On the Dotted Line
Who won National Signing Day?
Now that National Signing Day is over and there has been plenty of time to really look at this year’s singing classes, it’s time to take about the major highlights from the class of 2016. National Signing Day has truly become a holiday and college football’s version of Christmas Day. This year, as always some teams got a lot of gifts and others got lumps of coal under their tree.
This year’s biggest surprises: The good, the bad and the ugly.
The good- Taking home maybe the biggest positive surprise is a team not many people are talking about and they may just have the most underrated class in 2016, the Tennessee Volunteers. Butch Jones got his third straight top 15 class, since coming to Tennessee. Jones’s 2016 class may not have as many five stars as the last two or as many big names, but he filled the Vols needs. Tennessee got some surprising news throughout the day on Wednesday, as the Vols looked to several big names to fall their way, but it all started on Tuesday night when Tyler Byrd flipped from Miami to the Vols. Early Wednesday, Tennessee keep the good vibes rolling with a commitment for legacy Nigel Warrior. Warrior a five star safety is the son of former Vol Dale Carter and was the number one safety in the state of Georgia. Later in the day the Vols flipped Latrell Williams from Miami as well. Williams might just wind up being the Vols biggest recruit when we look back in four years. Tennessee ended the day by picking up the top rated junior college player in the country in Jonathan Kongbo.
The Bad- We could keep things in the SEC with this spot but we will look elsewhere and head to Miami. Mark Richt managed to bring in the 21st rated class in the country, despite having very little time to recruit. He brought in 18 recruits, but failed to land any five star guys. Even though he got 10 four stars, he had his shot at several five stars and missed. Missing on Byrd was big; he has the potential to be the best defensive back from the class. His versatility is a major part of Byrd’s upside. The near six foot, 194 pound Naples, Florida native was the 10th rated corner and the state of Florida’s 15th best player and the Hurricanes let him get away. In addition to losing Byrd, they also lost Latrell Williams to the Vols. Miami did get plenty of other receivers, most of which are rated higher than Williams. However, he could be the most underrated receiver in the class.
The Ugly- Back to the SEC we go, with the Florida Gators. They started the day off with the seventh best class in the country, but ended the day at 13. Jim McElwain failed to get any five star commits and only picked up commitments from nine four stars. Now, when we look back at this class in four years, if Florida can develop the 16 three stars they picked up. Maybe we look at this class differently. However, the folks in Gainesville definitely don’t want to hear that. The bright side here is that 12 of the 25 recruits in this class are early enrollees. However, Florida failed to replace what they lost form last season. They brought in four star quarterback Feleipe Franks, but with rumors that Treon Harris will move positions and with the transfer of Will Grier. Did they do enough at that position? No. Only time will tell with this class, but in a time where the SEC East is wide open the Gators needed a big class and despite being in the top 15 this could have been a special class for Florida.
The Biggest Winner- Charlie Strong may have helped save his job with the class he brought in this year. Highlighting the class is four star dual threat quarterback Shane Buechele, four star safety Brandon Jones, four star linebackers Jeffrey McCulloch and Erick Fowler. Buechele is the No. 4 dual threat quarterback in the country. Jones is the No. 1 rated safety and the sixth best player in Texas. McCulloch (4) and Fowler (7) give Strong two of the top ten outside linebackers in the country. Texas finished with the 11th rated class in the country.
Worst Day– This could have been several schools, but the unfortunate honor goes to Oregon. Despite the fact the Ducks finished 28th after starting the day 35th doesn’t help any in this case. Oregon had gotten use to having a top ten or top five class every year and to finish 28th won’t sit well in Eugene. They failed in signing any five stars which is rear for the Pac 12 power; add that with only six of your 18 recruits being four stars leave the Ducks without much to quack about on National Signing Day.
Most Underrated Class– Two schools tie here, Tennessee and Michigan. Jim Harbaugh brought in the 5th best class per 247 sports, in his first full recruiting year at Michigan. He brings in seven early enrollees, including the future at quarterback in four star Brandon Peters, the No. 6 pro-style QB. As well as four star No. 4 overall running back Kareem Walker and four star athlete Ahmir Mitchell, the No. 9 overall according to 247. On Wednesday, Harbaugh picked up a commitment from the nation’s number one overall prospect, DT Rashan Gary in addition to bringing in 10 other commits inside the top 10 at their positions nationally.
For why Tennessee makes the list just head back up to the top of this post.
Now, up until now all rankings have come from 247sports, but know it’s time for my rankings. This are not completely based off of anyone else’s opinion or how many five stars a school brought in. This list is more about filling the team’s needs.
Sam Forman’s Top Five