The Farrell Awards: Handing out the hardware for signing day
The Farrell Awards are always popular, or unpopular, depending on which team and prospects you like. But love them or hate them, they are a must following National Signing Day.
So wearing my best tux, here is the hardware from the biggest day of the year, the Oscars of recruiting.
Note: This article includes only players that made their decisions on National Signing Day.
Five-star WR George Pickens kept everyone confused until he signed his NLI on Wednesday morning. The Auburn commit had been rumored with a flip to Georgia, Tennessee and Miami at different times, but in the end it was the Bulldogs who pulled off the surprise and huge recruiting victory. Pickens is a dynamic receiver who should have every opportunity to become an early contributor in Athens this fall. While Georgia celebrates, this is a major loss for several programs, especially Auburn. Anytime you can strengthen yourself while hurting a conference rival, it makes the victory even more sweet.
Plenty of flips were rumored, and several happened, but this award goes to Khris Bogle. After committing to Alabama at the All-America Bowl, he kept his options open with both Miami and Florida becoming major players. Many predicted Miami would eventually become his landing place, but he surprised many by signing with the Gators on Wednesday morning. Anytime you spurn Alabama and then pull off a surprise at the last minute, you will win this award.
While he tried to make it more dramatic by saying that he was still considering other schools, five-star OL Darnell Wright to Tennessee has basically been a done deal for months. He took countless trips to Knoxville over the last year, which helped him continually solidify his relationship with the coaching staff. The Vols obviously need more high-end talent on their roster to compete in the SEC, and adding a five-star offensive lineman is a good way to continue that process.
Four-star Alabama commit Bryon Young surprised some by not signing during the Early Signing Period, and then further caused drama by taking official visits to Ole Miss, Mississippi State and LSU during the last month. However, when it was finally time to sign his NLI on Wednesday, he showed up wearing a Crimson Tide dress shirt, which quickly ended any drama. The ceiling is extremely high for Young, so this was a big keep for Nick Saban and his staff.
Late Push - Ole Miss
I noted after the Early Signing Period that Ole Miss had its fair share of disappointments. Well, the Rebels rebounded nicely on Wednesday with several big additions. The day started by keeping four-star in-state WR Jonathan Mingo home, and then quickly improved by getting a flip from three-star DT LeDarrius Cox, an Alabama product. It then hit a higher level when the Rebels were able to get four-star in-state RB Jerrion Ealy to re-commit. Ealy was long rumored to be a Clemson lean, so having him stay home was a huge win for the coaching staff.
The Rebels finished the day in style by picking up a commitment from four-star JUCO LB Lakia Henry, who had been considered a heavy Arkansas lean until Wednesday. Henry is a thumper and will be counted on immediately in Oxford. Add the flip of QB John Rhys Plumlee earlier this week and it turned out to be a great few days for Ole Miss.
As of Tuesday, Georgia defensive back Jay Ward was all set to sign with Kentucky. Then on Wednesday he changed his mind completely and decided to sign with LSU. This might as well have been a de-commitment, that’s how locked in on Kentucky he was. And don’t sleep on Ward, because he could be a great one at LSU, as he has all the tools. Ouch Kentucky. Ouch.
There was plenty of stress in Baton Rouge when four-star ATH Maurice Hampton decided not to sign during the early period. This came as a surprise to many, as he had been committed to the Tigers for almost two years. Auburn quickly swooped in and tried to sway Hampton, while Tennessee continued its attack. An official visit to Auburn in January created additional drama, but on Wednesday Hampton decided to stick with his initial feeling and stayed with the Tigers. This was another disappointment for Auburn, and it created another big in-state loss for the Vols. However, Hampton could end up playing baseball, so we will see.
As much of a recruiting win it was for new coach Mike Locksley and Maryland to get four-star QB Lance Legendre, it may have been an even bigger loss for Florida State. The Seminoles have had no luck at the quarterback position in the last two months and were hoping that Legendre’s arrival would begin to change that. Instead it just magnifies their issue. Having already lost Sam Howell during the Early Signing Period to North Carolina, then parting ways with current quarterback Deondre Francois and seeing John Rhys Plumlee flip to Ole Miss after putting in some serious effort, things are not trending well at the QB position for coach Willie Taggart and the Seminoles.
