Jeremy Pruitt and Tennessee made the most of National Signing Day to put the finishing touches on a strong class
National Signing Day is Christmas in February for some college football teams and heartbreak city just ahead of Valentine's Day for many of the others. Recruiting rankings are not always the most accurate of measuring sticks, but they do give a pretty good idea of the amount of talent each program secured in a given year that could mean the difference between wins or loses in the years to come.
The other great thing about recruiting rankings is to compare and contrast, one team against the other, to see the winners and losers. In the end, we all want to know who cleaned house on National Signing Day and who got their house cleaned.
Alabama – No. 1 recruiting class
The Crimson Tide, once again, stockpiled talent landing five 3-stars and 23 4-stars on the way to the top recruiting class in the nation per 247Sports. But, Wednesday was not an ideal day for Alabama. They lost 4-star Cardinal Gibbons (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) end to the Gators on a flip, lost out on 4-star California linebacker Henry To’oto’o to Tennessee, and lost another 4-star flip in corner Christian Williams to Miami. The crowning achievement of the day was stealing away 4-star defensive tackle Ishmael Sopsher (Amite, La.) from LSU.
Oregon – No. 7 recruiting class
The Ducks secured the top Pac-12 recruiting class, jumping up from the ninth spot to start the week to end Wednesday with a national ranking of seventh. Across the board, the Ducks have players, athletes, and some hard-nosed talents in the trenches; a great overall class. Oregon seemingly took what they wanted from southern California in the 2019 haul. A nice win was changing the mind of 3-star defensive tackle Kristian Williams (Memphis, Tenn.) swaying him from his commitment to Minnesota on NSD.
Auburn – No. 11 recruiting class
The Tigers closed strong but not without some bumps. One of the biggest jaw-droppers of the day was seeing 5-star Hoover, Alabama, wide receiver George Pickens leave Auburn for Georgia. Auburn made up ground landing 4-stars in end Charles Moore (Louisville, Miss.) and athlete Mark-Antony Richards (West Palm Beach, Fla.) along with 3-star linebacker Octavius Brothers (Rockledge, Fla.). The Auburn faithful may not be happy finishing sixth in the SEC from an overall standpoint, but the average ranking (based on stars) has the Tigers third in the conference.
Tennessee – No. 12 recruiting class
One could argue that the Volunteers won the day landing a 5-, 4-, and 3-star. The spotlight was securing the signature of the highest rated uncommitted player left in offensive tackle Darnell Wright (Huntington, W.Va.). Wright could come in and start for Tennessee as a true freshman. Keeping 4-star linebacker Henry To’oto’o (Concord, Calf.) away from Alabama was a treat and getting 3-star Kenney Solomon helped round out the class. The one down spot was seeing LeDarrius Cox sign with Ole Miss. The staff moved ahead three spots from No. 15 on Monday with their last-minute dealings.
Ole Miss – No. 22 recruiting class
The Rebels may end up with the biggest recruiting class just by sheer numbers with 31 total commits. Their win of the day was convincing one-time 5-star running back commit Jerrion Ealy to come back into the fold. Getting LeDarrius Cox helped but an unsung signing could be 4-star junior college linebacker Lakia Henry. Henry should provide instant experience to a defense that has struggled for a couple of years. If all the 31 commitments make it to campus, this class should start paying dividends in two years.
Florida State – No. 16 recruiting class
By virtue of being in a recruiting hotbed, the Seminoles should recruit well every year. The new staff is still not gaining traction in the Sunshine State, at least per the 2019 haul, which is a surprise. FSU has 22 commits, zero 5-stars, 10 4-stars, and 12 3-star rated talents. The class was rated No. 16 on Monday and held that same spot by the end of Wednesday. That hot seat talk just bumped up a notch or two in Tallahassee.
Miami – No. 28 recruiting class
To beat up Florida State for a lackluster overall class means Miami must be punished for theirs. A change at head coach took place going from Mark Richt to Manny Diaz, but outside of a couple of hours as Temple’s head coach, Diaz has been in Dade County since 2016 as their defensive coordinator. Connections to players and high school coaches should have been laid down for years making this transition easier, but that is not what happened. The Hurricanes have 17 total commits highlighted by seven 4-stars. The Canes were in position to land 4-star corner Kaiir Elam and 4-star athlete Mark Antony-Richards out of their backyard but lost out on Elam to the Gators and Richards to Auburn.
Arizona – No. 55 recruiting class
The Wildcats not only got beat out by in-state rival Arizona State on the recruiting trail but finished 10th in the Pac-12, ahead of only Washington State and Oregon State by the slimmest of margins. In fact, it came down to one player, 4-star receiver Jalen Curry, who followed teammate quarterback Grant Gunnell from St. Pius X in Houston. Looking to fill holes, and possibly a saving grace to the class in a positive view, Arizona went heavy into the JUCO ranks to fill some positions of need along the offensive and defensive lines. This class could end up better than advertised, but as for today a No. 55 ranking in the country does not look good.
Louisville – No. 73 recruiting class
The Cardinals fired head coach Bobby Petrino on Nov. 11 after a 2-8 start. The program turned to Appalachian State head coach Scott Satterfield for a new direction at the end of the season... that new direction is not off to a great start. Louisville ended National Signing Day with 14 commits, one 4-star and 13 3-stars. Granted the new staff did not have 12 months to work on the class, but the fall in the rankings is significant from the year before when the Cardinals were 30th. Louisville is currently looking up at every other school in the ACC, including Boston College and Pittsburgh.
— 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.