Feb 4

Signing Day Review

Posted By:Brett Haynes - Greenville, SC  Tags:

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Growing up, at the playground or in the backyard, we were all a part of neighborhood football games. And usually, whichever team landed the neighborhood bully would win the game. College football recruiting is similar, only there are more defined rules (er, sorta). Whichever teams land the best players  - the bullies between the white lines - are usually the teams you see in the major bowls a couple of years later.

This year, with all of the coaching changes and controversies going on, recruiting had many storylines. How would Lane Kiffin do at Southern Cal? How would Urban Meyer do with limited health at Florida? How would Derek Dooley do at Tennessee with such short time? How would Tommy Tuberville do recruiting the Midwest for Texas Tech rather than his familiar Southeast?

As important as recruiting is, I tend to get lost in all of the names, so I look back a couple of classes to see how those guys did. In looking back at my Clemson Tigers the last four classes, I think the recruiting services are valid. Many of the four star guys ended up being very good ones, with examples being DeAndre McDaniel and Jacoby Ford. And CJ Spiller came in as a five star and surely did not disappoint! So yeah, I think there is some basis to these rankings.

And speaking of the rankings, I spent a good bit of time reading up on three of the biggest recruiting services: Scout.com, Rivals.com, and ESPN.com. Between the three of those, I got a good feel of what went down yesterday, and here are my thoughts:

* The SEC is going nowhere. For you folks that get tired of hearing about the SEC, you best get earplugs! Besides Florida pulling in an outstanding group of guys, Alabama and Auburn were both top five finishers nationally. Five more teams were ranked in the top 25 for the league, varying between the services.

* Meyer is Fine! And speaking of the Gators, some are calling this the best class in a decade - for any team! Urban Meyer's health situation must not of been of major concern to recruits. Instead, these young men were thinking of hoisting crystal footballs and chasing young co-eds around sunny Gainesville.

* Lane Kiffin gets it done at USC. Say what you want about the hot-headed young coach, he sure hasn't messed up anything yet in his return to L.A. Instead, he put the final touches on what many consider a class to rival Florida's. I love to use USC's talent in my arguments for the Trojans on here. I guess I get to keep using that one!

* Tennessee takes in a good class. Derek Dooley, on very limited time, was able to sign a group that the services are calling a top-10 class. That is a very impressive way to start your career with the Volunteers. This kind of effort will go a long way in winning over the Vol nation. Dooley is off to a good start.

* FSU resurgence. As much as I loved Bobby Bowden (and still do), I knew FSU needed him to let go. You simply cannot have two captains. And as soon as Jimbo Fisher was handed the reigns full-time, the recruiting picked up. Florida State put together a class that is considered number six nationally by ESPN, and the tops in the ACC. Expect the Seminoles to be back in the real top-10 before too long.

* The "U" brings 'em in. The Hurricanes snagged a group that was in everyone's top-15, showing they are going to take a Sunshine State backseat to nobody. Swagger around all you want Canes, but until you start signing the top guys again, the wins will be hard to come by. This group, along with a solid class last year (ten guys four star or better), will have the Hurricanes thinking big.

* The Lonestar State.  Tommy T wasn't able to bring in the kind of class he wanted, but give him some time, and they will be there for the Red Raiders. And one team not even mentioned yet is Texas, who just like in the BCS title game, takes a backseat to the SEC in the national picture. Checking in with arguably the nation's second best class, the Longhorns aren't going anywhere! TCU, after outstanding back to back seasons, is still having a hard time getting the big name recruits to head to Fort Worth. Texas A&M was 17th according to ESPN.com.

* California Gold Rush. And speaking of backseats, UCLA, Cal and Stanford are feeling the same way out in California. The Bruins snagged a group that is borderline top-10 as they fight to get back even with Southern Cal. The Cal Bears also pulled in a top-15 class. Stanford even got in on the fun, bringing in a group that is certified top-20. The Pac-10 is going to be going through California in coming years. Oregon had a class come in ranked anywhere from 13th to 25th, so they are in the mix, as well, to keep the Pac 10 title in Eugene.

* Gamecocks sign Marcus Lattimore. The star-studded running back from nationally known high school, Brynes, right here in South Carolina, Lattimore looks to be the Gamecocks next big-time player. He has all of the gifts to do it, and those that know him say he is a first rate person as well as athlete. The Gamecocks, as a team, check in with a ranking hovering right at the edge of the top-25.

* Clemson wraps up a top-20 class. The Tigers have been ranked anywhere from 17th to 23rd in the rankings I have seen, with a nice balance all the way around. A signing day boost was beastly linebacker Justin Parker of Beaufort, SC. Another very strong recruit is wide receiver Martavis Bryant of nearby Anderson. One interestng tid-bit about the Tigers is that they signed no quarterback. With Willy Korn transferring, Kyle Parker possibly facing a money decision with baseball, and star recruit from last year Tajh Boyd yet to take a snap in college, qb is a spot to keep your eye on if you are a Tiger fan.

* Other teams that had outstanding recruiting seasons are LSU, Penn State, Michigan and Oregon. Virginia Tech also is a team to watch as Frank Beamer's guys ended up being a top-25 class...



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