NSD: The biggest surprises from Day 1 of the Early Signing Period
Twists and turns are what making following the recruiting process fun and this year the surprises were coming left and right. Take a look at the biggest surprises from the first day of the Early Signing Period.
MORE: What's left to watch for during the Early Signing Period? | How every Power Five school announced signings | NSD blog | Rivals studio show
CLASS OF 2020 RANKINGS: Rivals250 | Position | Team | State
In perhaps the biggest surprise of the day, Jarrett signed with Maryland. The five-star receiver wasn’t even expected to sign on Wednesday, having stated on his social media accounts earlier this week that he would be waiting until February. Maryland got Jarrett for his last official visit but the consensus was that Alabama had the momentum and would eventually sign him. Mike Locksley, the head coach at Maryland, really flexed his muscles and showed that he’s better at recruiting the talented areas in and surrounding Washington D.C. than any other coach in the nation.
Burch kept everybody guessing throughout the recruiting process. He didn’t do any recruiting interviews like most prospects and he didn’t even announce where he was going to visit ahead of time. Georgia, Alabama, LSU, Clemson and South Carolina were announced as his finalists and most believed LSU and Georgia had the inside track leading up to Signing Day. In the end Burch decided to sign with the hometown team.
The nation’s top-ranked linebacker announced his commitment to Oregon over top contenders Clemson and USC, upending months of speculation that Flows would end up at Clemson. The Tigers appear to give their last linebacker spot to five-star Trenton Simpson on Sunday and that swung the door wide open for Oregon and USC. Momentum had been building behind the Ducks and Mario Cristobal and his staff were able to hold off the Trojans even though in-state squad got Flowe’s final official visit.
Oklahoma held McClellan’s commitment since July 2017 but as the months rolled on and signing day got closer the Sooners’ grip on him began to loosen. Alabama swooped in and made sure they were able to sign the Rivals250 running back but LSU, Texas and Texas A&M were also in the picture. Texas got McClellan for an official visit and Bama hosted him for official and unofficial visits. Alabama didn’t have as great of Signing Day as it was hoping for, but the addition of McClellan should brighten the spirits around Tuscaloosa a bit.
Hayes was pretty much a done deal to sign with Ole Miss up until late Tuesday night. The Rivals250 defensive lineman then had a change of heart and decided to sign with Kentucky. The Wildcats moved quickly here and weren’t even considered a top contender for late last week. Now Mark Stoops and his staff have added another impressive defensive lineman to this surging recruiting class.
It had been long rumored that Texas A&M would end up with Smith in its recruiting class but that turned out not to be the case. Florida, where his father went to school, was also in the mix but Stanford reached back into Texas and pulled out another big-time prospect. The Cardinal were playing from behind for most of Smith’s recruitment but everything they could offer off of the field played a big role.
This had been brewing for about a week or so but Greene made it official on Signing Day. Clemson was able to flip the LSU commit after Dabo Swinney’s squad made a final push. Greene took an an official visit to Clemson during the last weekend before Signing Day and the Tigers knocked it out of the park. LSU turned its attention elsewhere and Greene took advantage of the situation.
Originally planning to wait for the February signing period, Jacobs surprised everybody and signed with Maryland. His older brother, former Alabama running back Josh Jacobs, played under Maryland head coach Mike Locksley and was heavily involved in his recruitment. Oklahoma State looked like the favorite heading into Signing Day but Maryland was able to pull another surprise and sign the four-star running back.
Yaseen was committed to Northwestern for over a year but the Wildcats weren’t able to close. Purdue swooped in and stole the four-star receiver on Signing Day. Word started to leak out on Tuesday that Purdue was picking up momentum coming off of his official visit last weekend and it turned out the Boilermakers made a big enough impression to get him to sign with them on Signing Day.
Georgia pulled the ultimate power move in signing Blaske. Kirby Smart offered in the in-state lineman on Monday after it looked like NC State was going to sign him. After a few hours and a couple deep breaths, Blaske made the decision to stay closer to home and play for the Dawgs.
The No. 1 team in the nation was poised to sign the No. 1 recruiting class and then prospects started slipping away. The first casualty was Rivals100 defensive end Demon Clowney, who is exploring other options and will sign in February. Then LSU lost five-star receiver Rakim Jarrett to Maryland. Rivals250 wide receiver Jermain Burton flipped to Georgia after being committed to LSU since April. The Tigers also weren’t able to flip linebacker Demouy Kennedy from Alabama and didn’t get five-star defensive lineman Jordan Burch, who committed to South Carolina. Ed Orgeron and his staff were able to sign Rivals100 linebacker Phillip Webb and Rivals250 offensive lineman Marcus Dumervil but LSU’s recruiting class fell down to No. 4 in the team rankings after the dust settled.
GATORS' HIGH HOPES DASHED
Florida had a chance to make some big splashes on National Signing Day but the Gators did not meet expectations. They had a lot of momentum with Texas A&M Rivals100 defensive end commit Donell Harris and some people even start predicting he was sign with the Gators. Those predictions turned out to be incorrect as he signed with the Aggies on Wednesday. There were similar predictions about Rivals100 Alabama defensive tackle commit Timothy Smith but he also didn’t sign with the Gators. Later in the day, four-star defensive tackle Clyde Pinder seemed to be leaning towards signing with the Gators but decided to stick with his original commitment to North Carolina. The Gators still finished with a top-10 class but there were many that expected a top-five finish.
KENTUCKY FINISHES HOT
The Wildcats rolled into Signing Day having picked up commitment from four-star offensive linemen Reuben Adams Jr. and Jeremy Flax on Tuesday and then added Rivals250 defensive tackle Josaih Hayes and fellow four-star defensive tackle Octavious Oxendine. Kentucky prioritized the offensive and defensive lines in this recruiting class and those efforts paid off in a big way, closing out this recruiting class with four four-star prospects.