Sports

National Signing Day 2020: SEC, Big Ten biggest signings and surprises

It’s National Signing Day for college football.

This year, despite many of the decisions having been made in December, there were still a few surprise signings to keep things interesting.

A look at the biggest shockers of the day:

GEORGIA AT NO. 1 AGAIN

The Southeastern Conference dominated the recruiting landscape even more than usual this year.

According to 247 Sports’ composite rankings, there were 31 five-star prospects in this year’s class. Six schools signed 22 of those players.

For the second time in three seasons, 247 Sports crowned Georgia the recruiting champion, with Alabama and Clemson close behind.

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Last year, seven schools signed at least five of the top 100 for a total of 48 players. Five more schools landed four Top 100s.

In 2018, eight schools had at least five Top 100 signees and five schools (Georgia, Ohio State, LSU, Clemson and Texas) signed 46 of those players. That year, 12 of the 29 five-stars signed with either Georgia (7) or Clemson (5).

The SEC had six of the nation’s top eight classes. The SEC last had as many as six teams in the top eight in 2014, when it had seven of the top nine classes. The SEC had seven of the top 10 classes this year, with Tennessee moving up during the late signing period to grab 10th place.

MCKINNLEY JACKSON

McKinnley Jackson, a huge and talented defensive tackle from Mississippi, was one of the few five-star recruits whose college choice was a mystery coming into signing day.

“I’ll keep this short, simple and sweet,” Jackson said during a news conference Wednesday at George County High School in Lucedale, Mississippi. “For the next three to four years, I’ll be attending Texas A&M.”

The five-star prospect picked the Aggies over Alabama and LSU, allowing one more school to break into a small group that landed the majority of the top available players.

Jackson’s decision kept Georgia as number one, disallowing Alabama the jump up from number two.

By landing Jackson, Texas A&M became the sixth school with more than four Top 100 players in its new freshman class, The Aggies came away with six, which means 53 percent of the top 100 players signed with just six schools.

AVANTAE WILLIAMS / MALACHI WIDEMAN

It’s been three years since the early signing period in December was implemented in college football, and it is clear the February frenzy is gone for good.

Signing day surprises are now rare as most teams have their classes complete or close to it in December.

Two of the few decisions that could be called surprises involved Florida schools.

Avantae Williams. (Mark LoMoglio/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Avantae Williams. (Mark LoMoglio/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Four-star safety Avantae Williams from Deland, Florida, signed with Miami instead of the University of Florida.

“That’s what I felt was best for me,” Williams, the No. 2-ranked safety in the nation according to most rankings, said of choosing Miami.

After stumbling to a 6-7 record this past season, the team is rebuilding in the offseason.

Florida State lost out on four-star receiver Malachi Wideman, who flipped on a longtime verbal commitment and signed with Tennessee.

CAMERON MARTINEZ

Ohio State is back on top in Big Ten recruiting, with Ryan Day wrapping up his first full signing class Wednesday with a letter of intent from the two-time Michigan high school player of the year.

Michigan, Penn State and Nebraska followed the Buckeyes in the Big Ten composite rankings compiled by 247 Sports.

The Big Ten has nine teams among the Top 40 nationally for the first time, including five in the Top 25 — Ohio State (No. 5), Michigan (No. 14), Penn State (No. 15), Nebraska (No. 20) and Wisconsin (No. 25).

Last year was the first time since 2010 that Ohio State’s class was not judged best in the Big Ten. The Buckeyes were transitioning from Urban Meyer to Day and slipped to third behind Michigan and Penn State.

“It’s been great to recruit a whole class from beginning to end,” Day said on the Big Ten network. “We’ve done a great job in Ohio but also have done a great job from coast to coast.”

Day’s 25-man class includes 17 four- or five-star prospects on the heels of a 13-1 season that ended in the College Football Playoff.

One of the four-stars is Cameron Martinez of Muskegon, Michigan, who held off signing in December when co-defensive coordinator and his primary recruiter Jeff Hafley was named head coach at Boston College.

Martinez hit it off with new coordinator Kerry Coombs during a meeting last month, and that allowed the Buckeyes to fend off late bids from LSU and Oregon, among others. Martinez, a quarterback in high school, expects to play defensive back for the Buckeyes.

“It’s crazy. Tonight, I’m going to have to look back on everything, just reflect. I mean, it’s a sigh of relief but it’s really the ending to everything [in his high school football career],” Martinez said. “I’m just incredibly thankful for everything that’s happened and, like I said, the next journey is going to start and that’s going to be the next focus now.”

Jayson Jones. (Mark LoMoglio/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Jayson Jones. (Mark LoMoglio/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

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JAYSON JONES

Although Oregon locked up most of its stellar recruiting class during the December early signing period, the Ducks got a huge boost on national signing day — literally.

Jayson Jones, a 6-foot-6, 340-pound defensive lineman, announced Wednesday he signed with the Ducks after initially committing to Alabama.

Jones, from Calera, Alabama, opted not to sign with the Crimson Tide in December to explore his options. He decided the best one was to play for Mario Cristobal in Eugene.

“The journey has been long, three years to be exact,” Jones said on Twitter. “It’s been a lot of fun, but everything comes to an end. I’ve done a lot of meditating, praying and I’ve made my decision. I will be attending the University of Oregon.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Source

neallesh@yahoo.co.uk

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