Team recruiting rankings are not a definitive sign that a given college football team will rise or fall on the gridiron in the immediate future but certainly does help paint a picture about potential success. A high-achieving class gives hope for the fan base and respective coaching staffs that conference titles and bowl game victories are to come.
The culmination of hard work for players and coaches alike on the recruiting trail comes together on National Signing Day when the majority of players ink their letters of intent. Simply put, National Signing Day is a feeding frenzy for college football fans at all levels.
In every aspect of sports there are winners and losers even in theoretical terms in regards to recruiting rankings. The following is a list of teams that rose to the occasion on Wednesday, signing outstanding classes, those that fell short of high expectations, with a few surprises (good and bad) thrown in for good measure.
National Signing Day 2017 Winners, Losers and Surprises
(Note: All rankings per Rivals)
Alabama – No. 1 recruiting class
The Crimson Tide entered National Signing Day with the top class in the nation with 24 commits that included seven 5-star players and 14 four-star talents. After all the faxed National Letters of Intent (NLI) were in, Bama held the top spot finishing with 28 signatures that included the addition of four 4-star players; DT Phidarian Mathis, DE LaBryan Ray, WR DeVonta Smith, and WR Henry Ruggs. The Tide’s acceptance of signed letters of intent beyond the typical 25-man class bumped 4-star defensive end Jarez Parks out of the picture, at least temporarily. The Sebastian River (Fla.) native was given the option to grayshirt, which if he accepts would delay his appearance in an Alabama uniform until next spring.
USC – No. 6 recruiting class
The Trojans jumped three spots in the rankings with 18 commits to start the week finishing with 24 on Wednesday. USC did not sign a five-star but loaded up with 17 4-star prospects. The run to close the class were all 4-star studs; TE Josh Falo, LB, Levi Jones, RB Greg Johnson, DT Jay Tufele, OG Austin Jackson, and WR Joseph Lewis all committed to head coach Clay Helton on Wednesday.
Florida – No. 9 recruiting class
The Gators were one of the teams to close really strong, jumping 10 spots in the rankings. Florida started the week with 17 commits consisting of nine 4-stars and eight 3-stars. The collective staff called it a day with 15 4-stars and seven 3-stars. One of the headline-grabbing signatures came from 4-star wide receiver James Robinson. Robinson was cited for marijuana use during an official visit to Ohio State over the weekend. While not technically arrested, the incident cast a shadow on his recruitment. The Buckeyes immediately backed off of him, leaving an opportunity for the Gators.
Ohio State – No. 2 recruiting class
It’s hard to say that the Buckeyes were losers on NSD considering they put together the No. 2-ranked class in the nation, but it could have been better. Urban Meyer and his staff entered this week in the second spot with 19 commits already on board. The Buckeyes were poised to add some more names, and did so with the commitments of three-stars Elijah Gardiner (WR) and Thayer Munford (OL) on Monday and Tuesday. However, Meyer and company were shut out on National Signing Day, to the surprise of many. Don’t feel bad for OSU, however, as its 2017 class is still sterling with six 5-star and 11 4-star players.
Texas – No. 31 recruiting class
Somewhere in Tampa, former Texas head coach Charlie Strong is resting easy after his replacement, Tom Herman, fell way short on NSD. The Longhorns started the week at No. 37 with eight 4-star recruits and ended the day with the same total. Herman closed the week with 3-star OL Samuel Cosmi, 2-star defensive end Jamari Chisholm, and 3-star receiver Jordan Pouncey. The fan base expects to be in the top 10 in recruiting every year not outside of the top 30. To be fair, Herman didn’t have the benefit of a full cycle to put his first class together and no one would be shocked to see Texas back near the top next year.
California – No. 75 recruiting class
The Justin Wilcox era has not started off well at Cal. The fans had little to cheer about on NSD seeing the haul move the wrong way in the rankings. The staff had 14 commits on Monday with a No. 73 ranking and ended up slipping to No. 75 with those same 14 commits. Gauging the falloff, former head coach Sonny Dykes inked the No. 22 class a year ago.
Maryland – No. 17 recruiting class
The Terrapins jumped from a No. 39 ranking in 2016 with 22 commits to No. 17 in 2017 with 29 signatures. The consistency in signed talent was the big difference ending with eight 4-star players and 20 3-star talents this year over four and 10 in 2016. Things are definitely looking up for DJ Durkin and company.
Ole Miss – No. 39 recruiting class
Even Baylor with all of their previous troubles out-recruited Ole Miss with all of their current potential NCAA issues. Baylor ended NSD at No. 34. The Rebels signed 22 players but somehow fell way off previous class performances with just four 4-stars. In 2016, Ole Miss had the No. 8 class with two 5-stars and 10 4-stars.
TCU – No. 41 recruiting class
The Horned Frogs lagged on the recruiting trail in comparison to a year ago when they gathered the No. 20 class. With three fewer total recruits added, the Horned Frogs spiraled to No. 41 adding just three 4-star players and 12 3-star prospects.
— Written by Ryan Wright, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and an established media professional with more than two decades' worth of experience. Over the years, Wright has written for numerous sites and publications and he recently started his own recruiting site, www.recruitingnewsguru.com. Follow him on Twitter @HogManInLA.