The Latest on college football’s national signing day. (all times Eastern):
Alabama is the signing day champion for a seventh straight season, according to 247Sports’ composite rankings . The Crimson Tide closed strong as usual and finished with a class that has six five-star recruits.
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Ohio State and Georgia also had top-five classes and no schools had better signing days than USC, which landed several blue chippers on Wednesday and Florida State, who signed the top-rated uncommitted recruit in Texas defensive tackle Marvin Wilson.
Defending national champion Clemson had small but strong class. Stanford did the same.
Maryland was a surprise in the top 20 and Texas’ first class with Tom Herman as coach was disappointing, but no reason to panic.
Michigan had another Signing of the Stars and another top-rated class. Florida also finished with a flourish.
And now, on to 2018.
DECISION TRACKER: Deommodore Lenoir, a four-star athlete from Los Angeles, picked Oregon.
New Oregon coach Willie Taggart’s first recruiting class has a heavy Florida flavor – Taggart is from Florida and had been the USF coach – and should finish in the top 25 of most rankings.
DECISION TRACKER: Marvin Wilson, the highest rated uncommitted player entering signing day, has picked Florida State over LSU, Ohio State and Oklahoma. The 6-foot-4, 329-pound Wilson from Bellaire, Texas, was the top-rated defensive tackle in the nation by 247Sports.
Wilson made his pick by unzipping his jacket to reveal a Florida State T-shirt. He also broke out some cool FSU sneakers .
Florida State is hoping Wilson can make an immediate impact the way Dexter Lawrence did at defensive tackle as a freshman last season for national champion Clemson.
Michigan State recruit Donovan Winter is sitting in jail in Orlando, Florida, on signing day.
A police report showed the Bishop Moore Catholic defensive end was in Seminole County Jail in Orlando on Wednesday awaiting bond and facing charges of burglary of larceny of a firearm. Winter was arrested Monday and is awaiting a $2,000 bond.
The three-star recruit verbally committed to Michigan State and was expected to sign with the Spartans on Wednesday. It is uncertain if his scholarship offer remains.
Schools are prohibited from discussing unsigned players and Bishop Moore coach Matt Hedrick did not immediately return a call to The Associated Press.
DECISION TRACKER: Joseph Lewis, a five-star wide receiver from Los Angeles, picked Southern California over Nebraska and Oregon. The Trojans need to replace receivers JuJu Smith-Schuster and Darreus Rodgers.
Moments later Lewis’ four-star teammate, Greg Johnson, also picked USC. Johnson is an athlete who could end up on either side of the ball.
DECISION TRACKER: In this case the decision might have been more on the school than the player. Florida announced it has signed in-state wide receiver James Robinson .
Robinson was cited for marijuana possession while attending a party during an official visit to Ohio State last week. The penalty is a fine.
The run-in with the law was thought to have cost Robinson is best scholarship offers, but he ended up signing with the school he was leaning toward all along. Robinson was considered one of the top-20 wide receiver prospects in the country.
Oklahoma reeled in the best class coach Bob Stoops has had in years. The Sooners signed 27 players and should comfortably land in the top 10 of 247Sports’ composite rankings.
The Sooners have widened their reach in recent years, becoming less dependent on the state of Texas, where SEC schools have joined the traditional Big 12 schools in divvying up the talent.
Oklahoma signed nine players from Texas, but also three from California (including four-star defensive end Addison Gumbs), two from North Carolina, two from Louisiana and players from Florida, Arkansas and Georgia (four-star running back Trey Sermon).
The news was not as good for the rest of the Big 12.
Texas’ first class under coach Tom Herman will rank outside the top 20 nationally, making it one of the lowest rated Longhorns classes since the ranking started more than a decade ago. It also will not include any of the players ranked among the 10 best in the state of Texas.
Despite that Texas is likely to have the second-best rated class in the Big 12 to OU.
No other Big 12 school is likely to finish in the top 30.
DECISION TRACKER: Nico Collins, a 6-foot-5, four-star receiver from Alabama, announced he is attending Michigan with a slickly produced video that ended with him wearing a white visor with a blue block M and saying, ”Go Blue.”
DECISION TRACKER: Alabama went into Louisiana to add one of the best receivers in the country. Devonta Smith, a 160-pound speedster, picked the Tide over LSU.
DECISION TRACKER: A couple of four-star defensive backs have made their picks.
Jamyest Williams from South Carolina decided to stay in state and picked the Gamecocks over Georgia.
Penn State got a late add for its top-20 class with cornerback Tariq Castro-Field from Maryland picking the Nittany Lions over the Terps.
Wisconsin added four-star receiver Danny Davis, who went with the Badgers over West Virginia and Kentucky. Davis is from Ohio.
