10 takeaways from Signing Day 2017

Posted by: Chris Vannini on Wednesday February 01, 2017

1. New head coaches have little time to put together a class. Here’s how each new coach's class ranked (based on 247Sports rankings)

LSU: 7*
Oregon: 20
Texas: 26
Baylor: 39
Indiana: 61
Cincinnati: 67
Houston: 68
Purdue: 69
FAU: 71
Cal: 72
USF: 75
FIU: 77
Western Kentucky: 84
Western Michigan: 89
Georgia State: 95
UConn: 97
Fresno State: 101
San Jose State: 103
Nevada: 109
Temple: 112

*Ed Orgeron was already on staff and in the head coaching role since early fall

2. Kirby Smart had a huge day — and was far ahead of the rest of the SEC East.

Georgia finished with the No. 3 class in the country, tied for the highest ranking in school history. The class includes six early enrollees an features two 5-star recruits, and 18 4-star players.

The Dawgs got 11 of the state’s top 16 players. UGA had 20 4/5-star players, while the entire rest of the SEC East had 26.

3. Per usual, the SEC is ahead of the rest of the nation in talent. Here’s how the top 25 classes break down by conference:

SEC: 9
Big Ten: 5
Pac-12: 5
ACC: 4
Big 12: 1
Independent: 1

Of note, the Big Ten East signed six of the top seven classes in the conference.

4. Where is the Big 12?

As you can see above, there’s only one Big 12 team in the top 25, Oklahoma at No. 8. Texas is just outside at No. 26, and TCU is No. 31, but it further illustrates a talent problem for the conference. Only Texas and Oklahoma are in position to have top classes every year. Baylor has dropped off since the sexual assault scandal, and TCU and Oklahoma State are usually around the periphery of the top 25 in those rankings.

One reason for the decline is…

5. The state of Texas was raided even more than usual.

Ohio State signed three of the top six players in the state. It’s the first time since 2005 that an in-state school didn’t sign a majority share of the top 10 players in the state, as noted by the Dallas Morning News — and the third time since 2000. The other two were Oklahoma in 2004-05.

Only two of the top 10 stayed, one going to A&M and one going to Texas Tech. Only six of the top 25 stayed in state, and Tom Herman’s Longhorns had three of those.

6. New coaches in the Group of 5 made a splash. Here are the top Group of 5 classes:

58. Memphis
59. UCF
60. Boise State
67. Cincinnati
68. Houston
71. FAU
73. Colorado State
74. Toledo
75. USF
76. UTSA

Mike Norvell puts together the top G5 class in his first full recruiting cycle, with Scott Frost right behind him. Lane Kiffin put together the top class in Conference USA in a short period of time. Frank Wilson and UTSA tied for the largest improvement from last year’s rankings to this year (31 spots better).

7. Here was the top-ranked class in each conference.

ACC: Florida State (6)
American: Memphis (58)
Big 12: Oklahoma (8)
Big Ten: Ohio State (2)
Conference USA: Florida Atlantic (71)
MAC: Toledo (74)
Mountain West: Boise State (60)
Pac-12: USC (4)
SEC: Alabama (1)
Sun Belt: Texas State (87)

Among those G5 classes, Memphis, Toledo and Texas State had their first full-cycle classes with their coach, and FAU had a new coach.

8. Florida got a big finish it needed.

Yesterday, the Gators had the No. 21 class with 17 players. They finished at No. 10 with 24 players. There were no 5-star players, but 11 4-stars.

Among the 7 late additions included a running back and a wide receivers, as Jim McElwain tries to add playmakers to a struggling offense. Still, McElwain will be quick to remind you the Gators have won two straight SEC East titles.

9. Matt Rhule scraped a top-40 class together in less than two months.

When he became Baylor head coach in mid-December, there was one commit, and he had no ties to the state of Texas. The class was ranked in the 140s and behind a bunch of FCS teams. But it finished with 27 players and ranked No. 5 in the Big 12.

Rhule is going to face roster problems in his first few years, accounting for the transfers and the 2016 commits who left after the sexual assault scandal. But the roster situation could have been even worse if Rhule & Co. hadn’t finished strong in in this first recruiting class.

10. The D.J. Durkin effect is clear.

Maryland signed the No. 18 class, No. 4 in the Big Ten, with 29 players, led by the former national recruiter of the year. It’s the highest-ranked class in school history. For some reference, the Terps only had one top-35 class since 2007.

The 2016 class includes five of the top 10 players in the home state.

Chris Vannini is in his fifth year with CoachingSearch.com and serves as its managing editor. He has previously written for the Detroit Free Press, The Oakland Press, The State News, MLive.com, 247Sports and SB Nation.  A graduate of Michigan State University, Chris now lives in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.  Be sure to follow @coachingsearch and send emails to chris@coachingsearch.com.