Signing Day had it all. Winners, losers, crazy family moments and plenty of staged events that probably sounded like a good idea at the time.
How should we remember it all?
Here’s one word that best describes every SEC team’s 2018 recruiting class.
Why? Alabama’s recruiting reign was at risk long before Wednesday, but nobody expected the Tide to slip all the way to … seventh? (Think about how ridiculous it is that people are actually forecasting doom and gloom because Nick Saban only landed another top 10 class. Such is the standard and expectation in Tuscaloosa.)
The coup de grace was that Saban couldn’t even keep the best in-state player. Justyn Ross, a 4-star WR from Phenix City, chose Clemson.
Why? What, exactly, were you expecting? Arkansas’ classes typically fall in the mid to low 20s nationally — and that’s a best-case scenario. The Hogs’ last Top 20 class was in 2004, when they finished 18th.
Clearly, there was nothing “best-case” about the scenario Chad Morris walked into two months ago, but he still managed to snag 4-star QB Connor Noland. He might not win the job in 2018, but Noland is the sixth-rated QB entering the SEC this cycle.
Why: Auburn’s class finished No. 12 — the first time Gus Malzahn ended up outside the top 10. But it’s heavy on playmakers.
QB Joey Gatewood and the Cam Newton comparisons generate headlines, but Malzahn also added two of the top 15 running backs in the country and three of the top 35 receivers in the class.
Why: It’s been awhile since we said that, no? Dan Mullen also was in a tight spot, trying to quickly build a respectable class while fending off national pursuers in the most talent-rich state in the country.
It’s a smaller class, but it’s offensive-minded, just like the man who put it together.
Emory Jones could win the starting QB job this season, and Jacob Copeland’s dramatic Signing Day decision gives the Gators two of the top 16 receivers in the class. Only three other programs in America can make that claim.
Gators fans wanted points. They’re coming.
Why? What more is there to say? The ruthless Dawgs signed seven 5-star prospects, the most since 247Sports.com began tracking recruits in 2000.
Why: There isn’t enough in-state talent to keep Kentucky in the hunt, so Mark Stoops headed north and took on the two biggest names in the Big Ten.
All three of the Cats’ 4-star prospects came from Ohio or Michigan. That included LB Christopher Oats, who flipped from Ohio State.
The other two 4-stars will help anchor the Cats’ offensive line for years.
Why: No. 15? That’s usually LSU’s final AP ranking, not its recruiting ranking.
This Tigers class is the lowest-ranked since finishing 21st in 2002. The Tigers added just two players Wednesday. Ed Orgeron did his best to put on a happy face.
Myles Brennan has to like the fact the Tigers added the No. 3 receiver in the class, 6-2 Terrace Marshall. Stealing him from Alabama was all the sweeter. He’ll be paired with JaMarr Chase, who is 6-1 and ranked the No. 15 receiver in the class.
“(Chase) and Terrace Marshall remind me of Jarvis Landry and Odell Beckham when we signed them back in the day,” Orgeron told reporters. “I wasn’t here, but I remember when we signed them. We expect that tandem to be great.”
Losing longtime commit Patrick Surtain to Alabama was disappointing, but DBU’s class did include Kelvin Joseph, a 4-star safety.
Why? All Joe Moorhead did, in short order, was replace the most successful coach in program history and quickly build/retain a recruiting class that rivaled any of the recent ones Dan Mullen constructed.
The Bulldogs’ class ranked No. 27 nationally and included 5 4-star high school prospects.
One of those was a QB, too.
That’s impressive considering Mullen’s most famous recruits — Dak Prescott and Nick Fitzgerald — were lightly regarded 3-star prospects.
Why: Every prospect the Tigers signed was a 3-star recruit.
Save for three recruits overall, it’s been that way for each of Barry Odom’s three recruiting classes.
Why? Given all the storms surrounding the program, Matt Luke was able to reel in a 4-star QB and two 4-star WRs. All three from out of state, too.
All things considered, that’s better than could be expected for a program still handcuffed by NCAA penalties.
Why? The Gamecocks’ class was good and solid, but the SEC East landscape has changed. Dramatically.
Georgia just landed the No. 1 class in America. That’s the first time since Florida’s 2010 class that an SEC East team finished ahead of every West team.
In that context, the Gamecocks didn’t do enough to keep pace.
Why? In a 6-month span in which everything that could have gone wrong did go wrong, Tennessee still finished No. 20, one spot behind South Carolina, one spot ahead of … Michigan.
If this is rock bottom for the Jeremy Pruitt era, the Vols will happily take it.
Why? Context is everything. Jimbo Fisher got there late in the process and found that rival Texas had planted its flag. Fisher is no stranger to recruiting wars. He eventually conquered Florida. If he can work that magic again in Texas, the Aggies will be national contenders.
This class included 13 4-stars, and the No. 18 national ranking wasn’t terribly far from Kevin Sumlin’s final three classes.
Why? Derek Mason challenged the staff to swing big. The Commodores landed three 4-star prospects, matching the combined total they signed in the three previous recruiting classes.
One of those earlier 4-star gets was Kyle Shurmur, however.
Shurmur is entering his senior season, and the ‘Dores still haven’t landed an obvious replacement.