USC stayed hot on signing day when tight end Josh Falo from California picked the Trojans over Oregon.
The national champions had pretty much all their recruiting done before signing day.
Clemson signed a small class of 15 players, coming off its first national title since 1981. There is plenty of quality in that group, including five-star quarterback Hunter Johnson.
Johnson will get a chance to be Deshaun Watson’s replacement.
Despite the relatively small numbers, coach Dabo Swinney is likely to land a class that ranks in the mid-teens nationally.
The Tigers will need some immediate help at receiver after the early NFL departures of Mike Williams and Artvais Scott. The additions of five-star Tee Higgins and four-star Amari Rodgers, both from Tennessee, could help fill the void.
Hunter Rison, the son of former NFL receiver Andre Rison, has signed with Michigan State, the same school where his father was a star. Hunter Rison is also a wide receiver. He’s already enrolled at Michigan State and will participate in spring practice. He played at Skyline High School in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
Andre Rison played at Michigan State from 1985-88 and is second on the school’s career list with 2,992 yards receiving.
Four-star safety Chaz Ah You took his Signing Day announcement to another level. The Provo, Utah native produced a video with Bleacher Report of him boarding a helicopter with four “destination” hats inside the chopper – Washington, UCLA, Stanford and BYU. You looked at the pilot and said, ”Take me to my new home.”
The helicopter landed at BYU’s LaVell Edwards Stadium before he jumped out in a BYU jersey and celebrated with the school mascot.
Some calls you just have to take.
Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly was holding his signing day news conference with reporters when his cell phone rang. ”Jeremiah?” he said. And walked out of the room.
Kelly returned and announced Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, a three-star prospect from Virginia, had signed with the Fighting Irish.
Kelly and the Irish are coming off a 4-8 season, but they are still in line to sign a top-15 class. The highest-rated members are Brock Wright, a tight end from Texas, and four-star offensive linemen Robert Hainsey and Aaron Banks.
DECISION TRACKER: The nation’s top junior college running back is headed to Kansas.
You read that correctly.
The long-downtrodden Jayhawks signed Octavius Matthews from Itawamba Community College in Mississippi in a significant surprise Wednesday. Matthews had de-committed from Auburn last week and was considering Purdue and Tennessee before signing with Kansas.
Matthews will be reunited with former Washington State quarterback Peyton Bender, who also spent last season at Itawamba and is already on the Kansas campus. That likely played a role in his decision.
DECISION TRACKER: Alabama’s signing day is mostly done with 260-pound defensive tackle LaBryan Ray picking the Tide – as expected. Tennessee, Florida and Ole Miss were also in the mix, but it would have been shocking if Ray, from Madison, Alabama, left the state.
The addition of Ray seems to have a trickle-down effect for Alabama into 2018. Jarez Parks, a defensive end from Florida, went a long way – Paris! – to announce his commitment to Alabama. But Alabama has no scholarships left for in this year’s class and it is being reported that Parks could be a grayshirt, enrolling in January and counting toward next year’s class.
Jim Harbaugh was hailed by thousands as he walked to his seat in the fourth of five rows on the floor of Crisler Arena, where Michigan moved its Signing of the Stars show from last year’s unique event at a downtown theater.
One of the biggest cheers came when the signing of defensive tackle Aubrey Solomon was announced. Solomon is a five-star defensive tackle who de-committed from Michigan before jumping back on board on signing day.
DECISION TRACKER: National signing day has not been great for Texas. Pass rusher K’Lavon Chiasson picked LSU over the Longhorns. New Texas coach Tom Herman also lost out on four-star cornerback Chevin Calloway, who signed with Arkansas. The Longhorns will not sign any of the top-15 players ranked by 247Sports from in state.
DECISION TRACKER: Another win for USC. Defensive tackle Jay Tufele, a 300-pounder from Utah, picked USC over Utah, Ohio State and Brigham Young.
DECISION TRACKER: Offensive tackle Austin Jackson, one of the best prospects in Arizona, chose Southern California. It was not a huge surprise, but for a team looking to replace two starting tackles, Jackson was a big get for the Trojans. USC also landed linebacker Levi Jones from Austin, Texas, earlier in the day and is in the mix receiver Joseph Lewis, one of the highest rated uncommitted recruits left. Lewis was expected to announce between USC, Nebraska and Oregon later in the day.
Colorado signee Chris Mulumba is a ”Finnish” product.
