Winners and Losers of National Signing Day
National signing day can be one of the most exciting days of the year for a college football program. Conversely, it can also be a very disappointing day.
The line between commitments and decommitments is often very thin. The choice between one hat or the other can sometimes come down to a last-minute decision or last-second recruiting push.
Victory and defeat are oftentimes separated by inches on the football field, and the same can be said on the recruiting trail—but instead of inches, it comes down to moments and sometimes even seconds.
One second, you think you have an elite recruit locked up. The next, you hear that he's gone to your rival. Sometimes it's the other way around, though, so you really never do know.
That's the drama of national signing day, folks.
With all of that in mind, here's a look at the biggest winners and losers so far on national signing day 2013.
Winner: Mississippi State
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Ole Miss was making a strong push for Jones at the end, but the Bulldogs were able to overcome that.
He'll come in to the program and be a marquee superstar for the Bulldogs. His presence alone on defense will command double teams, put pressure on the quarterback, and ultimately make the whole defense better.
Keeping Jones committed was a marquee recruiting win for Mississippi State.
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James Franklin is a great recruiter, and he's slowly but surely building a formidable program at Vanderbilt.
Cunningham chose Vanderbilt over Florida State, Miami and Stanford, so this is a huge win for Vanderbilt.
He's 6'3'', 175 pounds and runs a 4.50 40 according to 247Sports, so he has a ton of potential.
Vanderbilt has been making strides as a program under coach Franklin, and Cunningham's commitment really represents that. With so many elite programs to compete with in the SEC, it takes a strong coach with a vision and incredible talent on the recruiting trail to really compete.
The Commodores are well on their way.
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USC recruiting is not having a great day so far. That can change, mind you, and it already has picked up a bit, but overall the early part of national signing day had to feel somewhat depressing for USC fans.
The Trojans did pick up a nice recruiting win when Quinton Powell committed to USC. Quinton Powell is ranked as the No. 14 outside linebacker in the 2013 class (247Sports Composite), so he's a big commitment. With USC losing so many defensive players in the past few weeks, picking up a talented player like Powell sure helps out a lot.
Even though he is a huge pickup for USC, that win alone won't get USC off the losers list just yet.
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Jim Mora and the UCLA Bruins continued their hot streak on the recruiting trail during the most important recruiting day of the year.
Woulard is the No. 1 dual-threat quarterback in the 2013 class, according to the 247Sports Composite, so he represents yet another marquee recruiting win for the Bruins.
I expect Savaiinaea to come in and compete for playing time right away. He has a great combination of speed and size, and he should at the very least get some valuable reps as a backup and on special teams.
Woulard on the other hand will be behind redshirt sophomore Brett Hundley on the depth chart so he may want to take a redshirt season. Eventually though, he'd be a more than adequate replacement once Hundley moves on.
Loser: Texas A&M
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Teas A&M still has a tremendous class and the future of the program is still incredibly bright, but the Aggies did experience two notable recruiting losses so far on signing day.
The first came when former USC commitment Torrodney Prevot chose Oregon over Texas A&M. The next recruiting loss came in the form of the aforementioned Isaac Savaiinaea, who committed to UCLA over the Aggies.
Like I said, Kevin Sumlin's class is still very strong and Aggies fans have plenty to be excited about, but I would be remiss not to mention that Texas A&M lost out on two very big recruits today.
Also consider that elite wide receiver/tight end recruit Derrick Griffin will not sign with the Aggies for reasons that appear to be academic in nature. He will instead go the JUCO route, per his Twitter account.
Considering how good he has the chance to be, that's a loss in the here and now for Texas A&M, although it could change in the future.
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Not only is Prevot a former USC recruit, which continues the trend of the Ducks stealing Trojan recruits, but Oregon was able to out-recruit a very hot Texas A&M program in the process.
Prevot has great potential, and he's a huge pickup for the Ducks. He's the No. 5 ranked weak-side defensive end in the 2013 class according to the 247Sports Composite Rankings.
The importance of Oregon landing Prevot's commitment can't be overstated. The fact that he's a former USC commitment is huge for Helfrich. Chip Kelly had developed somewhat of a reputation for being able to steal USC recruits at the last minute, and Helfrich kept up the tradition going.
Prevot should be able to compete to be in and compete for playing time at defensive end now that Dion Jordan is gone. At the very least, he'll be a part of a rotation at the position.
Winner: Ohio State
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What makes this commitment even more impressive for Meyer is that he was able to land Bell over Nick Saban at Alabama, and Bell's childhood favorite—Tennessee.
Bell is versatile enough to play either corner or safety at the college level, so I wouldn't be surprised if he got reps at both positions. He's good enough to compete for the starting job at either position, so it may come down to where Ohio State needs him the most.
