Early National Signing Day 2022: Winners and Losers for Every Power Conference

David KenyonFeatured Columnist IVDecember 23, 2022

Early National Signing Day 2022: Winners and Losers for Every Power Conference

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    Nick Saban
    Nick SabanJustin Ford/Getty Images

    After three days of mayhem, the early signing period for the 2023 college football recruiting cycle has finished.

    And there's a familiar name up top.

    Nick Saban and Alabama put together yet another ridiculous run, stacking more 5-star prospects in a class that already stood as the nation's top haul. Other winners include Oregon, Texas and more programs that landed a couple of high-priority targets.

    On the other hand, though, the early window wasn't kind to several teams. Key verbal commits or top targets signed elsewhere instead of at Florida and Ohio State, among others.

ACC: Florida State and Syracuse

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    Mike Norvell
    Mike NorvellChris Leduc/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

    Winner: Florida State Seminoles

    As with several other teams, the Seminoles didn't have a perfect stretch. Florida State lost 4-star defensive end Keldric Faulk to Auburn, and 4-star corner Damari Brown chose Miami.

    However, the Noles kept 5-star wide receiver Hykeem Williams in the fold and added 3-star athlete Edwin Joseph and 3-star offensive tackle Andre' Otto. FSU flipped 4-star safety Conrad Hussey from Penn State, beating rival Miami for his pledge.

    Florida State is now tracking for a top-20 class.

    Loser: Syracuse Orange

    Five-star cornerback Cormani McClain did not sign with Miami, and that has received the proper attention. However, it seems unfair to call the Hurricanes a loser before he has decommitted or signed elsewhere.

    Syracuse, on the other hand, lost its featured piece.

    Heading into Friday, the Orange already had the ACC's lowest-rated class and ranked 74th nationally. But then 4-star quarterback LaNorris Sellers—their only blue-chip commit—flipped to South Carolina.

Big 12: Texas and Baylor

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    Steve Sarkisian
    Steve SarkisianTim Warner/Getty Images

    Winner: Texas Longhorns

    What was already a top-five class grew in strength.

    Texas pulled off a surprise with 4-star edge-rusher Tausili Akana, who strongly considered rival Oklahoma. Plus, the Longhorns steered 4-star receiver DeAndre Moore Jr. out of his Louisville pledge.

    Miami and Texas entered the window in a battle for the nation's third-ranked class, and the Horns emerged as the winner.

    Loser: Baylor Bears

    The timing could not have been worse for Baylor.

    Following the flip of 5-star quarterback Dante Moore from Oregon to UCLA, the Bears felt an aftershock. Four-star Austin Novosad, who committed to Baylor last December, switched his pledge to Oregon.

    Baylor no longer has a quarterback in the class, and there's little chance it will make a late play elsewhere. Rather than signing a well-regarded high schooler, the Bears will instead have to nab a transfer or wait for reinforcements in the 2024 cycle.

Big Ten: Maryland and Ohio State

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    Ryan Day
    Ryan DayFrank Jansky/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

    Winner: Maryland Terrapins

    It was a quiet stretch around the Big Ten. Most programs had their classes in place and avoided late departures.

    Maryland closed well, though. Michael Locksley's staff flipped 4-star edge-rusher Neeo Avery from Ole Miss and swayed 3-star wide receiver Tamarcus Cooley from North Carolina State. Avery became the third-highest-rated player in the class, boosting the Terps to a top-35 ranking.

    Five-star edge-rusher Nyckoles Harbor and 4-star linebackers Andrew and Michael Harris remain on the board, too.

    Loser: Ohio State Buckeyes

    The sky is not falling in Columbus. For the 11th straight year, the Buckeyes will lose no more than twice. It cannot be emphasized enough that Ohio State—which, lest we forget, is still in the College Football Playoff with a chance to win the national title—has Champagne problems.

    Nevertheless, the early window was unkind to OSU.

    After the loss to rival Michigan, the Buckeyes had major letdowns in the early window. Five-star edge-rushers Damon Wilson and Matayo Uiagalelei chose Georgia and Oregon. Additionally, 4-star corner Kayin Lee flipped to Auburn.

    While its class remained in the top 10 nationally, Ohio State clearly fell short of a sparkling finish.

Pac-12: Oregon and USC

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    Dan Lanning
    Dan LanningTom Hauck/Getty Images

    Winner: Oregon Ducks

    For a moment, it seemed the Ducks would be a considerable loser. Five-star quarterback Dante Moore, a July commit, flipped to UCLA shortly before the early period.

    Dan Lanning and his staff recovered in a tremendous way—even as the Ducks lost in the Peyton Bowen drama.

    Oregon secured the signatures of 5-star edge-rusher Matayo Uiagalelei and 4-star cornerback Daylen Austin. Four-star running back Jayden Limar flipped to Oregon from Notre Dame, and 4-star quarterback Austin Novosad left Baylor's class in favor of the Ducks'. They held off Colorado's charge for 4-star linebacker Blake Purchase, too.

    Not a perfect early window but a very good one.

    Loser: USC Trojans

    Two of Oregon's gains doubled as losses for USC.

    Most notably, the Trojans could not sway Uiagalelei to stay local. USC has a strong class, but it's offense-heavy. Lincoln Riley's high-powered system can thrive for a long time, but the Trojans need elite defensive talent for the future.

    Austin also pulled a surprise. Not only did he unexpectedly announce a commitment instead of waiting until February's signing window, but he also sent his letter of intent to Oregon.

SEC: Alabama and Florida

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    Billy Napier
    Billy NapierJames Gilbert/Getty Images

    Winner: Alabama Crimson Tide

    If you're tired of the Alabama dynasty, I have bad news. Yet another recruiting cycle has gone the Crimson Tide's way.

    As of Monday, the SEC power held three 5-star commitments. But on Tuesday, Bama flipped offensive tackle Kadyn Proctor from Iowa. On Wednesday afternoon, the Tide landed teammates James Smith and Qua Russaw. Then on Thursday, corner Desmond Ricks picked them over LSU.

    As of Friday, Alabama has seven 5-stars—and a powerful grip on the nation's top class in 2023.

    Loser: Florida Gators

    In the interest of avoiding melodrama, know that Florida is bringing in a class ranked 12th nationally. Strictly based on the signings, the Gators have a well-rounded, talented group.

    The juxtaposition is where Florida missed.

    Ricks went to Alabama, and 4-star defensive lineman Jordan Hall picked rival Georgia. Four-star edge-rusher Isaiah Nixon flipped to Big 12-bound UCF, and 4-star tight end Jaden Platt backed off his Stanford pledge but picked Texas A&M.