As National Signing Day approached, nobody knew where four-star DB Nick Cross was going, including Cross and his family. The Florida State commit has been a longtime fan of the Seminoles, but as time wore on both Penn State and Maryland became major players. While Cross may have still wanted to go with the Seminoles, his parents seemed to have been pushing the Nittany Lions. In the middle were the home-state Terps, who were hoping to pick off the scraps if neither the Seminoles nor Nittany Lions were able to seal the deal. So, at the end, Cross has decided to take some more time to see if everything falls into place for him in the coming days and/or weeks.
I love the signing of running back Jamious Griffin to Georgia Tech. This kid doesn’t get the attention he deserves and he can be a star at Georgia Tech. The Yellow Jackets don’t often get a ton of recruiting attention and rarely land four-stars in state, so this one was a big deal.
Annual Saban Steal
Every year it seems that Nick Saban and Alabama steal a player out of Louisiana that LSU covets and they did it again by landing defensive tackle Ishmael Sopsher in what became a bit of a surprise. Sopsher was thought to be a strong LSU lean for the last many weeks, but Alabama can never be counted out and Saban did it again. LSU will never get ahead of Alabama if things like this continue. That’s just the way it is.
Jerrion Ealy is an amazing talent who could play many positions and be a star in college on offense. And he’s an Ole Miss commitment, and signee, again. After being linked to Clemson for the longest time, Ealy decided to re-commit to Ole Miss on National Signing Day and will eventually decide between playing football in college or going off to play pro baseball. If he decides to play football and baseball in college, watch out for this kid on Saturdays.
Mark-Antony Richards does so many things so well that I can’t see a way he doesn’t impact the Auburn offense early. He can be a pure running back, can take inside handoffs and can work as a slot receiver if needed. He’s a huge pickup from Florida and will give SEC defenses fits.
Ohio State lost offensive lineman Doug Nester to Virginia Tech early on signing day, but rebounded nicely with a commitment from Enokk Vimahi from Hawaii, a player the Buckeyes just recently got involved with. It will be interesting to see if Vimahi has a better career overall than Nester, and it shows how powerful Ohio State is when it comes to national recruiting.
Fits Like a Glove
Defensive back Kaiir Elam is a great fit for what Florida does on defense. He’s tall, rangy, can play man or off and can be left on an island. He will be one of the most important signees in this class, just watch.
Boom or Bust
Maurice Hampton is a great athlete who could play baseball or football at the next level, but as a football prospect he’s either going to be a dominant, hard-hitting defensive back or a bust. He’s very raw in coverage but he loves to hit, so if he can learn the intricacies of the safety position and blow up at DBU, he could be a home-run commitment.
USC needs to recruit more nationally and helped that effort with a commitment from four-star Tennessee defensive back Adonis Otey, who had been committed to Arkansas. The USC recruiting class was a disappointment overall, but this was a nice get for them. It will be interesting to see if they can develop him to his full potential because they’ve struggled with others at the position recently.
Embarrassment of Riches - Alabama
Alabama loaded up on the defensive line with the addition of Ishmael Sopsher and have one of the best defensive line classes in recent memory. Sopsher joins five-star Antonio Alfano, defensive tackle Byron Young, defensive end Justin Edoigbe, defensive tackle DJ Dale, defensive end Braylen Ingraham and defensive end Kevin Harris. Imagine if the Tide kept Khris Bogle? This is ridiculous.
The Miami Hurricanes needed a big recruiting win on Wednesday after losing out on Khris Bogle and Mark-Antony Richards, and they got one when defensive back Christian Williams flipped from Alabama to the Hurricanes. It hasn’t been a good recruiting year for Miami, which is transitioning from Mark Richt to Manny Diaz, but Williams gives them a little momentum heading into 2020.
Defensive end Khris Bogle has the highest ceiling of anyone who signed Wednesday. He’s still very skinny at 215 pounds, but he has a good frame to fill out and a great first step. He can be an elite edge rusher like Dante Fowler Jr. if he continues to develop. Florida has to be thrilled it landed him