I expect he should also put on a bit more mass in the weight room at Ohio State, so look for him to start at safety as a sophomore.
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Losing out on Bell had to be tough for Butch Jones in his first go around with the Tennessee Volunteers.
He lost to a great recruiter in Meyer at Ohio State, but considering that Tennessee was Bell's favorite program growing up, this is a notable recruiting loss.
Landing Bell would have put Jones and Tennessee on the map in a big way on national signing day.
Unfortunately, that's not the case for Tennessee.
Jones still put together a nice class when all is said and done (top 25 in my opinion), but there's no doubting that his class could have been much more impressive.
Winner: Florida State
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This signing is big for a few reasons. First off, Thomas goes to Booker T. Washington High School in Miami, Florida—which is a big Miami Hurricanes pipeline school. The Seminoles also landed Thomas over said Hurricanes, so this will go down as a huge in-state win for the Seminoles.
Matthews is a player who will be elite on the edges of the defense. He has a tremendous combination of physicality and athleticism. He's big and tough enough to play strong against the run, but he also has good quickness and mobility, so he can play in space as a cover linebacker, and excel as a rush-linebacer.
Thomas' signature comes a day after FSU was able to flip Jalen Ramsey from USC. Florida State also landed top-notch defensive tackle recruit Keith Bryant. Ramsey is another recruit that can contribute right away for the Seminoles. He has great size at 6'0.5'', 189 pounds and he runs a 4.53 40 according to 247Sports. He'd be a great option as a nickel corner, but should eventually work his way up to the top of the depth chart.
With the addition of those few elite recruits alone, Florida State's defense of the future will be incredibly formidable.
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Miami came out on the losing end of Matthew Thomas' decision.
He's an elite outside linebacker recruit, ranked No. 2 overall by the 247Sports Composite, and he would have been a marquee recruiting win for Al Golden and the Hurricanes. The fact that he goes to Booker T. just adds to the disappointment.
Those two misses will go down as huge losses for Miami.
The Hurricanes were able to land 4-star wideout Stacy Coley (No. 7 overall wide receiver according to the 247Sports Composite Rankings), and while that's certainly a huge boost, it doesn't keep them out of the losers bracket.
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Les Miles and the LSU Tigers received the commitment of big-time defensive end recruit Tashawn Bower, who ended up flipping from Auburn and Florida on signing day. He had reportedly signed with Florida earlier in the morning, but Bower is now signed with LSU.
Bower represents a huge pickup for the Tigers, and he'll help fill a big need at defensive end since Sam Montgomery and Barkevious Mingo are going to the NFL. Bower will compete with the likes of Jermauria Rasco, Danielle Hunter 4-star defensive end recruit Frank Herron for playing time at defensive end.
He'll end up being a big part of the rotation for LSU, and he's undoubtedly a huge commitment for depth purposes.
He checks in at 6'5'', 241 pounds and runs a 4.80 40 according to 247Sports.
Overall, this was a big win for Miles and his staff.
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The Tigers were on the losing end of the race for Montravius Adams.
Clemson had put itself in a great position to land Adams and he seemed very into the Tigers program, but when all was said and done, Adams chose to sign with the Auburn Tigers.
That said, just an hour or so later the Tigers were able to land the commitment of 5-star cornerback MacKensie Alexander.
Alexander is the No. 4 ranked corner in the 2013 class according to the 247Sports Composite and runs a 4.40 40-yard dash (247Sports). He's talented enough to start from day one at Clemson and I expect he'll at the very least challenge to do so. He's a good cover-corner, but he'll also be able to come up and play very physical at the line of scrimmage. Alexander uses his hands well to jam the receiver or get off blocks, and that should be able to set him apart.
He's a big recruit for Clemson to land, and he gets them on the "winners list" despite losing out on Adams.
Update: Clemson was also able to land 4-star offensive guard Tyrone Crowder, who has incredible potential. He's 6'1'', 330 pounds and is ranked as the No. 7 offensive guard recruit in the 2013 class according to the 247Sports Composite. Crowder represents a huge recruiting win for Clemson, and he projects to be very good.
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Georgia has a strong class, so keep that in mind. That said, the Bulldogs did horrible when it came down to recruiting elite players within their own state.
Robert Nkemdiche signed with Ole Miss, Montravius Adams signed with Auburn, Carl Lawson signed with Auburn and Vonn Bell signed with Ohio State. Update: 4-star running back Alvin Kamara signed with Alabama over Georgia.
Those are all elite 5-star recruits that are from Georgia, and the Bulldogs weren't able to land any of them.
No matter how you slice it, that's not a good look on signing day.
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The Michigan Wolverines had a very quiet national signing day, and in Michigan's case—that's a great thing.
