NCAA Football News

Craziest Moments of National Signing Day 2016

College football recruiting is unlike anything else in the sports world, and national signing day is the one Wednesday each year when all of the sport's insanity comes to a head.

This year didn't have the fax machine drama and second-thoughts swerves like last year, but it still had its fair share of attention-grabbing moments.

One recruit used desserts and giant decorations to throw off an entire gymnasium of fans. Another one announced his future school like a daredevil.

Then there were the odd sights coming out of Ann Arbor, Michigan.

In case you missed some of the craziest and downright weirdest moments from 2016 national signing day, here's a recap of all the eye-opening action.

 

 

Deontay Anderson jumped out of a plane

Using props and other creative methods to announce a recruit's commitment is nothing new. Prospects in recent seasons have used live animals, babies and crazy outfits to reveal their decisions.

Deontay Anderson, the nation's No. 2-ranked safety, decided to take the creativity level to new heights—literally.

In a video produced here at Bleacher Report, the Texas native announced he was headed to Ole Miss while skydiving:

That's right. A blue-chip recruit announced where he would play college football in a video in which he jumped out of an airplane.

Anderson's daredevil decision was a hot topic on social media during the early portion of signing day:

With personal commitment videos becoming the norm in recruiting, there's no telling what we'll see in the 2017 cycle and beyond.

 

Jim Leyland and Lou Holtz dabbed at Michigan

National signing day was already expected to be a wild one for Michigan and coach Jim Harbaugh.

The Wolverines were still after No. 1 overall recruit Rashan Gary, who committed in the afternoon. Ric Flair, among other celebrities, was scheduled to be in Ann Arbor.

But things got weird quickly for Michigan at its Wednesday "Signing of the Stars" event.

Former Detroit Tigers manager Jim Leyland took the podium alongside rap group Migos, which helped make the dab a worldwide craze. So, naturally, Leyland hit the dab with them:

Later, shortly after Gary announced he would become a Wolverine, former college football coach and ESPN analyst Lou Holtz hit the dab with Harbaugh:

The combined age of Leyland and Holtz is a young 150 years, which probably makes them the oldest pairing of people to ever dab.

There were plenty of other highlights from Wednesday's event in Ann Arbor, but two elderly sports icons dabbing on stage—in the name of Michigan football recruiting—had to take the cake.

And speaking of cake...

 

Mecole Hardman faked out everyone with several cakes

5-star Mecole Hardman Jr. was one of the most coveted prospects in the country this season and was the first big name to make a splash with his signing-day commitment Wednesday.

The nation's No. 1 athlete had 32 scholarship offers and was down to Clemson, Florida, Georgia, Michigan and Tennessee.

The Elberton, Georgia, native had six large cakes on the table where he was set to announce his college decision, and the in-state Bulldogs were surprisingly not represented, per AJC.com's Jeff Sentell:

A large paper banner also covered the entrance to his high school gym. The logos of his finalists were all represented—except, again, for Georgia.

But when the confusion surrounding Hardman's signing-day saga reached its peak, he burst through the banner with a Georgia hat on his head:

New Georgia coach Kirby Smart can only hope one of his biggest 2016 signings is able to keep opposing teams as off balance as those who stared at the cakes and the banner were early Wednesday morning.

Hardman never touched the cakes, but according to Fletcher Page of OnlineAthens.com, at least one person went home with a treat:

 

Brandon Jones served up a Hollywood plot twist

Popular Texas A&M website TexAgs decided to go in depth on the recruitment of one of the state's biggest prospects—Brandon Jones, the nation's No. 1-ranked safety. 

TexAgs made a documentary titled On An Island: Being Brandon Jones detailing the journey of the safety, who entered signing day with a final three of Baylor, Texas and Texas A&M.

According to 247Sports' Crystal Ball Predictions, the Aggies were favorites to land Jones, which would have made for a dream ending for the TexAgs documentary.

But Jones threw in a swerve in the final scene that would've made M. Night Shyamalan proud by signing with Texas instead of Texas A&M, per FootballScoop's Zach Barnett and Good Bull Hunting:

"While the folks at TexAgs know as well as anyone that no recruit is a lock until the [letter of intent] is faxed in, this inspiring drama of hope and redemption will unfortunately be billed as a tragedy when it hits Netflix," SB Nation's Good Bull Hunting posted Wednesday. "Except in Austin, where it is probably a comedy."

Jones' decision should make the war of words between Longhorns and Aggies even more heated for the next few months—as if that fire needed any more fuel.

 

Jack Jones signed with a little help from Snoop Dogg

5-star cornerback Jack Jones decided he was going to stay in California on Wednesday by signing with USC. But he didn't have a run-of-the-mill reveal.

No, Jones announced his Hollywood intentions to become a USC Trojan by joining up with one of the program's most famous fans—rapper Snoop Dogg (per Lindsey Thiry of the Los Angeles Times):

This time last year, Snoop Dogg seemed to have dropped USC for UCLA when his son, Cordell Broadus, committed to the rival Bruins.

"I'm throwing all my USC drawers away," Snoop said last year, per Kevin Trahan of SB Nation. "I'm going UCLA 100,000 percent."

However, Broadus quit UCLA football before the start of the season, and it appears Snoop has switched back to the Trojans.

Let's see if Snoop can make it three straight signing-day decisions next February. He's starting to become a recruiting tradition.

