National Signing Day
Where did the biggest names land on NSD 2011?
By: Braden Gall | 2/2/11, 11:25 AM EST
-by Braden Gall
National Signing Day elicits one of two responses from sports fans. One is a ravenous, insatiable desire to tie day-to-day happiness to the decisions of teenage boys. The other is an aloof, antiquated view of the reality of college football.
Neither is better nor worse than the other. Ether way, National Signing Day is a polarizing afternoon of pseudo-sport.
The truth likely lies somewhere in-between. To those who send death threats to 17-year-old kids who have decided not to sign with YOUR team and instead with an in-state rival, the word “relax” comes to mind ((strangely, said recruit actually went running back to the first team). And to those who sit in their ivory sports tower and look down their noses at recruiting rankings and the importance of NSD, I say, join the 21st century.
Recruiting is the lifeblood of college football. It always has been. There just weren’t message boards back when Woody Hayes had a 200-man roster. There weren’t star ratings when Bear Bryant pulled Sam Cunningham into his locker room after Alabama got rocked at home by USC in 1970. Yet, having good players was no less important to Bryant or Switzer or Osborne or Schembechler or Majors.
There wouldn’t be seven different full-time recruiting services even available to compile the Athlon Consensus 100 if recruiting didn’t matter. The key, like most things in life, is moderation (something the media has a tough time with, occasionally). Can we not simply sit back and enjoy the pouring of college football’s foundation? Does NSD have to be filled with either animosity or condescension?
The aged, fuddy-duddy fans of college football need to learn that recruiting matters and that the rankings, by in large, are about as good as we can do at attempting to project teenagers' “earning potential” at 16 years of age.
The other, crazier, end of the spectrum also needs to realize that there is still hundreds of hours of weight lifting, practice drills, film study and actual coaching that has to take place before a short list of signatures turns into wins and losses.
And The Winner Is...
Auburn. No, Cyrus Koundjio has yet to officially send in his LOI. Alabama. No, it could still whiff - or connect - on both of the top two recruits in the nation. I know, Florida State! Well, not if Jadeveon Clowney and Koundjio both go to the same school in the Yellowhammer State. USC? Texas? Georgia? Ohio State?
With the top two players in the nation still unsigned, one of the closest races in recruiting history has yet to come full circle. Six, maybe even seven, teams have a legitimate claim to the 2011 recruiting National Championship. But with Auburn, Alabama and Florida State's classes so evenly matched, how can anyone award a recruiting crown without knowing where the top two players in the nation are playing football?
If both Clowney and Koundjio end up signing with the Crimson Tide, they will deserve the crown with a nation-best nine AC100 signees. If neither ends up in the state of Alabama, then Florida State's impressive haul will likely be the best collection of talent. If one goes to South Carolina (or Clemson) and one stays with Auburn, then the Tigers might have the best group.
What does all of this conjecture mean? That after years of effort and millions of dollars spent recruiting - and 10 hours of mothership coverage later - National Signing Day 2011 will end without a clear recruiting champion.
ESPN has Florida State atop its rankings, Rivals has Alabama and Scout is giving it to Auburn. But until Clowney and Koundjio finally make-up their minds, us recruiting fans are in a holding pattern.
Where did the AC100 land?
AC100 No. 1: Jadeveon Clowney, DE (Rock Hill, S.C.)
The recruitment of what many are calling the best defensive line prospect in decades has reached a fever pitch. He has had to turn away phone calls from Steve Spurrier and Nick Saban recently. The nation's No. 1 player will not sign his letter of intent on NSD and will instead announce on his birthday, Feb. 14. South Carolina and Alabama are the clear favorites with the in-state Gamecocks the pick by most experts. Clemson won a late visit date and has crept into the mix, but most believe the Tigers are a long shot. Was watching Marcus Lattimore dominate SEC defenses as a freshman enough to convince Clowney to stay home?
No. 2. Cyrus Kouandjio, OL (Hyattsville, Md.)
The older brother of 2010 Alabama offensive line signee Arie, Cyrus pulled a small upset and selected Auburn. The Tigers' offensive line class is bordering on absurd. It is easily the best in the nation this season but could be one of the best in history if all things play out as predicted. Auburn landed four of the top 15 (No. 1, No. 3, No. 14, No. 15) offensive line prospects in the nation. Of those four AC100 recruits, the Tigers could have the nation's No. 1 tackle and center (Reese Dismukes, AC100 No. 95) It certainly will make for an interesting sibling rivarly when the Iron Bowl takes place the next three years.
All of this is, of course, assuming that Kouandjio actually signs his letter of intent - which he has yet to do. There is no timeline set for the big blocker to sign his LOI, and he is technically still committed to Auburn. How very Seantrel Henderson of him.
