It almost slipped by unnoticed with so many high school players having inked in the early signing period back in December, but Wednesday was National Signing Day for high school football players. Even though nearly three fourths of the top talent signed with a school in December, there was enough left to provide drama as well as opportunity for some schools to improve their recruiting class substantially. There were a few last-minute flips and defections and a few teams closed strong, moving up the team rankings.
Georgia managed to pilfer 5-star wide receiver Georgia Pickens from Auburn on signing day. Florida pulled 4-star pass rusher Khris Bogle from Alabama. Meanwhile Auburn eased the pain by signing all-everything athlete Mark-Antony Richards. Tennessee added 5-star offensive lineman Darnell Wright.
There is a reason why the Southeastern Conference is the best football conference every year and that reason is signing day. Using Rivals rankings, eleven of the top 25 classes were signed by SEC schools. With Georgia, Alabama, LSU, Texas A&M and Florida there are five SEC in the top eight. In comparison to the conference’s eleven, the next highest conferences are the Big Ten and Pac 12 with four schools each in the top 25. The ACC had three. The Big 12 has two and Notre Dame is technically not in a conference for football. The SEC rules again.
New head coach, Geoff Collins, has his hands full in rebuilding Georgia Tech to prominence. The Yellow Jackets’ recruiting class comes in at number forty-three with only two four-star recruits. It will take more talent that that to make Tech a contender in the ACC. That said, Collins had limited time to build this class. His 2020 class should be more indicative of his recruiting prowess. I think he will continue to improve that program.
Meanwhile UCF, (remember Central Florida?) comes in at number 55 with zero 5-stars, zero 4-stars and only fourteen of their twenty-two signees even garnering 3-star status. Now, I am not trying to belittle any of the athletes that will get to fulfill their dreams of a college scholarship by playing for Central Florida, but UCF keeps trying to tell us they are THE premier program in the state of Florida. Clearly, that is not the case.
Speaking of the state of Florida, new Miami coach Manny Diaz found it rough sledding trying to pick up the reins from surprise retiree Mark Richt. The Hurricanes finished at number 35 in these particular rankings. Florida State did better, inking the 15th ranked class but that is still disheartening for the Noles since they hired Willie Taggart specifically for his potential on the recruiting trail. For the second straight year, FSU failed to sign a quarterback and recently had to toss their returning starter off the team. After watching their long consecutive bowl streak end in 2018, things are a little tense in Tallahassee. To make matters worse, reigning National Champions Clemson landed a top ten class and should continue to be the top program in the ACC.
With the renewed influx of talent into the conference, the SEC will be even more competitive. Alabama, Texas A&M and LSU should fight it out in the West for years to come. Florida, Georgia and Tennessee will do the same in the East. In the end, talent is the foundation that championship programs are built upon and that talent is spreading across the SEC as much as ever.