 

Duke got things done quickly

National signing day is a marathon for most Power Five programs. Plenty of recruits like to wait until the special day to announce their commitments, and the ceremonies are usually staggered across a huge window of time.

But Duke woke up early and was done before most of the country finished breakfast.

According to Laura Keeley of the Raleigh News & Observer, Duke had all 21 of its letters of intent in its possession by 8:27 a.m. ET:

Of course, the college football corner of Twitter was on standby with plenty of one-liners about Duke's quick work:

While Duke isn't at the level of the recruiting powerhouses that dominate the signing-day news cycle, it's still impressive that the Blue Devils were able to up their highest-rated class in school history in record time.

Duke's 2016 class is currently No. 33 nationally, which is good enough for fifth in the ACC.

David Cutcliffe and his staff put in plenty of work during the 2016 recruiting cycle and were rewarded with a short day of waiting around by the fax machine.

While they were relaxing, the rest of the college football world was just starting to sweat.

 

Recruiting information courtesy of 247Sports.

Justin Ferguson is a college football writer at Bleacher Report. You can follow him on Twitter @JFergusonBR.

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Tennessee National Signing Day 2016: 5 Takeaways from Vols' Class

Two lockdown defensive backs locked up another strong finish for Tennessee's football recruiting efforts, and by the time the nation's top-ranked JUCO player pledged to the Volunteers on Wednesday afternoon, a class that plodded along at times was roaring to the finish line.

Toss in the flip of speedy 3-star receiver Latrell Williams, and the Vols have to be thrilled with how national signing day shook out, even if they didn't wind up getting every one of their top targets.

"It's a great illustration of where our football program is," UT coach Butch Jones told GoVols247's Ryan Callahan. "We say it: We're building the best football program in all of college football, both on the field and off the field. And to be able to finish like we did today, it's very, very gratifying."

Jones' class of 21 signees gives UT a ranking that currently sits at 14th nationally, according to the 247Sports composite rankings.

That's not as strong as the back-to-back top-10 classes Jones signed in the past two years. But given the circumstances, it's a haul that looks almost as strong on a player-by-player basis.

Working against the Vols this year was having to sign a lower number of prospects after luring two huge classes in 2015 and '14. Also, there weren't as many in-state stars or legacies to hang their big, orange hats on this year, either.

Nobody in orange is dwelling on the negatives after Wednesday. The Vols celebrated the culmination of the 2016 recruiting cycle beginning on Tuesday night, when 4-star defensive back Tyler Byrd flipped from Miami.

Those good vibes continued Wednesday morning early when Nigel Warrior decided to follow in father Dale Carter's footsteps and sign with UT over Auburn, Alabama, Georgia and LSU. 

Williams followed suit with Byrd, flipping from the Hurricanes shortly after Warrior's announcement, and Jones one-upped Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze for the second straight year on NSD, winning the Jonathan Kongbo sweepstakes. 

The top-ranked junior college prospect signed with the Vols over a late surge by the Rebels a year after Jones got offensive tackle Drew Richmond to flip from Ole Miss on the final day of the '15 cycle.

Four major recruiting victories offset the battles UT didn't win, and the Vols wound up with yet another stellar class. Let's draw some conclusions from this year's group of new Tennessee players.

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Texas National Signing Day 2016: 5 Takeaways from Longhorns' Class

Thanks to an unbelievable finish, Charlie Strong and the Texas Longhorns have recruited another top-10 class to Austin.

Strong's 10 commits over the final 24 hours of the 2016 recruiting cycle have become the talk of the nation. Of those commits, six are ranked among the top 300 players in the country, including No. 1 safety Brandon Jones.

The amazing close to the 24-man class has vaulted the Horns to No. 11 in the 247Sports composite rankings, good for the best in the state and tops in the Big 12. With this group, Strong has addressed key needs and proven once again that he can close a recruiting class as well as anyone in the country.

Most of all, he got himself a quarterback who will fit his offensive system.

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Power Ranking Every ACC Team's 2016 Recruiting Class

Over the last three years, the ACC has proved that it belongs in college football’s upper echelon. In 2013, Jameis Winston led Florida State to the final BCS National Championship, and the Seminoles qualified for the first College Football Playoff before falling to Oregon.

Last fall, Clemson was the nation’s No. 1 team from the first College Football Playoff Top 25 ranking into the national title game, where it lost a hard-fought 45-40 decision to Nick Saban and Alabama. The Tigers could well be the preseason No. 1 again in August, and the Seminoles will be improved, too.

And don’t forget about an 11-win North Carolina team or a Virginia Tech program that should be rejuvenated following Justin Fuente’s hiring. The ACC commands respect, but it needs talent to keep pace with the likes of the SEC, Big Ten, Big 12 and Pac-12. That’s why national signing day is so important: Recruits sign national letters of intent and officially begin plotting their paths with their college of choice.

The ACC had a solid signing day, especially at the top of the league. The bottom of the league featured programs building and finding their way following recent coaching changes. How did it all shake out? Here’s a look at the league’s class of 2016 power rankings.

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Auburn Steals Another Impact Recruit from UGA Territory in 5-Star Derrick Brown

Auburn saved the best for last on national signing day by going back to a tried-and-true method—snagging a 5-star player out of the state of Georgia.

Plenty of great Auburn players, past and present, hail from the Peach State. But the commitment of 5-star defensive tackle Derrick Brown, the No. 9-ranked overall player in the country, on Wednesday afternoon was a little different in a great way for the Tigers.

