It’s finally here- a virtual holiday in our Swampland Footprint. National Signing Day has arrived and make no mistake about it; this is the day that Conference and National Champions are built. While many in the national media like to scoff at recruiting rankings, there is no doubt that there is a positive correlation between on-field success and pulling in highly-rated prospects on Signing Day. For every “4 or 5-star” recruit that does not pan out, there are tons of those top players who go on to the lead their respective universities to gridiron greatness.
Despite all of the Urban Meyer drama and coaching departures, Florida is expected to bring in the #1 class. Big 12 power Texas looks to have the next best class, and Alabama and Auburn are both competing to land Top 5 hauls. In addition, Tennessee and Texas A&M will flirt with the Top 10 along with usual recruiting stalwarts LSU, Georgia and Oklahoma. The Aggies could be a huge story in Big 12 country with their class, and it also looks like Missouri will bring in a Top 20-rated group. In the ACC, new coach Jimbo Fisher and Florida State look to have to the top class, followed by Clemson, Virginia Tech and Miami.
Of course, not every school can pull in highly-rated class. Arkansas and Kentucky have improved on the field over the last couple of years, but both will need some Signing Day momentum to keep up with the rest of the SEC. One Arkansas writer points out how well the last five National Champions have done in recruiting:
“The year-by-year numbers are raw and do not make allowances for career-ending injuries, coaching changes, transfers, and other mitigating circumstances.
Still, the recipe for a national title cannot be ignored. The 2005 Texas team that finished No. 1 had recruiting classes ranked 1,14, 10, and 13 from 2002 through 2005. No. 1 in 2006, Florida’s recruiting classes were 4, 8, 11, and 2 from ‘03-’06. The next year, LSU’s national championship team came from recruiting classes ranked 2, 19, 7, and 5. Florida’s 2008 No. 1 team was rooted in classes rated 11, 2, 1, and 12.
The most recent No. 1, Alabama, started with classes ranked 18th and 22nd, but the 2008 class was No. 1 and the ‘09 group was No. 2. Poor ‘Bama; this year’s class is way down at No. 4.”
Recruiting rankings do not mean everything, but they are more than a significant factor in forming a Championship-level team. If you’re not pulling in enough top prospects, the uphill battle during the season can be overwhelming in top leagues like the SEC and Big 12. Critics will point out the BCS success that Boise and Utah have had with lower-ranked classes, but that is just one game with over a month of preparation. If you have to face LSU, Ole Miss, Alabama and South Carolina in a four-game stretch, having the more talented roster is of the utmost importance.
Signing Day represents excitement and hope for the fan bases around our region, and we wish your school good luck in having successful recruiting harvest.