The 247Sports team recruiting rankings will determine the 2013 cycle’s winners as it relates to the entire effort of assembling a class, but there are always a handful of programs that “win” on actual signing day. These are the teams that create a buzz and land top targets when it comes right down to the wire.
The nation's top overall prospect signing with Ole Miss was part of the Rebels "winning" on national signing day.
Here they are, ranked in order, starting with the biggest winner.
1- Ole Miss
The slogan around the Ole Miss football program of late is “Win the Day”. Well, the Rebels did just that. It was suspected and projected, but Ole Miss landed two of the nation’s top three prospects in defensive end Robert Nkemdiche and offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil. They picked up four-star offensive tackle Austin Golson and a high-value three-star tight end in Arshad Jackson, along with in-state five-star safety prospect Tony Conner. It was a tremendous finish and the most discussed recruiting storyline this cycle. Freeze said the class was a potential program-changer and if most of these prospects develop as they potentially can, it definitely will be. Winning.
2- Ohio State
There is little doubt that Urban Meyer and his staff can close on top prospects and the story this signing day was more about where they won them just as much as about who they signed. The Buckeyes went to New Smyrna Beach, Fla., and landed Top247 receiver James Clark, a speedy playmaker with a 10.6-second time in the 100-meter dash, beating in-state Florida for his services. Later in the morning, five-star safety Vonn Bell, located less than 10 miles from Chattanooga, Tenn., in Rossville, Ga., signed with Ohio State over the Vols, his childhood favorite. While Bell technically is a Peach State prospect, because of his proximity to the state of Tennessee, it was just like beating the Vols on an in-state player. Much has been made about Meyer, who coached at Florida for six seasons and won two national titles, being able to recruit the southeast well for Ohio State. Well, to recruit the southeast well, you have to win recruiting battles against Southeastern Conference programs on their home turf, and the Buckeyes did just that, twice. Winning.
Five-star defensive end Elijah Daniel was one of the first prospects to fax his letter-of-intent to Auburn on signing day morning. The Alabama native flipped from Ole Miss.
New Tigers head coach Gus Malzahn cleaned house when he took over as the head coach in December and hired nine new assistant coaches, giving the new Auburn staff approximately a month to salvage what appeared to be a lost recruiting cycle. Malzahn and company did more than salvage it, they improved it, finishing on the cusp of the top 10 nationally. Auburn was able to land three five-star defensive line prospects in ends Carl Lawson (firmed up Sunday) and Elijah Daniel (signing day morning, flipped from Ole Miss) and Montravius Adams. The Tigers also addressed a need at running back, landing Top247 in-state talent Johnathan Ford. Veteran SEC assistants Rodney Garner and Ellis Johnson did an outstanding job navigating the waters in a tight timeframe and there aren’t many better recruiters nationally than Dameyune Craig, the former Auburn quarterback who was hired away from Florida State. Winning.
A couple of weeks before signing day, many recruiting analysts and Crimson Tide fans were wondering if Alabama would have a big close, even though it seemed all but a lock that the Tide would finish with the No. 1 class in the country for the third consecutive recruiting cycle. Alabama landed five-star offensive tackle/defensive lineman A’Shawn Robinson, four-star running back Alvin Kamara and four star defensive lineman Dee Liner- all on signing day- and also signed five-star linebacker Reuben Foster, who committed to Alabama on the Monday before. It is becoming habit for the Crimson Tide to annually sign the nation’s best prospects, so it wasn’t as big of a storyline as it normally is with the surprising success of fellow SEC West programs Ole Miss and Auburn, but it was quite a finish. Winning.
Jalen Ramsey flipped to Florida State from a longstanding commitment to USC the day before signing day, then announced he was Tallahassee-bound on signing day.
