While National Signing Day may not be what it once was for college football teams in terms of activity, drama and volume, it's still a defining day in the recruiting calendar -- even if only from the optics standpoint. If you want the winners and losers of the entire 2020 recruiting cycle, look at the 247Sports Composite rankings themselves.
But when you zero-in on signing day itself, it is always important to close strong. So let's take a look at Wednesday's biggest winners and losers as the 2020 cycle basically came to a close with only some stragglers remaining.
|The singular win of the day was Texas A&M besting Alabama for four-star defensive tackle McKinnley Jackson. It's why TAMU hired Jimbo Fisher -- to win battles like this. Not only is he the type of player that can make an impact right away in the fall, but he's the type of win that can propel the Aggies forward on the recruiting trail.|
|The activity was limited for Georgia, but it did land in-state lineman Cameorn Kinnie and flipped defensive back Daran Branch from Ole Miss. More importantly, the Bulldogs held onto offensive line commits Sedrick Van Pran and Broderick Jones. In doing so, the Dawgs also held onto the No. 1 recruiting class for the second time in three years.|
|It wasn't a perfect day for Texas, but it was a day that saw the Longhorns start outside the top 10 and finish at No. 9 in the 247Sports Composite. That makes for a good signing day. We'll give it extra credit for a Tuesday four-star commitment in wide receiver Kelvontay Dixon before the Longhorns closed out Wednesday with a pledge out of Alfred Collins, the No. 2 strong-side defensive end in the country. While the 'Horns lost one to Missouri, they also managed to top Oklahoma to take home the top class in the Big 12.|
|Tennessee started the day at No. 14 and dipped to No. 15 at one point. It finished the day at No. 10. A "top 10" class has a nice ring to it, particularly when it's buoyed by really strong evaluations, a talented quarterback in Harrison Bailey, speed on the perimeter and power in the trenches. Signing day was punctuated by the Vols stealing talented wide receiver Malachi Wideman from Florida State as well as a commitment from Damarcus Beckwith. Fittingly, Tennessee was the first program to offer Beckwith over a year ago.|
|New coach Sam Pittman landed a few offensive linemen on Wednesday in Marcus Henderson and Jalen St. John, but that's no surprise. We knew he could recruit the offensive line. The bigger story was Arkansas' ability to beat Baylor and others on a dynamic, speedy, talented quarterback in Malik Hornsby out of Texas. Hornsby is the type of quarterback that can elevate a program if he's developed in the right way. After inheriting a class ranked outside the top 100, Pittman was able to climb Arkansas all the way up to No. 30 nationally.|
|Maybe the best moment of signing day was the reaction of Missouri coach Eli Drinkwitz to the commitment of cornerback Ennis Rakestraw. The joyous, emotional reaction was well-earned. After a strong senior season, Rakestraw had emerged as target for the in-state Longhorns and the mighty Alabama Crimson Tide. Most predictions were a combination of those two schools, but Rakestraw surprised even his future coach by picking the Tigers and putting a positive spin on Drinkwitz's first class.|
New coaches: Yes, I'm aware that I just named two new coaches among the winners above. However, as a collective, the new coaches had bad signing days and bad 2020 cycles. The thing is ... it's not really their fault. In the old days, a new coach would have all of January to generate momentum, poach from other classes and generally deliver a strong first effort that could be a foundation for years to come. Now, with so many prospects signing in the early period, that opportunity just isn't there.
Florida State had its worst class ever, Lane Kiffin stumbled to the finish line at Ole Miss, Dave Aranda pulled up the rear of the Big 12 at 53rd nationally, and Boston College and Rutgers are back at No. 62 and No. 63, respectively. Don't judge these coaches yet. Give them a full 2021 cycle before you decide whether they have the answers on the recruiting trail.
Pac-12: USC didn't make any noise on Wednesday, and we didn't expect it to do so, but 54th in the country and the worst recruiting class in school history has infiltrated the rest of the Pac-12 as well. No Pac-12 program snuck into the top 10, only three landed inside the top 25, and there's a general lack of excitement conference wide on the recruiting trail.
We'll give Oregon, Washington and Arizona State a pass on that critique for now as the three that look the most invested in competing at the highest level in recruiting. Elsewhere in the conference, there's a desperate need for national and even regional energy to make signing day more than just an SEC invitational event.