National Signing Day 2014: Examining Most Important Recent Decommitments

Sean HojnackiFeatured ColumnistJanuary 29, 2014

One high schooler decided he did not want to fill A.J. McCarron's shoes in Alabama.
One high schooler decided he did not want to fill A.J. McCarron's shoes in Alabama.Associated Press

With national signing day looming on Feb. 5, scores of young men will make the most important decision of their brief lives, and they will impact major college football programs with their choices. Some key players have already vacillated in their decision-making, first declaring their commitment to a school only to flip-flop and revoke it. 

ESPNU will boast 11 straight hours of coverage on national signing day, including 12 on-campus reporters and 13 player commitments on air. That seems like overkill, but it's likely an improvement to whatever is normally on ESPNU when there is not live college football or basketball to show.

According to their press release, the "comprehensive, multiplatform" coverage will start at 8 a.m. ET.

Feb. 1, 2012; Tempe AZ, USA; Corona del Sol Aztecs offensive lineman Andrus Peat (right) speaks at a press conference at Corona del Sol High School to announce his decision to play college football for the Stanford Cardinal. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebi
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

While you would need to be a hardened fan to wake up early on a Wednesday to be transfixed by coverage of high school football players choosing between hats, these four youngsters drastically changed the fates of certain programs, as each initially committed to a school only to later decide on a different landing spot. 


Saeed Blacknall, WR

Wide receiver Saeed Blacknall has decommitted from Rutgers and instead chose Penn State.

Judging from the shouting on his Twitter account, Blacknall is pumped to join the Nittany Lions. 

Standing at 6'3" and weighing in at 210 pounds, the star receiver from New Jersey's Manalapan High School has dealt a blow to football in his state. He recently spent time with Rutgers' newly recruited quarterback Giovanni Rescigno, leading to high hopes the 4-star wideout would remain with the Scarlet Knights, per Todderick Hunt of

Instead, Rutgers lost their highest-ranked recruit, which brings the total of decommits in this cycle to 11. New Penn State head coach James Franklin will reap the benefits.


Ricky Town, QB

Keep an eye out for high school junior Ricky Town in 2015. After committing to the Alabama Crimson Tide, the quarterback spurned that powerhouse and instead opted for USC, per ESPN's Blair Angulo

Perhaps in light of the lackluster Heisman results for A.J. McCarron, Town clearly felt Southern California was the better place for him to throw the football. Or maybe Alabama's two losses this season convinced him it was time for a change of scenery. After all, there is no guarantee Nick Saban will still be there in two years' time. 

As Town stated by text message to Angulo, meeting with USC's new coach Steve Sarkisian sealed the deal. 

...when I had the chance to get on the USC campus last week and spend time with Coach Sarkisian and his staff, I knew after those meetings that USC is where I want to be. The coaches are upbeat, focused and committed to winning and I completely believe in them. I chose USC because of the tradition, the academics and the incredible coaching staff.

That is probably more of a dig at former USC coach Lane Kiffin than it is at Saban and Alabama, although very few people would ever describe Saban as "upbeat."


Richard Yeargin III, LB

Linebacker Richard Yeargin III decommitted from Notre Dame and seems likely to end up with Clemson, according to ESPN's Jared Shanker (subscription required). Although he has a long list of offers, the Tigers are the only team he visited. 

While the Irish still have four other linebackers committed in this class, they are losing two stars—Louis Nix III and Stephon Tuitt—to the NFL draft. Bringing in a 4-star recruit like Yeargin would have helped shore up the linebacking corps, but Notre Dame will have to make due with the other LBs instead.

SOUTH BEND, IN - OCTOBER 20: Jamaal Williams #21 of the BYU Cougars is dropped by Stephon Tuitt #7, Louis Nix III #9 and Manti T'eo #5 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish at Notre Dame Stadium on October 20, 2012 in South Bend, Indiana. Notre Dame defeated B
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Five outside linebackers who are ranked ahead of him on ESPN's Top 300 remain uncommitted, but the Irish are not in play for any of them. Yeargin's change of heart puts even more pressure on Notre Dame commit Nile Sykes, ranked three spots ahead of Yeargin by ESPN.

Meanwhile, the choice would be a boon for the Tigers, who will seek to improve on a very strong 2013 season.


Players stats and rankings taken from 247Sports.