On a day when the new faces of college football made their school choices official, some familiar names finished atop the team recruiting standings.
Here’s a look at some of the events on a day that revealed the drama doesn’t necessarily end after a recruit makes a nationally televised announcement.
DUEL AT THE TOP: Which school fared the best? It depends on which recruiting service you follow. Southern California topped the Rivals and Scout team recruiting rankings as of 6 p.m., while Alabama led the ESPN and 247Sports standings. USC’s rise is noteworthy because this marked the first year it could sign a full class since coming off probation. “It’s a Pete Carroll type of class,” said Mike Farrell, the national recruiting director for Rivals. “Now they’ve just got to put it together on the field.” It came as no surprise that these two schools led the way, as evidenced by Rivals’ annual rankings. Alabama topped the Rivals rankings from 2008-09 and from 2011-14, while Southern California finished first from 2004-06 and in 2010. The only school other than USC or Alabama to top the Rivals rankings since 2004 is Florida in 2007.
BIG DAY IN LA: USC wasn’t the only Los Angeles-area school with reason to celebrate. UCLA soared up the team standings Wednesday by getting late commitments from some top prospects, including tight end Chris Clark, running back Soso Jamabo, offensive lineman Josh Wariboko, safety Nathan Meadors and wide receiver Cordell Broadus (the son of rapper Snoop Dogg). In the process, UCLA showed its ability to recruit nationally. Clark is from Connecticut, Wariboko from Oklahoma and Jamabo from Texas. “They had some guys that a lot of people predicted might stay closer to home,” Farrell said.
KEEPING UP THE SUSPENSE: In nationally televised announcements Wednesday morning, defensive end Byron Cowart selected Auburn and linebacker Roquan Smith declared he was going to UCLA. But that didn’t stop the drama surrounding the recruitments of these two heralded prospects. Auburn wasn’t sure it had Cowart — rated by Rivals as the nation’s No. 1 recruit — until his letter of intent arrived nearly seven hours after his announcement. UCLA still hadn’t received Smith’s paperwork by 6 p.m. Wednesday, which at least raised the possibility the Georgia prospect might be reconsidering.
GATORS RISE FROM DEPTHS: Buried below most Power 5 programs in the team recruiting standings for the last few weeks, Florida closed with a flourish under new coach Jim McElwain. The Gators’ flurry of late commitments was headlined by consensus five-star offensive tackle Martez Ivey and defensive end CeCe Jefferson. Ivey is rated as the nation’s No. 2 overall prospect in the 247Sports Composite, which takes into account all the major recruiting services. Florida’s late surge helped the Gators rise to a Top 25 team ranking in most services. It still isn’t a great class by Florida’s lofty standards, but it’s a whole lot better than what some Gator fans had feared.
CREATIVE ANNOUNCEMENTS: The recruits found plenty of interesting ways to make their decisions without resorting to the standard practice of choosing from a group of hats. Iman Marshall, rated as the nation’s No. 1 cornerback by the 247Sports Composite, disclosed his choice with the online release of an elaborate video that ended with him putting on a USC hat as he walked toward the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Wide receiver Equanimeous St. Brown spoke in French and German as well as English at the press conference in which he announced he was signing with Notre Dame. Jamabo put his own spin on the “hat game” when he pulled out a pair of caps to indicate what he said were “his top two schools,” but both hats were from UCLA.