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Eight Thoughts for the Eight Top-300 Recruits That Signed Yesterday

By Ashton Pollard | February 04
Eight Thoughts for the Eight Top-300 Recruits That Signed Yesterday
Five-star defensive back Terrion Arnold committed to Alabama on Wednesday, rounding out the best recruiting class in history (Zach Blostein / 247Sports)

National Signing Day used to be like Christmas morning for college football fans. Early Signing Day has taken a lot of the limelight, but it's still fun to see where the remaining prospects go and if your team can keep that 3-star with NFL potential from signing with your in-state rival.

On Wednesday morning, there were 10 unsigned top-300 recruits according to 247Sports. Eight of them found homes by the end of the day. Here is one thought for every signature on the dotted line.

Lane Kiffin wants you to know he is not just an offensive guru

The fact that Kiffin has been able to convince highly touted offensive prospects to #ComeToTheSip is not surprising given his offensive success. He’s widely known as one of the bright offensive minds in the sport, and his team’s 39.2 points per game last year showed whatever he is doing is working. Where Kiffin has been shockingly impressive this cycle is on the other side of the ball. On Wednesday, the Rebels added four-star Tywone Malone. He was the top prospect in New Jersey, No. 6 defensive tackle and No. 59 overall player in the 2021 class. Malone, who is 6-foot-4 and 300 pounds, plans to join the baseball team at Ole Miss as well, joining quarterback John Rhys Plumlee and running back Jerrion Ealy on the diamond. Ole Miss ended the recruiting cycle with the 18th best class and will likely make some noise in the SEC West this year.

Michigan is acquiring “larger humans”

Michigan is finally making news for something positive after two notable flips on Wednesday. Rayshaun Benny signed with the Wolverines after originally committing to Michigan State in November. The defensive tackle out of Oak Park, Mich. is listed as No. 16 at his position on 247Sports. His commitment bumped the Michigan class into the top 10, jumping Oklahoma. Another key pick up on the defensive line came when Michigan flipped 3-star DT Ikechukwu Iwunnah just a few weeks after he committed to Colorado. These pickups, along with a commitment from four-star defensive lineman George Rooks last week, prompted this tweet:

We will see if it's that simple. Regardless, it’s clear Mike Macdonald, Michigan’s new defensive coordinator that Jim Jarbuagh hired on Jan. 17 from his brother John’s Baltimore Ravens, is already making an impression in Ann Arbor.

Auburn found a football team in recent weeks

Maybe I’m being a little dramatic, but it’s not that far off. The Gus bus was completely engulfed in flames a couple of months ago. When Auburn fired Malzahn a week before Early Signing Day, their 2021 recruiting class was in shambles and members of the current roster were bolting out of Jordan-Hare. On Sunday, 247Sports had the Tigers at No. 48 in their team rankings. Four days later, they have jumped 18 spots up to No. 30. On Wednesday, Auburn signed five additional players including cornerbacks Juwon Gaston and previous Boston College commit Tar’varish Dawson. Auburn still has seven scholarships left to give, and Harsin is out on the recruiting trail targeting running back Jarquez Hunter and current Tennessee commit Dylan Brooks. Expect Auburn to finish around No. 25 before things are said and done.

Florida State just avoided their worst class in the history of the 247 rankings

Coming into Wednesday, the Seminoles had a No. 30 class, which would have been their worst spot since 247 began ranking teams in 1999. They got a massive bump by signing four-star New Orleans wide receiver Destyn Hill on Wednesday. He was the No. 18 wide receiver in his class and the No. 112 overall recruit in the class of 2021. FSU beat out Florida, LSU, Alabama and Oklahoma for Hill. Between this pick up and eight new transfers including quarterback McKenzie Milton, Florida State appears to be trending in the right direction under second-year coach Mike Norvell.