The Wolverines' 2013 class features 27 commitments, and Hoke and his staff have done a terrific job filling needs on the depth chart and transitioning the personnel to fit a pro-set offense.
Green is the perfect running back for the pro-style offense, so he's a big recruit for Michigan to sign. He's 6'0'', 220 pounds and runs a 4.58 40 according to 247Sports. He'll be able to run strong between the tackles, but he's also quick enough to bounce it outside. Speaking of between the tackles, Hoke has put together a very strong group of offensive lineman.
Morris on the other-hand projects to be the quarterback of the future for Michigan. He still needs a bit of work and time, but he has a very strong arm and all the intangibles that you look for in a star quarterback.
This class has a chance to be elite when all is said and done, and the same could be said for Michigan football.
Winner: Notre Dame
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Vanderdoes checks in at 6'2'', 310 pounds and he's ranked as the No. 1 defensive tackle recruit in the country according to the 247Sports Composite.
The Fighting Irish had drastically cooled down on the recruiting trail since losing the national championship to Alabama, but this pickup on national signing day puts Notre Dame recruiting right back in the mix with the elite classes.
Vanderdoes has superstar potential as a defensive lineman. He's big and strong enough to play the 0-technique in the 3-4, so he could be an option to eventually replace Louis Nix at nose tackle. He could also slide over and be a two-gap player as a 5-technique defensive end though, and he has the technique and quickness to be very good there as well.
Overall, landing Vanderdoes will go down as a marquee recruiting win for the Fighting Irish.
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The Crimson Tide boast arguably the most impressive recruiting class in the country, so it should be no surprise that they are a winner on national signing day.
Nick Saban and Alabama put together a great class in regards to verbal commitments, and now we get to watch as they all become official.
Alabama has already landed some major signatures today from the likes of 4-star quarterback Cooper Bateman, 5-star athlete/running back Derrick Henry, 4-star offensive guard Grant Hill, 5-star tight end O.J. Howard, 5-star wideout Robert Foster, 4-star running back Tyren Jones and 4-star outside linebacker Tim Williams, amongst others.
Henry should get No. 2 reps at running back, Howard is going to be a superstar tight end at the college level, Bateman very well could be the "next man up" after A.J. McCarron and Williams projects to be a great pass rusher.
'Bama also was able to hold on to the commitment of 5-star inside linebacker Reuben Foster, who signed today (dressed like Nick Saban none the less). He's going to be one of the best linebackers in college football soon enough.
Update: 5-star offensive/defensive lineman A'Shawn Robinson has committed to Alabama per Charles Power of BamaOnline.com. The Crimson Tide also landed 4-star running back Alvin Kamara's commitment, per Kipp Adams of ESPN.com on Twitter.
Without a doubt, Alabama put together the best recruiting class in the country.
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The Auburn Tigers finished the 2013 class on an extremely strong note, and new head coach Gus Malzahn deserves much of the credit for that.
Auburn started off they day by getting huge flip from 4-star defensive end Elijah Daniel, who was previously committed to Ole Miss. Daniel is the No. 6 ranked strong-side defensive end in the country (247Sports Composite), so he projects to be very good for the Tigers.
As if all that wasn't impressive enough, Auburn was able to hang on to the commitment of 5-star defensive end Carl Lawson, who has star potential. At times, he looked like he could possibly flip, so that's a huge win for the Tigers.
The combination of Lawson and Adams on the line is going to cause a lot of trouble for opposing linemen. Adams is big and strong enough to really control the gap from a defensive tackle position, but he also has good speed and technique, so he should get into the backfield quite a bit. Conversely, Lawson has the talent to dominate the edges and force the ball back inside, so they'll be essentially funneling the ball to each other or to a waiting linebacker.
Overall, Auburn went from one of the coldest programs in recruiting, to one of the hottest.
Winner: Ole Miss
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Simply put, Nkemdiche has elite potential as a defensive end at the college level, so he's a marquee recruiting win for the Ole Miss program. The impact of Nkemdiche's commitment will stretch far beyond the football field though and onto the recruiting trail.
Ole Miss has now become a viable option for elite recruits, and Nkemdiche basically solidified that when he chose the Rebels over two SEC powers in Florida and LSU.
To that point, just hours later the nation's best offensive tackle (247Sports Composite), Laremy Tunsil, ended up committing to Ole Miss. Tunsil is 6'6'', 295 pounds and has elite potential. Tunsil's commitment was followed up by another elite commitment from 5-star safety Tony Conner.
The next step for Hugh Freeze's program will be taking the talent it landed today and using that to win on the field. Recruiting hype can only do so much for a program, so this class will have to have a big impact on the Rebels' win-loss record in order for there to be a long-term impact.
That said, it's hard to deny the fact that Ole Miss was arguably the biggest winner today.