The Farrell Awards: Reviewing the Early Signing Period
The Farrell Awards are always popular - or unpopular, depending on which team and prospects you like - and are a must after Signing Day. So, while wearing my best tux, here is the hardware from the Early Signing Period.
Alabama gets the slight nod over Georgia this time around after the Dawgs dominated last year. The Tide flipped Jordan Battle from Ohio State and landed IMG teammates Trey Sanders and Evan Neal, both five-star prospects. The Tide remained No. 1 in the country while Georgia pushed up to No. 2 thanks in no small part to the commitments of four-star qurarterback Dwan Mathis, also a flip from Ohio State, and linebacker Nakobe Dean.
Arkansas continues to surprise everyone with this class and the flip of Gregory Brooks Jr. from Mississippi State was a bit of a shocker. The Louisiana cornerback had been committed to the Bulldogs since June but the Arkansas staff were able to pull off the big surprise at the last possible moment.
Running back Trey Sanders, the No. 2 prospect in the Rivals100, claimed he will be in New York City next year at the Heisman Trophy ceremony. That's pretty heady stuff for a high school kid. Sanders certainly doesn’t lack for confidence.
While there was some actual drama with the five-star commitments today, one that didn’t create any odd rumors or last-minute changes was Evan Neal who signed with Alabama. He was long rumored to be favoring the Tide, and with that it became another easy recruiting win for Nick Saban.
It is hard to believe that anyone envisioned a Chucky doll (from the famous 1980s horror movie 'Child's Play') would become a reoccurring fixture on Signing Day. However, four-star defensive end Lloyd Summerall decided to bring the prop back this morning during his commitment to Florida. Most recently Byron Cowart and Andrew Chatfield showcased Chucky during their commitment announcements, so you never know when the iconic doll will make its next appearance.
This is quite the subjective category. I’ll go with Nakobe Dean heading off to Georgia. Dean can be the next Roquan Smith for the Dawgs and it’s not easy to pull prospects out of Mississippi or beat Alabama straight-up for a five-star defender. Sanders and Neal are impressive gets for Alabama, but Dean could be the best get of the day.
Wide receiver John Dunmore was being recruited heavily by Miami, but Penn State held on. Why is this important? Penn State needs to start recruiting the Southeast more and Dunmore will help with those efforts. Oh, and he’s a talented receiver as well.
I LOVE YOU, AGAIN
Oklahoma defensive back Daxton Hill was once committed to Michigan then flipped to Alabama only to surprise everyone and flip back and sign with Michigan on Wednesday. This is a huge get for the Wolverines and will add to the team speed on defense.
Michigan led for the longest time for five-star defensive end Zach Harrison, only to finish third in the end behind Ohio State, where he signed, and Penn State. That has to be disappointing to Jim Harbaugh and company as the Ohio native would be a nice get from the Buckeyes home state.
Zacch Pickens doesn’t get enough attention even as a five-star but he should. The massive defensive end will easily make a huge impact on the South Carolina defense next year and will be one of the most talented freshmen in the SEC. Mark it down.
Sam Howell was taking a closer look at other schools long before Florida State offensive coordinator Walt Bell decided to take the UMass job, but when that occurred it basically made his decommitment inevitable. Mack Brown and his new offensive coordinator, Phil Longo, both did a nice job convincing Howell that Chapel Hill was the right place to him, so that inevitability resulted in his flip to the Tar Heels Wednesday.
Ohio State losing quarterback commitment Dwan Mathis was a bit of a stunner. Georgia losing Justin Fields didn’t slow the Dawgs down much when it comes to finding a quarterback to replace him. However, if Fields ends up at Ohio State you could say advantage Ohio State in this one.
Florida defensive back Jordan Battle was rumored to be flipping from Ohio State to Alabama for a good solid week or so before he made it final on Wednesday. Was he the reason Daxton Hill flipped back to Michigan? That would be a double whammy for the Buckeyes.
