College Football 'Early Signing Day' Roundup
College Football filled the lull between the end of the regular season and the Bowl games with a frantic 3 days referred to as the ‘Early Signing Period’. It sees colleges secure recruits’ signatures for the upcoming season, and is a chance for fans to get to grips with some of the exciting freshman prospects their teams landed. Our Rory-Joe Daniels takes a quick look at the main headlines from this week’s activities.
The rich get richer
Tua Tagovailoa’s future is still uncertain and Trevor Lawrence has at least one year to do in Clemson. Even so, last year’s College Football Playoff finalists have their succession plans in place. Both Alabama and Clemson found their quarterbacks of the future in California.
Alabama commit Bryce Young led Mater Dei high school to a National Championship in his junior season. The five star recruit is a dual threat quarterback who threw for over 4,528 yards and a stunning 58 touchdowns this year. A playmaker with his feet, Young also accounted for 357 yards and 10 touchdowns on the ground. Should Tagovailoa depart for the NFL, it’s likely Mac Jones or Tua’s brother Taulia takes over. With Young providing stiff competition in 2021.
Not to be outdone Dabo Swinney ensured Clemson got their potential post-Lawrence QB in D.J. Uiagalelei out of St John Bosco. At 6’5, 243lbs Uiagalelei is a prototypical signal caller with a live arm. He has enough physical ability to escape the pocket when needed, but it is his deep ball that impresses on the highlight reels. ACC opponents will be glad to see the back of Trevor Lawrence but the Tigers will hope to not miss a beat with their new freshman QB waiting in the wings.
Talent in the trenches for Clemson
The Clemson defense went under somewhat of an overhaul this season. Having lost the likes of Christian Wilkins, Dexter Lawrence and Clelin Ferrell to the NFL the strength of the unit became the backend. The Tigers strong secondary and physical presence provided by linebacker Isaiah Simmons helped them secure a playoff spot with ease. However, they further bolstered their defensive front this time round. Building on previous classes that provided Xavier Thomas and Tyler Davis.
They landed two of ESPN’s top five recruits. Myles Murphy arrives as an explosive defensive end while defensive tackle Bryan Breese is talented enough to have an immediate impact. The Tigers will feel unfortunate to have not made it an impressive treble with in-state prospect Jordan Burch. Burch, made a surprise commitment to South Carolina. Despite that, Clemson look like they should have a powerful rotation in the defensive trenches going forward.
Big 10 gets offensive stars
Ohio State sit in the top 3 when it comes to the 2020 recruiting class. A big part of that is the two 5-star prospects they landed on the offensive side of the ball. Julian Fleming is a 6’2, 199 lbs receiver out of Pennsylvania. With 4.45 forty-yard speed and an already solid frame, the athletic playmaker could be a star when combined with Buckeyes QB Justin Fields.
Fields will also be glad that the Buckeyes have managed to add extra protection in the form of offensive tackle Paris Johnson. Johnson has ranked as the number 1 tackle for some outlets and is already 6’7. Should Thayer Munford choose to head to the draft this year, it will leave both tackle spots open on the Ohio State roster. Johnson may just be talented enough to see some first year playing time.
Elsewhere in the division, it was somewhat of a shock to see ESPN’s number 2 receiver Rakim Jarrett flip from LSU to the Maryland Terrapins. Credit has to go to Michael Locksley and staff for keeping the Washington D.C. star close to home. He is a much needed boost for a programme that had an underwhelming season. Keep your eyes peeled next year for Jarrett, who is likely to get straight into the starting lineup.
Overall Team Standings
As mentioned, it was Dabo Swinney and Clemson who took most of the plaudits at the end of the early signing period. Their six 5-star recruits led the nation and leaves them primed to continue their successful run. The SEC also remain dominant on the recruiting scene. Accounting for six out of the top 8 classes so far in this cycle. Particularly impressive was Jimbo Fisher and Texas A & M. Well known for his recruiting prowess the Aggies will be hoping to see Fisher formulate a squad that can compete in college football’s toughest division.
On the other end of the scale is the USC Trojans. Clay Helton appears to be in constant limbo and his rumoured sacking/not sacking won’t have helped. USC currently sit in 79th on 247 sports team rankings. Sandwiched neatly between Bowling Green and Louisiana they have only attracted a single 4-star player and 0 5-star recruits in their 11 signings.
It’s important to remember that this is only the early signing period and National Signing Day is officially Wednesday February 5th next year. Even so, most of the top prospects have signed their paperwork and teams face an uphill battle to turn around their recruiting classes for this year.
formerly writing for the inside zone, rory will be breaking down college tape and keeping you up-to-date with all things CFB for the touchdown. an avid bengals fan, you can also find some of rory’s work at stripehype.com