Ole Miss Jumps into Top 10; Alabama Holds No.1
ESPN provided the day’s most comprehensive coverage with 11.5 hours of continuous updates on the ESPNU National Signing Day Special, also available on WatchESPN and ESPN3, live cut-ins throughout the day on SportsCenter, and in-depth analysis and rankings on ESPN RecruitingNation.com.
Today’s coverage included 17 on-air commitments, dozens of head coaching interviews, analysis of college football conferences, teams and incoming players as ESPN kicked-off the 2013 college football season.
Rewind through the day with:
- ESPN RecruitingNation.com final 2013 Class Rankings
- ESPN RecruitingNation.com Recruiter of the Year; Junior of the Year
- Select Quotes, Videos for ESPN 150 Players and on-air commitments
- College football head coaching interview highlights
- ESPNU Analyst Quotes from #SigningDay
After 365 days of analysis and recruiting news, ESPN RecruitingNation.com ranked the 2013 recruiting classes with Alabama taking the No. 1 spot and noted Ole Miss as the biggest Top 25 mover of the day – jumping from outside the Top 10 to No. 5 and snagging the best recruiting class in the program’s history. Arkansas had the greatest move within the Top 40, jumping from 39 this morning to 31 in the final list.
The Top 40 2013 Class Rankings (full list, with 41-70 here):
- Ohio State
- Notre Dame
- Ole Miss
- Texas A&M
- South Carolina
- Virginia Tech
- North Carolina
- Penn State
- Miss. State
- Oklahoma State
- West Virginia
- Michigan State
RecruitingNation’s Recruiter of the Year: Michigan’s Greg Mattison.
Mattison is known as a dynamic recruiter and a relentless coach. The Wolverines have put together back-to-back top-10 classes based on the recruiting strength of Mattison, Michigan recruiting coordinator Jeff Hecklinski and their boss, Michigan coach Brady Hoke.
RecruitingNation’s Junior of the Year: Da’Shawn Hand (Woodbridge, Va./Woodbridge).
In his junior season, the ESPN Watch List defensive end accounted for 110 tackles, 40 tackles for loss, 16 sacks and three fumble recoveries.
No. 1 Robert Nkemdiche (DE) committed to Ole Miss – Video
- Rece Davis after Nkemdiche announced he was going to the “University of Ole Miss”: “You know how good this cat is? Nobody is going to mind that he called it the University of Ole Miss.”
- Luginbill on his decision: “Don’t underestimate who the decision maker is. Mom.”
No. 4 Mackensie Alexander (CB) committed to Clemson – Video
- Alexander on his choice: “Dabo Sweeney is a good guy. He is a church guy like me. He has made it from the bottom to the top. The coaching staff and Coach Reid – I trust those guys and I am going to be in a good position. All those guys talking about the SEC right now, but we are No. 4 in the country. We are going to win that national title.”
No. 50 Vonn Bell (Safety) committed to Ohio State – Video
- Gene Chizik: “He has wide shoulders, he’s very athletic, he’s very sleek. This guy will knock you out. This guy will come down hill. You can put him in the box as the eighth man. In that league, they are going to have to tackle some big backs.”
- Tom Luginbill: “If you are Ohio State, Tennessee or Alabama, mining the state of Georgia is such value. If you are Urban Meyer at Ohio State, he knows as well as anybody, he has got to have a presence down there to get the type of player he wants, particularly on the defensive side of the football, to not only be able to compete for a Big Ten Championship, but he wants to compete for the National Championship.”
No. 107 Jordan Cunningham (WR) committed to Vanderbilt – Video
- Gene Chizik: “College football players want hope. Yes, the education is absolutely a premium. But they want to win, they don’t want to go to a place where they are going to win three or four games a year. That’s not what Vanderbilt is doing anymore. James Franklin has sold hope to all of these recruits that down the road you are going to get a great education and win football games.”
