The college football recruiting season ended Wednesday with National Signing Day. Many incoming freshmen made their decisions in December during the early signing period, but there were a few reversals on commitments, and a couple of surprises.
Rivals.com, which specializes in tracking and ranking the college recruitment period and national signing day, gave Georgia the No. 1 rank for its incoming freshman class. They edged Clemson, who was No. 2, and No. 3 Alabama. The biggest surprise in the top 10 was Auburn, who finished in the 10th spot over Michigan, Texas, and Penn State.
Despite Georgia’s haul of new recruits, Clemson is still the +225 favorite to win the 2021 National Championship. Georgia, however, is fourth at +700, and that line might go lower due to the efforts of head coach Kirby Smart and his staff. Smart told reporters Wednesday he was pleased with the results of National Signing Day.
“We think we were able to fill a lot of those holes,” Smart said. “We feel like we’ve got a very balanced class across, probably a little more out of state than it’s been in the past.”
Who were the winners and losers on National Signing Day? We take a look at some of the programs that got stronger, and others that missed opportunities to improve their teams.
National Signing Day Winners
The Bulldogs finished off a strong early signing period in December by locking in a couple of other top recruits. This is the second time in three years that Georgia has secured the top-ranked recruiting class. Getting five-star offensive tackle Broderick Jones and center Sedrick Van Pran will solidify an already strong offensive line.
For the second straight year, the Aggies pulled in top recruits on National Signing Day. Texas A&M pulled in the surprise of the day when defensive tackle McKinnley Jackson chose the Aggies over Alabama and LSU. He added to what was considered the strongest defensive class this year.
The heat was on head coach Will Muschamp after the Gamecocks’ disappointing 2019 season, where they finished 4-8 overall. Muschamp delivered on National Signing Day with five-star defensive lineman Jordan Burch. The program also got junior college transfers, running back ZaQuandre White, receiver Ger-Cari Caldwell, and defensive end Gilber Edmond.
The news that head coach Mark Dantonio was resigning from the program sent shock waves through college football and jeopardized the program’s recruiting efforts. It could have been a lot worse, but Dantonio’s sudden departure just 24 hours before National Signing Day was damaging. They lost three-star running back Jordan Simmons, who decided not to sign with the Spartans.
The Gators sat and watched recruits they thought they had a legitimate shot at signing decide to go somewhere else. They lost running back/wide receiver Dee Beckwith to Tennessee, and Ashaad Clayton to Colorado. The hardest hit came from safety Avantae Williams, who chose in-state rival Miami. The Gators did manage to sign four-star defensive end Princely Umanmielen.
The Trojans fall from recruiting powerhouse to the outhouse became official on Wednesday. No longer listed among the top-50 ranked schools in the country, USC did land a couple of players, but nothing near what they need to challenge for the Pac-12 Championship. Head coach Clay Helton’s status at the school appears to be safe for next season, but with all the uncertainty, recruits are going other places.