As the first major landmark of the offseason, national signing day offers a chance to reassess the outlook of the 2018 college football season.
Plus, initial top-25 polls occurred prior to the cutoff for early NFL draft entries. That deadline has since passed.
Now, it would be careless to suggest the day had a significant impact on ranking changes in an early top-25. Some freshmen will contribute, but championship-caliber rosters are always filled with experienced and returning players.
Four of B/R's college football writers—David Kenyon, Adam Kramer, Kerry Miller and Brad Shepard—submitted an updated ballot. A first-place vote counted for 25 points, and the sequence continued to one point for the No. 25 team.
2. Ohio State
T-10. Penn State
13. West Virginia
14. Michigan State
15. South Carolina
16. Notre Dame
17. Florida State
18. Virginia Tech
20. Boise State
24. Florida Atlantic
Elite Teams Have Elite NSD
In the four-year history of the College Football Playoff, five teams have reached the national championship game. Alabama, Clemson and Ohio State have sustained excellence, and Georgia is poised to join the group. Only Oregon has dipped from title contention.
And that simple group of facts is reflected in the 2018 recruiting rankings.
Clemson took a relatively small class for the second straight year, but Dabo Swinney and Co. attracted a handful of 5-star recruits for the No. 6 haul. Trevor Lawrence, the top quarterback and No. 1 overall prospect, led the haul, followed by Xavier Thomas, KJ Henry, Jackson Carman and Derion Kendrick.
Georgia attracted seven 5-stars, including the No. 2 overall recruit in quarterback Justin Fields. Zamir White, Jamaree Salyer, Tyson Campbell, Adam Anderson, Cade Mays and Brenton Cox complete the impressive unit, which ranked No. 1 nationally.
Thirteen top-100—and seven top-50—talents signed with Ohio State, propelling the team to the No. 2 recruiting class of 2018. The Buckeyes landed a trio of 5-stars in Nicholas Petit-Frere, Taron Vincent and Tyreke Johnson.
Ranked Teams Hit Hard by Early Draft Entries
Among schools ranked in Bleacher Report's Top 25, three rosters had at least five players forgo their remaining eligibility. And both LSU and Florida State must replace six non-seniors.
LSU needs to address the vacancies left by running back Derrius Guice, edge-rusher Arden Key and cornerbacks Kevin Toliver II and Donte Jackson. Offensive lineman Toby Weathersby and defensive tackle Travonte Valentine round out the group.
Meanwhile, the Seminoles lost five starters in safety Derwin James, cornerback Tarvarus McFadden, wide receiver Auden Tate, defensive end Josh Sweat and tight end Ryan Izzo. Defensive end Jalen Wilkerson also made a surprise move to the NFL.
Four of Alabama's five early entries—Minkah Fitzpatrick, Calvin Ridley, Da'Ron Payne and Ronnie Harrison—could be first-round selections. Bo Scarbrough will be selected later on.
Each of Miami, Oklahoma, Auburn and USC endured four departures, with the Trojans quarterback Sam Darnold being the highest-profile player.
The Lucky One
"Entirely unfair" comes to mind when looking at the draft-eligible talent returning to Clemson.
Clelin Ferrell, Christian Wilkins and Austin Bryant combined for 42 stops for a loss with 22.5 sacks, and the defensive linemen are all coming back along with two-time All-ACC tackle Dexter Lawrence.
Linebacker Kendall Joseph, who amassed 108 tackles in 2016 and a team-high 96 last season, decided to stay for his senior season. Cornerback Mark Fields is eyeing a healthy year to boost his draft stock, too.
On the offensive side, the Tigers lost wide receivers Deon Cain and Ray-Ray McCloud yet kept tackle Mitch Hyatt. He's been starting on the left side for each of the last three seasons, which all featured College Football Playoff appearances.
Clemson would've already been a popular CFP pick anyway, but the return of six NFL-caliber starters guarantees heavy preseason attention.
Top Spring Storyline: QB Competitions
Some quarterback jobs are secure, but several Top 25 teams are preparing to hold wide-open competitions this spring.
Ohio State, Oklahoma, USC, LSU, Florida Atlantic and TCU each had its starting quarterback pursue the NFL draft, exhaust his eligibility or retire. Plus, Alabama, Michigan, Miami and Notre Dame return a starter, but none is either experienced or in a real competition.
To further complicate matters, Clemson and Georgia have 5-star freshmen—Lawrence and Fields, respectively—who enrolled early. Though stealing the starting job is unlikely, they'll at least create a conversation in March and April.
Winners of those position battles may not be decided until the fall, but the spring will be a pivotal time for the potential starters at Top 25—and especially Top 10—programs.