5 National Signing Day Things To Know For Those Who Think Recruiting Is A Flaming Bag Of Stupid
Really? You don’t spend every waking hour worrying about whether or not Jimmy Five-Star is going to State U.? Here are the 5 Things You Need To Know, including who the top players really are, how each of the top teams did, the one big storyline, and the one thing you need to look smarter around your peers.
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You’re reading this, so you’re sort of interested in what’s happening with this National Signing Day/Recruiting 2017 world that the kids are all buzzing about, but you don’t want to be bogged down in the useless minutiae. Fine, I’ll soon cut to the chase and give you the five things you actually need to know.
You’re still reading this, which means you don’t spend hundreds of dollars for the privilege of sitting on a message board frantically hitting refresh to find out the latest recruiting update about SuperFan926’s uncle’s friend’s girlfriend’s ex-boyfriend’s friend-but-really-a-little-more-guy-friend’s juice-barista’s sighting of Johnny Be Good wearing a blue hat by the Orange Julius – so, of course, now he’s not going to Alabama.
You’re a sports fan, you like college football, and you’re going to pay attention to National Signing Day over the next 36 hours or so, but outside of the basics and macro-level trends, the whole thing’s a lot of hullabaloo with very little actual payoff.
I have to deal with it because, yeah, it actually does matter in my weird little world, but the brutal reality is that 1) most of these superstar, can’t-miss recruits will never be heard from again, be just okay, or will soon be off to the NFL where they’ll get chewed up and spat out within ten minutes. 2) We’re going to be more engrossed in the discussion about the 2020 inauguration of President (insert Bannon, Warren, Booker, Putin, Tebow or Kadashian here, depending on your particular cup of tea) by the time we know whether or not any of these players and classes are any good, and 3) most of the coaches just busted their tails putting together the future of the program for some other coach who’ll take over within the next five years.
So what do you – the lucid-thinking, discerning consumer of all things sport – really need to know about your 2017 National Signing Day and the college football recruiting world? Here you go …
The one big, giant, major storyline you need to care about is …
Georgia. The Bulldogs always recruited well under Mark Richt, and head coach Kirby Smart did a nice job in his first season with plenty of key late gets – while hanging on to top quarterback recruit, Jacob Eason – but this year, he and his staff took things to a whole other level.
Not since the 2006 group with Matt Stafford, Knowshon Moreno and Geno Atkins has Georgia come up with a class that looked this strong, and this one should turn out to be even better.
It’s all about the trends when it comes to recruiting. It doesn’t matter too much whether or not Smart pulled in the top class, or a top five class, this is now a hot program that’s doing more than just competing with the Alabamas and LSUs for the four-and-five star talents.
Smart and his staff just crushed Florida, Tennessee and the rest of the SEC East with this haul. Combine it with the last few classes, and a loaded team returning, and this is going to be one of the it teams going into the 2017 season. However …
Alabama is still really good at this recruiting thing – and, once again, so is the rest of the SEC
Horseshoes, hand grenades, Par-5 second shots, college football recruiting rankings and whoever’s still around at 3 a.m. bartime. As long as it’s close to being good, you’re doing okay.
Since the beginning of recorded college football recruiting ranking time, the SEC has always dominated, and it’s never been remotely close. That’ll continue until the doomsday clock runs out, with this yet another recruiting season owned by the SEC and its big dog on top, with Ohio State the one outlier that continues to get into the club.
Again, Georgia came up with a phenomenal class, but so did LSU, Texas A&M, Tennessee, Auburn, and to a lesser extent, Florida. These programs would own the headlines in any other conference, but there’s still that Alabama thing to deal with.
Coming up with a few top-five level recruiting classes here and there is remarkable, but Nick Saban does it every single year, joining Ohio State as the two programs nationally that get more ready-made NFL talents on a regular basis than anyone else.
Yeah, other teams are going to be ranked close to the Crimson Tide and Buckeyes on bulk upper-level talent, but those two don’t mess around when it comes to the true no-doubter, five-star types. This season, once again, the two owned the high-rent district of prospects, with Alabama landing the star of stars …
The five players you actually do need to know are …
– RB Najee Harris, Alabama – Think Todd Gurley, but with good knees and not quite as fast. This is it. This is the signature guy in the 2017 recruiting season, and the Crimson Tide got him.
