February 10, 2013

Roundtable: Reviewing signing day

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Rivals.com's football recruiting analysts weighed in on a different question each day for a week leading into National Signing Day. Today, they take a look back at the day in a roundtable format.

Question No. 1: Which head coach are you most impressed with following National Signing Day?

Mike Farrell, National, Mid-Atlantic: Ohio State's Urban Meyer for me because of the way he recruited nationally and closed out on signing day. Notre Dame's Brian Kelly is right there as well. I think both programs improved the athleticism on the roster and went into key territories to land kids well away from home.

Jason Howell, Southwest: Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze is the one who really stands out to me. What Freeze and his staff accomplished in Oxford on Wednesday still has not quite set in with me. The Rebels secured the commitments of three five-star prospects, none of whom was from Mississippi. While they did miss on Chris Jones, they landed a top 10 class nationally and the No. 4 group in the SEC. Grabbing the nation's No. 1 overall prospect, Robert Nkemdiche, the No. 1 offensive tackle in Laremy Tunsil and the No. 1 receiver in Laquon Treadwell is about as big as it gets down in Oxford.

Josh Helmholdt, Southwest: How can you not be impressed with the job Hugh Freeze did at Ole Miss this year? The Rebels have won just four conference games in the last three years, yet they pulled in the nation's No. 1, No. 5 and No. 14 prospects in one class. A belief in Freeze and the direction he had the program going was cited by many prospects as a reason for their signing with Ole Miss.

Adam Friedman, Mid-Atlantic: Nick Saban closed out the 2013 class with two five-stars and a four-star in Reuben Foster, A'Shawn Robinson and Alvin Kamara, once again earning the national recruiting title. I'm not sure a recruiting cycle can end any better than that. I'll give honorable mention to Urban Meyer, Brian Kelly and Gus Malzahn for the guys they landed on signing day and the days leading up to it.

Kynon Codrington, Southeast: Jimbo Fisher, in a close race over Gus Malzahn. Despite losing six assistant coaches, Fisher closed nicely with a pair of five-stars in OLB Matthew Thomas and CB Jalen Ramsey. The Seminoles' head coach acted as the lead recruiter for Thomas, and his staff did a nice job flipping Ramsey from USC. Fisher held on to E.J. Levenberry III over late-charging Tennessee as well.

Woody Wommack, Southeast: For me, it's Hugh Freeze. It's easy to talk about all the factors that led to Ole Miss' class, but there's no doubt that he is very good at bonding with recruits and helping to seal the deal. It seems like he really enjoys the whole process, and that kind of energy feeds into successful recruiting.

Rob Cassidy, West: I'm going to go with Jim Mora The staff he's built has done a better job than anyone could have expected in its first full recruiting cycle. I think everybody knew this would be a solid recruiting staff, but the results achieved right away despite working for a rebuilding program were stunning. Yes, there's a lot of talent in California, but there's no shortage of competition. Under Mora, the Bruins built an army of four-star prospects, and the foundation for an uptick in on-field performance is there.

Adam Gorney, West: Hugh Freeze did an outstanding job, landing three five-stars after a sub-par performance on the field. He was competing with other SEC teams but also ACC powerhouses, and he even went into the Midwest to get Laquon Treadwell. Getting Treadwell, Robert Nkemdiche and Laremy Tunsil was huge for the Rebels. They could be immediate contributors. The Rebels also got a bunch of four-star recruits to round out their class.

Question No. 2: Who changed his mind at the last minute and you think he made a wise decision?

Mike Farrell, National/Mid-Atlantic: I'll say Jalen Ramsey. The situation at USC with Lane Kiffin taking so long to name a replacement for his father and then the firing of Marvin Sanders late in the game makes it unattractive. At Florida State, he can play closer to home and he can play early.

Jason Howell, Southwest: The biggest knock on five-star defensive tackle A'Shawn Robinson is that he does not go all out all of the time. When he turns it on, there is no doubt he is one of the nation's best. Playing for a no-nonsense coach like Nick Saban and a program like Alabama could be exactly what he needs to reach his potential.

Josh Helmholdt, Southwest: I will admit I did not see it coming, but I rather like the move Torrodney Prevot made in signing with Oregon. He comes in as the only defensive end prospect in the Ducks' 2013 class, and he is starting with a brand new head coach. I think it shows initiative on his part to leave the state of Texas and join an Oregon program that still should be in good hands under Mark Helfrich.

Adam Friedman, Mid-Atlantic: I think Tashawn Bower made a really good call, choosing LSU on signing day, even if there was a bit of drama surrounding his decision. Out of his three finalists, LSU made the most sense because Auburn got Carl Lawson to reaffirm his commitment and flipped Elijah Daniel. Florida has a lot of depth on the defensive line, and the Gators already had Joey Ivie and Jordan Sherit in this class. LSU is pretty thin on the defensive line, and Bower is one of the highest-rated players in its defensive line class.

