Biggest Winners and Losers of the 2019 CFB Signing Window

Tyler Brooke@TylerDBrookeSenior Analyst IIFebruary 6, 2019

Biggest Winners and Losers of the 2019 CFB Signing Window

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    Jeffrey McWhorter/Associated Press

    National signing day wrapped up a dramatic 2019 college football signing window, helping showcase some clear winners and losers across the sport's landscape.

    The vast majority of commitments and announcements came well before the fanfare of Wednesday's unofficial holiday. However, that didn't make national signing day any less special for the young men who made their official announcements on national television.

    The recruiting rankings didn't change dramatically, but national signing day was good news for some schools and terrible news for others.

    Let's take a look at this signing window's biggest winners and losers, from programs and coaches to players and conferences. 

Winner: The SEC

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    The SEC is considered the best conference in college football in part because it consistently brings in top-tier high school talent.

    That's once again the case this year.

    Alabama and Georgia are at the top of the team recruiting rankings after national signing day, and SEC schools boast 11 of the nation's top 25 classes.

    Most of the top recruits decided to choose SEC programs as well. No. 1 overall recruit Nolan Smith committed to Georgia, while six of the other top 10 recruits will be joining him in the conference. The biggest name of national signing day, 5-star offensive tackle Darnell Wright, wound up committing to Tennessee. 

    Recruits want to play in the SEC because of how much exposure the teams get from both the national media and NFL scouts. 

    Many recruits hope to end up in the NFL one day, and a large portion of them will come out of the SEC. 

Loser: Big 12 Defenses

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    Big 12 defenses have the reputation for giving up a ton of points.

    Those defensive units won't be catching any breaks with this incoming recruiting class.

    Oklahoma head coach Lincoln Riley has been giving in-conference defenses fits with his innovative offensive schemes and game plans, regardless of who is playing under center. He's produced back-to-back Heisman Trophy-winning quarterbacks in Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray, and his offense shouldn't miss a beat after Oklahoma added transfer Jalen Hurts and incoming 5-star QB Spencer Rattler.

    Adding two 5-star wide receivers and a few other talented offensive weapons should have Riley drooling over the possibilities in the coming years.

    The Sooners aren't the only Big 12 offense that defenses should fear moving forward. The Texas Longhorns also put together an impressive recruiting class.

    Bru McCoy, a 5-star athlete who initially committed to USC, instead decided to join the Longhorns after Trojans offensive coordinator Kliff Kingsbury left to become the Arizona Cardinals' head coach. Fellow 5-star athlete Jordan Whittington could be a force to be reckoned with as well, as could top-50 recruit and top-10 wide receiver Jake Smith.

    Expect Big 12 defenses to keep allowing 40-50 points per game as long as these playmakers are in college.

Winner: The Trenches

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    Casual football fans tend to overlook offensive and defensive lines. But in this year's recruiting class, the players in the trenches are too big to ignore.

    Defensive ends, defensive tackles, offensive tackles and even a center dominated the top-50 player rankings. The top two players in the country, Nolan Smith and Kayvon Thibodeaux, are weak-side defensive ends. 

    In fact, six of the top 10 recruits in the 2019 class are trench players. Darnell Wright was the only player in that group not to make an official commitment until national signing day, but he ultimately decided to commit to Tennessee.

    While skill-position players, quarterbacks, defensive backs and linebackers get most of the attention, successful teams start in the trenches. The programs that signed these top-tier offensive and defensive linemen are hoping their respective commitments lead to wins down the road. 

Loser: Baseball

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    Two-sport athletes aren't uncommon, but this year's signing window pointed to something that could end up becoming a much bigger trend in the coming years.

    Oklahoma quarterback and Heisman Trophy winner Kyler Murray was originally expected to play for the Oakland Athletics after his final year of college. Instead, Murray has decided to enter the 2019 NFL draft.

    Although he has yet to officially commit to either sport, the fact he may back out of a hefty contract with the A's has set an uncomfortable precedent for Major League Baseball.

    This year's recruiting class features a pair of two-sport athletes who may eventually follow in Murray's footsteps. Jerrion Ealy, a 5-star running back, is also considered a top-tier outfielder, and 4-star cornerback Maurice Hampton isn't far behind on the MLB prospect rankings.