Christopher Hinton has always been a bit raw as a prospect especially as a defensive lineman and it will take him a few years to develop at Michigan. His ceiling and upside are high, but he could end up being a better offensive lineman than defensive lineman down the road.
FITS LIKE A GLOVE
The nation’s No. 1 prospect, Derek Stingley Jr., is the perfect fit for LSU. He’s an aggressive cover corner who can be left on an island if needed and will allow the Tigers to blitz often. LSU claims to be DBU and I think he could be the best one since Patrick Peterson.
Four-stars Asa Turner and Cameron Williams are just two of the top recruits who made last-minute decisions to hold off on signing their papers. While that puts programs like Washington and Miami in an odd position, it obviously opens the door for plenty of other programs who now have more than a month to try and flip the recruits. There were quite a few players expected to sign on Wednesday that decided to hold off, unlike last year.
HOME STATE KILLER
Derick Hall II was interested in both Mississippi State and Ole Miss but decided to take his talents out of state to Auburn. This was a big loss for both of the in-state programs, especially Mississippi State who was thought to be the leader for long time.
STATE OF EMERGENCY
Continuing from Hall, it was not a great day for Ole Miss and Mississippi State on Wednesday. The Rebels saw Raydarious Jones commit to LSU and then Dean, who they were trending for according to some, commit to Georgia. Mississippi State lost the aforementioned Hall II to Auburn in the morning and then Gregory Brooks (Louisiana kid but still) flipped to Arkansas in the afternoon. Overall it was not a successful day for the Rebels and Bulldogs in the Magnolia State.
CROSS COUNTRY CATCH
Clemson wide receiver Joe Ngata is a huge catch for Clemson and could end up being a star. It’s rare when the Tigers land a prospect from the West Coast so for Dabo Swinney to pull Ngata from California all the way to the East Coast is a big deal and a huge recruiting win.
EMBARRASSMENT OF RICHES
I really like the Notre Dame offensive line class and the Irish signed all four commitments on Wednesday. Led by Quinn Carroll, the future up front looks very bright. Zeke Correll, John Olmstead, Andrew Kristofic and Carroll are all nasty and physical with excellent upside.
Nate Craig-Myers was a five-star receiver in the 2016 class who signed with Auburn. In his two-plus seasons with the Tigers he totaled 22 receptions for 394 yards and four touchdowns in 22 games before announcing his decision to transfer in September. Today he announced that he was finishing up his collegiate career with Colorado State. It should be interesting to see if he can regain his five-star level of play while playing away from the limelight.
Last year it was Kirby Smart in a runaway but this year I’m giving it to James Franklin, who not only closed well but had the only top-10 class in the country with less than 20 commitments. He is one of the top-five head coach recruiters in the country and the quality in this class is impressive.
MOVING ON UP
I think the Vols are moving up despite missing out on a few prospects on Wednesday. They are No. 16 in the country right now with 20 commitments but they will add Quavaris Crouch and Darnell Wright and will make a strong push for Jadon Haselwood as well. And let’s not forget that they should add four-star running back Eric Gray on Thursday.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – Arkansas is the biggest surprise of the 2019 class despite having a few guys delay their signing. The Razorbacks have a top-15 class coming off a 2-10 season so not many other teams can compare to that.
HAND GESTURE OF THE DAY
“Horns Down” seems to have caught on like wildfire in recent months, with Oklahoma players and recruits both displaying the gesture repeatedly. This continued on Wednesday morning when four-star cornerback Jeremiah Cridell flashed the hand sign after flipping from Oregon to Oklahoma. The Oklahoma/Texas rivalry usually doesn’t need more juice, but I’m sure that this new fad is something that the Longhorns will remember next fall.
No one wants to win this award, but Miami has run away with it. With all the decommitments and missing out on some key targets on Wednesday, the ‘Canes have had a tough 2019. Can they rebound with guys like Khris Bogle and Tyrique Stevenson? Time will tell, but this week will obviously be a disappointment for them.