NSD 2016: Biggest winners of signing day
There are haves and there are have-nots coming out of the 2016 National Signing Day. Here we take a look at those coaches, fan bases and burger franchises who are flashing big smiles after Wednesday’s action.
Saban and Alabama’s recruiting prowess is the strongest in the nation. Every year the Crimson Tide are expected to sign a top class and usually deliver. However, in 2015 the Tide were toppled by USC, and they had some work to do in order to climb to the top in 2016. Work is exactly what the Crimson Tide did as three five-star prospects and two Rivals250s chose Alabama on National Signing Day. The big day put the Crimson Tide right back at the No. 1 spot. That makes seven out of the last nine years Alabama has finished No. 1 in the team rankings. Ridiculous.
THE MICHIGAN FAN BASE
For decades the Big Ten was known for “three yards and a cloud of dust.” Right now it represents the new age of recruiting, led by Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh, who capped off a month of sleepovers and tree climbing with a National Signing Day party in Ann Arbor that brought out celebrities as diverse as quarterback Tom Brady, wrestler Ric Flair and hip hop group Migos. Those in attendance had plenty to celebrate as the Wolverines landed the nation’s No. 1 player, five-star defensive tackle Rashan Gary. While it can be debated whether Michigan’s approach is a positive or negative for the recruiting process, one thing that cannot be argued is the Michigan fan base is having a lot of fun right now.
CHARLIE STRONG'S JOB SECURITY
Charlie Strong still has to show improvement on the field, but the events of today could go a long way to helping those efforts. It does not get much better than the Longhorns' National Signing Day close. They rocketed up the team ranks, and finished at the top of the Big 12 for the second year in a row. Flipping five-star Erick Fowler from LSU on signing day grabs the biggest headline, but there were plenty more throughout the day. On signing day alone the Longhorns added two Rivals100 standouts, and two more Rivals250 prospects. The defense definitely got better, and so did Strong’s chances of improving on the field in 2016.
Quarterbacks such as Ole Miss commit Shea Patterson and Georgia's Jacob Eason tend to make life easy for receivers, and receivers know that. So it is no surprise to see some of the nation’s top receiving targets sign on the dotted line to catch passes from those five-stars. Patterson saw Rivals100 receiver A.J. Brown choose Ole Miss over Mississippi State and Alabama, and three-star tight end Jacob Mathis also opted to spend his college days in Oxford. Meanwhile, Eason and the Bulldogs added five-star athlete Mecole Hardman Jr. and three-star receiver Tyler Simmons.
NEW HEAD COACHES
There was a lot of change atop FBS programs this winter, and several head coaches had to scramble to finish the 2016 class at their new programs. Overall, the group had a very good day, with a few new team leaders doing particularly well. The highest finishing team with a postseason coaching change in the recruiting rankings is Georgia, where Kirby Smart landed two three-stars, a four-star and five-star Mecole Hardman on Wednesday. Perhaps more impressive is what Scott Frost did down at UCF, though, where the Knights flipped Rivals250 wide receiver Dredrick Snelson from Minnesota and added help along both lines. Other new head coaches with good signing days included BYU’s Kalani Sitake, Iowa State’s Matt Campbell and South Carolina’s Will Muschamp.
THE MYERS FAMILY
Brothers Nate Craig-Myers and Jayvaughn Myers had never been committed to the same school throughout the entire course of the recruiting process, meaning the family was facing the possibility of having two kids at separate schools and four years of rough travel schedules to maneuver. That was alleviated on National Signing Day when the brothers both declared their intentions to attend Auburn. Jayvaughn, the younger of the two brothers, had been a Florida commit for a period during his recruitment. Nate was an Auburn commit for much of his junior year before de-committing last May. Now that both will be suiting up for the Tigers, the family will not have to determine which kid to see on which weekend.
FLORIDA STATE'S LINE COACHES
The Seminoles landed five four-star commitments on signing day and for a period of time Wednesday held the overall team rankings lead. Four of those prospects are linemen and the fifth – 6-foot-2, 250-pound Dontavious Jackson – is probably going to end up in the trenches as well. Offensive line coach Rick Trickett saw his 2016 haul grow to six with the additions of 6-foot-6, 310-pound offensive tackle Jauan Williams and 6-foot-5, 297-pound offensive guard Landon Dickerson. Defensive line coach Odell Haggins added Rivals250 defensive tackle Shavar Manuel, Rivals100 defensive end Brian Burns and likely the aforementioned Jackson.
Alabama claims the top spot in the team rankings, but the conference boasts nine teams in the top 25 with Ole Miss, Auburn and LSU each finishing in the top 10. The SEC also added 16 five-star recruits, including two five-star quarterbacks. Impressive considering only 33 prospects - high school, prep, and junior college - received a five-star ranking. The next closest conference was the Pac-12 with five five-star signings. That is a remarkable achievement.
THE ELEMENT OF SURPRISE
Every year guys try to pull a surprise or two, but in 2016 the surprise was in full effect. Five-star Jeffery Simmons is a perfect example. It looked like he was headed to Alabama or Ole Miss, but on National Signing Day he announced in favor of Mississippi State. Tyrie Cleveland had everyone guessing before he inked with Florida over TCU, Arkansas and Houston. Erick Fowler’s flip from LSU to Texas was a bit of an unknown going into the day as well. E.J. Price and Connor Murphy to USC, Devin Asiasi to Michigan, and the list could go on. There are always some twists and turns, and 2016 had several.
IN-N-OUT BURGER FRANCHISES IN L.A.
Both USC and UCLA finished strong on signing day, and in the process added size to their classes. That should be good news for the West Coast’s fabled fast food chain. Take, for example, new USC commit E.J. Price out of Lawrenceville, Ga. The state of Georgia does not have In-N-Out Burger, but the chain has a chance to secure a customer for life now with the 6-foot-6, 317-pound Price headed its way. Throw in the Trojans' new defensive end commits Connor Murphy and Josh Fatu and new UCLA line commits Boss Tagaloa and Francisco Perez and In-N-Out locations around the Los Angeles area might be seeing Double-Double orders going out the door a little quicker.