No. 5: DeAnthony Thomas, ATH (Los Angeles, Calif.)
A longtime USC Trojan commitment, Thomas took a clandestine visit to Oregon last weekend. The O.G. Black Mamba then pulled one of the bigger Signing Day suprises with a late-night verbal to the Ducks. This is a recruiting coup for Chip Kelly, who continues to dip into talent rich areas and beat out the heavy favorite. Whether he simply wanted to leave Los Angeles or felt the scheme was a better fit, Thomas showed everyone How to Duckie.
No. 9: Isaiah Crowell, RB (Columbus, Ga.)
Crowell unzipped his jacket and revealed a black and red tie to match his black and red Georgia hat - and his actual Bulldog puppy (loads of creativity points for Mr. Crowell by the way). The nation's most explosive running back could be an instant impact player for an offense that appears to be trending upwards with Aaron Murray and company returning. Crowell picked Georgia over Auburn and Alabama.
No. 13: Tim Jernigan, DT (Lake City, Fla.)
The nation's No. 2 defenvise tackle, also known as "Timmy Magic," has decided to stay close to home to be near his family and his home by signing with the Florida State Seminoles. LSU was his second choice. Jernigan's signing with the Noles might have sealed the 2011 recruiting national championship for Jimbo Fisher.
No. 15: Tony Steward, LB (St. Augustine, Fla.)
The best player to come out of tiny Menendez High School maybe ever, picked the Clemson Tigers over UCLA and Florida State. This was a huge recruiting coup for a 6-7 team. Steward could start right away.
No. 16: Stephone Anthony, LB (Wadesboro, N.C.)
Clemson's signing day surge continued with Anthony's announcement for the Tigers over North Carolina and Virginia Tech. Every year Clemson closes well by pulling some talented upsets - the linebackers are especially impressive in this class. Yet, how come all of this talent never materializes into ACC championships? I smell a magazine feature story for our 2011 publication!
No. 18: Curtis Grant, LB (Richmond, Va.)
The Ohio State Buckeyes made its big splash on Signing Day by landing this outstanding linebacker. He claims the way Jim Tressel and company recruited him was the deciding factor. He picked the Shoe over Florida, North Carolina and Virginia. Grant, the nation's No. 3 linebacker, is the highest rated player in this Buckeye haul.
No. 53: Brent Calloway, LB (Russellville, Ala.)
The Calloway Saga took another turn on National Signing Day when the two-way star pulled the double-flip-flop and signed with Alabama. He had been committed to the Tide for the better part of a year before switching his commitment not even a month before NSD to in-state rival Auburn. After death threats, inadvertent comments from a concerned father and facebook harassing, Calloway clearly felt the pressure to return to the Capstone.
No. 62: Erique Florence, DB (Valley, Ala.)
Alabama and USC got bad news to start National Signing Day, when one of the top safeties it the nation signed his letter of intent with the Auburn Tigers. Florence says his connection with the national champs was "love at first sight."
No. 63: Marqise Lee, ATH (Gardena, Calif.)
Lane Kiffin has been totally unphased by NCAA sanctions and scholarship limitations. Lee picked the Men of Troy over Oregon and Miami on NSD. The more things change in SoCal, the more they stay the same. Kiffin and USC had another monster day on recruiting's most important day.
No. 66: Nickalos Brassell, WR (Batesville, Miss.)
The former Mississippi State verbal commitment decided between Alabama and Ole Miss on NSD. The Rebels landed the gem of their 2011 haul when Brassell announced he would be headed to Oxford, Miss. He is the highest rated recruit in this class.
No. 67: Antonio Richardson, OL (Nashville, Tenn.)
As predicted, Richardson announced early on Signing Day that he would attend the University of Tennessee. Despite missing on a few big names late in the process, the Vols have made an excellent late push and will finish with a solid 2011 haul. The Vols are one of the hottest names on the recruiting trail already for the 2012 class. This program is trending upwards in the recruiting world.
No. 81: Jermauria Rasco, DE (Shreveport, La.)
The LSU Tigers big win on the day was landing Rasco. Les Miles capitalized on arguably the deepest and richest talent pool the Pelican State has ever produced. Donning the purple and gold hat, Rasco opened his coat revealing a white No. 7 LSU uniform. He picked the Bayou Bengals over Florida, Florida State and Texas.
No. 82: Gabe Wright, DT (Columbus, Ga.)
The No. 5 defensive tackle in the nation said at his press conference that he could have "flipped a coin" between Tennessee and Auburn. Wright went with the close-to-home national champions, putting on an Auburn Tiger hat with "Nick Who?" stitched on the back - referring to 2010 SEC Defensive Player of the Year Nick Fairley. Another big get for Gene Chizik.
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