Now that National Signing Day is officially in the books, it's time to break down some of the winners and losers of this recruiting period. This is always a crazy time; from kids changing their minds as to where they're going, to parents stealing commitment letters from their sons.
|Photo by: Ellen Blalock|
Okay SEC haters, if you were hoping that signing day would give you a reprieve from all the SEC chants, it's not happening. Ten schools are in the top 20 of rivals.com recruiting rankings, including Vanderbilt (yes, Vandy). It doesn't matter what part of the country you're from, if you're a top-flight athlete, the SEC is going to find you. Ole Miss was the biggest surprise in the conference picking up #1 recruit Robert Nkemdiche and having a top 10 class overall. As long as two-thirds of the conference is in the top 20 of the rankings, the SEC will continue to play for and win national titles.
The Bruins come in with a top 10 class, and it looks like Jim Mora is really building something in Los Angeles. One of the highlights of the class is Eldridge Massington, a 6'3 WR out of Mesquite, Texas. Wide receivers and defensive backs were a focus in this class for the Bruins, and if they continue this type of recruiting, they will continue to rise in the standings in the Pac-12.
- Notre Dame
Girlfriend hoaxes and getting drilled in the national title game did not stop Brian Kelly from having one of the greatest classes the Fighting Irish have had in years. Notre Dame showed its national reach by grabbing top flight recruits from Texas, Florida and Minnesota. Wide receiver and offensive line were the main focus in this class to help an offense that struggled during much of the 2012 campaign.
I put the Trojans in this category, but this class could be the end of the Lane Kiffin era at USC if they go 7-6 again next season. USC has a smaller class than most in the top 15, but the 12 players are all in the 4 or 5 star category. The class picked three top-flight defensive backs to shore up a secondary that was suspect over the second half of the season. USC has shown over the last few years that they can get any recruit they want, but they have not shown the ability to coach those players up.
- The Big 12
When the major rankings concluded on Wednesday, no Big 12 team was ranked in the top 10. Oklahoma was the best of the bunch, but this class coming in at #15 was not one of their best classes over the last 5 years. Part of the reason that the Big 12 has fallen behind other conferences of late is the lack of picking up big stars in the state of Texas. The SEC and Pac-12 have come in and snagged several big name stars that this conference could not keep in house.
There should have been tons of momentum in the recruiting race after the Cardinals shocking Sugar Bowl win over the Gators. Charlie Strong was able to maintain a stronghold in Florida where he picked up several solid players, but the low number and the fact that they are ranked in the middle-of-the-pack in the Big East is fairly concerning for a team that is coming off one of their biggest wins in school history.
Okay Hurricane fans, it's not looking good in Coral Gables. Never in a million years should programs like Wake Forest or Houston have a better class than Miami. The biggest issue for the Canes is that they can't protect their back yard. They were only able to keep two major recruits from the Miami area, and according to rivals.com, the Hurricanes are ranked 8th in the ACC between Wake Forest and North Carolina State. If this type of recruiting continues, Miami will continue to struggle.
I know that Stanford has to deal with academic requirements that most of the schools around the country don't have to deal with, but finishing next-to-last in the Pac-12 in the rankings is unacceptable for a team that has been to three-straight BCS bowls. Over the past few years, David Shaw has been the inverse of Lane Kiffin, not getting great classes but coaching them up once they arrive in Palo Alto. Shaw will have to work his magic again with a class that doesn't feature any 5 star recruits, with the overall number down in comparison to past seasons.