College football has an incredibly weird tradition where we dedicate an entire day to praising (or some fans criticizing) 17 and 18 year old kids on their biggest decision of their life. National Signing Day is great for high school players. It is the day their lifelong dreams become reality and they have the opportunity to play football at a high level and receive an education for free. This signing day feels different from others in previous seasons with the emergence of Name, Image and Likeness.
Alabama is Still King – Nick Saban is coming off one of his worst seasons in the past decade by failing to make the SEC championship and missing the College Football Playoffs. Saban still signed six athletes considered to be five star players. 13 of the 27 signees are ranked within the top 75 players in the country showing how strong he recruited. Alabama may have seen numerous players enter the portal but Saban will still reload instead of rebuild. The Crimson Tide could also land one more five star player in Desmond Ricks before the class is completed.
Dan Lanning is Building Oregon – Besides Alabama, no finished the recruiting cycle better than Oregon. Dan Lanning received commitments from Matayo Uiagalelei, Daylen Austin and Austin Novosad. All three players were ranked in the top 150 nationally with Uiagalelei being the crown jewel as the number 31 player in the country. Oregon also landed Ajani Cornelius from Rhode Island and was one of the most sought after players in the transfer portal. Lanning is building Oregon and should be able to take hold of the Pac-12 especially with USC and UCLA leaving for the Big Ten.
Deion is Coming – We knew Deion Sanders would transform Colorado but did anyone know it would happen in one season? Travis Hunter was announced his commitment to Colorado which many fans expected. The surprise for Deion is the potential commitment of Cormani McClain. McClain is the number two player in the country and was previously committed to Miami. He chose not to sign after communicating with Sanders over the past few days. Many experts are now predicting McClain will follow Sanders to Colorado. Look for Sanders to remain active in the transfer portal to help build up his team for 2023.
Lane Train Off The Tracks? – Let’s remember, I am no expert on recruiting. Ole Miss finished with just 12 signees after the first day of the early signing period which shocked me. The Rebels did sign five players ranked in the top 300 but the lack of players in the class is surprising. Kiffin only signed 16 players last year but he also took 17 transfers. Maybe Kiffin is planning to use the portal more than recruiting high school players. The answer remains to be seen but they currently have just three commitments from transfers. Kiffin has been a strong player in the SEC so I expected him to finish with a better recruiting class.
Is Ohio State in Trouble? – If you look at Twitter, Ohio State fans are losing their mind thinking they are headed for mediocrity. Ryan Day is worse than Willie Taggart based on my timeline. Is the sky falling? No. Does Ohio State need to reevaluate how they manage recruiting and NIL? Yes, every school is going to need to reevaluate their recruiting process on a yearly basis. Day and the Buckeyes missed out on a few key players with NIL being one of the speculated reasons. Ohio State finished with 20 signees and the fifth ranked recruiting class. A win over Georgia would likely solve most of the problems but a loss will magnify the issues.
First Year Coaches on the Move – Mario Cristobal, Brian Kelly, Brent Venables, Marcus Freeman, Dan Lanning, Billy Napier and Lincoln Riley all signed top 15 classes after their first season at a new program. Every school signed at least 20 players with five of the seven coaches signing at least one five star player. New coaches are always able to sell hope and a dream but how many of these coaches will be able to deliver? Even Clay Helton and Tom Herman were able to deliver top 10 classes. Most of the schools appear to be trending in a positive direction and the recruits are buying into the programs.
Early Signing Day Needs to Move – Early Signing Day has become more of a hassle to everyone involved and should be moved. College Football should have two signing days. The first coming before the season starts for players who are locked in and 100% sure they know where they want to go. Those players can be released from their letter of intent if a coach is fired or accepts a new job along with other obvious reasons. The other signing day should take place in February. Having a signing day in December is terrible for everyone involved. Coaches are focused on bowl practices while also making at home visits and hosting official visits. Some players are just finishing up their season and being pressured to sign and find time to visit schools. If a player wants to enroll early, this still affords them the option even without signing before the season. Having signing day in December is becoming a bad idea for all parties involved.