As Tony Barnhart said on ESPN2's national signing day broadcast moments before Brown pulled out an Auburn cap at Lanier High School in Buford, the Tigers hadn't signed the No. 1 player in the state of Georgia in the past decade.

Until Wednesday, that is, when Brown announced that he would join an Auburn defensive line that should be a strength in 2016.

"My relationship that I built with the coaching staff down there is excellent," Brown said on the ESPN2 telecast of his announcement. "I felt like last night, just sitting around talking to my parents, that that was the place for me."

Auburn's outlook after a disappointing 7-6 season became brighter last month when both defensive end Carl Lawson and defensive tackle Montravius Adams announced that they would return to school instead of going pro early.

Both Lawson and Adams were Georgia-born 5-stars from Auburn's loaded 2013 recruiting class, which was Gus Malzahn's first as Auburn head coach.

The duo would later break into a veteran defensive line rotation as true freshmen, helping the Tigers make a surprising run all the way to the BCS National Championship Game.

Since then, the pass-rushing Lawson has developed into the biggest game-changer on the Auburn defense, even though he's only played in seven contests. Adams is now one of the most consistent playmakers on a defense that has seen a lot of change in the last two seasons.

Those two will spearhead a defensive line that returns plenty of players from 2015, most notably defensive end Byron Cowart. The Florida native was also a 5-star out of high school, and the pressure will be on him to live up to the hype after a slow start in his freshman season.

Auburn could start nothing but former consensus 5-stars along the defensive line in 2016, as Brown has the talent to take that role from the first game of his true freshman season.

"He can certainly help [Auburn] immediately," Bleacher Report's Michael Felder said. "He does not look like a guy that weighs almost 320 pounds ... he moves so exceptionally well, and he's got the ability to make himself a little bit skinny, get through the hole."

That ability to get through the offensive line and make plays in the backfield time and time again—he had an unreal 42 tackles for loss as a senior—is what will make Brown such an instant-impact player on Auburn's defensive line.

"[These] are the same expectations that I have for myself ... to go in and make an immediate impact and work hard and just play in the fall," Brown said.

According to Brandon Marcello of AL.com, Auburn ranked second-last in the FBS in stopping opposing rushers behind the line of scrimmage. The Tigers must get tougher against the run, especially considering the number of talented run-first offenses in the SEC.

"He's a humongous piece to a puzzle that they're still trying to figure out," Felder said. "I really think Derrick Brown becomes a key piece to them getting back on track on the defensive side of the ball."

The 2016 defensive line class at Auburn has the potential to be looked upon in the same regard as the 2013 class that netted Lawson, Adams and Elijah Daniel, who had solid production before his dismissal last spring.

In addition to Brown, Auburn has fellow Top 50 signees Marlon Davidson and Antwuan Jackson—both of whom are already on the Plains as early enrollees. Paul James was one of the top defensive line prospects out of the JUCO ranks, and 4-star Nick Coe will bring tremendous size (6'5 ½", 269 lbs) to the line as well.

But Brown is the crown jewel of that defensive line haul and the entire 2016 recruiting class for Auburn, another one that looks set to finish in the Top 10 nationally.

While the Tigers have gone backwards since their magical 2013 season, being able to go into Georgia and keep the state's No. 1 recruit out of the hands of the rival Bulldogs—and the Crimson Tide in Tuscaloosa—bodes well for the program's future.

Brown is one of six Georgia recruits who signed with Auburn in this cycle, joining Jackson, 4-star wide receiver Kyle Davis, 4-star tight end Landon Rice, 3-star offensive tackle Brodarious Hamm and 3-star safety Marlon Character.

Auburn's close proximity and recent success in the Peach State will mean more natives such as Brown and Davis will continue to suit up for the Tigers.

"Georgia is important for our success," Malzahn said Wednesday in a press conference. "Around half our players come from there, and we think [signing Brown] is going to give us great momentum."

The potential is there for a return to championship-quality football in the next couple of seasons, and that's what made an instant-impact player such as Brown choose the Tigers.

"I think that for the next three to four years, it's going to be great to watch Auburn football," Brown said. "That's why I made this decision."

 

All quotes from ESPN2 telecast unless otherwise noted. Recruiting information courtesy of 247Sports.

Justin Ferguson is a college football writer at Bleacher Report. You can follow him on Twitter @JFergusonBR.

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Power Ranking Every SEC Team's 2016 Recruiting Class

The faxes have been sent, pen has met paper and the class of 2016 has signed on the dotted line,

National signing day is in the books, and it was a banner year in the SEC. Five programs finished in the final 247Sports top 10, with Alabama making a late charge to finish with the best class in the country for the sixth straight season. 

Rankings, however, don't always reflect need.

Our ranking of the top classes in the SEC based on talent acquired, team need and biggest upside are in this slideshow.

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LSU National Signing Day 2016: 5 Takeaways from Tigers' Class

Remember back in November when rumors were rampant that the LSU Tigers wanted to fire head coach Les Miles? Well, that feels like a distant memory now that LSU has signed the nation's No. 3-ranked recruiting class in 2016.

The Tigers loaded up, signing six of the country's top 100 players, including defensive tackle Rashad Lawrence of Monroe, Louisiana, and cornerback Kristian Fulton of Metairie, Louisiana—both 5-star prospects.

LSU addressed multiple needs in this balanced class, specifically along the defensive line.

