs with Jackson State | Breaking down team rankings | Where will Deion's next job be? | How teams announced their signees | Top 10 storylines of Late Signing Period | Ten best still available | NSD Blog | Ten biggest flips of NSD
New head coach: Billy Napier
Previous head coach: Dan Mullen
Current team ranking: 47
In the week between Mullen's firing and Napier being named head coach, Florida had already suffered decommitments from Rivals100 receiver Isaiah Bond and three-star defensive back Jamarrien Burt. In the days following Napier's arrival in Gainesville, Florida's class seemingly fell apart. Rivals100 receiver Jayden Gibson, Rivals250 quarterback Nick Evers, four-star receiver CJ Smith and three-stars EJ Lightsey, Terrance Gibbs and Francois Nolton all decommitted.
There is reason for optimism, though. Rivals250 defensive lineman Chris McClellan committed to Florida before Napier was hired and signed on Wednesday. Napier and his staff were big winners on signing day, too. They signed Rivals250 defensive back and former Notre Dame commit Devin Moore, Rivals100 safety Kamari Wilson out of IMG Academy (considered by many a heavy Georgia lean prior to signing day) and five-star linebacker Shemar James (a former Florida commit that was considering Alabama and Georgia).
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New head coach: Brent Venables
Previous head coach: Lincoln Riley
Current team ranking: 15
Oklahoma was likely on its way to signing a top 10 recruiting class this year, but then Riley left to be the head coach at USC. In the week or so after Riley left and before Venables was named the next head coach of the Sooners, five-star running back Raleek Brown, top 60 prospect Gabriel Brownlow-Dindy, Rivals250 defensive end Derrick Moore, four-star offensive lineman Demetrius Hunter and Rivals250 linebacker Kobie McKinzie decommitted from Oklahoma. The Sooners also lost receiver Xavion Brice in a signing day flip when he signed with Texas.
Venables and his staff did stop the bleeding and finished signing day with the No. 15 recruiting class. McKinzie, who committed to Texas shortly after decommitting from Oklahoma, flipped back to the Sooners. Rivals250 quarterback Nick Evers and top 50 prospect Jayden Gibson, both former Florida commits, signed with Oklahoma and the Sooners also picked up a signature from Florida native Alton Tarber. Closing with three Rivals250 commitments is pretty impressive for Venables, and he has the Sooners in position to possibly flip current Rivals250 ATH Jaran Kanak, who remains unsigned.
New head coach: Lincoln Riley
Previous head coach: Clay Helton
Current team ranking: 64
Riley's sudden departure from Oklahoma to USC was bumpy, to say the least, but the Trojans have some very impressive recruits in this class and the potential for a few more down the road. The Trojans introduced Riley as their new head coach on Nov. 28, and a few days later Southern California native and five-star running back Raleek Brown (a former Oklahoma commit) had committed to USC. In addition to Brown, USC signed Rivals100 defensive back Zion Branch and three-star linebacker Garrison Madden on signing day. On Friday, former USC commit Domani Jackson rejoined the class after evaluating his options because of the coaching change. Riley and his staff held off Alabama for the five-star cornerback. There are only six commits in USC's class right now, but it is a top 15 class in terms of average stars per commit.
New head coach: Mario Cristobal
Previous head coach: Manny Diaz
Current team ranking: 56
Miami's long process of luring and finally hiring Cristobal made for an interesting signing day. In the lead-up to Wednesday, the Canes lost commitments from three-stars Justin Medlock and Landon Ibeita but bounced back with a very good signing day. Rivals100 defensive back Nyjalik Kelly, a South Florida recruit, signed with the Canes after a big push from Cristobal and his staff. They also landed a signature from three-star defensive back Jaden Harris out of Georgia. Perhaps the biggest news of the Early Signing Period for Miami was the flip of Rivals250 Alabama tight end commit Jaleel Skinner. The IMG Academy standout took an official visit to Coral Gables earlier this month and Cristobal and staff were able to capitalize on the late momentum. This is a very small class for Miami, but there are some big names still on the board that the Canes could still get.
New head coach: Brian Kelly
Previous head coach: Ed Orgeron
Current team ranking: 26
LSU had some work to do once news broke that Kelly would become the next head coach. No. 1 tight end Jake Johnson and Decoldest Crawford all decommitted after Kelly was announced, and top 60 prospect TreVonte' Citizen announced his decommitment the day before. Rivals250 defensive back JaDarian Rhym had been committed to LSU since January, but he flipped to Auburn the day before signing day.
Kelly and his staff closed on signing day by flipping receiver Landon Ibieta from Miami and signing former Penn State defensive back commit Jordan Allen. LSU's biggest signing of the day was from borderline five-star defensive lineman Quency Wiggins. The Tigers were hoping to land receivers Aaron Anderson and Shazz Preston, but the Rivals100 receivers ended up signing with Alabama.
New head coach: Dan Lanning
Previous head coach: Mario Cristobal
Current team ranking: 43
Lanning was only officially introduced as Oregon's new head coach four days before signing day, so he didn't have much time to work his recruiting magic. The Ducks only signed seven of their 12 commitments. Lanning did, however, pick up a signing day commitment from Anthony Jones, a three-star athlete that had been committed to Texas.
