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National Signing Day 2011: The Biggest Recruiting Surprises

James EvensCorrespondent IAugust 11, 2016

National Signing Day 2011: The Biggest Recruiting Surprises

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    National Signing Day is always full of surprises, and 2011 was no different. It seems every year some of these surprises bring us back to football season and the drama of college football.

    Here are the biggest recruiting surprises this year.

    To see where the rest of the top 100 recruits are going, click here, and follow the Bleacher Report live reaction piece. That can be found here.

    James Evens serves as a National Featured Columnist for college football and basketball as well as the FC for the Purdue Boilermakers.  Follow him on Twitter or like him on Facebook.

Cyrus Kouandjio

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    Cyrus Kouandijo is a big offensive tackle that chose Auburn over Alabama on Signing Day. Although he made the announcement, Auburn has yet to receive his national letter of intent.  

    Kouandijo is the best offensive tackle recruit this year and ranked number three overall on ESPN. 

    It would not be a huge surprise if he decided to switch last minute, as the lure of Nick Saban can be great.

    If he stays with Auburn though, it would be a huge win for the Tigers over their in-state rival.

Jalen Grimble

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    Jalen Grimble is a great defensive end who was considering either UCLA or USC, and he seemed set on USC until he made his announcement.  Grimble shocked the Trojans and signed with the Miami Hurricanes.

    Yes, the U. He threw a loophole in today's recruiting, and you would be hard-pressed to find someone who thought he would go to Miami.  

    Either way, Grimble will be a great addition to the Hurricanes and could help rebuild that legendary defense of the 1990's.

Lamar Dawson

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    Lamar Dawson is a 6'2" outside linebacker out of Kentucky.  He was expected to either go to Kentucky or Tennessee, but shocked everyone and announced he would be going to USC.

    Although the decision has yet to be put in writing, it looks like he is going to be out of the South and headed to the West Coast.

    Dawson will be a good fit with USC and could become another one of the great linebackers to come out of USC under a Lane Kiffin defense. 

Clemson

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    Clemson made two huge surprises this National Signing Day.  

    They nabbed Tony Steward, the ninth player overall and the best linebacker in this year's signing class.  Steward will make a huge difference for the Tigers, as they stole him from conference rival Florida State, and he will provide a big boost to their defense.

    Along with Steward, the Tigers also got Stephone Anthony, the best outside linebacker in this class and a huge help to the Tigers.  

    Anthony was planning on going to Virginia Tech, but Clemson swooped in and got him.  A great start to rebuilding the Clemson defense.

Jeoffrey Pagan

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    Jeoffrey Pagan is one of the best defensive ends in this recruiting class. He is ranked 53rd overall and is the 8th-ranked defensive end.  

    He was considering Georgia, but instead decided to become a member of the Crimson Tide of Alabama. 

    Pagan will be a great fit in the Crimson Tide's defense and, with the right nurturing, could become one of the most dominant linemen in the country.  

De'Anthony Thomas

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    De'Anthony Thomas is one of the most athletic backs in the state of California.  He is the 16th-ranked player in the class and will be a great player wherever he decides to go.

    This one is a bit speculative because as of now, Thomas has verbally committed to USC, but reports are saying he is leaning toward Oregon.  If he goes to Oregon, it would be a huge surprise, and we will all find out come 6 p.m. PST tonight.

Paulay Asiata

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    Paulay Asiata just could not make up his mind.  

    First he was going to Stanford, which was likely nixed by Jim Harbaugh leaving.  Then he decided Washington was a great fit and verbally committed with them.

    However this all changed on NSD when the offensive lineman signed with the Colorado Buffaloes.  It is a big gain for the Buffaloes and a major shocker elsewhere.

Jon Davis

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    Jon Davis is an athlete and a very versatile player who can play several positions.

    Davis, who is from Kentucky, considered the Wildcats, but decided he wanted to be a part of the Illinois program.  

    He will be a great player for the Illini wherever they see him fit to play and should be a major star of the Big Ten.

Jadeveon Clowney

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    Jadeveon Clowney is the most sought-after recruit in this season's recruiting class.  The defensive end is ranked No. 1 overall, and everyone expected him to announce today, but they were wrong.

    Clowney has decided to announce his commitment on Feb. 14, his birthday.  

    He is considering Alabama, South Carolina and Clemson.

Isaiah Crowell

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    Isaiah Crowell had two big surprises today.  

    The first of which was the No. 1 ranked running back's decision not to go to Alabama, but to Georgia instead.

    The other surprise was the way in which he did it.  

    He pulled out an actual bulldog when he made his announcement to play with Georgia. He will be a great addition to the Bulldogs' offense and will make a huge impact.

Gabe Wright

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    The defensive tackle was largely expected to go to the Auburn Tigers and did just that, but he definitely made a statement by the way he did it.

    Wright was sporting a "Nick Who?" hat in reference to defensive tackle Nick Fairley, who has declared for the NFL draft.  

    Although it was funny, it's going to place a big burden on Wright to perform extremely well at Auburn. 

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