National Signing Day 2020: Georgia Claims No. 1 Class and Other Big Takeaways

Joel Reuter@JoelReuterBRFeatured ColumnistFebruary 6, 2020

National Signing Day 2020: Georgia Claims No. 1 Class and Other Big Takeaways

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    Gerald Herbert/Associated Press

    Since the inception of the early signing period, college football's annual national signing day does not bring with it the same level of drama and excitement it once did.

    There was still plenty of talk about it Wednesday, though.

    Three 247Sports composite Top 100 recruits entered the day uncommitted in safety Avantae Williams, defensive tackle McKinnley Jackson and defensive end Alfred Collins.

    There were also questions about whether 5-star defensive tackle Jordan Burch would honor his commitment to South Carolina, whether 5-star running back Zachary Evans would finally make a decision of any sort and if any of the other notable hard commits who had yet to sign would flip.

    Now that the dust has settled, let's take a look at some of the biggest storylines from this year's national signing day.

Texas Signs Uncommitted 4-Star SDE Alfred Collins

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    Alfred Collins
    Alfred Collins247Sports

    In a day that always features plenty of drama, the recruitment of 4-star defensive end Alfred Collins played out exactly as expected.

    The No. 62 overall recruit in the 2020 class has long been expected to sign with the University of Texas, and all 16 crystal ball predictions at 247Sports went in the direction of the Longhorns. 

    Still, with blue bloods Alabama and Oklahoma also included in his final three, nothing was a given until he finally put pen to paper Wednesday.

    The 6'5", 284-pound strong-side edge-rusher from Ceder Creek High School in Texas took his official visit to Texas all the way back on Oct. 18, so other schools had plenty of time to swoop in and change his mind. Instead, he's part of the No. 9 recruiting class in the nation at Texas, entering among a group of newcomers that includes 5-star running back Bijan Robinson and 13 other 4-star recruits.

    Collins could wind up being the best player from that group thanks to his tremendous physical upside.

    Gabe Brooks of 247 Sports described him as "raw and still learning, but plays with a high motor and owns elite physical tools that project to a quality Power 5 starter with early-round NFL draft potential."

    How quickly he adds strength to his lower body and refines his raw tools will determine when he sees the field in Austin.

Texas A&M Signs Uncommitted 4-Star DT McKinnley Jackson

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    McKinnley Jackson
    McKinnley Jackson247Sports

    Texas A&M pulled off an upset of sorts and added to an already stacked recruiting class with 4-star defensive tackle McKinnley Jackson.

    The Aggies made a late push to sign the 6'2", 327-pound standout from George County High School in Mississippi after early predictions had him going to Alabama. The Crimson Tide nabbed seven of 14 crystal ball predictions at 247Sports.

    "They're both in the SEC, so they're both going to play great football," Jackson told reporters of his decision. "It wasn't about the coaches because I know coaches can come and go. It was about what Texas A&M can do for me as a person and beyond football. It's all about brand building."

    McKinnley took his final official visit on Jan. 31 to Texas A&M, and head coach Jimbo Fisher and his staff were able to put together the final push needed to sign him.

    The Aggies finished with the No. 6 recruiting class in the nation, with Jackson checking in as the team's fourth-best recruit at No. 61 overall in the 2020 class and No. 9 among defensive tackle prospects.

    Safety Jaylon Jones (5-star, No. 21 recruit), wide receiver Demond Demas (5-star, No. 25 recruit) and defensive end Donell Harris (4-star, No. 48 recruit) are the headliners of a recruiting class that will look to help turn things around after a disappointing 8-5 season in 2019.

Miami Signs Uncommitted 4-Star Safety Avantae Williams

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    Avantae Williams
    Avantae WilliamsAndrew Ivins, 247Sports

    Heading into Wednesday, Avantae Williams was the top uncommitted recruit in the nation outside of 5-star running back Zachary Evans, checking in at No. 44 on the 247Sports composite rankings.

    A 4-star safety from DeLand High School in Florida, Williams was widely expected to land at the University of Florida, with all 15 of his crystal ball predictions pointed at the Gators.

    Instead, he becomes the top-ranked recruit in a 22-player recruiting class at the University of Miami that ranks 13th nationally and second in the ACC. He is also the highest-ranked defensive recruit to sign with the school since 5-star defensive lineman Chad Thomas in 2014, according to Andrew Ivins of 247Sports.

    "The relationship with the coaches," Williams told InsideTheU when asked why he picked Miami. "I have a great relationship with ... everyone on the defensive staff, actually everyone really. It was a gut feeling, and it's where I felt like I needed to be."

    It's been a long road to get to this point.

    After initially committing to Miami all the way back in 2017, Williams reopened his recruitment in May 2018. He then committed to Oregon in December 2018 before reversing course once again in December 2019.

    He took official visits to Miami (Jan. 17) and Florida (Jan. 24) last month before he finally signed his national letter of intent Wednesday.

Malachi Wideman Flip Moves Tennessee into Top 10

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    Malachi Wideman
    Malachi Wideman247Sports

    While college football dominated the headlines Wednesday, Tennessee basketball coach Rick Barnes was among those who received some exciting news.

    Wide receiver Malachi Wideman flipped from a verbal commitment to Florida State to sign with the Volunteers on Wednesday, and the two-sport standout will likely make an impact on the hardwood as well as the gridiron next season.

