by Dave Miller
February 05, 02014
I will post my Top 25 team recruiting rankings Friday at the National Football Post, as National Signing Day is not yet complete with some schools still finalizing their classes.
But, for now, let's take a look at the biggest developments from Signing Day as we near its end.
Still on top
Alabama head coach Nick Saban once again has put together the best class in the country, as the Crimson Tide are assured of the top spot in the NFP's final team rankings. 'Bama has been a recruiting machine since Saban arrived in Tuscaloosa, and that continued this cycle with top talent such as offensive tackle Cameron Robinson, defensive end Da'Shawn Hand, athlete Bo Scarbrough and cornerback Marlon Humphrey heading to town. The Tide addressed needs in the secondary and the offensive line, and they also improved their pass rush as well. Yes, the rich get richer.
Flirting with Top 10 hauls
— I have more on LSU below, but the Tigers arguably had the second-best haul in this cyle because of how well they closed out on Signing Day. Florida State is probably LSU's toughest competition for the final No. 2 spot after welcoming running back Dalvin Cook and wide receivers Ermon Lane and Travis Rudolph.
— It looks like Tennessee is locked into a Top 5 class. Butch Jones and his staff have done an incredible job in a short amount of time in Knoxville. It's a large class that fills a variety of offensive and defensive needs.
— It appears that Texas A&M, Georgia, Auburn and Florida will have Top 10 hauls, and it's difficult to list them in order of class strength. Overall, the SEC once again brought in the best talent, including Mark Stoops and Kentucky. Meanwhile, Ohio State, Miami (FL) and Notre Dame all had strong classes. Again, I will have my final team rankings on Friday at the NFP.
The strongest closers
Steve Sarkisian put together a very strong 2014 haul for the Trojans.
USC: Top recruiter Tee Martin helped Steve Sarkisian and the Trojans close stronger than arguably any program in the country, as the school landed cornerback Adoree' Jackson, athlete JuJu Smith and offensive guard Damien Mama — all local products. Jackson has the potential to emerge as a shutdown cornerback and the athleticism to cause problems on offense. The Trojans also beefed up along the offensive and defensive lines, making Sark's initial class a rousing success and the top-ranked haul in the Pac-12 despite limited numbers.
LSU: The Tigers began Signing Day with a bang, as Les Miles and his staff landed in-state wide receiver Malachi Dupre and Florida defensive tackle Travonte Valentine — two key uncommitted prospects. Those two players join running back Leonard Fournette, the top-ranked player in the country, as well as receiver Trey Quinn, dual-threat quarterback Brandon Harris, offensive guard Garrett Brumfield and safeties Jamal Adams and Edward Paris Jr. to form a Top 5 haul nationally. A very good late rise up the team rankings for the Tigers.
Oklahoma: Other than USC and LSU, the Sooners may have been the biggest winners on Signing Day. Bob Stoops and his staff landed wide receiver Michiah Quick, one of the best uncommitted remaining recruits heading into the day, and flipped Tennessee offensive line commit Orlando Brown Jr., who is the son of the late former NFL player by the same name. The 6-8, 348-pound tackle is considered a very raw prospect with a very high ceiling. Meanwhile, Quick chose the Sooners over Notre Dame. OU added a lot of skill to its program with this class.
Stanford: The first televised commitment of the day was from Texas defensive end Solomon Thomas, who chose the Cardinal over Arkansas and UCLA. Along with Louisiana cornerback Terrence Alexander, who elected not to attend Notre Dame, David Shaw put together yet another strong crop of talent that still somehow manages to go under the radar.
* Ohio State is the class of the Big Ten on the recruiting trail. While the league as a whole isn't recruiting to the level of the SEC or Pac-12, Urban Meyer and the Buckeyes brought in another loaded class led by linebackers Raekwon McMillan and Dante Booker Jr. as well as top defensive backs Damon Webb, Marshon Lattimore and Erick Smith. Meanwhile, Florida wide receiver Johnnie Dixon, Chicago offensive tackle Jamarco Jones and athletic Curtis Samuel will help Meyer's power spread offense. While the Buckeyes have the better haul, Michigan and Penn State can still bring in very high-level players. This coming season is a big one for Brady Hoke, though, while James Franklin is still dealing with the Nittany Lions' scholarship issues — although he has had an outstanding start to his PSU career.
* Georgia Tech landed a really intriguing piece for its offense with the addition of athlete Myles Autry. The in-state product chose the Yellow Jackets over Florida State after his high school teammate Lorenzo Carter announced he was signing with Georgia. Autry can play on both sides of the ball but is going to Atlanta most likely to play offense and special teams. He joins brother Anthony Autry, who plays wide receiver for the Jackets.
* One of Charlie Strong's biggest assignments is to reclaim the state of Texas. Sure, the state is rich enough to supply talent to the entire country. But it used to be the one-stop shop for Big 12 schools. Now, though, Texas A&M is in the SEC, while Alabama, LSU and other schools are getting prime talent from the Lone Star State as well. Strong should do very well on the recruiting trail with the Longhorns, but it isn't quite as easy nowadays to bring the best players to Austin.
* It was a rough day for Virginia Tech head coach Frank Beamer. Not only did in-state rival Virginia still manage to hold onto top prospects Andrew Brown and Quin Blanding despite a 2-10 mark in 2013, but the Hokies lost athlete Ja'Von Harrison from his verbal commitment to Florida State and lost out on in-state defensive tackle Derrick Nnadi to the Seminoles. Will Beamer hear similar whispers that Mack Brown had to endure the last few years in Austin?
Dave Miller, the college football editor and writer for the National Football Post, is on Twitter @Miller_Dave.