Clay Helton is the master of fending off hot seat talk

Clay Helton
USC Coach Clay Helton brought the Trojans' recruiting class back into the top 10 after a terrible 2020 (Jayne Kamin-Oncea/USA TODAY Sports)

56. That is how many spots USC’s recruiting class moved up from last year. After a dismal 2020 where the Trojans’ fell behind teams like Kansas, Rutgers and Syracuse, the blue blood is back in the top 10 at No. 8. USC has been unable to secure local talent in recent years, but Clay Helton just scored a huge win out of Southern California powerhouse Mater Dei. Raesjon Davis, a previous LSU commit, flipped back to the Trojans yesterday. He is a four-star outside linebacker, ranked No. 4 at his position and No. 3 overall in the state of California. Clay Helton and hot seat have become synonymous with each other pretty much since the moment he was promoted to head coach in 2015, but for the moment, Helton appears to be safe once again.

Oregon will be back in the playoff picture by 2022

While the rest of us are over here enjoying our East Coast bias, Mario Cristobal is building something special out in Eugene. The Ducks landed cornerback Avante Dickerson on Wednesday to finish out the recruiting cycle at No. 6. Dickerson, a former Minnesota commit from Omaha, chose Oregon over his hometown Cornhuskers. He was the top recruit in the state of Nebraska and the No. 8 cornerback in the 2021 class. Dickerson is 6-foot and 170 pounds and played well on both sides of the ball in high school, recording 20 tackles and four interceptions in the secondary and 11 touchdown catches at wide receiver.

Dickerson is part of a larger picture at Oregon, where Cristobal signed a nation-high 19 four-star prospects. Yes, stars matter, and he has no five stars in this class. However, the class suggests there will be no shortage of depth on his roster, and in a conference that has struggled mightily in recent years, Oregon does not need an Alabama-like class to be noticed. Expect Oregon to be in the national conversation in the near future.

The rich continue to get richer

Screen Shot 2021 02 04 at 7 08 41 AM
Wednesday's top six spots were held by the only six teams to ever win a College Football Playoff Game (247Sports)

The NCAA recruiting dead period, which is currently extended through April 15, prohibits recruits from taking official visits and meeting with the coaches or the team. Players can unofficially visit the campus, but many were forced to sign somewhat blindly today. There was a thought in the college football world that this may lead to more commitments closer to home, evening the playing field a little. The college football world was very wrong.

There are six teams that have won a College Football Playoff game: Alabama, Ohio State, Georgia, LSU, Clemson and Oregon. Who has the top six classes? Alabama, Ohio State, Georgia, LSU, Clemson and Oregon. 247Sports lists 34 five-star recruits on their website. 22 of them are attending one of these six schools. (Note: J.T. Tuimoloau is included in this count. He has not committed, but he is likely going to Ohio State or Alabama). There is often a little parody with the fourth team come mid-December, but don’t expect huge shake ups in the CFP any time soon.

Alabama made history….again

On Wednesday, Alabama broke the record for best recruiting class ever, topping Urban Meyer’s 2010 Florida Gators. On 247, Alabama’s class rating averages 0.9500. Where does a player with that rating fall in this year’s recruiting rankings? 111th. That is correct, only 110 players in the country are better than the AVERAGE of the ENTIRE ALABAMA CLASS. They signed 10 of the top 50 players and 16 of the top 100 players. Only four of their 27 commits are three-stars. That 2017 class we just spent a month fawning over? Their average rating was 0.9376. Let me know when you’ve wrapped your head around all of this. I haven’t.

Ashton Pollard

Ashton Pollard

Hi! My name is Ashton Pollard, and I’ve been a college football fan as long as I can remember. My dad went to Notre Dame, so I was thrown into their wild fanbase from the start. I’m originally from Richmond, VA and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania in 2018 where I was on the varsity swim team for a few years. I’m currently a graduate student at the Northwestern Medill School of Journalism specializing in sports media and living in Chicago.

Aside from college football, I’m an ND men’s and women’s basketball fan, a New York Giants fan and an Atlanta Braves fan. Feel free to ask me why I pull for seemingly random teams - I promise I have an explanation.

I’m excited to cover both ND football and college football on a national level!

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