To the surprise of no one, Nick Saban and Alabama are dominating on the recruiting trail once again
After every college football signing period there are coaching staffs patting each other on the back for a job well done and then there are the others putting a good spin on their class in public while trying to figure out what went wrong behind closed doors. The 2018 early signing period was no different with clear-cut winners and more than a few that fell short of high expectations.
There was no movement at the top of the class rankings from Tuesday to Wednesday with Alabama, Georgia, Texas A&M, LSU, and Oregon holding strong. The Crimson Tide now have a ridiculous class of three 5-star players and 22 four-star recruits. The Bulldogs are not far behind with five 5-star players and 14 4-star commits. The back end of the top 10-15 is where the biggest movement took place with teams leapfrogging over one another climbing the ranks. Michigan, Penn State, and Auburn all moved up but at the expense of which teams?
Early Signing Period High Achievers
Alabama Crimson Tide
The embarrassment of riches in Tuscaloosa knows no bounds. Whatever head coach Nick Saban does to relax after a good day at the office, he’s doing that after landing five-star recruits Trey Sanders and Evan Neal from IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida on Wednesday. Sanders is arguably the best running back in the nation while Neal is that prototypical left tackle college coaches love measuring in close to 6-foot-8 and 360 pounds. The Crimson Tide now have 22 players signed to their 2019 class. On one sour note, Bama did lose 5-star safety Daxton Hill (Tulsa, Oklahoma) to Michigan, but the class still remains loaded.
Penn State Nittany Lions
Penn State had a busy Wednesday signing 18 players. The class includes 5-star linebacker Brandon Smith from Louisa County (Virginia) High School and a big pickup in 4-star offensive guard Caedan Wallace from Huns High School in Princeton, New Jersey. In total, PSU now has 16 4-star recruits. That moved the Nittany Lions' class from No. 13 to 10.
Michigan cleaned house on the recruiting trail adding a 5-star player in safety Daxton Hill and two 4-stars in linebacker Anthony Solomon and receiver Cornelius Johnson from Connecticut. What had to make other coaching staffs angry is that the aforementioned Hill was flipped from Alabama, while Solomon, a St. Thomas Aquinas product, comes from Miami's own backyard. All three additions were out of normal Big Ten recruiting grounds enhancing the luster. The Wolverines now have the seventh-ranked class with 27 commitments.
The Trojans jumped up seven spots to No. 21 on Wednesday by landing five players including four-star in-state defensive end Drake Jackson from Centennial (Corona) High School. The rest of the haul of 3-stars included flipping defensive tackle Dejon Benton from Washington State, landing linebacker Ralen Goforth from national powerhouse St. John Bosco (Bellflower, Calif.), safety Briton Allen from IMG Academy, and adding junior college end Nick Figueroa from Riverside City (Calif.) College. Landing five players is a great sign, but we also are talking about the Trojans. Hanging around the top 10 is where we are used to seeing USC. The class has 20 commits with 15 NLIs signed.
The only Florida program that did well on Wednesday was the Gators. Florida moved up from 21st to 16th in the recruiting rankings thanks to landing three 4-star players all from in-state Lakeland High School. The trio includes massive guard Deyavie Hammond (6-3, 353), end Lloyd Summerall, and tight end Keon Zipper. Florida now has 13 4-star players in the class with 21 total commitments, leaving room for a few more impact players. But just like USC, we are accustomed to seeing Florida higher in the rankings.
Had a Bad Day
Ohio State Buckeyes
What happened to OSU is in the eye of the beholder with mixed results. They lost 4-star quarterback Dwain Mathis to Georgia but also landed 5-star in-state end Zach Harrison. To lessen the sting, they added 3-star defensive tackle Jaden McKenzie out of Wake Forest (N.C.) High School. The Buckeyes have time to regroup after falling out of the top 10 (No. 12), but the loss of Mathis looms large. Only two top-20 dual-threat quarterbacks remain uncommitted — No. 5 Lance LeGendre, a Warren Easton talent expected to stay in state with LSU, and 20th-ranked David Baldwin, IMG Academy's quarterback who is originally from California and is thought to be heading back west to play for a Pac-12 program.
Florida State Seminoles
However opposing college coaches are recruiting against Seminoles head coach Willie Taggart, it is working. FSU slid down the rankings two spots to No. 14 after in-state, 4-star end Derick Hunter jumped to Texas A&M and when 4-star quarterback Sam Howell became Mack Brown’s biggest addition as he starts his second tenure at North Carolina. The class is still looking good with 5-star corner Akeem Dent committed, if that holds true until National Signing Day in February. FSU fans now also have to worry about unsigned 4-star recruits Nick Cross (SS), Brendan Gant (SS), Travis Jay (CB), and Quashon Fuller (DE) staying committed. Adding to the woes of losing Howell, Deondre Francois is reportedly leaving the program. This ramps up the need to find a future starter under center in the 2019 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.