Kirby Smart gave Georgia fans plenty of reasons to smile on Wednesday with the Bulldogs wrapping up the nation's No. 1 recruiting class
National Signing Day maybe the embodiment of the sentiment that hope springs eternal when it comes to college football. One day a year, every college football program across the country has reason to cheer with optimism welling up from within based on the new talent soon to come to campus.
For every five-star player hyped to be the next All-American, there are undervalued and underappreciated recruits signing their letter of intent in relative obscurity soon to be recognized for their amazing talents as a rising unknown star. Until then, fans across the country size up each recruiting class by rankings, which are usually compiled based on the accumulation of five-, four- and three-star talents.
Every year there has to be perceived winners, and every year there must be a team or two that comes up on the short end of the proverbial stick. Here are some of those teams:
Georgia – No. 1 recruiting class
As recruiting classes go, the haul that Georgia put together reads out of a fictional novel. The Bulldogs ended up with 26 signees, securing seven five-star players and 15 four-star prospects. The list of five-star recruits includes quarterback Justin Fields, running back Zamir White, offensive tackle Cade Mays, defensive end Brenton Cox, guard Jamaree Salyer, cornerback Tyson Campbell, and linebacker Adam Anderson. Stealing four-star linebacker Quay Walker away from Alabama could be viewed as head coach Kirby Smart gaining a small amount of retribution against the Crimson Tide for the national championship game.
USC – No. 4 recruiting class
The Trojans made a push from No. 12 on the eve of National Signing Day to No. 4 by the end of Wednesday, per 247Sports’ Composite Team Rankings. The class is relatively small with 18 commits, but only of the players head coach Clay Helton (above, right) signed is not either a five- (4) or four-star (13) prospect. The five-stars to watch for include receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown, linebacker Palaie Gaoteote, quarterback JT Daniels, and cornerback Olaijah Griffin. Four-star receiver Devon Williams is blessed with size (6-4, 200) and speed and is widely considered the top “athlete” in the 2018 class. Three players that may not get the hype, but are very talented – center Justin Dedich, corner Chase Williams and linebacker Raymond Scott.
South Carolina – No. 19 recruiting class
Is there a head coach that gets more out of his players than Will Muschamp? Muschamp has quickly built the Gamecocks back into a team no one wants to play, and is adding talent to his squad in Columbia. South Carolina may have fallen short of the perceived quality of class in-state rival Clemson pulled in (No. 6 per 247Sports), but the Gamecocks landed the third-best class in the SEC East behind only Georgia and Florida (No. 14). Highlights in the class include dual-threat quarterback Dakereon Joyner, defensive end Kingsley Enagbare, linebacker Rosendo Louis, and offensive tackle Maxwell Iyama.
LSU – No. 15 recruiting class
The Tigers signed a nice overall class, but may have fallen short of the recruiting results produced under former head coach Les Miles. LSU signed 22 players, including one five-star prospect and 12 four-stars. The big win for LSU was landing four-star Copiah-Lincoln (Miss.) Community College defensive end Travez Moore – a potential replacement for the departed Arden Key. Another top recruit to watch is Terrace Marshall. The five-star receiver missed his senior season in high school because of injury. If he bounces back fully healthy, he can be a difference-maker for the Tigers this fall. One black-eye to the class was seeing four-star safety ArDarius Washington flip at the last minute to TCU.
Iowa – No. 40 recruiting class
The Hawkeyes’ recruiting efforts seem to ebb and flow from one season to the next. A push on the recruiting trail one year nets a lot of recognized talent but then the energy put into recruiting seems to fall flat the next year. Well, 2018 was that flat year. Not to say that this class won’t produce any key contributors or even standouts, but Iowa didn’t sign a single five- or four-star prospect this cycle.
Michigan – No. 21 recruiting class
The Wolverines entered the day at No. 17 but fell to No. 21. Most college programs would love to have the talent coming to campus that Michigan signed, but the drop-off was dramatic, even by the Wolverines’ own standards. Last year’s class was fifth overall per 247Sports with two five-stars and 19 four-stars. There is nary a five-star prospect in this year’s class and only seven four-stars.
Nebraska – No. 22 recruiting class
New head coaches can boom or bust on the recruiting trail, but Scott Frost was able to capitalize on the momentum from leading UCF to an undefeated season to put together a solid, all-around initial class as the man in charge of the Cornhuskers. Frost and his staff pulled players from all across the country – Alabama, South Dakota, Mississippi, Kansas, Arizona, Texas, Minnesota, Georgia, Florida, Colorado, California, and even Connecticut. This is not an easy task to begin with, but especially when you consider that he’s only been on the job a little more than two months. Nebraska ended with six four-star recruits and 18 three-star, placing the Huskers fourth in the Big Ten behind only Ohio State, Penn State and Michigan.
Wisconsin – No. 44 recruiting class
Granted Wisconsin is not a hotbed for top recruits, but one might have thought that the Badgers would have been able to better capitalize on their 2017 success. Wisconsin was coming off a 13-1 season with a Big Ten West Division title and a victory over Miami in the Orange Bowl. But on the trail, the Badgers could only sign one four-star prospect (Illinois linebacker Jack Sanborn) and 19 three-stars. Wisconsin finds itself ninth in the Big Ten behind the likes of Nebraska, Maryland, Minnesota and Iowa.
Texas Tech – No. 74 recruiting class
The Red Raiders have the dubious honor of having the lowest ranked recruiting class among Power Five conference teams. Head coach Kliff Kingsbury may be an offensive genius and a quarterback whisperer, but this is not the type of momentum he was looking for entering a critical season. Kingsbury is just 30-33 in five seasons, putting him firmly on the hot seat. It doesn’t help that he coaches in the fertile recruiting ground that is the Lone Star State. There is one four-star prospect among the 17 total signees, but it’s not a good look for the Red Raiders to finish behind Houston (No. 73) or Big 12 cellar-dweller Kansas (No. 64), who inked two four-stars in their 20-man class.
— 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 and is a member of the FWAA. Over the years, Wright has written for numerous sites and publications and has his own recruiting site, www.recruitingnewsguru.com. Follow him on Twitter @RyanWrightRNG.