    A 4-star recruit who ranked as the No. 116 prospect overall and the No. 22 wide receiver in the 2020 class, Wideman is also a 3-star basketball recruit who checks in at No. 163 on the 247Sports composite basketball rankings.

    The scouting report from John Garcia Jr. of 247Sports reads as you would expect: "A blue-chip football and basketball recruit with length and muscular build. Known for freakish athleticism that allows for above the rim game on the hardwood and ideal red-zone and deep threat ability as wide receiver on gridiron."

    Adding him to an already impressive 22-player class that now includes 13 4-star recruits was enough to move Tennessee up to 10th nationally in the 2020 recruiting rankings.

    The Volunteers (261.50) now hold a slim margin over Oklahoma (259.60) and Oregon (259.49) in recruiting points for the final spot inside the top 10.

    After bringing aboard the No. 13 recruiting class last year, head coach Jeremy Pruitt has reeled in an even better crop of talent heading into his third year on the job. The team improved from 5-7 to 8-5 in 2019, and it will look to take another step forward in 2020.

No End in Sight to Zachary Evans Saga

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    Zachary Evans
    Zachary EvansAndrew Ivins, 247Sports

    Kipp Adams of 247Sports broke down the many twists and turns for Zachary Evans, one of the nation's top running back prospects, in early January:

    "Evans has had a roller coaster recruitment, as programs like Alabama, Texas A&M, and LSU have each been thought to be the leader at some point. Georgia was trending heading into the fall, and many felt the Dawgs would land his commitment on Sept. 5. But Evans would postpone an announcement following a multi-game suspension from his high school team. Heading into December, LSU was the program many had pegged as the landing spot for the five-star, but Georgia got a lot of buzz in the final three days leading up to the Early Signing Period in mid-December."

    The long, winding road was expected to reach its final destination with an official announcement during the Under Armour All-America Game on Jan. 2, but he instead simply revealed that he had signed a national letter of intent without naming a school.

    A few days later, it emerged that the NLI was to Georgia, but only in the form of an announcement that he was being released from that NLI with no restrictions and his recruitment was open once again. It now appears he will wait until March to make his decision since he was ineligible to sign another NLI on Wednesday.

    Where might he wind up?

    "Right now, he is deciding between Tennessee, Texas A&M and Ole Miss, but that could change. Evans took an official visit to Tennessee last weekend," Brad Crawford of 247Sports wrote.

    The No. 16 overall recruit in the 2020 class and the No. 2 running back prospect, Evans has a chance to make an immediate impact once he does finally make his college choice.

5-Star DT Jordan Burch Honors His Commitment to South Carolina...or Does He?

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    Jordan Burch
    Jordan Burch247Sports

    One of the most compelling storylines heading into national signing day was the seemingly open recruitment of 5-star defensive tackle and South Carolina commit Jordan Burch.

    The No. 8 overall prospect in the 2020 recruiting class verbally committed to the Gamecocks back on Dec. 18, but he opted against officially inking his NLI during the early signing period. The following week, he took an unofficial visit to LSU, and there was growing speculation that he might be ready to flip.

    That speculation seemed to come to an end on Wednesday when he appeared to be committing to South Carolina.

    "'For the next three or four years, I'll be with my friends,' Burch said at his signing ceremony, pointing to his classmates who had also committed to the Gamecocks," Billy Embody of 247Sports wrote.

    However, as of 6 p.m. ET on Wednesday, the Gamecocks had yet to receive his NLI.

    Head coach Will Muschamp did not sound worried at the team's signing day press conference, simply saying "we're going to be fine" with regard to Burch's status.

    Nevertheless, it's a troubling series of events for a defensive standout who would be the team's best recruit on that side of the ball since Jadeveon Clowney arrived on campus as the nation's No. 1 recruit in 2011.

    Stay tuned.

Georgia Clinches No. 1 Recruiting Class

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    Georgia head coach Kirby Smart
    Georgia head coach Kirby SmartSean Gardner/Getty Images

    The No. 1 class in the country during the 2020 recruiting period officially belongs to the Georgia Bulldogs.

    Here's a look at how the top 10 played out, via the 247Sports composite rankings:

    1. Georgia (313.34 recruiting points)
    2. Alabama (310.44)
    3. Clemson (309.73)
    4. LSU (300.54)
    5. Ohio State (295.08)
    6. Texas A&M (289.49)
    7. Auburn (274.6)
    8. Florida (274.36)
    9. Texas (270.93)
    10. Tennessee (261.5)

    Steve Wiltfong of 247Sports broke down how the Bulldogs secured the No. 1 spot on Wednesday:

    "For the second time in three cycles, Georgia finishes atop the 247Sports Composite Recruiting Rankings. The big news was keeping prized offensive line recruits in the fold and signed — five-star offensive tackle Broderick Jones and the top-ranked center Sedrick Van Pran. Georgia also flipped cornerback Daran Branch from Ole Miss and added in-state defensive tackle Cameron Kinnie as well. This class finishes with 25 including four 247Sports Composite five-star recruits and 15 that rank inside the Top247."

    Officially signing Jones, a 5-star offensive tackle who ranked as the No. 11 prospect in the class and the second-best recruit for the Bulldogs behind cornerback Kelee Ringo (5-star, No. 4 recruit), was the biggest win of the day.

    The talent pipeline is flowing into Athens as the Bulldogs look to return to the College Football Playoff after coming up short the past two seasons.

        

    All rankings refer to the 247Sports composite player and team rankings, unless otherwise noted.