Kynon Codrington, Southeast: I know he is outside my region, but I'm going with Torrodney Prevot. After Monte Kiffin departed USC for the NFL, you could sense defensive recruits were a little uneasy. Prevot will bring excellent athleticism and versatility to Oregon's defense. If Prevot can add weight without losing his speed and quickness, he will be a force off the edge for the Ducks.

Woody Wommack, Southeast: There was a lot of discussion about where Mackensie Alexander would end up, but he made the decision to sign with Clemson and I think it's the perfect place for him. He already has a relationship with Sammy Watkins and will play early, both factors that will help him hit the ground running with the Tigers.

Rob Cassidy, West: It's hard to fault A'Shawn Robinson for his flip from Texas to Alabama. The Longhorns have struggled on the field as of late. And that, combined with Mack Brown's age, makes that situation unstable. There's no guarantee that Brown will be around when Robinson graduates. Nick Saban, on the other hand, isn't going anywhere, and the Tide will continue to be perennial title contenders. Deciding against the in-state school is never popular, but Robinson traveled for security's sake.

Adam Gorney, West: It was a surprising one, but I do like the move Torrodney Prevot made, going to Oregon instead of USC. Prevot fits well in the Ducks offense, Oregon is the cream of the crop in the Pac-12 right now, and with Mark Helfrich taking over there is stability and certainty in that program. USC has struggled a lot recently, and if things don't go well next season coach Lane Kiffin could be fired. No one wants to step into that situation, so Prevot made a big-time surprise move but it could pay off.

Question No. 3: And who changed his mind late but did not make the best decision?

Mike Farrell, National/Mid-Atlantic: This question will always lead to some hate from one fan base or another, but I think Laremy Tunsil, who silently committed to Georgia, might be regretting it in a few years as he watches the Bulldogs continue to compete for a BCS title in the SEC and Ole Miss struggles in the hardest division in college football.

Jason Howell, Southwest: This is always a tough one because it is sure to make enemies regardless of the answer. I will go with Tyler (Texas) John Tyler wide receiver Fred Ross opting for Mississippi State. Ross was set to head to Oklahoma State before making the switch, and Ross to Stillwater sure seemed like a perfect match to me.

Josh Helmholdt, Southwest: I am not sure when he changed his mind, but I do not understand four-star running back Alvin Kamara picking Alabama over Georgia on signing day. Don't get me wrong; I admire players who are not afraid of competition, but there's got to be some common sense applied as well. He is one of four four-star backs the Crimson Tide brought in with this class, and all are ranked in the Rivals100 ... and that Alabama backfield roster is loaded even before these four arrive on campus.

Adam Friedman, Mid-Atlantic: It may end up not being a bad call, but I am surprised that Yannick Ngakoue turned down a chance to be an impact linebacker at South Carolina to play for Maryland. He has friends at both schools, but staying close to family wound up being the deciding factor. Having seen Ngakoue play multiple times, he seemed like the typical SEC linebacker, a shoo-in for the Gamecocks, but that turned out not to be the case.

Kynon Codrington, Southeast: Fred Ross flipping from Oklahoma State to Mississippi State raises some eyebrows. The Cowboys have produced recent NFL receivers Dez Bryant and Justin Blackmon while the Bulldogs haven't had the same success at the skill position. Ross could have thrived in Mike Gundy's balanced offensive attack, especially considering the upside at QB in rising sophomores J.W. Walsh and Wes Lunt.

Woody Wommack, Southeast: I love Alvin Kamara as a player. I'm just not sure that the logjam at Alabama is the best choice for him. Obviously he's a competitor and I think he'll have an impact eventually with the Tide, but had he picked Georgia I think the likelihood of him playing and contributing from Day 1 would have been much greater.

Rob Cassidy, West: These are personal decisions made for so many different factors, so I answer this question under slight protest. If I was five-star tackle Laremy Tunsil, I would have had a difficult time making the decision to spurn Georgia for upstart Ole Miss. I get why he did it; everybody wants to be part of the origin of something. But the safer bet would have been staying closer to his Florida home and playing for Bulldogs.

Adam Gorney, West: I understand Laremy Tunsil had a great visit to Ole Miss, but the Rebels play in the toughest conference in college football and they're a long way from competing for SEC championships. On the other hand, he could have gone to Georgia and been right in the thick of things from Day 1. I think Tunsil might regret his decision when all the signing day hype dies down and he looks across and sees Alabama, LSU and others staring his team in the face.




 

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