Takeaways From National Signing Day
National Signing Day is the equivalent of Christmas for fans of college football, with the announcement of every recruit's commitment seeming to be another gift unwrapped. Yesterday proved to be just that. With a multitude of recruits signing letters of intent and pledging to schools for at least the next three years, this year's event proved to be one of the best yet. Here are some of the takeaways from National Signing Day 2015.
Alabama Continues Its Dominance on the Recruiting Scene
Despite the Crimson Tide's loss at the hands of Ohio State in the Sugar Bowl, Nick Saban was able to reel in the No. 1 ranked recruiting class for the fifth straight year. Adding six five-star prospects, fourteen four-star prospects, and just four three-star prospects, Alabama again showed why its competitive year-in and year-out. The biggest names to grace the Tide with their attendance this year include QB Blake Barnett (No. 1 pocket passer), Deionte Thompson (No. 2 safety), Calvin Ridley (No. 1 WR), and Damien Harris (No. 1 RB). With a comfortable seat atop the recruiting world, Alabama will continue to be one of the top teams in the country for years to come.
SEC Gets Nation's Top Recruits
You've heard it once, so you've probably heard it a thousand times that the SEC is the best conference in the country. Although this was the first time since 2006 that the national championship game did not feature a team from the Southeastern Conference, that didn't stop any of its members from nabbing the best recruits in the country. All of the schools in the country finished in the top-50, with the lowest being Vanderbilt, who finished at 46. It should also be mentioned that half of the top-10 were schools from the SEC. In total 118 of the ESPN 300 went to SEC schools, clearly showing that this is the conference that the nation's best want to compete in.
Florida vs. Auburn Was a Great Recruiting Battle to Watch
One of the best storylines of National Signing Day 2015 was Florida and Auburn battling it out for some of the nation's top recruits. Ever since it was announced that Will Muschamp would become Auburn's defensive coordinator for the upcoming season, a recruiting battle ensued between the two schools as Muschamp tried to entice some of the recruits he sought while at Florida to follow him west. For most of the morning, it looked like Muschamp was going to win the battle after signing No. 1 DE Byron Cowart, four-star WR Ryan Davis, and recent Gator decomit OG Mike Horton. However, things turned around for Florida when it was able to land two of the nation's remaining five-star recruits, OT Martez Ivey and DE Cece Jefferson.
Florida and Michigan Finish Strong
A couple of weeks ago, both of these programs were looking to pick up the pieces of their respective recruiting classes. With new coaches taking over both of these storied programs, it seemed like 2015 was going to put each in the hole from a recruiting standpoint. Florida was as low as 80th at one point, and Michigan wasn't much better, ranking in the 70's around the same time. But, to the surprise of many, the Gators and Wolverines clawed their way back up the rankings and each had a nice finish.
Florida finished with 21 recruits, including the two five-stars listed above along with four four-star prospects (RB Jordan Scarlett, Ath Jordan Cronkrite, Ath D'Anfernee McGriff and WR Antonio Callaway) and 15 other three-star recruits. The Gators moved up 45 spots in 247Sports' recruiting to finish 21st in the nation. Michigan, on the other hand, finished with a relatively small class, signing just 14 recruits. Don't be fooled by the size though, as six of those guys are four-star recruits, reeling in three of them on National Signing Day. New coach Jim Harbaugh has already made a great impact in just a short period of time, signing eight of the school's recruits. The Wolverines may have finished 38th at the end of the day, but they moved up 33 spots and that's a good starting point for Harbaugh and co.
The Battle for Los Angeles: USC and UCLA
If you were tuned in to any part of ESPNU's early coverage, you probably noticed that UCLA was seeming to pull in top recruits left and right. Chris Clark, one of the nation's top TE recruits, got the ball rolling by being the first prospect to announce on the network that he would be joining Jim Mora's team. The action continued later on, as five-star running back Soso Jamabo signed on the dotted line to play his college ball for the Bruins. Four-star linebacker Roquan Smith provided some late drama for UCLA, as he had verbally announced that he was heading to LA, but then had second thoughts, feeling the pressure to stay in his home state of Georgia and join the Bulldogs. As of now, he still remains committed to his original destination.
Then you have USC, who looked like it could potentially knock Alabama out of the top spot with the kind of day it was having. Steve Sarkisian's Trojans were able to land two five-star recruits (DT Rasheem Green and CB Iman Marshall), and one of the nation's top linebacker recruits in John Houston Jr. This is the first time that USC has landed a top-three recruiting class since 2011. Sarkisian has done a great job bringing USC back to being one of the most prominent programs in the country, and it shows with the recruits he's been able to land.