Nebraska v Wisconsin
Getty Images

National Signing Day took center stage on Wednesday as the early signing period opened for the 2024 college football recruiting cycle. In an era where the transfer portal has wrestled away some of the recruiting drama from both the December and February signing periods, what will always remain true is that the next generation of stars come from the high school ranks, and plenty of the top prep players in the country were at the forefront of Wednesday's festivities. 

When all the smoke cleared, despite the lack of enthusiasm heading into signing day, we were left with plenty of storylines in which to indulge. Georgia is once again king of the recruiting mountain. Nebraska football appears to truly be entering a new era under Matt Rhule. Some top prospects flipped their commitments, while others had their schools a little nervous down the stretch. In the end, National Signing Day once again delivered on the excitement. 

Let's take a look now at the biggest winners and losers as the 2024 early signing period opened. 


Georgia: Despite losing No. 1 QB Dylan Raiola to Nebraska, the Bulldogs still locked up the top class in the 2024 cycle by securing an elite group that includes 10% of the top 100 players. The headliners are on defense; No. 1 CB Ellis Robinson IV and No. 1 LB Justin Williams remained steadfast in their commitments, while Georgia flipped top-ranked safety KJ Bolden from Florida State. Meanwhile, four-star QB Ryan Puglisi has been committed for over a year and never wavered despite Raiola's previous commitment. 

Nebraska: That sound you hear? That's optimism. This time, though, it's legitimate optimism. Flipping Raiola from Georgia was huge from an immediate talent upgrade standpoint. The Cornhuskers haven't landed a player of Raiola's caliber since ... oh, never. He's the highest-rated recruit for the program in the modern era. It's a massive win for Matt Rhule, and it keeps the Raiola legacy in Lincoln. (His father, Dominic, played for the Huskers while his uncle, Donovan, serves as Huskers offensive line coach.) 

Alabama: Well, look who shined on signing day. The Crimson Tide rose from fourth to second in the rankings, keeping their annual off-field rivalry with the Georgia in play for yet another cycle. Five-star QB Julian Sayin, a longtime commit, was never in play to go elsewhere as the headliner of the class. But where Alabama really does damage is in flipping players, and Wednesday was no different. The Tide flipped four-star RB Kevin Riley from Miami and four-star ATH Aeryn Hampton from Texas.

Ohio State: The Buckeyes compiled the No. 2 class in the country, thanks in large part to the No. 1 prospect in the class, five-star WR Jeremiah Smith. Securing Smith's commitment was hardly a slam dunk, either, as Florida State and Miami were in hot pursuit over the past few weeks with the Hurricanes creating some drama down the stretch. The Buckeyes ultimately won out, though, as Ohio State locked in the program's first No. 1 player since J.T. Tuimoloau (and later Quinn Ewers) in the 2021 class. Considering the talented wide receiver rooms coach Ryan Day and offensive coordinator Brian Hartline have boasted the last few years, Smith may prove to be the best of them all. 


Florida: Things were looking good for Florida at one point as the Gators compiled a top-10 class, but losing three-star DL Kendall Jackson and five-star DB Xavier Filsaime in the weeks leading up to signing day -- one month after four-star DL Nasir Johnson, four-star DB Wardell Mack and four-star EDGE Jamonta Waller -- proved a preview of the heartbreak to come. Four-star DL Amaris Williams and four-star LB Adarius Hayes flipped to Auburn and Miami, respectively, on National Signing Day. Florida began the day with the No. 10-ranked class but ended at No. 16. On the bright side, despite a late push from USC, five-star QB DJ Lagway remained loyal and signed with the Gators, while five-star DL LJ McCray also put pen to paper despite initially delaying the process earlier in the day. Still, Wednesday's events overall were a cause for concern for Billy Napier and his program. 

UCLA: It's Year 7 for coach Chip Kelly recruiting at UCLA, but it's the first as his program enters the Big Ten next year. UCLA did not make a great impression on Wednesday, finishing at No. 17 in the conference and No. 60 overall. Kelly has rarely prioritized prep recruiting, instead choosing to use the portal, but the belief was he may ramp up efforts in preparation for the Big Ten move -- which clearly was not the case. The only class trailing UCLA in the Big Ten is Northwestern.

NIL collectives: All that money some programs gave up last year? Better pony up again, because now the transfer portal is costing more than recruits, who still need to get their share of the pie. Is the return on investment there? Texas A&M would like a word. You wanted it to be above the board with collectives? Well, stretch that dollar a little wider and open that wallet a little more.