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National Signing Day: Winners and losers

Deion Sanders
Deion Sanders (USA Today Sports Images)

The first day of the Early Signing Period is in the books and almost every top prospect who is going to announce during this time is now in the books. There was a lot of news and incredible twists and turns. Here is a look at the winners and losers.


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WINNERS

Deion Sanders

The Jackson State coach pulled off the biggest shocker in Rivals history dating back to 2002 by flipping No. 1 overall prospect Travis Hunter from Florida State. Sanders hinted about “shocking the world” in recent days but everybody says that leading up to signing day. Hunter and Sanders actually did it. The five-star athlete from Suwanee (Ga.) Collins Hill was a longtime FSU commit that had been rumored to flip to Georgia but no one - other than Sanders - saw this one coming until just hours before.

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Name, Image and Likeness

The ramifications of Travis Hunter’s flip from Florida State to Jackson State, in part, had to be because of NIL possibilities that the five-star could access and utilize being associated with Deion Sanders and that could change the scope of recruiting. Let’s not be too hyperbolic and say a majority of top prospects are going to go this route but Hunter’s decision certainly opens up the possibility of this happening more as high-profile players couple themselves with high-profile, marketable coaches. If Hunter could flip from FSU to Jackson State, anything can happen.

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Tennessee

Tyre West
Tyre West (Rivals.com)

When Tennessee landed four-star running back Justin Williams on Wednesday morning, it was not a complete shock as he favored the Vols over Auburn. But I was skeptical Tuesday night when I got word that the Vols were possibly the team to beat for four-star DT Tyre West, who was expected to flip from Georgia but Florida State seemed like the destination. Instead, coach Josh Heupel and his staff pulled off a big win by landing West, a former five-star, who has tons of ability. Another big addition late was four-star DE James Pearce, who doesn’t talk much but lets his game speak for itself.

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Texas

Sark After Dark? How about Sark in the light of day? Texas coach Steve Sarkisian and his staff had a phenomenal Wednesday - and that doesn’t even count the great few days the Longhorns had leading up to it with many more commitments. On Wednesday, Texas flipped high four-star cornerback Terrance Brooks from Ohio State which was the marquee one and also got DE Ethan Burke to come over from Michigan and ATH Xavion Brice to flip from Oklahoma. It was a helluva day for the Longhorns and they might not be done yet with Devon Campbell and others still out there.

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Michigan

Everything is going Michigan’s way these days. The Wolverines beat Ohio State, won the Big Ten championship, is going to the College Football Playoff and had lots of flipping success on signing day. Four-star former Clemson commit Keon Sabb essentially flipped after being decommitted for just a few days. That’s a big win that gets the Wolverines back into Bradenton (Fla.) IMG Academy. Landing four-star receiver Darrius Clemons picked the Wolverines after they weren’t really all that in the picture but a weekend visit changed everything. Michigan also flipped former Notre Dame pledge Amorion Walker and dual-threat QB Alex Orji from Virginia Tech. Losing four-star Deone Walker to Kentucky and high three-star DE Ethan Burke, who flipped to Texas, doesn’t hurt as much after all the recruiting victories.

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Auburn

Camden Brown
Camden Brown (Nick Lucero/Rivals.com)

There were some misses for Auburn’s class with four-star running back Justin Williams and Darrius Clemons but the Tigers have to be thrilled with signing day and the few days before it because they loaded up in a big way. On Wednesday, Auburn landed four-star receiver Camden Brown (who was seriously thinking about recommitting to Pitt), four-star linebacker Robert Woodyard (who was committed to Alabama forever) and four-star JUCO DB Keionte Scott. All that good news along Enyce Sledge, JaDarian Rhym, Austin Ausberry and Marquise Gilbert over the last couple days leads to a great finish.

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Texas A&M

Everyone expected a loaded Texas A&M signing day and that’s what happened. High four-star OL Kam Dewberry, high four-star defensive ends Anthony Lucas and Enai White and former LSU tight end commit four-star Jake Johnson all picked the Aggies. Texas A&M might not be done yet as five-star cornerback Denver Harris is expected to sign this weekend. The Aggies sit with the third-best class in the country right now and it could move higher soon.

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Alabama

Big surprise - Alabama did great on signing day. The Crimson Tide didn’t land top target five-star defensive end Marvin Jones but his Plantation (Fla.) American Heritage teammate four-star cornerback Earl Little is in the class and Alabama also landed four-star LB Jihaad Campbell (a former Clemson commit), in-state four-star DL Khurtiss Perry, who was also pursued by Auburn, and it also beat out LSU for four-star receiver Shazz Preston from St. James, La. The Crimson Tide remain No. 1 in the team rankings heading toward February.

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Maryland

Jaishawn Barham
Jaishawn Barham (Nick Lucero/Rivals.com)

Mike Locksley admitted it - a few days ago it looked pretty dire for some of these guys but that’s why recruiting is a 24-hour business, the market is always open, and the Terrapins coaching and recruiting staff pulled out all the stops to win a lot of late battles. The biggest victory came when four-star defensive end Jaishawn Barham flipped from South Carolina to Maryland after only being committed for days but Andre Roye also flipped from Penn State, four-star Octavian Smith committed and Maryland definitely improved its roster by leaps and bounds on Wednesday.

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LOSERS

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Florida State

There’s no two ways about this one: Florida State just had a rough day. Longtime commit and No. 1 prospect Travis Hunter shockingly flipped from the Seminoles to Jackson State. If that wasn’t enough, five-star OL Julian Armella delayed his decision and four-star receiver Devaughn Mortimer flipped to Louisville seemingly out of nowhere. Four-star DL Tyre West unexpectedly flipped to Tennessee instead of FSU and offensive coordinator Kenny Dillingham left to join the new Oregon staff. Landing four-star athlete Azareyeh Thomas was a bit of sunshine because his length and ranginess is special but it was a challenging day.

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LSU

Aaron Anderson
Aaron Anderson (Sam Spiegelman)

The nation’s top tight end decommitted about a week ago but on signing day the Tigers lost out on flipping Aaron Anderson back from Alabama and fellow four-star receiver Shazz Preston picked the Crimson Tide as well. Last night, LSU flipped WR Landon Ibieta from Miami and got four-star DE Quency Wiggins and three-star DB Jordan Allen on signing day but there were some significant misses along the way.

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Clemson

There is a lot of reaction questioning coach Dabo Swinney’s recruiting tactics that have built Clemson into national champions but his methodical approach also lends to the slimmest of margin for ever and with both coordinators leaving for head coaching jobs there was some major attrition to the class. Former commits Jihaad Campbell (Alabama), Daylen Everette (Clemson) and Keon Sabb (Michigan) ended up elsewhere and as of this writing Jaren Kanak is still in the class but could flip to Oklahoma.

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