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National Signing Day: The 10 biggest stings from Wednesday

Malachi Wideman
Malachi Wideman (Nick Lucero/Rivals.com)

The “Sting Factor” is a feature looking at players who made big decisions on National Signing Day as one team benefitted in a big way and another lost out. Here is a look at 10 of the biggest stings from Wednesday:

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Clayton to Colorado, Gibbs to Georgia Tech

Who it stings: Florida

Why: Clayton and Gibbs were both seriously considering Florida in the final days but neither flipped to the Gators on signing day. That is not particularly surprising since it was a stretch that either was going to end up in Gainesville anyway, but it does sting to miss out on two four-star running backs on the same day. Clayton stuck with Colorado and Gibbs stayed with Georgia Tech as numerous teams tried to flip him, but staying home and playing for coach Geoff Collins won out in the end.

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Drennen to Kentucky

Who it stings: USC

Why: Drennen apparently did not make his final decision until Tuesday night, but this was a case of persistence by the Kentucky staff that really paid off. The four-star running back got his offer from the Wildcats in the 8th grade, but this one came down to Kentucky and USC and there was definitely some confidence from the Trojans’ side down the stretch.

At times, Ohio State and Michigan were also considered frontrunners but Kentucky assistant coach Vince Marrow and others stayed on Drennen throughout and ended up winning out.

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Henderson to Arkansas

Who it stings: Ole Miss

Why: Henderson narrowed his choices down to Ole Miss and Arkansas and his recent visit to Oxford had the Rebels guardedly optimistic they could land him, but there were too many coaching connections to overcome with the new Razorbacks’ staff. Missouri was a major contender, but now with former coach Barry Odom and former offensive line coach Brad Davis in Fayetteville, that was too much to overcome. Ole Miss had the best shot other than Arkansas as he always had interest, but Arkansas won out on Wednesday.

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Jackson to Texas A&M

Who it stings: Alabama

Why: An early LSU pledge, Jackson backed off that commitment and Ole Miss, Texas A&M, Alabama, Auburn and others emerged in his recruitment as it played out over the last many months. Down the stretch, the Crimson Tide and the Aggies emerged as the two frontrunners and heading into Wednesday it looked like Alabama was definitely the team to beat. But Jackson said there was just too much Texas A&M offered and the four-star couldn’t turn it down. Alabama doesn’t lose out on many elite prospects, but Jackson is one as the Aggies won out for his services.

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St. John to Arkansas

Who it stings: Missouri

Why: This was almost a double sting for Missouri since St. John was committed to the Tigers early on but after then-coach Barry Odom was fired, St. John reopened his recruitment. Numerous programs got involved but the four-star ended up taking just one official visit to Arkansas, where Odom was hired as an assistant coach. It was clear the Razorbacks were the frontrunner.

In the final weeks St. John had opportunities to visit Missouri but he never did, making it nearly obvious that he would end up in Fayetteville. Other than missing out on St. John, the Tigers had a solid day.

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Umanmielen to Florida

Who it stings: Baylor and Texas

Why: There was definitely an element of unpredictability to Umanmielen’s recruitment and so picking Florida on signing day was not a complete shock, but it definitely was a surprise. An early Texas commit, the Longhorns were seriously involved until the end and Baylor was making a serious run as well but a relationship with Florida assistant David Turner, the lure of playing in the SEC and forging his own path away from home all played a factor in him picking the Gators.

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Wideman to Tennessee

Who it stings: Ole Miss and Florida State

Why: Wideman was committed to Florida State for seemingly ever but it never felt like he would end up with the Seminoles as this became a Tennessee/Ole Miss battle down the stretch.

The Volunteers won out and Wideman said it was because of the relationships he built with the coaches and because of the opportunities in Knoxville. Opportunities knock when you’re a 6-foot-5 receiver and Wideman is a big addition to this class.

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Williams to Miami

Who it stings: Florida

Why: In the biggest stunner on signing day, Williams picked Miami over Florida as the Gators were considered to be the far-and-away frontrunner heading into his decision. This was a strange recruitment from the start, though, as he committed to the Hurricanes early on, backed off that pledge and picked Oregon and stayed with that decision for a long time.

But Williams opened up again and that brought us to signing day where he was choosing between the Gators and the Hurricanes. His decision was even more surprising given that former Miami running back Lorenzo Lingard just transferred to Florida and Lingard is Williams’ cousin.

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