National Signature Day has changed.
The early signing period for the 2022 recruiting class opened on Wednesday, an event that has removed most of the drama from NSD in February. This is also the first signing period in the age of name, image, and likeness.
Deion Sanders emerged as the main story by bringing in cornerback Travis Hunter, the number one recruit in the class of 2022. according to 247Sports.com, to the state of Jackson. That’s right, Hunter chose an FCS school over Florida State, Georgia, and Auburn. So Sanders is the clear winner at the expense of Seminoles coach Mike Norvell.
Despite that unexpected twist, the same college football powerhouses dominated this cycle. Georgia, Alabama, and Texas A&M all had classes loaded for 2022. There were 29 FBS training changes in 2021, and some of those programs had a hard time keeping up.
Sporting News breaks down the winners and losers:
Winners: Texas A&M and Texas
Georgia and Alabama remain fully operational, but the Aggies are catching up with Jimbo Fisher. Those three programs are the only ones to have more than two five-star recruits.
Quarterback Conner Weigman (Bridgeland, Cypress, Texas) is the center of a charged class that also featured three more five-star recruits in defensive linemen Gabriel Brownlow-Dindy (Lakeland, Florida) and Walter Nolen (Powell, Tennessee). ) and the receiver. Evan Stewart (Liberty, Frisco, Texas).
This is Fisher’s best class to date, and that should pay off in SEC West’s arm race. Texas A&M was inconsistent on the field this year in an 8-4 season, but the Aggies beat Alabama 41-38.
Texas, meanwhile, is at least recruiting as an SEC school with Steve Sarkisian.
The Longhorns, who were in the No. 15 class in 2021, returned to the top 10 with a solid showing. Texas landed 11 prospects in the state with four stars or more less than a week after Quinn Ewers, who would have been a five-star quarterback in this class had he not been reclassified, transferred from Ohio State.
Speaking of which, four-star defensive back Terrance Brooks (Little Elm, Texas) jumped out of Ohio State. Given the Buckeyes’ success in Texas under Urban Meyer and Ryan Day, that’s a significant change.
Five-star tackle Kelvin Banks (Summer Creek, Humble, Texas) is the anchor of the class, but Ewers will have some elite targets in four-star Brennan Thompson (Spearman, Texas) and Xavion Brice (Seguin, Arlington, Texas). . that capsized from Oklahoma.
The Longhorns are coming off a disappointing 5-7 season. Former coach Tom Herman had three consecutive top-10 classes between 2018-20. Will Sarkisian get more out of this class in the field?
Loser: Florida and Miami
The Gators and Hurricanes have classes that rank 75th and 77th respectively. That is perhaps the most surprising development in 2021.
The Gators only have two five-star recruits in the last five classes. Dan Mullen’s departure left little time for Billy Napier to make up a class that had only eight appointments in the day.
Miami fired Manny Díaz and hired Mario Cristóbal from Oregon. Cristóbal built strong classes with the Ducks and should be able to follow suit with the Hurricanes, but both programs perform better in the next class.
That’s because Florida State, despite losing Hunter to Jackson State, had a much better class than the Gators or Hurricanes. Five-star safety Sam McCall (Lake Gibson, Lakeland, Florida) singled out that group.
Winner: Ohio State
The Buckeyes lost to Michigan and failed to reach the CFP for the first time in three seasons with Ryan Day.
And that’s … okay?
As long as this recruiting brilliance continues. Ohio State responded to that loss by hiring Oklahoma State Defensive Coordinator Jim Knowles. The Buckeyes then stumbled into another top-five class that was better than Penn State and Michigan.
The two best pieces in this class are also state goods. Five-star linebacker CJ Hicks (Alter, Dayton, Ohio) and defensive back Sonny Styles (Central, Pickerington, Ohio) could be instant hitters on Knowles’ defense. The Buckeyes joined the quarterback room with four-star Devin Brown (Corner Canyon, Draper, Utah).
Day has scored the top five classes in three consecutive cycles, and there hasn’t been a drop since Urban Meyer retired.
Riley’s departure sparked a series of releases and Venables did his best to save the class. Brice flipping was one of those moves.
It’s still a top 10, but it didn’t have a five-star recruit. The Longhorns and Aggies had better classes, and that’s the competition with the pending move to the SEC.
Any good news? Four-star catcher Jayden Gibson (West Orange, Winter Garden, Florida) was one of the best recruits in this class, and Venables did a masterful job recruiting the state of Florida when he was at Clemson. Keep an eye out for how well the Sooners are doing in the sunshine state in the next cycle.
Mark Stoops stayed as head coach. Coordinators Liam Coen and Brad White also stayed. The Wildcats are recruiting as one of the top 10 shows. That is impressive at the SEC.
Stoops continues to recruit at the midpoint of the Big Ten and SEC country with great success.
Five-star tackle Kiyaunta Goodwin (Charleston, Indiana) is the anchor of another strong class that featured players from 11 different states. On Wednesday, Kentucky went north and connected to four-star defensive tackle Deone Walker (Cass Tech, Detroit).
This cycle also landed four-star running back Tyreese Fearby (Perry Traditional Academy, Pittsburgh) and four-star catcher Barion Brown (Pearl-Cohn, Nashville). The Stoops extension means the Wildcats will continue to build on that continued success.
The Tigers broke out of the top 10 after a 9-3 season in 2020, and Clemson’s coach Dabo Swinney replaced longtime coordinators Brent Venables and Tony Elliott with Wes Goodwin and Brandon Streeter, respectively. Swinney also spoke openly about the concept of paying players before the era of name, image and likeness began.
Will those threads be broken in the Dabo dynasty?
We will meet this narrative halfway. North Carolina had the highest-ranked class in the ACC, and this snapped a streak of four straight classes in the top 10 for the Tigers. Even South Carolina is gaining ground with coach Shane Beamer.
Clemson still won his last five games and will bounce back with the help of those charged classes. The Tigers’ average recruiting class in the CFP era sits at 9.6, so one year outside of the top 10 is not a deal breaker. Four of the top five prospects in South Carolina still chose Clemson, including four-star cornerback Jeadyn Lucas (Mauldin, SC) and four-star wide receiver Adam Randall (Myrtle Beach, SC).
It’s a cycle, but it’s something to watch closely in 2022.