Overall, national signing day was great for the Tigers, but there were a couple of disappointments.

Linebacker Erick Fowler, a 4-star verbal commitment from Manor, Texas, backed out of his pledge to the Tigers and signed with Texas. Also, cornerback Trayvon Mullen picked Clemson over LSU in a bit of a surprise.

So, who is LSU's next breakout star?

Here are five takeaways from LSU's 2016 recruiting class.

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Texas A&M National Signing Day 2016: 5 Takeaways from Aggies Class

It's been a tough couple of months for Texas A&M head coach Kevin Sumlin. Another disappointing season ended with news that two prized quarterback recruits from each of the last two seasons—Kyle Allen and Kyler Murray—announced their intentions to transfer. 

So, the focus of national signing day in 2016 was to add pieces to both sides of the ball who could help the Aggies win this season.

How did they do?

While A&M didn't sign anyone as high profile as Allen or Murray, or get a single 5-star recruit, this could end up being Sumlin's deepest and most versatile class since coming to College Station in 2012.

Here are five takeaways from Texas A&M's 2016 recruiting class.

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Florida National Signing Day 2016: 5 Takeaways from Gators' Class

The Florida Gators were expected to improve when Jim McElwain was hired as head coach over a year ago, but few predicted it would happen so fast. 

McElwain led Florida to a 10-4 record with an SEC East title in 2015, re-establishing the Gators as one of the premier programs in the nation’s top football conference. 

With 2016's national signing day wrapped up, the Gators will bring in one of the top classes in the nation to further build upon an already talented roster. 

Here are five thoughts regarding Florida’s 2016 signing class.

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Michigan National Signing Day 2016: 5 Takeaways from Wolverines' Class

Documents, signatures and fax machines have helped turn committed prospects into official members of the Michigan football program.

We've gleaned a few takeaways from the Wolverines' 2016 class, which 247Sports currently ranks No. 5 nationally. While that standing could change later to reflect surprise additions at Michigan or elsewhere, it's certainly deserving of some praise.

Head coach Jim Harbaugh and his staff assembled a well-rounded unit that builds depth on the roster, addresses an immediate need and solidifies already-strong positions.

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Devin Asiasi to Michigan: Wolverines Land 4-Star TE Prospect

Michigan added one of the most intriguing recruits in the 2016 class on Wednesday with a commitment from Devin Asiasi. While it may take some time before he makes a major impact for the Wolverines, he's got the tools to become a star.

Sean Merriman of the Big Ten Network passed along word of Asiasi's decision to join the Wolverines.  

Asiasi is a 4-star prospect who ranks as the 74th best prospect in the class of 2016, according to 247Sports' composite rankings. He's rated as the No. 3 tight end prospect in the country and is also the 12th-best prospect from California.

He's been viewed mostly as a tight end throughout the recruiting process, and it's probably where he'll begin his college career. That said, he's also gained experience at defensive end and possesses the physical tools to excel there if he were to commit to it.

There aren't many players in the class who can match Asiasi's combination of size (6'3", 270 lbs) and athleticism. He's tough to defend because he can expose a defense down the seams but is also strong enough to develop into a key target in the red zone.

While everyone is focused on his talent on the field, Asiasi is prouder of another aspect of the latest stop on his football journey, Bleacher Report's Damon Sayles noted.

"I'll be the first one in my family to go to college," Asiasi said. "That's my inspiration. That's what drives me every morning. Every time I see my cousins, they'll say, 'You're the one.' They say I'll be the one to show that you can do way more than what's being done."

That's certainly a major accomplishment, but it's still on the gridiron where he'll likely make a name for himself for the next handful of years. Jamie Uyeyama from Son of a Coach provided an overview of what he sees from Asiasi on the offensive side of the ball:

He's not explosive out of his breaks, but is a solid route runner that uses his body very well to gain separation. He has very good hands and catches the ball away from his body. He's a weapon over the middle of the field in short and intermediate areas. He's comfortable to line up in the slot as well as in-line. He's just so big that safeties and linebackers will struggle to cover him if used properly.

The last part is key. He's a prototypical modern tight end because he can split out wide or work from the line. Regardless of where he lines up, he's usually too strong for a safety or a corner but too quick for many linebackers.

His initial breaks need work, he can benefit from reading coverage schemes better, and he'll need to become a more consistent blocker before moving into an every-down role. At the outset, using him in select packages to utilize his offensive upside is the best move.

Heading to Michigan should put Asiasi in an ideal situation. He won't be counted on right away because of the presence of Jake Butt, but he should learn a lot from one of college football's top players at the position and then have a chance to significantly increase his role in his second year.

Butt racked up 51 catches for 654 yards and three touchdowns during the 2015 season. He's made major strides in his all-around game since joining the Wolverines and should be a top draft prospect after another year of seasoning in Ann Arbor.

Michigan's newest tight end will hope to follow a similar path.

Ultimately, Asiasi isn't a polished product quite yet. Once he gains experience and gets some more coaching, however, there's a good chance he'll become a nightmare to defend.

 

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Quartney Davis to Texas A&M: Aggies Land 4-Star WR Prospect

After reopening up his recruitment, Quartney Davis is right back where he started. Texas A&M announced that the 4-star wideout committed on Wednesday. 

