A relatively drama-free National Signing Day in 2014 was certainly blown out of the water in 2015 by drama, drama, and (you guessed it) more drama.
With a host of elite prospects committing, notable flips, some trouble with making final decisions, and the social-media fueled spectacle that the modern National Signing Day has become, Wednesday will be a day to remember for many fortunate programs and one to forget for others.
Here are the top 10 storylines coming out of National Signing Day:
10. Harbaugh Flops—OK, so the expectations weren’t sky high for the Wolverines who had a pitiful class when Harbaugh took over with mere weeks remaining. Still, the hiring of one of the game’s top coaches did not have the dramatic effect many anticipated, and the program finished a pitiful #49 overall in the Rivals.com team rankings- whiffing on many of the prospects they were still in contention for.
9. The Head Man Matters—A look at the top schools on National Signing Day bears some resemblance to on-the-field results with consistent powers such as Alabama, Florida State, and Ohio State all thriving. Still, it reads far more like a list of the game’s biggest personalities with ace recruiters like Tennessee’s Butch Jones and Clemson’s Dabo Swinney proving the ability to sell programs that have yet to prove they can compete for championships.
8. Home Field Advantage—Breitbart Sports’s top-25 athletes Terry Beckner, Jr. (Missouri), Martez Ivey (Florida), and Cece Jefferson (Florida) all turned down stronger programs for the opportunity to play near home. Likewise, USC was the beneficiary of homegrown talent, frequently plucking players from the Los Angeles area.
7. Humility Doesn’t Matter—Beyond the spectacle many of these top prospects make on Twitter—intentionally misleading fan bases as to their intentions—the number of recruits already declaring their intention to only be in school for three years is enough to make one chuckle.
6. USC Tops Bama—Most services place USC ahead of Alabama in the team rankings, giving the Trojans an impressive victory over the recruiting juggernaut. Still, the difference in the classes is relatively minor, and, while most expected another “title” for Alabama, the “win” for USC isn’t shocking enough to merit a spot higher on the list as the Trojans have never had a problem bringing in top-flight talent.
5. The Non-Announcement Announcement—The word “commitment” has certainly lost some of its value due to the recruiting process, but some have chosen to take that mockery to a new level. Prospects like Torrance Gibson and Terry Godwin—elite athletes—scheduled special announcements only to declare that they were sticking with the schools (Ohio State and Georgia) they were already committed to.
4. Snoop Changes Allegiance—Cordell Broadus will forever seek notoriety beyond “Snoop Dogg’s son,” and he took the first step when he opted to sign with UCLA over his father’s favorite—USC. The legendary hip-hop artist pledged to switch loyalties in support of his son.
3. L.A. is Where It’s At—UCLA and USC have had solid teams in recent years, but both schools stole the show on NSD. USC hauled in numerous elite players, including Breitbart Sports’s top-25 corner Iman Marshall, while UCLA landed almost all of its top targets—including pulling elite RB Soso Jamabo out of Texas.
2. The Muschamp Wars—Just counting players ranked four stars or higher that decided on National Signing Day, Byron Cowart (Auburn), Martez Ivey (Florida), Cece Jefferson (Florida), Ryan Davis (Auburn), Jeffery Holland (Auburn), and Javarius Davis (Auburn) all made their decisions between Will Muschamp’s old team (the in-state Gators) and his new team (Auburn, where he is now Defensive Coordinator).
1. Just Fax Already!—We may never know the truth regarding what happened with #1 prospect Byron Cowart’s Letter of Intent. Different stories came out by the minute as time dragged on between his commitment to Auburn and the time his fax rolled in. Roughly seven hours passed before talking heads and message boards calmed down when Cowart’s verbal became an official signature. In the meantime, LB Roquan Smith, who picked UCLA on national TV, remains undecided between the Bruins and in-state Georgia Bulldogs at the time of this writing, and the Florida Gators have yet to receive their fax from Cece Jefferson (who has not given the overt indications Smith has that he is rethinking things). In previous cycles, the mom’s stealing the LOI has been a main story, but this will be the year people remember players agonizing over when to sign on the dotted line and send it in.
Honorable Mentions: Rebels Follow Stellar Season With Disappointing Class (losing five-star commit Drew Richmond and whiffing on Cece Jefferson), SEC Continues Recruiting Domination, Depth Charts Matter Little (prospects like Torrance Gibson [QB, Ohio State], Damien Harris [RB- Alabama], and Kyler Murray [QB, Texas A&M] step into situations with loaded depth charts), Records Don’t Matter That Much (TCU missed on top targets, Colorado State finishes with the #122-ranked class despite stellar record, 4-star Carlton Davis flips from Ohio State to Auburn, and 5-star OT Drew Richmond flips from program-on-the-rise Ole Miss).