5- Florida State
Florida State lost six assistant coaches (the guys that do most of the actual recruiting) and in certain parts of January, it didn’t look like the Seminoles would have a very lofty final class ranking. Well, the way they closed on signing day 2013 ensured them of that and conjured up memories of the way former coach Bobby Bowden and his staff used to close out recruiting. The Noles lost ace south Florida recruiters James Coley and Eddie Gran, yet still landed five-star linebacker Matthew Thomas and four-star defensive tackle Keith Bryant from the region. This was on top of flipping elite cornerback Jalen Ramsey from USC (the story broke the night before signing day, but he made it official on signing day) and adding a solid sleeper offensive line prospect in Wilson Bell. Bryant credited his relationship with Seminoles head coach Jimbo Fisher when discussing why he decided to sign with FSU and we think that Fisher played a big part in holding the ship steady during a period of transition with this staff. Winning.
6- Notre Dame
Final national rank- No. 3
The Fighting Irish landed one player on signing day, but it was enough to make the entire day special. Five-star defensive tackle Eddie Vanderdoes, in the final major announcement of the day, signed with Notre Dame, capping a sterling recruiting effort for Brian Kelly and staff this cycle. The 6-foot-2, 310-pound Vanderdoes picked the Irish over UCLA, a late charge from Alabama and USC, the program where he was formerly committed. Some analysts believe that even at No. 6 overall in the country, Vanderdoes could be rated too low given his special quickness and athleticism for his size. The Irish reached the BCS Championship Game this past season because of serious upgrades in recruiting along the defensive front the last few cycles. This is yet another one and it would not be a surprise to see Vanderdoes play an important role on the Notre Dame defense as early as this coming season. Winning.
Top247 quarterback Asiantii Woulard was one of three huge late gets for UCLA, which finished with the top class in the Pac-12 this cycle.
While the Bruins missed out on Vanderdoes, it was still a big signing day in Westwood as Jim Mora Jr. and company landed the top class in the Pac-12. Starting with the commitment of four-star defensive end Kyle Fitts on Tuesday night through landing Top247 linebacker Isaac Savaiinaea and Top247 quarterback Asiantii Woulard and then holding off the suitors for other commitments that were targeted, it was a big finish for the Bruins. They are still waiting on four-star safety/cornerback Priest Willis to sign, but are expected to hold on to the Arizona talent. Winning.
We didn’t really think that Dabo Swinney and the Tigers would get shut out of their top targets that were in play on signing day and they most certainly did not. Clemson landed five-star cornerback Mackensie Alexander, one of the most unpredictable prospects in the country (and secretly a Tigers lean for most of the process), beat Oklahoma on former Florida State cornerback commit Adrian Baker, flipped safety Korrin Wiggins from North Carolina and as expected landed one of the nation’s top interior offensive linemen in four-star Tyrone Crowder. Clemson got four impact recruits on signing day- all at positions of need. Winning.
Massive Miami offensive lineman Denver Kirkland was a surprise get for Arkansas on signing day. The 6-foot-4, 330-pounder was one of several huge signings for the Razorbacks from south Florida.
It wasn’t until Thursday when the nation’s top running back prospect Alex Collins faxed in his letter-of-intent to the Razorbacks that the finish was complete, but first-year head coach Bret Bielema and staff indeed won on signing day. Collins committed Monday night, but some drama involving his mother swiping his letter-of-intent and refusing to sign it delayed him by 24 hours or so. In the meantime, Arkansas landed four-star quarterback/athlete Damon Mitchell from New Jersey and four-star offensive lineman Denver Kirkland from Miami. While this staff was at Wisconsin, they recruited the Garden State and south Florida quite well and it appears they are going to continue that trend in Fayetteville. Winning.
This isn't the highest-rated class out there, but the Terps finished the recruiting cycle with a bang, landing four-star linebacker Yannick Ngakoue, flipping speed athlete Taivon Jacobs from Ohio State and then keeping in-state sleeper Jacquille Veii from bolting to Nebraska. It’s important for Maryland, heading into the Big Ten in a couple of seasons, to corral the top talent in-state and landing those three gave the Terps 15 in-state or D.C. signees of the 23. Winning.
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