National Signing Day 2018: Winners and losers, college football recruiting rankings
Georgia had as perfect of a National Signing Day as a coach could dream up
2018 National Signing Day is in the books, and it's time to name our winners and losers. This isn't a commentary on the entire recruiting cycle. If you want to know who won or lost the year, take a look at the 247Sports Composite Team Recruiting Rankings. But if you want to know who won or lost the day, this is the place for you. These are the teams that met their expectations or underachieved on Wednesday.
|In December, Georgia put together a perfect Early Signing Period. Remember that? The No. 1 offensive guard, the No. 2 strong-side defensive end, the No. 3 offensive tackle, all five-stars committed and signed. A bunch of four-stars joined the team, too. It was the story of the cycle. The second signing day brought the same result: perfection. If Kirby Smart sat down in mid-January and mapped out the perfect finish, he would have likely dreamed up beating Alabama for five-star cornerback Tyson Campbell, flipping five-star outside linebacker Quay Walker from Alabama, flipping top 100 linebacker Otis Reese from Michigan and landing 6-foot-5 wide receiver Tommy Bush out of Texas. Nothing more, nothing less, that would have been perfect. Wake up, Coach Smart, you just batted 1.000 on your dream finish.|
|The whole SEC was chasing down southern California cornerbacks Isaac Taylor-Stuart and Olaijah Griffin. Oregon was desperate to land top 100 wide receiver Devon Williams. UCLA had threatened to steal Army All-American linebacker Solomon Tuliaupupu. They all fell into the hands of the Trojans. It was another typical USC finish on Wednesday as Southern Cal shot up from well outside the top 10 to land inside it at No. 4 overall. Throw in a flip out of Oregon commit Elijah Winston to USC on Tuesday and this has been a very productive week for the Trojans and a near perfect close.|
|Jimbo Fisher's Texas A&M class was sitting at No. 35 in the rankings at the beginning of this week. It's going to finish inside the top 20. Somehow, that doesn't even capture the level of success that the Aggies had in the final week of the cycle. Within that close, Texas A&M stole an in-state defensive tackle from Alabama (Bobby Brown), held off a late push by Florida State to land the best quarterback available after the early period in James Foster, beat Oklahoma for offensive tackle Tank Jenkins, and got one of the best edge rushers in California in Jeremiah Martin. The quantity late in the process was there for Fisher, but the quality was on point, too. Now that a coaching staff is in place and he knows his way around the facility, this feels like a big springboard into the 2019 cycle.|
|Finishing with the No. 11 class in the country sounds cute, but when you add the context that this class was No. 64 at one point, it suddenly looks miraculous. On signing day, Willie Taggart closed with four-star athlete Tre'Shaun Harrison out of Washington; he stole a big time talent from Tennessee in wide receiver Jordan Young; he landed four-star defensive end Malcolm Lamar out of Tampa; and he stole a second Tennessee commit in running back Anthony Grant. It was a solid close for a coach that faced a steep uphill battle this cycle with his arrival in Tallahassee. |
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|Jeremy Pruitt was one of the stories of the Early Signing Period, and he was making some serious moves deep into January. As signing day approached, though, it started to become clear that the close was going to be very imperfect. It started with a flip of running back Anthony Grant to Florida State. Later, the hidden gem that the staff uncovered in Jordan Young followed suit to FSU. Tennessee had put some serious effort into west coast corners Olaijah Griffin and Isaac Taylor-Stuart; both stayed out West. Quay Walker and Jacob Copeland held faint hope; both went to SEC East rivals. For all the excitement that this new staff has generated on the trail this cycle, the close just wasn't there. I wouldn't count on Tennessee staying down for long as 2019 commits will come quickly.|
|It wasn't all bad for LSU. The Tigers held on to top 100 defensive back Kelvin Joseph and they landed 247Sports five-star wide receiver JaMarr Chase, a guy I've compared to Jarvis Landry. But the bad news was really bad. Patrick Surtain Jr., the No. 1 cornerback in the Class of 2018 and an LSU lean for the better part of the last two years, passed on LSU for Alabama. LSU also lost out on quarterback James Foster, who landed at Texas A&M instead. By focusing on those two prospects and missing, LSU wasn't able to prioritize Mario Goodrich, a really talented athlete out of Missouri. Consequently, he landed at Clemson. This 15th-ranked class is LSU's lowest-ranked effort since 2002.|
|Top 100 linebacker/safety Otis Reese had been committed to Michigan since June of 2016. On Wednesday, he signed with Georgia. That's a brutal beat for a Michigan program that just couldn't seem to break through with the big-name prospects in 2018. The primary task of signing day was just to hold on to Reese. Michigan had already effectively bowed out of the race for guys like four-star offensive lineman Jarrett Patterson, No. 1 offensive tackle Nicholas Petit-Frere and top 100 defensive lineman Tyler Friday. With a finish at No. 21 in the country, this class just didn't bring the flash that we've been used to seeing out of Harbaugh and Co.|
|Alabama finished with a top 10 class and shocked the nation by landing the No. 1 cornerback in the class, so how could it be a loser? It's about expectations, and we expect Alabama to win more than it loses under Nick Saban on the recruiting trail. On Wednesday, it took some Ls. It lost to Georgia for Tyson Campbell and Quay Walker. It lost to Florida for Jacob Copeland and Malik Langham. It lost to Texas A&M for Bobby Brown. It lost to Clemson for in-state star Justyn Ross. It lost to Ohio State for Petit-Frere. It lost to Oregon for Penei Sewell. Even with a few wins out of four-star CB Eddie Smith and dynamic slot receiver Jaylen Waddle, it was surreal to see Alabama come up short so often and finish at No. 6 overall, it's lowest ranking since 2007. Expect a motivated staff on the recruiting trail in 2019.|
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