Cristobal's drawn-out departure and Oregon's late hire of Lanning came at a high price, costing the Ducks commitments from five-star Kelvin Banks, Rivals250 linebacker TJ Dudley, four-star defensive back Jahlil Florence, four-star quarterback Tanner Bailey, four-star JUCO offensive lineman Percy Lewis, three-star linebacker Emar'rion Winston, three-star offensive lineman Cameron Williams, three-star defensive back Landon Hullaby and three-star tight end Andre Dollar.
New head coach: Marcus Freeman
Previous head coach: Brian Kelly
Current team ranking: 7
Freeman and the Fighting Irish had already put together one of the best recruiting classes in the country, but the surprising departure by Kelly was difficult to grapple with, especially in the days immediately following Kelly's announcement. Rivals100 receiver CJ Williams, Rivals250 cornerback Devin Moore and three-star receiver Amorion Walker all decommitted or flipped to another school.
But there was definitely some good recruiting news, too. Wisconsin native and Rivals250 offensive lineman Billy Schrauth signed with the Fighting Irish, picking them over the Badgers. That's a quality win on the recruiting trail and takes some of the sting out of losing the three other prospects. Freeman and his staff should also be credited for keeping this impressive recruiting class mostly intact. Notre Dame is the only program with a new head coach that finished with a top 10 recruiting class.
New head coach: Sonny Dykes
Previous head coach: Gary Patterson
Current team ranking: 67
Patterson and his staff had put together a pretty good recruiting class, but there were a lot of decommitments during the three-and-a-half weeks between Patterson's exit and Dykes being named the next head coach. Once he got his feet until him, Dykes was able to get commitments from Rivals250 receiver Jordan Hudson (a former SMU commit), four-star defensive back Chace Biddle (former SMU commit), Rivals250 defensive end Michael Ibukun-Okeyode, three-star defensive back Kyron Chambers (flipped from Arizona), and three-star quarterback Josh Hoover (flipped from Indiana). That's a quality run of commitments for a new coach with just three-and-a-half weeks between when he was hired and the beginning of the Early Signing Period.
New head coach: Joey McGuire
Previous head coach: Matt Wells
Current team ranking: 39
Since becoming the new head coach at Texas Tech in early November, McGuire and his staff have picked up commitments from 10 prospects. Nine of those commitments are from three-star prospects and eight of them are in-state commitments. McGuire, the former head coach at Texas powerhouse Cedar Hill High School, tapped into his in-state connections to help the Red Raiders to a respectable finish.
New head coach: Brent Pry
Previous head coach: Justin Fuente
Current team ranking: 33
Pry and his staff had some good moments and not-so-good moments on signing day. Former commits Ramon Brown (Maryland), Alex Orji (Michigan), Malcolm Jones (Michigan State) and D'Andre Martin (South Carolina) signed elsewhere, but Pry went after his new in-state rival. Virginia Tech flipped four-star offensive lineman Brody Meadows and three-star defensive lineman Keyshawn Burgos away from Virginia, bolstering the front lines on both sides of the ball. After extending an offer on signing day, the Hokies also signed in-state offensive lineman Hunter Mclain. On Friday, Virginia Tech also landed a signature from in-state athlete Xavion Bradshaw, son of former Marshall and NFL standout Ahmad Bradshaw.
New head coach: Mike Elko
Previous head coach: David Cutcliffe
Current team ranking: 51
Elko, returning to the state of North Carolina, became Duke's head coach five days before the Early Signing Period started. The Blue Devils only suffered decommitments from tight end Max Klare and Savion Riley after he was named head coach. Otherwise, Duke's class stayed intact. Elko and his staff didn't add any additional recruits to this class after he was hired.
New head coach: Tony Elliott
Previous head coach: Bronco Mendenhall
Current team ranking: 88
Just five days before the Early Signing Period, the news broke that Elliott would become the next head coach at Virginia. It wasn't a spectacular signing day, but Elliott was able to hold onto nine players that had committed to the previous staff. The Cavaliers lost commitments from three-stars Keyshawn Burgos, Joe Brown, Marcus McKenzie, Dominique McKenzie and four-star Brody Meadows after Elliott's hiring was announced.
New head coach: Kalen DeBoer
Previous head coach: Jimmy Lake
Current team ranking: n/a
The 2021 season was a forgettable one for Washington fans, and this recruiting class mirrors the success the Huskies had on the field. Just five recruits signed with Washington this week, but DeBoer is bringing in a few very talented players. Rivals250 tight end Ryan Otton's connections to the school are well documented and four-star receiver Germie Bernard could be a very early contributor for the Huskies. Right now, this recruiting class isn't ranked inside the top 100 of the team rankings, but there should be a number of additions by the time the February Signing Period rolls around. DeBoer was announced as Washington's head coach on Nov. 29, and there have been no new additions to this recruiting class since then.
New head coach: Jake Dickert
Previous head coach: Nick Rolovich
Current team ranking: 86
Dickert was named interim head coach at Washington State on Oct. 18 and was made the permanent head coach at the end of November. The circumstances and publicity surrounding the firing of former head coach Nick Rolovich made recruiting at Washington State fairly difficult for Dickert and his staff, who signed 10 prospects on Wednesday. The highest rated of Washington State's signees is tight end Andre Dollar, a high three-star and former Oregon commit. Dickert and his staff brought in three other commitments (each of them rated as two-stars) since Rolovich's firing.