Now that the holiday known as “National Signing Day” is over, and we now turn our attention to the Super Bowl for the last real taste of football until SEC Media Days in July, let’s take a look back at signing day and see who the winners and losers were and where the biggest surprises came.
The Alabama Crimson Tide came away with another top ranked signing class according to the 247Sports composite rankings. They also finished first according to Rivals and ESPN. While they finished first across the board, it didn’t come without some controversy.
It all started at 9 am when Jarez Parks was set to announce his commitment, with Alabama being one of the leading teams, and then decided to walk off the stage and postpone his announcement after getting very emotional. Rumors started circulating that there wasn’t a spot for Parks with the impending announcement for LaBryan Ray coming up, who was also a defensive line target, and other people choosing Alabama which led to the class filling up. After all of that, Parks still decided to commit to the Crimson Tide, even though there wasn’t a spot for him right now, and instead, he will grayshirt and defer his enrollment until January 2018. That’s Nick Saban getting a top 100 overall recruit, and a 4-star guy, to not sign now and wait until later.
The biggest gets for Alabama on the day were 5-star DE LaBryan Ray from James Clemens and Henry Ruggs III from Lee-Montgomery. Both were expected to sign with the Tide, but there was some late pressure from schools in Florida for both of them.
The biggest misses for Alabama were 5-star DT Aubrey Solomon from Lee County (GA) and 4-star WR Nico Collins from Clay-Chalkville who both chose Michigan over Alabama. Collins chose to play for Harbaugh, even though he picked up 4-star WR Oliver Martin out of Iowa City. Collins joins J’Marick Woods from Florence as another top 20 player from this year’s class to play for the Wolverines.
Auburn finished 9th in the rankings with a class of 23 signees. They were able to land some of their big recruits as well with 5-star OT Calvin Ashley definitively signing with Auburn first thing on Wednesday morning. They also landed 4-star DE Markaviest “Big Cat” Bryant from Crisp County (GA). Georgia was fighting for Bryant down to the finish, but his choice of Auburn will help fill the much needed spots on the defensive line for Auburn moving forward. He will now be part of a class that can make the defensive line one of the most powerful in the SEC in the next couple of years, along with 4-star LB Tadarian Moultry being able to play down on the line along with 3-star defensive tackles Alec Jackson from Jeff Davis and Tyrone Truesdell from Laney (GA).
Another big get for Auburn yesterday was 3-star ATH JaTarvious Whitlow from LaFayette. On the surface, that may not seem like that big of a pick-up, but Whitlow was one of the most dynamic players this past season, winning 2A Back of the Year as a do-it-all QB. He will move positions at Auburn and play receiver and also be a returner. His decision came down to whether he wanted to try QB at a smaller school or switch positions with a bigger school, and he went with the bigger school option.
The biggest miss for Auburn actually happened Monday night as 4-star DE Ryan Johnson chose Stanford over Auburn. He was someone that a lot of people had predicted to go to Auburn, but Stanford made a good push for him, and he decided to travel out west to go play for the Cardinal. That is part of why getting Bryant was so big for Auburn yesterday.
When it comes to the in-state guys, only three of the top 15 went to a school other than Alabama or Auburn. Nico Collins (Clay-Chalkville) went to Michigan, Ryan Johnson (St. Paul’s) went to Stanford and Will Ignont (Buckhorn) went to Tennessee. The top 15 were the only 4- and 5-stars in the state.
Behind them, players went all over the place. The next 15 players (#16-30) saw players go to: Georgia, LSU, Michigan, Florida, Arkansas, Louisville, Ole Miss, Minnesota, South Alabama, and Central Florida. But perhaps the biggest one in that list was 3-star OLB Thomas Johnston who ended up at UAB. The Blazers landed Johnston as he chose to play with his brother over going to Auburn (who wanted to move him to FB), Arkansas, and Iowa. Johnston led a huge in-state class for UAB along with 3-star WR Eugene Minter (Parker), 2-star OT Patrick Nuss (Vestavia), 2-star WR Logan Arnold (Hazel Green), 2-star RB Grayson Cash (Hewitt-Trussville), 2-star RB Spencer Brown (Mortimer Jordan) and others.
Troy had a great day as well, grabbing some of the most underrated players in the state. Players like 2-star RB Terence Dunlap who was 2x 1A Back of the Year and 3x Super 7 MVP. They also picked up 2-star OLB Justin Whisenhunt who was a huge part of the stout Ramsay defense that won the 6A state championship this season, holding offensive powers like Minor and Clay-Chalkville to under 30 points each. Another big pickup was 2-star RB DeKarlos Billingsley, who was a huge part of Scottsboro’s undefeated regular season and region title this year.
One player who originally chose Troy during his signing day ceremony was 3-star APB Jaylond Adams from Minor. Adams went through the ceremony, put on the Troy hat, and gave interviews on why he chose Troy. Then, in the most bizarre local story, Southern Miss tweeted this out last night.
— Southern Miss (@USMGoldenEagles) February 2, 2017
So although he chose Troy in public, he actually flipped and signed with Southern Miss.
If you want to see our comprehensive list of where everyone signed, you can view that on our signing day page here.
Now we just need the football season to get here so we can see all of these in-state players in action at the next level and start speculating for the class of 2018!