February’s National Signing Day is in the books, effectively bringing an end to the 2018 recruiting cycle. The addition of the Early Signing Period made for some unique headlines between December and this week, but now attention can turn to the 2019 class. With spring around the corner, here are five major storylines to keep track of for the next class.
1. Can Georgia give an encore performance?
Nobody would have doubted that Georgia would enjoy a nice bump in its recruiting efforts this season after playing in the national championship, but few could have predicted the Bulldogs landing eight five-star recruits in their signing class this year. Perhaps it could be argued that Alabama underestimated how many recruits would take advantage of the Early Signing Period, but it’s a guarantee that Nick Saban won’t let the same thing happen in 2019. The Crimson Tide were the winners in that championship game, after all. Clemson landed six five-star prospects and will be motivated to come back strong as well. Maybe Kirby Smart has cracked the code and we’re witnessing a changing of the guard in recruiting powers, but he better be ready for a fight.
2. Teams off to a fast start
Full disclosure, Smart is off to arguably the best start recruiting in 2019, so maybe he does have things figured out. Georgia already has one five-star player committed in Jadon Haselwood, and two four-stars on the cusp of such status in Dominick Blaylock and Nolan Smith in the fold early on as well. Alabama is right behind with five four-star players committed. Oklahoma had two five-star players committed at one time in Arjei Henderson and Theo Wease, but both have since de-committed although they have stayed close to the program and are still considering the Sooners. In the meantime, Lincoln Riley’s early success was enough to sell high four-stars Spencer Rattler, Trejan Bridges and Austin Stogner to be the early headline names in his 2019 crop.
3. Use of early official visits
While players could sign in December for the first time in 2018, something that was included with that change but not immediately implemented was the addition of spring official visits. Several players have taken to social media to announce their intentions to take some - or all - of their official visits between April and June. Some coaches have made comments expressing displeasure in adding another time of the year when they need to be on campus recruiting to keep up with the Joneses, but there is no choice but to keep up with the Joneses. Early offers have been given out liberally and the recruiting process continues to start earlier and earlier.
4. What quarterbacks will step forward to lead the class?
Class of 2019’s best quarterback prospect, JT Daniels, re-classified to 2018 and there isn’t another quarterback in the Rivals100 until No. 31, Bo Nix. Spencer Rattler is right behind him at No. 32 overall, but there are no five-star quarterbacks coming up after having at least one in every class since 2011. Nix has the closest thing to an offer list fitting of such a prospect, but in his last competitive appearance, the Under Armour Future 50 camp, he wasn’t so much more impressive than Grant Gunnell (No. 62 nationally) that it can be confidently said he is that guy.
5. Rivalries renewed
After all of the recent coaching changes at big-time programs, National Signing Day 2018 planted the seeds for what promises to be some exciting recruiting wars with classic rivals. Oklahoma and Texas had some moments in that regard this year, but with Jimbo Fisher at A&M, football fans in the Lone Star State have an in-state battle to watch. The same could be said about Florida and Florida State after Willie Taggart was quickly shipped in to replace Fisher with the understanding that the Sunshine State is the territory he could personally recruit successfully. Dan Mullen is no slouch in that regard, and he brings the benefit of learning how to recruit creatively for a program at Mississippi State that had to go toe-to-toe against perceived heavier-hitters. Chip Kelly also seemed to capably piece together a nice class in 2018 after a bit of a dubious start, and a potential recruiting showdown between UCLA and USC could be very entertaining as well.