Top SEC recruiting storylines from Day 1 of the Early Signing Period
We’re done with Day 1 of the Early Signing Period, and with the excitement expected to taper considerably in the next two days, it’s a good time to catch up some of the biggest storylines of the second year of Early Signing Day.
Alabama stays on top but doesn’t own the game
The Crimson Tide came into the day as the projected No. 1 class and after the dust settles in January and February, another recruiting title is likely. But Alabama was supposed to have the sort of class that could be the highest-rated on record and that didn’t materialize.
Now don’t get me wrong, there’s no reason to cry because the rich did get a little richer behind the commitments from 5-star running back Trey Sanders and 5-star offensive lineman Evan Neal.
The day started well enough for Alabama when 4-star safety Jordan Battle flipped from Ohio State to Alabama. But then things hit a bit a bump. Five-star defensive back Daxton Hill, who flipped to Alabama from Michigan less than two weeks ago, flipped back to the Wolverines in somewhat of a surprising development.
This did not make Tide fans happy.
Daxton Hill (what a child that cannot even live up to his word! another piece of garbage that can only watch National Championship games from the sideline as Alabama will just roll over everyone as usual!! You will regret when you don't get drafted in round 1!!! loss of money!!
— john anderson (@jpa1212) December 19, 2018
So, Michigan steals back Daxton Hill from Alabama. Then, Alabama steals Jordan Battle from Michigan’s biggest rival, Ohio State.
Couldn’t have worked out any better for Harbaugh.
— Clint Lamb (@ClintRLamb) December 19, 2018
— Matt Dudek (@Thee_Matty_D) December 19, 2018
A pastor, really?
At the end of the day the Tide signed 10 of the top 100 prospects in the nation according to 247Sports.com composite rankings. So it’s still Nick Saban’s recruiting world and we’re just living it in.
Georgia reels big fish in the final minute
While the Bulldogs haven’t lost Justin Fields to a transfer yet, it appears that Kirby Smart is already planning for the inevitable or continuing to strengthen the depth behind Jake Fromm with the surprise commitment of Dwan Mathis, a projected quarterback originally committed to Ohio State.
In a story by the Detroit Free-Press, Mathis said that Fields’ situation had nothing to do with his choice, but in the same story he said Georgia is a place that he has “the best chance of playing in a couple of years.”
The Bulldogs’ big deal continued with the commitment of 5-star linebacker Nakobe Dean, ranked as the top inside linebacker in the nation. Dean’s recruitment seemed to be an SEC race with Alabama, Auburn, LSU, Texas A&M and Ole Miss feeling like they had a shot.
Welcome to the Jimbo show
There wasn’t very much drama to the Texas A&M recruiting day, but Jimbo Fisher swung for the fences and hit a home run in his first full recruiting cycle for the Aggies. Fisher’s big catch Wednesday was 4-star defensive lineman Derick Hunter, who flipped from Florida State to Texas A&M. Otherwise it everything went as expected in College Station but Aggie fans hope the No. 3 class in the nation will set a foundation for the program to challenge Alabama and Georgia for SEC championships and Playoff berths down the road.
Mullen tries to repeat history with “GatorNaughts”
Twelve years ago, Urban Meyer took an interesting gamble by signing 7 players from Lakeland (Fla.) High School.
The “GatorNaughts,” as they were called, proved to be worth their weight as the Pouncey Brothers, Ahmad Black and Chris Rainey were all key pieces to a national title run in 2008.
Lakeland High came up big for Florida again on Day 1 as the Gators signed 4-star tight end Keon Zipperer, 4-star guard Deyavie Hammond and 4-star defensive end Lloyd Summerall.
The biggest prize in the Lakeland High factory is their teammate, 2020 running back Demarkcus Bowman, considered an early 5-star prospect.
If coach Dan Mullen can add Bowman to the 2020 class, this group of “GatorNaughts” will try to their best to match the accomplishments of their predecessors.
No Bowls? No problem
Tennessee, Arkansas and Ole Miss will not participate in bowl season but that didn’t stop all three programs from landing a Top 25 class through Day 1.
The Volunteers’ top signee, 5-star OT Wanya Morris out of Loganville, Georgia, stayed true to his word and signed his letter of intent. Chad Morris hopes that a class ranked 20th nationally can help Arkansas shake off a disappointing 2-10 season. Morris will have to hold on to a couple of prospects who didn’t sign early, most notably 4-star CB Devin Bush, but overall, things are looking up in Fayetteville.
Meanwhile Ole Miss is always a story around recruiting time and, usually, it’s not for the right reasons. But head coach Matt Luke did a good job of raising the talent level in the program without bringing in unnecessary controversy. In Oxford, a quiet, productive recruiting day is good news.
And some feel good news outside of the SEC
Game ball to Cooper Dawson and Kingsley Feinman, who added a nice touch of humanity to the hat process. May we all be better to each other in the new year.
"The only disability is a bad attitude."
— NCAA Football (@NCAAFootball) December 19, 2018
Cover photo credit: Trey Sanders @6sixGod_