National Signing Day can help shape a college football program for the next few years, but which teams succeeded and which failed in 2019?
National Signing Day 2019 is officially in the books. The once frenetic day in the college football recruiting period still has a little bit of frenzy to it, but not quite in the same manner that it once did thanks to the recent institution of the early signing period. Even still, programs had the opportunity to round out their recruiting classes in a big way.
Some teams undoubtedly succeeded in that regard, while others didn’t necessarily have to. When you look at programs like the Alabama Crimson Tide and Georgia Bulldogs, they had already completed most of their big-time recruiting work prior to National Signing Day and didn’t have much work to do.
Having said that, those two are largely the outliers as there was work that needed to be done for most college football programs throughout the country. But who succeeded and who failed in that regard? Let’s look at just that by looking at the big winners and losers from 2019 National Signing Day.
Loser: Florida State Seminoles
Even with Deondre Francois on the roster, Willie Taggart’s Seminoles were going to be thin at the quarterback position. However, with Francois being dismissed from the program, that made them in desperate need of landing a quarterback recruit on National Signing Day to provide depth behind James Blackman.
Their big target on Wednesday was James LeGendre, a 4-star recruit that was the best available passer coming into the day. However, they missed out on him as he elected to head to the Maryland Terrapins instead. This now marks the second-straight year that Florida State has failed to secure a quarterback in their recruiting class and the Taggart era in Tallahassee continues to move on less than swimmingly.
Winner: Tennessee Volunteers
With his first full year to compile a recruiting class for the Tennessee Volunteers, Jeremy Pruitt needed to make some big moves in Knoxville. Though he entered the day floating around the top 20 overall recruiting classes, his efforts on National Signing Day vaulted the Vols into the top 10 by the end of the day as they were able to pull off two massive signings.
The prize gem that Tennessee landed on Wednesday was, without question, offensive tackle Darnell Wright, the highest-ranked uncommitted recruit heading into Wednesday, getting him to spurn hometown West Virginia to come to the Vols. With that and landing the third-best outside linebacker in the country, Henry To’oto’o, the Volunteers are in a good way right now with Pruitt leading the charge.
Winner: Ole Miss Rebels
Coming off of a postseason ban, Matt Luke was able to make a splash for the Rebels on National Signing Day. He landed 5-star running back Jerrion Ealy, which is huge — even if he still might go to Major League Baseball instead of playing college football. Meanwhile, they nabbed wide receiver Jonathan Mingo as well, a 4-star recruit who was a big target of rival Mississippi State.
Those big moves and the signing of JUCO transfer linebacker Lakia Henry ultimately vaulted Ole Miss into the top 25 overall classes for 2019 recruiting. Luke still has work to do in Oxford, but they made big strides in the right direction on Signing Day.
Loser: USC Trojans
Entering National Signing Day, Clay Helton’s USC Trojans had the 18th-ranked class in the country, but had the opportunity to improve with some big targets still left uncommitted. They did get one of those guys in wide receiver Kyle Ford, but neither Puka Nacua (at least yet) nor Enokk Vmahi (heading to Ohio State) decided to go with Helton and the Trojans. Oh, and let’s not forget Bru McCoy making his flip/transfer to Texas official.
Ultimately, Signing Day was a disappointing punctuation mark on the recruiting period for USC. Not only did things not turn out well on Wednesday, but they also missed out on 18 of the top 20 recruits in the state of California, something that would’ve been blasphemous at their peak. Helton has some serious work to do to keep his job if he’s going to misfire in recruiting like this.
Winner: Texas Longhorns
In truth, Tom Herman and the Texas Longhorns weren’t all that active on National Signing Day. Their biggest moment, as previous mentioned, came in the form of announcing officially something that we already knew — that 5-star athlete Bru McCoy would be coming to Austin rather than heading to USC. That bolstered an already strong class for the Longhorns.
Even better, though, the strong class for Texas left them as one of the top five in the entire country for 2019, the only non-SEC team to earn that distinction. It was clear last season that Herman has Texas as “back” as they’ve ever been, and this recruiting class is only going to further solidify that.
Loser: Louisville Cardinals
This is too easy, but it has to be mentioned. The Louisville Cardinals finished last among Power 5 schools in regards to their overall recruiting class rankings. They signed a meager 14 recruits and they appear to be heading in the wrong direction after Bobby Petrino’s departure. That may not be the trend, but things could get ugly early on for Scott Satterfield, and really already have with this 2019 class.