In the not so distant past, National Signing Day would
come along, all of the top players would put pen to paper, and various pundits
would weigh in on who got the top prospects, while the coaches would tell us
they got the guys they wanted and met their needs.
What many fail to realize, is Signing Day is the first day of the
National Signing Period which runs until April 1. What many others fail to
realize is that players don't have to sign a letter of intent (LOI) at all. An
LOI binds the player to the school, but not the school to the player. If I'm a
Top 100 player, I might not sign an LOI at all and enroll in my school of choice
in the summer before signing my scholarship papers, but that's a story for
The habits of the media die hard though, and the demand to name a recruiting
national champion on Signing Day remains high. But with Scout's two top players
unsigned, the team that finishes Signing Day in the number one spot, might not
be there in a week.
So with that caveat in mind, the 2011 Signing Day champion is the Auburn
Auburn came into the day at No. 3 overall with a shot of moving to the top
spot with the players that were making decisions today. Signing Day was good for
the Tigers as they got signatures from 4-star safety Erique
Florence (6-foot-2/185 pounds), 4-star corner Jermaine
Whitehead (6'0/183), and 4-star defensive tackle Gabe
Auburn also got a commitment from Scout's No. 2 overall prospect in offensive
Kouandjio (6'7/295). But that's where the intrigue starts. Kouandjio, long
thought an Alabama lean, made a Signing
Day announcement, but immediately had second thoughts as teenagers do. Kouandjio
remains committed to Auburn, but he has yet to send in his LOI, which means he
can still change his mind and sign with another team ... like Alabama.
Being that it's the first day of the signing period and not the last day of
the signing period, Kouandjio's commitment counts towards Auburn's recruiting
class rankings, and his commitment stands between No. 1 Auburn and No. 2 Florida
Scout's No. 1 player Jadaveon Clowney (6'5/245), a defensive end from Rock
Hill, S.C. remains unsigned as well. He will make an announcement on Feb, 14,
his birthday. Should Clowney decide not to send an LOI to his chosen school,
he'll still be a committed recruit and count in that team's rankings.
So the champion on Signing Day is the Auburn Tigers... for now. Two teams have a
shot at knocking the Tigers off their perch in the next two weeks.
Auburn head coach Gene Chizik speaks with
quarterback Kiehl Frazier on Signing Day
Sitting at No. 2 is Florida State. The Seminoles were having a terrific year
before their two main recruiting rivals (Florida and Miami)
went through coaching changes. While the Hurricanes and Gators were in a
transition stage, the Seminoles just kept closing, including 5-star defensive
Jernigan (6'2/275) of Lake City, Fla. Jernigan is a quick player that also
holds up against the run. His ability to get through a gap or beat an offensive
lineman one on one will make the rest of the defense better.
5-star safety Karlos
Williams (6'2/210) of Davenport, Fla. is a player I like to call an
exception. Players the size of Williams typically ends up at linebacker, unless
they have the physical skills to be an exception to the rule -- and Williams is
just that. He covers ground like a 6'6 wide receiver and hits like a truck. He
should see the field early at Florida State.
Should Kouandjio sign with anyone other than Auburn, the Tigers will fall
below the Seminoles in the rankings.
But having the No. 1 team fall doesn't mean the No. 2 team moves up, because
the second team who could vault to the top is No. 7 Alabama.
The Crimson Tide is still in the hunt for both unsigned top prospects,
Clowney and Kouandjio. Should Alabama sign both of those players, Alabama will
finish No. 1 for the second time in four years.
If Alabama signs Kouandjio but not Clowney, Florida State finishes with the
nation's top recruiting class.
Alabama already has signatures from two of the nation's Top 10 prospects.
Safety Ha'Sean Clinton Dix (6'2/200) of Orlando, Fla. and linebacker Trey
DePriest (6'2/230) of Springfield, Ohio are the type of difference makers on
defense that are as much a tradition in Tuscaloosa as houndstooth hats and
Alabama also got linebacker Brent Callaway (6'3/225) to come back into the
fold after briefly appearing on Auburn's commitment list.
There is a lot less intrigue surrounding the remaining members of the Top 5
as they seem to have put the finishing touches on their recruiting classes on
No. 3 is Ohio State. The Buckeyes have
quietly becomes a recruiting juggernaut in the Midwest. They have the best
winning percentage of all BCS schools over the course of the last six years, and
they have become selectors as much as they've been recruiters.
Miller (6'2/190) of Wayne, Ohio is a cerebral run/pass threat that prefers
the pass. He runs a textbook read option and has maybe the quickest release in
the country. Miller could get a chance to see the field early during Terrelle
Pryor's suspension to begin the 2011 season.
Ohio State also got a commitment from the nation's No. 1 outside linebacker
prospect in Curtis
Grant (6'3/220) of Richmond, Va. Grant has the frame of an outside
linebacker, with the toughness and instincts of an inside player.
The Buckeyes didn't sign a running back but have already addressed that need
with commitments from two 4-star backs in the Class of 2012.
It's not surprising to see USC in the Top
5 in most years, but this year is an exception. The scholarship reductions
imposed by the NCAA have not been implemented, but the Trojans are still
recruiting under pending sanctions. Pulling in a Top 5 class under those
circumstances is a minor miracle.
Even with the loss of 5-star athlete DeAnthony
Thomas to Oregon, USC still signed an
enviable haul of talent.
USC is bringing in much needed quarterback depth in 4-stars Max
Wittek (6'3/205) and Cody
Kessler (6'2/225). The quarterbacks should have ample weapons to throw to
including the nation's most physically gifted receiver George
There's no doubt the Trojans made adding depth to the lines of scrimmage a
priority as they got commitments from 13 offensive and defensive linemen,
including two of the nation's Top 10 offensive guards in Cyrus
Hobbi (6'3/285) of Scottsdale, Ariz. and Aundrey
Walker (6'6/355) of Cleveland, Ohio.
Another familiar name in the Top 5 is Texas.
The Longhorns have their pick of the nation's most talent rich state in most
years, but this year may have been Mack
Brown's best recruiting job since he arrived in Austin.
While Texas didn't a single commitment after Aug. 18 of 2010, all the
Longhorns needed to do was hold on to the players they had to finish in the Top
5. Sounds easy right? It's Texas after all. But the Longhorns had a very
un-Texas-like season and in the process turned over both coordinator positions.
Through the turmoil, Texas lost only one commitment.
Texas signed 22 players including its top target at running back, 5-star
Brown (6'1/220) of Cibolo. While Texas has had its way in recruiting the
better part of the last decade, but the hole in its efforts has consistently
been the running back position.
As unlikely as it sounds, Brown is Texas' first running back signee ever
rated 5-stars by Scout. The only position where that claim can be made for the
It's not going to be all about Brown at Texas though as the Longhorns are
bringing in plenty of aerial support in the form of 4-star wide receivers Miles
Onyegbule (6'4/200) and Mykkele
Thompson (6'1/170) as well as 5-star Jaxon
Shipley (6'0/170), the younger brother of former Longhorn standout Jaxon
It only makes sense that in a recruiting year marked by more player and
coaching turnovers than ever that the No. 1 team in the country would still be
in doubt after Signing Day, but for now, Auburn is sitting in the coveted No. 1