National Signing Day 2014: Programs with the Most to Gain

R. Cory SmithSenior Writer IJanuary 7, 2014

Oct 5, 2013; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Louisville Cardinals head coach Charlie Strong along the sidelines during the second quarter against the Temple Owls at Lincoln Financial Field. Louisville defeated Temple 30-7. Mandatory Credit: Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports
Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

For many programs across the nation, college football's national signing day can be a turning point that leads to success on the field or one that leaves coaches who put in months of hard work with an empty feeling.

In the past few months, however, the college football landscape has shifted. With Charlie Strong officially taking over for the Texas Longhorns and Steve Sarkisian leaving the Washington Huskies for greener pastures with the USC Trojans, several questions remain for the new head coaches and the programs they left behind.

With national signing day less than a month away on Feb. 5, here are three programs that can potentially lock up great recruits who will change their team over the next few seasons.


USC Trojans

LOS ANGELES, CA - DECEMBER 03:  Steve Sarkisian speaks at a press conference introducing him as the new USC  head football coach at the John McKay Center at the University of Southern California on December 3, 2013 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by S
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

Steve Sarkisian has been considered a recruiting guru for years whether it was as an assistant coach at USC or the head coach at Washington. With his ties already strong in Southern California, Sarkisian is expected by Trojan fans to pick up right where he left off.

Thanks to a recent commitment from tight end Bryce Dixon, Sarkisian seems to be on the right path. During the live broadcast of the U.S. Army All-American Bowl, Dixon committed and said, "USC has a good tradition of tight ends. They're bringing coach Sark(isian) in. It'll be a great addition and I think I can keep the tradition going of good tight ends."

After the Dixon commitment, the Trojans still have multiple high-caliber recruits who are considering signing with the program. USC currently ranks as 247Sports' No. 25 recruiting class, but signing day could be a game changer.

With 5-star players like Adoree' Jackson, John Smith and Damien Mama all leaning toward attending USC, according to 247Sports, the Trojans might come out of signing day with a recruiting class that could quickly change the outlook under Sarkisian.


Georgia Bulldogs

Dec 22, 2013; Jacksonville, FL, USA; Georgia Bulldogs head coach Mark Richt leads his team before the game against the Nebraska Cornhuskers at EverBank Field. Mandatory Credit: Melina Vastola-USA TODAY Sports
Melina Vastola-USA TODAY Sports

Over the last few seasons, Georgia has been on the cusp of making a BCS bowl game but has simply fallen short against other SEC opponents. But with the addition of two more 5-star running backs in Sony Michel and Nick Chubb to add to the stable of Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall, the Bulldogs look like they are already in good hands on offense.

What lies ahead is a handful of defensive recruits that are strongly considering the Bulldogs, headlined by 5-star defensive end Lorenzo Carter. The No. 2 weak-side defensive end (according to 247Sports) from Norcross, Ga., told Tom VanHaaren of ESPN about a tradition that he plans to uphold:

While that may seem like a silly statement to bring up in a recruiting story, when considering that the distance between Norcross and Athens is just over an hour by car, according to MapQuest, Carter would be able to drive back home to enjoy time with his family.

Along with Carter, the Bulldogs are also waiting to hear from 4-star defenders Rashaan Evans and Elisha Shaw. If just two of the three dynamic defensive players commit, the Bulldogs could boost their recruiting rankings and provide a huge boost to their front seven for years to come.


Texas Longhorns

LEXINGTON, KY - SEPTEMBER 14: Charlie Strong the head coach of the Louisville Cardinals gives instructions to his team during the game against the Kentucky Wildcats at Commonwealth Stadium on September 14, 2013 in Lexington, Kentucky.  (Photo by Andy Lyon
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Welcome to the big leagues, Charlie Strong.

The same man who brought Teddy Bridgewater to Louisville will be expected to immediately turn around the Texas program and get the job done on the recruiting trail as well.

Luckily, Strong might have brought in one of the nation's best dual-threat quarterbacks without speaking a word to the young man. Following the hire of Strong, Jerrod Heard, a 4-star quarterback from Denton Guyer High School told The Dallas Morning News that he will stick with the Longhorns:

Strong will also have to continue to woo players who strongly considered joining Mack Brown's old team to come to Texas. Heavily-recruited players like Solomon Thomas and Edwin Freeman, both defensive players, are still considering the Longhorns but are still holding out.

According to The Dallas Morning News, Heard wasn't the only player who liked the hire of Strong:

With much still to be decided in the recruitment of several of Texas' top targets, Strong still has his hands full with this year's recruiting class. If he can convince players to sign with him the same way that he did with Louisville, Strong's first recruiting class with the Longhorns could be a memorable one.