Davis is a big addition to the Aggies passing attack ahead of the 2016 season. According to 247Sports' composite ranking, he's the No. 24 wide receiver and No. 128 overall in his recruiting class. The Houston native will join fellow 4-star wideout Clyde Chriss and 3-star WR Kendrick Rogers.

In June, Davis announced he had committed to the Aggies but walked back on that decision in December. Rather than any significant issues with Texas A&M, he cited a need to fully explore his options before making a choice:

Plenty of schools attempted to capitalize on Davis' indecision, with Fox Sports Southwest's Howard Chen reporting that Missouri, Oklahoma, Ole Miss and Houston were among those to offer him a scholarship. In the end, though, Davis still decided that the Aggies would be the best team for him.

Missing out on Davis would not only have hurt the Aggies roster for next year but would've arguably had a major symbolic impact on Texas A&M, given the school's upheaval on offense once the 2015 season ended.

Jake Spavital is no longer the offensive coordinator, which might be addition by subtraction in the eyes of some fans. Not quite so positive, the Aggies also lost Kyle Allen and Kyler Murray, the top two quarterbacks on their depth chart for 2016. Head coach Kevin Sumlin added graduate transfer Trevor Knight to be the short-term solution at QB, but it still hasn't been a great offseason for A&M.

Getting the commitment of Davis again will help continue the team's positive momentum after Knight's transfer.

The Aggies are a great fit for Davis. Not only do they have the kind of high-powered attack that will showcase his game, but the presence of fellow wideouts Ricky Seals-Jones, Josh Reynolds and Christian Kirk will allow him to learn and develop his game early in his college career.

Davis has great size (6'2.5", 181 lbs) for his position, and when you add that to his impressive speed, he'll be a dangerous target in the Texas A&M offense. Not only is Davis built to do the dirty work on inside routes, but he can beat opposing secondaries over the top on deeper routes down the field.

The great thing about Davis is that even if he fails to hit his massive ceiling, he should still be a difference-maker on the field, especially in the red zone, thanks to his vast skill set. He ticks just about every box on the checklist for an elite wide receiver: above-average speed, agility, route-running, large wingspan/catch radius and an ability to make the simple and difficult catches alike.

In a few years, Davis could emerge as the best talent to come out of Texas A&M's recruiting class. 

 

Recruit star rankings courtesy of 247Sports.

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College Football Preseason Top 25 Ranking Post-2016 National Signing Day

National signing day has come and (for the most part) gone. High school prospects from around the country have made perhaps the biggest decisions of their lives, and now it's time to move forward.

With that in mind, it's time to revisit our offseason Top 25 with the new roster additions. 

Consider this an updated version of our super early Top 25, not a roundup of the top 25 classes on signing day. All the same projection criteria apply as before—which players and coaches are returning/leaving?—but with the addition of new faces who could contribute right away.

With that, let's get to it. Here's your post-signing day preseason Top 25.

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Notre Dame National Signing Day 2016: 5 Takeaways from Irish's Class

SOUTH BEND, Ind. — On a day where Notre Dame football head coach Brian Kelly mentioned dabs, DMs and drama, the Irish officially welcomed in a solid crop of 23 signees in their 2106 class.

“Today is a celebration,” Kelly said. “But it shouldn’t be the highlight of their career moving forward.”

There still could be more to come for Notre Dame, who have a pair of targets undeclared. In the meantime, let’s assess the Irish's class and look ahead at those careers.

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E.J. Price to USC: Trojans Land 4-Star OT Prospect

Per Scott Schrader of 247Sports, 4-star offensive tackle E.J. Price announced he will attend USC.   

Hailing from Archer High School in Lawrenceville, Georgia, the 6'6", 311-pound Price is the 84th-best overall prospect in the 2016 class and ranks as the eighth-best offensive tackle, according to 247Sports. He is also the 10th-best prospect coming out of the state of Georgia. 

Price will be able to dominate the line of scrimmage in the running game with his size. The possibility of his body getting even bigger is a scary thought for opposing pass-rushers. 

With such a big body, reaction time will be important on the offensive line, as he needs to make sure he can stay in position close to the ground and use his strength as leverage.

Price does possess enough speed, which is surprising with such a frame, to keep up with his backs to provide vital blocks. 

Price isn't the only highly touted lineman headed to USC, as he joins fellow 4-star commits Frank Martin II and Nathan Smith in the Trojans' class. The Trojans offensive line is in need of some help, too. Last season, USC allowed 38 sacks in just 14 games. 

It didn't fare much better in the rushing game, ranking 70th in the country. 

Price's versatility and sheer size could help improve both of those numbers, especially because he will be on the inside, breaking open lanes for USC's running backs. 

 

Stats courtesy of NCAA.com.

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5-Stars Ben Davis, Mack Wilson Will Carry on Alabama's Great LB Tradition

Less than a month after his fourth national championship victory at Alabama, head coach Nick Saban continues to provide Crimson Tide fans with reasons to celebrate.

The program picked up a pair of commitments from two of America's most coveted defenders Wednesday when 5-star linebackers Ben Davis and Lyndell "Mack" Wilson announced intentions to attend college in Tuscaloosa:

Considered Alabama's top two in-state prospects, this duo provides plenty of promise for future defensive dominance.

Davis, rated No. 1 nationally among inside linebackers in composite rankings, is a 6'3", 240-pound Gordo High School standout. Wilson, who stands 6'2", 220 pounds, attends Carver High School and is considered the No. 2 outside linebacker in this 2016 recruiting cycle. 

