College Football Recruiting 2014: Biggest Winners from National Signing Day

Chris RolingFeatured ColumnistFebruary 6, 2014

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 Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

As usual, national signing day proved to be a pivotal moment in the world of college football.

Whether it was a championship contender reloading with talent or an up-and-coming school landing prized recruits to make massive jumps in the ranks, several schools rose above the rest.

Of course, no team was in the neighborhood of almighty Alabama. Nick Saban's team pulled in the top class, although the gap was not as wide as some may expect.

 

Note: All team rankings and prospect rankings based on composite numbers from 247Sports.

 

LSU

TAMPA, FL -  JANUARY 1:  Head coach Les Miles of the LSU Tigers celebrates after the final play against the Iowa Hawkeyes January 1, 2014  in the Outback Bowl at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida.  LSU won 21 - 14. (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty I
Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images

LSU was the team close on Alabama's heels by the time the day was over. Coach Les Miles was the man of day as he and his staff reeled in the No. 2 class headlined by a number of stars on both sides of the football, as ESPN's RecruitingNation illustrates:

The star of the show for LSU was wideout Malachi Dupre, a game-changing force with insane leaping ability who stands at 6'2.5" and weighs 187 pounds. Defensively, 4-star tackle Travonte Valentine (6'3" and 338 lbs) is simply the latest force in the trenches for the school that has earned the moniker, "Nose Tackle U."

Not only that, the Tigers reeled in Sione Teuhema, which in turn gave them his brother and 5-star prospect in the 2015 class, Maea Teuhema, as Andrew Lopez of NOLA.com details:

As one can probably imagine, Miles was pretty ecstatic about the day overall, via Scott Rabalais of Louisiana's The Advocate:

Keep in mind, this is a class that already has the No. 1 overall prospect in running back Leonard Fournette, the No. 2-ranked safety (Jamal Adams) and No. 2-ranked outside linebacker (Clifton Garrett).

After a year in which the Tigers lost three games in the SEC, things just got a lot brighter for Miles' team.

 

Auburn

PASADENA, CA - JANUARY 06:  Auburn Tigers head coach Gus Malzahn stands on the field prior to the 2014 Vizio BCS National Championship Game against the Florida State Seminoles at the Rose Bowl on January 6, 2014 in Pasadena, California.  (Photo by Kevin C
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Look, the biggest story of the day for Auburn will be about how the Tigers were burned by linebacker Rashaan Evans, a local product who ended up betraying the Tigers in order to join the Crimson Tide. The embarrassment got ugly as the team's website accidentally posted Evans' profile, as tweeted by Martin Rickman of SI.com (h/t Sports Illustrated's Stewart Mandel):

But Auburn pulled off a robbery of its own, albeit in under-the-radar fashion.

The Tigers were able to stun Alabama by reeling in the nation's No. 3 guard, Braden Smith, a 6'6", 290-pound mauler who fits perfectly with the run-first offense Auburn employs. ESPN captured the stunning turn of events:

Andrew Williams, the nation's No. 12 defensive end, is also on the way to Auburn after much deliberation. The No. 10 corner, Nick Ruffin, has also decided to suit up with the Tigers.

Most important of all, the Tigers were able to land 5-star running back Roc Thomas, the No. 4 overall back who will be tasked with replacing the production of the NFL-bound Tre Mason.

Therein lies the key to what makes this one of the best classes—every top name does much to replace departing talent. Along with the Thomas-Mason situation, Ruffin replaces Chris Davis, and Smith helps to replace Greg Robinson.

Like LSU, there is a lot of roster turnover set to happen for Auburn. National signing day just made the process rather simplistic.

 

USC

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

After a 10-4 season with a 6-3 mark in the Pac-12, the USC Trojans needed a big day to help turn the program around—especially considering they entered the day with the No. 26 class.

By the end of the day, the Trojans had jumped 15 spots to land at No. 11. Mandel put it best:

Three big names made this possible for the Trojans. One was John "JuJu" Smith, the nation's No. 20 overall recruit who had 49 catches for 752 yards and nine touchdowns on offense and added 51 tackles and six interceptions on defense last year.

The second was No. 1 overall guard Damien Mama, as captured by Lindsay Thiry of Fox Sports:

Finally, the shocker was Adoree' Jackson, the nation's top corner and lone top-10 undecided prospect, via ESPN:

For a program that has been through three head coaches in the span of one season, the Trojans did very well for themselves. The building blocks are now in place for a contender, and the alarming rise through the ranks speaks for itself.

 

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