No. 125 Tyrone Crowder (OG) committed to Clemson (in ESPNU studios) – Video
- Crowder: “They have stayed with me since 9th grade and there has been a longer relationship and a bond. I got the chance to go around campus, talked to some players and felt comfortable with them and loved the atmosphere.”
No. 135 Keith Bryant committed to Florida State – Video
- Bryant: “I picked FSU because I love what they’re doing up there in Tallahassee…It’s important for me to stay home because I have a 1-yr-old daughter.”
No. 138 Jermaine Grace committed to Miami – Video
- Grace: “I’ll be able to come home for Sunday dinners.”
- Tom Luginbill on Miami’s recruiting class: “It’s a class that’s done a nice job of addressing many needs at many positions. “
No. 143 Asiantii Woulard (QB-DT) committed to UCLA – Video
- Woulard on opportunities he saw at UCLA: “I want to be in mass communications. LA is a great place for that. You’ve got the ESPN LA studio out there, Coach Mora knows a lot of people out there. The opportunity I have to graduate with a degree in communications will also help.”
Other players who committed on ESPNU today included (videoes hyperlinked): No. 5 Laremy Tunsil (OT), No. 6 Matthew Thomas (OLB), No. 13 Montravius Adams (DT), No. 24 Antonio Conner (Safety), No. 26 Dee Liner (DT), No 32 Alvin Kamara (RB), No. 47 Stacy Coley (WR) No. 99 Quinton Powell (OLB) and No. 144 Denver Kirkland (OT).
In addition to the ESPNU live commitments, the No. 1 QB recruit Christian Hackenberg, on why he committed to Penn State: “I didn’t commit to Penn State to go play in bowl games… I committed to Penn State to get a great education, to be developed by one of the best in the game, and play for a team and a school that supports the program whole-heartily, and has a lot of tradition within itself.”
- Jimbo Fisher on Signing Day nerves: “You know everybody says, are you nervous? You don’t have time to be. Its going so fast. Its like when you are in the element of the game. The fans are nervous but you are in your element. That’s part of recruiting and the way it is today.”
- Will Muschamp on Florida’s Signing Day: “We won’t know about this Signing Day until 2 or 3 years. Football is developmental game and a developmental sport. You’ve got to get these guys on campus and see the production. You aren’t winning any games today.”
- Frank Beamer on changes in recruiting: “Well, a lot more shows on tv. The instant information, whether it is accurate or whether it is not, it has gotten into recruiting. Getting information out and the national interest, the interest in individual colleges and who you are getting has intensified over the years.”
- Mike Gundy on the incoming Oklahoma State class: “Traditionally here, over the last number of years, we’ve played our skill players as freshman, our running backs play in the first game and three out of every four our receivers will pay in the first game. The corners and the safeties are coming in so much stronger and more physical than they used to be.”
- James Franklin on playing at Vanderbilt: “We coach our kids hard, but we love them hard too.”
- Scott Shafer on Syracuse recruiting: “I don’t know if Syracuse has ever been, or ever will be the top ranked recruiting class in any conference. I look back at Arthur Jones, a 2-star, Chandler Jones, a 2-star… they all ended up being great players here at Syracuse because those coaches knew the formula of finding a guy who can play with a chip on his shoulder. That’s who we are.”
- Butch Davis on Tennessee: “Recruiting is based off of relationships and we really had 31 days to put together a recruiting class… we were extremely selective, obviously this is our first recruiting class. I’m excited about them and I think they are going to mean a lot to Tennessee football down the road.”
On ESPNU, hosts Rece Davis and Dari Nowkhah were joined by an assembled team of experts in scouting, recruiting, playing and coaching college football. Senior national recruiting analyst Tom Luginbill and recruiting analyst Craig Haubert discussed major recruits and programs alongside former head coaches Mike Bellotti, and guest analysts Gene Chizik and Derek Dooley, plus college football analysts Rod Gilmore, Lou Holtz and Kirk Herbstreit, in addition to 13 ESPN reporters on college campuses.
- Derek Dooley on recruiting: “The worst 48-hours of a coach’s life are the Monday and Tuesday prior to Signing Day.”