The 24-year-old Mulumba (pronounced muh-lumb-buh) is a 280-pound defensive end from Helsinki, Finland, who didn’t play football in high school but was a national judo champion. The Colorado Buffaloes saw enough of him at Diablo Valley College in California to bring him into the fold as an early enrollee. Mulumba was actually all set to attend Central Florida after Diablo, but instead sat out a season. He’s enrolled for the spring semester at Colorado and will take part in spring drills.
In 2012, he played for the Helsinki Roosters of the American Football Association of Finland. He also served a one-year military stint in the Finnish Army.
Kirby Smart’s second signing class has Georgia among the nation’s best classes, and it also earned him cheers from about 200 fans at the team’s football building. Smart heard applause and barks when he emerged late Wednesday morning for a TV interview, but there were some vocal complaints when he left without taking questions from fans. Former coach Mark Richt, now with Miami, always participated in a lengthy question and answer session with fans on signing day.
DECISION TRACKER: Henry Ruggs III, a four-star receiver from Montgomery, Alabama, picked the Crimson Tide over Florida State.
Four-star cornerback Chevin Calloway from Dallas signed with Arkansas, choosing the Razorbacks over Texas and Iowa.
Maryland is set up to be one of surprising stories of signing day. Second-year coach D.J. Durkin is on the way to bringing in a top-20 class nationally and top-five class in the Big Ten. The Terrapins big get of signing day was running back Cordarrian Richardson from Memphis, Tennessee. He picked the Terps over Mississippi and Michigan State.
And he did it with a weather balloon in space .
DECISION TRACKER: Markaviest Bryant, a four-star defensive end/outside linebacker from Georgia, picked Auburn over the Bulldogs and LSU.
Who had FCS Illinois State making an attention-grabbing signing? The Redbirds tweeted that they had signed Kobe Buffalomeat and he quickly became an internet favorite.
Buffalomeat is a 6-foot-7, 287-pound offensive tackle from Lawrence, Kansas.
DECISION TRACKER: Jeff Thomas, a wide receiver from East St. Louis, Illinois, has selected Miami. He also was considering Illinois, Oregon and Tennessee. Thomas is the No. 40 overall prospect in the 247Sports Composite.
DECISION TRACKER: Aubrey Solomon, a five-star defensive tackle from Georgia, picked Michigan. The decision was not a huge surprise. Solomon had been a Michigan commit last year. But he was miffed at the Wolverines early in January after Michigan mistakenly sent him a thank you note for attending a recruiting event that he actually did not attend. Whoops! Solomon apologized for those less-than-flattering remarks he made about Michigan , but he did de-commit.
Jim Harbaugh and staff redoubled efforts to make amends and got their man.
DECISION TRACKER: Todd Harris, a safety from Plaquemine, Louisiana, picked LSU over Alabama, good news for Tigers coach Ed Orgeron. Harris was a top-100 player in 247Sports composite rankings.
Willie Gay, one of the top linebackers in the country, decided to stay at home for college and picked Mississippi State. Gay, from Starkville High School, also considered LSU and Michigan was on the radar, too.
What every coach wants most on signing day is no surprises. The increase in early enrollees helps that a lot. Alabama had a dozen members of its class already on campus before signing day. Ohio State had 11 players enrolled. Texas A&M had nine. Those numbers were typical of the top programs.
Top quarterbacks were especially likely to early enroll. Eight of the top-10 quarterback recruits in the 247Sports composite rankings, including Tate Martell of Ohio State, were already enrolled.
Levi Jones put a different spin on the pick-a-hat ceremony as he revealed his decision to attend Southern California. The outside linebacker from Westlake High School in Austin, Texas, took off his jacket to reveal a long-sleeve Florida T-shirt. He then pulled off the Florida shirt to reveal a Florida State shirt underneath. He then removed the Florida State shirt and was left with a USC shirt. Jones then put on a USC hat and said, ”Fight On.”
While former LSU coach Les Miles spent national signing day doing television on ESPNU, his son officially became a college football player.
Ben Miles was one of the best fullback prospects in the country.
Les Miles was fired in late September after 12 years as Tigers coach. Unable to land another head coaching job, the 63-year-old Miles could be heading for a lot of work ESPN this season. On Wednesday, he was paired with former Texas coach Mack Brown to breakdown signing day.
DECISION TRACKER: Two four-star players from Austin, Texas, have made their picks and neither will be playing for the Longhorns.
Stephan Zabie, an offensive tackle, picked UCLA and teammate Levi Jones, one of the top linebacker prospects, picked Southern California over Florida and Florida State.
DECISION TRACKER: Tedarrell Slaton, OL, Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Slaton picked the Gators, who were considered the favorites. Coach Jim McElwain’s class came into signing day on the back end of the top 20 in the rankings. The Gators have won to SEC east titles under McElwain, but offense has been an issue for the former offensive coordinator.