College football recruiting: Winners, losers and early rankings from National Signing Day

There's no reason to call it the "Early Signing Period" anymore; we might as well just refer to it as the official National Signing Day with the date in February being the "late signing day" instead. The December date certainly gave us the theatrics and drama we're used to seeing in February, and we saw the bulk of the recruiting heavy lifting get done

As the dust settles on the most impactful day of the recruiting cycle, we take a look at some of the biggest winners and losers of college football recruiting's early Christmas. There are technically still two more days to the early period, but not much is expected to change between now and Friday night.

Winners

Alabama: After seven straight No. 1 classes, Alabama dipped last year to No. 5, so we expected Nick Saban to come back with a vengeance. It appears he did just that by locking up the No. 1 class on Wednesday. Though it wasn't a perfect day, it doesn't look like anyone will catch the Tide for the No. 1 class after it landed five-star offensive tackle Evan Neal and No. 1 running back Trey Sanders. It also flipped four-star safety Jordan Battle from Ohio State to start the day and held off some attempted poachers on everyone else in their class with the exception of five-star safety Daxton Hill.

Ohio State: This wasn't a typical day for Ohio State. It lost a commit to Alabama, didn't get a flood of high-profile announcements and finished lower in the day than it started. A team we're used to seeing ranked No. 3 in the nation is currently ranked as the No. 3 team in the Big Ten. That said, incoming coach Ryan Day got his first big win when local five-star defensive end Zach Harrison chose the Buckeyes over Michigan and Penn State. This is a unique year with unique circumstances for Ohio State, but for Day to take control and win a battle of that kind of importance for a defensive player against those two teams gives us some indication of what he's capable of moving forward.

North Carolina: The Tar Heels started the morning at 51st in the country. At last check, UNC has settled in at No. 36 nationally, but that move is secondary to the real story: New coach Mack Brown has a quarterback. It's what plagued former coach Larry Fedora for the last two years, and Brown has solved the riddle in Year 1 by flipping Sam Howell, the No. 3 pro-style quarterback in the country who was committed to Florida State. Howell has the ability and the readiness to be a first-year starter in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Earlier this cycle, Brown flipped in-state players from Penn State (Emery Simmons) and NC State (Triston Miller), so the rallying cry of the #ReturnOfTheMack has some legs and Brown has his first big win.

Michigan: Flipping five-star safety Daxton Hill from Alabama and landing four-star wide receiver Cornelius Johnson may not be the flurry of moves that turns heads, but it's enough to put the Wolverines in the driver's seat for the Big Ten recruiting title. Jim Harbaugh wasn't able to finish the job in landing Harrison over Ohio State, but the persistence to get Hill back in the fold after Alabama had previously flipped him away from the Wolverines is the kind of effort that will result in added wins down the road. He's that kind of talent.

Big Ten West: Nebraska went 3-for-3 on the targets that were in play on signing day, and the most important was four-star defensive end Ty Robinson, who answers the primary question that Scott Frost was trying to address in this cycle which is defensive line size and physicality. He caps off what has been a productive December close. Joining Nebraska, Purdue has its highest-ranked recruiting class of all time under Jeff Brohm, and PJ Fleck has Minnesota sitting at No. 33, its highest ranking since 2008.

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Losers 

Miami: Where do we begin? Miami finds itself 37th in the national rankings at the end of Wednesday. It has lost five commits in the Class of 2019 since the start of January, and it didn't even sniff upward movement in the recruiting rankings on signing day. It lost to Florida on four-star teammates Keon Zipperer and Lloyd Summerall; it had been trending for five-star wide receiver Jadon Haselwood who is now getting plenty of Oklahoma buzz; and it felt like it could steal four-star cornerback Tyrique Stevenson away from Georgia. Miami got no good news -- and it really needs good news.

Florida State: Though FSU was active, it did not get the kind of high-profile activity we're used to seeing from the Seminoles. Yes, they flipped defensive tackle Malcolm Ray from South Florida. Yes, it landed one-time Miami commit Jarvis Brownlee, a three-star safety. Yes, it landed Raymond Woodie III, the son of Florida State's linebackers coach. But FSU also failed to get signatures from some of its highest-profile commits such as five-star cornerback Akeem Dent, four-star cornerback Travis Jay and top 100 safety Nick Cross. It also lost one of the best quarterbacks in this class when Howell flipped to North Carolina.

New coaches in the Big 12: Among the seven lowest-ranked Power Five classes in the country, new coaches in the Big 12 generated three of them. At the time of publication, Matt Wells had Texas Tech at No. 61 nationally, while Chris Klieman and Kansas State landed at No. 75 and Les Miles steered Kansas to No. 104, one spot above Harvard. At least none of them inherited Scott Satterfield's situation at Louisville. He finished the day ranked No. 129, two spots above Kennesaw State. We didn't expect any of these programs to make a major splash, but while Wells and Klieman have some experience recruiting to tough spots, Miles may soon find recruiting to Lawrence may be a little tougher than recruiting to Baton Rouge. 

CBS Sports Writer

Barton Simmons has been involved in college football and recruiting since 2000, first as a player and then as a reporter and analyst. As a player, he was a two-time All-Ivy League safety at Yale before... Full Bio

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