– RB Cam Akers, Florida State – While the well-built, lightning-fast Akers has all the tools to be the next great FSU running back, the Noles came up with several good gets for the backfield to take the pressure off.
– OT Foster Sarell, Stanford – The program doesn’t whiff when it comes to developing top-shelf offensive line prospects, and Sarrell, along with Walker Little, are two future NFL starters.
– DE Jaelan Phillips, UCLA – More than just being a prototype pass rusher, he and CB Darnay Holmes are going to be the defensive stars for a UCLA program that needs to make an in-town splash with USC now back on the national stage.
– QB Hunter Johnson, Clemson – Also throw into the mix Stanford get Davis Mills as the true freshmen quarterbacks who might be the key parts of a conference championship puzzle. No one will expect Johnson to be another Deshaun Watson – Johnson’s more of a pro-style passer – but he might get the keys to the national title team.
Yeah, that’s all great, but you want something to make you look smart among your friends talking about recruiting stuff
“Yeah, but did you see what Maryland did?”
Pick a year, any year, and of course you’re going to get Alabama, Ohio State, USC, Notre Dame, Michigan, etc. among the top recruiting programs. But this season, it’s D.J. Durkin’s Maryland staff that came up with the most surprising haul of them all.
Durkin vowed that he’d do everything possible to put a fence around the fertile Maryland/Washington DC recruiting area, and he did a good enough job with eight of his projected top ten prospects – all excellent ones – from nearby.
In a normal year, a running back like Anthony McFarland would’ve left home for Alabama, or Clemson, or Ohio State – all of them were on the radar – but he’s a Terp. The same goes for a few four-star offensive linemen who would’ve been locks for bigger programs, and a slew of great defensive backs Durkin was able to land. Throw in QB Kasim Hill, and now Maryland might actually become a player in the loaded Big Ten East.
How did the top teams of 2016 do on the recruiting trail?
Going by the teams that made it into the College Football Playoff last season, and the rest of the New Year’s Six matchups …
– Clemson was underwhelming, but it doesn’t really matter. The Tigers are almost always outside of the elite of the elite when it comes to recruiting classes – including a 2012 class that was part of the national championship payoff in 2016. They got lots and lots of really good players, but few of the superstar, five-star types.
– Alabama was phenomenal, but again, it’s always phenomenal.
– Ohio State just rolls out of bed and gets a top five recruiting class. As good as Alabama always is, when it comes to loading up on next-level talent, Urban Meyer is just as strong, if not better.
– Washington came up with a better class than it did last year, but it’s still nowhere near the same level as some of the other superstar programs. Chris Petersen went heavy on the offensive side this year.
– USC didn’t get the top-shelf class its fans are used to from way back in the Pete Carroll days, but now that the coaching situation is settled, and after the Rose Bowl win, the program still got the best talent of any Pac-12 team.
– Penn State got a really, really good class that’s probably not going to get as much love as it should from the recruiting services. Ohio State and Michigan got more stars, but the Big Ten champs won’t slip with this group.
– Florida State came up with yet another amazing haul of central casting football prospects. It was the ACC’s best class by far.
– Michigan either has the best, second-best, third-best, or fourth-best recruiting class. It doesn’t matter exactly where it falls – it’s a second straight incredible recruiting year for Jim Harbaugh.
– Oklahoma absolutely crushed it. After a down 2016 recruiting season, now that the Sooners have two straight conference titles, a fun team, and a whole lot of promise, it’s the hot Big 12 team by far.
– Auburn came up with a good enough class to keep up the pace. It’s going to be up there in most of the top ten rankings again after pulling in a fantastic haul last year, too.
– Wisconsin didn’t get a recruit that any of the top 25 schools on most recruiting lists would bother to sneeze on, but that’s par for the course. The Badgers will probably go to the next five Big Ten Championships, anyway.
– Western Michigan lost head coach P.J. Fleck to Minnesota, but it still came up with a relatively okay MAC class of talent. It’s good enough to stay relevant down the road in the conference title chase.