Recruiting is one of the most important aspects of college football. The spectacle of National Signing Day itself may be just a tad ridiculous and over the top, but those rankings that fanbases all over the country obsess over are still important.
If you look at the teams competing for national titles every year and then look at the recruiting rankings from the most recent seasons, it’s not hard to see a direct correlation between how well those teams recruit and how well they perform on the field.
And just like teams win and lose games on the field, they win and lose on the recruiting trail. So with that in mind, I’m here to break down the winners and losers of 2017’s signing day.
Alabama: Was there ever any doubt? Alabama picked up a few more big commitments on Saturday from players like LaBryan Ray and Devonta Smith to ensure it would finish with the No. 1 recruiting class for the seventh straight season. Hell, things went so well that they’re grayshirting defensive end Jarez Parks because they didn’t have a scholarship available for him. Now, grayshirting isn’t all that uncommon, but for a top-100 prospect to do it just shows how appealing Alabama is for the top players in the country. I’m telling you, I think Alabama might be good in 2017. You heard it here first.
LSU: The Ed Orgeron Era is off to a strong start as the Tigers put together a very strong class, finishing with a couple key additions like defensive end K’Lavon Chaisson. With pickups like that, LSU is going to finish with a top-10 recruiting class. Which is good. The problem is it’s still in the same division as Alabama.
Florida: A few weeks ago, Florida fans were not shy when it came to complaining about their 2017 class. The Gators were ranked in the 30s nationally depending on where you looked, and while that’s not horrible, it’s just not up to the standard that Florida has set in recent years, and it’s certainly not good enough if the Gators wanted to win SEC titles. Well, that ranking got quite a bit better after some key additions on Wednesday, as Florida leapt up to the top 10. That’s a good day.
USC: It was a very good day for Clay Helton and the Trojans. USC added players like five-star Joseph Lewis and four-stars Greg Johnson and Levi Jones to put the finishing touches on a top-five class. The only other Pac-12 school to finish in the top 15 of 247 Sports Composite Rankings was Stanford, and it’s nearly 10 spots back at No. 14.
South Florida: While South Florida’s class may not be at the top of the rankings nationally, it took a big step forward on Wednesday. When the calendar flipped from January to February, USF’s class was ranked 12th (that’s last) in the American Athletic Conference. It climbed seven spots on Wednesday. So while there’s still some work to do, Charlie Strong finished the 2017 class strong and has some momentum heading into 2018.
Your Favorite School: If I haven’t mentioned Your Favorite School yet, don’t worry. They did great. Everybody Your Favorite School signed was exactly who your coaches wanted, and they can’t wait to get to work to make sure Your Favorite School wins a conference title and plays for a national championship. More importantly, you did things the right way, and every single kid you signed is not just a great football player, but an excellent student and an amazing person.
Ole Miss: Life in the SEC West is difficult enough as it is, and it’s about to be even more difficult for the Rebels. While Ole Miss’ class is good enough to rank No. 33 nationally, it’s currently No. 12 in the SEC. The only two SEC schools ranked behind it are Missouri and Vanderbilt, which means the Rebels are finishing last in the SEC West. To rub salt in the wound, the Rebels are a full 10 spots behind in-state rival Mississippi State. No doubt the looming cloud of NCAA sanctions had a dramatic effect on the school’s ability to lure the top talent to Oxford this year.
Texas: Tom Herman was a recruiting savant at Houston. He was able to bring in a ton of talent like Ed Oliver to help turn Houston into a team many considered a dark horse for a College Football Playoff berth. It was that kind of effort that helped land Herman the Texas gig, but if this signing day is any indication, he’s going to need a bit more time. Everywhere you looked, the top talent in Texas was signing somewhere that wasn’t Texas. That’s going to need to change if Herman wants to turn the Longhorns into a team that can win the Big 12 and earn a playoff berth.
Your Rival: Oh man, almost all the players Your Rival signed are bad. Any of them that are good would have gone to Your Favorite School, but they didn’t meet the stringent academic requirements of your fine educational institution. Your Rival will take them, though. They probably illegally paid them to commit, but there’s no doubt the NCAA will find out soon enough and sanction them back to the Stone Age.
Source: CBS Sports Headlines / 2017 National Signing Day winners and losers: USC, Alabama continue to reload