    Both Ealy and Hampton could hear their names called during the MLB draft in June, but teams may be hesitant to draft them early given the risk involved. Everyone is monitoring the Murray situation closely, and MLB organizations might want to take safer bets with their earlier draft picks.

    Either way, Murray may make MLB teams far less comfortable with gambling on two-sport athletes.

Winner: Jadon Haselwood

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    Young wide receivers often have a chance to make an early impact for their respective colleges compared to players at other positions. Receivers rely heavily on athleticism and playmaking ability, which can translate naturally from high school.

    Oklahoma commit Jadon Haselwood is in position to make a name for himself early in Norman.

    Not only does Haselwood have the size to compete physically right away (6'2.5", 196 pounds), but he's also the No. 1 wide receiver in this year's recruiting class.

    If Haselwood gets playing time right away, he'll benefit from having an experienced signal-caller in former Alabama QB Jalen Hurts (assuming he's immediately eligible to play). Once Hurts graduates, Haselwood will likely be catching passes from Spencer Rattler, the No. 1 QB in this class.

    Haselwood impressed with big plays in the All-American Bowl against some of the best young players in the country. If he can play like that at Oklahoma, he could become one of college football's brightest stars. 

Loser: Bru McCoy

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    Bru McCoy isn't featured as a loser here because he's bad at football. In fact, he came in as the top-ranked designated athlete in this recruiting class.

    Instead, he's featured as a loser here because of the journey he took to get to his final commitment.

    McCoy initially committed to the USC Trojans while playing in the All-American Bowl. A few weeks later, he entered the transfer portal to go play for the Texas Longhorns.

    McCoy's initial commitment came one day before Kliff Kingsbury resigned as the Trojans' offensive coordinator, a position he held for only a few weeks. Kingsbury's departure for the Arizona Cardinals likely convinced McCoy to transfer from USC.

    It was a series of unfortunate events for the Trojans, but also for McCoy. He was lucky enough to change schools before he suited up for the Trojans, but some players don't have that luxury when more established coaches leave for new jobs in the middle of their college careers.

    Despite a tough month for McCoy, Longhorns fans should still welcome him with open arms as he begins his college football career.

Winner: Nick Saban

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    Does Alabama head coach Nick Saban care about having the top-ranked recruiting class? Perhaps not, but his ability to bring in top-tier high school talent year after year is another example of what makes him such a dominant coach and recruiter.

    The Crimson Tide came away with the No. 1 recruiting class for 2019, landing 27 total commitments, including three 5-stars and 23 4-stars. Per 247Sports, that gives Alabama the top-ranked recruiting class in eight of the last nine years. The only year it didn't finish first was 2018, when it wound up fifth.

    This year's haul includes the top-ranked running back in the class, Trey Sanders. Alabama's most interesting recruit may be 4-star quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa, the younger brother of current starting quarterback Tua Tagovailoa. 

    The future in Tuscaloosa is as bright ever, and as long as Saban is the head coach, the Crimson Tide will continue to have top-tier recruiting classes and be national title contenders.

Loser: Clay Helton

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    It's hard to ignore how brutal the past few months have been for USC and head coach Clay Helton.

    Trojans fans were thrilled to see the school hire Kingsbury as its offensive coordinator, but his departure after a short-lived stint is already creating a ripple effect. Losing a 5-star recruit in Bru McCoy was tough enough, but other players are starting to transfer as well.

    Along with McCoy, wide receiver Josh Imatorbhebhe announced his intent to transfer on Twitter, and fellow receiver Trevon Sidney has reportedly entered the transfer portal, according to Bruce Feldman of The Athletic.

    It didn't get much better on national signing day for the Trojans. Potential USC commit Puka Nacua announced that he wouldn't make an official announcement Wednesday, while offensive lineman Enokk Vimahi decided to commit to Ohio State instead of USC.

    This offseason was supposed to help Helton bolster his job security. Instead, it's only added fuel to the fire surrounding one of the hottest seats in college football.   


    All recruiting information provided by 247Sports.