Rivals.com - Sting Factor: Ten biggest stings of the Early Signing Period
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Sting Factor: Ten biggest stings of the Early Signing Period

Maason Smith
Maason Smith (Sam Spiegelman)

During the year, Rivals.com does a feature called “Sting Factor” whenever an important prospect backs off his commitment from a school. We take reaction from the local and national level to measure just how much of an impact losing a commit can have on a school’s class. Now that the Early Signing Period is finished, we take a look at 10 prospects whose signing stung for the opposing programs who missed out on landing prime targets.

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MORE NSD: The Farrell Awards | What to look for during the rest of the Early Signing Period | Farrell's thoughts on NSD | Winners and losers from National Signing Day | Analyzing the team rankings | How every team announced commits on Twitter | The 10 biggest flips | More team rankings topics after Friday | Five teams poised for late signing period | Biggest surprises of NSD

NSD COACH INTERVIEWS: USC's Clay Helton | Oregon's Mario Cristobal | Ole Miss coach Lane Kiffin | UNC's Mack Brown

CLASS OF 2021 RANKINGS: Rivals250 | Position | Team | State

CLASS OF 2022 RANKINGS: Rivals250 | Position | Team | State

COVERAGE: Rivals Transfer Tracker | Rivals Camp Series

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Who it stings: Georgia

Why: Every No. 1 prospect from the state of Louisiana has signed with LSU since the 2012 recruiting class (that was when Landon Collins picked Alabama) so history was on the side of Smith signing with the Tigers. But there were legitimate concerns about LSU’s off-the-field issues and Smith had a lot of thinking to do heading into his decision. He had taken multiple visits to Georgia, the Bulldogs were pushing hard and dipping into Louisiana for the No. 1 player in the country would have been a massive recruiting victory. But it didn’t happen.

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Who it stings: Oklahoma

Why: This was a major win for Texas A&M which battled until the end for Foster and with family connections in College Station, an offensive line that continues to play well and could see many of its members taken in the NFL Draft and an outstanding recruiting class coming in along with considerations for a track and field future, Foster could not turn down the Aggies. It was a huge close for A&M with Foster, Remington Strickland, Shemar Turner and Adeleye. Oklahoma put a ton of time and effort into Foster and he could have been a massive addition up front - literally - but it wasn’t meant to be.

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Who it stings: Florida, Alabama

Why: Adeleye had been committed to Ohio State earlier in this recruiting process but backed off that pledge and he was at Bradenton (Fla.) IMG Academy, so a big opportunity presented itself for the Gators down the stretch. He also took a late visit to Gainesville which is usually a good sign in recruiting. But the Katy (Texas) Thompkins standout decided on the Aggies as they continue to recruit very well along the defensive line. Florida and Alabama have elite players everywhere but losing a five-star definitely hurts.

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Who it stings: Florida, Alabama

Why: At one point or another, Georgia, Florida or Alabama led in Sorey’s recruitment and all three SEC powers were battling for his services. Sorey is an outstanding athlete who could be a star as an outside linebacker or as an edge rusher and not too many players of his caliber come along each recruiting cycle. It definitely stings the Gators and the Crimson Tide, though, since Sorey is staying in the conference and will be a part of the Bulldogs’ outstanding defense.

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Who it stings: Georgia

Why: Up until his announcement, there was speculation that Edwards could end up at Georgia which would have been a major recruiting loss for Michigan but the state’s top skill player picked the Wolverines. He could be utilized greatly in Michigan’s offense and he provides even more high-level talent for offensive coordinator Josh Gattis to work with. Georgia is loaded at running back but stealing Edwards from the Midwest would have been a major recruiting coup for coach Kirby Smart and his staff.

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Who it stings: Auburn

Why: Goodwin decommitted from Auburn on Nov. 30 but the Tigers remained a serious contender in his recruitment in the final days. However, after Auburn fired coach Gus Malzahn, there was a void and Goodwin started looking elsewhere. Florida State poked around but LSU made the four-star running back a major priority and he ended up signing with the Tigers. If Malzahn kept his job or Auburn quickly hired a coach before signing day then Goodwin might have rejoined Auburn’s recruiting class.

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Who it stings: LSU

Why: This could also be considered a flip but LSU was working mightily heading into signing day and the Tigers had some confidence that they might be able to get Wiggins back again in their recruiting class. After being committed to LSU since late August, Wiggins started to rethink his commitment in recent days and the four-star switched his pledge to Clemson in the days before signing day. LSU made one final run at him but the opportunity at Clemson was too much for Wiggins to turn down.

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Who it stings: Arizona State, UCLA

Why: Dart had phenomenal numbers during his senior season and saw his recruitment take off as USC, UCLA and Arizona State were the main contenders in his recruitment. The Trojans had four-star Jake Garcia and four-star Miller Moss committed at the time they got serious about Dart and once Garcia backed off his pledge (he ended up at Miami) it became clear USC became the frontrunner for Dart. UCLA and Arizona State also have quarterbacks committed in its classes so it’s not a major sting but Dart is super talented and could have provided a huge spark to either of those offenses. Now, the Bruins and Sun Devils will have to face him in Pac-12 play.

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Who it stings: SMU

Why: SMU was this close to having another huge score in its 2021 recruiting class as Byrd was serious about the Mustangs and many felt they were the leader only days before his decision. But when the four-star offensive tackle reconsidered what he loved so much about Oklahoma - the big campus, the stadium, playing for national titles, playing for position coach Bill Bedenbaugh - and his experiences at the Sooner Summit and other stops, the Sooners just couldn’t be overtaken.

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Who it stings: Penn State

Why: Murrell decommitted from UCLA in late November and it looked like last week that he would end up signing with Penn State but the Bruins’ coaching staff continued to make Murrell a priority, sold him on football and life after football and they won out with his signature on Friday. From a small town in Alabama, UCLA took a shot on recruiting Murrell to the big city and it worked out. He had a monster senior season and could legitimately be one of the most under-appreciated prospects in this class.

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