Both players were nominated as finalists for the Butkus Award, which is annually handed out to the country's premier high school linebacker. They developed a bond early in the recruiting process, routinely hinting at the possibility of lining up alongside each other next season and beyond.

"Mack is my dude. ... He's been talking with me about playing together all the time, but we'll see how it goes," Davis told Bleacher Report during the 2015 season.

The duo took different routes to Tuscaloosa but arrive with similarly immense expectations.

Davis, the son of all-time Alabama tackles leader Wayne Davis, looks to carry a lofty family legacy. Despite strong speculation he was a Crimson Tide lock from the start, official visits at Auburn, Georgia, LSU and Notre Dame proved otherwise.

"My dad will support whatever decision I make 110 percent," Davis told Bleacher Report last year. "He hasn't really pushed me toward one school or another. He just wants to make sure I'm comfortable with the situation wherever I go."

Ultimately, he didn't need to look far for the right fit after exploring several alternative options.

Wilson previously mentioned Florida as a favorite, but Georgia emerged as Alabama's main competition by signing day. Former Crimson Tide defensive coordinator Kirby Smart charged hard in his new role as Bulldogs head coach, though it wasn't quite enough to pry Wilson away from his former mentor.

He and Davis undoubtedly maintained dialogue during the final phases of their respective lengthy decision-making processes. 

"We're like brothers. We really only met two years ago, but it's grown and gotten better. I trust him, and he's just like a close brother to me," Wilson told John Garcia Jr. of Scout.

New Alabama defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt previously served in the same position at Georgia, where he pursued both playmakers on behalf of Georgia. He adds to a stockpile of young, elite athletes who will be groomed to eventually replace outgoing Alabama defenders in the coming years and provide supplemental support as they develop.

Wilson totaled 115 tackles—18 for loss—and five sacks in 2015, per MaxPreps. Davis tallied 119 tackles and seven touchdown receptions as a senior, according to Joey Chandler of the Tuscaloosa News, claiming MVP honors at the Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Classic.

The list of Saban-era linebackers who reached collegiate stardom and eventual NFL opportunities includes Courtney Upshaw (Baltimore Ravens), Dont'a Hightower (New England Patriots) and potential 2016 first-round draft pick Reggie Ragland. Those predecessors help establish a certain tone of authority in Saban's defensive attack.

The position is a point of pride in Tuscaloosa that predates Saban's arrival. 

Lee Roy Jordan was a physical leader of the 1961 national championship team and went on to make five NFL Pro Bowls. Derrick Thomas dominated in the late 1980s and is among the most prolific pass-rushers in history, earning induction into both the professional and college football Hall of Fames. 

There's a lot to live up to for this exciting tandem of Crimson Tide newcomers. Given their reputation on the recruiting trail, Alabama fans will closely monitor their emergence moving forward.

 

Unless otherwise noted, quotes were obtained firsthand by Bleacher Report National Recruiting Analyst Tyler Donohue. All player ratings are courtesy of 247Sports' composite ratings. Follow Tyler via Twitter: @TDsTake.

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Aaron Hansford to Texas A&M: Aggies Land 4-Star LB Prospect

One of the 2016 class' premier outside linebackers has finally found a home, as Aaron Hansford committed to Texas A&M Wednesday.

Adam Friedman of Rivals.com reported Hansford's decision.

The 6'2", 210-pound native of Washington, D.C., is rated by 247Sports as a 4-star prospect, and he is the No. 12-ranked player in the country at his position.

Many of the top schools in the nation courted Hansford in an attempt to land his unique skill set, as evidenced by this listing of his top 10 choices, according to Bleacher Report's Tyler Donohue:

Remarkably, Texas A&M wasn't even on Hansford's radar in December, yet it ultimately managed to leapfrog at least 10 other schools.

With so many great programs pursuing him, Hansford decided to take his time before coming to a final decision.

Per ESPN.com's Gerry Hamilton, that was a conscious move on the part of the St. John's College High School standout based on his comments during the fall:

I don't really have a timetable. I want to make a decision as soon as I feel like I'm comfortable with the school and the environment. I don't know when that will fall. It could be after the season, around the Under Armour Game or close to signing day. I don't really know because I want to make the correct decision and not regret it later.

Now that Hansford has finalized his choice, the focus shifts toward what he will bring to the table during his freshman season and beyond.

While he is a smaller linebacker in terms of weight, his speed and athleticism set him apart from many of his peers and are perhaps the biggest reasons why he was so coveted. According to 247Sports, Hansford boasts a 40-yard dash of 4.51 seconds, which is comparable to many defensive backs.

As seen in this video from Under Armour All-America Game practices, courtesy of Rivals.com, his quickness makes him a major asset in pass coverage:

Hansford also figures to excel when it comes to tracking ball-carriers from sideline to sideline because of his speed, which is why it is easy to envision him being a star in the college game.

He may need to bulk up a bit in order to develop into a premier NFL prospect down the line, but he has a chance to be successful at the collegiate level based solely on his current physique and skill set.

Teams coached by Kevin Sumlin are primarily known for their offenses, but defense was actually the Aggies' biggest strength in 2015, as they ranked 29th in the nation in points allowed.

Sumlin is clearly looking to build upon that, and bringing in an athletically gifted linebacker like Hansford should keep the positive momentum rolling.

 

Follow @MikeChiari on Twitter.

