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The Farrell Awards: The best of National Signing Day

The Farrell Awards are always popular, or unpopular, depending on which team and prospects you like and are a must following Signing Day. So wearing my best tux, here is the hardware from the biggest day of the year, the Oscars of recruiting.

RELATED: Mind of Mike | Signing Day Show | Alabama wins title | Biggest winners

Jeffrey Simmons
Jeffrey Simmons

Biggest Surprise – DE Jeffrey Simmons – We had him down to Ole Miss and Alabama and most felt the Rebels would land him (I had Alabama), so when he chose Mississippi State at what seemed to be an endless signing ceremony, it shocked a lot of folks. DE Karamo Dioubate choosing Temple over South Carolina was big as well.

Inventive Reveal – LB Caleb Kelly – OK, it wasn’t really the reveal that I liked, but when he flipped a coin on his NFL future and had someone put on a Cowboys hat, I thought that was pretty cool. Mecole Hardman Jr. had cakes of some schools that had zero chance and then ran through a banner with a Georgia jersey, hat and gloves which was okay. There were a couple of nice videos, like Deontay Anderson skydiving and Jack Jones with Snoop Dogg. It was actually kind of a timid year for inventive reveals and I like that.

Celebrity Power – ATH Jack Jones - Michigan had Tom Brady, Derek Jeter and Rick Flair but USC had Snoop Dogg, who did a video with Jones to announce his commitment to the Trojans. That’s pretty dope.

Best Get – DT Rashan Gary – Pretty obvious here, huh? The No. 1 player in the country is a big get. Tell me something else, Captain Obvious. But Michigan needed this one. If they led all the way for the No. 1 player again, like they did for Da'Shawn Hand in 2014, and lost, it would be a crushing blow. This is Michigan’s first No. 1 player in Rivals history and sends a national message.

Worst Loss –TE Devin Asiasi – UCLA had this one wrapped up as of Sunday I think and really could use a multi-talented kid who could play tight end or defensive end. He was also thought to be a package deal of sorts with teammate and best friend Boss Tagaloa who chose UCLA. To lose Asiasi at the last moment to Michigan stings badly.

Mique Juarez
Mique Juarez ()

Instant Impact –LB Mique Juarez – OK, some good news for the Bruins: UCLA needs the next Myles Jack and might have found him in Juarez, who is athletic enough to play right away on defense and could see spot time at running back like Jack because he’s a beast with the ball in his hands. There are many more who could impact, but Juarez tops the list.

Flip Flop – LB Erick Fowler – There were rumors that the Austin-area linebacker would flip to Texas and he did, hurting LSU’s class a bit and certainly helping Charlie Strong and Texas in a big way. A five-star flip is always a big deal, but a former five-star flip is also big, so Shavar Manuel’s flip from Florida to Florida State also needs mentioning.

Biggest Project – OT E.J. PriceJonathan Kongbo would be considered here for the Vols as well, but based on his film in JUCO, he’s ready to impact despite only starting to play football as a senior. So why Price? Physically he looks the part and will get bigger and stronger in college, but he needs work on his footwork as a tackle and he could be a holding penalty threat inside if he doesn’t work on hand placement. He’s still raw and is a few years away.

Boom or Bust – DE Connor Murphy – I honestly think he’s going to be a BOOM because I like his length, drive and physical nature, but others aren’t as sold. Murphy has solid bloodlines and a good work ethic, but he can be easy to block at times because he’s so long. Is he the next tall, athletic rush end who will dominate college football like J.J. Watt or Carl Nassib or will he flop?

Fits Like a Glove – WR Tyrie Cleveland – Florida needs a few things on offense and one of them is a sharp route runner with good hands who can also take a short pass and turn it into a long gain. Cleveland is just what the doctor ordered. He’s part of a strong group of wide receivers in this Florida class and he has the ability to get separation with his routes and has a nice catch radius.

Nate Craig-Myers
Nate Craig-Myers ()

Odd Fit – WR Nate Craig-Myers – Nothing against Auburn -- although fans won’t see it this way -- but based on the horrendous quarterback and offensive struggles it had last year and the run-oriented offenses it has run when they’ve been successful, Craig-Myers turning down North Carolina and its wide open offense is a bit odd. Receiving stats for UNC last year – 261 catches for 3,675 yards and 31 TDs. Auburn? 179 catches for 2,257 yards and 11 touchdowns.

Decision Delay – ATH Demetris Robertson – I thought there might be another big name who decided to delay his decision, but Robertson is by far the biggest and most noteworthy. He said he will decide between Feb. 13 and Feb. 17 and is waiting to see if he’s admitted into Stanford. However, if he gets admitted and visits it will go beyond that date. Notre Dame had been the leader, Georgia is the team to watch for and Georgia Tech and Alabama are still in there.

Home State Killer – DE Terrell Hall – Maryland really needed Hall to choose the Terps after losing their best two commitments to Ohio State leading up to Signing Day, but he decided to take the national title route at Alabama. Other big-name guys left their home state like Derrick Brown, Nigel Warrior, Shyheim Carter, Trayvon Mullen, Deontay Anderson, Nate Craig-Myers and many others, but the teams they spurned don’t need big-time in-state kids to stay home more than Maryland.

Cross Country Catch – S Jamel Cook – Yes, yes I know we have him ranked as a three-star and that seems like a crime to FSU fans and now USC fans, but a high three-star is still a good ranking and this was a big pull for the Trojans. Pete Carroll made a living pulling top east coast kids to USC and it helped him win national titles, so if Clay Helton can start doing the same then Trojans fans will be happy.

Embarrassment Of Riches – Auburn at DL – They added not only Derrick Brown but also DE Prince Sammons on the last day to go with guys like Antwuan Jackson, Marlon Davidson and Nick Coe. I could have gone with Alabama at LB with Ben Davis and Lyndell Wilson, but they didn’t join a large group at one position like Brown and Sammons.

Keyshawn Young
Keyshawn Young (

Surprise Team – USC – The Trojans shot up the charts on Signing Day in a more unexpected manner than Texas finishing with a flip in Vavae Malepeai, some Southeast gets in Price, Cook and Keyshawn Young, a hard-fought battle with Michigan for Connor Murphy and locals in Josh Fatu and Jack Jones. I didn’t expect them to push into the top 10 before the day started, so their No. 7 finish is surprising even if it is USC.

Biggest Loser – Oregon – The Ducks lost one of their key commitments in Malepeai and closed with only one player on Signing Day to finish outside the top 25. Finishing fifth in the Pac-12 isn’t the end of the world, but in recent years they have had much more success with some big names in California and this year they whiffed short of four-star Bryson Young, who didn’t have offers from USC or UCLA.

Power Surge – Texas – The Longhorns started the day at No. 39, surging to No. 10 at one point and settled at No. 13. What’s interesting is that Texas finished No. 12 last year, but this year’s finish was so much more impactful as the majority of the Signing Day decisions were made by kids from the Longhorn State and not Florida.

Oddballs – Clemson and Michigan – Quick, name the last time Clemson and Michigan went head-to-head for a big-time player? I can’t remember off the top of my head but the fact that they were the two finalists for Rashan Gary proves how national the Clemson brand has become. I’d expect Michigan to do well in New Jersey, they got Jabrill Peppers there and it’s now a Big Ten state, but Clemson? The last New Jersey product the Tigers landed was running back Brandon Nolen in 2003. But Clemson already has a 2017 commit from the Garden State in OL Noah DeHond and are more of a presence than ever.