- Mike Bellotti on the Ole Miss 2013 team: “The leadership levels of the team will be tested. When you bring in great players that are better than the players you have, the seniors have to accept that to a degree and bring those people along. Teach them – this is how we do things, this is our attitude about winning and this is what we want to do. They have to realize that some of those young guys are going to play right now.”
- Mark Schlabach on Georgia: “I think at the end of the day Georgia fans are going to look back at the in-state prospects they didn’t get.”
- Derek Dooley on tradition of faxing letters of intent: “If anybody had any idea how many nightmares the coaches go through with the faxes, it’s busy, they’re not coming through right or they sign it wrong. While the rest of the world has moved onto the scanned email feature, college football is clinging to tradition, hovering over those fax machines. What in the world are we going to do when they stop making faxes?”
- Rod Gilmore on Stanford class: “The biggest recruits Stanford got this year were the three guys coming back, who didn’t go to the NFL. Trent Murphy, Ben Gardner and Shayne Skov sticking around. They’re loaded up. So when you combine those guys coming back with this class, it’s huge.”
- Tom Luginbill on Washington: “If you get a kid to come to Seattle, to the University of Washington campus and when that new stadium renovation is done, look out. Getting kids on campus, especially that place. It plays well.”
- Derek Dooley on the importance of family: “Sometimes you know pretty early who’s going to influence the young man. A lot of times it takes a lot of diligence and meeting all the players around him to figure it out. And sometimes you never know until after Signing Day. There’s nothing more important than finding who the decision maker is but you’re never 100% certain exactly who it is. That’s why it’s very important to recruit them all with the same level of passion and respect.”
- Lou Holtz on the end of Signing Day: “I have never heard a football coach on Signing Day who said ‘We had a bad recruiting day.’ Everyone has a great day”
- Gene Chizik on UCLA head coach Jim Mora recruiting against USC: “He’s done a great job so far because he came from the NFL, he had been out of the recruiting game for a good bit of time. He comes in there and changes the mentality of the whole program.”
- Lou Holtz on evaluating as a coach: You can’t evaluate one class. You have to look at two years’ classes together. I wanted 1) character and integrity 2) intelligence 3) are they durable and 4) someone who’s productive.
- Tom Luginbill on Oklahoma: “I think they are still seen as a perennial college football power. As Coach (Chizik) mentioned, a model of consistency… Building a program is one thing; sustaining long-term success is when it becomes really difficult because the expectation level never goes down, but the complacency can set in, not just amongst boosters and fans, but you start riding along that path. It is difficult to have to ward off all the detractors.”
- Kirk Herbstreit on Signing Day: “College football has gotten to the point where it gets so much notoriety and attention, and you guys have done a great job since seven in the morning of keeping everyone up to date on this. It’s almost become like the NFL Draft with the attention it receives. It’s almost a season in itself.”
- Mike Bellotti on Alabama as the No.1 class: “It’s not hard to explain. Winning begets winning. You have that momentum going into recruiting. They’ve done the correct evaluation and identified the players they want.
- Kirk Herbstreit on No. 1 Alabama class: “Nick Saban has found a formula in the way he coaches and how demanding he is and being able to keep those (NFL) dreams alive, but keeping them on the back burner. You need to buy in to Scott Cochran, the strength and conditioning coach, you need to buy in to Alabama football whether its four years or five years. We are going to win National Championships while you are here, and then we’ll send you off to the NFL.”
The 24-hour college sports television network airs more than 650 live events annually and offers over 1,000 original studio shows. ESPNU has seen a steady increase since its inception on March 4, 2005 and is now in over 74 million households. The brand is also available in high definition on ESPNUHD, now in over 20 million homes. The network has long-term carriage agreements with all 10 of the top multichannel TV providers – Cablevision, Charter, Comcast, Cox, DirecTV (Channel 208), DISH Network (Channel 141), Mediacom, Time Warner Cable, Verizon FiOS TV and AT&T U-verse.
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