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Terrell Hall to Alabama: Crimson Tide Land 4-Star DE Prospect

Class of 2016 4-star defensive end Terrell Hall, who withdrew his commitment to the Ohio State Buckeyes in August, announced on Wednesday that he will play college football at Alabama.

Brandon Parker of the Washington Post provided a video of the announcement: 

Hall is the sixth-ranked weak-side defensive end prospect in the country and the 64th-best recruit overall in the 2016 class, according to 247Sports.

The 6'5", 250-pound product of St. John's College High School in Washington, D.C., possesses the type of body and skills that can help him make an immediate impact for Alabama.

To go with his incredible measurements, Hall has the raw skills and instincts to be a productive college player. He has a knack for placing his hands in the proper place to fight off blockers and disengage, rarely leaving himself out of position.

Hall is always around the football thanks to his massive reach and innate ability, but he does have good technique for someone whose athletic skills allowed him to dominate high school competition. Hall's discipline versus the run and ability to diagnose plays and react quickly stand out.

Thanks to his quick first step and exceptional acceleration, offensive linemen have difficulty handling Hall as a pass-rusher as well.

The Crimson Tide could use help on their defensive front seven. They lost A'Shawn Robinson, Jarran Reed and Reggie Ragland from their national championship team to the 2016 NFL draft, yet coach Nick Saban has a deep stable of players to pull from thanks to his loaded recruiting classes.

There's at least some chance Hall could jump into the rotation at defensive end and have an impact as a situational player. Starting right away in the SEC, especially in Tuscaloosa, would be quite an achievement, but it's more likely Hall will yield to incumbent edge players this coming year. 

Hall could stand to add a few moves to his arsenal, but the 17-year-old already has great bend—and the coaching Hall will receive from Alabama should help him hone the finer points of his game.

Although he isn't quite as hyped as the 5-star recruits in his class, Hall's ceiling is high. If he continues on his current trajectory, he can be a multiyear starter for Alabama as a force on the edge.

If he realizes his potential, Hall may become a dominant player and emerge as one of the biggest stars from the 2016 class as a junior or senior.

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National Signing Day 2016: Recruit Commitments, Comments and Twitter Reaction

Wednesday marks the biggest day of the college football year. National signing day gives every program across the country hope for the future, a feeling that even one major commitment can be the missing piece to winning a national championship.   

Even though a lot of marquee players have already given their verbal commitment prior to national signing day, there was still a wealth of talent able to completely change the dynamic of college football. 

The biggest fish waiting to be reeled in was star defensive tackle Rashan Gary. A New Jersey native, Gary is a 5-star prospect and the top-ranked player overall in 247Sports' composite rankings. He's listed at 6'5" and 293 pounds with a 4.7-second 40-yard dash under his belt. 

Gary had been linked heavily to Michigan leading up to national signing day and gave the Wolverines his commitment on ESPN with his family in tow:

The wins keep coming for Michigan under head coach Jim Harbaugh. He already built a terrific recruiting class before Wednesday, ranked fifth overall by 247Sports, but securing a dynamic game-changer on defense transforms everything. 

If you don't know what Gary is capable of doing, ESPN's Derek Tyson provided a visual reminder from The Opening:

Gary was doing that against offensive tackle Gregory Little, whom 247Sports ranked as the No. 3 overall prospect in this year's class. 

Landing Gary also saved Harbaugh the agony of losing a high-profile recruit at his Michigan recruiting party. Jim Weber, formerly of Lost Lettermen, provided what the scene may have looked like at that party with one famous Michigan alum:

While the Wolverines certainly look a lot better in recruiting rankings now, their rival Ohio State is among the top classes this year. According to 247Sports' rankings, the Buckeyes own the nation's third-ranked class with 25 total commitments, including 16 rated at least 4-star prospects. 

The crown jewel of Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer's class this year is defensive end Nick Bosa, brother of Joey Bosa. The younger Bosa is the eighth-ranked player overall and plays on the right side of the line. 

Even though Joey is taking his skills to the NFL, possibly as the No. 1 pick in April's draft, Meyer made it clear there won't be any lapse in having Nick on Ohio State's defensive line, per Bill Landis of Cleveland.com:

While not surprising, it's not an insignificant statement for Meyer to make because Bosa suffered a partially torn ACL in November. 

Bosa's father told Ari Wasserman of Cleveland.com it will "be close" if his son is going to be ready when Ohio State opens fall camp in August: "He's doing fantastic. Part of it is having the best surgeon in the world, part of it is great genes and part of it is his sick work ethic."

One interesting recruiting point for Meyer, per Kenny Roda of WHBC 1480 in Canton, Ohio, is how well Ohio State's head coach does in his current home state and former home state:

There are many reasons Meyer is successful as a head coach, not least of which is his ability to take care of his own backyard. 

While Ohio State can bask in the glow of being No. 3 right now, two programs that came into Wednesday in low-key fashion have made a lot of noise as the hours have progressed, per ESPN College Football:

Low key is certainly a relative term for Alabama. It's become habit for the Crimson Tide to boast one of the nation's two- or three-best recruiting classes every year. 

The big jump for Alabama was scoring inside linebacker Ben Davis, who immediately endeared himself to fans in Tuscaloosa with his choice of head gear on ESPN:

According to ESPN Stats & Info, Davis' commitment also continued Alabama's trend of securing top-ranked players at various positions:

Davis also gives Alabama head coach Nick Saban some insurance at inside linebacker with 2015 SEC Defensive Player of the Year Reggie Ragland graduating. 

Moving to the other team, Texas and head coach Charlie Strong desperately needed something good to happen following back-to-back seven-loss seasons. 

Bruce Feldman of FoxSports.com believes the Longhorns' surge is the biggest story on national signing day:

The Longhorns made a big move especially when you consider that three weeks ago all the major online recruiting services had UT ranked in the 30s. As Stew Mandel and I discussed on The Audible back then, those rankings shouldn’t have come as a shock given that Texas had just come off a dismal 5-7 season where the Longhorns didn’t even make a bowl game; that there was a staff shake-up involving another offensive scheme change; and that head coach Charlie Strong’s job status had been a hot topic there all fall.

The Longhorns' bump came thanks to securing a lot of help on defense, including safety Brandon Jones (No. 40 overall), outside linebackers Jeffrey McCulloch (No. 59 overall) and Erick Flowers (No. 75 overall) and defensive tackle Chris Daniels (No. 183 overall). 

One thing those players have in common is they are all from Texas. Strong coaches in a football hotbed and should have no problem adding impact players in his home state, as he proved capable of doing this year. 

More encouraging for fans in Austin, Strong sent a text message to Bonnie Bernstein of Campus Insiders about his plans after a big national signing day:

Strong got a bum rap for Texas' problems the last two years, but he was put in a no-win situation. He was still working primarily with players brought in to run Mack Brown's system, so now the 55-year-old has been able to build his roster. 

History also looks favorably on Strong entering 2016. He went 7-6 in each of his first two seasons at Louisville before going a combined 23-3 the next two years, which led to him getting the job at Texas. 

Another national powerhouse somehow managing to have a quietly successful national signing day is Clemson. The Tigers should be cashing in after playing for a national title last month, but the way head coach Dabo Swinney and his staff are going about it is unusual. 

While other top classes are built on high-ceiling talent and depth, Clemson is virtually all the former. The reigning ACC champions are tied with Georgia for the second-fewest commitments (19) among top-10 classes, but 14 players are rated as 4- of 5-star prospects. 

Bumping Clemson into the elite group was a commitment from star cornerback Trayvon Mullen. The tall cornerback also gave Swinney another boost in the state of Florida, where he has been fantastic lately, per ESPN Stats & Info:

Making Mullen's commitment even sweeter for the Tigers is they beat out ACC rivals Florida State and Louisville for his services.

The Seminoles won't be shedding a tear over losing Mullen because they still have 247Sports' No. 1 class in the country, but the sting of seeing Clemson get better at their expense does put a damper on the party in Tallahassee. 

College football's future takes shape on national signing day. All of the traditional powers expected to dominate in recruiting have held their own, but the field looks deeper now than it has in a long time.

Texas is on its way back, Michigan is having a fantastic run with Harbaugh, and Clemson is dazzling with its ability to land impact players. The landscape in college football is changing with great options for elite players to choose from, so success no longer means having the best class. 

It's all about finding the best players who fit in with a system. That's reflected in Wednesday's signing day results. 

 

Recruiting and commitment info per 247Sports unless otherwise noted.

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Jordan Elliott to Texas: Longhorns Land 4-Star DT Prospect

Less than a week before national signing day, Jordan Elliott decommitted from Michigan. The 4-star defensive tackle made his backup plan clear Wednesday, announcing he will attend Texas.

"I just want to make my family proud," Elliott said about his commitment, per Brian Davis of the Austin American-Statesman.

The Westside (Houston) star had been trending toward Texas for some time. 247Sports' Crystal Ball metrics made the Longhorns a favorite throughout the process, eventually spiking once Elliott announced he was joining defensive end Rashad Weaver and defensive back Antwaine Richardson among the late Michigan decommits.

Elliott had been indecisive throughout his recruiting process. He had verbals to Houston and Baylor in 2015 before being swayed by Wolverines coach Jim Harbaugh. A visit to Texas on Jan. 22 was the final straw with Elliott and Michigan, though, and the Longhorns looked like an easy choice heading into signing day.

"For now, it's no secret that Texas is a favorite to land Elliott," Bleacher Report's Damon Sayles wrote last week. "And while it's no guarantee the Longhorns will land him, you can bet that head coach Charlie Strong, defensive line coach Brick Haley and the rest of the coaching staff are going all-in to get the 6'3 ½", 306-pound tackle to sign."

Signing Elliott is the latest boon as part of a late recruiting push from Strong and Co. Texas has made a concerted push toward the top of the rankings over the last few days, landing running back Kyle Porter on Tuesday and having a number of balls in the air before Wednesday.

"As far as recruiting, this is the University of Texas," Strong said during the season, per Davis of the American-Statesman. "The players are going to want to come here. So they can hear all the noise, but the ones that really want to come, they’re going to come anyway. I don’t let it bother me."

Ready-made from a physical perspective, Elliott is ranked No. 115 overall and 14th among defensive tackles in 247Sports' rankings. He was an Army All-American Bowl selection but did not have the breakout senior season most expected. After putting up 78 tackles and 12 sacks during his junior season, he accumulated only 30 tackles and four sacks as a senior.

Texas should expect Elliott to step in and be a difference-maker early, whether it's in his first or second season. He has enough physical tools that the transition to major college football shouldn't be a problem, and it appears after a lot of indecision he's finally found a home. 

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